Interview with Film and Television Casting Director Caroline Liem: What Casting Needs From an Actor’s Demo Reel…
by: Joe Tremaine
We all chase our Dreams!
Reach for our Dreams!
Dream our Dreams!
Hopefully REACH our Dreams!
At any point in one’s career I think it is wise to take a long, hard, honest look at your career to determine your strengths and weaknesses. What do you need to work on to become better equipped to follow your dream?
In dance, are you weak in a particular genre or area?
In acting, are you weak in improv, scene study, etc.?
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you feel you have your list complete, then spend the most time working on your weaknesses – obviously!
You must be totally honest with yourself in recognizing what your particular weaknesses are. Your various teachers would/could certainly offer the best advice. However, be cautious of getting too many people’s opinions.
Then, as you begin to turn each of your weaknesses into strengths, you will experience a satisfaction, a pride in your efforts, all of which will compel you to work more diligently than ever before!
As your list shifts from the weakness side to the strength side:
- You will become a more sale-able “product”!
- You will become more SUCCE$$FUL!
Writing is such a great opportunity for you to express your “one-of-a-kind” self uniquely, so it’s important to know how you can best access your own personal authentic voice.
There is only one “you”… No one else has had your exact life experiences; the triumphs or the challenges. No one else is living your soul’s journey or has your unique perspective. And no one else has your individual way of expressing your-self.
In order to tap into your very own personal “creative genius”, we are first going to take a look at your big, beautiful brain and how it helps you (and hinders you) creatively.
The LEFT SIDE of your brain is dominated by our Conscious Mind – where our logic and reason comes from, as well as our ability to analyze. It stores a lot of valuable data and information that we can draw from. It’s also where our critical mind resides as well as our censor.
The RIGHT SIDE of your brain is where CREATIVITY comes from and where our imagination is ignited. It’s also where our feelings and intuition stem from. The right side is where we have access to the subconscious mind as well as the “collective UN-conscious.”
The great news about the Collective UN-conscious is that we have access to information that is not limited to our own individual experiences, but to the “all” of humanity”. And if we venture far enough away from our conscious mind, we can dive into the creative ZONE where there is no time, there is no space, there are no worries, there are no judgments, there is only the BLISS of the creative “experience.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT…
Your first draft of anything should be where you give the right side of your brain FULL reign. Where you don’t try to control anything and you let it rip! You allow your imagination, intuition, your heart and soul and your own personal “creative genius” to have some FUN. Your first draft is where you allow them to take you on a ride that will DELIGHT and surprise you!
The LAST thing on your mind should be “doing it right” in the first draft. Perfectionism KILLS creativity… Imagine Vincent Van Gogh if he had tried to paint “correctly” — we would be without his “one-of-a-kind” masterpieces. Talk about an authentic voice!
For example, allow these characters you are choosing to explore to have some interaction and dialogue with each other without YOU trying to control it. You will be surprised at some of the brilliant dialogue that comes out of their mouths! Especially since you didn’t say it; they did. As a matter of fact, if you give your characters enough reign, they will start to inform your story. They will tell you what they want to say, where they want to go and what they want to do… Amazing things you wouldn’t have thought of consciously.
If you allow your imagination to SOAR in the first draft, it will make your rewrites much easier and more fun because you are now invested EMOTIONALLY and you have some brilliant gems you can PLAY with. Then, in the rewrites, you can apply more structure and technique, but remain open for the “ah ha” moments. Soon things will start to make sense that might not have before. For example, did you know that M. Night Shyamalan (who wrote and directed The Sixth Sense) didn’t even know that the Bruce Willis character was dead until the 4th or 5th draft? That one element made the movie ten times more impactful!
Okay, I understand that you might be saying, “Sounds great, but easier said than done!” That’s why it’s so important as artists to cultivate and NURTURE the right brain. In fact, there are several ways you can do that.
One of the best ways is DELIGHTING in your five fabulous SENSES!
For example, here are just a few of the thousands of ways you can delight in your senses:
- Savor and be present with delicious food.
- Listen to beautiful uplifting or relaxing music.
- Enjoy the beauty of nature. RELISH the beauty all around you!
- Stop and SMELL the roses (literally).
- Kiss, touch and be affectionate with your loved ones.
Other Great ways to STIMULATE the RIGHT BRAIN:
- Meditate: get out of your conscious mind and into the alpha state.
- Gather with friends you really ENJOY and have some laughs. FUN is a big right brain stimulator!
- Go see terrific movies, read good books, watch entertaining and funny shows – they ALL stimulate and ENHANCE the right brain.
- MOVE your body. Dance, make love, hike, ride a bike!
ENGAGE in Life! How can you expect us to engage in your story, if you aren’t engaged in your own life?!
In upcoming videos/articles, I will be discussing:
- Cultivating story ideas and topics that you feel passionate about!
- Creating compelling characters that we care about (or love to hate)!
- Creating fascinating story arcs that keep your readers hooked!
- Writers block and how to deal with it!
Stay tuned… for more Writing articles. For more information on my Writing Mastermind Groups or private coaching, visit my website or call me at:
The biggest mistake most actors make is leaving it to their agent to establish a career for him or her. Then there is the smaller percentage of go-getters who know very well that the agent is only responsible for 10 percent of their work – so they create or write their own opportunities. This way they can have much more of a say in what they actually want to “design” in terms of their creative participation and ultimate success.
This goes all the way back to the days of Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s and Mae West in the 1930s, when they were the most powerful people in Hollywood at the time. Mae West was considered very risqué in her day but she didn’t need permission from anyone to do “anything” she wanted.
Some other standouts who have created star making vehicles for themselves are Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel – to name just a few. Every heard of any of these guys?? Seriously, who else would have made Woody Allen a movie star but Woody Allen?! He created a brilliant way to do whatever he darn well pleases and not have to answer to anyone – ever. With complete creative control, Woody still makes one movie a year. And the good news to all “maturing talent” in show biz – is that some of his latest masterpieces like “Midnight in Paris” and “Blue Jasmine” – are amongst his best work in his 40-something year career.
Fortunately, female writer/performers have finally burst into the “Hollywood Big Guns” scene in a fierce way, starring in film and television gems they have created for themselves and the people they want to PLAY with. Tina Fey established herself mightily as the first female Head Writer for Saturday Night Life, which helped pave the way for Loren Michaels to produce the big hit she penned (and also co-starred in) – the clever box office champ, “Mean Girls”. The next thing you know, she is writing, producing and starring in the highly acclaimed and award winning “30 Rock.” Then more movies… Plus co-hosting the Golden Globes with another female dynamo – Amy Poehler.
Kristen Wiig parlayed her hilarious (and brilliantly written) romps on SNL into the hysterically funny “Bridesmaids”, which turned out to a huge hit! And you’re never too young to get started. Lena Dunham was 19 and 20 years old when she wrote, directed and starred in some award winning short films, which then paved the way for her enormous success as writer, star and often time director of the brilliant series “Girls” on HBO.
You might be saying, “But I’m not a writer.” My answer to that is, “How do you know? Nobody is a writer until they write something!” I have three thriving mastermind groups and I would say that nine out of the ten people in each of my groups are either former or current actors who want to create their own opportunities.
Across the board, I have found that actors are most often brilliant writers because you are very sensitive people and you are keenly interested in human behavior. Plus you have a deep desire to be freely expressed and you have a great imagination that you like to “use”. You love to observe people and emulate interesting behavior. You dive deep and you’re passionate people. These are all qualities of a great writer!
So, my goal here is to plant some seeds so that you’ll be inspired to create your own “ticket to ride”… And it’s never been a better time in the history of show business to do that. Because of the Internet and social media – as well as advancements in technology – you can now buy quality video cameras that create beautiful high definition for very little expense. Plus, if you are fortunate enough to have a Mac or more advance PC with editing capabilities, you can shoot, star in and edit your own short (or full length) films, web series, talk shows, sketches and stand-up comedy highlights. And then gain an entire fan base on You Tube with your own channel! It’s so much easier now to create and edit your own masterpieces, than what was available to the average person just a few years ago… The possibilities to create and share your unique expression – is ENDLESS.
Now it’s time to ask yourself seven questions:
- What is unique or outstanding about me that I can enjoy sharing for my own and others entertainment?
- What subjects fascinate me?
- What characters do I want to explore, dive into, behave like or interact with?
- What ironies of Life would I like to contemplate and find humor in?
- What quirks or personal flaws do I have that I can have some FUN with?
- What strengths or expertise do I have that I can inspire or entertain others with?
- Who are the people that I would like to create and PLAY with?
PLEASE NOTE: It’s so important to align yourself with other creative comrades whose talent you admire and whose company you enjoy, so that you can inspire and motivate each other while you create something fabulous together. If you look at the stars I talked about earlier, whether it be Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller or Jason Segel, they keep playing with the same cast of characters! They keep making movies together and they have a ball doing it. They also have a better chance of success when they band together and so will you.
In the next video, I’ll share more great tips about how to create your own opportunities with more information about web series, YouTube and the best equipment for the lowest price.
And I encourage you take advantage of the wealth of information available to you on MasterTalentTeachers.com. It will greatly support you in all this.
For more information about Minda Burr’s Writing Mastermind Groups and Private Coaching go to: www.mbwritingworkshop.com or Call: 310-923-2726
By: Jodie Bentley, Savvy Actor Co-Founder
Ok, we all know we need to be on the social networking sites…and I hope you are! Social networking strategy is about staying in the loop, letting people know what we’re up to and providing value to your community. But what the heck should we say? How do we live up to and incorporate our Brand?
I’m sure at one point you asked yourself – To tweet or not to tweet? How much info do you want to share with the FB world? What to share on LinkedIn? These are all questions that have crossed our minds. Well let’s stop asking questions and create a system! With a system you’ll always have something to say and you can take comfort in knowing the structure behind it. A structure for your authentic, value-filled and sometimes shameless, self-promotion. Remember it’s not just your friends out there – it’s our fans, casting directors, directors, producers etc.
Here’s an example to take the pressure off and give you a theme to the day and your posts.
Monday – Give a shout out to a friend or colleague
Tuesday – Share an article you like
Wednesday – Share a success in your life or career
Thursday – Share something funny that has happened to you
Friday – Post a photo of your dog, friend, loved one or yourself
Saturday – Share a favorite quote
Sunday – Ok, take Sunday off…we all need a day of rest
Remember you’re sharing stuff about your career, yes. But you’re also sharing your viewpoint, things that interest you, things your passionate about AND giving credit to your friends and colleagues! All of these things make up you Brand.
It’s time to build your strategy! Use the above as a guideline and create your FB, LinkedIn and/or Twitter structure. Add it to your calendar. You will be a master of the social networking world in no time!
By: Kimberly Jentzen
When you are having fun it is contagious. I can watch anyone having a good time at anything and enjoy watching them. Whether it’s brick laying, running a marathon or performing a monologue, if the person performing any of those tasks is enjoying their process, I enjoy observing them executing it. The passion for executing it isn’t about getting attention, rather, it means enjoying the actual process of the listening and give-and-take that all acting requires.
Think about how it makes you feel: when a great singer enjoys the pleasure of expressing their emotion through song, the sheer enjoyment is contagious—or when a scientist is fascinated with a discovery under the microscope—or a football player crossing the goal line. Anything that involves pleasure is a pleasure to witness.
The first step in pouring your passion into your art is realizing why you love creating in the first place. When you are awakened to the source of why you love the process of your artistic expression you are inspired and your execution will be inspired as well.
by: Diane Christiansen
Show business is a very uncertain path that we performers have chosen. The ups and downs, successes and failures seem more prominent than most professions. When it’s good, it’s REALLY good, when it’s not, it’s mystifying, if not disheartening. What do we do when we have gone on 50 auditions without a booking? What happens when a dancer is injured and cannot perform or a singer has fried their vocal chords? I compiled a list of things that we can do that seem to lift us up so we can keep on keepin’ on, knowing that it is a perseverance game.
First, we must maintain perspective and the way to do that is like this. When you are feeling like you are getting nowhere, stop and list what you have accomplished in the last year. Literally make a list. Once you can look at your accomplishments on paper, you can begin to feel good again. You can see you have reached goals and used your time productively. This offers you some perspective.
Next, re set your goals and make sure they are do-able. Again, make a list. Then put them away for 6 months. Come back to your list after 6 months and see how many you have accomplished. Cross them off. If some have not been achieved, re state them, declare them so, and add them to a new list.
Above all, have fun. Acknowledge yourself for even the small steps and show yourself some gratitude. Gratitude is another great way to stay on track.