Why I (Usually) Hate Superhero Movies: Why Writing is Important

BAD WRITING = BAD MOVIE

IMAGE COURTESY OF SCREENRANT

IMAGE COURTESY OF SCREENRANT

Have you ever seen a movie that you enjoyed every second of? It made you laugh out loud, had its sad moments, left you speechless at times and at the edge of your seat others? What about a movie that had all the bells and whistles you could imagine, but that you, for some reason, just couldn't get into?

Good script writing is what makes the difference, and this is exactly what many movies today lack. Now, beware, this post is more of a rant than anything else, so buckle up for a roller coaster ride through my frustration with much of today's movie industry. But in addition, I'll go through why writing and plot is important, and why you as an actor should start writing as well.

THE BIGGEST OFFENDERS (USUALLY)

IMAGE COURTESY OF SCREENRANT

IMAGE COURTESY OF SCREENRANT

I recently went to the movies to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Now before I get into this, let me explain my relationship with superhero movies (and action movies in general): I hate them. My husband literally has to trick me into watching them. Kat, this one has a cute talking raccoon in it. Something about these action movies with ridiculous amounts of special effects and not enough plot to back them up really gets under my skin. I did see the last Guardians movie, and liked it well enough (I mean...Chris Pratt, am I right ladies?), so when the opportunity to see the sequel came up, I didn't exactly shoot it down.  

Holy. Cow. 

What a movie it was! I literally smiled the whole time... except for when I cried... which is exactly what I want from a movie. So I started to ponder. What made this superhero flick so great compared to the others? It had all the effects, had the big name celebrities... why was it good?

I'm sure many of you are aware of some of the big flops in the supehero movie category. Fantastic Four (2015) earned a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is literally the lowest rating I've ever seen. Batman Versus Superman (2016) earned a 28%, despite big name stars like Ben Affleck. These movies (PG language here) SUCKED. It wasn't for lack of money spent, lack of special effects, or lack of celebrities. It was because they lack good writing.

Good writing can make or break a movie. Let's look at this from a money perspective. Fantastic Four (2015) had a budget of $125.9 million. Poor writing killed it. It brought in $49 million TOTAL. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a budget of $200 million. Yes, this is a bit more, but bear with me here. Guardians has grossed almost $150 million IN THE FIRST WEEK. Starting to follow?

WHY YOU NEED TO WRITE TOO

PHOTO COURTSEY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTSEY OF PIXABAY

So the point I'm trying to make is that WRITING IS STUPID IMPORTANT. Not all the effects in the world can cover up a thin plot. And you as an actor need to be able to recognize good writing. The best way to do this? Start writing yourself! Writing has loads of benefits for actors aside from just understanding the quality of your script. According to Acting Plan, writing can help you:

  • Expand your imagination by challenging your creativity
  • Train your focus by concentrating on your story goal
  • Become more empathetic towards real people through character development
  • Become a better listener by letting your characters develop themselves
  • Have more opportunities because, hey, you can write now!

Read the full article here.

Not to mention you can ditch a poorly-written gig that could tarnish your reputation because you now know what bad writing looks like. Which is a plus in my book.

Have you written something awesome? Let us know!

 

Written by Katherine White/ May 12, 2017

 

 

Spring Cleaning for Actors

CLEAN UP YOUR CAREER

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Now that it's officially Spring, you're probably working hard to clean out your garage, maybe purge on some clothes in your closet, but what about cleaning up your career? As you've probably figured out by now, being an actor takes a lot of maintenance and evaluation —cleaning, if you will, just like a room in your house or perhaps your garage. You need to purge bad habits just like you fill up a yard sale bag of junk, and you need to organize and refresh what you have left. Make sense?

Backstage published an article with a similar concept, you can read it here. Their 5 suggestions of how to apply Spring Cleaning to your acting career are:

1. Look forward and don’t dwell on what didn’t happen.

2. Research new representation if you feel that you could be better represented. Don’t point any fingers, but rather figure out a constructive game plan.

3. Stay in the “know” about all the shows that may be picked up, and read up on those shows that say are in the bubble for a pick up. Figure out which show may lend itself as a match for your “type.”

4. Take a class and find your acting guru.

5. Refresh your headshot: Consult with your photographer and consider how the photo will look as a thumbnail online. You need to pop smaller as well as bigger.

These are all great ways to clean up your career, but there's even more you can do to improve. 

  • Update your profiles- Actor's Access, Backstage, Now Casting... when's the last time you updated those? Post that new headshot and make sure your resume is up to date. You'll never get booked if casting directors are looking at an 8-year-old version of your 18-year-old self without any experience outside of that grade school play.
  • Purge your bad habits- Some bad habits can be detrimental to actors. Procrastinating can mean that audition tape isn't as good as it should be or all the audition spots are filled before you sign up. Negativity can lead to you getting down on yourself when you don't get a part. Identify your bad habits and dump them like last season's shoes.
  • Don't be intimidated- Just like a super full garage, acting opportunities can be pretty scary to face. Have confidence and take the risks. You'll never know where you'll find (totally found a litter of kittens in our full garage once. Seriously. You can find awesome things.)

What are you doing to clean up your career this Spring?

Written by Katherine White / April 20, 2017

Tips From A Teen

VIDEO BLOG WEEK! YAY!

 

ACTING YOUR AGE

Lots of people probably give you acting advice, whether it be your parents, your teachers, or those famous folks we bring in for workshops. All of those tips are super valid, especially coming from a trained professional, but sometimes it helps to get some advice from someone, well, like you! More often than not, the tips you're getting come from sources older and wiser, and getting the advice from someone perhaps closer to your age and more on your skill level can have its benefits too. 

Searching the web for acting tips videos for this week's video blog, I stumbled upon a fresh face in the realm of acting tip videos, Rachel @actingislitmylife, an aspiring actress with real relatable advice. This college teen discusses loads of relatable topics that your acting instructors may not always think to talk about, like how to balance acting and school, acting with acne, and even going behind the scenes of her school and community productions, all in a super fun and easy to understand way. She even does occasional Q&A videos to answer your questions!

Check out some of her videos here, or explore her channel on YouTube!

Hope you enjoy!

Written by Katherine White / April 7, 2017

Can a Movie Beat the Book?

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG...KINDA

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

It's an age-old debate: what's better, the book or the movie? It seems that the trend of recent years is to make movie renditions of books that fall flat in the eyes of their well-read audiences. Bringing a book to like in a movie can be as hard as turning an oil painting into a sculpture, a rap song into a country hit, or frankly spaghetti into a cannoli-- sometimes it just doesn't work. But why? Have any movies succeeded?

We can't really blame movies and their directors, producers, etc. on a bad translation for quite a few reasons. Here's my top three:

  1. They're limited to a 2-3 hour time block- No movie-goer wants to sit in the movie theater for more than about 3 hours TOPS. How long did it take you to read the book? Eight days, you say? Exactly. The can't keep everything.
  2. You had your own ideas- The great things about reading is that you're able to picture the story in your head without actually seeing it. Don't be upset when the filmmaker's picture is a little different--he can't read your mind. 
  3. You know EVERYTHNG- When you read a book, you see the whole situation 360 degrees around. You're in people's heads, you see what they don't, etc. Books with lots of inner dialogue can be the most challenging to replicate in movie form. Do you really want the movie actors talking to themselves through the whole film? It'd be kinda weird, even if it would help with character and plot development.

Move adaptations are call adaptations for a reason: filmmakers have to adapt the book's material into another form, and some things just get lost in translation.

DEFYING EXPECTATIONS

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

It's easy to assume that because of these limitations, films are NEVER as good as or better than their books, however according to Buzzfeed (which is totally a reliable source), there are 39 movies in the past three decades that have completely blown their books out of the water. I wasn't even aware that some of these were movies, but if you read the last post, you may also recognize some of these as the highest scoring movies on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's the movies:

  1. Psycho (1960)
  2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  3. The Graduate (1967)
  4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  5. The Godfather (1972)
  6. Jaws (1975)
  7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  8. The Shining (1980)
  9. Blade Runner (1982)
  10. Stand By Me (1986)
  11. The Princess Bride (1987)
  12. Die Hard (1988)
  13. Misery (1990)
  14. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  15. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
  16. Jurassic Park (1993)
  17. Forrest Gump (1994)
  18. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  19. Jumanji (1995)
  20. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  21. Starship Troopers (1997)
  22. Jackie Brown (1997)
  23. Fight Club (1999)
  24. A Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  25. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
  26. Mystic River ( 2003)
  27. The Notebook (2004)
  28. Casino Royale (2006)
  29. The Prestige (2006)
  30. Children of Men (2006)
  31. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  32. No Country for Old Men (2007)
  33. Stardust (2007)
  34. There Will Be Blood (2008)
  35. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
  36. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) *Shooting this one down, it was my favorite book as a kid. No chance. 
  37. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  38. Drive (2011) *What?
  39. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) *Also whaaaaat?

*As you can tell, I don't agree with all of these, and that's ok. That's the beauty of this debate. Read Buzzfeed's reasoning here.

So what do you think? Can the movie really be better than the book?

Written by Katherine White / March 24, 2017

One Rotten Tomato

ONE TOMATO, TWO TOMATOES...

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Have you ever been skeptical about a movie that just hit theaters, but went to see it anyway after seeing that it scored over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes? How about seeing something different after you find out Rotten Tomatoes called that one flick you were planning to see a 'Rotten Tomato'? Virtually every movie produced is criticized by this infamous website prior to coming to the theaters, and more than a few movie-goers base their choices on these often overly-critical ratings. A decent movie is lucky to score over 70%, and a great movie is lucky yo score over 80. Aren't you glad your grade school wasn't that harsh? 

In light of the recent film "Get Out," which was the first movie in quite a while to score an almost perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, I thought we'd dig into what it takes to grow a not-so-rotten tomato, and what movies you might know that have done so in the past. Let's get started. 

 

CERTIFIED FRESH

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Let's start by taking a look at what Rotten Tomatoes considers "Certified Fresh," its highest scoring category:

To receive a Certified Fresh rating a movie must have a steady Tomatometer rating of 75% or better. Movies opening in wide release need at least 80 reviews from Tomatometer Critics (including 5 Top Critics). Movies opening in limited release need at least 40 reviews from Tomatometer Critics (including 5 Top Critics). A TV show must have a Tomatometer Score of 75% or better with 20 or more reviews from Tomatometer Critics (including 5 Top Critics). If the Tomatometer score drops below 70%, then the movie or TV show loses its Certified Fresh status. In some cases, the Certified Fresh designation may be held at the discretion of the Rotten Tomatoes editorial team.

It's a pretty tough system if you ask me. However, like this description says, a Certified Fresh rating does not mean that the movie got a perfect score--quite the opposite actually. Only a few Certified Fresh movies actually get a 100%...or 99%...or 94%...

Here are some movies that you might now that have gotten perfect or close to perfect scores:

  • The Wizard of Oz (99%)
  • Inside Out (98%)
  • The Godfather (99%)
  • Singing' In the Rain (100%)
  • Casablanca (97%)
  • E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (98%)
  • Selma (99%)
  • Moonlight (97%)
  • Finding Nemo (99%)
  • 12 Years A Slave (96%)

*The list does go on, but compared to the number of rotten tomatoes out there, there are very few high scores. Read Rotten Tomatoes' Top 100 movies of all time here.

BREAKING IT DOWN...OR SLICING IT UP :D

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

So what do these movies have in common (besides the fact that they're all some of my personal favorites)? Here's what I think are some elements of a not-so-rotten tomato:

  • Glorious amounts of imagination- Like yellow brick road levels...like turning human emotions into characters levels...you get the idea. A perfect score is going to be creative.
  • A deeper plot line that your average flick- There are always multiple perspectives and storylines throughout the film.
  • A profound societal or political statement- This often comes in the way of deeply metaphorical situations or pictures of our past that are still ever so relevant.
  • A plethora of emotions resulting in a dynamic viewing experience- Did you laugh during Finding Nemo? Did you cry? Enough said.
  • No unnecessary elements- A good movie doesn't need to be heavily coated in overly stimulating special effects. The effects used are necessary and make sense with the plot, they're not there to cover up garbage.

These characteristics are some of the elements that I personally see in some of Rotten Tomatoes' top-scoring movies, but the fact is everyone sees movies differently. While scales and lists like this are interesting, you should always view a movie with an open mind, and see if you can find value and entertainment in it without that being over shadowed by a critic's opinion. That's what makes this industry so unique. 

P.S. Anybody else craving tomatoes now?

Written by Katherine White / March 10, 2017

Actors Turned Politicians

ALL ROADS LEAD TO POLITICS

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Not all politicians start on their career paths to D.C. right away. Not even our current president thought he'd end up in the White House when he first began building his business. Politicians can come from all kinds of backgrounds, but the one you're probably most interested in is acting, right? Well you're in luck. Plenty of politicians got their start in acting. We'll take a look at a few and, in honor of Presidents Day, highlight the only known president to make the metaphorical trip from Hollywood.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WASHINGTON TIMES

PHOTO COURTESY OF WASHINGTON TIMES

Arnold Schwarzenegger- Originally from Austria, Schwarzenegger hit it big time in Hollywood, quickly making a name for himself in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The ex-bodybuilder turned actor got his start in the 70's playing a version of Hercules. Though we're not sure if he'll ever BE BACK on the big screen, his shift to politics earned him the title of Governor of California for two terms.

Shirley Temple (Black)- We're all still kind of surprised that Shirley Temple grew up. After starring in loads of family films in the 50's, Temple put away her tap shoes and developed an interest in foreign policy, eventually being named U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Melissa Gilbert- Forever the buck-toothed prairie girl in our hearts, Gilbert ran for Congress this past election representing the Democratic Party in Michigan. Unfortunately, the former Laura Ingalls actress dropped out of the race due to health issues. Maybe next time, Laura!

**Ronald Reagan**- Our final politician! Reagan is the only president that we know to have been an actor. The Illinois native moved to California in 1937 to pursue his acting career. After landing a few small gigs, he landed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers Studios. He starred in over 50 Hollywood films and numerous television shows over his career, and also served in the U.S. Army Air Force’s Motion Picture Unit. He eventually even became the President... of the Screen Actors Guild for seven terms. Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1966 and after serving two terms began running for President representing the Republican Party. After two unsuccessful campaigns, Reagan finally became President of the United States in 1981. He left office in 1989, with one of the highest approval ratings in history. 

Thanks for the read! Click here to learn about more actors that turned to politics!

Written by Katherine White / February 24, 2017

 

 

So Your Valentine is an Actor

TOP 5 VALENTINE'S DAY GIFTS FOR ACTORS

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, you're probably panicking over what to get that special actor in your life (no, not your celebrity crush, the special actor you've actually met). What could you possibly get someone so talented and so in touch with their emotions to show them how important they are to you?! It's a (sorta) common dilemma, don't panic. I'm here to tell you the top five gifts for your actor valentine, guaranteed to earn you a Casablanca-class kiss. 

  1.  Movies- Why do you think your loved one became an actor in the first place?! All actors love movies, as entertainment and as inspiration. If you're feeling extra romantic, pick an old classic romance and watch it together.
  2. Anything Inspirational- Actors get told no a lot. Have you seen all those inspirational quotes painted on canvases? What about those mugs that say something like "I can do today"? Your actor will appreciate something that can lift their spirits when times are tough and the auditions aren't going well.
  3. Tickets to a Show- If your actor is more influenced by the theatre, tickets to the community play could make for the perfect gift and an even better date night. Season passes to the theatre are even better if you want to splurge on your valentine!
  4. A Screenplay- This one's pretty risky, but if you've got the time and creativity (or if you're short on cash) this one takes the red velvet cake! Write your special actor a screenplay. Maybe make it about the two of you and your relationship, or just start from scratch on an original romantic comedy. Be creative!
  5. Acting Classes- Actors never stop learning, and acting classes are the best place to do that. Buy your loved one a month (or more) of acting classes to show that you support their dream! Acting Out Studio is a great place to start! Go to our Register tab to get started.

Good luck and Happy Valentine's Day!

Written by Katherine White / February 10, 2017

Why La La Land is Important

WARNING: BIASED BLOG POST AHEAD

IMAGE COURTESY OF TWINCITIES.COM

IMAGE COURTESY OF TWINCITIES.COM

La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, which just recently danced its way into theaters, is making history in a big way. 

As you've probably heard, the Best Picture-winning film swept this year's Golden Globes, taking seven trophies in all, making it the first film in history to do so. That's why it's important, right? Well that's what I thought. I learned of the movie's overwhelming success prior to actually seeing it, so I simply thought, "Eh. Must be ok. Better see it." Was I right? No. It's much more than ok. But even that is not why it's important.

La La Land, unlike the other Best Picture nominees and the most recent winners of the title, isn't a deeply progressive film that leaves you ready to change the world and beat global warming all at once. And don't get me wrong, those films are great too. But this movie is nothing more than a whimsical musical that undeniably points out that it's ok if not everything works out the way you planned. It boasts no fancy CGI, no global crisis, and no thick plot line or political/social undertone-- which has actually made it a controversial winner. Afterall, the last 5 years (or more) of Best Picture winners have at least one, if not all, of those characteristics. Here comes why it's important.

Was this the best movie I've ever seen? Probably not, but that's not the point. The point is that diversity of genre is finally starting to show up in the Best Picture category. The point is that the film is the first rom-com in at least a decade to win the title, and, more importantly for actors in the world of musical theatre, it's the first musical EVER to win. La La Land has officially put the genre of modern original musicals on the map, a category typically ignored by critics, without any deeper message than to dream big and don't let anything get in your way. And that's why it's important.

Written by Katherine White / January 27, 2017

The Actor's Guide to New Year's Resoultions

NEW YEAR, NEW(ISH) YOU

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Ah, the fresh start of a new year. Isn't it just lovely to close one chapter and begin another? After such a long and restful holiday, we're back to help you get your New Year off to a great start. Yes, it's a bit late to still be making resolutions, but it's never too late to dedicate your time to improving yourself! For lots of people, this means losing weight, being more thankful, cursing less, etc. (or all of those things if you're someone like me). But because you're an actor, you can use your resolutions to move your acting career forward or just improve your skills and appreciation in the art. Let's get started. Auld Lang Syne it up.

 

THE PERFECT 10

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Taking notes? Good. I've consulted the leading acting references to compile my very own list of resolutions for YOU to be the best actor you can be in 2017! Here are the ten:

1. Save dough - This should be a resolution for everyone, actor or otherwise. But as actors, we know the work may not be constant: a commercial here, a movie extra there. Save your money so you're not stressed during those lulls, but also in case your dream role pops up across the country and you need to book a flight and hotel to audition for it. Be prepared!

2. Study the classics - A new year is a great time to take the time to snuggle up on your couch with cocoa and binge on the movies that inspired you to be an actor in the first place. Plus, there's still a lot you can learn from the Humphrey Bogarts and the Bette Davises of the classic movie era. 

3. Be a social butterfly - The last resolution aside, keep in mind that no door opens if you never get off your couch and get into the world. Marketing yourself on social media, on professional sites, at networking events, etc. can do wonders for your career by creating connections and making impressions. (Now realizing that you can totally socialize from your couch because it's 2017. Even better).

4. Put in daily work - We've all heard that opportunity knocks. It doesn't. It presents itself when you beat down the door. So make it part of your daily routine to better yourself as an actor, whether that means classes, making a daily video, whatever. Put in the work.

5. Make sacrifices - Priorities are important. Keep in mind aw you move forward into 2017 that you may have to give up some things in order to be the actor you've always wanted to be. Maybe you can't play video games for more than an hour because you have to study lines, maybe you stay in for dinner to save the money. Whatever it means for you, just be at peace with the fact that you can't do it all.

6. Say 'Yes' more often - You never know what one little project or one networking event may lead to. Stop making excuses and just say yes!

7. Take a risk once a week - Make it a priority to do something out of your comfort zone every week. After all, acting is all about stepping out of your bubble. Try doing something you've never done before and just see how great it makes you feel.

8. Be helpful and supportive - Acting can get competitive. If someone gets a role, well, you don't get that role. It can be hard to be kind towards your opponents. But remember that acting is a community, and (hopefully) all actors are in that community for the same reason-- to express themselves through the art and do what they love. Also keep in mind that kindness is contagious, and you never know what another actor could do for you. 

9. Be grateful - Work may not come often. You may not book much. It's ok! Just be thankful that you have the experiences you have! Didn't get the part? Well, that audition was great practice for the next. Haven't booked for a while? More time to write that screenplay you've always dreamed about. 

10. Respect yourself - One bad audition can destroy an actor's self esteem. Now put together a career of bad auditions. Acting is not for the faint of heart. But remember that YOUR ABILITIES are not always the reason that opportunities don't arise. Maybe you were too pretty for the part. Maybe you were too tall. Brush it off! Keeping your head up and positive self perception will be better for you and your career in the long run. 

Hope you take some of these to heart and better yourself in the new year. Remember, there's always room for improvement. To read more resolutions, visit Backstage and Acting4Camera .

Written by Katherine White / January 13, 2017

 

The Actor's Holiday Movie Checklist (Part 2)

THE BEST WAY TO SPREAD CHRISTMAS CHEER...

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Is singing loud for all to hear? No. It's watching and sharing the best of the BEST holiday movies from the perspective of a trained actor (or in my case, a blogger with good taste). Hopefully you caught up with the first half of the list, because we're about to dash away all through the rest of the top Christmas movies for actors (and everyone else).

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas- Okay, you got me on this one. There really isn't much acting at all in this nearly dialogueless cartoon. But it's still a heart-warming classic for even the Scroogiest of actors. 
  • Scrooged- Speaking of which, this hilarious comedy starring the great Bill Murray (whose performance is always wildly entertaining), puts a modern spin on Dickens' tale with hidden references to the classic story.
  • The Holiday- With a full cast of award winning actors like Kate Winslet, this holiday movie is more of a romance than a Christmas story, but it's still sure to bring you some warm fuzzy feelings in this cold winter season. 
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer- Much like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, this kids' movie leaves much to be desired in the acting aspect, but you won't find a more Christmasy claymation movie on this side of The Island of Misfits. 
  • Miracle on 34th Street- Whatever rendition you prefer, this beautiful story showcases some extremely talented child actors. Watch this before you consider not leaving cookies for Santa.
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol- Voice acting at its best! Another twist on the Dickens' classic, this furry fairytale will warm your heard with splendid performances and tremendously composed musical numbers. (A personal favorite, if you can't tell).
  • The Santa Clause- Though I wouldn't recommend the many sequels, the original holiday flick is a magical Tim Allen movie that not only provides a beautiful interpretation of Santa, but also an even better picture of a modern, non-traditional family structure.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas- Good grief, how could we forget this one?! Our final must-see holiday movie is one of the first of its time and genre to hire real children for the voice acting, making for the wonderfully innocent tale that tackles the true meaning of Christmas. 

Hope you like our list and have fun watching! We wish you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you enjoy celebrating the holiday season with family and friends, as we will also. The next blog will run January 13 in recognition of the Christmas holiday and New Year. 

Written by Katherine White / December 16, 2016

The Actor's Holiday Movie Checklist (Part 1)

MAKE YOUR LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

With Christmas right around the corner and the New Year knocking on our door, most of us will be taking a break from acting to binge on fistfulls of cookies while watching our favorite holiday movies in order to avoid the insane roads full of procrastinating Christmas shoppers and the inevitable (not bite) punch in the face from Jack Frost as soon as we open the door. Descriptive, I know. I had to get your attention. Why? Because while you think that any ol' Christmas movie will do the job, I know that, as an actor, it's your duty to be a proper film buff, even when it comes to holiday films. To help you out, I, with the help of the already flawless rankings from PopSugar Entertainment, have composed a list of your must-watch holiday movies. 

IMAGE COURTESY OF POPSUGAR

IMAGE COURTESY OF POPSUGAR

  • It's A Wonderful Life- Jimmy Stewart's performance in this film is nothing short of magical. Most Christmas movies make you feel good, but this one, beginning with the main character questioning his worth and contemplating suicide, makes you feel every emotion in the spectrum before you get there. 
  • A Christmas Story- There's a good reason this film has its own marathon every year. This retro classic presents the utterly relatable storyline of Ralphie, played by the talented (then) child actor Peter Billingsley.
  • Elf- Who would have thought a former SNL cast member would be the lead role in what would become a modern holiday classic? This whimsical Will Ferrell movie is a must-watch.
  • White Christmas- Another timeless classic, this masterpiece starring the velvety voice of Bing Crosby is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.
  • Love Actually- You didn't think I'd leave off the Rom Coms, did you? This "ultimate romantic comedy" boasts a cast full of A-listers as well as a charming story line that reminds you that love is everywhere, especially around the holidays.
  • Christmas Vacation- The National Lampoons are at it again! This quirky Christmas movie starring the hilarious Chevy Chase will have you rolling like a pin on cookie dough. 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas- Is it Halloween? Is it Christmas? Who knows. Either way, it's a family favorite all year round. 
  • Home Alone- Macaulay Culkin may have been a one-hit wonder, but these two (yes, only the first two) holiday movies showcase child acting at its best while reminding us that we should appreciate our families... before they leave us behind to go on an awesome vacation. 
  • Bad Santa- With a sequel on the way, this wild holiday movie will make you feel a bit better about being on the naughty list. 

STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE LIST NEXT FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16!

Written by Katherine White / December 9, 2016

 

Being A Thankful Actor

BEING GRATEFUL CAN BE TOUGH

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Thanksgiving may be over, but it's always recommended to constantly reflect on all you have to be thankful for, I mean, you're an actor, right? You must have lots you're grateful for! Well, as we all know, that's not exactly how we always feel. Being rejected, going months without booking anything, struggling to find your artistic voice-- life as an actor isn't always easy, which means sometimes we all struggle to appreciate what we do and what we have. What a better time than the holidays to be reminded?

WHAT ACTORS SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Actor Life Hack blogger James David Larson wrote on this topic last year for Thanksgiving, listing 13 things that he, as an actor, is grateful for, and recommends that you be thankful for too! Read the full article here. Here's his list:

An actor should be thankful for...

  • Other actors to share and collaborate with
  • The crew for pulling the productions together
  • The creatives for putting in the effort to develop every production
  • The audience for appreciating the productions
  • The representation for working on the your behalf
  • The experience of acting, creating, and learning
  • The paycheck for showing your work is appreciated in that way
  • The freedom to express and pursue what you want 
  • The relationships you develop along the way
  • The expression that comes with acting your heart out
  • The privilege of pursuing your passions 
  • The process of preparing, auditioning, booking, and doing it again...the journey with no destination
  • The challenge that forces you to work hard to better yourself
  • The discovery of yourself and your characters in your work

So even though things may not always go your way, take a moment every now and then to think about the things that make your life as an actor something so very special.

Written by Katherine White / December 2, 2016

Happily Ever Acting

A SHORT BREAK FROM THE BLOG

Hope you've been enjoying the AOS blog, for all things acting, modeling, film, and more! As much fun as it is to write blog posts every week, our blog writer will be taking a pause from writing for the next few weeks. Why you ask? She's getting married! Best wishes to the happy couple (above) as they spend this time together and with their families. Stay tuned for the next full blog post, coming December 1st. 

The Truth About Talent Inc.

MORE THAN A TALENT SHOW

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

We've covered how to get work when you're unrepresented, but in looking forward to Tuesday's open auditions for the March Talent Inc. cast, it seemed fitting to point out and discuss another tool to help get you out there. You guessed it: Talent Inc. 

To those who who are only acquainted with the program, or perhaps even those who have participated, Talent Inc. may seem like any other talent showcase. Young talents prepare songs, dances, monologues, whatever their specialty, and perform for their parents, teachers, and the parents and teachers of other performers. That's it, right? Wrong! Talent Inc. is so much more than your typical A-for-effort type show. 

DISCOVER. EVALUATE. DEVELOP.

Talent Inc. first of all, is more than the annual showcase. Defined by its website, "Talent Inc. is an international scouting and development company with offices in the United States, Toronto Canada, and London England." Their mission is to find, evaluate, and develop the talent of tomorrow. Enter showcase. The showcases are a tool to help casting directors and other talent programs find young talent with massive potential, while helping those participants get discovered and learn about the industry, which is also why the showcases include multiple workshops and classes for participants. Starting to sound like more than a talent show now?

Acting Out Studio has been participating in the program for years, holding auditions (like the ones this Tuesday) to pick out and train the best of the best in the studio to show off their skills at the National Showcase in front of potential managers and agencies. So if you really want to get discovered, show off your talent and audition for the Talent Inc. cast. 

For more info on the Talent Inc. program, visit talent-inc.com. Contact the studio for more information on Tuesday's auditions.

Written by Katherine Rhoden/ October 28, 2016

Belt It Out!

GET READY TO SING YOUR HEART OUT

We're counting down the days until our voice program and our Fall musical here at AOS, but in the meantime we singers and non-singers alike are always looking for tips on how to improve our voices. I mean, who doesn't want to be good it singing? If you're tired of your shower concerts and you're ready to share your pipes with the world, here are some tips to get you started. 

VOCAL EXERCISES FOR YOUR RANGE

THE BEST BREATHING EXERCISES

SINGING POSTURE

BELTING IT OUT

Not ready to showcase your talents? That's ok! Come see AOS singers showcase theirs at the Voice Program this Sunday starting at 3 pm, and also at our Little Mermaid Jr. Musical coming in November!

Written by Katherine Rhoden / October 20, 2016

Videos courtesy of Backstage. 

Mental Health: Unscripted

DEPRESSION? FEAR? ANXIETY?

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Millions of people all over the world suffer from mental health issues, among those, two of the most common are anxiety and depression. Even without clinical diagnoses, many of us have found ourselves panicking in social situations or falling depressed in the face of stress. So what if there was a way to improv-e your mental health without a doctor's note? Turns out one of the solutions may be in improvisational acting. 

According to U.S. News, improv has multiple health benefits (aside from being just flat out entertaining). In fact, the article reads that a third to half of improv participants start out in their classes to get over shyness or social anxiety. Many of them, the article says, feel that they are consumed by the past and future, but improv helps them be in the present moment. Read the rest of the article here

Aside from other proven uses for improv, like the treatment of Alzheimers and in cognitive behavioral therapy, this unscripted acting allows people to learn to make and accept mistakes and face their fears in a safe place surrounded by the support of their teammates. Starting to sound better than therapy? 

A NEW FORM OF THERAPY

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Well, maybe not better than therapy, but maybe equal to! In fact, some institutions have discovered these positive effects of improv and have started incorporating improv into their mental health programs. Chicago's Panic & Anxiety Recovery Center (PARC) calls improv "a life-long journey of exploration and discovery" that is a journey to feeling comfortable in your own skin. Sounds pretty therapeutic to me. 

PARC's list of improv's benefits to your health goes on and on, including things like improved social intelligence, observations skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, even heightened creativity and spacial awareness (Read the full article here). Seriously, is improv, like, magic? 

Improv isn't magic. But it is a challenging artform that truly pushes participants to the limits, allowing them to experience and discover their limits (and even move past those limits). Interested in improv? Feel free to explore our very own improv programs, or check out one of our many improv shows, including a special two-person improv show (for mature audiences) presented by two of our instructors. Start your improv therapy today!

Written by Katherine Rhoden / October 13, 2016

Acting Unrepresented

ALLLL BYYYY MYYYYSELF

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

IMAGE COURTESY OF PIXABAY

For one reason or another, you're unrepresented. No agent, no agency, no manager. Maybe the ones you've auditioned or interviewed for didn't offer, or maybe you just haven't found one that you're really happy with. Either way, all that's running through your mind is how on Earth to get booked for jobs without representation. I mean, is that even possible?

Believe it or not, you can find work with or without representation. You just need to learn a few tricks to get yourself on the same playing field as represented talent whose agents have those seemingly unlimited and ever important connections. 

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD

Casting and audition expert Ilene Starger wrote about the 7 ways you can get work without representation, and they're easier than you think! Read the full article here. Here are her tips:

  1. Create your own work - Collaborate with other talent to make your own projects where you're the boss! Obviously you wouldn't get paid for this kind of work, but it's a good way to keep in practice and have current and creative material for casting directors to look at.
  2. Read industry publications - Acting magazines, websites, and blogs often post casting calls and auditions for productions of all sizes. Some sites, like Actor's Access, even allow you as an unrepresented actor to submit your resume and headshot for auditions.
  3. Get involved in student projects - Student filmmakers always need good talent, and these small projects can turn into highly visible and acclaimed movies.
  4. Attend acting conferences like the EPAs - Conferences like the Equality Principal Auditions give represented and unrepresented actors a way to perform and get seen by a variety of audiences, including filmmakers and casting directors.
  5. Let the important people know you're looking - The worst thing about being unrepresented is that you don't have someone in contact with filmmakers scouting for jobs for you. Be in contact with casting directors, directors, and producers whose work you admire and let them know that you want to work for them.
  6.  Don't be grumpy about not getting booked - The last thing casting directors want is an actor who has a chip on his shoulder about not working in a while. It's part of the business. 
  7.  Recommend your talented friends when you can - Even when you get nothing out of it, it'll show people you're a team player. And who knows? Maybe they'll return the favor some day. 

For more tips on how to break into the business of acting, stay tuned for more blogs or register for one of our Breaking Into the Biz workshops with Acting Out Studio owner Kamber Hejlik, offered one day at each of our three locations. Click here for more information or to register!

Written by Katherine Rhoden / October 5, 2016

Using social media to help your acting career

ACTORS TWEET TOO!

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

Looking ahead to our Breaking Into the Biz workshops in October, we're offering extra tips for you to jumpstart your acting career that your drama teacher may have not mentioned. One tip that often goes unsaid, use social media to your advantage.


There are probably some things on everyone's Facebook timeline that they're not too proud of... maybe an inappropriate joke or a political rant. Regardless of the nature of the post (or posts!), you may want to clean up your timeline a bit before your next audition. Here's why.

According to casting director Benton Whitley, casting directors often look at your social media profiles and check out your personality and work (and those rants) long before you step into the audition room. Scary, right? Don't fear. Whitley offers his tips for using your social media to boost your acting career. (You can watch the full video above).

  • Have an online presence- Something is better than nothing. Make sure you're visible to your industry acquaintances to seem more involved. Whether you keep personal and professional accounts separate or use the same accounts for everything, having a presence that represents you positively is essential.
  • Keep your posts appropriate and positive- Like any employer, casting directors don't want to hire someone that regularly engages in illegal activity. But they also don't want to hire a jerk. Be careful with criticisms within the industry... you never know who may see your dis of an actor or a performance. 
  • Keep your posts up to date- Casting directors are often looking at your social media profiles to get an idea of who you are as an actor, so if the last video of you in character was from your school play five years ago, that doesn't do a very good job of representing you now. 

For more tips on how to break into the business of acting, stay tuned for more blogs or register for one of our Breaking Into the Biz workshops with Acting Out Studio owner Kamber Hejlik, offered one day at each of our three locations. Click here for more information or to register!

Written by Katherine Rhoden / September 30, 2016

 

WHY FILM FESTIVALS MATTER

LOOKING PAST THE STIGMA

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

In the wake of Fall film festival season and the start of Charlotte Film Festival, showing the film FARE with our very own instructor Will Triplett, we thought it most appropriate to pay homage to the film fest industry by determining what these events are really about and deciding if they are they really important.

If you're like me, film festivals have held a stigma in your mind for showcasing low budget, hipster films that started out as film school projects that the creator deemed worthy to show to other audiences after receiving a higher-than-failing grade. Harsh, I know. Also utterly untrue, I know now after researching for this post. Being a part of a festival circuit is not only a high honor for the filmmaker, whose film must be carefully chosen amongst hundreds and sometimes thousands of other productions, but it also holds importance beyond merely showcasing the movie.

MORE THAN HIPSTERS WATCHING MOVIES

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

The Small Town Critic Film Productions published an article about the ten reasons why film festivals are important, and none of them had anything to do with being hip and avoiding mainstream media (despite my prior misconceptions). Read the full article here

  • Showcasing new talent- Not every film can be produced by Universal Studios. Film fests are the best way for up-and-coming filmmakers to get their names and work out there.
  •  Supporting local talent- Films made locally to the festival take precedence over non-local films, which encourages local filmmakers to submit their work.
  • Networking- Festivals are basically conventions for movie and filmmaking fanatics. They meet up, connections are made, and collaborations are born.
  • Promoting tourism- Filmmakers will usually travel anywhere to any festival they can get their movie into, for obvious reasons. These people bring with them their cast, crew, and fans.
  • Catering toward the interests of locals- Films made locally are more relevant to the culture and interests of a local crowd. They're niche events with niche audiences.
  • Benefitting the local theater- The venue is an important element of a film fest. If the theater performs well, its reputation goes through the roof... as does its revenue.
  • Benefitting the local merchants- People attending the festival, especially those from out of town, spend money. Hooray for local economy!
  • Inspiring community collaboration- Film fests are complex events that require planning and partnership across industries in the city, thus fostering a mutual sense of town pride.
  • Bestowing awards and recognition- It's an honor just to be included in the festivals, but winning an award, no matter the size of the fest, helps to promote the movie and the event.
  • Educating the attendees- Many festivals include workshops, classes, and programs on filmmaking, screenwriting, and even incorporating social issues into your films.

AN ARTFORM IN A DIFFERENT MEDIUM

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY

While all of Small Town Critic's points are completely valid, Skyline Indie Film Fest's blogger takes the importance of film festivals far beyond exposure and local economy (read the related blog posts here and here). For filmmakers, who have worked tirelessly and passionately on their movies, simply having an audience gathered to see it and experience makes the entire process worth it to everyone involved.

"The passion and fortitude of the filmmaker is without refute and the time, energy, and effort they put into not only telling their story but tirelessly working to bring it to audiences on the festival circuit is greatly appreciated by festival directors, other filmmakers, and especially the audiences."

 And for the audiences, film festivals are like experiencing the art of filmmaking in a whole new way, an artform in a new medium. 

"A film festival takes work, but the outcome is not only beautiful, but groundbreaking for the audience."

For film festivals expose movies in their most raw forms, true film, as Skyline calls it. And that, above all things, is telling of just how important film festivals are. 

Written by Katherine Rhoden / September 23, 2016

Headshot How-To

GET READY FOR YOUR CLOSE UP

AOS student Charlotte Trembath

AOS student Charlotte Trembath

Headshots are worlds away from your average school pictures or your typical selfie. How often do you take those duck-faced photos into job interviews? Never. But as an actor or performer, your headshot is your money maker. It's as important, if not more so, than your resume. Anyone can read lines theatrically, plenty of people have been trained in acting, but do you have the look they want? And if you're the best actor, will they remember which pretty face was yours?

Because headshots are such an important element in your acting career, they're worth preparing for, and in this case, worth blogging about. So in lieu of a written blog this week, we thought we'd let the photography and acting experts at Backstage talk about headshots and give you some how-to tips. Enjoy!

HOW TO PREPARE FOR HEADSHOT PHOTOSHOOTS

HOW TO LOOSEN UP BEFORE YOUR HEADSHOT SESSION

HOW TO GET A GOOD HEADSHOT

Written by Katherine Rhoden/ September 16, 2016