Why PFI?

Why study at PFI?


Our dearly departed Peter Stelzer started out as a 6 year old actor, in community theater productions, on the east coast. He later became a Master Acting Coach, at Cornell University. He was a brilliant theater director and ultimately a multiple, Emmy Award Winning, Hollywood Producer. While producing at Paramount, for, at that time, the highest paid star in television history, he saw how the A-list actors approached and handled the audition process and, once cast, how they worked on set. This prompted him to create a Nuts and Bolts method for teaching actors how to act in front of cameras, just like the A-list stars do. Together with his actress/teacher wife, Marla Finn, they began training actors here in Arizona.

Once the giant ’94 LA Earthquake landed Marla and Peter in Scottsdale (more solid ground and commutable to LA!) they began the Phoenix Film Institute. Since that time, they have helped actors rise quickly to the top of the Phoenix market, and, most importantly, they have provided a bridge to help actors get their careers going in the Los Angeles market, where most of the major casting opportunities and shooting takes place.

Acting is not rocket science, however, it does require specific skills that must be learned and mastered over entire careers. It’s the kind of training musicians and athletes know is necessary for their careers to take off and continue. Actors should be able to learn to work in all mediums available to us…TV, Film, Video, Stage and Voice-over. And though acting is acting, we must know how to adjust ourselves when working in the different mediums.

Less is more on screen. We must always have volcanoes of emotion going on inside, with total relaxation outside. There’s no faking of emotions when you’re being photographed and blown up to fit large screens. Everything you do on camera shows. There is no hiding. On stage, when necessary, a good actor who knows what any emotional state needs to look and sound like, can fake it and usually get away with it. This will not fly on screen. Our emotional inner life must be real in order for the viewing audience to believe it.

Learning to become the best actor you can be takes constant practice, along with solid coaching and clear, honest direction. It’s a process. We are creating entire human beings, with their own individual set of emotional memories, character, attitudes, intentions and conditions. To become truly “Camera Ready,” takes time.

Why? Because you must get to the point where you are completely natural in front of a camera, along with mastering the skills to be able to work in any emotional state, take after take after take, no matter how many takes a director asks you to do. In addition to these skills, an actor must learn how to break down and analyze scripts, in order to make strong, unique choices. We must be able to bring our characters to life in a way that is believable, entertaining and moving. Then we not only fulfill what the writers, directors and producers want, but we get to have an acting experience, by allowing those characters to come to life through us. This is our job as actors. On screen, it’s not about performing, it’s about becoming from the inside out.

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