ABOUT THE TRAINING AND THE INSTRUCTORS’ QUALIFICATIONS AS A FILM ACTING TEACHER
The instructors qualifications include a four year Bachelor of Fine Arts in The University of Alberta’s top ranked professional acting program, and also ten years of work as a professional actor in Edmonton as a member of Actra, (The Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists- basically the union for professional actors in the area of media), and C.A.E.A., (Canadian Actors Equity Association During his time working as an actor he accumulated some 40 work credits as an Actra member in all areas of media covered by that union including in Film and Television, Radio work, voice over work, and commercials. During his time as an Equity or C.A.E.A member he appeared in 37 stage productions. Prior to joining that association he had already an additional 23 theatre productions under his belt from the University of Manitoba Theatre Group and his training in the BFA program and extra-curriculum productions there.
The training in the BFA program involved in-depth study in the areas of acting, voice and speech including accents, movement, and sword and stunt fighting. His film acting training there consisted of classes with an experienced former Czechoslovakian film and theatre actress, and then in a special one-time joint effort by the U of A and The National Film Board playing the lead in a half hour film produced professionally by the National Film Board.
Being a good acting teacher first involves being a good student of acting, (for this instructor see scholarships while training). The Basic sound fundamentals of acting are the same for both professional theatre and film. The easiest way to describe the difference that affects how the material is performed and what areas are focused on more for film, is to imagine the theatre audience is brought to within a few feet of the actor, even closer and at eye level for many close-ups, with amplified sound. The performance of acting specifically in the medium of film and television is the focus of this training.
Some 26 years ago while still a relatively young actor, Mr. Davidson was the first film acting instructor hired to teach the first course offered when the local casting company The Other Agency Casting, started a film acting school. He was also the go to guy when local casting needed a couple of actors coached for key acting roles they were up for.
Roughly five years after that he set up his own independent Acting training for kids, teens and adults. He was the first independent instructor in Edmonton to incorporate film equipment like the use of a boom microphone, sound mixer, professional lighting kits and a commercial broadcast quality camera. He was the first film acting teacher to shoot multiple takes of scenes from different angles to prepare his students for working on sets.
He also for 20 years and until a few years ago, ran his own specially renovated and painted for videotaping scenes and auditions for actors, first on the South Side of Edmonton for 2 years then in a 1700 square foot studio on the North Side. His goal to video as realistic as he could get scene studies included stocking two rooms filled with different furniture props and realistic set dressing items. For use in teaching he accumulated over 250 film and television scripts purchased from a licensed source in California. For auditions he accumulated actual audition scripts from actual auditions posted to him as an agent.
For the first 18 years of teaching he taught 40+ hour courses for 50-60% of their modest market value and awarded $8,000.00 in partial and full scholarships in the first four years of independent teaching, as an investment in students/clients and as a way to help build a talent roster for the agency, in exchange for a longer term commitment from the actors. Having established a base roster and unfortunately with rising studio and equipment costs and not wanting any longer to ask students for a long term agency commitment, the courses had to be restructured and shortened to allow for pricing them at a fair market value and a more simple short term agreement with the agency. The course fees are still low for the experience of the instructor and still lower than the hourly rate for many casting director workshops, with relatively small size classes for both adults and children/teens.
Temporarily without a studio due to an environmental hazard, (mould) and while on the lookout for a new one, he has scaled back the scene study videotaping by eliminating the wide or master shot due to an inability to manipulate and dress the locations used for training. He focuses on the key individual and close-up shots where the actors can most clearly see the quality of their performance. By eliminating the wide shot and using a sensitive directional microphone (the same microphone that is within what is called the Zeppelin of a boom microphone) with its own power source and a quality HD camera and professional lighting, he now can also use a flexible mic stand to place the microphone at the same proximity to the actors as with using a boom mic. The emphasis over the years, even when doing more in his studio than anyone else was or is coming close to doing in production values- certainly much more than someone could be doing in their basement, has always been on the quality of the acting and the quality of the material that in all courses he hand picks for the actors. The other goal is to at least give the actors clear sensitive sound and to light them in a professional quality manner to be able to see and hear clearly their own and others performances.
He has always used and still uses virtually the identical audition setup as professional casting directors with a quality camera, lighting and directional microphone and a monitor in all audition classes. He also uses that set up to tape his own clients for out of town actual auditions. He has dealt with casting directors across Canada and taped actors for projects and casting directors in Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles.
A year after starting the training he officially retired from acting, withdrawing under Voluntary Honorary Withdrawal from C.A.E. A., (the Canadian Actors Equity Association which governs professional theatre acting in Canada) which he is still under, officially resigning from Actra, and became in addition to an acting teacher and coach, a talent agent. He has been instrumental in helping some of the best known Edmonton actors get their start.
If the proof of the quality of training is in the results, there is no other independent film acting training school operating currently in Edmonton that has even a fraction of the credits of the students of Great West Canadian talent, and no other film acting instructor can match the numbers of credits and students who have joined Actra (Association of Canadian Television and Artists- the professional acting union for media in Canada) since instructor Bill Davidson started training talent back at the Actors Studio before becoming an agent, and then in his own courses as Great West Canadian Actors Co. Those first five years of teaching plus the 22 years teaching as Great West Canadian talent, have produced the kind of size of numbers of credits for actors who have taken training with him unmatchable in Edmonton. Considering the smaller and slower film market here the results have been considerable. A guestimate of credits for actors who took training with him both before and then after becoming an agent now number over 500 acting credits in film and television and counting. The amount of training or coaching the actors received is precisely documented in the sample bios for actors who took training with him, and credits for those actors in film and TV are verifiable on the International Movie Data Base, at www.imdb.com . This is not mention all the acting credits in corporate or training videos, and dozens and dozens of commercials not listed by the IMDB that his current and former students have.
Mr. Davidson has to be one the most prolific film acting coaches in Alberta, and has been coaching actors to win roles and get shortlisted by casting and obtaining callbacks for 27 years. He has assisted actors in winning well over 200 roles and stopped counting, and the number who have been shortlisted or given callbacks would be probably around triple that number. The process of doing well enough to be shortlisted by casting, (which means they liked your audition well enough to show you to the director or producers), getting callbacks, (a second audition in front of the director and/or producer), is all part of the process to eventually being hired if not that time, at some time in the future. Since becoming an agent he has only coached actors represented by this agency and it is an option many even long term experienced clients take him up on.
To sum up, his qualifications to teach film acting and auditioning come from: his in depth training as an actor at a professional top end school; his own audition and on set experience; coaching other actors to win roles; and from dealing with casting directors from across North America and taping actors for them and getting feedback on the auditions. He has also brought in five different casting directors over the years to work with his actors on auditioning for a total of 9 different workshops, and he sits in on them to hear and see the casting directors work with and inform the actors of their own likes and dislikes and protocols in a way the actors don’t get from going to auditions.
Great West Canadian Talent offers professional level training to both child and adult students 4 years old and up as an option if they desire to get their training here. It works on an apprenticeship type level with talent whose training works out submitted for actual industry auditions and jobs as they are qualified. It also offers personal coaching to assist actors as an option for auditions. The training is thorough and priced fairly, with most adult courses based on a moderate industry standard of $20 per course hour with small groups of 8-12 students, and slightly higher rates for smaller kid’s classes. All courses have set curriculums. The adult training starts with professional fundamentals and builds on that with additional courses with a particular focus on certain different skills in each one of them.
Children’s courses are done in a less theory more practical way, starting with slates and commercial auditions done in a naturalistic manner then graduate to a film scene study followed by courses on improvisation and auditioning for film and television roles picked for each individual student and age appropriate material.