Posts tagged #LA

4 Life Hacks for Actors

actor-666499_1920.jpg

As working adult actors, we have all been through the wringer at one point or another: we got a flat tire on the way to an audition; we overbooked ourselves; we shook the auditors’ hands in the audition room, even though we KNOW it’s an industry faux pas. There are a myriad of ways we can ruin our careers - or at least, that’s how it can often seem. But as actors, we are also prone to - ahem - theatrics. None of the above examples will ruin your career, per se, but it can make for a stressful day, which no actors wants, especially when he/she is in the middle of auditioning! And if you live in a bigger city like LA or New York, you may have multiple auditions in a day. The following ‘life hacks’ will make your audition process smoother and more fruitful - no matter where you end up.

The Emergency Actors’ Kit

Keep an “Emergency Actors’ Kit” in your car - this can be a makeup bag or pencil pouch filled with the essentials: a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, makeup, lipstick, mints, a token that reminds you why you’re living this insane life; whatever you think will help you nail the next audition! If you don’t have a car, keep it in your purse or “audition bag” - it helps to also pack a change of clothes for the next audition or gig.

Headshots & Resumes

You knew this one was coming: always keep at least 10 headshots with your actor’s resume stapled to the back in your car or audition bag. You never know who you’re going to run into, or how many you’ll need for an audition. These days, most auditions have gone digital and won’t ask for a headshot/resume (because they’ll already have your info on their tablets or computers!), but it never hurts to be over prepared.

Scripts

Have a go-to monologue or scene? Bring those lines with you! You never know when you’ll need to quickly review it for an audition. It happens more often in theatre, but often, auditors will ask you if you’ve prepared anything else - and you want to be ready.

Writing Items

Make sure you bring a notepad or tablet with you wherever you go - you also never know when you’ll need to take notes! Your phone works, but if your day turns into a more intensive note-taking session, you’ll wish you had more room to write.

What are your #actorslifehacks? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on February 5, 2019 and filed under Actors.

Do You Need a Talent Manager?

Definitely not a talent manager - Jeremy Piven in  Entourage .

Definitely not a talent manager - Jeremy Piven in Entourage.

Hi, I’m Anna, and I have a talent manager. I am an actor, writer, and producer. I am not SAG. The scripts I get paid to write are internal corporate video scripts for Delta or spec scripts for UNIQLO and private clients. I have two agents as well - one in Los Angeles, one in Atlanta. If you’re a seasoned actor reading this, you probably think I’m nuts, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong! Read on to find out why I like (and dislike) having both (both is good), and read this Backstage.com article for a second opinion!

To Live and Act in LA

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I thought I needed all the representation that I could get. I had gotten a list of agent and manager names and email addresses from a friend in the industry who had already been living and acting in LA for quite a while, and I reached out to all of those names on that list. I had done one independent feature film as the female lead, and had a few other short films under my belt. But film-industry-wise, I hadn’t done a whole lot. I had a theatre background, which to reps in LA means I take acting seriously - but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m any good at acting for film. I think that out of the list of 20+ names, I got 3 - 4 meetings. And from those meetings, I got my management company.

Making It

When I signed with my manager, I truly felt like I had made it. But having a manager, especially one like mine who also submits you for roles on LA Casting and the other casting networks, is somewhat of a fine art. I’m Facebook friends with my manager, and I’ve taken coffee meetings with him a couple of times - but he’s a busy guy with a lengthy roster, and now that I live in Atlanta, he can’t really submit me for roles down here, unless they’re casting out of LA, and I work as a local hire in Atlanta. The A is out of his network. My management team takes 15 - 20% out of any job that I book through them - that adds up to a lot of moola! And then, if my agent jumps in to send a few emails and help me out with negotiations, I have to pay her ANOTHER 15 - 20%. All told, my paycheck could only end up being 60% of what it was originally quoted, especially if the project rate isn’t less agency fee, meaning that the studio would pay the agents separately.

So, you tell me - is having a manager worth it? I think signing on with a management company is an individual decision. I like my team, and I know they like me. I like having double the options for auditions - if my agent misses something, my management team may pick up on it. I don’t like having a smaller paycheck, but I primarily now work as a writer versus an actor, so the point is somewhat moot. But I’ll leave you with this: if you are not a celebrity, and there’s nothing to really manage, why hire a management team?

Tell us your thoughts 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.

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

Leighton Meester.jpg

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

Oprah.jpg

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

SJP.jpg

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

LeoD.jpg

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

JLO2.jpg

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!

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!