The Three Types of Actors You'll Meet at Auditions

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It’s Fri-YAY and finally feeling like fall in the A, so why not have a little fun with our weekly blog post? As an actor with over 16 years of experience, I’ve auditioned all over the country for theatre, film, and schools, so I’ve seen my fair share of actor “types” in said auditions. Here are the top three types of actors you’ll meet in the waiting room, no matter what gig you’re auditioning for:

The Eager Beaver

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Also known as the Big Fish From a Small Pond, this person is trying EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to book the part. They typically come from a smaller market and are trying to make it in the big city - which is really what we’re ALL trying to do, but the Eager Beaver thinks that this fact makes THEM unique. They are either overly friendly with you, sizing you up as competition, or overtly cold…also because they’re sizing you up as competition. Hot tip: even if the Eager Beaver is rude to you, don’t be rude back! I guarantee you the auditors are watching, even if you don’t think that they are.

The Model

In the words of the cult classic Mean Girls, “She doesn’t even go here!” - as in, sometimes non-actors will show up for auditions that are very tall and very, very attractive. These are models who are trying to broaden their resumes and maybe break into acting. Some models actually DO have pretty good acting chops, but some are just there to, for lack of a better term, diversify their portfolio. Basically, they’re your really, really ridiculously-good-looking competition.

The Newbie

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The “newbie” is the actor that’s just starting out, natch. They’re probably pretty nervous, and looking for advice - which means that if you sit next to them, you’re gonna be sitting next to a real Chatty Cathy, more than likely. Again, niceness is always the best policy in my book - not only do you never know who’s watching, you also never know who’s gonna make it in the “biz.” Give advice as much as you can, but also, focus on your character portrayal and lines. You do you, boo!

Posted on October 12, 2018 and filed under Actors.

Interview with Actor Mike Beach

 Actor Mike Beach.

Actor Mike Beach.

I first worked with longtime working actor (and my own personal favorite celebrity!) Michael Beach on the set of a small independent feature called Scrapper. Scrapper was my first foray with Grinning Man Media Group’s Ed Dougherty, and my first time working with real, professional actors. By “real,” I mean actors that are consistently working, like Beach and Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen.

Beach has been around the block several times in terms of work - notable roles (besides films with moi in it!) include: Soul Food, Waiting to Exhale, Aquaman, Dynasty, Sons of Anarchy, The 100, Crisis, Third Watch, and countless others. Studio27 Talent recently sat down with beach to discuss training, what makes an actor successful, and what he’s learned since graduating from Juilliard.

Three Quick Ways to Uniquely Brand Yourself As an Actor

 Actor and Super-Good-At-Social-Media-Guy, Ryan Reynolds

Actor and Super-Good-At-Social-Media-Guy, Ryan Reynolds

We have talked about branding yourself as an actor quite a bit on this blog, and there’s a reason for it: times have changed. Gone (mostly) are the days when actors simply audition for a role and get cast. While that may still be the case in the theatrical world, in the entertainment industry, casting directors are looking more and more closely at an actor’s social presence - meaning, they’re literally Facebook-stalking you.

So, how do you combat this admittedly aggravating tendency of CDs to view your life online? Well, you can’t, unless you go completely off the grid, which is ill-advised. Instead, you can manage your social media presence professionally without losing your personality - here’s how:

Remember Who You Are

Okay, yes, you are a brand, and you are “selling yourself” as an actor - but that doesn’t make you a sell out. Figure out what your niche is and your brand, and clearly define yourself as such. Do you play a lot of “mom” roles? Are you a hipster? A jock? Whatever it is, make sure your website, headshots, and reel reflect your ability to carry those roles. Now, if you typically play a jock, but you’re a real-life bookworm - all the better! Casting directors are looking for unique takes on characters - and who doesn’t love a classic, all-American-good-looking-jock-who-turns-out-to-be-a-smarty-pants love story? I know I do - I watched Sierra Burgess is a Loser and To All the Boys I Loved Before (both on Netflix) in a weekend!

Get Over Your Hatred Of Social Media

Look, I get it - we all secretly or not-so-secretly hate social media, but as an actor, it’s pretty much a necessity nowadays. Again, it doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of who you are! Limit yourself to only 30 minutes of social media daily, if you have to - it’ll likely improve your mental health, too, to place restrictions on your usage. Go through your friends posts, like them, comment on them, do “organic outreach” - you know, the usual. And here’s a little secret: everyone buys Instagram followers these days, even those famous Jenner girls (don’t believe me? I’ve got a timeshare to sell you!). There are affordable options to buying followers, and there’s nothing illegal about it. You can also hire freelance social media managers to manage your actors’ accounts, so you don’t even have to bother with it, other than providing photos and approving posts. Figure out what you have the budget to do, and go for it!

Be Nice

It seems like a ridiculous suggestion but being likable feeds into being memorable, and it goes a long way in this industry. You won’t be rewarded for having an ego when you’re starting at the bottom; plus, it’s just good life practice to not step on people on your way to the top. You never know who’s going to get to the rich and famous part of the gig before you do!

What are some ways you’ve learned to brand yourself? Let us know in the comments!

DIY Filmmaking with Future Legend Ed Dougherty

 Courtesy of @eddied4me

Courtesy of @eddied4me

In the film industry, as in any industry, it’s important to know who’s who and to take your cues from those who have gone before you, and have subsequently become successful. Ed Dougherty of Grinning Man Media Films in Los Angeles is one of those people; he’s a successful entrepreneur and filmmaker who has been around the block enough to know what works and what doesn’t in the entertainment industry, whether he’s shooting a commercial, feature film, music video, or corporate video.

Read on to get his invaluable insight on how to make in the entertainment industry, whether you’re talent or crew in LA, New York, Atlanta, Chicago - or any other city in the world!

Studio 27: Hi Ed Dougherty from Grinning Man Films (also known as Grinning Man Media Group, or GMMG)! Tell us about yourself and what GMMG does.

Ed Dougherty: Hi. I’m a writer/producer/director/editor who has [created] all kinds of content, from producing microbudget features to writing studio screenplays to directing music videos. At GMMG, we primarily produce microbudget features, make music videos, and [make] corporate/commercial content.

S27: What is the difference between narrative film and commercial?

ED: I’m not really sure I know how to answer this question. On the one hand, the differences are vast. On the other hand, things are all the same, from a producing and basic filmmaking perspective. When I first heard about how much you got paid for commercial work, I figured there was some insane trick to it that I didn’t know about. While it is hard to get your point across in 30 seconds or 15 seconds, it’s still basically the same process as making anything is. I’d say the barriers for entry to commercial work are harder than narrative.

S27: What do you look for when you cast talent for feature films?

ED: Talent, an interesting face, some kind of hard-to-define screen presence that you only know when you see it. Not a maniac. These are all obvious things. But mainly I think to myself-- will this person make my writing seem better than it is? If so, then I like them.

S27: Do you prefer to cast named talent - why or why not?

ED: Yes, of course, on a certain level. But it has to fit. It’s not the hardest thing in the world to get a named person into your film, if it is decent and you are not a maniac. But I also find it awkward when a name person shows up in a handful of scenes, all on the same set, and you know that they only had that person for a day. Also in some genres like horror, the name value of the cast pales in comparison to the concept and the feel of the film. In horror, you don’t need names, unless it’s higher budget - then you definitely do.

S27: Who has been your favorite celebrity to work with, and why?

ED: Aidan Gillen by far. Just because I feel we share some DNA. He’s an amazing storyteller and the most Irish character you can be around. Just a legendary person who is always very alive and interesting, and will bring all of himself to whatever role, even if it’s just some weird little thing you’ve come up with.

S27: What advice would you give an emerging filmmaker with little-to-no resources?

ED: Here’s something I have really come to believe in -- be prepared to rewrite your script as the situation develops. Sometimes even on a microbudget movie, you’ll have a filmmaker say “Well, in the script it’s a Learjet, so that’s what we need.” And you think, but you wrote the script. It wasn’t brought down the mountain on stone tablets by Moses. You shouldn’t think of the script as some unchangeable thing ever, but especially not with little-to-no resources. You can write yourself out of trouble cheaper than you can ever shoot or edit or FX yourself out of trouble. My other piece of advice would be that you need to face the harsh reality that not everyone is going to care on the level that you do, if there’s no money involved. Specifically when it comes to hiring editors, post people, etc. I have never had good luck paying an editor on a low budget project. You’ll often get back crap, and it will still be expensive. Learn to edit. You’ll do a better job anyway.

S27: Finally, any advice for Atlanta actors? Should we all just up and move to LA?

ED: I don’t know enough about Atlanta to really give a good answer to this, but I do tell my filmmaker friends in NYC that they need to move to LA. There’s just so much opportunity here. And you meet people who introduce you to opportunities. I’m not the most social person in the world yet I’ve randomly met tons of people who were very valuable to my career. I think the more people like that around the better.

Y'allywood Dominates: Main Roles are No Longer Solely for LA and NYC Talent

 Photo by Getty Images.

Photo by Getty Images.

Recently, backstage.com, one go-to guide for actors around the world, posted two - count 'em, TWO - articles about how local actors could actually land over-5 and guest roles in pilots now - even, dare we say it, lead roles? Yep, we said it, and we meant it! After all, if Backstage is writing about it, it must be truly a trend in the entertainment industry.

So why is it that the industry seems to be making this shift? The simplest answer, in this case, is the most logical: it's easy on the studios' pocketbooks to hire locally. And just how does it save the shows money? Local actors didn't get billing. But now, that's all changing, though, according to Georgia-based Netfilx hit Ozark's casting directors, at a "glacial pace." Series regulars that are locals are getting booked in roles, like recurring guest star roles.

However, unless you're a Barb-on-Stranger-Things sleeper hit, you're not going to want to up and move to LA with just a couple of speaking roles under your belt. In the Backstage article we linked here, titled, "Small Market Acting No Longer Means Small Market Roles," New Mexico casting director Jo Edna Boldin points to seeing actors too many times do this and end up right back in their hometowns, because they didn't give themselves enough time to saturate the local market. 

In short, be smart about where you are locally, wherever that may be. Take the time to learn your craft by taking acting classes, and getting several roles under your belt before you make any big moves. It always helps to at least be SAG-E (SAG-eligible) before moving to a bigger market. Remember, you have a ton of competition out there! Be strategic - and, most importantly, have fun!

Posted on September 9, 2018 .

So You've Booked a Commercial...Now What?

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Congrats! You've made it through getting headshots, getting an agent, auditioning, acing the callback (did we miss anything?!), etc...now, you've booked the commercial gig of your dreams! Your acting career feels like it's finally headed somewhere! What's next? A guest star role? A five-liner? A pilot?

We digress. Back to the fact that you're an awesome, incredible actor who just booked their first commercial job! So, what happens next? We're covering it all in this blog post that tells you everything you need to know before arriving on set - read on.

It Ain't About You

If this is your first commercial gig, then you're likely at the beginning stages of your acting career. It's important to remember that it isn't about you. You are there to do your job, and a lot of the time, jobs ain't glamorous - especially first acting gigs. Show up prepared, with your lines memorized (i.e., off-book) if you have any, and even if you're facing the camera and getting to say those sacred utterances, know that you are still selling a product. That is your job - so do it right!

Actors' Agency

Even if you self-submit and book a commercial gig, no matter how big or small, circle up with your agent(s) and/or management team, and let them know you booked it! They can handle the nitty gritty details. And even if they just send one email, that means they still should get their compensation (i.e., a percentage of the cost of the project, whether it's 10%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your contract with your agency). Leaving them out in the cold means you'll never work in this town again! Kidding. Sort of. Pay them fairly, and they'll work hard for you.

Stay in Character

Do not drop that mom character who just loves the newest antibacterial wipes on the market until they yell "Cut!" Even if it seems like everyone is just waiting around or not doing anything, chances are they're going to go again - and you need to be ready. The easiest way to remember this tip is to simply stay in character the whole time that camera is on you - you can't go wrong!

Be professional

We cannot stress enough how important professionalism is on a commercial set - or any set, for that matter. This is a job that you are getting paid to do - know how lucky you are in that! No everyone has your life. Plus, the length of the commercial is super important. The length of a commercial is also paid for, whether it's a 15-second spot, 30-second spot, etc. You cannot get in a few extra lines, no matter what - stick to the script, and be word-perfect.

 

Have you booked a commercial gig? What's your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on September 1, 2018 and filed under Commercial.

Interview with a Reality Show Casting Director

 Photo by Austin Young

Photo by Austin Young

We were lucky enough to sit down with casting director, tv producer, victim rights' advocate, and media personality Lenora Claire (phew!) for an interview on what it takes to make it in the television industry, in reality TV - and beyond. Named one of LA Weekly's "People of the Year," Lenora has been around the block and is a fantastic source of information for aspiring, entrepreneurial actors! Read on to discover her tips and tricks for making it in Hollywood and Ya'llywood. 

Studio 27: Hi Lenora! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with Studio 27 - tell us about yourself.

Lenora Claire: Hello Anna and everyone at Studio 27! I always get overwhelmed with this question, but I will try to  narrow it down. I’m a former journalist and art curator turned reality tv casting director, producer, media personality, event promoter, and victims rights advocate. I just got engaged, and it’s so new I keep calling him my “Beyonce” because I start to say boyfriend and remember he got upgraded to fiance. I’m also very obsessed with my dog.

S27: Adorable. How do you become a casting director?

LC: I had gotten a lot of press and was named one of the “People of the Year” by the LA Weekly after opening one of my art galleries in 2011. My mentor, Doron Ofir, who is a legend in the reality TV world for having cast shows like Jersey Shore, saw me in all the papers and sent me a tweet that said “I want to make you famous." I thought he was a creep hitting on me until I scrolled through his Twitter and saw that he was a casting director and gay (phew!) and replied. He then asked me to audition for a pilot for MTV and the rest is history. After meeting, he had discovered I had led a pretty interesting life and since print media was dying and I wasn’t finding much writing work, and even though the gallery I had opened was getting me press, the art world wasn’t exactly stable either. He thought my experience as a journalist would make me an excellent casting director, and now almost a decade later, I can say he was right!

S27: That's quite a story! Moving onto the talent portion: what are three things you wish actors would know/understand before walking into a casting room?

LC: Well, I don’t work in scripted, so I would call them more “talent” than actors, but I wish I could tell everyone that sometimes the strangest, most random things influence if someone is cast or not, and that sometimes it’s just as much about luck as it is talent and not to give up if they aren’t booking things right away. I would tell them to be kind to their casting director and make an impression, because I can’t tell you how many times I auditioned people who weren’t right for the current project and remembered them for something else later. I would also stress that if we send out a casting for something specific, please respect whatever it is we asked for and not submit yourself if you’re the opposite of what has clearly been requested. You’re just wasting both of our time[s].

S27: I love that. What about celebs? Do they still have to audition?

LC: I’ve absolutely auditioned celebrities for things. It depends on the project, and I suppose how big they are, though.

S27: What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen actors make in the audition room?

LC: In reality TV, the biggest mistake I have seen is someone saying what they think you want to hear about themselves that isn’t true, because they think it will get them booked. Remember, you have to live with whatever you do or say on reality tv. Please don’t sell yourself as anything other than what you are. Most casting directors can see through it anyway.

S27: Thoughts on Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South”?

LC: Absolutely! I just cast a reality show for Lifetime out of Atlanta and two other shows in the office were being cast there and one currently is filmed there. I love the diversity and big personalities!

S27: What are the best things an actor can do to prepare for an audition or a big role?

LC: With reality, the best thing one can do is to be energetic and speak in sound bites. Nobody wants to hear your long winded story that goes nowhere. Think of some funny anecdotes or interesting bullet points about your life and deliver them with some genuine enthusiasm.

S27: What advice would you give to an Atlanta actor looking to move to LA or New York?


LC: Rent is REALLY expensive, so come here with at least three months of savings. And if you want sweet tea in LA, go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Also, don’t say “ma’am" to everyone here - say “miss” or else they will think you’re calling them old. Good luck!

Posted on August 26, 2018 .

5 Actors Who Came From Nothing

One of the most discouraging Hollywood tropes is that you have to know someone to get somewhere. As you grow and develop your skills as an actor, you will likely often hear the phrase, "It's all about who you know," or hear that dreaded yet necessary-in-this-industry word: "networking." What that phrase and that word means is that you have to put yourself out there - and no matter how many classes or workshops you take or networking events you attend, you may not advance in your acting career. Sometimes, it really is all about who you know

That's not to say it's impossible to make it in this industry as a "nobody" - quite the opposite, in fact! Don't believe us? Read on to discover this list of celebs that came from nothing to join the A-list (or, close to A-list) ranks in Hollywood.

Leighton Meester

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Before this Gossip Girl made it big with the hit CW show in 2007, she was dealing with the least ideal circumstances - Meester was actually born in a hospital in Texas, with her mother going to jail shortly thereafter. As a newborn, she was allowed to spend 12 weeks in a halfway house with her mother before moving in with her grandmother in Florida until her mother was released 16 months later. Now, the star is worth an estimated $5 million.

Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah - yes, the Oprah - was raised by her grandmother in middle-of-nowhere Mississippi. Born into poverty, Winfrey had a pretty hard life, losing a baby at the age of 14. Once she was sent to live with her dad in Tennessee, she started working in news journalism at age 19, and went on to be fired from her first reporting job at 23. But that led to her having her first talk show, and today, Winfrey is worth $2.8 billion.

Sarah Jessica Parker

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Parker was the youngest of four kids, until her parents divorced, and her mother remarried, subsequently having four more kids. Parker was born in Ohio in a "coal-mining town" and grew up poor, her mother being a housewife and her stepfather being a truck driver.

However, Parker landed her first Broadway role at age 11, and got her first TV role at age 16 in "Square Pegs". Now, Parker is worth $100 million.

Leonardo DiCaprio

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DiCaprio didn't always live the life of glamour and fame that we know he lives today, what with the pap shots of him partying with supermodels on yachts; no, DiCaprio actually grew up pretty disadvantaged. He grew up in a very poor, rundown Los Angeles neighborhood, where drugs and prostitution ran rampant - in fact, the actor claims that seeing what drugs did to people made him never touch them as he grew up. He was also bullied in public school, but had a strong mother who supported his dreams and put him in acting classes - the rest is history. DiCaprio is now worth $245 million.

Jennifer Lopez

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This woman has done it all: fashion, perfume, clothing, singing, acting, dancing, and so much more. Lopez's looks defy time, and so does her seemingly endless energy. With the singer/actress now worth an estimated $380 million dollars, it's hard to be envious when you know her backstory. Lopez had it tough in the beginning, having disagreements with her mother about her career path (Lopez chose a career as a dancer over going to college), and became homeless at 18, sleeping on a coat in a dance studio. A year later, she got her first major job, but she didn't get her first big break until she was 28 years old, landing the titular role in the major motion picture Selena in 1997.

Sometimes, all it takes is hearing about the thespians, singers, models, and stars that came before you to encourage you to keep on keepin' on with your dreams! Which celeb has your favorite rags-to-riches tale? Let us know in the comments!

The Best Side Hustles for New Actors

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When you are trying to make it as an actor in a big city like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, it's important to not squash your own dreams by being a Negative Nancy to yourself, but it's also imperative that you have a plan in place before spending your best years under the harsh city lights - whether that means living with family for free, saving up a ton of money while you look for work as an actor, or have a few side hustles (aka, "survival jobs") going that are flexible with your acting schedule - or all of the above - you need to have some idea of what your life beyond your school years and/or living at home will look like. Knowing this will take an enormous amount of stress off you, which will only help you focus further on your acting career!

If you're not financially blessed like most of us, never fear - there are some pretty great "side hustle" opportunities to help you carpe diem that acting career of yours without only eating ramen noodles three times per day - read on to discover our top suggestions:

Work From Home Gigs

These are, of course, the best types of side hustles you can possibly get, though with freelance work, it's usually either feast or famine, unless you're highly qualified in a specialized area, like graphic design. If you're a writer, like me, it may be a bit tougher to make a living, so, as with everything career-wise, it's important to know and understand your niche. If you're a writer, are you a copywriter? Blog writer? Fashion writer? Tech writer? Whatever it is that you know how to write about, sell it!

You can also work from home as an admin assistant. Websites like Fancy Hands and People Per Hour are great resources for virtual administrative assistants. Tasks like data entry, performing SEO and digital marketing - even designing business cards - are abundant and legitimate!

Service Industry Jobs

I know, I know - I hated even typing "service industry," but the fact of the matter is, they can be pretty flexible when it comes to acting careers, depending on the type of service industry work that you're doing. If you're working for a more corporate company, it may be tougher to request time off. If you work for a mom-and-pop shop, then it may be a tad easier to have said shop work around your schedule. It's fair to let employers know prior to hiring that you're an actor, but be forewarned - it may turn some of them off to hiring you. Use caution and do what you have to do! I worked at a high-end gym for several months when I lived in LA, and I worked the 5 a.m. - 9 a.m. shift, then would go to my SECOND job as a fashion assistant every other day, and audition in-between. I got a free gym membership AND free designer clothes - win-win!

Speaking of gyms, you could also work as a personal trainer or yoga instructor - you would have to be trained in these fields and certified, of course, but there's no shortage of needing a trainer or yoga instructor in a place like LA! Plus, you can make your own hours and charge premium rates, once your business really gets cranking.

Temp work

Like freelancing, temp work is another great way to make some extra dough without committing to a job full-time. You can sign up for temp agencies like 24|seven Talent or Creative Circle, which often work with entertainers, so they're used to your abnormal grind. I've always had pretty great experience when I've worked with these two agencies in the past (both in LA and Atlanta), and they've gotten me in the door of companies I wouldn't have otherwise worked for.

As a temp employee, keep in mind that you may be taxed as either an employee (W-2), or as a 1099 contract employee. If you're "1099'ed," then you will be responsible for paying your own taxes.

The good news is, as with any of these gigs essentially, you can start your own business, which is a fantastic venture, especially if you're a egregious actor! Having a backup plan is never a bad idea, and it doesn't mean that you aren't invested in your dreams - it just means that you're smart as heck, and way ahead of your acting peers!

LA vs. Atlanta: Which Film Hub is Right For You?

 The Los Angeles skyline.

The Los Angeles skyline.

There's a lot of talk now about how Atlanta is the "Hollywood of the South"; in fact, we now have our own nickname: ATLwood. So many big budget movies and film studios are out here now, namely: Pinewood Atlanta Studios (located right down the road from Studio 27), where films like Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were filmed; Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta (where Devious Maids was filmed for Lifetime), and EUE Screen Gems Studios, where Black PantherFlight, Insurgent, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay were all filmed. It makes sense that films are flocking to the A to not only get those tax credits, but so are talent and crew. But whether you're from Georgia or not, does it make sense to dive into the largest film market in America, i.e. Los Angeles, or should you start out small[er] in Atlanta?

Let's Go Ahead and Answer, Shall We?

The answer is simple, really, and it all comes down to personality type. LA is cutthroat - there is no way around it. At the same time, it's full of some of the nicest people I've ever met. Atlanta is still growing and finding its voice. LA is full of opportunity, whether it's big budget features, independent films, short films, television, or reality shows; Atlanta may have Marvel, but the fact is, casting directors still (generally) cast out of LA for speaking parts, i.e., guest star roles, co-star credits, even just under-5's. It is difficult, at times, to even get work as an extra in Atlanta - not so in LA. There are PLENTY of roles to go around out West, even if you're just looking to start out small, like working with a student film (which, many of those DO pay!). Atlanta has some student films that pay, too, namely at SCAD; Georgia State MAY have some paying films, though I haven't seen many. Atlanta can be a great place to build credits, especially if you're looking to break into the commercial market. There are PLENTY of commercials that film in ATL (LA, too, of course!). And, though prices are steadily rising with the film industry growth in Atlanta, it is still cheaper to live here than in LA - more or less.

 Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia

This is, to be honest, a difficult blog post to write - namely because, sure, you can live in LA, spend less money than living in Atlanta, and get more roles or jobs as a crew member. The same can also be true for Atlanta, which is why I started out by saying that it truly does come down to a personality type. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner, then sticking with what you know may work out best for you. If you're adventurous and a risk-taker, than by all means, move to LA! You never know what'll happen.

[More] Advice!

My biggest piece of advice, however, if you DO move to California, is to know that it's going to be really hard, at least for the first year - you can't give up, especially if you're a big fish moving from Atlanta to LA. Guess what? LA doesn't care how big you are. LA cares about LA. Be prepared to have your ego checked - immediately. One of the best lessons you can learn is how to act while on a set - which is why it's sometimes good to take on background work as an actor. That way, you have the experience of being on a REAL set and knowing that having a "diva-like" attitude can get you fired. You are, unfortunately, replaceable - but that doesn't mean that you don't have something special! Tackle your roles and auditions with humility and passion, and you'll be sure to nail them - everytime.

Bills, Bills, Bills

Lastly, wherever you move, save up money! Both cities are ridiculously expensive now, and you'll need to have a plan in place. Are you living with your parents? With roommates, if you're over 18? Do you have a "side hustle" to pay the bills while getting your acting career off of the ground? You're going to have to make sacrifices, no matter how you decide to live in two of the more expensive U.S. cities.

 

Have you made the leap and moved to Atlanta or LA? What about New York City or Chicago? Let us know - we love hearing from you!

2 Ways to Create Indie Film Magic With $0 in the Bank - Without Using Credit!

Making an independent film ain't easy. I've been there - several times. There's not always pay involved, even for above-the-line crew ("above-the-line" or "ATL" means the creative forces behind the production - so, a screenwriter, a director, a producer, etc.). For some creative endeavors, you may have to accept working for free - especially if you're just starting out in the industry.

But if you're a thrifty person - or even if you're not - you can figure out a way to make ends meet without worrying about trying to get a loan, paying back investors, or opening up another line of credit. Where there's a will, there's a way, and who has more WILL to get their dreams to become reality than filmmakers? Read on to discover our best tips and tricks to creating your next masterpiece for free or virtually no money.

Friendship is Magic

As The Beatles once sang, "[you] get by with a little help from [your] friends" (yeah, yeah, we edited it a bit for our purposes!). Take their advice, and ask your friends and family for help. Do you have a friend who knows how to sew and can make your much-needed 18th-century costumes? Do you have a cousin with an amazing property you can use for a location? Do you have any hair/makeup artist friends, or do you know someone who can cook and be in charge of crafty? The best advice I can give to folks - no matter WHAT industry they're in - is to think strategically, i.e., think smart! Utilize all the resources you have at your disposal - you'll be surprised by how many folks actually want to help you make a movie!

There's No Shame in Being Broke

This is a hard one for me - I truly need to take my own advice. I hate asking for money, unless it's pretty common practice in a certain field, like filmmaking. You'd be hard-pressed to find any independent filmmaker that didn't ask for money in some form or another, whether it's from investors who have the liquidity, or by simply holding a crowdfunding campaign on websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter (hint: I like Indiegogo better, because you can keep all the money you raised vs. Kickstarter, where if you don't meet your goal, you don't make ANY money). According to Lifewire, "Kickstarter applies a 5-percent fee to the total amount of funds collected as well as a 3 to 5-percent payment processing fee...Indiegogo charges just 4 percent in fees on the total money you raise if you end up meeting your goal. But if you don’t met your fundraising goal, you are charged 9 percent of the total money raised." The only boone with Kickstarter - to me, anyway - is that it's more well-known. 

You can also fundraise in other ways - ways in which no one takes a cut, but you! However, if you hold a fundraising event with entertainment, food/drinks, etc., keep in mind that the money you spend on the event will need to be worth it, i.e., you should make SOME sort of profit off of your fundraising event for your film, AND be able to pay yourself back for the money you spend on the event itself. 

So, that's it! Those are our two quick tips that should help you be well on your way to making your first-ever (or second-ever, or third-ever...) independent film! Tell us in the comments the thrifty ways or methods you've discovered you can utilize for filmmaking!

Posted on July 29, 2018 and filed under Investment, Filmmaking.

How to Kill It at Your Next Audition

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You landed an audition - congrats! You have already won half the battle - trust me. This is coming from someone who has been on both sides of the casting table, and who has worked with many, many people in casting; if you get an audition, you've booked that audition against hundreds, if not thousands of people. 

But what are the next steps to actually booking the job? This is probably the #1 question on any actor's mind, no matter how long they have been in the industry - you could have started as a kid, and you would STILL wonder why some actors book, and others don't! The good news is, there are ways to kill an audition - in a good way! Meaning, you can walk out of the room or turn off the camera knowing that you did a great job, no matter what the casting director decides. Read on to discover our best tips and tricks for nailing that audition.

Make an Entrance

If you're auditioning for a theatrical show or film/TV production in-person, enter the room with a BANG! What that doesn't mean is slamming the door open and announcing yourself; no, we're talking about walking into the room in a semi-circle. It's much easier shown than stated, but try this at home: create your own marker on the floor, whether with painter's tape or an object. Enter the room, and make a C-shape curve with your walk over to your mark. In an actual audition room, the camera would be in front of you, usually with a table of people behind it - these are usually the casting directors, producers, and perhaps the writers or director themselves. Basically, you're drawing attention to yourself and making an entrance without being overly dramatic. Walking in this way creates an interesting eyeline for your CD's, and it may perk them up after a long day of auditioning hundreds of other folks who look just like you! Remember - keep it interesting, keep it fun!

If you're self-taping, making an entrance isn't really possible, since the first thing the CD's will see is you, on-camera. However, you can still "make an entrance" without actually entering! Whether your slate is at the beginning or the end, keep it positive and upbeat - remember, you're not only selling the character, but selling yourself. The auditors want to see that you are going to be a fun, cheerful person to be around on-set - they do not want to deal with a drama queen (or king). Also, start off your scene in an unexpected way - the point of you reading for this character is to put yourself into the character, not do what you think the CD's want to see or hear. Bring your own essence to the audition, and it's bound to be uniquely you - THAT'S what CD's always want to see.

No Touching

This generally goes without saying, but - no touching! Don't shake hands when you walk into the room, as it's viewed as an audition no-no. This is because we don't know where each other's hands have been, and hands are a germs festering ground. You may view it as polite, but 9 times out of 10, CD's will view it as an amateur error. So - no touching, unless the CD's reach out to shake your hand! In that case, shake away!

Remember, you can still be polite without touching anyone. Make your entrance, and be confident, polite, and calm. Greet the auditors, and act excited to be there - think of it as you're there to meet new friends who have your best interests at heart. After your audition, always make sure to thank your auditors - again, with the politeness! You can't go wrong.

An Actor Prepares

Even if it's not required, if you have the time, come in with your sides memorized (unless, of course, it's a cold read). BUT don't let the fact that you're off-book (or, fully memorized) take away from the fact that you are AWESOME at taking direction! And don't let it throw you if the auditor asks you to read in a different way, or asks you to improv. That's actually a good thing! It means that they think you're interesting, and want to see more.

Additionally, don't feel discouraged and walk away grumpily if they dismiss you after one read - remember, take everything that happens during an audition with a grain of salt. This is a job interview - there is no risk involved. It's only practice. And no one wants to see you walk away defeated! While this could be your next big gig, neediness or desperation is not attractive on anyone. Again, be confident - if this one doesn't work out, it's just onto the next one! Plus, sometimes one read is all the auditors need to see to know that they want you - it's rare, but it's happened to me, i.e., I've gotten cast after one reading. Take heart, and keep going!

 

Tell us in the comments some of your best (and worst) audition tales!

Free Ways to Invest in Your Acting

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Starting any career costs money - after all, the old saying isn’t, “you have to save money to make money”; in fact, it’s just the opposite. This can be a struggle, particularly for starving artists. We get it! Which is why we put together this list of ways to invest in your acting career without spending a dime (or, quite literally, spending a few cents). Read on, thespians.

Reading is Fundamental

Go to your local library (we know, we know - how vintage)! Check out some plays by well-known playwrights - most metropolitan libraries should have a playwright section. If your library doesn’t have a theatre section, head over to Goodwill or another comparable thrift store - people always give away plays they had to purchase for school or that they were acting in. Find some plays, and read them. Read as many as you can. Learn how good playwrights write good characters - learn from the masters.

Make Decisions

Simply put: make decisions, and stick to them. Create a plan or a list of goals. Heck, you can even draw inspiration from one of those bullet journal things that are so popular right now. Discover how you can use your potential to the fullest extent by simply writing down your thoughts and ideas. Take time for yourself - self-care is huge. But the good news is, writing is (also) free! Take out all your ideas on the page.

School Yourself

The flipside of writing is reading - learn as much as possible on the industry. Look up resources online or on LinkedIn. Ask for help. Reach out to people who could become mentors - in my experience, many if not most people have a mentorship attitude, meaning that they love talking to people who are maybe a rung or two down the ladder from them in terms of a career, and they want to help. Also, take a look at websites, like backstage.com and Playbill - these are wonderful resources for both aspiring and well-established actors!

Audit Classes

Call up your local acting studio (like, ahem, Studio 27 Talent) and see if you can audit a class. This is a way that allows you to take classes for free to see if that particular acting class is a good fit for what you want to learn, your budget, and your style. Backstage.com recommends auditing at least three classes with three different teachers and also cites these red flags to watch out for. The article also notes that auditing a smaller class is more beneficial, so that you can really get that individual attention - it's like getting a private coaching session (which Studio 27 also offers private coaching for auditions!) without feeling overwhelmed. You also have the rest of your peers in your class, who have your back!


What are some other acting “hacks” you’ve discovered? Let us know!

Posted on July 15, 2018 .

Finding the Best Producer for Your Film or TV Project

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First, you have an idea. Then, you write a script. Next, you may even get that script optioned - but what’s after that? How do you find a company or individual to jump on board and actually produce your film or television project? We put together a brief guide on how to do it right, the differences between producing film and TV, and what questions to ask yourself before working with another person or business. Read on, showrunners.

Television Vs. Film Producers

A large film set has executive producers/line producers (EP’s) who oversee a budget, and creative producers, who focus on the artistic decision-making for the film. There can also be co-producers, who are producing a specific set part. Ultimately, the director has the final creative say, but may look to a creative producer for input.

TV shows also have line producers that are “in-charge” of the budget - the big difference here is that a creative producer on a television show is known as a showrunner. Being a showrunner for a producer is essentially a “dream job” for some - however, showrunners work very long hours. You really have to be the right person for this sort of work.

Showrunners can sometimes be the person that created show, but this isn’t always the case; they may also be the head writer. Their responsibilities may include what script you’re on for what day, the location, which scenes are being shot, and which talent is needed on set for the day, among other responsibilities.

Doing Your Production Research

Like any task, you will need to do your research before selecting the best producer or company for your project. What values are you looking for? What is the most important value to you? Keep in mind that you need at least some money to make your movie, pilot, webseries, TV show, whatever it is - so fostering a relationship with a producer or production company is like entering into a marriage. You don’t want to marry someone you don’t vibe with, value-wise. Don’t forget to also get a contract together that protects you, your rights, and your art.

What experience level is your producer at - are they young and eager to get you into festivals, or have they created a name in the biz? Think about what you can afford, and we’re not just talking money here - your reputation is on the line, too. Make sure you’re not compromising if you don’t want to or need to. Your name will be on it, so don’t take on projects you don’t believe in - your producer should feel the same about entering into an agreement with you! After all, their name is on this project as well - and they should appreciate your content just as much as you do.


What has been your experience in producing your own content? Drop us a line, and let us know your insider tips!

 


Studio27 is a Tyrone-based acting studio on the outskirts of Atlanta and Peachtree City with nightly classes for all ages, from 5-year-olds to 100+year-olds at all levels. Literally. We’re not kidding. Contact us today for more info on how to nurture or get your acting career started!

Posted on July 7, 2018 .

Improv Probably Saved My Life

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Back in 2011, I was horribly depressed. My on-again-off-again boyfriend of nearly 10 years broke my heart by dumping me over the phone, and then moving to the Middle East over Halloween weekend. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I was going to go out to a few parties that weekend as "Baby One More Time" Britney Spears. Instead, I stayed at home in bed with my cat, ate ice cream, and cried.

I started going to a wonderful therapist, who helped tremendously - and I also started taking improv classes to distract myself. Improv was something I had always wanted to do, and having the free time (i.e., not being in an emotionally draining, co-dependent relationship) allowed me the freedom to pour myself into it. I fell in love again, but this time, with improv.

I had gotten my degree in theatre back in 2009, and had been living in Seattle since 2010, working day jobs and acting at night and on the weekends, trying to build my film and theatre resume up. So, I was pretty well-versed in how things went in a professional theatre scene, but hadn't done much improv. I knew it was a separate branch on the acting tree, and didn't know if it would be my thing. But it was my thing, and it was probably what pulled me back from the edge, so to speak. While some of my best acting teachers told me not to use acting as therapy, it's pretty hard not to. Some of the best life lessons I ever learned came from acting, and in particular, from improv:

Yes, And

"Yes And"-ing something is a core tenant of improvisation. It means that when someone makes you an offer onstage, you should accept it - always (as long as you're not in danger, of course!); even if that offer is absurd, or you don't know anything about the subject matter. Saying "yes," to opportunities, no matter how out-of-the-ordinary they seem, can do wonders for your psyche - and your scene.

Supporting Your Partner

In improv, you have to have your partner's back - no matter what. On the team that I'm currently a part of, we say, "I got your back," to one another just before we step on stage. It's a nice reminder of this being another main rule of improv - whether it's physically, emotionally, or mentally, you must support your partner. This plays a lot into "yes and-ing" your partner, too. Having near-constant support - no matter what - does wonders for your attitude, both on-and-off stage. 

Don't Ask Questions

One of the best things about improv, in my opinion, is that there are no hard and fast rules. I mean, everyone has to follow some rules when they're learning a new discipline, but rules can be broken once you have mastered them. A good improv rule to follow when you're first learning the art form is to stay away from questions. Audiences don't care about niceties - we don't need to ask each other how the weather is. We know how the weather is - it's AMAZING, or the WORST WEATHER EVER. In improv, you get to have all the answers, unlike in life! See? It's great therapy. 

 

We have an improv intensive workshop coming up at the end July - click the link to sign up!

Posted on June 30, 2018 and filed under Improv.

Hobnobbing With Atlanta's Film Sharks at The Ivy Buckhead - a Studio 27 Experience

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Ritz Group Entertainment logo

 

On Thursday, June 21, 2018, I had the privilege of attending Ritz Group Entertainment's 2018 Shark Attack event with Cheryl Harris, owner of Studio 27 Talent Development. Shark Attack is a film industry networking and pitching event, designed for filmmakers, theatrical groups, and other industry pros to pitch their film, television, and other ideas for funding.

The "sharks" included: Erin Bethea of Fireproof fame; John Adcox, President of Gramarye Media; Stan Shklinyl; and Chris Helton.

This was an invaluable learning opportunity that taught me a lot about how to pitch my future film and TV show ideas to investors - namely, the below:

It's all about story and money.

Pitch your story first, then talk about how that story is going to make your investors money, and what kind of ROI (Return On Investment) they can expect if they provide funding for your project. Even if the folks in attendance at your pitch meeting are solely money guys (and gals), they're going to want to hear your story, why it matters, and why people will want to see it and spend money on it. The short version of all this information is, "How can this film/TV show/theatrical production monetize?" 

Shark quote: "Lead with your story, not numbers. The film market is shot right now - don't focus on variables. What sells now? Why are you asking for it, and how are you gonna make the money back?"

Pitch decks.

Make your pitch deck as visual as possible. If you're pitching to a roomful of investors, have a laptop, playing your visuals in the background while you're speaking. Naming your talent and crew always helps - what are the people on your team doing? What have they done? Investors need to feel confident in their investment, and names help with that. On that note, if you're looking to hire named talent, you can bet that you'll likely need over $5 million for your film.

Be sure to also flesh out fully dimensional characters. What is/are your character(s)' arc(s)? How does the character change? Again, it all links back to story. We're all human - even investors! - and we all want to hear a good story. 

Shark quote: "Too many moving parts are not appealing." 

Think international.

One of the sharks kept talking about international sales, i.e., what kind of ROI will you get on this film or show domestically and overseas? He also noted that he would like to know who would represent the film that is being pitched, and that it's important to know that films based on certain cultures are hard to sell overseas. So, make your film or show accessible! 

Shark quote: "For international sales, a [film] needs to be 80 - 90 minutes long."

The money stuff.

There were a lot of phrases being thrown around during the pitch process, like "ROI," "tax credits," "soft and hard money," "GAP financing," "equity," - and more. Do, do, DO your research before heading into a meeting like this - if you can't talk money, you simply should not be pitching. You have to speak the same language as your potential investors, even if you're not a numbers person. Google is free! And we've already done quite a bit of the legwork for you by simply writing this blog post, wink

Have you financed your own film or sought money from investors or sponsorships? Let us know what worked and what didn't! 

Click through the slideshow below to see photos from the event, taken by yours truly!

What’s Your Type?

 Photo by Joanna Degeneres 

Photo by Joanna Degeneres 

 

We all have types, whether it’s romantically or in terms of our business and/or personal branding. As actors, we must know our types! In fact, we should know them prior to even going in for our headshots, as knowing our “type” will inform our looks that we bring to that particular appointment. Basically, you need to know how to stereotype yourself.

Typing Yourself Out

Hear me out - stereotyping or generalizing other folks is not a normal, everyday practice we should partake in, though I would argue it’s human nature to judge others; doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make it untrue, either! That being said, in the acting world - particularly in the film acting world - stereotyping is a good thing. Knowing your type means that you know your brand, and that only helps you play to your strengths.

How to Lean Into Your Look

For example: if you frequently get cast as The Girl Next Door or The Jock, those are character archetypes that you should lean into. Bring outfits to your future headshot appointment that fit whatever your brand is. I often go out for Girl Next Door, Hipster, or Mean Girl roles. If I’m going to a headshot appointment and have booked three looks, I would bring one “main” look that could be dressed up or down with accessories - so, a brightly colored shirt that brings out my eyes that I can add hipster glasses on to (be sure to buy cheap, fake glasses that you can pop the lenses out of!). That way, I’ll get a “normal” headshot and a headshot with my “look” or “brand” in it. In fact, in some headshots I took a few years ago, I’m wearing a bright blue shirt that I bought just for the occasion (I kept the tags on and returned it!) and a leather jacket, so I would have a headshot for a “Mean Girl” character.

To nail down your type, start talking to your teachers, coaches, and fellow actors. Ask what they think your type is. There is legend of a class in Los Angeles, where, on the first day, the actors sit in a circle, and write down the type of each of the other actors. They are told to be brutally honest. While it may be hard to hear what your type is, trust me when I tell you that it will only help your acting career. Knowing is half the battle. The other half is leaning in.

Posted on June 8, 2018 .

The Importance of Demo Reels

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My husband worked as a commercial talent agent in 2016. I remember one day, he came home and said to me, “I just heard that we shouldn’t even look at submissions or actors’ profiles, unless they have demo reels.” I was surprised, but not by much - it makes sense. After all, how is a casting director supposed to glean your acting chops based on headshots and resumes alone? Demo reels are key to showcasing your abilities and are an industry standard.

Creating a Demo Reel Out of Thin Air

The number one question my students ask me when I relay the above story to them is, “How can I post or send a demo reel to an agent, manager, or CD if I’ve never performed and am just getting started in the industry?” The answer is simple: DIY-it! But doing-it-yourself doesn’t mean to do it unprofessionally. There are plenty of talent development studios - like Studio 27, for example - that offer services like audition taping and/or demo reel filming as well as offering a demo reel class. As long as you vet the studio and coaches beforehand, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to take a class in something like how to make an excellent demo reel.

Proper Prep

All that said, if you’re looking to just go ahead and shoot your demo reel, then make sure you prep beforehand! Prepare two scenes - one dramatic, one comedic - and two monologues (same for the monologues as the scenes, meaning, prepare one dramatic monologue and one comedic monologue). That way, you’ll have plenty of material to choose from when editing. Make sure that all of the scenes and monologues come from film or television shows.

A Good Reading

Be sure that you also choose an excellent reader. If your reader is also an actor, even better - just make sure that they don’t upstage you. However, a good reader should know never to do that, especially when they’re shooting another actor’s demo reel! A well-trained instructor would likely be your best bet.

After all that, you should be able to edit your demo reel scenes in free, simple-to-use software, like iMovie - or, you can use Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X, if you’re feeling especially fancy. iMovie works just fine, though!


Interested in having your demo reel critiqued or just have one you really want to show off? Email studio27talent@yahoo.com and tell us more!

Posted on June 3, 2018 and filed under Demo reel.

You Only Need to Pay For 3 Things as a New Actor

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As a writer with over 11 years of professional experience, and over 16 years in the theatre/film world(s) with college degrees in both areas, I've read and studied countless articles and textbooks on how to be an actor. The aforementioned documents would offer similar pieces of advice, but one point that was confusing to me for a long time was how I should spend my hard-earned money and what I should spend it on.

Without beating around the bush, the answer to this question that actors often ask is a simple one: headshots, acting classes, and online submission portals. So, technically, you're paying for more than three things, though I promise that I'm not trying to be click bait-y with my title! It truly is fairly simple - I'll explain below:

#1. Headshots

I mentioned this in a previous post, and you will hear it time and time again as an actor: you. need. good. headshots. The key to getting a great headshot is finding a headshot photographer, i.e., one that specializes in actors' headshots! It sounds easier than it is. Our actors often use Jason Vail Photography in Atlanta, Michael Justice in Buckhead, or Mike Colletta. These photographers are, of course, all local to Atlanta and/or the surrounding area - and they know how to take actors' headshots! Make sure that you're bringing enough look options to your headshot appointment, and lean into whatever your brand is - are you a nerdy hipster? A conventionally attractive model-type? An alpha jock? Whatever your look, bring options! A good headshot photographer will know how to help you choose the best outfit for your photos.

#2. Acting Classes

I know what you're thinking: we were bound to suggest this. You would be correct - it certainly makes sense that we would promote our acting classes on our own blog! However, I will say this: wherever you take acting classes to truly hone your craft, whether at Studio27 or elsewhere, make sure you properly vet your teachers or coaches and the talent development studio itself by reading reviews and/or by asking around. Have your friends and family heard of the studio? What is the studio's reputation? Do your research before spending the dough. It is, however, imperative that you do eventually settle on a studio to call your acting home - constantly and consistently educating yourself is important in any field, and acting is no exception! You will need to find a training facility to match your needs and to help you focus on your goals.

#3. Industry Boards

In Atlanta, you will need to sign up for three main services: actors access, 800casting, and Casting Networks. They all cost money (you save money by paying an annual fee), but you may be able to work around some of those fees, if not all, if you already have an agent or manager. Some, if not all, also have a convenient month-to-month payment option! The great part about paying for the premium services, even if you don't have an agent or manager, is that you can self-submit on projects - and no one works harder for you than you (or at least, that's how it should be!). 

What other acting services have you paid for that you found valuable? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on May 25, 2018 .