Article By: Maria ShamkalianPAFIA Vice-Chair
John Pallotta is a master on-camera acting teacher and one of the most sought-after acting coaches in the industry today. John has almost 40 years of experience as an actor, playwright, director, producer and acting coach and has trained under such masters as Lee Strasberg (Institute), Stella Adler, Bobbie Lewis, Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton, Wynn Handman as well as many others. John Pallotta’s belief is that “Acting is A State of Mind”. Today, that belief has become an industry standard in John’s books and in his teachings across the country.
John has accomplished thousands of coaching sessions and has ignited and reignited the careers of some of the talent you see on TV today: including Emmy award winner Anna Chlumsky, (VEEP) and many others.
John's focus as a teacher of the craft is to help each and every one of his students find their own voice as an actor. Acting is a process. It is a journey of discovery. It is a living breathing process that happens each and every day and does not happen overnight. Becoming an actor is learning a new way of thinking and about the way you look at life. Just as you make choices in life that determine your success or your failure. It goes the same for your choices you make as an actor.
What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
As an acting coach I have an innate, absolute love for seeing my actors blossom into something that might even surprise them. I get tremendous joy out of seeing the success of my actors. Love turning on the TV and seeing actors in speaking roles that were once in y class. It’s beginning to happen quite a bit lately. That to me is a major accomplishment.
How did you get started in the film industry?
My roots go back, way back to the theatre starting in 1976. I had the honor to have studied with some of the greatest people in this industry; Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen and Stella Adler. Also being a playwright, several plays were optioned for film early on and just kept going. I had a number of close calls, including the opportunity to almost play the young Joe Pesci in Goodfellas but it ended up going to someone else.
Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
Lived in New York City most of my life (still have my apartment there), I wanted to be in the middle, between Boston, NYC, Philly and Virginia where my studios are. I spend most of my time traveling from city to city, teaching. At the end of the day, I come back home to Philly.
What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
Most of my classes take place on set where students rehearse sides from a currently casting project and film their work on a real set, perfecting their craft while learning the technical aspects of a film or television shoot. My Philly location is a huge 3000SQFT loft with plenty of in-house space.
What do you love the most about your job?
Honored & amazed at the amount of success stories that are coming out of John Pallotta Studio. I love seeing my actors succeed in the industry on a daily basis. They came to me “GREEN” and now many of them are working every day in multiple cities, becoming SAG and following their dream. At the end of the day, that is what I love most.
What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
A few years back I played a homeless man in a movie call “TUCHT”. While researching the role and developing the character as a mentally challenged homeless man in front of The Port Authority, an ex-girlfriend past by and thought I was really a homeless man. She approached me and started to cry saying: “OMG, John, I’m so sad the see you like this, what happened?” She bought me two Burger King Whoppers and went on her way. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was only acting.
Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
Since I moved here, I had two web series shot and working on a third, “THE ACCIDENTAL REDHEAD” which we are currently in production on our second episode.
PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
I never really knew how the whole thing worked until I read this: https://dced.pa.gov/download/film-production-tax-credit-guidelines-2017/?wpdmdl=75431 I think coming together (all of us), there are strength in numbers and putting pressure on the people that represent us.
What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as Acting there is only Life. My technique is based on the belief that Acting is A STATE OF MIND. It is about innocence, imagination, vulnerability, instincts and honesty. It is about practicing the potential qualities that you were born with. The less you think like an actor, the more childlike and innocent you are, the more productive and in the moment you will be. Also, good acting requires that you study in order to master the craft. John's method teaches actors how to achieve and respond to honest emotions both on and off camera by utilizing the principles mentioned above
What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
I have written several books on acting, both on the craft and the business of acting, (I teach both). On my site under the business section, actors can find an endless resource of casting opportunities, acting sides, networking opportunities as well as how to maximize their online presence in the industry. All that and more can be found on my site at www.johnpallottastudio.com.
What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
Through trial and error, I have learned that being an actor is about being a part of something bigger than just myself. I wish I was more responsible when I started out doing this. In the 1970’s I was a young actor and made foolish mistakes. I learned from my past and try to teach actors tow be responsible, professional at all times.
What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
I’m still new to these parts (PA) that is, still figuring that one out.
What is your favorite project that you worked on?
Probably my favorite thing being an acting coach is working onset with actors both in Film and Television. As an acting coach I have worked on a number of projects. If I had to have one, it would be coaching my actor in Star Trek. I also had the opportunity to play a Klingon, that was perhaps my favorite.
What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
My aspirations as an acting coach have always been driven foremost by the creative desire to always question the universe. I did not get into this to be a star, but rather to find the stardom with in. I am doing what I love to do and hopefully be doing this for a very long time.
What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
They can learn more about the studio by going online at www.johnpallottastudio.com The contact info is there.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org