From In Class, to On Set

What ATC student, Allen Vaysberg, learned about himself from training & working in the business...

Sound…Speeding, Camera…. Speeding, Action!

These words start the complex marble run that is a scene in film. Everything is choreographed, the marks to hit, the angles of the camera, the precision of cues, the movement of all involved, everything must go according to plan, & everything must be perfect including you.

And then when all is said and done, the director has said, “Cut”, & the crew begins to set up the scene again - you must do it all 15 more times to ensure the master, the wide, the medium, the OTS, the POV, the close-up, the extreme close-up, & the inserts all get done.

Such is the magic of moviemaking!

The first time I got on set was for a short scene used in a flashback sequence for a University of Chicago student film. We shot the scene once & I thought I was done. It came as a shock to me that we did it a few more times, then changed the angles & did it again, then again from another perspective, & then another. These 15 seconds on film took 3-4 hours to shoot & was the perfect introduction into acting on screen. I was finally on track with the dream I had dreamt of for so long.

The path began a little further back, when I signed myself up for ATC’s Comprehensive Actor class with a goal of seeing if my passion for acting as a child was still there & if my prior aspirations had a chance to blossom. I knew nothing of the business, I still needed a headshot and resume, & I was raw - I saw just how little I knew but I had something & with proper grooming I felt that I could be a real, tried-n-true actor. With every week of class, my understanding & confidence grew in the loving & supportive environment of ATC & I was back on the path I had envisioned 35 years ago.

I continued my training & learning at ATC: took every class I could to learn how to act on screen, how to get into character, & how to dissect the script. I worked with some incredible instructors who kept chipping away at my over-analytical approach to get me to the essence of being. I sent letters to agents seeking representation & agonized over their lack of response. I auditioned & drove for 3 hours for a 5-minute audition only to never to hear back from the casting director again. I kept trying, kept working, kept knocking until doors started to open. That’s when I got on set, & even though everything was new & the people around me seemed to be speaking a different language, when I heard “Action” - I was alive!

Being on set is a whole different world. I was expecting "Lights, Camera, Action" & got "Speeding"! What the heck does that mean? What’s an AD? What in the world is a Gaffer? What’s a OTS vs. a POV shot? And why doesn’t the Director want to rehearse? And then - while all the mechanical things are happening you still have to ACT! You are not just there to regurgitate your lines, you are there to embody! To be! Acting takes physical & mental stamina, professionalism, preparation, great attitude & ability to roll with the punches. It is stressful, it is chaotic & if you don’t love every second of it – it’s not for you.

Since that first time on set 7 months ago I have been privileged to be on 9 more & have agreed to 3 others. My roles have grown from a day player to lead, I have worked with some directors more than once & finally got signed with my first agency. I am still raw, with a long way to go, & still have no idea whether my passion will ever become a profession but, I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t have done any of it without my training at the Actors Training Center.

-Allen Vaysberg, ATC Student & Actor

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