"Is that any way to learn how to act?" Billy Yeager asks, somewhat indignantly. Of course not, according to him. He'd rather you take one of his intensive Independent Film Acting classes. The wannabe rock star and perpetual prankster from Hollywood, who put his years of personal and professional frustration on film in the independent feature/documentary Billy's Story, is now busy combining the original movie with additional footage and preparing a TV pilot for Fox. No doubt he's also planning his next practical joke (he once claimed to be the long-lost son of Jimi Hendrix), and in the meantime he's playing a drill sergeant- like acting coach.
At age six he taught himself to play guitar by recording himself playing along to records and then listening to the tapes for mistakes. "You've got to look at yourself over and over and over again to see how you are doing," he claims, and he brings that philosophy to his students.
Yeager acquires unproduced film scripts from indie-film contacts, chooses scenes from them, and sets up location shoots on which he takes small groups of actors. Everyone has a part, and each actor performs his or her scene in front of Yeager's camera until it shines. "We might do a scene 30 times just on one line, just to get it right," says the renegade film instructor.
Of late Yeager's crew has shot at a cigar bar, an ice cream shop, and a pool hall, among other locations. After filming for four hours or so, Yeager takes the footage and his students back to the studio. "We go back and monitor the scenes so that they learn something, and at the same time we're picking the take that they want [for their demo reel]," says Yeager.
Yeager claims this demo tape -- complete with music, credits, and fade-ins -- is invaluable. It gives aspiring actors an actual scene, as opposed to a commercial or a single line in a movie, to hand over to producers.
Sounds like a sweet deal, but prima donnas need not apply. "If they have an attitude, I kick their fucking ass out the door," Yeager warns. "If they have a good attitude, I don't care if they have any experience or not, I'll teach them how to act."