Private Acting Client CHARLIE SHOTWELL books feature “Man Down”

CHARLIE SHOTWELL does it again. He just booked playing Shia LaBeouf’s son in the new feature film “Man Down”.  This is on the heels of just returning from filming “Captain Fantastic” playing Viggo Mortensen’s son.  Go Charlie!

Acting Coach Gayla Goehl and private acting client Charlie Shotwell

Acting Coach Gayla Goehl and private acting client Charlie Shotwell

Gayla’s Private Acting Client Charlie Shotwell to star opposite Viggo Mortensen in ‘Captain Fantastic’


Gayla & Charlie Shotwell after going through script for 'Captain Fantastic'

Gayla & Charlie Shotwell after going through script for ‘Captain Fantastic’

It’s Officially shooting now, so I can announce that my wonderfully talented private coaching client CHARLIE SHOTWELL, who is repped by Coast to Coast and Concrete Management will be playing ‘Nai’ opposite Viggo Mortensen in the indie drama Captain Fantastic for Electric City Entertainment and director Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms). Working on the script with him has been delightful!

Mortensen portrays a father, who has lived off the grid in the Pacific Northwest forest with his six young children for the past decade. He must now return to acclimate his children to modern society.


Kid Yoda Purple



Student: I didn’t do my acting homework because….

Top Ten:

10. You only told the whole class to do the homework, you didn’t personally tell me, so I thought I didn’t have to.

9. I couldn’t remember what the homework was even though you had me write it down.

8. I don’t want to get bored of acting.

7. It caused me to get upset that I would have to do stuff at home and then I think wanting to become an actor will be ruined for me. Do you want to ruin my passion for acting?

6. My Mom said I needed to just visualize doing my homework.

5. I have to prioritize my homework at school. (Me: You were on Spring Break though.  Student: My Mom told you that didn’t she? She is so rude.)

4. I’m used to failure.

3. I needed some down time this week.

2. I was at my Grandparents. (Me: The entire week? Student: Well, no. Just the portion of the time that I remembered to do my homework.)

1. I really like you as a teacher and if I do my homework you won’t have anything  to teach anymore and then you might lose your job. I don’t want that to happen to you. Do you?

Kid Yoda: The cause of the because doesn’t matter.

Class is for classwork. Home is for homework. Don’t confuse the two.

Be out of excuses. Be out of be-causes. Be-come good at seeing that you are missing a chance to learn.


ACTING WISDOM – Fill The Moment

"Don't Fill the space, fill the moment." Gayla Goehl

“Don’t Fill the space, fill the moment.” Gayla Goehl

I was coaching a young actress who was auditioning for a starring role on a Disney comedy. We were coaching in a large studio and I had the camera on her in a tight close up. However, her energy was focusing on filling the entire area of the space and not focused on filling in the moments of the audition sides. I said “Don’t fill the space, fill the moment.”   She got it. She had been using all her creative energy to deliver a bigger performance than what was needed when watching it on-camera.  The camera was picking up that her moments in the audition sides were not as developed and specific as they should be.  We worked together to find  the series of moments she needed to hit within each of the scenes.  I thought she was hilarious.  And the Disney Network thought so too and…well, three seasons of that very show later she is still making people laugh every week.

Casting Director offices as well as sets and locations  come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are huge and others are incredibly small. Either way don’t concentrate on filling the space, concentrate on filling the moments within the script.



Acting Tech Film Genres

Acting Tech – Film Genres by Gayla Goehl

If you are auditioning for a film, you better know what GENRE it is.  I have had more than one client come in thinking they were auditioning for a drama when they were really auditioning for a comedy!

What is a Genre anyway?  

Film genres are specific film categories that have very similar forms. Something about them must be easily identified within these groups.

Major Film Genres:

  • Animated
  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Crime/Gangster
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Family/Kids
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Musical
  • Science Fiction
  • Silent
  • War
  • Western

Then you can even classify films into a smaller group. This is known as Sub-Genres.

Film Sub-Genres:

  • Biographical
  • Chick Flicks
  • Disaster
  • Fantasy
  • Mystery
  • Road
  • Romance
  • Sports
  • Supernatural
  • Thriller

Now here is where it gets fun! You can also then break them down into even smaller categories called Sub-Genre Types or mix and match them and get Hybrids.  So cool!

Here are some of my favorites.

Film Sub-Genre Types & Film Hybrids:

  • Action Adventure Sci-Fi: Pacific Rim
  • Action Crime Drama: The Negotiator (My Top 10)
  • Action Crime Drama/Comedy: The Long Kiss Goodnight
  • Action Surf Crime: Point Break
  • Biography Drama: Searching For Bobby Fischer (My Top 10)
  • Comedy Western: Blazing Saddles
  • Drama History Mystery: All The President’s Men
  • Horror Comedy: Shaun of the Dead (My Top 10)
  • Fantasy Horror Comedy: Constantine (My Top 10)
  • Romantic Comedy: You’ve Got Mail
  • Fairy Tales Comedy Fantasy Family: Enchanted

You get the picture!

There are a lot of resources online to learn more about film genres, film sub-genres and film hybrids.  I think a great resource  is on  However, get ready to learn because that site has so many listed that it will blow your mind!

Genre. The first thing you should ask yourself about every script!





TONQUE TWISTER MADNESS – Flibberty Flobberty

Tongue Twisters

Try to learn it and say it three times in a row with NO hesitations or mistakes!!

Flibberty, Flobberty, Don’t you go Stopping Me.
Flobberty, Flibberty, Let’s go on Liberty.
Flapperty, Flowperty, I think you’re kind like me.
Flowperty, Flapperty, I think you should agree.


Sometimes in life it’s important to know, “I believe that my next moment is going to be better.”  This helps you overcome any personal challenges you might be going through.

Sometimes in acting it’s important to know, “I believe that my next moment is going to be better.”   In life you don’t have an editor that can string all your best moments together. However, when you are acting on film you do.  Make each moment better. More truthful. Your best work.  Moment to moment.

PRESS WORTHY – Matthew Wayne on “About A Boy” and “Guess How Much I Love You”

Well, my private acting client and my student at Thee Playground Matthew Jacob Wayne, just booked and shot a very funny Guest Star role on NBC’s new sitcom, “About A Boy” and continues to be heard daily M-F evenings on Disney JR, as the voice of Little Nutbrown Hare, on “Guess How Much I Love You”.  Great little actor who is rocking it this year!!!

Acting Tech – Backstory isn’t the part of the story at the back of the script.

I like to create funny tests for all my classes and private clients to take.  I create fun little multiple choice questions like below:

The backstory is:

a) The part of the story at the back of the script.

b) A script about people with back problems.

c) A talking spinal cord.

d) Creating the character’s history of important events and situations prior to the moment the script’s plot starts. Filling in any missing elements that would help create a truthfulness to a performance.

Well, the answer is d.

However, if I gave the test prior to teaching the students/clients what a backstory was, the answer was almost always a.  Then I got to really thinking. I guess if I didn’t know I might have guessed a. It’s a logical guess.

Learning to craft a specific and interesting backstory is part of what is fun about creating a character. Allowing your own imagination to create the character’s history of important events: birthdays, first love, first loss, as well as why they think, feel, act, do everything up to this point in the story. It’s a powerful tool to bring each thought and feeling into truthfulness of speaking lines.

Let’s take this example. I have a wonderful young actress who is prepping a role where she has to be wearing a shark tooth necklace. So the necklace isn’t just for fashion (could a shark tooth necklace be for fashion?). The shark tooth must come from someone or from an important event that supports the script’s plot for her. In this case, it’s from the shark that killed her father.

Creating the backstory means taking these types of details and asking yourself questions about it. For example: How and when did she get the shark tooth? Who turned it into a necklace? Does she have a specific memory of receiving it?

That way when the script indicates she is talking and absent-mindedly playing with the necklace, it really isn’t absent-mindedly. It is something she has done for years and is comfortable with it. A very basic example, however I think it starts the conversation that I want you to be having in your mind.

Some favorite backstory questions:

1) Your full character name? Include a middle name.
2) Mom’s name and age and how do you guys feel about each other right now?
3) Dad’s name and age and how do you guys feel about each other right now?
4) Any brothers or sisters? Older or younger? What are their names? How do you guys feel about each other right now?

And then keep going? Any question that you can answer to help you flush out the backstory for your character can only help your performance.

When you come across something in audition sides or in a script, an event (my dog died when I was six or Rick was my first love) then create those events in your imagination. A creative backstory about those events. Or even something that seems like nothing at the time ‘he is wearing a blue sweater’. Ask yourself why blue?  Did I like blue?  Did I buy it? Did someone else?  Am I wearing it today because I’m in a bad mood and wearing it makes me feel better?  Am I wearing it because it belonged to my Dad before he abandoned me?  And so on, and so on, and so on. Until you fill in all the stories for the character from back before the first part of the script started.

Then as the script moves ahead, fill in what goes between the next scenes as well. The information that ‘backs up the story plot”.