Making the Scene Personal: From ATC to NBC

How an actor & ATC student took the lessons learned in the ATC coaching room to the Chicago Fire set...

By Aaron Lamm

chicago fire cast
"Making the character and scene personal was something that had never 'clicked' as well as it did in my Chicago Fire tape."

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get cast in an episode of NBC’s Chicago Fire! This was my first ever television credit and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had doing what I love.

But as much as I remember about filming on set, I remember my audition process just as well: specifically, my coaching with ATC Founder, Carole Dibo. Carole was, and still is, my go-to coach for all of my on-camera auditions. During our coaching session for the Fire audition, I specifically remember that she emphasized the importance of making the situation personal

In the scene, my character's brother had been shot in the leg, and I had to help stop the bleeding until the paramedics were able to get inside, because my brother had fallen in front of the locked door. This was very hard for me to relate to, because I had never even come close to being in that traumatic of a situation. But -

I had to find something to make the scene personal, and not superficial.

Carole told me that as long as I used my own family in this scene, as my brother, that it would be a great take. So I really tried to picture that someone I really cared about was bleeding to death in front of me, and it terrified me. Once I was able to visualize this, which took a few takes, the beats throughout the scene took care of themselves.

Making the character and scene personal was something Carole had emphasized to me before, but it had never “clicked” as well as it did in my Chicago Fire tape.

About a month later, when we were shooting the episode, I realized that filming on a set required a new set of skills that taping an audition did not require...when I taped with Carole, we just had to get one great take, and once we got it, we were done!

on camera training studio
Actors Training Center's on camera studio is identical to the camera studios in every casting office.

It was easy to get the “perfect take” because the camera was only on me, so I was the only one who mattered.

Shooting on a set is a whole new ballgame, and it forced me to work ten times harder. Not only did I have to deliver the same intensity, authenticity, and raw performance in my scene as I showed in my audition, but I had to do so at least thirty times.

I learned that an actor needs to be extremely strong mentally, because -

Film requires you to experience something on screen like you are experiencing it for the very first time.

This was the most difficult part of shooting for me. The production team requires you to be at the top of your game all the time, and it is exhausting. Hey, no one said being an actor was easy! However, it was an unbelievable experience and thanks to the quality training under my belt, I was able to relish in the hard work of it all and have a blast!

-ATC Student & Actor, Aaron Lamm

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