Hollywood 101 Recap Part 2!

Hey everyone! It’s that time of the year when I like to stop for a moment, recap and catch everyone up on the exciting blog entries I’ve posted over the last 4 months. Ranging from When To Get An Agent to When To Leave Your Agent to What Is A Win to me dropping off my feature film script to James Franco’s production company, let’s take a stroll down memory lane from oldest blog entry to the newest:

 

Happy Birthday! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-iN

Taking It To The Next Level: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jx

A Big Win With James Franco: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jR

What Is A Win? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS

The Revolution Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-os

When To Get An Agent Or Manager: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-6T

Happy 15th Anniversary! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-qq

Happy Labor Day Weekend! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rq

Self-Tape Audition Adventures: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rA

The Showrunner In Me: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-sx

Do You Celebrate? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-uj

A New Journey Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-wo

The Power Of The Human Spirit: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-x6

Quick Tip: Callbacks https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xn

Pre-Production Begins! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xx

When To Leave Your Agent: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-y5

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Happy 15th Anniversary!

15years-majic-painting

Photo courtesy of Majic Painting

On August 26th, 2017, I celebrated 15 years of living in Los Angeles!!!!!!!!!!

I celebrated by attending a Moët champagne and Veuve Clicquot champagne taste testing, amongst other cool things!

I am so blessed and grateful for the journey that I have been on as a person and as an artist. I am blessed and grateful because I came here to create my dreams and I am still in the game. I am blessed and grateful because I am still living my dreams and enjoying them whereas I have seen countless others give up on theirs. I can’t tell you how blessed I am that I am still living my dreams. I am blessed and grateful to have turned many no’s into yes’s. I am blessed and grateful that I have changed perceptions and enlightened many people on what I can do by honestly being who I am. I learned who I really am by moving to Los Angeles, living on my own and becoming an adult.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I am from the East Coast. However, Los Angeles is my home and I look forward to the next 15 years here.

I want to thank the following people and things that have contributed to my experience here in Los Angeles. This is just a sampling and not a comprehensive list:

My family: both biological and the ones I’ve created here

My friends past and present

My teachers past and present

Relationships past and present

Places of employment

My former co-workers

Past apartments I’ve lived in

My agents past and present

Actors

Co-stars

Casting Directors

Directors

Producers

Writers

Various crew members who also make the magic happen

Concerts

Writers Retreat

The beaches

Madonna

Harvey Weinstein

RuPaul

Drag Queens

James Franco

Jennifer Garner

Evangeline Lilly

Ryan Murphy

 

Happy Anniversary!!!!!!!!

 

 

A Big Win With James Franco!

Hey everyone!

Last Sunday, I mentioned that I was taking a big action for my career on Monday, July 24th. That I was taking an action that would move one of my projects significantly closer towards my goal for it. I also mentioned this was a project I had been diligently working on since November 2014 and I postulated how everything would go on Monday.

The project was my feature film script that I wrote with James Franco in mind to play the villain and I successfully dropped it off to his production company!!! Shortly after I dropped off my script, my management company emailed his production office a PDF copy of my script! And let me say that this wasn’t an unsolicited drop off. This was a result and culmination of all the hard work I’ve done to get to this point. And I am filled with extreme gratitude and pride.

Monday was a lesson and RECONFIRMATION of many things.

#1 Postulates. I saw exactly how the drop off would go. I saw how the conversation would go with the contact person at his production office. I saw it so clearly. Now, on the day of, there were a couple of hilarious twists and turns that were thrown into the mix, but they still led me to the postulate I had. Everything played out how I saw it in my mind. And because I saw it in my mind, I was able to deliver my product successfully in person.

#2 Community. I could not have done this without the support of my teacher, my trusted classmates and friends. Richard Lawson for teaching me what it means to create your own career and to go after it. My classmates for asking me the next question when I would present my script in class and when I would present ideas I had to create exposure for it (e.g. From having a table read to creating an extensive social media campaign) Lindsay Hopper for researching and gathering info the week before. Reed Iacarella for being the best assistant a person could have. You are a great cheerleader!

#3 Research. Knowing what I’m walking into. Knowing who the buyers are. Speaking their language and vibe. When you take the time to do research and be thoughtful about your outflow to someone, it makes a difference. Research creates an honest connection and it was incredibly satisfying to see items that I had already been outflowing to them in their possession.

#4 Always be nice to the gatekeepers! They are the first line of defense: Security guards, receptionists, assistants, etc. We were so nice to the gatekeeper and treated them like a fellow human being, that they quickly became our ally. When we arrived, the person we were looking for wasn’t there yet. We waited. We knocked on the door. We made a phone call. We then decided to go downstairs and because we were so nice to the gatekeeper, they asked us how it went. When we told them that our contact person wasn’t there, they immediately said, “Wait, I just saw them go upstairs. Go back up there!” They wanted us to successfully complete our meeting.

#5 Celebrate. After all was said and done, I celebrated and let it go. I focused on that win. What happens afterwards, happens afterwards. The win was that I delivered my script to James and his staff. My manager also delivered my script to them. That’s the win. I delivered my product. The rest is out of my hands now. I DELIVERED my product and the rest is now out of my hands.

That being said, I WILL finish my social media campaign today (Sunday) just to complete that cycle of action (and so everyone can see all the cool celebrity endorsements I utilized to create visibility for my feature film) And I’ve already begun working on securing an attachment for the female hero and lead of my feature film script.

Onward and forward!

Assassins (Wanna Produce Theater?)

Hello! Hope you’re all doing well! I love paying it forward and this week’s blog entry is a GUEST BLOG! My brilliantly talented friends are doing an exciting production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” in May! And here to share some lessons and tips of producing for the theater is Lindsay Hopper, one of the producers of Assassins.

Lindsay, take it away!

Adventures in Producing a Musical, From Start to Finish.

By: Lindsay Hopper

As a film producer, I’ve been fortunate enough to find my routine, my preferences, my people. When all of those things are in place, my job is easy. Well, as easy as it can be when putting together all pieces of a film puzzle in place, Richard Lawson, my mentor, always says “prior planning prevents poor performance” and I couldn’t agree with him more. And while I adore film and working on a set, this year I got to a point where I could no longer ignore my first love: theatre. More specifically, musical theatre. I grew up in a world where people would sing and dance to express themselves, where the magic of storytelling happened in the beat of a drum or the playing of a chord. So naturally, when I was approached by my dear friend and talented colleague back in July and he said “let’s do a musical”, I was all in. This has been one of my biggest dreams for as long as I can remember, and while I always thought it would happen later in my career, now was the time! I’ve produced a number of different projects, how hard could it be to produce a musical?

Famous last words.

We did everything backwards. Everything. I’ll admit it. But you know what? We made it go right. And the result is going to be something full of more of the magic I talked about before than I ever thought was possible.

Last week, a friend of mine asked me: “What would you have done differently”. The easy response would have been: “Everything”. But instead, I thought about it. And in thinking about it, I realized I now know how to do this!

So what are the steps in producing theatre? (and I recommend doing them in this order)

Find a venue. We had a theatre lined up but it was still being built. Our goal is still to eventually mount our show there but had we had a solidified location for our show, a location that was already built and established, this process would have been smoother from the get go.

Have money. Seriously. Film you can produce guerilla style on no budget while borrowing, begging and making everything you may need. Not in the theatre. The amount of things you need money for, from the licensing (if it’s not an original play) to the props to the musicians, if it’s a musical, is astounding. Seriously, I could have made like 8 short films for the cost of this small show we’re doing.

Design the show first. Everything from props to lighting to sound should be put in place before you even start working on the show. It’s really hard to make a budget if you don’t know how much it’s going to cost to create the director’s vision. Think about what you’ll need to buy. Think about who you’ll need to hire. And how much all of that will cost. Once this step is done, you can make a pretty realistic budget and you’ll have a good grasp on how things will need to be structured.

Find the licensing and purchase the rights to the show. And yes, this can be expensive. Could you do a play without the rights? I mean, logistically, yes. You can easily go to Samuel French, purchase the play and say “I want to do this show, and we’ll do it for 6 weeks and charge for tickets and it will be great!” but you could get in a lot of trouble. Writers need to make money too!

Hire a kickass PSM (production stage manager) and stage management team and make a schedule. Ahead of time. Seriously. Without this, you’ll cast people and then all the sudden they tell you they won’t be there for the dress rehearsal and all hell breaks loose. Having a schedule allows the people you bring on to work their schedules around your project from the get go!

Cast the show! This is the fun part. And in my case, I really achieved one of my biggest dreams because I was able to cast all my talented friends and have been so fortunate to work along side of them and their art for the last 4 months. This is really where the magic is.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Everything. Rehearse with as many props, food, costume items you can, as early as you can. Drill the songs over and over again. Run the scenes multiple ways. Practice the lights, the sound cues, transitions to and from the stage. All of these things need to be rehearsed so that the magic can live at the performances and not be clouded by logistics.

Have fun. This is the most important thing. Theatre is not a huge money maker, but, as I keep saying, it’s magical. This is why we do it. So always come back to that, because it’s what will keep you going. The last thing you want is to resent your child, and I’ll tell you, producing a show is like having a child.

Our show opens in 5 days and I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much as I have over the last four months at any other point in my life. But the most important things I’ve learned is to hold on to gratitude and enjoy the process. It’s a hard road but it’s worth it 1000 times over, and I can’t wait to see everything come to life.

All The Feels Productions production of Assassins (by Stephen Sondheim) opens at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre in Silverlake (Los Angeles) on May 5th and runs for 2 weekends (May 5, 6 & 12 @ 8pm, May 7 & 13 at 2pm and May 14 @ 6pm)

Tickets are available online at allthefeelsassassins.brownpapertickets.com

You can also support the show by donating to their production at www.gofundme.com/allthefeelsassassins

Demo Reel Tips

A demo reel or a theatrical reel is a collection of short scenes that showcases your best work as an actor. It lets the viewer know what you’ve done, but more importantly, it shows them the kind of characters you can play. A reel can also be used in the voiceover world, the music world, the directing world, the producing world, etc.

The following are tips I have learned and applied for myself and have shared with others in my artistic community.

**Your reel should be concise and to the point for maximum impact. Your scenes should be 30-35 seconds max. Nobody will sit through a 5-minute, 7-minute, and in some cases I’ve seen, a 10-minute reel! Too freaking long! Trust that people are actually smart and intuitive. They get your casting and your ability to play the part in seconds. Each scene on a reel should give the person watching it just enough to leave them wanting more. Find the “heart” of the scene where you’re shining as your character, where we see the height of what’s going on, hook your viewer with that section and then move on to the next scene.

**Don’t use multiple scenes from the same episode or film in your reel. We already saw you as the U.S. Senator in “House of Cards” or “Scandal” in the beginning of your reel, so we don’t need to see you again as that same U.S. Senator later on in your reel. Similarly, if we already saw a clip of you as a detective from one show, we don’t need to see you playing five other detectives from five other shows on your reel. We got it the first time! You’re a detective! Are the other five detectives going to be vastly different from the first detective we saw? Don’t be redundant. Get to the point. Show us other castings. I think people do that to show off the number of credits they have. They want to show that they have been on numerous network shows or feature films. Remember: Quality vs. Quantity. Things will all look and sound the same if you put five detective scenes on your reel. Pick your best detective scene and let people go to your IMDB page to see the rest of your credits.

**Production value! If you’re just starting out and want to create your reel or if you’ve been in the business for a while and want to update your reel, you can generate your own material and shoot it yourself. Shoot it with high production value so that it can stand up to things that were professionally shot. And for me, production value includes:

  1. Utilizing a great camera.
  2. Utilizing great sound equipment.
  3. Utilizing great lighting equipment.
  4. Having a small crew of people who are proficient with 1, 2 and 3. Also, having a small crew that can assist in other areas such as production assistance, script supervision, a first AD, etc.
  5. Writing a scene that puts you in your best, strongest light. A scene that brings out your great acting work. Going back to a scene being 30-35 seconds max, the rule of thumb is that one full page of text usually equates to one minute of screen time. So write a half page scene for your reel and keep the scene focused on you since it’s for your reel.
  6. Rehearsing with your scene partner to carve out the performance.
  7. Creating a simple, yet effective, shot list. Because this scene is for your reel and it’s to showcase you, a medium, dirty over-the-shoulder shot will do the trick! A dirty shot is a shot that contains some physical intrusion, usually in the form of a body part from another actor, like their shoulder, head, hand, leg or waist. The director may want to make the shot dirty to simply give a sense of distance between the two actors.–actinganswers.com

Here are two examples of a dirty over-the shoulder-shot:

This particular shot keeps us focused on you. It’s your reel. You’re the star. If you want to keep the shot static (where we don’t cut back to the other actor) then make the scene shorter. In this way, you lessen the risk of people losing interest in your scene since it has no one to cut back to. And because of the way the above shots are framed, you can set up a nice and simple production design in the background that gives us a sense of where we are.

**When you edit your reel, find the musical rhythm and flow of it. Is your first scene light and fun and then the rest of your reel alternates between dark and light scenes? Do you start your reel with something light and end it with something light? Do you have three procedural scenes next to each other that need to be broken up by a scene from a different genre? Depending on the scenes you’ve shot, you will arrange them on your editing timeline in a way that creates a musical rhythm and flow.

**As you play the scenes on your editing timeline, make cuts as needed. Going back to a scene being 30-35 seconds max, when you look at an entire scene you’ve shot, find the heart of the scene. Feel where the in and out points are in your 30-35 second clip. I’m really good at feeling the in and out points of a scene. As a dancer and as someone who loves music, I can feel where the scene should begin and where it should end. My body does this physical motion of when it feels the scene should begin and where it should end. I hope that makes sense LOL.

When I look at someone’s reel, I’m good at saying, “End the scene right there. Don’t go past that moment.”

Hope these tips help you!

ShondaLand Update!

So in last Sunday’s blog entry, “Yale + Harvard = ShondaLand?”, I shared with you all an assignment I received to read challenging material out loud for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night for one full month. The objective was to train myself to pick up material cold, on the spot, and read from it with confidence and fluidity. This practice will help me with procedural auditions (cold readings in particular)

I decided to tackle articles from the Yale Law Review, the Harvard Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine. I want these journals to be one of the tools I use to understand and get myself into a procedural world like ShondaLand.

Lord chile! I stumbled through all of the journals for the first fews days. I think I had a 70% success rate of ease and comfortability. The remaining 30% of challenge came from law and medical terms I was not familiar with. Or a series of large words that require effort and thought. Every time I stumbled, I would read the section over and over again until I nailed it.

DEFIBRILLATOR!

AORTIC!

UNILATERAL HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION!

Critics of the criminalization of aggression adopt the same understanding of the internal normative posture of the law, but object to its classification alongside the other international crimes precisely because it privileges sovereignty over humanity. (Yale Law Journal. “Why Have We Criminalized Aggressive War?” by Tom Dannenbaum)

The cool thing I noticed was that I read each article as an actor. Meaning that even though I stumbled over unfamiliar words here and there, I still had a strong sense of storytelling. I understood setup and payoff with certain sections. I added emphasis in certain sections to drive a point home. I felt like I was delivering a speech to an assembled audience of doctors or lawyers and I wanted to make sure that my communication landed on them. That I was impinging them. That I was connecting to them.

One week down! Three more weeks to go! At some point, I’d love to film myself reading one of these articles cold and then sharing it with you all.

Yale + Harvard = ShondaLand?

I recently did a cold read audition in class. I had 10 minutes to prepare for this procedural type material. I was playing a character who was one of the top heart surgeons in the city. I quickly started making strong choices, but I found myself tripping over the medical terms. I realized that procedurals are an area where I need more strengthening. By the way, “procedural” is a term used to describe a type of television series: medical, law, cop/detective.

I did my cold read on camera and it went very well. When I watched my audition and assessed my work afterwards, I said that I was happy with what I created in 10 minutes. However, I could see that my attention was on making sure that I delivered the medical terms correctly first and that my performance came second. I was more focused on getting the words right then focusing on my performance.

So my teacher, Richard Lawson, gave me an assignment. Actually, he gave the entire class an assignment. Over the next month, he wants us to pick up and read challenging material out loud for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night. In this way, we build certainty and strength in picking up challenging material and reading it cold out loud.

Like anything else, it’s about the reps. It takes practice. Some people are just naturally at ease when it comes to procedural terminology. For others, like myself, it takes practice. If I go in for any procedural show like Scandal or NCIS New Orleans or Chicago Med, I need to be comfortable with saying their words in a clear and confident way. Picking up challenging material and reading it out loud for the next month is going to be very helpful.

So I decided to read articles from the Yale Law Journal and the Harvard Medicine Magazine. I’ll also read articles from The New England Journal of Medicine.

In a month, we’re going to do cold read auditions again and he’s going to give us sides from procedural TV shows. It will be great to see how much I improve in picking up challenging procedural sides and reading them cold with more certainty and confidence.

Will Yale and Harvard lead me to ShondaLand?

Stay tuned!