My Acting Warm Up: Part 3

This is the third part in my acting warm up series. This is how I currently do things, but I know that how I warm up will evolve over time as I learn more about acting and about myself.

Just in case if you missed the first two here they are:

My Acting Warm Up: Part 1

My Acting Warm Up: Part 2


Essentially, acting process and voice work need to be unified; alignment needs to be linked to centre, identity, and assertion; breathing needs to become responsive to impulses, vocal onset needs to identify the actor with the character; and vocal response needs to reflect the experiences of the actor/character in the present moment”1


The Beginning

  • Start from the all fours position, with head in neutral.
  • Take a deep breath, feeling your diaphragm filling and stretching.
  • As you blow out you begin to bow you back.  The movement is like trying to get the top of you head to touch your tail bone.  Both are stretching to reach one another.
  • Once you have expelled all of your breath and are in the bowed back position, begin to inhale.
  • As you inhale start to arch your back. Get a very nice deep breath and feel the full curve of your spine.
  • Do this cycle a few times.


Adding in the vocals

  • Now we add sound to the exhale with a “vvvvvv” sound.
  • After completing this, we shift to ending the sound with a vowel sound, beginning with “vvvvvaaaaaa.”
  • Then we shift into “vvvveeee.”
  • I run through each sound three times, or a bit more if something doesn’t feel right.


Pairing the voice with explosive movement

  • Now we pair the voice with explosive movement. Throw your right arm out in front of you body as if you were trying to punch someone (you don’t have to make a fist) and the apex of the movement sound with “va.” Then do the the same with the left arm.
  • Next, move your right leg back with a mule kick like motion. Again at the apex of the movement make an explosive “va” sound. Remember to really connect to your diaphragm.
  • After you’ve done both legs several times, then move to using arms and legs at the same time. Punch and kick out with opposing arms and legs. Meaning if you punch out your right arm, you kick back with your left leg.  Again at the apex of the movement make an explosive “va” sound. Do this movement several times per side.
  • Now,  we will shift to throwing both arms up. Staying on all fours push your chest up and throw your hands to the sky. Making an explosive “va” sound at the apex. Do this movement several times.
  • Now, we move to the legs. Staying on all fours push your legs up so you are only on your hands momentarily. Making an explosive “va” sound at the apex. Do this movement several times.
  • Once completed, do the same movements again but with a “ve” sound.
  • This concludes waking up the voice.


Final Thoughts

You should never move into pain, so if you physically can’t do some of the movements, don’t worry.

I am going to go back and add some videos to these blog posts to make better sense of things, so next time I do a self tape I am going to block out time to make some movement GIFs.


Things Mentioned in this Blog Post

Voice into Acting

Voice into Acting: Integrating voice and the Stanislavski approach by Christina Gutekunst and John Gillett






So, you want to be an actor?

“All the world’s a stage” – William Shakespeare

So you really want to go into acting now?
That’s a question I asked myself about two or three years ago. Hell, I even laughed at myself.

To start acting at the age of 30, I’d be competing with well established movie stars, and besides what did I know about acting?
I was in my final year in university getting my second degree at the time, and let’s just say the idea was ludicrous. Why the hell did I spend all this time and money in order to throw it out the window? I was, at the time, and still am just searching for what makes me happy.

My First Excursion into Professional Acting

I had done some community theatre growing up, and even did a small monologue show while I was at West Point. But by no means did I really have any experience acting.
In 2015 I was selected because of my American accent to be an extra for Jason Bourne. My first day on set I got selected for a speaking role and was thrown into a scene with Alicia Vikander and was being directed by Paul Greengrass. I thought that this world was amazing, and I thought, hey this is easy, it’s only my first day!
But I thought that acting wasn’t really what I was supposed to be doing, and that I was meant to go into Special Effects. Do the behind the scenes work, just make cool stuff that makes people scratch their heads wondering how we did it.
But, just trying to get onto an SFX team for years wasn’t panning out, that acting itch came back with a vengeance.
So I knew I had to follow it.

I started reading acting books at the rate of one a week. I could not get enough information.

Then I researched training and went to seminars and short courses.

Something just felt right.

Something I wish I would have known about acting

The most important thing you want to know before you chase the acting dream is your “Why.”
Why are you doing it? Is it to be rich and famous? To feel loved? To fill a void?
These are not the answers you should have. If you become an actor the problems you have will still be there even if you become the most successful actor in the world (in fact they may actually get worse because you will become more sensitive to your own emotions.) The process of Acting isn’t about putting on a mask and playing a character. It is about becoming wholly vulnerable, and to do that you have to be comfortable with your authentic self.
You are the character.
Think of Michael Clarke Duncan’s amazingly power performance in The Green Mile. This amazing and powerful man let you look into his soul when there were close ups of his eyes, he was wholly vulnerable. You could see and feel the pain of the whole world.

“Acting deals with very delicate emotions. It is not putting up a mask. Each time an actor acts he does not hide; he exposes himself.”

Rodney Dangerfield

You should only follow acting at a professional level if you honestly can’t see yourself doing anything else, because it’s going to be a hard road, where most of it seems like an uphill battle. So you must enjoy the work and the process.
Your “why” needs to be solid and bigger than you. It will keep you going when things get tough.

My Personal Why

My personal why is because I believe that film and tv can change the world, and that’s exactly what I want to do.
I have always been a movie lover. In fact I saw Jurassic Park, 12 times in theatres. (I was 8 at the time, so thank you dad for taking me so many times.) I also read Jurassic Park and The lost World back to back, seriously what 8 year old does that? I watched all the Indiana Jones movies countless times on VHS and idolized Steven Spielberg. I wrote a book about him about the time I was 8, which I can only guess was almost completely plagiarized from one of the many books I read about him. I even dedicated it to him. I began making really terrible stop motion videos with my GI Joe’s.

Movies were also an escape for me. When life got tough all I had to do was go to the cinema. I would be transported to other worlds, laugh uncontrollably, or fight off personal demons.

To me films can make you feel and learn about yourself. They can bring us closer together and challenge your beliefs. They make us laugh and cry. The moving image is a very powerful thing.
If you know your Why, you will find your how.
Remember that nothing worthwhile is easy to obtain.

Some other things I wish I knew:

    • It will be hard, harder than you think. The best actors make it look easy, like they are just existing on camera. This is a skill.
    • In being so vulnerable, any criticism is deep cutting at first. You have to learn that your teacher is not telling you how bad you are, they want you to improve and be the best you can be. It’s never personal, it’s about the work.
    • You are developing a very different set of skills. You will doubt yourself, just keep pushing
    • You will find new and exciting ways of being uncomfortable.
    • It’s ballbusting hard work. Not just the exercises and daily routine you adopt, but the life after you are done training. You must come to terms that you will be unemployed for long periods of time. And in today’s world a lot of people gain a lot of self worth from what the do that it can wreak havoc in a person’s mind.
    • Almost every audition will end up in not getting the job. It’s not personal, the reasons people are or are not cast can be ridiculous. As Michael Kostroff says in Audition Psych 101 on going into auditions., “I’m not getting the fucking job.”

Further reading links to things I mentioned in this blog:

Why Your “Why” Matters – Corey Poirier
Michael Kostroff’s – Audition Psych 101