Thursday, November 1, 2012

LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP

NOVEMBER 1, 2012

DR. MEL'S WEEKLY MESSAGE

What an incredible week despite me having to overcome the lasting side effects from last weeks flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines.  I'll never do them all at once again as long as I live.  Talk about knocking someone on their butt , I can't even explain. My oral implant complications didn't get me down like this did. However, the good news is I feel FANTASTIC today. I think all of the side-effects, flu like feeling, breakout in chicken pox (at least 200 spots that itched like hell), and the arm redness and swelling is gone.  Yea!  About time don't you think?

I really think one of the reasons I feel so good is that my fabulous husband made me take a break, took me to our condo on the beach in order for me to recuperate.  That might explain why I haven't been on Facebook etc. as I really have been doing a lot of  sleeping and sitting on the beach  What a man I have!

The salt air, the beach waves and the sun has really done me some good.  I feel relaxed, energized, and ready to get back at it.  And, if I haven't said it already, the beach here in Orange Beach, AL is snow white and the water is more clear than I have ever seen it.  I am praying that the weather up on the West Coast hasn't played a part in the beauty I am enjoying.



Speaking of the West Coast, my heart, as all of ours in the South go out to you.  If anyone knows the effects of a hurricane it is us here in Louisiana.  Our prayers are with everyone and I'm sure the GUMBO SURVIVAL TRUCK will be making its way up to the West Coast.  Also, several of our members are from the West Coast, so please check in with  us and let us know you are safe and secure.  We care about each one of you.

UPDATE ON THE KEYSTROKE KILLER

Not much to really report on this front as they continue to design costumes, sets, and work out all sorts of things.  This is enormous and frankly, I have never been involved in something to this magnitude.  Just to think, years ago it was only a little nightmare that I turned into a lousy short film.  And, now, it is spreading like wildfire, even before we begin shooting.  I, like many of you can't wait to get to set.  The only way I am coping is staying busy on my own projects.  Things behind the scenes are crazy and there is no way I can even begin to explain the complexity.

LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP

After months of research, negotiations with SAG, the Louisiana Secretary of State, several film commissions, the good news is that Robby, J. Caylen Ray, and I have started LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP, a talent agency in New Orleans that will represent actors, screenwriters, musicians, and bands not only in Louisiana, but also from coast to coast.  We also have  J. Edwards, out of Los Angeles, who will be working with us to focus on our Los Angeles talent.

We really have all of the KSK members to thank, or to blame, as you are the ones who put the idea into our heads during our casting process.  Many of you begged us to start an agency to represent you.  We initially began toying with the idea in a kidding fashion.  However, the kidding soon became serious talks between us.  You see, somehow along the way in our casting process for The Keystroke Killer and now A.D.A.M., we realized that many talented actors were not represented by agents and those who were, often complained that their agent wasn't doing anything for them.  As a mother of a Los Angeles actress, I have to concur.  Her agent hasn't done anything for her.  In fact, the roles and auditions she has had over the last year, she found herself and not her agent.

Then, at least a dozen or more actors, who were not represented by agents, started to get roles and they'd call us for advise or to look over their contract with another production company.  We are not lawyers and cannot, nor will ever provide legal advice.  However, one thing that was glaring - actors were being taken advantage of.  I couldn't stand that.  Then finally, one day, Robby said, "Mel, we have to do this."  And, by "Do this," she meant start an agency.  It took her more than two-months to convince me.  My biggest concern was "How in the world can I manage a talent agency, and continue to produce films?"  And, that is when I got the greatest advice of all from one of my mentors.  He said, "Mel, talent agencies and talent agents produce films all of the time.  In fact, it is a perfect marriage of your talents."  I listened to him and realized, not only was he right, but all of you and Robby were too.  That is when the PhD researcher started t o kick in.

I researched everything.  I soon discovered a montage of information that I have always known, but I guess always for one reason or another kept on the back burner.  I discovered that there are numerous talent agencies, including the huge ones like ICM, that produce films.  In fact, they develop projects and films around their talent. UMMMM.  I never really realized it although I knew it.  And, if you look at one of my blogs which was posted months ago on independent film financing, I even discuss one of the possibilities of funding is from a Talent Agent company.  Go figure.  The answer has always been in front of me, but it took this blog journey for me to realize it.  Again, I'll hold my thanks or blame to all the KSK members until I see the end results in a year.

I also discovered how many talent agents were producers or actors themselves.  When I think about it, the whole concept really makes sense.  So, I did some strong soul searching, talks with myself while soaking in the bathtub, long walks on the beach, and the slap in the face with my health.  I'm not a young pup at twenty or thirty, and I know I won't be able to continue my pace of 18 hours on a film set for the rest of my life.  However, I am one of the world's greatest managers of a company and know the film and television industry inside out.  My experience working with Sony, and all of the actors and talent agencies, on $20 million dollar films really taught me more than I ever could learn in film school on the ins and outs of a SAG contract for actors and for film producers.  Likewise, having been a producer hiring actors, I learned a lot from that as well.  Again, it all was making sense.

During the last year, while Robby and I worked night and day casting The Keystroke Killer the end result was that we garnished numerous relationships with casting directors, producers, and directors from coast to coast.  These relationships were a by product of the KSK casting process we never dreamed would happen, but most certainly come into play now as we will begin the journey of representing talent..

How does this effect my production company?  How does this affect The Keystroke Killer and/or A.D.A.M.?  Only in a great way.  First of all, I'm the screenwriter for KSK, and the heavy producing is being done by someone else as this is on a very large scale more so than any independent film I've ever produced. Please remember that I optioned KSK.  Yes, I am one of the producers, but, for the most part, my job is complete in that area other than rewrites of scripts and my casting recommendations as I see the characters. This explains why I can't even put the original short film on Youtube.  I really regret that decision, but, the end will be the proof in the pudding.  Now KS is in the hands of the big wigs and I am only one small face on the totem pole.

And, as for A.D.A.M., I'll continue to secure funding and as soon as I reach my $100,000 goal will start production.  We are about half way there.  That explains why we haven't finished casting or made the announcements on the few roles we know we want actors for.  If anything, LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP will be instrumental in helping us to complete that cast.

Therefore, it is official.  The LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP is in full business as of today, OUR OPENING, with four agents.  The website (www.LACANOLA.COM)  is currently under construction, but we published it anyway so you can review the submission guidelines.  However, if it doesn't come up yet when you go there, it takes a good 48 hours to hit the web after publication.  So, be patient.  By Saturday, it should be there.  Also.  I can't wait to see the talent coming out of this agency as we present them to casting directors in Louisiana and through Breakdown Services from the East and West Coast .

We already have dozens of clients who signed with us the minute they heard we opening our doors   However, they are not on the website yet as everything is being formatted.  They had to sign with us in blood and promise not to tell anyone until we made the announcement.

Our first official male client, coming from New Orleans, is Jerry Lopez Jr.and our first official female client is Jamie Alyson, coming from Los Angeles. Congratulations Jerry and Jamie as you our are featured actors for the week.  In fact, this will be a new section I will add to my weekly blog as we begin to spotlight the LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP actors.  And, since this blog averages almost one million hits a month, just think who will see the LACA NOLA TALENT.




Part of the exciting element on the website is that each actor who is represented by LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP not only gets their headshot posted on our the actor page, but also a link  to their resume, headshot, and one demo reel all free of charge.  At LACA NOLA we don't and won't charge any actor a FEE TO REGISTER or to SIGN WITH US or for that matter to be listed on our site.  After all, it will be part of our jobs to market you  - the actor.  However, we do not pay for your headshots, resumes or demo reels.  Those are your responsibility.  And, as for the contracts, we will follow all SAG regulations including commissions.
LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP opened the doors in fine fashion.  The LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP office is located in Metairie, LA, just 15 minutes from the French quarter, in the professional Executive Office Towers on North Causeway.  We have an office suite, which includes a reception area, office area, and two meeting rooms.  The first meeting room sits six, and the large meeting room can sit conference style around a large conference table for 20 people or hold fifty people auditorium style.  This room is perfect for casting auditions etc.

The tallest building is the Executive Building our offices is located in.  Come by and visit us.

This is the secretary/reception office area and mailbox area.

Part of our largest conference area that seats 20 people at the table, but the room can hold 50.
Perfect for casting auditions for casting directors to view our talent.
We will soon have a ribbon cutting ceremony and a wine and cheese reception  for our clients or potential clients to view our offices and meet all of our agents.

Now, let's talk about SAG and the relationship of LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.  We had full intentions of becoming a SAG FRANCHISED AGENCY.  If fact, we called and submitted the paperwork including getting the surety bond that SAG requires of all talent agencies.  To our amazement, although we meet every criteria, including our talent contracts and commission, they can't franchise us.  I was stunned.  The reason has nothing to do with LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP or the fact we just opened our  doors.  In fact, we had all of the necessary letters of recommendations, our FIN, our business checking account, and the individual account in which only talent commissions etc. go into as to not mix funds, and the surety bond.  We were ready and excited as we want to be a SAG FRANCHISED AGENCY.

The truth is, because Louisiana is a NON-UNION STATE, meaning a right to work state, SAG does not Franchise talent agencies in our state.  In fact, SAG cannot franchise talent agencies in Louisiana.  Holy Batman!  I really couldn't believe it.  So, we set up an appointment to meet with SAG, at the local New Orleans Branch Office, as we had full intentions of complying with the SAG.  They appreciated our willingness and we have established a wonderful relationship with SAG, but they too reinforced that because we are a right to work state, we could not become franchised.  .

During our many conversations with SAG, we inquired about many things.  One of which, are SAG actors living in Los Angeles who want us to represent them for the New Orleans and/Los Angeles market able to sign with us? There is absolutely no problem with us representing you.  In fact, a SAG actor can have a talent agent in Los Angeles and also have LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP represent them in Louisiana.  This doesn't stop LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP from submitting any talent, whether they reside in New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, or Los Angeles.  In other words, the coast is clear.

Likewise, an actor can be represented by LACA NOLA TALENT in Louisiana, and also have an agent in Los Angeles or another market like Atlanta.  Or, an actor can have LACA NOLA TALENT represent you in all markets.  

We want everything on the up and up and cleared before we opened our doors.  That is why it has taken approximately six months to start LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.  We have and will continue to play by the book.  We also intend to comply with SAG CONTRACTS regardless of whether or not they can't franchise us.  I would rather comply with the SAG rules, than not.

If you currently have an Agent, please don't drop them and join us because you think it will be necessary for you to get cast in OTLP projects.  So much for being a marketing expert.  However, WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN POACHING CLIENTS OR AGENT HOPPING.  Your representation has nothing to do with it as we simply want the best actors for each role.  The only advantage you will have in this capacity as a client of LACA NOLA is we will submit you first and of course, you never know when I am going to get inspired by an actor and write a role in one of my future projects.

If  you are interested in being represented by LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP  here is our submission policy.  If you are a member of KSK or A.D.A.M., you are already one step ahead of the game.  And, if you were on the callback list, you're two steps ahead.  Please visit our website, for the submission guidelines at www.lacanola.com.  However, here is a brief summary of our process.
  1. Complete the Actor's Submission Request for Representation found on the website.
  2. Submit a JPEG of your headshot and a copy of your resume to robbycookstroud@gmail.com.
  3. Submit any links to your reel.
One of our agents will review your submission and contact you.  If we like what we see, you will be required to:

  1. Interview with one of our agents where you will perform a prepared monologue of your choice.
  2. The agent will have you perform a cold read provided by our agency.
  3. Then, from the cold read, you will have to submit to us a video of your read, from the script.  We want to know how you come across on camera. 
Our team will review each actor's submission request and during our weekly Monday's meetings, will accept or deny representation.

Again, if we have already reviewed any of your online auditions and/or met you face-to-face during the callbacks, we already know your acting ability and you may not have to do a cold read or an online video submission as we have those details on file.

READY! SET! GO!

This week has been difficult at best just getting LACA NOLA open and getting my health back.  Therefore, t his week's blog is short.  However, next week, I will resume my normal blog.  Until then, God Bless and know your own inner strength and ability.  Love, Dr. Mel

SUPER SANDY AND MORE
BY ROBBY COOK STROUD


Wow! It has been a very exciting week. With Super storm Sandy hitting the east coast, I was afraid that I was going to be sent out of town, so I asked FEMA to keep me here in New Orleans to work and they agreed.  So now I can concentrate on our new adventure, LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.

I have so much to do that I can’t be out of town right now. As you  now know I have decided to add to my repertoire of careers. It’s official. Our new office is located at 3500 N. Causeway Blvd, Suite 160, Metairie, LA 70002. 504-301-8000. 

J. Edwards will be our LACA NOLA TALENT GROUG  agent in Los Angeles. I am currently searching for an Agent in Dallas and Atlanta too.  

We   have  a reception area and two large conference rooms. Please come by and see us.  We would love to show you around. 

Why am I doing this?   I have the drive and compassion to start in this new adventure. After working the last year casting KSK, I 've learned a great deal from all of you.  As all of you know, I work and I don't stop.  I really don't understand or know the meaning of slow down and smell the roses.  I plan on working even harder as a Talent Agent.  I have studied everything I could get my hands on, interned at an agency, met with SAG, learned from Dr. Mel, and I also have a great support group.  

Caylen, J. Edwards,  and I are anxious to get this show on the road with Dr. Mel at the helm.  We can't wait and get all of ya’ll busy working in this industry. We will be searching for jobs all over the country using Breakdown Services and many more casting opportunities.  And, by the way, we aren't talking low-paying or deferred payment acting jobs.  Also, we are not interested in casting you as background extras or in adult films.  Forget all of that.  We want to represent talent in the A-list game.. 

We have researched what we need to do to represent SAG/AFTRA actors too.  In fact, we applied to be a SAG AFTRA Franchise and because we are incorporated in a right to work state, SAG can't franchise us.  We were very disappointed in  this; however, we will strive to meet all of SAG's regulations anyway as if we were franchised.  We feel that  is in the best interest of our clients.

 I see LACA NOLA growing very quickly; since I plan on working very diligently at this task. We signed our first actor before we could even make our announcement and then word quickly spread.. The sky is the limit from here. 

We will have available to our actors, video and camera equipment to take headshots and video auditions for free if you need help.  After all, if you can't submit, you and the agency can't make money.  We are in  this together. We also plan on expanding on that as several professional camera operators and production companies have approach us to put together professional actor’s reels.  Of course, we can't make our actors do this, and we wouldn't.  However, we will only recommend those companies that meet our standards.

We are also going to be holding fabulous workshops for actors, screenwriters, and producers sponsored by LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.  The advantage of being represented by us is that many will be free to our members, no registration fee required, or a significant discount to our clients.  For instance, Dr. Mel will be presenting a workshop on  auditioning techniques that will include her newest book.  Our clients will only have to pay for the cost of the book, whereas; anyone else, will have to pay the registration fee.  And, don't worry, Dr. Mel will be  presenting in Los Angeles as well and not  just in New Orleans.

I plan on becoming so busy that I won’t be able to go and work for FEMA. I know that’s sad, but I would like to sleep in my own bed for a change and as my two younger sons are approaching their teen years, I really want to be at home and not out of state. I promise to all of you that I will work day and night to make all of us a great success story.  With that said “Step right up folks and join the band wagon.” It’s gonna be a wild ride.  I’ve always jumped in feet first and come out swinging.  You can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing at it.  I have many casting agencies that are very excited about having us coming in and bring innovative techniques to this industry.  We would love for you to be a part.  And, join us on our new Facebook page LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.

Thank you all for your dedication and support.  We are all on the verge of something new and exciting.  The future is ours.

AND NOW, DEAR DIARY
BY ROBBY STROUD

Oct 25,2012

Dear Diary,

Today started out like any other day,  up at 5 in the morning before the sun even began to shine.  In fact, the birds weren't even awake.  I dragged myself into Mel's kitchen, as I have been house sitting while she and her husband were at the beach.  She has been very ill and I am worried.  However, she is a survivor and as overcome more than flue and shingle vaccines.  Besides, I had more urgent things to tend to for the day as I knew many flood and hurricane victims awaited my arrival for a glimpse of hope.  Back to the kitchen.  I fixed myself a cup of Earl Grey tea and a cup of instant oatmeal.  What the hell, Mel, "Don't you eat anything that is bad for you:"  I guess that really was too much to ask for since Mel eats very little and nothing really fattening.

So, oatmeal it was so I could have the energy to face the day.  I have an incredible job as an inspector. I get to help people recover from devastating  acts of nature, and I get to travel to places I might not ever get to see if it wasn’t  for this job. My first disaster was in Pensacola Florida. Hurricane Ivan.  I had always wanted to be a FEMA inspector like my big sister, father, and brother. I would hear amazing stories and I wanted in.

When the four hurricanes hit Florida, FEMA was hiring new inspectors.  They simply didn’t have enough.  Here was my chance to be deployed.  I was also told if I new anyone else to bring them as well.  So I called my best friend Jan and a guy friend named Albert. We all drove to Tallahassee for a crash course on how to be an inspector.  We had eight hours of training and they threw us to the wolves so to speak… We drove to Pensacola. All three of us had work in our computer, but we decided to go to my client's first so they would watch and learn. To my surprise when we arrived to the first inspection, the applicant’s three story townhouse was mostly destroyed.  The first floor was nothing but slab and studs, The second floor was pretty much there, and the third floor was gone.  Their couch was up about 20 ft in the air in a big Pine tree. 

I met the applicant and he commenced to tell me his story of riding out the hurricane in this shambles of a building.  As the water started rising he and his wife  went to the second floor and thought they would be safe. NOT. The water started rising up to the second floor and boats were crashing into there windows on the second floor. Then the water started to rise to the second floor and they went to the stairwell to go to the third floor. That’s when all hell broke loose.  

As they were going up the stairs the roof  blew off the third floor and they were stuck in the stairwell.  The water was lapping up the stairs; but thank goodness it didn’t chase them all the way up the staircase. This is where they rode out the rest of the storm for eight hours.  When it was all over, they had to be rescued by fire truck because there were no stairs left to get to the first floor.  Wow, I still think about that first day. We proceeded to complete the inspection, which took us more than two hours.  I was training two people as I was training myself. Albert didn’t make it. It turned out he had two cataracts on his eyes and couldn’t see the computer screen, and Jan my BFF is still an inspector. I train inspectors now and  I feel like I help a lot more people now since all my rookies over the years are helping people too.  I finally realize my course and direction in life - do what is right and help others on their path.  And, that is what I intend on doing the rest of my life.