Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Casting

I love the articles at Backstage. On February 4th, Filmmaker Adam Green ("Frozen") really shed some profound light on the casting process:

"For me, so much of who I hire on my cast and crew is based just on how I feel around you. Are you going to jell with my crew? I've used the same crew for everything, and it's a family. So what I like are actors who are part of the filmmaking process and are intelligent about moviemaking. It's not just about "Look how pretty I am" and "I was on 'The OC' once." I'm not impressed...The thing about auditions is you can't really tell about a lot of things. I know some great actors that bomb every audition. Because it sucks; what an awkward process to walk into a room full of people you may or may not know. It's almost worse if you do know them, because how are they going to believe you as another character? So just be you, be relaxed, and don't come in with some sort of agenda or ego...And don't kiss my ass, either...So don't kiss ass, but at the same time just be you and do your thing...The conversation that happens before and after the actual read is usually where the decision is made...I take a long time to cast my stuff, and I'm very picky in who I cast, and I think that's why I've been so lucky. "

I'm finding this more and more - how does a filmmaker feel about me as an actor? Is he comfortable with me? I keep telling my colleagues, and I am saying the same to you as well, the entertainment industry is no different from any other industry - we have to nurture our talent so we can trust that when we call upon it whenever, it's there and we have to market ourselves and cultivate relationships to be known. The third thing is we have to be ourselves and communicate our personality. When I was Director of Marketing in high-tech, and I needed to hire staff, I used to hire people based not so much on their skill set (it was there on their resume and even if they were short one or two things, I knew I could train them) but more on their personality -- were they a good fit for me and my team and the company, did they have a good work ethic, did they come across as professional, did they have a life outside of work - things we would call "nontangibles". In Silicon Valley, the fit was so important, we would end up having candidates we like interview with other members of the team to ensure the fit was there, and that could turn into multiple interview situations - very picky, indeed. 

In the audition room, I try to get my personality across - I'm not saying being bigger than life - I'm saying letting them see who I am and what I am like - being myself - so it will make it easy for them to cast me by getting answers to the following questions: Is she professional? Does she have a good work ethic? Can I count on her to deliver the goods to help me meet my project's creative and financial goals?

I'm seeing that more emphasis is being placed on the personality side of things because you are already in the room because they know you can do the job and are what they are looking for -- so, bring yourself into the room, HAVE FUN and tip the scales in your favor!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kathryn The Great

I was in awe of some amazing acceptance speeches last night - Mo'Nique, Sandra Bullock and...Ms. Kathryn Bigelow.

What can I say about Kathryn Bigelow - she is such a gratious person. I've been a fan since "Strange Days". I am so thrilled for her - not only because last night, she became the first female to win the Best Director Academy Award, but also because of her amazing talent, strength and professionalism.

Congrats to "The Hurt Locker" for winning 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Good Week

I wrote on my Facebook profile yesterday that I was prepping for auditions and performances this week. I have two indie film auditions this week and I am performing in two short play reading programs - check my Facebook fan page for details on that. In addition, I booked my photo shoot with, in my and others' opinion, the best photographer in town, Dana Patrick, I signed up for CD workshops, and I mailed postcards to my episodic and feature film target CDs, and sent congratulations cards to some of my favorite film producers. A damn fine and productive week thus far.

When I am not auditioning, I am hustling to do my marketing and cultivating relationships, or as Dallas Travers says, I'm sending out my "ships". I'm planting the seeds and I am not focused on when the harvest will come in but how I might be able to learn from and help the individuals I am cultivating relationships with.

I also had an opportunity to look at some Facebook friends' updates. I saw a lot of folks saying they nailed their auditions. I am always happy to hear when my actor friends feel they nailed their auditions and share it - we, as actors, have to be our own cheerleaders - it is something we have to do to keep sane. I know people say that they feel like they are bragging when they toot their own horn. No, No, No. You are celebrating yourself when you toot your own horn -- I think we should toot our own horns more often. Nurturing ourselves is key.

My acting coach and I have had several conversations about "being seduced by experiences". Huh, you ask? Being seduced by the experience, for me, is making the experience more important than it really is. In my acting, there are remnants of that from time to time. I make a memory so important that I disengage with my partner to relive the memory. Also, seduced by experience means making results bigger than the process. I know it has been quite a shift for me to take my focus off of the results and place it on the process. Doing so helps me to not be overly excited or disappointed in an experience, but instead I say to myself "ok, I am experiencing this right now" and I move on to the next experience. I'm not saying I discount my experience, I say that I look at the experience objectively and don't judge it. We get into trouble when we start judging. I try not to judge my audition experiences - I don't ask "did I do well?" or "did I suck?" but "hmm...that's how I did...what did I learn...on to my next experience". I'm not saying I don't stress - I have my "actor mind taffy" time, I try to get it out of my system, and move on. That deserves repeating, yes I MOVE ON. It even felt good to say it as I wrote it.

The focus on the journey has really given me peace of mind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Less Is More

It's taken me a long time to get to say this - "I'm going to do what I want to do". Simple? Excuse me while I fall back on an old cliche - it's easier said than done.

There have been many times, that we, as actors, fall into traps of listening to everything people say what an actor should do and try to follow it all. I remember being told that I should submit for everything I was a fit for. And I did that. However, not everything I'm a fit for is right for me and that I want to do.

I'm at a point in my film and TV career that I don't have to do low pay/no pay work. Yes, I still enjoy working on student films - there are some great ones (I'll be writing about the Chapman film I just completed, in the coming weeks) - and other independent projects that move me. I'll be honest - I've been thinking about the phrase, "show business" a lot. The entertainment business is a business - so I'm very focused on finding work that let's me play for pay.

The key for me is doing projects that move and inspire me to want to communicate the story.

I believe doing less is really more because it makes you focus on the quality not the quantity. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!