The Casting Scoop

Post-Game: Casting By/VoteERA Event at Hollywood Theatre

On June 22nd, Cast Iron Studios hosted a screening of the Tom Donahue documentary “Casting By” at the Hollywood Theatre, as a benefit for VoteERA.org. Over 150 people turned out to show their support!

Hollywood Theatre

VoteERA seeks to place express equality for women in the Oregon Constitution, and supports the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. (Did you know that 91 years after the ERA was introduced in Congress, it still hasn’t been ratified?!)

“Casting By” is a fantastic film about the legendary grande dame of casting, Marion Dougherty, who gave actors such as Glenn Close, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino and countless others their big breaks.

Thanks to everyone who came! (If you missed the event, you can still catch the film on HBO Go, and if interested, donate to VoteERA on their website.)

13 Travel Tips for Actors

Today’s expert column for Backstage is close to Lana’s heart. Check out her travel secrets from a lifetime of vagabonding the planet!

Lana Veenker CSAA former expatriate who has traveled extensively over the past 30 years, Casting Director Lana Veenker shares her pointers for actors who wish to embark on—and make the most of—an overseas adventure.

1. Don’t assume it costs a fortune. Most of my life, I traveled on a shoestring. With a little planning—as well as free or low-cost lodging sites like Couchsurfing and AirBnB—it’s possible to travel on a budget. And worth prioritizing, so be creative and make it happen!

2. Network and make friends. Uncover events at your destination through actor organizations or sites like MeetUp, Couchsurfing, and Facebook. Connect with local actors via Twitter or other platforms prior to departure, and you’ll have friends to show you the ropes upon arrival. (Using common sense, of course: safety first!)

3. Take in some history and culture. Gain understanding of your craft by visiting the birthplace of Western theater, Shakespeare’s hometown, or the hallowed grounds of Chekhov, Zeami, Fugard, Beckett, or García Lorca. Prepare for a dream role by immersing yourself in the culture, habits, language, and accent of that character.

4. Get some training. Enroll in a class or workshop while traveling. I’ve dropped in on improv classes in New York City and hired an acting coach in Cambridge to help me polish a Shakespeare monologue. Also use your time abroad to work on other skills: I’ve taken tango and yoga classes in several countries I’ve visited.

5. Attend a theater or film festival. I once saw 39 plays in two weeks at the Edinburgh Festival. I’ve also been to film festivals such as Raindance, TIFF, and the Berlinale. (In fact, I wrote the first draft of this article on a train leaving Cannes!) Not only are festivals great for networking, you can glean knowledge at the Q&As and conferences, and discover fascinating international work.

6. Soak up some shows. Catch some local plays or films. While at theater school in Paris, I would regularly pick up the Officiel des Spectacles from a newspaper kiosk and circle all the free and low-cost productions that week. Many cities have half-price ticket booths for same-day performances, and free open-air cinemas in the summer. Museums and monuments can provide additional inspiration, and many are entrée libre.

7. Learn a language. Whenever I travel, I always try to learn the language. As a result, I speak French and Spanish, and can dabble in a dozen others. Take an immersion course from a native speaker and practice on a daily basis. Hint: Avoid hanging out with anglophones while traveling and force yourself to communicate in the local tongue as best you can. Podcasts and apps like DuoLingo can also help from the comfort of your smartphone.

8. Perfect accents and dialects. Similarly, visiting a foreign country is a brilliant opportunity to refine your accents and dialects. After a decade overseas, I even considered becoming a dialect coach. Those skills have since proven useful in my casting career: I can almost always tell whether or not an actor’s accent is believable!

9. Enjoy some old-fashioned reading and writing. During flights and train rides, unplug from work and social media, and immerse yourself in some quality reading. In India, I read works by Vikram Seth, Khushwant Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, E.M. Forster, and Paul Scott. Indulge in some creative writing, inspired by your escapades. And keep a journal of your travel experiences: they may become fodder for your masterpiece down the road.

10. Visit film and theater schools. Ever considered studying abroad? Drop in on a school to ask about prerequisites, summer programs, tuition, and scholarships. Hint: Talk to students while you’re there to get the inside scoop on the establishment.

11. Find out if you can audition for anything. Without a work permit, it’s difficult to pick up gigs overseas, but back in my actor days, I was able to do TV and theater on my student visa. Do some research and inquire locally about the requirements. If you’re a student or recent grad, check out BUNAC.

12. Talk to expatriates. Thinking of relocating abroad? Seek advice from expats on visas, bureaucracy, job hunting, and living on the cheap. Hint: You could get in trouble if you overstay or try to work on a tourist visa. Use your vacation time to research your target country, then return with the proper paperwork.

13. Track expenses and keep your receipts. As an actor, some of your expenses may be tax-deductible. Seeing “Hamlet” at Shakespeare’s Globe? Clock it as research and ask your accountant which expenses, if any, you can write off. Be sure to keep personal and business expenditures separate.

Link to original article.

Casting Director Lana Veenker began her career in London and, upon returning to her Northwest roots, founded one of the top location casting companies in the country.

Recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, NBC’s “Grimm,” which just completed its third season, and 64 episodes of TNT’s “Leverage.” Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke and Tim Robbins figure among past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Lana is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at the Finnish Actors’ Union in Helsinki, Amsterdam School of the Arts, The Actors Platform in London, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris and Prague Film School.

Complete her survey to be entered into a contest for a free career consultation here.

She has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others. Follow her on Twitter @lanaveenker.

EVENT: Cast Iron Studios to host “Casting By” doc for VoteERA.org

Love Women? Love Film? Love Equality?

Cast Iron Studios is proud to host the enthralling Tom Donahue documentary

“Casting By”

featuring Ed Asner, Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, John Lithgow, Bette Midler, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, Cybill Shepherd, Oliver Stone, John Travolta, Jon Voight and many others!

A benefit for VoteERA.org

Buy Tickets

Marion Dougherty helped usher in the New Hollywood through her casting of films like “Midnight Cowboy,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” She plucked several now-iconic actors out of obscurity, among them James Dean, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close, giving them their first break in front of the camera. With strong, original opinions about authenticity and a knack for discovering unique talent, she turned the old Hollywood system on its head by using actors with a nuanced sense of character and individuality, rather than depending on typecasting, and broke racial barriers by pairing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the “Lethal Weapon” series.

The casting director is the only opening single card film credit that does not receive its own Academy Award® nomination. However, as Martin Scorsese emphatically states at the start of the documentary, “More than 90 percent of directing a picture is the right casting.” Director Tom Donahue combines extensive archival material and exclusive interviews with A-list actors and directors, including Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jon Voight, John Lithgow, Bette Midler and John Travolta, as well as Martin Scorsese, to tell the story of Hollywood’s most invisible and unheralded profession. (c) Official website

Casting directors don’t receive Academy Awards. But one almost did, once. In 1991, a movement was launched to press the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences into granting an honorary Oscar to Marion Dougherty, a New York casting director who decamped to Hollywood in 1976 to become vice president of casting at Paramount, and later held the same position at Warner Bros. Dougherty was—and is—credited as the grand matriarch of modern casting, and the push to have her recognized at the Oscars received support from Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Al Pacino, and a host more of their ilk. Many of those who lobbied on her behalf were filmmakers whose bodies of work she helped mold and actors whose careers may never have happened if not for her dogged advocacy. Dougherty had been instrumental in the development of major players in the post-studio film industry—she was the type of person for whom an honorary Oscar should be a forgone conclusion.

They never gave it to her. She died in 2011.

Backstage, July 25, 2013

The time is overdue for a casting Oscar category and a posthumous recognition of Dougherty. Both would go a long way toward demonstrating that the Academy—whose membership was revealed in a 2012 Los Angeles Times report to be overwhelmingly white, male, and old—is at long last modernizing.

Backstage, October 30, 2013

 

“Casting By”

a benefit for VoteERA.org

CIS Logo 01VoteERA

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
7:00 PM

at the historic

Hollywood Theatre
4122 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

Buy Tickets

Screening Only:  $5
Friend of VoteERA: (Screening + Donation to VoteERA): $15
Silver Sponsor (Screening + Donation to VoteERA + VIP Party): $35
Gold Sponsor (Screening + Donation to VoteERA + VIP Party): $50
Platinum Sponsor (Screening + Donation to VoteERA + VIP Party): $150
Diamond Sponsor (Screening + Donation to VoteERA + VIP Party): $500

Silver Sponsors and above are invited to a special VIP reception at Velo Cult after the film, which includes two drink tickets and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

Velo Cult
1969 NE 42nd Ave
Portland, OR 97213
(9:00 PM-11:00 PM)

SEE YOU THERE!

Casting By

A note from Lana Veenker CSA:

Funny, enlightening and poignant, this film appeals to filmmakers, actors and film buffs alike. Hearing how iconic actors like Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman and Glenn Close got their big breaks is at once fascinating and moving. I saw it twice–once in L.A. and once in Berlin–and I laughed and cried both times.

Supporters of women, and those who support equality for women in film and in all aspects of life, will also find enjoyment in this provocative documentary.

While pioneering CD Marion Dougherty helped to create and define the role of casting director, the film begs the question: Is it a coincidence that in a profession dominated by women (the CSA estimates that more than 73% of its membership is female), there is no Oscar category for casting? Or that the DGA objects to them using the term “director” in their job title, whereas other positions are allowed to use it?

We are very excited to bring “Casting By” to Oregon, particularly at a time when VoteERA is seeking to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the Oregon Constitution. These efforts will help pave the way for equality in our national Constitution. (Can you believe that the ERA has been introduced in Congress every year since 1923 and still has not been ratified!?!)

The more we can do to raise awareness about equality for women, the more we can do to achieve it! We hope you all will join us for a fun evening.

Buy Tickets

8 Tips for Starting a Life and Career in Portland

Are you an actor considering a move to Portland? Check out Lana’s latest Backstage article, which also appeared in the June 5th print edition!

Lana Veenker CSASo, after hearing all of the buzz about Portland, you’ve decided to relocate to the Rose City. As you settle into your new digs, learn from the locals how to get dialed in to this Northwest acting community. Here are some tips from myself and Portland actors.

JOIN
Become a member of organizations like the Oregon Media Production Association, the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, and the Alliance of Professional Performers Northwest, and participate in their networking events. SAG-AFTRA also holds free events and workshops and has an engaged, active board in Portland (the Portland SAG-AFTRA office recently closed, but the Seattle Local covers both markets).

FOLLOW
Many Portland actors have found industry-related Facebook pages such as Portland Casting Hub, Northwest Actors Network, and Portland Film and Video Networking to be great resources for networking and even finding acting gigs. Be sure to also join the long-running Yahoo Listserv PDXBackstage. It’s mainly geared toward theater actors, but in Portland almost everyone crosses over, so you’ll find useful info even if your primary interest is screen acting.

SEE
Go see plays and films by local companies; you’ll find out who the players are and figure out which ones you want to work with. There’s a strong indie scene in Portland, so there are plenty of opportunities to see works by regional filmmakers. Most actors work on plays between film and TV gigs, so you’ll want to follow the theater scene as well.

TAKE
As soon as you’ve gotten your bearings and determined which school or coach is most suitable for you, take an acting class. Your fellow actors have their ears to the ground about upcoming audition opportunities, and your coach may even be willing to refer you to a talent agent if you’ve got the chops. Plus, it’s always best to keep your tools sharp. Portland may be small, but it’s still competitive!

GIVE
Volunteering for the Oregon Media Production Association or for the various local film festivals, such as the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival, and the Portland Film Festival, can earn you brownie points with industry pros and help build valuable relationships. Cast Iron Studios frequently participates in charity events, such as our annual Meals for Monologues in December.

DO
If you’re new to town and you want to get seen by the decision makers, you need to be doing theater and indie projects, especially if you’re short on credits. Agents and CDs will soon find out who you are if your name keeps popping up in theater programs and in the end titles of local films and Web series.

DON’T
If you’re relocating from L.A., don’t bring any Hollywood attitude or spin with you. It won’t fly in Portland, where people place value on authenticity and the work. If you’re a jerk, word will spread very quickly in a town this size. Not to mention just because someone spent time in Los Angeles, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a better actor.

BE
Be open, be willing to pitch in, and become a part of what we’re trying to build outside of the system, and your efforts will be rewarded. Armed with solid training and credits, thoughtful and professional networking efforts, and a willingness to participate and give back to the community, you can move up the ranks quickly.

Many thanks to all the Portland actors who contributed their ideas and insights to this piece. The Northwest acting and filmmaking community is a wonderful family to be a part of!

Link to original article.

Casting Director Lana Veenker began her career in London and, upon returning to her Northwest roots, founded one of the top location casting companies in the country.

Recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, NBC’s “Grimm,” now in its third season, and 64 episodes of TNT’s “Leverage.” Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke and Tim Robbins figure among past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Lana is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at the Finnish Actors’ Union in Helsinki, Amsterdam School of the Arts, The Actors Platform in London, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris and Prague Film School.

Complete her survey to be entered into a contest for a free career consultation here.

She has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others. Follow her on Twitter @lanaveenker.

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