an actor whose career spans almost 40 years and over 10
feature films, 3 soap opera series, 50 guest television
appearances, and hundreds of commercials, it's safe to
say that Steve Carlson knows what he's talking about when
he brings up the topic of acting. His incredibly diverse
resume affords him unique and knowledgeable insight into
the requirements for different types of performance: cinematic,
television, and commercial.
this book, he talks about what is expected of you on set
as an actor; the crew members and their various important
jobs (emphasizing the mutual respect and cooperation necessary
between both cast and crew); how the environments and
demands of cinematic, television, and commercial filming
and acting differ; and how to act not only with other
actors, but with the camera, lighting, sound, and editing,
thing to note, however: this is not a "guide-to-acting"
book. There are no instructions for how to act; rather,
this book is geared toward those with acting experience
(theatrical or on-camera), who want to learn how to improve
their work and performance on film.
Steve Carlson tells of how he came to Hollywood years ago
from his home in Wyoming, where he'd lived all his life;
needless to say, the transition was a big one!
help other newcomers adjust to the "organized insanity"
of a film set, Carlson begins by explaining who everyone
on the crew is and what they are responsible for; he then
goes on the explain blocking and "camera awareness".
Once these basics have been covered, he gets into how to
work effectively with other actors, understanding the technical
aspects of shooting, and working in unique situations. And
that's just in Book One! Book Two explores the more "professional"
side of acting. Whether you're working in television or
movies, whether you've got a regular acting stint or are
a struggling or beginning actor, Carlson explains what truly
makes a good actor. (And he should know!) He discusses how
to handle oneself professionally and personally, and how
to strike a balance between the two. While this books covers
a large and diverse amount of information, it is remarkable
easy to understand. It more or less assumes that, while
the reader may have some acting experience, s/he has little
to no experience acting on camera.
book's only drawback is that, although it largely follows
a logical progression of topics, there are some subjects
that are scattered throughout the book and might be more
effective if they were condensed into their own chapter
two in particular that leap to mind are soap operas and
commercials. These two are vastly different - from a production
standpoint - from almost anything else in television. Because
of their extremely tight shooting schedule (24 hours, start
to finish!), soap operas are going to have an exceptionally
different environment than a show that only comes on once
or twice a week. Commercials are a different animal altogether,
because not only is the final product extremely short (and,
by necessity, concise), but its goal is to sell a product,
not tell a story or give information. Because the goals
and production styles of soap operas and (especially) commercials
are so different from those of cinema or typical television,
I think that they would be much more effectively discussed
in separate chapters specifically for these genres.
There is nothing quite as valuable as experience. That being
the case, Steve Carlson is passing on a tremendous amount
of invaluable experience in this book. Sure, you could learn
some of this stuff from a classroom, but there are a lot
of things that can only come from experience. Luckily for
us, Steve took care of a lot of that already!
amount of information he covers is plentiful and varied,
to be sure, but it is incredibly important. Actors will
inevitably encounter directors who are vague in their descriptions
of what they want and crews who will assume that the actor
knows what is going on. However, under Carlson' tutelage,
the actor can gain valuable insight without the (frequently)
Because this is almost more of an "educational memoir"
than a "how-to" book, it is very enjoyable to
read. Sprinkled in among the explanations and instruction
are stories of Carlson's own experiences in film, adding
a very personal touch. It's almost as though you're on a
field trip with the teacher, Mr. Carlson, taking you through
a set and introducing you to the various crewmembers and
explaining what they do. Then, he demonstrates how the actor
should work with his environment and coworkers. Finally,
he guides you off the set into an audition, where he instructs
you on what casting directors, producers, and film directors
look for in an actor, how to compete (professionally) with
other actors, and how to handle both success and failure
in acting. This approach makes Hitting Your Mark
very enjoyable to read.
The depth of valuable and helpful information in this book,
combined with its easy comprehension and engaging style,
make this a book that you will not only enjoy coming back
to, but one that you will recommend to others as well.
This book is a must-have for actors looking to improve their
craft. If you're wanting to get into film acting - or even
if you've done a lot of film acting and merely want to learn
from the experiences of a seasoned professional - Hitting
Your Mark is definitely worth the cost.
say that experience is the best teacher; consider this book
to be a full course.
I am very glad that Steve Carlson took the time to put together
a book like this. It's amazing just how much one can learn
from listening to another's experiences. This book is well-written
and well organized overall; its educational-yet-conversational
style makes it easy and enjoyable to read. These things,
together with the depth of information, add up to an all-around
only suggestion would be to give commercials and/or soap
operas their own separate chapters, simply because their
acting and production needs are so vastly different from
cinema and other television formats.