Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting a Great Actor's Reel

Let's face it, in this day and age with technology being what it is you need a demo reel. In the past, all actors needed was a good looking headshot and a resume but those days are coming to an end. With just about everyone utilizing fast internet connections, demo reels via the internet are as important as headshots. Casting directors would rather see your talent instead of looking at headshot with resumes that everyone knows that people tend to stretch the truth on just a bit. Don't take it from us, hear it from the source:

"Not having [a current actors reel] absolutely decreases an actor's chances of getting hired. It looks like you've never worked in film or television. And what better way to see how an actor looks on film than to see their reel?"
Mark Sikes, casting director

A good demo reel has to show off your acting ability and do it quickly. Casting Directors and Producers don't have time to sit through every Demo Reel they come across so you got to get their attention quickly. Since we also do Independent Films we know exactly what Casting Directors and Producers are looking for. We work with great care to not only make a great demo reel but we also make sure it packs the punch that is vital to any actor in the business. Our goal is not only to make you a great demo reel but create a work of art. Something that is not only watched more than once but something that people will be talking about.

How to create a good actor's reel

Start strong! Make sure we know WHO you are… your NAME should be the first thing we see. Your demo is a professional tool. It can be artistic but it must never be confusing. Your name must appear in clear type within the first 3 seconds and be clearly visible long enough for the casting director to write it down. This is not the time for dazzling video effects. Billboard the name first, then a quick montage is usually OK. If you want to include a longer fabulous, fancy, slow-motion, music-video-style, effect-laden montage you usually are safer to keep it for the end of the reel.

Make sure we see YOUR FACE first, featuring you at your very best… You can open your video demo with your great professional resume shot as a title screen. We need to see you clearly right away. You should also be the first face, voice and motion shots that we see. If you want to re-use a bit of the opening later as part of longer scene or set-up that’s OK, but start hot, start strong, and start with putting your face right in the casting director’s face!

Put your “best acting bit” and your “most cast-able type” first on the reel. Don’t save anything for later… grab our attention now. We don’t need to see elements that set-up or explain the scene. Don’t worry about context. Just cut to the good actor bits.

Give us a quick, strong contrast next. Once you’ve established yourself, your look, voice, and your most cast-able type, move on! It is great to see you doing something “light” or comic and something heavier and more emotional, or vice versa. Strong contrast in characters is good but it’s not life and death. Usually most good demo’s don’t feature really unusual stuff, strong make-up or odd characters or accents right away, although you can go to them after a minute or so.

Be selfish! Cut out that other actor when and if you can. BUT don’t cut out your reaction shots. We don’t just want to watch you talk, we want see you react.

Keep it tight, sharp and short! Most of the bad demo’s we’ve seen are simply too long and linger too long on weak work. We would rather see a tight 90 seconds than a bad 5 minutes. A good rule of thumb: Total running length over never MORE than three minutes. Leave them wanting more. This is a movie-trailer advertising the feature length movie that is YOU! Don’t overstay your welcome.

Use the most professional shots you’ve got. Why not steal those million dollar set-ups when you had 3 lines on a big feature or 6 lines on a series? Even a commercial sometimes can show you at your best. Use the shot! Even 5-10 seconds where you’re looking good is useful. Always remember that you are selling to a sophisticated audience that’s highly visual and technically demanding.

OK, it should be ALL REAL WORK! Be aware that most casting directors expect to see MOSTLY professional work on your reel. But the reality is that most actor’s demos will include some non-professional content. Add to your “reel” work with a less-than-professional clip ONLY when it’s really good. A clip from a decent on-camera class, a very short monologue you’ve shot with a good video camera, good cuts from student films are all OK but shouldn’t be the only stuff we see on a working actor’s reel.

Go for great quality first… but don’t always reject a clip just because you only have a poor dub of it. [A good video editor can sometimes help “beef” up a technically weak bit of tape.] Still you must try to get professional level copies of all your work, every time… that takes persistence! Start the process on the day you do the shoot. Your personal reel is at the very bottom of the list of priorities for any producer but they often respond to courtesy, warmth, persistence and puppy-dog eyes! Always offer to pay for the cost of the dub.

We need to see your eyes! Medium and close-up shots are the essential shots for your reel. Long or wide shots are good for film-making but weak for demo-making.

NO LONG MONOLOGUES! Don’t try and do a long 3+ minute monologue straight to camera [unless you have been specifically asked to do that for something like a theatre school video audition.] Even the greatest actors in the world don’t try to carry more than 90 seconds straight to camera without editing, cutaways, or a change in shot. You are better to do 2 or 3 short contrasting monologues rather than one long one. You might shoot for 3 minutes and edit it down to one.

LISTEN! Be alert to the audio quality. Bad audio, mixed-up levels or weird music will distract more quickly than even a bad image will on video. Spend time on mastering and mixing audio levels. Use music but keep the music under, not over, the top of your performance and your voice.

Finally, maybe you should get professional help. Yes, you may be able to edit this yourself on your own computer but it isn’t the technology, it’s the vision that a skilled editor brings that will help you build a winning reel. And yes, you may already perform pretty well but a good director will push your performance into ranges and depths that you haven’t imagined.

For those of you seeking a professionally made actor's reel, we work with a talented and experience producer who is surprisingly reasonable for friends of ours. If you or anyone you know is looking for a professional reel, contact us for a referral at

Marketing Yourself as an Actor

Marketing Tips for Actors- Getting Your Ducks in a Row
by Gwyn Gilliss

Gwyn Gilliss is the Executive Director of TAM, The Actor's Market ( a marketing firm for actors. They provide monthly FREE seminars/teleseminars, FREE weekly marketing tips as well as access to top photographers, graphic artists and videographers ( who provide every marketing tool an actor needs ( Gwyn's acting career spans several decades during which time she appeared on and off-Broadway, in classical roles in American Repertory companies in over 18 contract and recurring roles in Daytime/Primetime TV, Films and dozens of network commercials/V.O.'s. As a Career Coach she is available to work One-on-One with actors at all levels.

When I was studying theatre at Carnegie-Mellon there was a classmate who had a famous father, an opera singer well known in Europe. He was very talented and had a huge following. I heard this story about one of his opening nights while performing in a Wagnerian Opera.

Always friendly and outgoing, the tenor was chatting with someone backstage when the orchestra started playing and in the darkness the curtain went up. Obviously, he was pre-occupied with telling a joke or some story when there was a hush over the audience, total silence. Then the orchestra stopped and suddenly- hilarity. Everybody was screaming with laughter. Looking out at the almost empty stage, he realized too late that he had missed his entrance on the back of a HUGE SWAN. Without missing a beat he turned to the stage manager and asked, “When’s the next Swan?”

Often when I speak to actors I mention our upcoming NY or LA “ActorMarathons or our Sitcom, Film, Commercial bootcamps taught by celebrity guest directors I’m always amazed that so many have to think about it for a while or they ask the question, “When’s the next one?”

I wonder if they really WANT to be successful working actors or if they just want to keep doing the same old, same old- having a day job and putting off attaining their real career.

What is it that keeps good talented actors from achieving success?? Not lack of talent or training. There’s plenty of that out there. Is it fear, poverty mentality or just the disbelief that a specific opportunity would really make a difference? I don’t believe its fear. If somebody really wants something they overcome the fear whether it’s asking someone out on a date or cutting off their long hair. And it’s not lack of funds. If someone really wants something, they’ll find the money. I’ve even had actors tell me that they couldn’t afford good headshots because they had booked a vacation to the Caribbean. Somehow they found the money for the trip but not for necessary marketing tools. Gee! Priorities were off there!

I think the reason that good actors are not successful is a perception that they have a lot of time- that opportunities are plentiful and that they’ll stay young forever. PROCRASTINATION. “Oh, NEXT year I’ll go to LA to get work on a primetime show.” “I’ll get a demo reel in six months when I save some money.” “I’ll get around to taking that class next semester”. There’s an assumption that everything is on hold for them, that nothing ever changes. This is an incorrect assumption. It’s also the assumption of people who never get what they want out of life. Somehow they just miss the boat or the swan because they don’t make a COMMITTMENT.

Winners are able to make decisions FAST. They can see the “possibilities” in every opportunity so they get to that audition, hop on that plane, get there-they find a way! They COMMIT. And they have their lives set up so they can go forward. In short, they have their ducks in a row.

How do you set up your life so that you can be a winner? What “DUCKS” did you need to get in a row?

These are the 6 things WINNERS seem to have in common:

1- A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE that’s pleasant, clean, NEAT, and SAFE. Create an office, a place where you can have a computer, database and marketing tools. You are your own one-person business.

2- A SYSTEM of consistent communication with the Industry. That means that every week you DO something to further your career: a class, a professional meeting, a self-submission, updating your tools, shooting a new demo reel. WORK daily at building a career.

3- A CONSISTENT INCOME from a day or evening job to pay for marketing tools, classes and still allow the availability for auditions. If you’re broke and desperate when you go to an audition, you’ve already lost the job.(I can’t begin to tell you the number of actors I’ve met who are always broke, can’t afford to get the tools they need or meet the top agents who could change their career/LIFE! What are they thinking??)

4- Good PERSONAL HABITS- staying physically and mentally healthy-being happy and optimistic: daily exercise, eating properly, getting enough sleep. Maybe your 9-5-er friends are able to party all weekend and show up at their offices Monday morning tired, hung over. It may not make any difference to them- they have a guaranteed weekly check. But you may have the audition of a lifetime! Looking great for that audition and having energy to spare may make the difference between a major career break and unemployment. You can’t afford to blow it. You need to COMMIT to yourself to always be in top form.

5- A MENTOR - someone to advise, encourage and inspire. Absolutely no successful person got there ALONE. Everyone needs encouragement and advice.

6- A PLAN- goals for the short term and long term and a schedule to carry them out. This includes further training, networking with industry contacts, auditioning for everything you can, developing as an actor by getting into as many shows and performance groups as possible whether you’re paid or not. Revise your plan monthly. If a market or goal isn’t working change it or change your location, tools, approach. Get advice!

OK! Here’s to hoping you get your ducks in a row so you won’t miss the boat!

Successful marketing!

Strike benefits Non Union actors

It is being said that this pending actor's strike will be benefitial to non union actors. As one blog commenter adds, "lets see how that writer's strike went... oh yea, massive cancelled shows and no developments for the fall. I see reality tv and unknown non-union "actors" breaking out if SAG goes on strike. And to be honest the actors will deserve it if they do, stupidity is not rewarding." This sounds like great news for our non-union actor friends. Here is more on the subject:

SAG’s Planned Crackdown on Non-Union Web Shows Alters Production Plans
By Daisy Whitney

The Screen Actors Guild plans to crack down on Web shows using SAG actors without an agreement at the start of the new year.

As a result, some Web video producers have begun refusing to work with SAG actors.Web studios HealthiNation and For Your Imagination said they have decided not to use union talent on their shows. But on the flip side is the newly launched site, which leans on union actors and writers for its Web programming.

The sharp philosophical divide over whether to hire union actors for Web video productions underscores one of the many issues that Web producers now face as the Internet TV business starts to mature. Many producers are drawing their lines in the sand now and setting policies on using union talent to avoid complications later.

The big issue is cost. Hiring SAG actors for a Web show can increase the costs because producers need to pay a portion of the actor’s gross compensation to SAG to cover pension, healthcare and other union benefits. That paperwork and cost is prohibitive for some studios, which worry that union involvement could hinder an already tenuous future.

“We are a nonunion shop,’ said Raj Amin, CEO of online health programmer HealthiNation. “Given that you aren’t monetizing it the same way as network television, it will pretty much kill the business if you have to go union.”

He said his company had considered developing a celebrity-driven show, but ultimately did not because HealthiNation would have had to pay royalties and episode fees equivalent to those of television. “It was just not an option,” Mr. Amin said. “My fear as a producer of these shows is if the wrong rules will be exercised it will make it tough to get this content off the ground.”

Paul Kontonis, CEO of Web video shop For Your Imagination, also has opted to produce shows only with nonunion talent. He made that decision when SAG wanted his company to become a signatory because the FYI show “Kyle Piccolo” stars a SAG actor.

“If a SAG actor is going to work on a Web project, it has to be a union production,” said Todd Amorde, SAG’s national director of organizing. Mr. Amorde added that SAG keeps an eye on Web shows and pays close attention to which shows have advertising and which shows use high-profile talent. SAG said more than 750 Web shows have been produced to date under a SAG agreement.

More probably will go union in 2009 because SAG plans to enforce its rule that SAG actors will work only with producers that have SAG agreements. “There has been a lot of confusion over new media, and new media will be dealt with exactly as traditional media has,” Mr. Amorde said.
Mark Friedlander, national director of new media at SAG, said, “We are keeping an eye on it, but of course we want our members to work and to be compensated and we want the industry to prosper.”

According to SAG, if a program is available on the Web for more than six months, the signatory must pay about 6% of the revenue, including ad dollars, to the union. That’s essentially the equivalent of a residual, SAG explained. In addition, the producer would have to contribute 14.8% of all gross compensation to the SAG Producers Pension and Health Plans.

Those costs are too onerous for a startup business, Mr. Kontonis said. FYI will market and distribute shows with SAG actors if a production company has its own agreement with SAG, as “Kyle Piccolo” does, he said. But FYI will no longer produce shows itself with SAG talent.
“The way SAG is treating Web producing companies penalizes them for being their own distributors, but that’s the benefit of being on the Web,” he said. “This could potentially hurt Web shows that are small and starting out.”

Other Web programmers said they are happy to work with SAG. “Though great work can come from nonunion members, we are very proud that all of our shows come from either WGA, SAG or DGA members,” said Brian Rodda, one of the co-founders of The site, which launched last week with a handful of Web series, was founded by a group of Hollywood writers and actors during the writers strike earlier this year.

Still others make the choice on a case-by-case basis. Thom Woodley, co-founder of the production house Dinosaur Diorama, has produced the Web shows “The Burg” and “The All-For-Nots.” He makes the union determination depending on the budget, the casting needs and sponsorship opportunities of a given show, he said.

100 ways to be an artist on a shoe string budget in 2009!

100 ways to be an artist on a shoe string budget in 2009---I've really decided to challenge myself today; and with that, I would like to challenge you. Make a list for yourself, of 100 ways (not listed on this blog) to be an artist on a shoe string budget (broke and bohemian!) in the year 2009!

For is my list! I'm excited to see it grow---! (We care about what you have to say!)
2.Make vlogs ("video blogs" can be like an online journal or you can use them to share ideas)
3.Become a street perfomer (Holler, sing, dance, do shakespeare)
4.Start a dance company (I.E. Think Dance Collective
5.Go DIY. Do it yourself. You got a vision. Find the medium and make it happen!
6.Dance. Just dance. In your house. In the streets. On the stage. Express yourself through your movements!
7.Sing. Be a singer in a bar, cabaret, on the subway train. Sing into an mp3 recorder. We want to hear your voice.
8.Write a novel. The only cost: A cup of coffee and the risk of losing your sanity!
9.Act. Write a movie and star in it! Put it online, put on dvd. Keep it to ourself. ACT!
10.Write letters. Your handwriting is art. letters are a form of expression. Write Letters!
11.Be someones pen pal. Art only takes the self. The universe is connected. Share with someone.
12.Make a film. Gather your friends. use anything. Every story is worth sharing. Be creative!
13. Be original. You are an artist!
14.Make line drawings.
15. Invent something!
16. Reinvent something!
17. Write a play.
18. Write a short story.
19. Record 52 songs. One for every week of the year.
20. Write and record an album.
21. Self distribute your record (design all of the packaging)
22. Design the packaging for someone else's record.
23. Play an instrument on someone elses record.
24. Learn a new instrument.
25. Make a web show (short form story telling on the web)
26. Use a web cam to make a feature film!
27. Paint. (Water color, oil, anything!)
28. Paper Mache' a sculpture (I reccomend using a balloon, flower and water mix and newspapers)
29. Recycle! Working on making the earth a better place to live is the job of an artist.
30.Reuse. You already have everything in your home that you need to make art.
31. Tell a story. (The most basic and essential part of every aspect of art)
32. Read a book and make notes.
33. Adapt a book you love into a screen play!
34.Go for a walk. (It can be art if you make it art) Art is about creating an experience!
35.Play the drums!
36. Make a mandolin (the instructions have to be online SOMEWHERE)
37. Make a percussion instrument (start with a milk jug and some pebbles)
38. Create a sculpture from things you would normally throw a way.
39. Make a sculpture from things you find outside. Display it in the some place you found it.
40.Make a snowman.
41.Dress up. Be your own fashion icon.
42. Create a character. Dress like it. Walk around. Transform your whole being.
43. Start a book club.
44. Join a book club.
45. Make a snowflake (Fold and cut patterns in a piece of paper)
46. Hang snowflakes and star designs around your house.
47.Make a new friend.
48.Be a good friend.
49.Support other artists!!!
50.Build a tree house.
51. Spend a week living in a tree house, while you are writing a childrens book.
52. Write a children book.
53. Play the piano for a benefit concert.
54.Build a bird house.
55. Make a drawing of a bird you see.
56. Make an outline of your favorite person's hand.
57. Make a body outline of someone you love.
58. Hold hands with someone and sing auld lang.
59.Make a remix of a favorite song.
60. Remix an entire record (Add hip hop beats, new harmonies, audio from tv clips!)
61. Park your car. Turn on the headlights and turn up the jamzzz. Get out and dance.
62. Put a flower on a man made object.
63. Write love poetry. Share it!
64. Write a love letter. Send it!
65.Cut and Paste old emails and resend them to the original senders.
66.Write an email to an old friend.
67. Write an email to a new friend.
68. Self distribute everything you make!
69. Make a post card.
70. Collect post cards and post them around your home.
71. Make a sketch of someone who lives in your neighborhood, give it to them.
72. Take a photograph of something beautiful. Give it to someone as a book mark.
73. Make a bookmark with encouraging quotes.
74. Take a picture with someone who broke your heart. Forgive them.
75. Make love. Take a clos-up picture of your faces afterwards.
76.Write a poem from a childs perspective.
77. Keep a jounal. Have 365 entries by 2010!
78. Start a charitable organization. Throw a benefit concert.
79. Cook someone a meal. Its all about presentation.
80. Start jogging. Keep a journal on the thoughts you had while you were running.
81. Finger paint.
82. Make a design of a wolf, using the keys from your keyboard. Print it. Share it!
83. Write a T.V. Pilot.
84.Film your tv pilot! Use whatever camera you can find.
85. Start a choir!
86. Join a choir!
87. Start or join a hand bell choir!
88.Design your own line of jewelry.
89. Make tee shirt design. Print it and put in on a blank shirt.
90. Start a web site.
91. Produce your friend no budget film.
92. Screen films in your apartment. Create a play list of films to show every week.
93. Give someone a tattoo with markers.
94. Paint your face.
95. Rip your own holes in your jeans.
96. Create a hip hop beat.
97. D.J. a house party.
98. Edit someones novel.
99. Create art not boundries!
100. Make a list of 100 ways to be an artist 0n a shoe string budget in 2009!

Happy last day of 2008.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Actor-Director relationship

Sarah Polley, Beau Bridges, and Sook-Yin Lee on the actor-director relationship at Vancouver Film and Television Forum.

By Rebort

The Vancouver International Film Festival annual Film and Television Forum wrapped on Saturday with the popular New Filmmaker's Day. The last event I caught at the forum, and probably the highlight of NFD, was a morning workshop, "the Actor/Director Relationship", with Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Away from Her), actor/director Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, My Name is Earl) and Sook-Yin Lee (Shortbus, Hedwig and the Angry Inch). The 175-seater cinema was filled to capacity, with standing room only.

Canadian actor Sarah Polley is making her directorial debut with already critically well-received Away From Her. It's a love story about a man who loses his wife to Alzheimer's starring Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie.

Polley is a top rank actor. There's depth to her performances, and she can have a gripping screen presence. So it was a little surprising that she played down the importance of the actor-director relationship. It seems, often the best thing a director can do is stand back and let the actors get on with it.

All three panellists talked at length about the tricks that they use for getting themselves or their cast into character. They spoke about the need to be constantly creative and adapting quickly to situations in order to wring the best performances out of a scene.

"Sometimes the scene will fall flat," said Polley. "You have to find ways to construct a scene later. There are days - I have them too - where you can't create that scene without the help of the editor."

Getting good coverage on those occasions, so that the editor has plenty to work with is important.

Polley suggested rehearsals are a good way to hone performances, but that some great directors don't believe in rehearsals at all. Each director has their own style. "The best directors are constantly reinventing the process," said Polley.

She went further suggesting that as an actor she'd like to argue that directors should know more about the craft of acting so that they can talk more easily with the cast about their performances, but she remains "ambiguous" on the subject. "The truth is... it's not theatre." Michael Winterbottom and Steven Soderbergh, she pointed out, are laconic in their directorial style, often giving one word instructions ("faster", "louder", "slower"), but they still make good movies.

Polley pointed out pitfalls for new directors. You need to recognise that doing an audition and giving a performance are different skills. You can be good at one and lousy at the other and vice versa. As a first-time director, you should also "be honest about your limitations" suggested Polley, rather than faking it. "Everyone knows that you're a first timer."

Sook-Yin Lee talked about her role in Shortbus, which has created controversy with its orgiastic scenes of unsimulated sex. Not surprisingly, safety - both physical and emotional safety - was a big issue here. Shortbus director John Cameron Mitchell encouraged a non-hierachical approach on set, unlike the often militaristic hierachy of most movies sets. "Everyone looked after everyone," says Lee.

One day in rehearsal, Lee was feeling shy about taking her clothes off. So she asked everyone else to take their clothes off. It made her feel better.

If a scene is falling flat Lee suggested that the director "throw in a zinger." Letting the actor in on a secret at an opportune moment, or creating something that they hadn't anticipated, can bring a scene to life. Lee cited one intimate scene between herself and another actor during the shoot in Shortbus, which was repeatedly falling flat. Lee says they knew what the director wanted, but the scene just wasn't working. So Cameron Mitchell took the two actors aside and told them to do the whole scene without using one word from the script or else they'd "be fired." They used that take in the film.

Respect comes first

Polley and Lee emphasised the importance of treating your cast and crew well. If you treat someone disrespectfully, Polley said, "that permeates everything."

Beau Bridges told a few anecdotes to illustrate how a director is like the coach of a sports team. Bridges suggested the director needs to ensure the cast and crew work together as a team, respecting both each other and the director, even if it means firing your star player for being a prima donna.

It's all about relationships, the right chemistry, off-screen and on-screen. Bridges recalled how having been cast as romantic lead for a Norman Jewison film he had to strip to his underpants and get into a double bed on a sound stage for auditions with a string of potential female romantic leads. At the end of the highly enjoyable auditions, Jewison took him for lunch and told him to choose his favourite actor and that would be the one that would get the part. When Bridges said that he wanted Margot Kidder, Jewison said that would have been his choice as well. (Bridges didn't mention the film, although it was probably the unfortunately named Gaily, Gaily released in 1969.)

Bridges talked about the director-actor relationship with another surprising analogy - he tells his actor that the director is "a gun on the hip". He as director gives the actor an idea and it's up to the actor whether he uses it or not.

Bridges talked about a more nebulous concept - the Pyramid of Success - as a tool for weighing up a project. "Industriousness" and "Enthusiasm" are the corner stones of the Pyramid of Success at the base, he told us, with Faith/Patience at the top.

All in all, the panel succeeded in showing us that there are no strict rules for how a director should direct, but if you make sure that you maintain a good working relationship with the rest of the cast and crew you're off to a good start.

(from the Vancouver International Film Festival and VIFF Trade Forum)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Politics and the Oscars

It's funny how in Hollywood specifically, your personality can influence whether or not you receive an Academy Award. The Academy is made up mostly of former winners - everyone that has won an Oscar - from screenwriters to cinematographers to directors to sound engineers to musicians to actors themselves. This can be a double edge sword, apparently.

For instance. Its really cool that the Academy, especially its winning actors, are judging the performances themselves, and that they understand that it can be just as hard, if not harder, to give a subtle, quiet performance, as it is to give an emotionally big and dramatic one. As a fan of most of the DV, performance based, DIY character dramas (including our very own Uptown, Carter, and Cookies & Cream which all feature the leads in almost excrusiatingly real and subdued performances), I like that other actors get this and have nominated performances like these this year, as well as in the past with performances like Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness. So this is refreshing and encouraging.

But unfortunately, although being nominated alone is a career maker and a huge achievement, someitmes you can lose out in the end to a flamboyant performance like Daniel Day Lewis' brilliant performance in There Will Be Blood.

In addition to this, we personally can't wait until the day where your personality has little to nothing to do with whether that year you gave the "best" performance or not. Also, it will be a great day when a small, somewhat "unhappy" story gets the same praise and respect as a feel good film like Slumdog Millionare. A great performance is a great performance, regardless of whether its a "depressing" film or whether or not an actor is deficient in the public relations department.

That being said, here are some interesting thoughts on this year's nomination hopefuls for best actor and actress in the 2009 Academy Awards.

Best Actor front runners:

Best Actress front runners:

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Doubt" leaves no doubt

Los Angeles - The Catholic sex scandal drama Doubt led the nominations announced Thursday for the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The movie earned five nods, including a best actress nomination for Meryl Streep and supporting actor nods for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. The film was also nominated for outstanding performance by a cast, along with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire.

Brad Pitt earned a leading actor nod for his role in Button. He will compete with Sean Penn (Milk), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler).

Besides Streep, the best actress category includes Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road, Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie for Changeling and Melissa Leo for Frozen River.

The late Heath Ledger, who earned critical and mass praise for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, was nominated for supporting actor. Also in that category are Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey, Jr (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), and Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire.

The supporting actress category includes Adams and Davis for Doubt, Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Taraji P Henson (who I continuously route for) for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Kate Winslet for The Reader.

The awards will be presented on January 25. They are considered a good predictor of the Oscar winners as SAG members who choose the winners are also the dominant voting bloc in the Academy Awards acting awards.

A Brave Feature Debut

Iris Huey, a filmmaker, actress and poet, graduated from Howard University where she studied film and theater. Over the years, Iris has worked on many productions both in front and behind the scenes. Her most notable work is an award winning short film she wrote, directed and produced entitled “Scratches”. Recently, Iris established, Big I Entertainment, a motion picture production and distribution company created to entertain and inspire. “Second Chance” is Huey's first feature length film.

The official release date is 1-6-09

Pre-Order Your DVD here:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Xmas gift for the CEO

How was your Christmas? Mine was great! Not because I got some great present I always wanted. Well I did in a way. I usually try to shy away from political opinions, etc, but I was so damn excited and pleased that I won money on this game, and the fact that MY TEAM won, I had to post this. The Lakers snapped the Celtics 19 game winning streak today. So, sorry to Celtics fans or Laker-haters. This one was for me.

Go Lakers.

- Princeton

Alexander the last, first.

Joe Swanberg has a new project. Surprised? One of the most prolific twenty-something filmmakers is finishing one project and starting another. And as always, (except for Nights and Weekends...which may have been the most interesting) he keeped a great online journal of the process. Alexander stars Jess Weixler (TEETH) and Justin Rice (MUTAL APPRECIATION).
His new film "Alexander, the Last" looks great, just based on the photos.
Check out the journal here:

Rumour has it...Joe was wrapping Alexander and starting a new film in the same week. We are very excited for his new work.

Check out his imdb for updates:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Prague's DIY Film Festival

Marika Ley and Pamela Moye, a couple of old-school punk entrepreneurs, launched an underground film festival in Prague, Czech Republic, as an outlet for emerging filmmakers, photographers, and digital artists to show their work. This mini-documentary was shot as an explanatory and promotional opener for the Anti Anti Fest in 2005; Marika and Pamela talk about their indie media empire and their do-it-yourself ethic.

"All you really need to start a film festival is motivation, determination, and a shoebox full of movies."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lions, tigers and strikes...oh my?

Things look a little bit in the air, coming into 2009, with no deal made between the producers union and the actors union. SAG members are split on whether or no ballots should be cast regarding a potention back break strike. Many sag members oppose a strike and feel that the producers and studios have offered a deal worth a listen. However, SAG president Alan Rosenberg would like the authorrity to strike, as a last measure (sound familiar?).

For now, the ballot process has been further delayed until the middle of Jan. This feels oddly like ww2 when the germans and us forces celebrated christmas together.
For more information on the strike, its delay, and the unions--check out this article:>1=28101

I think its really important for anyone involved in the entertainment industry to pay close attention to what the unions are doing, because DIY or NOT, it will effect you either directly or indirectly. A strike would put a lot of jobs on hold which means that everyone (union or not) runs the risk of losing a lot of work. Its also important to focus on what deals are being made regarding new media. I think everyone has a lot to lose if SAG strikes, not just the actors. No Projects, means NO Jobs and NO JOBS means forelonged recession. The entertainment industry has been reasonabbly stable during these tough times but lets not forget the effects of the far reaching writer union strike and stagehand union strike. Those jobs would be at risk AGAIN if SAG strikes. I think that the union negotiators needs to approach the new agreements with the recession in mind. Good deals are important but thry are worthless if no one has a job. Each time a union strikes, we lose valuable members of the creative world to corporate structures and poverty. I'm trying to remain neutral until a few aspects of the deal are clear, but I think it's very important to pay attention and to further ones understanding of the unions inner workings.

Turn on and Tune in.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

M4M in theatres

We just found out that IFC's new acquisition Medicine for Melancholy by Barry Jenkins is in theatres Febraury 2009. It will open in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

Stay tuned below for more details:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Behind the scenes of The Grasslands

We keep hearing about this film The Grasslands but still can't find any updated info on it or its release either on DVD or theatrically. But we were able to find this behind the scenes trailer. This film stars 2 friends of ours - Vincent Caiola, and Danny Doherty (from Cookies & Cream). Check it out below.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Early short by Ry Russo-Young

We finally found this early short by acclaimed, New York, DIY filmmaker Ry Russo-Young.

(2005) Super 8, b&w, 7 min.

Synopsis: A contemporary de-construction of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. In this seven-minute film, three women play the role of Marion Crane on three separate screens. Each Marion makes a different crucial choice that effects her fate in the shower scene.

MARION is currently available to university libraries and professors as a teaching tool for classes that examine gender, cinema studies, and film/video techniques.

MARION is included in Roger Ebert’s private collection.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Working with actors (Woody Allen)

As a collective group of filmmakers, we love Woody Allen. It may even be apparent in our work, as we love actors, the process of working with them, and giving them the freedom to fly.

Here is a little snippet of Woody Allen's work method with actors, as we try to steal every bit of info for when we make our films with our own actors. Hope this helps. Make sure to give us credit for anything you steal.

by David Geffner, Photos by John Clifford/DreamWorks LLC

"Classically framed in medium two-shots with warm, naturalistic lighting, Allen's long, flowing takes not only "get out of the way of the jokes," but they let the actors dominate the action. Aside from the occasional split-screen or extended tracking shot, Hollywood Ending is filmmaking that is just clear and funny.

"There are two things that are fairly consistent in my films," Allen said. "I don't do a lot of close-ups and I use many long masters. I like the perspective of the master shot back to the camera, and I like to give the actors the chance to move freely and experiment within the scene. Obviously, as the writer of all my films, I have specific ideas as to style and tone. But mostly I let the content dictate the form. The most successful comedic filmmakers — Chaplin, Keaton and Billy Wilder — tended to keep things simple, if for no other reason than to clutter the comedy can be fatal.

Of course, over the years, if you want to stretch out as a director and have more fun with the medium, there might be some conflict in your approach to style and technique. That's come through with some of my past movies where I have been more aggressive with the camera, or the lighting, or editing, etcetera. What I've found through experience is that you can only make your presence felt as a director on the more serious films, or, in my case, the more serious comedies. My first concern on truly comic films, ranging from Bananas to Hollywood Ending, is always to protect the laughs in the picture."

Allen also is legendary for protecting his actors.

"I always frame up the shot myself and show that to the DP," Allen said. "The DP gives his feedback and once we've got the shot established, and he's lit it, I'll bring in the actors. I don't like to rehearse — this is purely personal taste, mind you. I'll show the actors where to stand, since I've already essentially blocked out the scene for myself, without storyboards, when I wrote it. More than 90 percent of the time, the actors are fine with my blocking. But sometimes they'll say they want to change it and, of course, we try that. I'm certainly not going to force an actor into something he doesn't feel good about doing."

In fact, Allen's technique revolves entirely around his faith in, and respect for, an actor's abilities. While he is a scrupulous refiner of mise-en-scene and camera movement, improvisation does play a part in all of Woody Allen's films.

"I give my actors a lot of freedom to improvise. I never want an actor to feel stuck with my dialogue, or that if he has ideas he can't bring them up during the scene. If he makes some egregious mistake, I'll correct him after the take and say, 'You can't really say that because later in the movie your changes will be contradicted.' Or, 'Don't do that — it's too filthy or incoherent.' But that practically never happens because I cast very good actors who know what they're getting into with me. They understand the script and know they're free to make that role their own. If that means forgetting what I wrote and using their own dialogue, that's fine as long as they make it believable. The believability of the situation is everything to me."

Hollywood Ending, like many of Allen's films, is set in crowded Manhattan bars and restaurants. Here is where Allen shines. Characters flow in and out of the frame as the camera tracks invisibly around the swirling conflict of love and war in the big city. It all looks ridiculously smooth and effortless on-screen, with most of the audience's attention riveted to the conversation at hand. But the hours Allen spends in setting up such shots typically occupy most of the day.

"While other directors might set up quickly and shoot a lot of coverage, I spend most of the time setting up, perhaps until three in the afternoon. When everything is choreographed just right — actors crossing through the frame to various places, lighting just so — when it's finally ready, I shoot it, and that's it. I don't do any coverage.

"As soon as I get a take I really like, I do one more after it just to see if they can top it, and [the actors] very rarely do. Ninety percent of the time, when I'm watching my dailies, the take just before the last take that I'm looking at is the one we use. Some directors gain the time by shooting a lot of coverage. That's not me. I gain the time in really perfecting the setup. Then I shoot it and it's done."Examine any interview in which Hollywood's most prominent actors are asked what directors they'd really like to work with and, invariably, Woody Allen's name comes up. Allen is considered the consummate "actor's director" with actors from theater, film and television clamoring for an opportunity to work with him. But don't book your flight to New York just yet, even if you are Hollywood's most bankable commodity. As the director explained, his casting process is methodical and tailored to personal methods tested over decades of filmmaking.

"I generally inquire about the actors before I cast them to find out if they are loose and easy and flexible," Allen said. "I've avoided working with actors that are really intense and don't get up to speed until the 18th take. I don't have the patience, or the money, for it. To me the great majority of making a film is simply common sense. This is the joke, this is what you have to do, and we all come out and do it. Anybody can screw up a few takes. But if the actor constantly needs 18 takes to get up to speed, it's irrational."Like many master filmmakers, Allen has worked with one casting director, Juliet Taylor, on all his films dating back to Love and Death in 1975. He trusts her implicitly to supply the best creative ammunition for his script.
"Sometimes I write roles specifically for actors. Diane Keaton would be perfect for this role, or Dianne Wiest might be right for this role. But, mostly, I just give the script to Juliet, and she'll give me a list of 15 people that she thinks might be possible for that role, some of whom may be actors I've never even heard of."

The director cited an example from Bullets Over Broadway where Taylor asked him to meet actor Chazz Palminteri. "He had never been in a movie and I had no idea who he was," Allen recalled. 'The second he walked through the door I thought to myself, "This is what I had in mind when I wrote this part. He's absolutely perfect.' So I cast him. The pitfall of writing parts for specific actors is that they may not be available and then you're disappointed. This has happened to me in the past and it's not a great experience."

Acting jobs and Myspace

Think Myspace has nothing to do with your acting career? Associated Content says 'think again."

How to Get Acting Roles on Myspace
These Steps Explain How to Get Cast for Film and TV Roles Using Myspace

By Ms. Nicole A., published Mar 29, 2007
Published Content: 563 Total Views: 910,411 Favorited By: 47 CPs
Contact Subscribe Add to Favorites

Have a professional Profile It is important for aspiring actors to have a professional Myspace profile. This profile should include information about prior acting experience, special skills, training and physical stats. The profile must also include several headshots or production photos. Those who already have a personal Myspace profile should keep it separate from their acting page. If it will be too much work to maintain two profiles on Myspace, the most important one should be kept.

The other profile that is less important can then be deleted by closing that particular Myspace account. There are many reasons why personal Myspace profiles should not double as an acting page. Many people tend to use flashy layouts and designs to decorate their pages. These pages may also include music, videos, random photo slideshows and other graphics. All of these items are not necessary or appropriate for a professional Myspace profile. Acting pages should have a simple layout and exhibit items that are relevant to the film and television casting process.

Men and women who inquire about roles using a personal Myspace profile can lose their chances of getting that particular role in a film. Sending filmmakers and casting directors to a Myspace profile that is filled with content such as risqué photos, Rap music and profanity-filled lines in the "About Me" section makes an actor look unprofessional. It does not indicate that someone is an actor seeking film and television work. Instead, it gives the message that more improvement needs to be done in order to be taken seriously. As a result, the casting director will ignore the profile and choose to cast another actor.

© 2008 Associated Content, Inc.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Auditions for Non-Union Film - NY

Megaman - Platinum Cinema (
Non-Union Film
Apply to:

15 shooting days,
starts Mid-Feb.
Audition Jan. 12th
Director: Eddie Lebron.

In the year 20XX, Dr. Thomas Light, an Nobel Prize winning professor in the field of Robotics, creates a series of 6 revolutionary robots entitled the “Robot Master Series DRN” in an effort to use robotics as a mean to better mankind. As a personal project, Dr. Light creates 2 androids named Roll (a female) and Rock (a male) who are made to be as human as possible from appearance to behavior. Rock and Roll are, however, also created due to Light’s goal to have the children he was never able to have. Meanwhile, after the creation of the series gains Light his Nobel Prize in Physics and notoriety, his partner and colleague, Dr. Albert Wily, grows enraged and jealous of Light’s success. Secretly, a man who wants control and power, Dr. Wily decides to reprogram and steal the robot master series to do his bidding so he can wreak havoc and gain control of the city. As Wily begins to steal more of Light’s creations, it becomes clear to him he has the resources to systemically gain more and more control in an effort to reach his ultimate goal: total world domination. With a strong sense of duty and regard for humanity, Rock volunteers to receive a battle upgrade in an effort to battle Wily’s forces, thus donning the name “Megaman”. The battle for humanity is now between Megaman and all the bots at Wily’s disposal.

Apply to:

Male / 18-24 yrs.Fireman: One of the 6 robot masters. Has to ability to create fire from his internal reactors. Made to appear as a humanoid, he is able to emote and talk but is suited in mechanical battle armor. Believes serving Wily is an act of justice. He sees himself as a bringer of justice and is combating the forces of evil by serving Wily, when in actuality, he’s doing the opposite. Any physical training such a martial arts is a plus.

Male / 18-24 yrs.Iceman: One of the 6 robot masters. Has to ability to harness and create ice from his internal reactors and supply of liquid nitrogen. Made to appear as a humanoid, he is able to emote and talk but is suited in mechanical battle armor. He has what some would call a split personality. At times being sensitive and obedient while other times being a strong brave figure which could be an impulse to make up for certain insecurities. He is the smallest of the 6 bots (possibly one of his major insecurity). Any physical training such a martial arts is a plus.

Male / 18-24 yrs.Elecman: One of the 6 robot masters. Has to ability to generate electricity from his internal reactors and use it in various forms.. Made to appear as a humanoid, he is able to emote and talk but is suited in mechanical battle armor. He is programmed as cocky and egoistical believing that he is a superior creation while still understand his responsibilities as a minion to Wily. He feels the need to terminate those that are potentially “better” than him. Any physical training such a martial arts is a plus.

Male / 31-40 yrs.Dr. Wily: Dr. Light’s colleague and soon to be enemy. He is an older man Similar appearance to Albert Einstein from the moustache to the hair (he has grey hair). Wily at times can be wacky and loopy while other times is sinister and psychotic. Very power hungry and strives to be a leader. Note: The Einstein appear is a big plus but NOT necessary. We are looking for the best actor to portray the character so we are very flexible with appearance. (I.E. Any similarity would help whether not the actor has grey hair).

Male / 41-50 yrs.Dr. Light: Acclaimed scientist in the field of robotics. A very kindhearted, open-minded and optimistic individual. He wants to make the world a better place and to use his work in such a matter. Very warm father figure to Rock and Roll who constantly shows concern for them when they are in any form of danger His appearance can reflect that of Santa Claus (large beard and such). His hair color is grey. Note: The Claus appear is a big plus but NOT necessary. We are looking for the best actor to portray the character so we are very flexible with appearance (I.E. Any similarity would help whether not the actor has grey hair).

Female / 18-24 yrs.Roll: (Prefer either Caucasian or Asian actors.) Rock’s “sister”. A very perky and kind hearted character. She is very supportive and caring with a good attitude and outlook on life in general. She provide Rock with the security and support he needs as the events of the film progress. She cares for Rock more than anything else. Note: Being a blonde is a plus. If Caucasian, lighter hair such as blonde is a big plus. If Asian, any hair is flexible (whether dark or light shades).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Triple Feature Year!

One Way or Another Productions LLC has officially completed post-production on its 3 feature films this 2008 year. Uptown, Carter, and Cookies & Cream have all been completed as of yesterday, and even submitted, in some form, simultaneously to the SXSW Film Festival. Its been an ambitious and sometimes strenuous year for us, and we are pleased that this undertaking has successfully come to a close. We look forward to the exhibition phase of these 3 features, as we take our time and begin our respective festival tours. We would like to thank the production staff of each feature for their enthusiasm, hard, and good work. Stay tuned here first, for all updates on each individual film, as well as the company collectively.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hohokam on DVD!

The DVD for HohoKam is finally on DVD. Hohokam, like most of Frank V. Ross' films, are really, really difficult to find and see. Which may make them that more special.

A movie about good moods, bad moods, varicella-zoster virus, and the in between.

After an old friend's visit ends, Lori is feeling a bit down. Bored with her job, agitated at home, and frustrated with money problems, Lori takes out her anger on her ex-marine boyfriend, Anson. However, after a broken mug, a trip to the zoo and a case of the shingles, Lori's mood changes.

HOHOKAM, now available on DVD, only on IndiePix!

"How I Killed MumbleCore"

This film is basically a mystery, which is kinda cool. All that is available for it is a trailer, and a myspace page with nothing at all about the movie, the meaning of the title, or its synopsis. Should be interesting though, judging fom the well made trailer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Woody Allen's love letter to NYC

This week we highlight Woody Allen's, beautiful, breakthrough film Manhattan.
Manhattan is a 1979 romantic comedy film about Isaac Davis (Woody Allen), a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer dating a 17-year-old high school girl (Mariel Hemingway). Isaac eventually falls in love with his best friend's mistress (Diane Keaton). The movie was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman, who had also successfully collaborated on Annie Hall, and directed by Allen. Manhattan is filmed in widescreen and black and white.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mariel Hemingway) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film. The film was #46 on American Film Institute's "100 Years... 100 Laughs". This film is number 63 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies." In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Here is the breathtaking opening scene, probably one of the greatest openings in film history.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Charlie Kaufman Film

Here is the new film written by one of the greatest screenwriters in the world, Charlie Kaufman. This is also his directorial debut. We will definitely be going to support this film, its playing now and it looks just as weird and genius as his other works.

Kaufman also wrote Human Nature, Being John Malkovich, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Etermal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Here's the story:

Theater director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis, is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty.

He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. Somewhere in Berlin, his daughter is growing up under the questionable guidance of Adele's friend, Maria. His lingering attachments to both Adele and Hazel are causing him to helplessly drive his new marriage to actress Claire into the ground. Sammy and Tammy, the actors hired to play Caden and Hazel, are making it difficult for the real Caden to revive his relationship with the real Hazel. The textured tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and that of Caden's own deteriorating reality. The years rapidly fold into each other, and Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece. As he pushes the limits of his relationships, both personally and professionally, a change in creative direction arrives in Millicent Weems, a celebrated theater actress who may offer Caden the break he needs.

How to Write an Actor's Résumé

by David Collins

There is no business like show business. Just like other professions, show biz has set ways of conducting business and doing things. Like other industries, in order to be a part of the movie business, you will need to submit a résumé. Your résumé speaks volumes about you as an individual and how much you can contribute to your acting, besides your work experience. Tacky, unformatted résumés are a complete death message and must be avoided at all costs!

As an aspiring actor you need to have total knowledge about how to create a prospective actors résumé which will include every experience that you have gained since childhood. You can also include the experiences that have influenced you to most and why. This could be a plus point. If you have acted in school dramas or theatre productions, then mentioning it on your résumé will take you a step ahead. Your résumé is your ticket to an audition and of course to stardom.

Now for what your résumé should look like. For starters, ensure that your résumé has your contact details like name, phone number, and email at the top. This information has to be prominently featured. Try to make the information bold or increase the font size. A potential employer will see this information and then contact you for a job or an audition. All your union affiliations should be clearly visible on your résumé. Until the time you are hired and under contract, you really do not need to provide more than your contact number and your email. Avoid giving your postal address unless absolutely necessary or asked for.

Another piece of information that you absolutely need to avoid giving out is your Social Security number. In these times of digital identity thefts, you will need to safeguard your interests first. Make sure that there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in your résumé. The casting directors usually tend to notice if your résumé looks sloppy.

Moving on, mention your directors according to productions you have acted in. A good director's name has value attached to it and it will surely make a difference. Also if you can name some directors as references it will be useful. Your résumé should be able to provide the entire range of work done. Display your educational qualifications. And remember you shall have to tailor make your résumé to cater to specific roles. Ex: If you are applying for a role in a musical then you need to list your musical theatre experience.

Avoid making a mess of your résumé. A clean and structured résumé fetches more attention than a cluttered résumé. As a movie actor you can be creative in how you display all the relevant information. But remember to have a semblance and specific presentation pattern. After all, your résumé is your ticket to success in the world of Show Biz and you don't want to miss boarding the flight!!

David Collins is a talent coordinator for a successful variety television show. His career in television spans over 15 years.Copyright © David Collins.

How to Cut an Acting Reel

By eHow Arts & Entertainment Editor
Rate: (2 Ratings)

Whether you've been in a dozen movies, or you're just starting out, the beauty of the digital age is that almost anyone can cut an acting reel together. With some shrewd discipline, a discerning eye, and a decent computer program, you'll soon be on your way to not only cutting your acting reel, but able to jump on the bandwagon of self-promotion.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step1 Gather your material. Whether you've done movies, TV, commercials or filmed yourself doing a monologue, gather every piece of footage you have of yourself on tape.

Step2 Narrow down the footage. A reel should show a range. If you have ten scenes of you getting angry, then only one is valid. Agents and casting directors want to see that you can act in a range. That you can tap into a myriad of tools and emotions. Look at your work and narrow it down to specifics, choosing one of each type of scene.

Step3 Hire an editor. If you're tech savvy, you can save yourself some money doing it that way by purchasing an editing program which you can load to your computer. But an editor provides something way more than a computer ever can: a discerning eye. Most likely he has cut many reels and has a better idea about what "works" and what doesn't. Also, most people who are editors for a living possess professional equipment that will deliver a superior product.

Step4 Stop being in love with yourself. Six minutes or five scenes is the MOST you ever want to show of yourself.

Step5 Add titles and music. While your reel shouldn't include a montage sequence of you posing for the camera with today's hippest song, the beginning and end should be bookended by your name with some sort of music underneath. Your editor should be able to help set the mood depending on the content of your reel.

Step6 Show everyone. Well, not everyone! But now that you have your reel, do not hesitate to send it to agencies, casting directors, or agents.

Tips & Warnings

Create a DVD cover with your acting head shot so that the reel you hand out has your image on it. People will always remember your image over your name. You can buy software and complimenting paper to create such DVD cover art.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tribute to a Great Producer

So I knew eventually I would want to "introduce" you guys to the best producer I have ever met or worked with in my life (and there have been SEVERAL).

I remember early on, the very first screenplay I wrote, American Woman, was in a way "optioned" by Andrea, after emailing me about it from a website posting, and flying in from LA and soon after meeting me near my bachelor's pad in Clinton, Ma. She found the hole in the wall pizza restaurant where I conducted my important film business, and met me there, on time and smiling as usual. She loved the script, asked me a couple of questions about it, then found that I needed a "super-producer" to make it happen. I needed someone to raise the money, attach the names, set up the shoot, AND help me on set to maintain my sanity. Lawrence Bender does this for Tarantino. Stephanie Allain does it for Craig Brewer. Woody Allen's producers do it for him all the time. And I had the nerve to want this early in my career, without having so much as shot narrative short or long form film. Andrea didnt laugh at me. She told me to simply "wait on her."

In the meantine, I would learn that I wasnt quite ready physically ord mentally to actually direct American Woman anyway - too many locations, too many storylines, too many actors. So I cut my teeth on a short, then did a bunch of music videos, commercials, etc, then went on to make my first feature Cookies & Cream. I became a producer in my own right, and Andrea went on to produce at least 4 more features, all with consecutive, escalating budgets.

But Andrea and I would always check up on each other. She, to this day, tells me to "save" American Woman for her. She wants to make it with me. And, you know what? I want to as well. I will work with her one day soon, and Im really looking forward to it.

She was always encouraging, and always available by phone and email if I need her, to give me advice, encouragement, and support. She tells me how many points I should offer a certain actor, or what budget should go for my camera crews, etc. She's always honest with me, the only honest, bonifide producer I have met in my entire film life. And that says a lot. She tells me exactly why she loves my scripts, what I can improve on in them, as well as telling me she didnt enjoy my short film Phish, and why. And everthing, from day one, has been constructive. Andrea is hands down the only legitimate producer I trust period.

She just completed production on a pretty large scaled indie production. Its a film called "We Got the Beat," and could be a major reason why indie films may shift in perception when it comes to the way audiences view them, as well as the way the majors begin doing business with us in the future.

Check out this Landmark Newspaper article written about her, and the film. Congrats Andrea. I love you.
- Princeton

The 'Beat' goes on for Andrea Ajemian

Andrea Ajemian has seen the bright lights of Hollywood, but the Rutland native says there's something about Central Massachusetts that makes it appealing for filmmaking.
"I lived in L.A. for awhile, but this is such a great area to make a movie," she said from the set of her newest project, "We Got the Beat." The film is the fourth feature from AA Films, the Worcester-based production company run by Ajemian and partner Jon Artigo. Artigo wrote and is directing "We Got the Beat," with Ajemian producing.

Ajemian describes her latest project as a "mainstream high school football comedy." The film takes place in 1982 and tells the story of an all-star football quarterback who vies to transform his heavy metal garage band into the world's first boy band. The filmmakers say "We Got the Beat" has elements of '80s teen classics "Footloose" and "Sixteen Candles" mixed with the indie veneer of "Napoleon Dynamite."

The project is larger in scope than any of Ajemian's previous movies ("Rutland, USA" and "Freedom Park" among others), and presented a new set of challenges for her film production company. It's a period piece, with a laser-like focus on details and costumes an absolute must. The film also involves a number of large-scale sporting event shots that are pushing AA Films into new territory.

"We knew this was going to be a big undertaking, but every single person who has worked on this movie has really stepped up and put their handprint on this," Artigo said.

Following two years of preproduction, the cameras began rolling on "We Got the Beat" at the end of last month. Ajemian and her crew were in Leominster this week shooting pivotal football game scenes at the city's Doyle Field facility. Monday found Ajemian keeping tabs on a hectic set, which was bustling with football players, cheerleaders, a full marching band, cameramen, sound operators, lighting experts, and makeup artists — not to mention a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic extras filling the bleachers.

"We've got 75 band people and something like 350 extras in the stands right now," Ajemian said. "The biggest challenge is making sure everyone is in period. We've got to get rid of all the current water bottles and things like that to make sure the shot is clear. We also have to make sure that the extras aren't looking directly into the camera, which is pretty common for people to do who aren't used to being on film."

The limits of Ajemian's producer title are hard to define. One minute she's looking over shots on a playback monitor, the next she's teaching a new routine to a squad of cheerleaders. A moment later she's pumping up the crowd with encouraging yells ("You guys are AWESOME!"). Then it's off to find a missing football that the director needs for a close-up shot.
"It's fantastic working with all these people," Ajemian said. "The extras are so great; they're really invested in their roles."

To film the big football scenes, director Artigo studied Hollywood sports classics and films like "Friday Night Lights." With a dash of movie magic, the few hundred extras at Doyle Field will be made to look like thousands, Artigo said.

"If you watch a lot of those movies, you notice that those crowd shots are mostly computer generated, or they just use cardboard cutouts," he said.

Artigo wrote the first draft of "We Got the Beat" in 2002 and Ajemian calls the project their "baby."

"It was kind of surreal when we began getting ready to finally shoot the first scenes. It was like, wow, this is finally happening!" Ajemian said.

Once filming wraps at the end of next week, Ajemian and her production company will shift gears and work to edit the film into its final form, which is expected to be finished by December. While her previous efforts have been financially viable, Ajemian hopes "We Got the Beat" will break through into the mainstream.

"We want to show that independent movies don't all have to be bleak, black and white, art house stuff. Our goal is to sell this to a major, mainstream distributor," she said.

Track the progress of "We Got the Beat" at or

DIY Drive-In Movie Theater

Dec 4th, 2008 By James Lewin Category: General, Strange, Video

Open Air Cinema has announced the availability of its new 16ft x 9ft Open Air Home Screen, a giant inflatable movie screen.

Open Air Cinema sells the 16-foot screen for $999. The company offers two other sizes of its inflatable movie screens for home use. The 12ft x 7ft version is priced at $599 and the 9-foot version is priced at $449.

The screen is available by itself or as part of the CineBox Home Backyard Theater package, which includes projection, sound, and all cables needed to operate a backyard theater.

This thing looks like a little slice of guerrilla drive-in awesomeness.

Here are the specs:

220″ Diagonal Projection Surface

Matte white, wrinkle-resistant ripstop nylon projection surface

Black-backed projection surface blocks lights from behind, improves contrast ratio

Ultra lightweight — weighs less than 20 pounds when deflated and fits inside a duffle bag

Air blower provides constant inflation

Heavy duty PVC carrying bag for screen, air blower, ropes, stakes etc.

20 MPH wind rating

“The 16-foot screen is the largest screen available for backyard use on the market,” said Stuart Farmer, president of Open Air Cinema. “This new size truly converts your backyard into a huge cinematic experience.”