Michael started training with The Children’s Theatre in Montreal when he was 5, acting in their large scale productions until he was 12. He spent his teens and early twenties doing musicals, playing to critical acclaim roles such as Riff in West Side Story, Adam Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. At 26 he returned to school to complete the three year conservatory acting program at John Abbott College, after which he acted in his first professional play, the original script Manhattan Je Vous Dis by Paul Dervis, who also directed. Shortly after, Michael moved to Vancouver to attend the Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts, where he majored in acting and studied an interdisciplinary curriculum including Dance and Music. He also studied writing, design, and directing, and as well as he became proficient in all the technical areas of the theatre. During the course of the three years, Michael was also involved with dozens of independent plays with companies like Ah-Um Productions with whom he performed in nine new plays in a single year, WildThyme Productions, and with Tempest in a Teacup Productions. All of these plays were world premieres of original scripts, they were written, produced, and mounted by Michael and his colleagues, and they were performed in Vancouver’s theatrical venues and festivals. Yours Truly, an original script produced by Tempest in a Teacup Productions which featured Michael as an actor, was the Vancouver Sun Newspaper’s Pick of The Week. A week after his final class in University, Michael was involved in a traffic collision and spent much of the next two years undergoing physiotherapy and unable to act.
When in 2003 he was able to return to the boards he completed a string of plays in Vancouver, including as a member of an Equity Co-Op called the Of Mice and Mentors Equity Co-Op, playing roles like Curly in Of Mice and Men and Owen in Brian Friel’s Translations. In all, Michael has performed in over 75 plays, and been a part of creating and premiering almost 30 original, brand new scripts. Michael’s 40 years of experience on the boards and his two degrees in acting for the Theatre give him a vast repertoire of skills to call upon both as an actor and as a teacher, and they, combined with his unique approach towards teaching acting, form the thickest layer of the foundation of the Chameleon Audition Survival Training system.
Michael believes that theatre technique easily adapts to the big or small screen and can help TV and Film actors to create solid, repeatable, truthful work. Chameleon Audition Survival Training approaches every scene like it’s a short play. The scene itself, even if it’s only one page, one paragraph, or even one line, has a moment before, stasis, an inciting incident, a story arc, at least one character arc, at least one beat change, emotional transformation, a climax and denouement, and a moment after as a new stasis is reached. It may even have an entrance and exit. Even a one line scene has the potential to be auditioned like this, if the actor sees and then seizes the opportunity. The audition will be the only time we ever get to perform our short play to an audience, so if we want to wow them we need to rehearse our Audition as completely and as meticulously as we would rehearse a longer play. And when the actor finally performs the play at the Audition, it will be like minimalist theatre…he or she will be alone on stage with no props or set, standing on the mark blinded by lights and auditioning alone, since the audition reader stands off camera to provide the actor with an eyeline that is close to the lens. Only the auditioning actor is visible on the audition tape, and only from the waist or the chest up. They are watching you on a TV screen in a tight enough shot to see the slightest flicker of hesitation flash through your mind. The actor struggles, lives, and works under a microscope, so get used to it. It’s also true that we usually need to prepare our audition in a single evening, so it’s fortunate for us that the script is only a few minutes long.
Michael has used Chameleon Audition Survival Training to help many trained theatre actors adjust their existing technique to be more camera friendly, eliminating the dreaded “too theatrical” from the feedback the casting directors give to their agents. One example of his success in this area is the actor Melissa Halstrom. Melissa is a trained and talented theatre actor who worked with Michael for a single afternoon and learned how to adjust her theatre technique to work for the camera. A week later, she had her first professional audition, the supporting lead in a feature film called To Be Fat Like Me. She credits Michael and C.A.S.T. with helping her to book the role and to do successful work on set by demystifying the audition process and on camera acting for her, and by helping her to adjust the size of her acting to be believable on screen.
Film and Television Acting Experience:
Michael had his first line on film at 12 years old in the Steven J Roth production of Agency, starring Lee Majors and Robert Mitchum. He worked on numerous films and TV shows doing background as a teenager, and in his early twenties played a recurring role in the daily Canadian Soap Opera called Time Of Your Life (1988). Focussed on his education and theatre training, Michael did not work professionally on camera again until 2003, when he was invited to play Lt. Menard on Stargate SG-1 in the role written for him by famed writer/director Peter Deluise. Between 2003 and 2007, Michael appeared in over a dozen films and TV shows including White Chicks, Psych, Steven King’s The Dead Zone, and Uwe Boll’s Postal. He was also featured playing leads in almost a dozen independent films, many of which were featured in some of the world’s top film festivals, including Washington, Iran, Sweden, Israel, and Montreal. He can also been seen as the Cyberpredator in the educational video game Cybercops playing opposite Donnoly Rhodes in this online educational game geared towards teaching kids how to avoid online predation. In all, Michael has hundreds of days as an actor on set under his belt.
Theatre, Film, and Television Design and Tech Experience:
Never one to limit himself to being an actor only, Michael has worked on dozens of plays as well as film and TV sets as a lighting technician, and as well he has directed and designed extensively. He has produced countless plays, and two on-camera projects: Steklo, a 5 part miniseries that aired in Europe, and Hit ‘N Strum, a feature film which is soon to be released. He has over a hundred days on set as a Production Assistant in the position of Key PA, which put him right by video village where the directors and producers watch the monitors as the shooting happens. His opportunity to be a part of the crew for the entire first season of Mysterious Ways gave him a unique perspective towards Surviving on set as an actor and as a crew member day after day and month after month, as well as giving him a overall understanding of the filmmaking process, something most actors never consider. He worked as Propsmaster for an independent feature, has worked as an Assistant Director and as an On Set Acting Coach on industrial films, and has also paid dues to IATSE as an Electrician/Lamp Operator. Michael’s overall understanding of the on set process helps Chameleon Audition Survival Training to incorporate the reality of on set work and on set life into the actor’s training and preparation, an aspect that is unique to C.A.S.T.. C.A.S.T. is designed to not only teach actors how to act, to prepare for auditions, and to book acting jobs, but also to teach them how to prepare for set once those jobs are booked, how to work on set and to understand how it’s different than working in the vacuum of the studio, how the rehearsal process works on set, how to survive the day, the business, and how to endure long term, and most importantly how to work and to behave like a professional both on set and off.
Michael has worked as an audition reader, camera operator, and casting associate on countless projects with some of Vancouver’s top casting directors. He has hundreds of days of professional casting experience under his belt, and between casting and coaching, has been involved in tens of thousands of auditions.
Michael has also been used as a casting consultant by many directors. As a result, Michael’s casting choices have gotten many Vancouver actors roles. Michael’s experience in professional casting has given him an insider’s viewpoint on the audition process, as he is more aware than most of what ‘They’, the Producers and the Director, are looking for the room. It also helps that Michael has been one of Them himself, having worked as a Producer on a miniseries and on a feature film.
Michael's work in the casting department has helped Chameleon Audition Survival Training to stay cutting edge and to incorporate the real world audition process into the theory of acting for film and television. It also guarantees that when Michael shoots audition tapes for private clients, they are of the same quality and shooting technique seen from professional casting rooms.
Managing and Artistic Director:
As Michael’s teaching reputation and business grew, he was no longer able to concentrate on running the day to day operation of the acting school he was using as a coaching space, so he left the school and took over a small theatre in Vancouver, the new home of C.A.S.T.. There, as artistic and managing director he was able to continue to train actors and to prepare auditions, and as well he was developing a season of New Canadian Plays for the theatre to perform. One project on the go was as follows: The theatre was a non-profit society, and thus was eligible to handle people who had community service hours to complete. Michael explains: “In a nutshell, people who got into minor legal trouble who had to do community service hours had the choice to go walk dogs at the SPCA, spend time in a center for the elderly, work in my theatre, or do some other approved activity that would help them pay their debt to society. The people with whom I was lucky enough to be involved with were for the most part average people who had made minor mistakes. After some months, I realized that the time that they were spending working in the theatre together was transforming them in a positive way…. Kids from different gangs were working together building sets, organizing the props room, and watching me work with actors, listening to me build actors’ confidence by teaching them communication and relationship skills using audition scripts as a vehicle….when some of them told me how much their work in the theatre was helping them in their outside lives, I started a writing program with them, getting them to write their stories, how they had gotten into trouble and what had led them to that situation, how they had found the theatre, and how it had helped them to transform….. I had a stack of letters and was working on a performance project, planning to combine live on stage professional actors and the actual writers of the stories, experienced actors and untrained outsiders on the same stage for a piece of art which I hoped would be as transformative for the audience as it was for us. Unfortunately our plans were stymied by the loss of our lease and the untimely demise of our theatre.”
On Screen and Teaching Highlights:
As an actor, Michael will never forget working with Michael Rooker in Stargate SG-1 on a role written for him by Director Peter Deluise, working with Marlon and Keenan Ivory Wayons and Terry Crews in White Chicks for a marathon 22 hours long day on set, with Anthony Michael Hall in Steven King’s The Dead Zone, and with Donnelly Rhodes in Cybercops, an internet educational game geared towards helping kids avoid online harassment and predation. Michael also loved working with James Roday and Dule Hill the leads of Psych, and with Erick Avari in Uwe Boll’s Postal, in which he had the opportunity to improv a scene and include a “birdy num num” homage to Peter Sellers. “I’ve been very fortunate so far in my career. I haven’t been doing film and television full-time for very long compared to the amount of time I’ve dedicated to the theatre and to my training, and I truly appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given since I began working in front of the camera regularly. It feels like every time I book a role, no matter how large or small, I find myself standing there doing a scene with someone incredibly famous. It’s truly an honour to be doing the work I love with these amazing people who are so successful and talented.”
Michael has had leads in almost a dozen independent short films, many of which have been shown in festivals the world over, including the USA, Canada, Sweden, Israel, and Iran. In the Montreal Film Festival of 2001, two different shorts featuring Michael as the lead premiered on the same evening.
Over the last 10 years Michael has coached thousands of actors from ages 5-75, helping hundreds of them book roles, and many of those were beginners or even first time auditioners. Chameleon Audition Survival Training works whether you’ve been an actor for decades or for days.
Michael has been invited to guest teach and to lead workshops in many different schools including The Art Institute of Vancouver, or AI, the Studio On The Drive in Vancouver, St Georges elementary school in Richmond, BC, The New Image Acting School in Vancouver, as well as privately for a number of talent agencies and other on camera acting schools in Vancouver.
Chameleon Audition Survival Training paired with Michael Shore’s experienced eye can help any actor from beginner to expert to develop new skills and to improve their acting, and the fluidity and flexibility of the system strives to develop each actor in a way that is most useful and comfortable for that individual, even though the emotional gymnastics required of any actor in any scene are often not particularly comfortable, and the work is always long and hard. And Michael’s varied areas of expertise create a uniquely all-encompassing training and improvement opportunity for any professional or aspiring actor, as well as providing one of the simplest, most cost effective routes to coaching and taping auditions for online submissions and to creating actor demo reels for actors who don’t already have a large body of work.