Thursday, February 21, 2013

BEING A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR

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    THUMBS UP!  HOW TO NAIL AUDITIONS
                      By Dr. Melissa Caudle
                         (Available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble)

FEBRUARY 21, 2013

DR. MEL'S WEEKLY MESSAGE

Dr. Mel on the set of
Reawakening
OMG!  How time flies when your having fun.  I have no idea where the last seven days went as it all seems like a huge blur to me.  Most of my time this week has either been spent editing footage for the sneak peak of my new film A.D.A.M. or filming scenes for it.

I have been very busy with meetings with screenwriters and producers.  I met with Kristopher Hoffman, writer/producer/director, of the PROJECT Z, and his fabulous team.  I don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but soon, my production company, ON THE LOT PRODUCTIONS and SAVAGE LIGHT STUDIOS are teaming up on a project to be filmed in New Orleans.  You'll just have to stay tuned for that as it is going to be very exciting.  In the meantime, if you haven't seen PROJECT Z series, be sure to check it out.  It is really amazing and one of our LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP actor's, Sabrita Gordon, stars in it.  Go to:
BLIP.TV/PROJECTZ .  You can thank me later for introducing you to this wonderful series.  Also, join them on Facebook and tell them Dr. Mel sent you their way.  Just Kidding about the last part.  Just enjoy the series.


DR. MEL CAUDLE (IN THE MIDDLE)
SURROUNDED BY KRISTOPHER HOFFMAN AND 
SAVAGE LIGHT STUDIOS PRODUCERS AND CREW
GIDEON HODGE, JEARL VINOT, GENE FRANQUES

And, speaking of filming, this last week we filmed all of the Stephen Stone Diamond scenes, who is a famous radio talk show host, played by Challa Sabree, for my film A.D.A.M.  It was a great deal of fun working with Challa which only excited me more as I soon will be filming with Challa again as he takes on the role for The Keystroke Killer.




I also filmed Tina Rubin this week in the role of Rebecca Newland.  And, speaking of this filming, I finally got a cameo appearance in one of my films as I played her best friend who she confides in me about Dr. Sandra Bradford, played by DH Lewis and the research findings.  Other cast who have filmed include Stephen Beal, who plays Dr. Gregory Peterson, and Jamie Alyson, who plays Jessica Parker, Dr. Bradford's quirky research assistant.

Anyway, I can't wait to get everything edited so you can take a sneak peak into the characters who will be in the feature film.  We really had a great time filming both in Los Angeles and in New Orleans.  At the end of this blog, take a look at some of the special moments Ivan Hoey, our still photographer as well as the Producer's Assistant.

Before you rush off and take a look at all of the pictures, I want to welcome DH Lewis into the writing arena.  I asked her if she would write an article about her experiences with casting director workshops.  DH provides some wonderful information below and insight worth knowing.

My Experience with Casting Director Workshops.
By: DH Lewis 
(2013) copyright DH LEWIS

When I returned to the acting profession just over two years ago to Los Angeles, I very quickly learned that a LOT had changed in the nearly 18 years that I had been away from the ‘biz’.
    
Besides everyone using color head shots, I discovered that actor’s can now self –submit for acting jobs. When I left you had to be submitted by an agent for everything being cast, and I like that we now have a bigger hand in our career, and if you have no agent, you can still find work. The biggest eye opener though, was The Casting Director Workshops. When I left this industry in about 1997, Casting Director’s did ‘Generals’ to meet new talent, now they do workshops. When I left, workshops were very much like a condensed acting class given by a working Casting Director - they are NOTHING like that anymore.
    
After wasting 100’s of dollars to get a ‘class’ with various Casting Director’s to re-boot my career, I finally realized that these are not ‘classes’ at all – they are audition opportunities – like it or not - they are ‘paid to play’ auditions. When you attend one, you better know what you are doing or you may never get into an audition at that Casting Director’s office. They expect you to know what you are doing and to ‘perform’ the scene, not ‘work on’ the scene. Most often the scene will be given to you just before the workshop, and you will be giving a cold reading performance. The CD expects you to ‘NAIL IT’ in these workshops. They bring new talent in after seeing them in these workshops and often cast leading roles and co-starring roles directly from these cold reading performances. Some CD’s allow prepared scenes, but this is very rare as I have found out.

BEFORE you attend any Casting Director Workshop: Do your RESEARCH:

• Know how to cold read very well.
• Know what kind of show/film you are right for and interested in.
• Research the CD that you will be work-shopping with - in advance.
• Are they currently a CD of a show on air, or a film in Production that’s right for you?
• Know the specific show/film GENRE that that particular CD casts.
• Be sure to prep your scene with that genre in mind – Comedy? Drama? Action?
• Look around for the best prices for the same CD. They usually go to several studios.
• Do the BEST you can do. You may get a redirect and you may not.
• If you are part of that lucky workshop 5%, you may get called in for a real audition @ their office.

I remember going to my first CD workshop after my return, and I left feeling like a fool. I asked questions and they were very perturbed by them: example, I asked, “What do you mean by self-submitting?”  I really thought I was in a class, but their reaction/expression told me that I was actually wasting their time. A couple of weeks later, I went to another workshop with a CD that specialized in comedy. I didn’t do my research/homework, and I performed the scene as a drama with great conviction! Her response, “That was a wonderful dramatic reading, however those sides are from my comedy TV show.” I was humiliated - when I went home and looked her up – I discovered that she ONLY casts comedy shows/films. What a waste of my money and my time in both instances. As a result of my ignorance, I have never been called in to audition by either of those well known CD’s offices!

After I licked my wounds, I brushed myself off and took advanced cold reading classes, so when I attend a workshop now, I make sure that have thoroughly done my research, and I only attend CD workshops that cast shows that I am truly right for. I hope my mistakes and what I have learned from my experiences, will help you to not waste your hard earned money and precious time.

With the right homework before you go to a CD workshop, you will build a bridge, rather than burn one!




HONING YOUR PROFESSIONALISM AS AN ACTOR
By Dr. Mel Caudle

After reading the article written above by DH Lewis I felt compelled to add a small note WHICH inspired the following information on actor's professionalism.  I find that her advice will also behoove actors when going into any audition.  Not only should you be prepared, but you also must  do your research.  Be prepared for your audition by knowing your material, acquiring knowledge on how to breakdown a scene, how to cold read for an audition etc.  If you need help, much more advice is found in my previous blog posts as well as my newest book THUMBS UP!  HOW TO NAIL AUDITIONS.  Purchase your copy today on Amazon.com or by clicking on the picture of the book to the right. 

Now moving on to a more serious issue on actor's professionalism.  There are two glaring behaviors that will set a professional actor from an amateur actor:  not knowing how to audition and once on set being professional in all matters which includes:
  • Contract Protocol
  • Set Etiquette
  • Treatment of Props, wardrobe etc.
  • Confidentiality of script, sets
CONTRACT PROTOCOL

First up is talking about contract protocol.  If you are signed by an agent, you are bound by their terms and agreements.  Most agents require that when you print your resume, post your demo reels, and upload a website, that only the AGENT AND AGENCY information is used and not an actor's personal contact information.  THIS GOES FOR SIGNING CONTRACTS AS WELL.  An actor should always use their agency's address and phone numbers for payments.  

There are a variety of reasons for doing so.  Mainly, your agent is responsible for submitting you to the casting directors etc and also will supervise your contracts to make sure you are paid appropriately.  If  a casting director wants to hire you, they will go through your agent.  If you as an actor circumvent this it shows the casting director that you may not be up to par in all of your dealings.  It opens the door for any casting director and/or production company to take advantage of you and not PAY YOU the appropriate rate and your residuals in the future.  In fact, this has happened to two of my clients this week.  Whereas a major production company paid the actor directly, with an addendum with a total buy out, and when the checked was cashed there is nothing the non-union actor can do to claim residuals.  Another actor was paid CASH which means that the production company didn't have to file the taxes or add to the actor's FINS for retirement.  Again, the actor looses in the long run.  That actor too is not entitled to any residual payments at all.  

We had another actor on the same set who we got the job for, who only provided the agency's information and made sure we approved of the contract first.  Guess what?  Not only did this actor receive a higher daily rate, but will also get residuals.  Why the difference?  One actor did not circumvent the agency (whether intentionally or accidental); whereas, the other actor made sure his agent was included. Lesson learned I hope for the non-union actor.  They really don't have any recourse.

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But, what this means is that if you are represented by an agent, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you ever put your personal information on your head shots, demo reels, websites, contracts, etc.  Likewise, also make sure your agent reviews and approves your CONTRACT prior to signing it.  Lastly, if your Agent's contract states that payments for services are to go to the AGENCY first, then make sure you use your agency's address and no other.  Otherwise, you're likely to lose money in the end.  This is one reason why SAG/AFTRA makes sure that SAG productions use a SAG contract.

DO NOT BE PRESSURED TO SIGN A CONTRACT WHILE ON SET, THERE IS A REASON THEY DO THIS, SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO PAY YOU WHAT IS DUE. CALL YOUR AGENT AND HAVE THEM FAX A CONTRACT OVER TO THEM FOR REVIEW.

If you as an actor are worried that your agency or talent agent won't give you your pay check, then you shouldn't be represented by that agency.  I'd resign immediately and either represent yourself or get another agent.  In fact, we insist on our LACA NOLA talent group to forward all contracts so we may insure the actor receives appropriate payment and residuals forthcoming.  it is to protect the actor.  DO NOT BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. BE SAFE OR BE SORRY.

SET ETIQUETTE

It is obvious to director's and the entire production crew when an actor knows what they are doing and are professional simply by the types of questions an actor will ask, how they ask them, and how they conduct themselves on set.  Usually, your first contact on set will be with the A.D. (assistant director) department.  The 1st A.D. is the one who will complete the CALL SHEET and notify actors of their reporting time and the location of the set.  Get to know the 1st A.D. and any of the other A.D.s working in that department.  They will be your best friend or worse nightmare on set.  It is also this department who will usually be handling your paperwork once you arrive to set.

Also, please don't take pictures of the set or the other actors.  And, don't ask for autographs.  Be professional.

TREATMENT OF PROPS AND WARDROBE

Treat all production props and wardrobe with respect as you would like your items treated.  And, don't be unprofessional by asking if you can have a prop or your wardrobe as a souvenir.  It will get back to the casting director and/or director which will affect your future hiring ability.

DH LEWIS, JACK CURENTON (co-producer) and
DR. MEL CAUDLE (producer) sort through props for
the A.D.A.M. film.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF SCRIPTS/SET

Please remember that your contract with the production company usually has a non-disclosure statement and agreement attached to it.  ABIDE by it and keep the script confidential as well as what happens on set.  Otherwise, you could wind up in a lawsuit.


So, You Want To Become A Movie Actor??
BY JACK E. CURENTON
Making it "big" in Hollywood doesn't usually happen overnight. Prominent actors like Jim Carrey and Sarah Jessica Parker struggled for years before rising to the top. Actors must sometimes do things they don't want or are embarrassed to do temporarily in order to reap the benefits of Hollywood stardom in the long run. But with determination, skill and an amazing personality, there is hope in becoming one of the Hollywood elite. 
Instructions
1.     Start young. If you are still in your pre-teens or teens, immediately join the drama club at your school. If your school doesn't offer this activity, lobby with the school to get a club started up. Your local community or recreation center may also have drama workshops that are free or of little cost to join.
 2.     However, if you’re not young, don’t worry….the benefits can be huge (if you’re good enough) because so many gave up on their dreams by the time they’re older that the competition has thinned out….it’ll just be you and a bunch of 90210 kids!!
 3.     Early on, major in theater once in college, or apply to a university with a recognized performing arts or theater program. If you live in the Midwest, consider the University of Cincinnati's College of Theater Performance. East Coast dwellers might consider enrolling the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College in Boston or the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Others might consider applying to North Carolina School of the Arts or the University of Minnesota Guthrie Program. If you already live on the West Coast, consider USC, UCLA or California State University-Fullerton, all of which have well-known acting programs. I personally learned a lot from the Goodman theatre group in Chicago, and my alma matter Kent State.
4.     Move to Los Angeles or New York City . Both of these cities offer unlimited opportunities for an aspiring actor or actress, although LA may offer more opportunities for film. In these cities you will find a plethora of agents, acting classes, auditions and others like yourself with whom you can network.
5.     Prepare to work extremely hard. Once you have relocated, score yourself a serving position in a restaurant or nightclub (or find any other job that will allow you to work nights, while keeping your days free to take acting classes and attend auditions). Not only do jobs like these pay fairly well, but they will also allow you to meet and network with other aspiring actors like yourself. If you’re older, you may have already retired and have a comfortable nest egg to live on while auditioning….that means you’re not waiting tables between gigs.
6.     Put together a professional-looking portfolio. Your portfolio should include a variety of photos, including head shots (close-ups of your face) and full-body shots. You should hire a professional to prepare an actor’s Demo Reel (or audition tape) which will showcase clips from previous professional acting gigs. If you don’t have any to use, film several different scenes/characters and use that. Local Film Schools are a big benefit for this at a reasonable cost or even free for the students to get experience.
7.     Secure yourself formal representation. An agent will help guide you through the beginnings of your career and attempt to find youmovie auditions. You can locate an agent by word of mouth or by doing an Internet search. Or, contact LACA-NOLA Talent Group in New Orleans or Los Angeles areas.
8.     Accept every opportunity that comes your way (with the exception of doing anything that could exploit yourself and or cause harm to your career). Before Courtney Cox scored her role on the sitcom "Friends," she was the starring girl in a Tampax tampon commercial.
9.     Remember that being flexible will broaden the opportunities that become available to you. Whether it's a small part in a cheesy horror flick or the starring role in a cat food commercial, every job you accept will bring you closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a Hollywood movie star.
ü  Don't be a snob. If someone offers you a role in a television pilot--take it. This opportunity could always lead to a career on the big screen.
ü  Be wary of scams. Never pay an agent to represent you. If he is truly interested in your talents, he will not ask you for money, but earn it from the jobs he aids you in getting.




DEAR DIARY
BY ROBBY COOK STROUD

Here is a moment in my wonderful world.  Happy reading.

2-14-13

Dear Diary,

Life is so good. Today I am riding to Dallas with my son James’ best friend Chris, I look forward to a relaxing ride for a change. We are going to help James, my son, and Emily move into a new place.  I will still be working on LACA NOLA  thanks to the Internet and my IPAD.  I love my job, I can do it from anywhere in the world. Like now, as I ride I am writing my blog letter.

I am also trying to look for a place to live in Los Angeles as I will be spending around 2 weeks a month there and 2 weeks in New Orleans. It is a win win situation for everyone. I plan on opening the Los Angeles office for visitations by April 1,2013. I will be in around March 15 to get settled and ready to hit ground with full force. I am looking for a 2 bedroom 2 bath within 30 min of the office which is located on Wilshire Blvd, across for the SAG office should anyone know of anything for lease.

2-20-13

Lots of the talent are getting auditions.  Finally, after months of hard work, actors are getting booked etc.  It is very exciting.  In fact, we had our first married couple film together this week on the same show.  And, several other actors filming on four different sets this week.  And, our Parkour actor, Murphy Betancourt, has been booked to participate on the next season of THE AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR.  So, everyone with LACA NOLA needs to get their television sets ready to watch some great action.

2-21-13

The craziest thing happened while I was in Dallas this week. I was reminiscing about the old days and was thinking about one of my best friends from jr and high school. I haven’t seen her since we were both 15 years old. She moved away to Houston and we lost touch. I thought about her over the years , so I decided to internet search her, again. To no avail. I figured she has a new name now, so I searched her brothers name. and I found an obituary for him, with her name and her parents name attached. Ok, So now I have her new name.

I searched her and I found her. Only her address though. The craziest thing is she lives in Diamondhead MS. Where I have lived for the last 15 years. ¼ of a mile from my house where my kids live. I am going to go by there tomorrow before I pick up my boys. I am astounded that after 40 yrs we are in the same town, same state, only blocks apart. 

When I told Caylen this , she dropped to the floor because she had tried to search for the same girl the day before. I told Caylen, like always, she thinks way to loud. We truly are 2 peas in a pod. I mean 3 peas in a pod, sorry Mel, I don’t want to leave you out.

I just got home from Tae Kwon Do practice and it was a great workout. I am getting stronger everyday. I am so happy quit smoking and am getting healthier by the day. Well, that’s all till next time. Y’all get out there and break a lot of legs. We had 8 auditions this week alone. I want to double that each week. Rockyn

CANDID SHOTS FROM THE SET OF A.D.A.M.
PHOTOS BY IVAN HOEY, JR.

ANNOUNCED CAST TO DATE

DH LEWIS - Dr. Sandra Bradford
JAMIE ALYSON - Jessica Parker
STEPHEN BEAL - Dr. Gregory Peck
JACK E. CURENTON - Adam
TINA RUBIN - Rebecca Newland
CHALLA SABREE - Stephen Stone Diamond (Talk Show Radio Host)
RUDY GARZA - Limo Driver
GARY SIEVERS - Military Escort
TIMOTHY WYANT -  Officer Coleman

MORE ROLES WILL BE CAST SOON!  

Jamie as Jessica drivers lost.
DH LEWIS and TAWNY wait for filming.
Stephen Beal gets his wardrobe selected.
Long Shot as Stephen Beal, DH Lewis, and Jamie Alyson do scene.
Gary Sievers , DOP shoots the scene.
Gary Sievers in action.
Jamie Alyson with voice overs
DH Lewis in rehearsal as Robby Cook Stroud,
 associate producer, looks on.
SCRIPTY PHOTO OF PLACEMENT OF ITEMS
OUR MONO LAKE...AT LEAST WE WERE IN CA.
Dr. Bradford scolds Jessica Parker
Gary Sievers, DOP and Dr. Mel, Producer
Cramming into the back of the car to film scolding scene.
All in a days work.
DH Lewis, Ivan Hoey, Jamie Alyson, and Gary Sievers


Tina Rubin as Rebecca Newland

Tina Rubin as Rebecca Newland

Tina Rubin as Rebecca Newland
Dr. Mel directing Challa Sabree for the
role of STEPHEN STONE DIAMOND
CHALLA AS STEPHEN STONE DIAMOND
SPEAKING WITH THE PRESIDENT

CHALLA AS STEPHEN STONE DIAMOND
SPEAKING WITH JESSICA PARKER
PHOTO STILLS FROM A.D.A.M.


SCREENWRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
DR. MELISSA CAUDLE

CO-PRODUCER
JACK E. CURENTON

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
ROBBY COOK STROUD

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
GARY SIEVERS

PRODUCER'S ASSISTANT
IVAN HOEY, JR.

CRAFT SERVICES/CATERING
CAYLEN PICKERING
































THANKS FOR JOINING ME THIS WEEK.  AND, DON'T FORGET TO PURCHASE MY NEWEST BOOK.








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