Archive for the 'Actor’s Toolbox – Tips, advice and more…' Category


New Website

We’re excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website:

We will continue to post all new blogs on the new website blog page.

New Houghton Website


Get Taped! now offering VO and Teleprompter services

Brooke and I at Get Taped! have been upgrading our equipment. We can now record VOs for $10 a pop, and we’re super excited about offering a Teleprompter for $25/audition. This is in addition to our other services:

Auditions under 5 lines: $10

Auditions 5 lines or more: $20

Slates (aka the Talking Headshot): $75 through March 31st. Starting April 1 the price is going up to $90.

For a full list of services, please visit our website at Also, for actors that come to us often, we are known for discounting our services. We are full-time actors ourselves, and are sensitive to the financial strain multiple auditions can put on an actor.

Lastly, it is relevant to note that we give you up to 30min for your audition appointment (60min for Slates). We aim to make the actor feel very comfortable. We also are willing to do several takes, and give you the option to watch back your footage. Arguably, we are the best readers in town because we actually engage the actor in the scene. Actors who have used other services prefer us almost unanimously. However, our slots fill up very fast when breakdowns are released, so contact us ASAP when you know you’ll need to Get Taped!


Educating actors through humor

Hi. My name is Matthew Cornwell, and I’m an actor.

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like you need a 12-step program just to cope with being an actor?

I’ve only been in Atlanta for 11 years, but in that time it has been a constant struggle to not become jaded as an actor. Being an actor alone would be enough, but being on the other side of the camera only exacerbates the problem. I worked behind the camera at Houghton for a couple years, I’ve been teaching beginner actors for over 5 years, and I’ve even run casting sessions at Stilwell when Brian Beegle was sick. What I’ve seen from both sides of the industry often infuriates me, saddens me, frustrates me, and constantly makes me question whether any of it makes sense.

However, this past May, I finally figured out how to channel all that negative energy into something positive. My wife, Brooke Jaye Taylor, and I decided to create a web series about all the nonsense that happens in this industry. Initially it was meant to be an educational tool, but it quickly grew into more than that. We call it Becky & Barry, and we launched our first episode yesterday (9/15).

If you’re an actor, don’t just watch it for the entertainment value. Realize that everything you see is based on an anecdote from real life. In fact, through discussions with Brian Beegle and Kelly Tippens, we quickly realized that no idea was too far-fetched. And after getting a sneak preview of the series, Mystie Buice gave us the perfect quote that sums up the series:

“It’s a ringside seat to the industry and all the lovable and maddening things in it.”

So enjoy the first episode (and many more to come) and share it with your actor friends, but ask yourself whether you are currently making the same mistakes as the actors you see in Becky & Barry:

Matthew Cornwell


Check out this link from Lori Wyman, casting director in Florida, about mistakes actors make on tape…



While teaching class recently, an actor asked me point blank, “why do I need improv?” First, let me share some misconceptions about improv:

• Improv has to be funny

• Improv is about playing games

• Improv is like stand-up comedy

• Improv is separate from acting

I could detail whey they’re misconceptions, but for the sake of brevity, just know that the above statements are FALSE. Now, let’s move on to some of the benefits of improv training:

1) The most obvious reason: you have to do improv in an audition. So often commercial auditions involve some amount of improv. Also, it’s very common to be on a TV or Film set and be asked to improvise a scene, or the director might say “just add a little something extra”. No improv training? Well, you might clam up, or make very safe choices that don’t add anything, and certainly don’t make you stand out amongst other actors.

2) Improv training teaches you how to be present in the moment. The vast majority of actors do not understand how to be “present”. They sit at home rehearsing and rehearsing, trying to lock into place their perfect performance. Then they try so desperately to recreate that performance in the audition room. That’s not acting. That’s re-enacting. When auditioning or on set, you need to be ready to embrace the environment, and welcome new stimuli that will help to shape your performance in the moment, keeping it spontaneous, or even…improvised? If you fight what’s happening in the moment, you’re completely trapped in your head, and at best you will look like a good actor delivering a good performance, as opposed to a real character living and breathing on film. Sounds like Meisner, right? (and if you don’t know Meisner, you should) I’m NOT suggesting you ad lib dialogue in a scripted audition. In general, that’s not a good idea. I’m merely suggesting that the emotional content, the reactions, the physicality, etc, be improvised.

3) Without improv training, it’s a fair assumption that you have a pretty narrow emotional comfort zone. That is, you default to a select few emotions when working on a script, and most of your reads are very similar to each other. This is not catastrophic if you’re going out for the same roles on a weekly basis. But as we know, in this industry you’re going to be thrown curveballs periodically, and if you try to default to your same comfort zone, you won’t impress anyone. Improv forces you to be creative, and to stretch that emotional comfort zone. In a single improv class you have the chance to experience more emotions than in a whole year of auditions. Working that emotional muscle every week will have a huge impact on not only your range of emotions, but also your ability to react truthfully in the moment to what’s happening in the scene.

I could go on, but I’m afraid I’ve exceeded the attention span of the average person. The moral of the story is that if you have no improv training on your resume, you have not reached your full potential as an actor. And you can’t get a “quick fix” by taking a single workshop, or even a 6-week class. Improv will take months and months of training before you truly awaken your hidden potential. I personally learned from Brian Chapman at the Professional Actor’s Studio. Don’t take my word for it, though. Audit classes at as many places as possible. Wherever you decide to train, make sure the emphasis of the class is on good acting and good scenework. Beware of the teacher who is only concerned with being funny, or playing lots of improv games (unless your goal is to join an improv troupe and perform onstage). Improv is an art form, and you need to find a teacher who understands that before you can truly benefit from it.


Taping Services

We want to make sure everyone has a chance to be seen when requested for an audition – even when we can’t tape you ourselves.  On those rare occasions when we can’t get you in to meet a deadline or you’re not available when we’re taping, we strongly recommend you use a professional service (unless you are experienced in taping auditions).  Taping services provide a professional setting and reader for the best read possible.  Here’s a list of current options, their prices vary but are all reasonable and these are all people we know well and recommend highly.  We hope this will allow you to get in on auditions when your schedule isn’t working w/ ours or for those last minute deadlines!

Back To One Creative – Scott Poythress & Claire Bronson – – 404.289.1144

Get Taped! – Brooke & Matthew Cornwell – – 404.551.5123

Casting Direct – Tim Donner & Jamie Catrett – – 310.420.9645

KellyCASTING – Kelly Tippens –

Blueprint 4 Hollywood – Kristen Shaw – – 770.649-5663

Keep in mind that we aren’t always able to take taped auditions outside of what we do in the office, so read your emails closely and check with the agent who requested you before you go to the time and expense (this will also allow us to give you any special instructions if we have them).

We hope this will allow you to submit on more projects, even when your schedule may not allow you to come in to the initial audition or we’re on a last minute deadline!


Your Houghton Agents!
Gail, Mystie, Deborah, Chase, Sally, & Vince
Become a fan on facebook!


Need copy of that TV show/movie now?

For those of you who haven’t the time or technical know-how to lift your footage from a TV show or movie that’s currently online, I’m offering the service for $5/scene. Only $10 for unlimited scenes in the same project. If you have a lot of footage to grab, I will work out a sweet deal that will be well worth the money. I will provide a full-quality version of each clip that can be used for a demo reel or Actors Access, as well as a smaller file that can be used as an e-mail attachment. In addition, if you have multiple scenes from the same project, I will edit them together to make one larger clip. Feel free to see examples on my website:

I have a Paypal account for simplicity, so that everything can happen electronically. E-mail me if you’re interested:

ACT NOW, because once the requests start piling up, I will likely need to raise the rate.