The Two Year Program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio is a professional training program based on the the Meisner Technique, the life work of Sanford Meisner. In this interview Caleb Lane talks about training at the studio in the two year program after working professionally for more than 15 years.
What would you say to someone that has been working in industry for a while and wanted to take their career to the next level?
This might be someone who never really committed to a professional training program and now they feel stuck.
Yes. That sounds like me a little over a year ago. I was on that narrow path that I enjoyed. I was working; I could book a job. I’ve been on a lot of auditions. I know the industry. I know how to go in and sell myself and that to me, that’s where I was coming from.
I need to go in and sell myself rather than, “Let me have this part. Let me get this sides or the script and break it down and have a process. Then there’s a great Al Pacino quote on auditioning. He said he would go in and he gets the script and prepares. Obviously, he has a great process takes it in the room and does what he does and that’s how Al Pacino does it.
If you want it, pay for it. If you don’t, he’s going to go to the next thing, and that to me was so inspiring because I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Some days I would have confidence, some days I wouldn’t. It’s just it’s such a gamble when you work it like that.
I got to a place where even though I’d had training, a little bit, I’d had some Adler. I’d had some method. I’d had some Meisner. I knew everything about the overview of acting and the techniques involved. Even some of the more obscure stuff, but it didn’t translate into work. You’ve got to work out every day if you want muscles.
This is a muscle really, and I would get on set– I’ve been on set with some profound actors– Oscar winners. I would sit across or next to them wherever the scene was blocked and leave that day feeling like I didn’t get fired. That was a good day, and I never got fired, but I was never going to inspire either.
I was never going to fire anyone up. If you’re not in art ultimately not to do anything– if you’re in art to do anything other than that. Which is create something that’s going to connect with people and go in and give your best and train to give your best then you’re in it for the wrong reasons ultimately.
There are easier ways to make money. Yes, I would recommend if you’re on the fence, if you’ve trained a little bit or you read a book, or you’ve done reading or a couple of episodes or whatever, but you’re on the fence about could you go and play a major part on theater boards. Get in with a group that’s being held by Scorsese or somebody amazing– gritty directors. Then you need training; you have to because things are going to be thrown at you onset that you’re going to have to figure out. Charm isn’t going to work very long; I know that. If you’re okay making money, you’ve got your part, and you just say your lines, then fine. That’s cool. Do your thing, but if you care about being a great artist or having any impact in the industry beyond another pretty face, then you’re going to have to train. You’re going to have to put your time in.
Again, I’m a martial artist. I came from the martial arts world. This is an excellent metaphor. There’s a lot of brawlers out there who watch the UFC, and they say to themselves, “I could do that.” Okay, you’re a brawler. You get thrown in with a black belt in a cage. Somebody who’s trained, who’s dedicated their entire life to it. They wake up early. They eat right. They mentally train themselves to be tough under circumstances that are not easy to stay tough in.
Everybody has a plan until they got hit. They live their entire day, day after day, as a fighter. You get locked in a cage with somebody like that; it’s going to show immediately who’s the black belt and who’s the wannabe.
I see acting as no different. You can charm your way into a role or whatever. If you got it now, it’s all about you got a big Instagram following, and some producer out there is going to give you some money to get some eyeballs or make a little money himself. Whatever, but there’s not just going to be any value in it. If you think that this is easy or that you don’t need training or if think you can just jump on stage or on set with a real actor or a great actor who can take notes and then incorporate them immediately. This is an actor who lives spontaneously, who crafts deeply and richly and subtly, who’s not afraid of anything, particularly on set. That’s the pressure cooker. When the camera’s on, “Action,” that’s not the time to figure it out.
I think a lot of people have that idea of acting that, “I’ll just learn it on set. I’ll learn as I go. I’ll learn it on the job.”The only place you can do that now is the presidency, but I don’t recommend it. I think if you want to be an artist and be respected by your peers, which is ultimately what I’m after, you got to train.
How does the Maggie Flanigan Studio compare to other places that you studied?
I’ve been in the industry for a while, 15 years and I’ve been on both coasts. I’ve worked on sets and been to a lot of big schools. The two year program at Maggie Flanigan studio, it’s for me not only it’s the standard because the standard is second to none, but it’s the passion about every aspect of acting.
From the history of film and theater to Charlie and how being the one carrying the torch for the Meisner technique in America. Coming down from the group and Meisner and how it was all developed and Charlie’s the one with that now. To be in class with him as much as I have been, it feels like just such an authentic experience of acting training in New York.
The standard at Maggie Flanigan studio is second to none. It’s honestly for me the highest bar I’ve ever been put up against. The faculty not only– obviously, some Maggie Flanagan alumni. They’ve been trained by Maggie are here, but we have people from Yale, Rutger’s, NYU that teach. They’ve been teaching out in the world and have so much experience and bring it all here in one place; it’s pretty incredible.
How does Charlie challenge you in the studio in regards to your artistry?
Charlie Sandlan is the best acting teacher I’ve ever had. Hands down because not only do the– as the great artists hang on the walls here and I feel like I have a sense of watching what we’re doing and approving or disproving.
You know what I’m talking about personally. We’re introduced to the idea of specificity and the pursuit of that clarity. Then Charlie with the Meisner acting technique in the acting room we just come back to those every day. Charlie is the bar holder, and he holds it very strongly.
If you’re bringing in something great, then he’s riveted, and you can see that he’s passionate about acting. Which ultimately means he’s passionate about human behavior. What drives people and people in general in human situations. Watching that nuance and subtlety play out. Watching a brave actor– a dangerous actor, but if you’re coming in, you’re boring, you’re pedestrian, and you haven’t done your work, get ready for the whip because that’s how it’s going to go.
It’s a great whip. He does it very well. You come back, but he will not settle for anything less than what he sees as your best, and maybe you don’t see it at the moment. He will pull it out of you, and that’s what great teachers do.
Learn More About the Two Year Program
To get more information about the acting studio and the two year program, contact the studio directly by calling 917-789-1599.