Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday observations on film, tv, acting and life....January 19, 2014

We take things for granted.
We forget what we have and lust for more.
Truth is, if you are using your talents and enjoy using them.
You have made it already.
The rest is whip cream on the cake.

Perfect weekend for me...

Taught and coached teen and adult actors for five hours, film work, SAG Awards, KNPR Radio, time with my wife Laura, shopping for gifts for two young grandchildren, and my granddaughters 6th birthday...and the weekend is not over yet!

Continued progress with the Friday night class at Casting Call...some real break thoroughs and actors who sat through over an hour of Q&A on the business then stayed four more hours Friday night. We started before six and ended after 11... Thank you Sharry for allowing your/our students to put in their heart and soul and work until the work is done!

As an actor you are always on stage

Keep that in mind when you are in public or within earshot of anyone...they could be industry.

Do not attack or bash other production companies, agents, casting directors, actors. Do not make assumptions.

Work together and do the job...

Enjoy yourself and be aware that these are the people who may hold you future or the next step toward your future in their hands.

Harder to do than it is to write, I know, believe me.

Be a good person, a good actor, and good friend.

You don't have to study or take classes to be and actor...

That's what directors, film makers and even local actors say on the streets in Las Vegas.


And those who invest in their craft also, when ready to commit to a career, join the union..SAG-AFTRA.

Yale, Harvard, NYU, UCLA, London Academy of Arts are among the schools where tonight's SAG Awards nominees and winners studied and developed their craft. May have been acting and studying acting since they were small children.

Is going the movie theater too expensive?

Average ticket price for a movie is $8.25

That does not include concessions,or in some cities parking.

Average movie ticket price rose  thanks to 3-D, and Imax films, and the cost of converting to digital for all movie theaters (those that still project films will be retro-houses or simply go out of business).

Oscar Time...

Let the campaigning begin. Now that the Oscar nominations are out, get ready for weeks of debate over who will win and who should win and why. Sometime soon we'll hear about why some historical movie doesn't deserve all the attention it is getting and there will be complaints about how a producer is attempting to buy an Academy Award. Let's face it, the awards are about money, advertising, marketing and investment as much as they are about art, craft and talents.

SAG Awards

Did you notice how the winners of SAG Awards were the films that send every member of  the union an old fashioned DVD, instead of screening passes or having to deal with i Tunes (mind failed to download one key film that did not come on DVD). Television awards went to the shows that advertised heavily in the trades, or are top ratings over top actual performance. I must be one of few Americans who does not watch "Modern Family"...the busier you are the less TV and TV time eaters you watch. Netflix anyone?

"Hollywood is what it is. It’s a business.”

Robert Redford was in good spirits on Thursday morning, appearing at a press conference to kick off Sundance just hours after he was snubbed for an Oscar nomination. Though Redford was considered a front runner in the best actor race for “All Is Lost,” he said that distributor Roadside Attractions, which is partially owned by Lionsgate, hadn’t supported the release as effectively as he would have liked.

When a moderator talked about his exclusion from the Oscars race, the audience booed.

“Let me speak frankly about how I feel about it,” Redford said. “I don’t want that to get in the way of why we’re here,” referencing his commitment to independent film.

“I’ve been part of the Hollywood film industry for much of my career,” he said. “I’m very happy about it. Hollywood is what it is. It’s a business.”

“There’s a lot of campaigning going on and it can be very political,” he added about the Oscars race.

Then he took a jab at Lionsgate, the studio that released “All is Lost.”

“In our case, we suffered from little to no distribution,” he said. “I don’t know what they were afraid of. They didn’t want to spend money or they were incapable.”

“We had no campaign to cross over into the mainstream,” he explained.

But he said he had no hard feelings. “Would it have been wonderful to be nominated?” he asked. “Of course. I’m not disturbed by it or upset by it.”

Another nail in film's coffin...

Paramount stops releasing major movies on film
It becomes the first big Hollywood studio to embrace digital-only U.S. releases. Others are expected to quickly follow suit.

Are you ready for film incentives?

Do you have your business, business tools, acting chops and niche choices ready for an increase in production in Nevada? While we are dwarfed by the incentives of  Los Angeles City, much less other states, at least Nevada has a film incentive now and there will be projects that use local actors, vendors and crews.

If you have a niche you fill for productions, both local and coming in from out of time, now is the time to get your act together and market it. Film incentives kick in his year for Nevada.

The big loser in Thursday's Oscar nominations may be California.

The state barely registered in the Oscar contest, at least when it comes to film locations, underscoring the difficulty California faces in keeping its homegrown industry from fleeing the state.

Only one of the nine best-picture nominees was actually filmed in California, the Warner Bros. movie "Her," the Spike Jonze drama that shot in L.A. and Shanghai, China.

The other eight nominees all were shot in other states and countries, including leading contenders "Gravity" (Britain), "American Hustle" (Massachusetts), "Captain Phillips" (Massachusetts, Malta and Morocco), and "Dallas Buyers Club" and "12 Years a Slave," both of which were filmed in Louisiana.

Virtually all of the other Oscar nominations for categories such as cinematography, costume design, directing, film editing and lead actor performances were for live action movies that were filmed elsewhere.

Film incentives are being blamed, with no one recognizing the reality of the portability of industry pre-production, production and even editing technology.

Yes Hollywood, there are people out here in flyover country, between Hollywood and NYC, who are qualified actors, film makers, there are support services, locations, lower production costs and a welcoming community embracing the industry. That's part of what is behind the incentives. It is such a core part of the "loss" of production in Hollywood that even where there are no incentives, talent exist.

Not just the US. Eastern Europe, China, India and even locations in Africa offer well schooled and trained, experienced crews, actors and support services.

If Hollywood wants to regain film and television it "lost" it should look at being more cost effective, more welcoming as an entire community, and realize that audiences do not always want to see NYC or Southern California in everything they watch. Use your strengths, not your tendency to want to buy loyalty with cash and deeper and deeper incentives. 

A Great 2014 for all of us.

Increased production, a growing qualified talent pool (union talent pool), film incentives, and we all hope a full recovery for those who live where home values lost the highest percent in the nation and unemployment fell to second to only Detroit after 2008. 

Faith, family, using our talents, income and the ability to be creative should come our way, all of us, this year. Then just wait for will amaze you!

Prayers and best wishes to all of you, regardless of what you think of me or of those of us who are artist, actors and right brain dominant.

And try to get away from negatives, particularly in politics. Be honest, open, state what you believe, but no name calling, hatred or judging a person based on one view or a little bit of information.

Let's make 2014 and beyond the new Golden Era for us all! 

It's an exciting creative world out there.

I know, because I have enjoyed it.

My life has been acting on stage, film and video, voice work, broadcasting, journalism, marketing and teaching...all creative professions that also involve helping, sharing or entertaining others.

I met and worked with  my dad's favorite writer, Mickey Spillane (creator or Mike hammer), while doing background work on a beer commercial.

I have worked as a PA, AD, Script Supervisor and on commercials as a producer, director and CD.

I am a writer, blogger, researcher and journalist.

All of these, in very differing ways, are creative professions, passions, avocations and a part of who you are. 

We all are made up of  a collection or composite of our creative selves

Whatever you do, let your creative spirit go and enjoy it while and when you can.

Keep plugged in and make life fulfilling by doing what you love.

The Actors Soul

My friend and one of my mentors, Vic Parillo wrote the following in his book...

"An actor’s conscience is the most important component of the actor’s soul. I believe that within every actor is an inner voice that instantaneously tells you “right from wrong.”

"Every gifted actor I have represented as a theatrical agent maintained a loyal friendship with this inner voice. As their friendship and adherence with their inner voice grew, so did their integrity. The very essence of an actor’s talent is their strength of conviction, confidence, and integrity; all of these attributes are fueled by the actor’s theatrical conscience.

"The actor-artist today is living in an industry that scoffs at artistry in acting and celebrates the commercialism, and whatever the “flavor of the month” performer is. It takes a strong actor fortified with armor given to him by his theatrical conscience to stand up against their agents, and publicists who want to “market their career.”

"Our theatrical conscience also tells us to be true to the author’s words and message of the play, not to our constant obsession with our image; this is the weapon to use to maintain our theatrical conscience.

The proverbial writing is on the wall as they say. The onslaught of commercialism has infected the
craft of acting and actors to such a degree and our theatrical conscience is the only weapon we have to say “no” to commercialism as “the way it is.” Because those that profess the “the way it is” have the power to prevail and could make the craft of acting a mere thing of the past.

We need to protect our craft, our history, and our integrity. Our Theatrical Conscience is the answer.

The possession of the Theatrical Conscience in the entire artistic body of the craft of the theater is the only hope we have for maintaining the integrity of the craft of acting. It is not a sin to be an ‘idealist, traditionalist, who has the audacity to call himself a craftsman.

As students of the craft of acting we were loaded with ideals and a fervent respect for the craft of acting. We held the craft of acting and its history in reverence. The young student actor would proclaim “What a privilege it would be for me to be part of this great art!”The young actor would never diminish, denounce, insult, disrespect, or manipulate the art of acting or the theater. To do so would be to defy all that they held sacred in their hearts. In other words, we had a conscience.
An actor’s conscience is the most important component of the actor’s soul.

We must maintain our Theatrical Conscience and the entire artistic body of the craft and not surrender the integrity, tradition, and history of the art, to the businessmen and the entrepreneur who are masters of the ‘profit motive.’

We must maintain our Theatrical Conscience in dealing with the studio, television and theater industry executives, producers, agents, business accountants, and lawyers who try and sell us “a short-cut to success,” over-riding the importance and necessity of training, and lose the basics of our craft and art.
Every actor needs to listen to their Theatrical Conscience as it will motivate you to fight for the integrity and tradition of the art of acting.

SAG Bashing

I overheard local talent talking about how they resent how you never see locals in commercials and on television. When I approached them I discovered they were all non-union and most had taken advantage of and abused their potential to ever land serious work by adding "SAG Eligible" to their resume. They offer their services for free or low pay without the protection of a union then wonder why only union, perceived as being "out of town" union get the good parts.

It’s funny how those who want to continue to have free or low cost talent feed the rumor mill that in turns fuels the first of SAG-Bashing. Playing upon and building on a popular myth that unions are evil giants, these actors then turn around and ask why they never get a “fair chance” at commercials and movie roles. 

It is because union talent is professional talent.

That may raise shingles, but the truth is that perception is everything and producers, who come in from out of town, and an increasing number in town, equate the willingness to commit to your craft and join a union with being professional and serous about the industry and your career.

Don’t believe me. Ask a major director, not some local who exploits, sorry…”trains and offers opportunity to”…gullible locals.

I have noticed in my role with film festivals, the SAG awards, Ad Federation Awards and other activities that the video and film product that rings true and really rises above the rest all use union talent. There is a reason for that.

And when it comes time to worry about such things, there is a reason SAG is being targeted by conservatives for our “Cadillac” pension and health plan. It is because the Screen Actors Guild exist to protect actors and to serve our membership.

The reasons out of town talent are used are many. But the strongest reason is that if talent fails to join SAG the market will always be looked upon as back-water, and the incentive to bring talent in from out the market will continue to be there. Unfortunate, since there is a wealth of qualified professional union and pre-union (a positive term for those who do not join as they are still welcome anytime they decide to be truly professional)available right here in Nevada!

Looking up

Five films (two full length, three shorts) in one year is a record for then now more mature Art record since moving to Las Vegas (unless you count extensive background extra work under SEG and SAG in the 1980's and 90's).

Looking up because I am acting again. My theater and film background going back to Southern and Northern California, Wyoming and based on a solid Chicago theater foundation, took a back seat to raising a family, and paying bills and creditors. So i have also been a journalist, broadcaster, writer, voice over artists, teacher, professor, acting coach and for a decade ran a full time marketing company with my wife (including production). 

I took the time to earn an MA, be just short of an MA in Theater (thesis was never done because both my mentor and committee chair passed away), and a PhD in Education.

Of course at times my duties as an elected member of the National Board of the Screen Actors Guild (going on 20 years) were burn out in their own right. Well worth it, and I feel I have represented actors, and Nevada well over the years. 

Why do I write about myself...ego, sales or blowhard?  

Actually it is because over the past five years there has been a need for self promotion. I traditionally simply work and keep my work or light under a bushel. but since the recession hit is 2008 income has been less consistent, while people who do not understand where I am coming from or why I do things have gone on the offensive. 

I know these people are just working on their own careers, their position in the community or their own self marketing image. I have had to step up promotions as a result of inference that gets to me through the grapevine.

So only a half dozen plays in over twenty years, and very few film roles. I stopped doing background work because teaching classes are fixed times and too often conflicted with calls from Lear, Goldman, Wild Steak, Baskow and others...except commercials (decent union pay for filling space in a commercial and he opportunity for an upgrade).

Friendship and support

Thank you to all of you who have been true friends over the years, to those who have been there when needed, to those with whom I have dealt with the politics, finances and health issues that come with life, and to those for whom a twenty minute drive to Boulder City from Las Vegas is not a trip to the moon.

Thank you to those who have been mentors, students, supporters and believers. Thank you for those who have defended me, taken the time to understand and to learn.

And thank you for love, faith, spirit and above all, friendship.

Thank you all.

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