Sunday, August 31, 2014

Auditions are like workouts

The Actors Voice: Treating auditions like workouts will save your sanity, my friends. There are no "bad" workouts, because even those that don't drive us to peak performance still help us toward our ultimate goal: better fitness. And even those "bad" auditions 
are just a part of building toward a 
lifetime of relationships with potential collaborators. Huh? Yeah, really! Read all about it over at Actors Access. And tweet to share, here. (And now I'm off to my pole private, here in NYC. Woo!)

The Gift
From the Archives: Since we're on the topic of auditions, let's not only look at the audition as a workout, but also your every performance as a gift you share with the world. Letting go of attachment to how any gift is received is a wonderful thing! To wit, my columns are my gift for you. :) Yes, I love hearing that you enjoy them, but I share them with you, irrespective of how they're received. All the same, the comments are open to you, for feedback, here. And, as always, tweets are nice too.

Not much news from me today, as I'm saving it for Thursday's quarterly 'zine version of the BonBlast, packed with fun shares, mini-columns, and lovely drawings from new mom Chari Pere (CONGRATULATIONS, CHARI AND ELI!), so, I'll just use this space to say, OMG, I'm loving New York, I'm having a blast working with actors on SMFA here, and the awesome events with SAG Foundation start up tonight and flow through the week. Yay! Okay, I'm off to my pole private with Aerial Amy! ***squeeeee*** Time to fly! (Oh, here's a bit of news for LA-based ladies: The Pole Garage opened up another pole teaser for October 20th. Lemmeknow if you wanna come fly with me at my home away from home.)

'Fiddler on the Roof's' universal themes still resonate after 50 years

LA Times

'Fiddler on the Roof' remains among Broadway's 16 longest-running shows of all time.
'Fiddler' began quite simply, a work of passion by three Broadway veterans seeking their next project.
As 'Fiddler' traveled the world, few countries embraced the show more than Japan.
On Sept. 22, 1964, after the long-awaited Broadway opening of "Fiddler on the Roof," invited guests gathered at New York's swank Rainbow Room to celebrate. The first review that came in that night was from Herald Tribune critic Walter Kerr, and it wasn't very good. But producer Harold Prince read it aloud to his guests anyway.

"I can't resist reading this to you," he said that night, "because it's so irrelevant."

Apparently so. Nearly eight years and 3,300 performances later, "Fiddler" became the longest-running show on Broadway. Winner of nine Tony Awards including best musical, "Fiddler" was still on Broadway when United Artists released Norman Jewison's film of the same name in 1971.

Rarely offstage, rarely on hiatus, "Fiddler on the Roof," has already been back on Broadway for four revivals, played London's West End four times and remains among Broadway's 16 longest-running shows ever. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, there have been stage productions all over the world — including 15 in Finland alone — as well as in thousands of schools, community centers and regional theaters.

"'Fiddler on the Roof' re-created musical theater," says Tony-winning set designer Robin Wagner. "Until 'Fiddler,' musicals spoke only to the immediate generation. 'Fiddler' showed how a musical could speak to all generations and cultures."

Yet "Fiddler" began quite simply, a work of passion by three Broadway veterans seeking their next project.

In fall 1960, a friend sent lyricist Sheldon Harnick a copy of Sholem Aleichem's 1909 novel "Wandering Stars" with the notion it might make a good musical. Harnick loved it, and so did his longtime collaborator, composer Jerry Bock, with whom he'd written the score for "Fiorello!," the Tony-winning musical about former New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia.

When the two men took the idea to playwright Joseph Stein, he told them it was far too sprawling a story. Stein, however, countered with Yiddish humorist Aleichem's short stories of Tevye the milkman, which Stein's Poland-born father had read to him in Yiddish when he was a boy and which he thought had better odds as a musical. All three men said the more they read the stories, the more excited they got. And in March 1961, they had their first formal meeting to talk about it.

Never mind that the project resonated with their Jewish heritage and came from their hearts. Even Prince, who was their first choice to produce it, turned them down initially, and so did other producers, one of them even asking what they would do when they ran out of Hadassah audiences.

"We had no idea what would happen to this project," said Bock. "What was special about it was our personal connection to the material."
That connection surely bolstered them through several years of work and frustration. When Jerome Robbins came in to shape and direct the show, they did what composers, lyricists and librettists have always done — they rewrote. Through rehearsals and tryouts in Detroit and Washington, D.C., Robbins was their fourth author as they turned what Prince calls "a simple folk tale" into an American classic.

Stein turned out five drafts of the show's book, and the songwriters came up with about 50 songs, of which the show used fewer than one-third. Again and again, Robbins asked them what the show was really about, and the director didn't stop until Sheldon Harnick finally said, "It's about tradition." Robbins replied, "That's it. Write that," and so they did.

"Fiddler's" groundbreaking opening number, "Tradition," replaced "We've Never Missed a Sabbath Yet," a song replete with references to plucking chickens and baking challah. Also scrapped along the way were such songs as "A Butcher's Soul" and "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine."

"Do You Love Me?" Tevye's query of his skeptical wife, Golde, emerged in Detroit, while Robbins' inimitable Bottle Dance took shape in Washington, D.C.

While their first Tevye, Zero Mostel, often sprinkled too much shtick over his performances, sometimes squeezing Tevye's wet rags over the orchestra pit or joking with an audience member in the front row, he was clearly a comic genius. The show's first review in Detroit was dismissive of everything and everyone else, yet Mostel was praised as "extraordinary" and in New York, Newsweek's cover headline was "Hail the Conquering Zero."

The day after Walter Kerr's lukewarm review, favorable word of mouth was offered by the rest of the critics. Ticket sales didn't flag, and on July 21, 1971, just a few months before the "Fiddler" film's premiere, the show became the longest-running musical on Broadway. Prince's office reported that "Fiddler" had already returned nearly $7 million on its original $375,000 capitalization. 

Six other performers had succeeded Mostel as Tevye on Broadway, and the show had played 32 countries from Spain to Rhodesia.

As "Fiddler" traveled the world, few countries embraced the show more than Japan. Its first performance there, in 1967, has been followed by hundreds more over the years. Playwright Stein, who had been worried about how the show would be received there, said their first Japanese producer asked him if they understood the show in America. "When I responded, 'Why do you ask?' recalled Stein, "He said, 'Because it's so Japanese.'"

In much the same way that "The Diary of Anne Frank" is not just a Jewish story, neither is "Fiddler on the Roof." "Fiddler's" strong themes of tradition, repression, prejudice and diaspora continue to evoke common ground for audiences — wherever they are. 

The well-crafted book and memorable songs don't hurt, of course, but they are augmented by a plot that has something for everyone, whether it's the importance of family, friction between generations or the difficult choices that accompany emigration and assimilation.
The universality and timelessness are captured in Norman Jewison's movie, which has also traveled the world since its 1971 release. Production designer Robert Boyle created 1905 Anatevka in the villages of Yugoslavia, and the large cast represented 10 nationalities. Cinematographer Oswald Morris shot through women's stockings to get the film's earthen colors and textures.
While the film's star, Chaim Topol, says 1 billion people have seen the movie by now, Jewison had many challenges making the film. 

First he worried that he wasn't Jewish — although his agent reminded him that he wasn't black yet made the Oscar-winning "In the Heat of the Night" — and then he anguished over casting.

Convinced that Mostel was "too big" for the role onscreen, Jewison was besieged by phone calls from actors and agents, and among performers expressing interest were Walter Matthau, Danny Kaye and, says Jewison, even Frank Sinatra. But from the moment he first saw Topol play Tevye on a London stage, Jewison had found his Tevye. 

"Chaim Topol breathed life into Tevye," he told the audience at a 2011 "Fiddler" screening in New York.

For Frank Rich, former New York Times drama critic, the creators of "Fiddler on the Roof" similarly breathed new life into the American musical. Director-choreographer Robbins and producer Prince, working separately and together, "redefined the musical to dramatize such serious concerns as the street gangs of 'West Side Story,' the semi-psychotic mother of 'Gypsy,' and the pogroms of 'Fiddler on the Roof,'" observes Rich. "'Fiddler,' coming last, ended the Broadway supremacy of escapist hit musicals like 'Funny Girl' and 'Hello, Dolly!'"

Will "Fiddler on the Roof" still move audiences in 50 more years? Actor Harvey Fierstein thinks so. "I've played the show in San Francisco, Fort Worth, Atlanta and Toronto. I've played it all over, and the reaction is the same. When I was on Broadway, I'd look out into the house and there would be Hasidic Jews and nuns or maybe a high school cheerleader team in town for a competition, and they all sat with rapt attention watching it. They all got it. The day the boys finished writing it and put it up on the stage, it was part of our culture."
Adapted from "Tradition!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, The World's Most Beloved Musical" which will be published by St. Martin's Press on Tuesday.

Isenberg is a former Times staff writer.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Special

Given the economy, the unemployment rate, and the decline of the labor movement, this is hardly a Labor Day to celebrate. That said, perhaps we need to actually take the time think of why the labor movement got started in the first place. The US now has the largest split between the wealthy and the average American since the robber barrons and corporate giants whose abuse laid the foundation for the birth and growth of labor unions.Maybe the answer is to value the labor force, keeps jobs here in America, pay a little more for products than those who support foreign workers by shopping at Walmart and realize that if we do not, we may all be working for peanuts.

Casting Directors

Nevada casting directors

First posted 10-11-2011
Check for updates, as the market is always changing...
Updates, corrections, news, links and other information concerning the arts in Nevada are welcome. Please send them directly to examiner Art Lynch

A Casting Director is the producer's representative responsible for choosing performers for consideration by the producer or director, keeping the creative, business and other goals of the production in mind.

It is a very large, time consuming and creative job. The job of a casting director is to weed through the forest of potential talent to portray a role and find the handful that come closest to meeting the vision of the producer or director. In some cases casting directors also negotiate with named actors or working actors who are offered the role without an audition, find alternatives should negotiations fall through and help keep the talent part of the ledger within budget and under control. 

Casting directors do not work for actors. They are management.
To best understand the process of casting and the mind of the casting director, it is recommended that you attend seminars, read articles in Back Stage West and other publications, read books by casting directors, research their careers and read the following interviews carefully. Take from them the advice or ideas that work for you.

To find our more and for a list of local casting directors for Las Vegas, click "read more" below.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

California Film Incentive Tripples!

Gov. Brown OKs tripling state film tax-credit funding to $330 million

California Gov. Jerry Brown OKs tripling state film tax-credit funding to $330 million.
California legislation would allocate film and TV tax credits based on number of jobs created.
'We are 100% committed to keeping the cameras rolling,' California lawmaker says of new film/TV tax credits.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed off on a deal that would more than triple funding for California's film and TV tax-credit program.

The compromise would increase funding to $330 million a year over the next five years. While that falls short of the $400 million annually sought by backers, the amount is substantially more than the $100 million that the state currently allocates.

“This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work,” Brown said.

AB 1839 also would allow more projects to qualify, including new network television dramas and big-budget studio movies, and would provide additional incentives for projects that shoot in California cities other than Los Angeles.

It would also scrap a controversial lottery system used to divvy up funds. Instead, tax credits would be allocated based on how many jobs projects would create.

The deal, which is expected to be approved by the Senate this week, was the result of intense negotiations involving Brown, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senate President Pro Tem-elect Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

“This is a crown-jewel industry that provides jobs and opportunity for middle-class families in every region of our Golden State," De Leon said. "We're sending a powerful signal today that we are 100% committed to keeping the cameras rolling and bright lights shining in our state for years to come.”

AB 1839, which was unanimously approved by the Assembly in May, cleared a major hurdle earlier this month when the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill in a 5-0 vote.

The measure is intended to reverse a steep loss in film production that has hammered Southern California’s homegrown entertainment industry, causing widespread job losses and hardship for prop houses, visual effects companies and other vendors that depend on local filming.

"I'm grateful to the governor and the Legislature for this important measure to protect and expand an industry that is integral to our economy and our identity," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who made expanding the credit one of his top legislative priorities in Sacramento.

Garcetti singled out the contributions of his former film czar Tom Sherak, who died in January, and Sherak's successor, veteran entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren.

Ziffren and his deputy, Rajiv Dalal, quietly worked behind the scenes for months with a coalition of entertainment unions, studios and vendors to lobby for the expanded credit and to make the case to some skeptical lawmakers.

Some lawmakers in Northern California had initially resisted the idea of giving more subsidies to the film industry, viewing them as a giveaway to Hollywood.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), would replace a program enacted in 2009. The law was intended to make California more competitive with some 40 states that offer tax breaks to the film industry.

Funding would begin in fiscal year 2015-2016 and run through fiscal year 2018-2019.

California currently allocates $100 million annually to film and TV productions, less than a quarter of what New York provides.

Although the existing credit has kept some lower-budget movies in state, it hasn’t stemmed the flight of production.

Feature film production in Los Angeles County has fallen by half since 1996, and the region's share of TV pilot production has fallen 73% since its peak in 2007, according to FilmL.A. Inc.

Twitter: @rverrier

RIP Georgia Neu

From John Wennstrom. who did 24 shows with Georgia and was an active part of both theater companies:

Georgia's daughter. Nothing definite yet. Laura Gubbins just posted this, so you can see things are in the early planning stages.

"Hi, everyone. I had to take some time after my last post. It overwhelms me to know how much she meant to you all...and I hope you all know how much you individually meant to her...this is unreal and we are still in shock. Now, I need help putting together the biggest and best production we've ever been able to pull off, guys. Mom didn't want a funeral. She was animant about that my entire life. I always told her I'd throw her the biggest celebration of life this city ever saw when she went. I need help with location, I need help with ideas (although I have a definite vision) I REALLY need help from anyone who knows how to splice and dice DVD footage in with photos, music, etc. And I need help not falling apart. There's no time for that. There are time constraints because there are friends and family who need to come into town and family that can only be here for a limited time. Let's go on with the show, kids."

A Facebook page has been formed called "In Memorium - Georgia Neu"
I would venture to say that over the past 20 years, no one in this town, and I mean no one, has come close to what Georgia did in supporting Equity/SAG/AFTRA in regards to Las Vegas Theatre.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Film Basics Part 3

Film Basics Part 3

Editing involves decisions about which shots to include, the most effective take (version) of each shot, the duration of shots, the arrangement of shots, and the transitions between them. Regardless of the equipment used for filming and editing, editing can strongly affect viewer responses. It can be used, for example, (1) to promote continuity or disruptions; (2) to superimpose images; (3) to juxtapose shots to make a point, support a feeling or mood, intensify the viewer’s reactions, or show parallel subjects or events; and (4) to affect the viewer’s sense of pace, compress or expand time, and convey an enormous amount of information in a brief time.

Early Film Editing
The first films of the 1890s consisted of one shot or a series of one–shot scenes.

By the time of The Birth of a Nation (1915), editing was used to maintain continuity while telling complex stories.

In the 1920s, the editing of some Soviet filmmakers conveyed a story and promoted ideas by the juxtaposition of shots.

Building Blocks
The shot is the most basic unit of editing. It is a piece of continuous film or videotape depicting an uninterrupted action or an immobile subject during an uninterrupted passage of time.

A scene is a section of a narrative film that gives the impression of continuous action taking place during continuous time and in continuous space. A scene consists of one or more shots although on rare occasions, a shot will convey multiple scenes.

A sequence is a series of related consecutive scenes that are perceived as a major part of a narrative film.

Editors can use one or more of many possible transitions between shots, such as a cut, lap dissolve, or wipe. Depending on conventions and context, editing transitions can be used to convey or reinforce information or moods. For example, often a lap dissolve suggests that the next shot takes place at a later time or different location—or both.

Continuity Editing
Continuity editing, which is used in most narrative films, maintains a sense of clear and continuous action and continuous setting within each scene.

Continuity editing is achieved in filming and editing by using eyeline matches, the 180-degree system, and other strategies. The aim of continuity editing is to make sure viewers will instantly understand the relationship of subjects to other subjects, subjects to settings, and each shot to the following shot.

Image on Image and Image after Image
A momentary superimposition of two or more images is possible in a lap dissolve, as in the ending of the 1960's Psycho.

Consecutive shots can stress differences or similarities. They may also be used to surprise, amuse, confuse, or disorient viewers.

Reaction shots often intensify viewers’ responses. Usually a reaction shot follows an action shot, but it may precede one, or it may occur alone with the action not shown but only implied.

Parallel editing can be used to achieve various ends, including to give a sense of simultaneous events, contrast two or more actions or viewpoints, or create suspense about whether one subject will achieve a goal before another subject does.

Pace and Time
Usually fast cutting is used to impart energy and excitement. Slow cutting may be used to slow the pace or help calm the mood.

Depending on the context, a succession of shots of equal length may suggest inevitability, relentlessness, boredom, or some other condition.

Shifting the pace of the editing can change viewers’ emotional responses, as in the excerpt analyzed from near the end of (Battleship) Potemkin.

Montage compresses an enormous amount of information into a brief time, as in the montage of Susan’s opera career in Citizen Kane.

Editing usually condenses time (for example, by cutting dead time), but it can expand time—for instance, by showing certain fragments of an action more than once.

Digital Editing
Increasingly, computers are being used for editing. Images shot on film are scanned into computers; images shot on videotape are simply transferred to computers.

Once in the computer, the shots can be edited there and later transferred to DVD or film for showings.

Film Basic 2 notes:


Cinematography involves the choice and manipulation of film stock or video, lighting, and cameras. Some of the main issues in cinematography are film grain, color, lenses, camera distance and angle from the subject, and camera movement. As with other aspects of filmmaking, the choices made in filming affect how viewers respond to the film.

Film Stock
Film stock, which is unexposed and unprocessed motion-picture film, influences the film’s finished look, including its sharpness of detail, range of light and shadow, and quality of color. Often professional cinematographers use different film stocks or videotape in different parts of the same film to support certain effects.

Generally, the wider the film gauge is, the larger are the film frames and the sharper the projected images.

Slow film stock, which requires more light during filming than fast film stock, can produce a detailed, nuanced image. In older films, fast film stock usually produces more graininess than slow film stock.

Color associations vary from culture to culture, and a color’s impact depends on context—where and how the color is used.

In most Western societies, warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) tend to be thought of as hot, dangerous, lively, and assertive. Greens, blues, and violets are generally characterized as cool colors. In Europe and the Americas, cool colors tend to be associated with safety, reason, control, relaxation, and sometimes sadness or melancholy.

Color may be saturated (intense, vivid) or desaturated (muted, dull, pale), and saturated and desaturated colors can be used to create or intensify countless possible effects.

Hard lighting comes directly from a light source, such as the sun or a clear incandescent electric bulb. Soft light comes from an indirect source. Hard lighting is bright and harsh and creates unflattering images. Soft lighting is flattering because it tends to fill in imperfections in the subject’s surface and obliterate or lessen sharp lines and shadows.

Low-key lighting involves little illumination on the subject and often reinforces a dramatic or mysterious effect. High-key lighting entails bright illumination of the subject and may create or enhance a cheerful mood.

The direction of light reaching the subject—for example, from below or from only one side—can change an image’s moods and meanings.

Like light, shadows can be used expressively in countless ways—for example, to create a mysterious or threatening environment.

The Camera
During filming, one of three types of lenses is used: wide-angle, normal, or telephoto. Often all three are used at different times within the same film. Each type of lens has different properties and creates different images.

Choice of lens, aperture (or opening), and film stock largely determine the depth of field, or distance in front of the camera in which all objects are in focus.

Diffusers may be placed in front of a light source or in front of a camera lens to soften lines in the subject, to glamorize, or to lend a more spiritual or ethereal look.

Camera distance helps determine how large the subject will appear within the frame, what details will be noticeable, and what will be excluded from the frame.

By changing the camera lens and the camera distance between shots or during a shot, filmmakers can change perspective: the relative size and apparent depth of subjects and setting in the photographic image.

The angle from which the subject is filmed influences the expressiveness of the images. There are four basic camera angles—bird’s-eye view, high angle, eye-level angle, and low angle—and countless other angles in between.

In point-of-view (p.o.v.) shots, the camera films a subject from the approximate position of someone, or occasionally something, in the film. Such camera placements may contribute to the viewer’s identification with one of the subjects and sense of participation in the action.

A motion-picture camera may remain in one place during filming. While filming with a camera fixed in one place, the camera may be pivoted up or down (tilting) or rotated sideways (panning).

Panning too quickly causes blurred footage. Such a result is called a swish pan.

Ways to move the camera around during filming include dollying, tracking, using a crane, and employing a Steadicam. Like other aspects of cinematography, camera movement can be used in countless expressive ways.

Digital Cinematography
Film and video images can be scanned or transferred into a computer, changed there, and transferred back to film. Computers can be used to modify colors and contrast (digital intermediate), correct errors, and change the images in ways impossible or more troublesome and costly to do with film alone.

Mainly for reasons of economy and convenience, more and more movies are being filmed in high-definition video and transferred to film for theatrical showings, though the results do not yet match the detail and nuance of the best film stocks.