The official Dawn Wells boot camp
The former Mary Ann ran a rigorous program for aspiring actors.
No matter what profession you're in, on-the-job training is crucial. You can read all about a gig, but doing it is the best way to learn. No manual or guidebook could ever be as insightful as experience.
This is all probably pretty easy to forget for actors. Because acting is such a sought-after profession, plenty of "professionals" are ready and willing to take advantage of that interest. At any local bookstore, you're bound to find volume after volume offering advice and guidance in pursuing the craft. But when you look at the best actors, it's their experience that sets them apart from their peers. Meryl Streep isn't great because of something she bought at Barnes & Noble. She's great because of the work she's put in.
By 2001, people had all but given up on rescuing the castaways from Gilligan's Island. There were a few made-for-TV movies where the characters did their best to get away, but there was some sort of magical magnet pulling them back to that island.
So, when interest cooled in getting Mary Ann Summers to safety, Dawn Wells pivoted to using her skills elsewhere. Specifically, she put her efforts towards educating her fellow actors. She was, after all, sitting on decades of experience as a working actress. That history is valuable, as were the lessons she learned along the way. To best immerse would-be thespians in the demands of the job, Wells started her own boot camp. She provided some details to the Reno Gazette-Journal, and it sounded intense.
"We treat you as if you're on location," said Wells. "It's 6 in the morning to 11 at night. It's dumping you into the reality check of what it's really like to get the job, to hold the job, to do it adequately. And everything is on film, so when you leave you have an audition tape. Then we do a personal assessment of where you fit, where you belong."
She hoped the boot camp would help not just actors, but also the casts and crews of Hollywood projects. Novice actors, she explained, can cost producers thousands of dollars while the crew rushes to fix problems.
Wells wanted to supplement the skills and lessons that are taught in acting classes and community theater.
"I admire what the schools are teaching actors," she said. That's the craft. That's what the characters are all about. Now, it's adapting it to the film technique so you'll be able to do a commercial or to audition for a sitcom or soap opera."