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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Get Your Child into Show Business

by Georgia Luke

Lana got to join Tra’Renee Chambers on KATU’s new show Afternoon Live on September 20th to talk about how to get your child into show business.

Lana was able to give some great tips on the best way to go about it, and warning signs to look for with possible scams.

Here’s her full list of tips for parents whose children want to get into acting:

FIRST STEPS

  • Make sure it’s something THEY want to do
    • Is it your dream or theirs?
    • Don’t make them do it if it’s not fun for them
  • Network & do your research
    • Look for Facebook groups geared towards local actors, acting classes, indie filmmaking and casting calls
    • In Portland, join the longstanding Yahoo Group PDXBackstage
    • Talk to other actors who are working professionally and to their parents: learn from their experiences
    • Google any schools, coaches, casting companies or talent agencies you are considering and read the online reviews
  • Beware of scams
    • Don’t fall for the bait-and-switch:
      • You take your child to an audition, but it turns out to be a sales pitch for classes or talent competitions
      • Your child is approached in a mall by a so-called “talent scout” who promises to make them famous, only to try to sell you something later on
    • Avoid talent agencies that want money up front
      • Agents should only earn commissions off the work they find for their actors
      • Other than nominal website maintenance fees, agents should never charge actors for representation
    • Avoid any casting calls or auditions that require your child to pay to be seen; there should never be a charge to audition
    • Don’t join any paid casting websites, unless you know for sure that the casting directors in your area use them. Most are a waste of money
    • (We use Casting Frontier, where basic profiles are free. See our Submissions page for instructions on how to get into our database if you don’t have an agent)
  • Get GOOD training
    • Make sure your child learns good habits, so they don’t have to unlearn bad ones
    • In Portland, Northwest Children’s Theatre and Oregon Children’s Theatre offer good stage acting classes for kids
    • There are also several on-camera acting coaches in town; do your research and audit a class, if possible
  • Get experience
    • Do theatre, school plays
    • Let them make their own projects for practice: most kids are savvy with cameras and editing software
    • Have them do extras work to make sure they can handle standing around on set for hours
    • Find casting calls on Facebook or other websites (but research, be cautious)
    • Follow us on Facebook & Twitter or join our mailing list to be notified about open casting calls
    • Read up on how to participate in our periodic general auditions
  • Get Headshots
    • Don’t spend a lot on headshots for kids; especially before you find them an agent and know what they need
    • Snapshots will do until you find an agent who can guide you to a good headshot photographer
    • Headshots should cost a few hundred dollars, not thousands
  • Create an acting resume
    • Search online for examples
    • Include date of birth, height, weight, eye and hair color
    • Include acting experience, training, and any special skills they may have, like skateboarding, ballet and/or languages
    • Include your contact information (cell number, email address)
    • Never include your home address, the child’s direct contact info or their Social Security number
  • Find a GOOD talent agent
    • Look on the SAG-AFTRA website for SAG and AFTRA franchised agencies
    • SourceOregon also has a list of trustworthy agencies and managers
    • Remember: You should not have to pay a talent agent for representation, classes or photos. They may, however, recommend trusted coaches, classes or photographers who are unaffiliated with the agency
  • Celebrate small successes
    • Even auditioning is a success; don’t focus on bookings
    • Do they feel good about how they auditioned? Celebrate that!
    • However they feel, celebrate their bravery and accomplishment. Auditioning is hard!
    • Do something fun afterwards
  • Be a good actor parent
    • Always be reachable
    • Respond very quickly to emails and calls
    • Be an advocate for your child, but be easy to work with
    • We’re not just hiring your kid, we are hiring you!
    • Nobody wants someone on set who will create problems or drama

Good luck, be safe and have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lana Talks to More Good Day Oregon About Breaking Into the Biz

by ranielle

ICYMI: On Tuesday, August 11th, Casting Director Lana Veenker spoke with Stephanie Kralevich of More Good Day Oregon about what’s shooting in Oregon and how you can get involved!

Have a peek:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 2.20.25 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information on how actors can submit to us or be seen for a general audition is under our Actors tab. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to original post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

6 Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Gifts

by admin

When is it appropriate to give a gift to an industry contact? When is it not? What should you give (or not give)? Will baking brownies for casting directors earn you brownie points? In Lana’s latest Backstage column, she shares the guidelines that she and her team use with their own clients.

Lana Veenker CSAOnce upon a time, an actor sent homemade brownies to our office, lovingly hand-wrapped in tin foil.

But this was not long after Sept. 11. Casting companies were on edge with anthrax scares on the news and crates of mail arriving daily.

We didn’t suspect anthrax, but since we didn’t really know this actor—and hadn’t done anything to warrant a gift from her—we weren’t sure what to think.

Should we eat brownies made by a stranger who hadn’t even delivered them in person? How long ago had they been baked, and under what conditions? Was the name on the package even real? Did we have some unknown enemy? What did it mean?

We were indisputably paranoid, but in the end, no one was brave enough to dig in, and the batch was tossed. We felt bad that the actor had spent time and money needlessly, and wished we could have told her not to bother. A postcard with a photo and a few words of introduction would have been a better investment.

When does it make sense to give a gift to an industry contact? What types of gifts are appropriate? Here are the guidelines we use with our own clients.

1. Cards and emails usually suffice. Most of the time, a note of thanks is more than sufficient for a good deed, whether handwritten or by email. But be judicious: There’s no need to acknowledge each time your contact lifts a finger. That will earn you stalker cred.

Reserve your missives for circumstances that warrant them, or end the year with a single holiday card thanking your contact for the opportunities they gave you throughout the year. Include your photo, contact details, project updates, and any other information they may find useful (change in representation, new headshot, etc.).

It’s also a kind gesture to acknowledge their accomplishments. Several actors sent postcards this spring congratulating us on our new series, “Significant Mother.” This had the double effect of making us feel good, and reminding us of them for the show.

Beyond thank you’s and congratulations, limit personal updates to a few times a year. One manager sends an email blast every time a certain actor he represents sneezes. I’ve had to flag them as junk, they’re so frequent. Not where you want to end up!

2. Gifts are OK for bigger gestures. Gifts are generally unnecessary, and as described in the story above, can even be a wasted effort. (Nothing tops the odd and disturbing parcels we received while working on “Twilight.” A few required rubber gloves!)

That being said, when a contact goes above and beyond, sometimes you want to show your appreciation. While we discourage actors from spending money on us, we have to admit that we do, on occasion, send gifts to our own clients: after they’ve hired us on a big job, for example, or when their referral helps us secure a major gig.

If you’re adamant about recognizing someone with a gift, here are a few things we’ve learned through our own and others’ missteps.

3. Food and beverage gifts are tricky. Once, I showed up at an executive’s office with a bottle of pinot noir, only to discover that she’d recently quit drinking.

Another time, I brought three bottles of wine for three producers. Only one of them drank, so she scooped them all up, and the other two didn’t get anything.

I was smart enough in one instance to call an agent’s assistant and ask what kind of gift would be appreciated. He informed me that his boss was a big Bombay Sapphire fan, so I had a bottle of gin delivered. Never underestimate assistants! The agent was thrilled.

In our office, we (like many nowadays) have a variety of food restrictions—carbs, gluten, sugar, etc.—not to mention we are usually watching our waistlines. Doughnuts and cupcakes are often given away instead of eaten (although we have, on occasion, succumbed to a certain brand of high-end salted caramels; no one is infallible).

For several years, we sent holiday gift baskets to our biggest clients, including fruit, cheeses, crackers and the likes. There was enough variety that everyone could share the spoils.

4. Gift cards are versatile. These days, we tend to stick to gift cards when we want to recognize someone. Not only are they easier to send (some even by email), but our clients can choose exactly what they want. Coffee cards work great for smaller gestures. For those who brought us bigger jobs, we’ve sent iTunes or Amazon gift cards, movie passes, or certificates to well-reviewed foodie restaurants.

One smart actor researched restaurants in our neighborhood and presented a gift card that allowed us to treat the whole office to lunch. We loved that everyone got to be included!

5. Personalized or shareable gifts are a nice touch. Do your research to come up with an appropriate, personalized gift. Is your contact an animal advocate or environmentalist? A donation to their favorite charity could be a lovely gesture.

Items easily shared with an entire staff are also thoughtful. Frequently, it’s the behind-the-scenes people who are most responsible for your good fortune, but it’s the figurehead who gets all the recognition (and presents).

Keep this in mind, and try to think of things the whole team will enjoy. An office plant, flowers for the front desk, or a small box of tea samplers or scented candles might work (but find out how many are needed, so that no one gets left out).

Calling the office ahead of a visit to take everyone’s coffee order might also make you very popular with staff, but only do this if they know you well enough that they won’t mind the intrusion.

6. Simple and genuine wins the day. Above all, remember that gifts are never necessary or expected, and they can even make the receiver uncomfortable if you spend too much or if they haven’t done anything special to merit them.

They may think you’re angling for favors, rather than expressing gratitude. After a major booking or around the holidays, a small gift might be appropriate, but lavishing gifts in hopes of securing an audition could feel desperate or like a bribe.

In truth, the best reward our office can receive is a report from the production team that you nailed a role we cast you in. Make us look good so we’ll get hired again and recommended to others. That could mean more work for you down the road. Way to scratch each other’s backs!

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, Cast Iron Studios.

Her recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, “Grimm” for NBC, “Significant Mother” for the CW, and both “The Librarians” and “Leverage” for TNT. Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Jean-Marc Vallée, Catherine Hardwicke, and Tim Robbins are among her past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple, and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Veenker 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.

Veenker has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lana on Will Roberts Weekly Telegram Radio Show

by admin

This week on the Will Roberts Weekly Telegram, Will interviews Lana Veenker on the benefits of working regionally.

“It doesn’t take long for a skilled actor to become known to all the local casting directors when there are only a few offices. When someone’s good, it’s common for us to read him or her a half-dozen times a week for various projects.” – Lana Veenker

The interview starts at around 08:40.

Link to original post.

Link to SoundCloud.

Friday, February 6, 2015

6 Tips for Making the Small Roles Count

by admin

Coming off the heels of the critically acclaimed “Wild,” here’s some advice from Lana on making the small roles count, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAWhen our office was hired to cast 40 supporting and featured roles in “Wild” (around 30 of which ended up in the final cut), director Jean-Marc Vallée wanted to ensure that each actor fit seamlessly into the fabric of the film, no matter how small the part. If even one actor felt like he or she didn’t belong, it could ruin the mood and the veracity of the film.
His attention to detail paid off. Not only did Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern turn out award-worthy performances, but the supporting cast, culled from talent proposed by casting director David Rubin’s office in L.A. and ours in Portland, has apparently been a frequent topic at Q&As and in the press. Even Bruce Dern said he hadn’t been this touched by a film in 60 years, crediting the entire cast for their performances.

So, how can an actor make the most of an audition for a minor or even non-speaking principal role, like many of the characters in “Wild”?

1. Come prepared. Just because it’s a cinch to memorize two or three lines, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do your homework. A well thought-out backstory will bring depth and originality to your character. And seriously, if you can’t be mostly off book for a handful of lines, you might be in the wrong business.

2. But don’t overdo it. Small roles often convey everyday occurrences or simple objectives. As we sometimes say in our office, “It’s not the movie about COP #3.” Just because you worked out your character’s life history in your preparation, doesn’t mean you need to stretch, “May I see your ID, sir?” into a soliloquy.

Get in, pursue your intention—as if this is something you do every day—and get out. Your homework will infuse your character naturally, without you having to hit us over the head with it.

3. Immediately establish the given circumstances and the moment before. Is it hot? Is it cold? Are you out of breath? Have you just woken up? Did your character just witness a crime? Does this scene pick up in the middle of a conversation or argument? Did you just hike 14 miles in the desert? Bring that into your performance.

4. Be present. You don’t have much time, so really listen and connect with your scene partners. Don’t just wait (im)patiently for your turn to speak, allow their lines to trigger your responses. Practice being in the moment.

5. Bring your A-game. Even the smallest role can generate your next gig. One female actor we hired for “Wild” had an improvised scene with one of the leads, but none of her lines ended up in the final cut. That didn’t stop the director from telling her he wanted to work with her again.

On another project, a director who recently landed his first big feature specifically asked us to read actors we’d cast in his low-budget thriller a year earlier. Their prior faith in him was rewarded with an opportunity to land a juicy role in a well-known franchise.

6. Do your best, then let go. If a realtor shows you a dozen houses, you may like things about each of them, but only one may suit your current situation. Perhaps you need a garage and a quiet street. Next time around, you might want something more central with a bigger yard. It’s all relative.

Likewise, what we’re seeking is the right palette. We’re not judging your acting ability as much as we are identifying an ensemble that best tells the story at hand. That’s out of your control, so just give it your all, thankful to be a part of this amazing industry.

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, Cast Iron Studios.

Her recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, four seasons of NBC’s “Grimm,” ten episodes of “The Librarians,” and 64 episodes of “Leverage” for TNT. Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke, and Tim Robbins are among her past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple, and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Veenker 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.

Veenker has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others.

 

Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Tips for Thriller, Horror, and Supernatural Auditions

by admin

Auditioning for a spooky thriller or horror film? Embrace the fear and let it fuel your performance. Here’s Lana’s latest Backstage Expert column!

Lana Veenker CSAMy office has subjected our neighbors to a fair amount of screaming, sobbing, and agonizing deaths, after casting for supernatural projects such as Twilight and NBC’s Grimm (76 episodes and counting), thrillers such as Untraceable and Gone, and horror films such as the upcoming Cabin Fever: Reboot. But fear not: We’ve learned what it takes to excel at these types of genre auditions along the way. Enter if you dare….

1. Commit. It’s always important to immerse yourself in the world of the story, and even more critical in genre films and television. The situations and characters may be so outlandish, that it’s essential to truly invest and believe in them in order for the audience to come along for the ride. No matter how over the top the script is, dig deep to find your character’s underlying objectives, hopes, fears, strengths, and weaknesses, so that your performance remains rooted in authenticity. And educate yourself as well: When casting for Grimm we can always tell whether or not actors have seen the show by the way they morph into Wesen (the show’s monsters)…or fail to.

2. Discover. Thriller, horror, and supernatural narratives rely heavily on surprise and suspense, so avoid playing the end of the scene at the beginning, or telegraphing what’s going to happen next. Allow your character (and hence, the audience) to discover as they go along. Is your character the red herring? Don’t give it away by acting suspiciously. Does your character expect a knife-wielding maniac to attack her as she gets into her car? Unless it says so in the script, allow your character to be taken by surprise.

3. Don’t play the obstacle; overcome the obstacle. Novices often try to play emotions and obstacles rather than intentions. But when actors focus on conveying adjectives (happy, sad, angry) instead of verbs (charm, attack, diffuse), their performances suffer and become artificial. No audience can get behind an actor who is mugging, especially not in the exaggerated situations of genre stories, so spend less time thinking about showing, and more on what your character is trying to do under the circumstances. The emotions will take care of themselves. Don’t play fear. Hide or control the fear. If your character limps, don’t play the limp, overcome the limp. Drunks don’t try to act drunk, they try to conceal it, manage it, pursue their goals despite it.

4. Know your archetypes.Villains require strong justifications and backstory for their actions (their need for revenge, attention, power), and likable or intriguing characteristics (charm, humor, intellect) to accomplish them. Note that calm, understated villains can be more frightening than loud, threatening ones (recall Javier Bardem’s chilling character in No Country for Old Men.

When playing the Hero, identify weaknesses you need to overcome in order to grow into the You who can save the day. Pursue objectives with heightened resolve when faced with the unusual and overwhelming obstacles found in genre stories. Root your performance in reality to differentiate yourself from the crazy characters that surround you.

Are you the Victim? Witnesses and innocent victims are usually anchored in realism, whereas victims of stupidity or hubris may present an opportunity to have fun with the character. In either case, don’t be afraid to go for it when your character is supposed to shriek in terror or die a painful death, but do pay attention if the CD is shouting, “Cut, CUT, CUT!!!” We gather pretty quickly that you can scream; we don’t need our neighbors calling the cops.

Authority Figures (detectives, doctors, experts) tend to demand down-to-earth, truthful performances, but identify whether the circumstances that confront them are run-of-the-mill or unusual. Supernatural phenomena may be completely normal in some stories. Weird creature names and terminology should roll off your tongue if your character is used to saying them. Research proper pronunciations (or ask!) before memorizing lines. It’s a dead giveaway to producers that you’ve never seen their show when you can’t pronounce terms common in their scripts.

Playing a Character role? The nosy neighbor, the disheveled hermit, the alien being, the creepy voyeur: These are the kinds of parts that you can really experiment with in genre film and TV. Since you may only get one take in the audition, though, preface by saying, “I’m going to try something fun here, but I can always rein it in, if it’s too over the top.” (This is preferable to asking for a second take.) Be prepared with a very straightforward, understated reading, in case they ask.

5. Use your fear. Auditions are nerve-wracking, so channel that energy into your character. It’s easy to convey fear when you’re already feeling it. Not to mention that a good blood-curdling scream releases tension and helps vent frustration. Relish it!

Link to original article.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

23 Must-Follow L.A. CDs on Twitter

by admin

This week, Lana somewhat curiously made Backstage‘s list of the top Los Angeles-based casting directors to follow on Twitter.

While it’s an unusual honor–seeing that she’s actually based in Portland, Oregon–there are quite a few CDs on this list whom actors may want to track down on Twitter and follow themselves.

(We also spot at least one New York-based CD, but nonetheless, the advice is good!)

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 12.17.20 PM

You’re an actor—you already know that the going can get tough. And if you live in L.A., you’re familiar with seeking out the tiniest edge that will slip you ahead of your competitors. To help you find that edge, we’ve compiled a list of 23 must-follow casting directors on Twitter (listed alphabetically below). Whether they’re tweeting about audition tips or just reacting to what they’re watching on TV, their insights can be beneficial. Besides, it doesn’t hurt having your name pop up as a notification in their Twitter account.

1. Amy Jo Berman

Amy Jo Berman is former Vice President of Casting at HBO and for 14 years has overseen the casting of over 150 films, mini-series, and series. She is the founder of Audition Polish, a membership-based audition coaching program that has helped actors around the globe nail their auditions on the first take.

2. Risa Bramon Garcia

Risa Bramon Garcia is partnered with Steve Braun in The BGB Studio, dedicated to revolutionary acting and audition training. For the past 30 years Bramon Garcia has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher, collaborating with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the world.

3. Tracy Byrd

Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd is a Brooklyn-born and raised casting director with more than 24 years of experience in the industry. Byrd has the vision to spot actors who can bring complicated and nuanced story lines from page to motion picture. Her work on the Sundance/Cannes-winning film “Fruitvale Station,” Stomp the Yard,” “The Blind Side,” “Notorious,” “Jumping the Broom,” and “Sparkle” prove as much. Byrd has spent decades channeling her super power of finding the perfect person for every character.

4. Dream Big Casting

Casting Directors Sherrie Henderson & Dan Velez of Dream Big Casting say its misson is, ” … to provide affordable casting with creative passion and the determination to leave “no stone unturned” (as the great Mali Finn used to say), at the level of any other casting director working in Los Angeles today, or anywhere worldwide.”

5. Danielle Eskinazi

Danielle Eskinazi is an award-winning casting director. With more than two decades casting films, television, theater, and commercials, Eskinazi has cast such talent as David Bowie, Rosanna Arquette, and Woody Harrelson, while also launching the careers of now-successful actors including Hank Azaria and Milla Jovovich.

6. Geralyn Flood

From Twitter: “NYer for life, LA for now. Sometimes I cast actors in shows you might watch.”

7. Gohar Gazazyan

Gohar is a Casting Director with Bialy/Thomas & Associates. In her six years with Bialy/Thomas, Gohar has collaborated on the casting of a variety of projects including numerous television series and pilots as well as feature films and theatre.

8. Bonnie Gillespie

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. She casts SAG-AFTRA indie feature films and series.

9. Jeremy Gordon

Jeremy Gordon is known for his work on “We’re the Millers,” “The Wolverine,” and “Knight and Day.”

10. Ivy Isenberg

From Twitter: “Casting Director living in LA, Credits include TripTank, Call of Duty, ROBOT CHICKEN, STARGATE SG-1, CURSE OF CHUCKY,etc-PROUD TO BE A GEEK !!!! ;)”

11. Matthew Lessall

From Twitter: “Casting Director, lover of film, television, theatre and of course, great acting…”

12. Caroline Liem

Caroline Liem is a casting director, audition coach and teacher based in Los Angeles. She has cast independent films, studio features, and television pilot/series.

13. Marci Liroff

From Twitter: “Casting Director, Producer, Acting Coach, Animal Rights Activist, Social Media Consultant, food lover, & all around cool chick.”

14. Ricki Maslar

Ricki Maslar, CSA is a successful casting director and producer with over thirty five years’ experience in the entertainment industry.

15. Killian McHugh

From Twitter: “Commercial Casting Director / Workshop offered with a unique, effective approach that yields national bookings and exponential self growth.”

16. Helen McCready

From Twitter: “I am an independent casting director for feature film and TV.”

17. Mike Page

From Twitter: “Manager of Casting for TNT & TBS. Just your basic Colorado guy who moved to Hollywood. Haven’t yet given up my faith in humanity. ;)”

18. David Rapaport

Casting Director for “Arrow,” and “The Flash.”

19. Cathy Reinking

From Twitter: “20 Years in the Casting Trenches (Emmy-Winning Network TV, film, theatre, web).”

20. Jen Rudin

Jen Rudin is an award-winning New York based Casting Director and audition coach, and author of the book Confessions of a Casting Director. She owns and operates Jen Rudin Casting which casts for film, television, animation and theater.

21. Russell Scott

Casting Director at Bialy/Thomas & Associates.

22. Stuart Stone Casting

“Stuart Stone Casting has an uncanny ability to find the most engaging, fresh and original talent in any medium.”

23. Lana Veenker

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, Cast Iron Studios.

Thanks, Backstage! It’s an honor to be listed in such great company.

Link to original article.

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don’t Miss These 10 Actor Workshops and Panels at Portland Film Fest!

by admin

Our friends over at the Portland Film Festival are offering a line up of workshops tailored just for actors, along with a panel discussing women in film. Details are below.

Here’s a link to tickets for all the events with information about pricing. Both SAG-AFTRA events are free.

Psst: Don’t miss Casting Director Lana Veenker on Wednesday, August 27th and Casting Director Eryn Goodman on Thursday, August 28th!

 

Women in Film Networking Event & Panel
Wednesday, August 27 • 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Mission Theater 1624 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209

Come out and listen to a panel of professionals in the film industry. Networking before and after. This is the monthly meetup for the WOMEN IN FILM non-profit in Portland, Oregon. Anyone interested in film should attend and learn from the over 50 years of experience from panelists. Space is limited. RSVP today.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt and Amy Conway
Speakers: Abbe Meryl Feder, Tara Johnson-Medinger, Alicia J. Rose, Lana Veenker

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Living & Working in LA
Wednesday, August 27 • 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Pro Photo Supply Event Center – 1801 NW Northrup Street, Portland, OR 97209

You’ve trained, you’ve studied, and you’ve been on set and in local theater productions. Thinking about taking the next step in your career and moving to Hollywood? Prepare yourself to succeed. Come take part in our Q&A and listen to experienced actors talk about the reality of living and working in LA.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt
Speakers: Abbe Meryl Feder and Blake Robbins

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Working with Casting Directors
Thursday, August 28 • 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Pro Photo Supply Event Center – 1801 NW Northrup Street, Portland, OR 97209

Getting in front of casting directors can be one of the biggest challenges in the industry. Eryn Goodman of Cast Iron Studios leads this discussion on how to get in the door, and the best way to impress them once you do.

Speaker: Eryn Goodman

Tickets

Actors Workshop: How to Get & Work with an Agent
Thursday, August 28 • 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Pro Photo Supply Event Center – 1801 NW Northrup Street, Portland, OR 97209

Everybody knows that to be a professional actor you have to have the best possible agent on your team. Listen to two of Portland’s top agents talk about how to win a spot on their roster, and the best ways to keep that relationship running smoothly once you’re there.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt
Speakers: Cholee Thompson and Dennis Troutman

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Directors on Actors
Friday, August 29 • 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Private Rooftop 1015 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

In this workshop, directors will discuss all areas of working with actors and why they love them. We’ll cover what they look for in casting, the best ways to communicate on set, and what makes a great actor different from the rest.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt
Speaker: Emilie Sabath and Jason Satterlund

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Improv for Actors
Friday, August 29 • 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Private Rooftop 1015 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

Throughout film, television and the internet many of the most hilarious, poignant and gripping performances have at their core the immediate authenticity of improvisation. Currently auditioning actors have become very familiar with requests for “strong improv skills.” This workshop pushes beyond quick wit and wild characters and hones the skills of Strong Choices, Responsive Listening and Authentic Dialogue. Create relationships in an instant, and fuel them with taut honesty that grabs attention and captivates audiences for film/TV and stage alike.

Speaker: Nicholas Kessler

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Auditioning
Saturday, August 30 • 1:30pm – 3:00pm
5th Avenue Cinema 510 SW Hall Street Portland OR 97201

Time and time again actors fall into the same auditioning traps. Learn how to properly prepare for and exexcute your best possible audition, what casting directors are looking for, and what skills you need to take your career to the next level.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt
Speakers: Todd Robinson and Ted Rooney

Tickets

“We’re Here to Make a Movie”: SAG-AFTRA Indie Theatrical & New Media Agreements
Saturday, August 30 • 3:00pm – 4:30pm
5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall Street, Portland, OR 97201

Have you ever wanted to hire SAG-AFTRA performers for a project, but were frightened away by the prospect of filling out “All that union paperwork”? Are you new to filmmaking and curious about the various low-budget agreements offered? The SAG-AFTRA Indie Theatrical and New Media Agreements have been created specifically to accommodate the needs of student & emerging filmmakers. In this workshop you’ll get the “inside scoop” on how you can hire union talent for your next production!

Topics Will Include:

  • Importance of adding talent into any proposed project’s budget
  • Informed discussion of basic Union contracts & their benefits
  • Raising the bar of legitimacy by hiring TOP industry professionals

This workshop is a “must attend” for producers, directors, actors and film school students interested in educating themselves on the ease of using SAG-AFTRA contracts to hire the most highly skilled professionals available for future film and New Media projects.

Speaker: Chris Comte

Tickets

SAG/AFTRA Actors Networking Event
Saturday, August 30 • 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Wallace Park 1600 NW 25th Ave, Portland, OR 97210

Network with other acting professionals. Limited Capacity seats available.

Tickets

Actors Workshop: Marketing for Actors
Sunday, August 31 • 12:00pm – 1:30pm
5th Avenue Cinema 510 SW Hall Street Portland OR 97201

What do you need as an actor in today’s competitive market? These are the several marketing tools that will put you in the running for roles. Learn how to make sure yours are up to par, and make sure you’re employing everything you can to get noticed and be cast.

Moderator: Alexandra Blatt
Speakers: Levy Moroshan, Rich Morris, Cholee Thompson

Tickets

Films, music, and more!

For more information about the festival, click over to http://portlandfilmfestival.com.

If you’d like to receive an early morning email from the festival with a rundown of hot films, sign up for their mailing list.

There are over 154 hours of film waiting for you. Whether you’re into documentaries, animation, drama, or comedy, they’ve got you covered.

Have a great time at the festival!

Friday, June 27, 2014

13 Travel Tips for Actors

by admin

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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

8 Tips for Starting a Life and Career in Portland

by admin

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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 Ways to Recognize an Acting or Modeling Scam

by admin

Lana’s latest expert column, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAOne day, when I was about 19, my friend Rich* showed up on my doorstep gushing that a “talent scout” had stopped him on the street on the way over.

The scout was seeking young, attractive teens for music videos, Vespa and Coca-Cola commercials, he said, and Rich had exactly the look they needed. Rich eagerly gave the man his address and phone number. They arranged a meeting for him to give Rich all the details.

When Rich arrived at his office a few days later, the scout apologized: “I’m sorry, but those commercials have been cast, and the music videos are on hold, but there’s still an opportunity for you to appear in some movies…if you’re interested.” Little by little, it came out that these films were of a pornographic nature. By then, the man had spun such a web of riches and fame that Rich began to believe this scout really did hold the keys to his success.

Bedazzled, Rich announced he was moving to Los Angeles. He explained that he would only have to appear in one or two of these films, after which the scout had promised he could move onto more mainstream projects. I was horrified, and tried to make Rich see how he had been tricked. “Someone might try to drug or hurt you!” I warned. Away from the smooth-talking talent scout, the spell wore off, and Rich realized this man was a con artist. He immediately called to say that he had changed his mind. The man urged him to reconsider, but Rich stood his ground.

This would have been the end of the story, except that Rich had given this man all of his contact info. For about a week, the scout called Rich at all hours, and showed up at his apartment unannounced. Holding his breath each time the doorbell rang, Rich sat in the dark pretending he wasn’t home. One day, the man came around the side of the building and started yelling in the window, threatening him. As he hid from sight, Rich shouted back that he was going to call the police. At last, the man fled, and Rich never heard from him again.

How could anyone fall for such a scam or believe that porn could help one’s acting career? Under normal circumstances, Rich never would have agreed to something so dubious, but his desire for fame—coupled with youth and inexperience—clouded his judgment. He began to think the sacrifice would be worth it, if only he could have the lifestyle he dreamt of. In fact, this scout was an excellent (and dangerous) con artist. He knew exactly how to target and spellbind susceptible young people.

Bait-and-switch is a common technique used by scam artists. You hear a radio advertisement or spot an online ad touting “Paid gigs for actors and models, no experience necessary!” Or someone stops you in a shopping mall, saying you’ve got the look to be a star, and invites you to an audition at a “talent agency.”

When you show up, no one seems interested in your background or skills (or alternatively, they rave about how amazing you are, without knowing much about you). Their true goal, you discover, is to sign you up for expensive “talent competitions,” classes, or photo packages. They use the lure of fame and fortune to cloud your judgment and get you to open your pocketbook:

No, you can’t go home to think about it. You have to decide now. If you don’t buy today, the price will go up. If you’re not willing to fork over the cash, you’re obviously not serious about your career. Now, please sign on the dotted line. 

Here are some reminders to help you avoid talent and modeling scams:

1. There’s no harm in someone teaching acting classes or selling headshots, as long as that’s what they are advertising. If you thought you were going to an audition or a meeting to discuss representation, but the conversation is all about you buying something, that is a bait-and-switch!

2. Some casting calls may be “no experience necessary,” but they should be exactly that: a casting call. You come in, fill out some paperwork, get your photo taken, and are perhaps recorded on video. They’ll call if they decide to hire you. No one tries to sell you anything, and there’s no fee to audition.

3. Reputable model and talent agencies are highly selective. If you show up and they are immediately willing to sign you regardless of your experience or suitability, question their motives—especially if they ask for money.

4. Bona fide agencies don’t require you to take their classes or use their photographer. They may provide a list of recommended coaches or photographers in your area, but they should not pressure you to use a specific one, or try to sell you something in their agency agreement.

5. Legitimate agents make a commission off the gigs they find for you. If they engage in hard-sell techniques for classes, photos, contests or representation, beware. That’s how they’re making their money, not by finding you work.

*A version of Rich’s story previously appeared in Lana’s Tools for Actors newsletter. His name has been changed to protect confidentiality.

For more articles on recognizing scams, check out this post on Lana’s blog.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!


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.

Link to original article.

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

8 Tips for Mastering Monologues

by admin

Lana’s latest Expert column, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAFretting over a monologue audition? Fear not. A monologue can be your moment to shine. Grab the bull by the horns with these great tips.

1. Keep it short. Just because you’ve been allotted two or three minutes doesn’t mean you have to choose a monologue that runs the full length of your time slot. A minute is usually enough for us to get a good idea of your type and skill level, so why not focus on nailing a shorter piece rather than memorizing more lines? Or choose two short, contrasting pieces (i.e., modern-classical or serious-comedic) to demonstrate your range.

2. Don’t go with the trendiest, coolest monologue. It’s probably being done a lot. At our last round of auditions, we saw a handful of actors performing the same scenes from recent films and plays. Likewise, if you are planning to use a monologue that your acting coach assigned you to learn for class, find out if other actors under their tutelage are also learning it. You may end up in the same audition room with three other Blanches or Desdemonas.

3. If in doubt, choose your funny, light piece. One tearful or angry audition after another can be draining to watch during a long day of casting. A humorous monologue well delivered, especially in the afternoon when energies are starting to flag, is most welcome.

4. Don’t slate like a robot; be yourself! If asked to slate your name or any other information, infuse it with your friendly, personable self. Some acting teachers grill their students (often kids and beginners) to slate the same way every time. Unfortunately, their slates end up devoid of personality—even becoming cringe-worthy—if all the actors from the same coach perform them like clones. We want to know that you’re fun, competent, self-assured, and easy to work with. Just make sure to demonstrate these qualities in your slate.

5. Don’t play the problem in the scene; overcome the problem. We tend to see a lot of Sturm und Drang in the audition room. Actors love to shout to the heavens and produce tears, but intense emotional pieces only work when their characters rise above their problems to pursue the outcome they are hoping for, despite the obstacles facing them. Wallowing in self-pity or projecting nothing but anger never works.

6. Choose a point of focus… Since you don’t have a reader or a real-life scene partner to play off of during a monologue, it can be confusing to know where in the room to plant your eyeballs. Rather than letting them float around aimlessly, choose a point of focus where you can anchor your gaze and direct your lines, whether it be the back wall, a seat in the auditorium at eye level, a lighting instrument, or just to the side of camera; whatever is appropriate to the situation.

7. …And don’t make it the casting director. Whatever you do, don’t force the person auditioning you to be your scene partner, unless specifically requested. It makes it extremely uncomfortable for them to look away or to jot down notes. It could even draw focus from your performance; at a recent audition, an actor decided to deliver her entire piece from “The Vagina Monologues” straight into the casting director’s eyes. One word: awkward.

8. Revel in it. Remember why you got into acting in the first place? To become another character, to move people, to entertain, to tell stories, to express yourself in ways you may not always get to in real life. Do that in your audition. It is a performance, no matter how short it is. Entertain, engage, soak it in, and make it yours.

Original article here. For more tips, check out Lana’s previous monologue article for Backstage.

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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 Major Faux Pas to Avoid on Set

by admin

Last month, Lana asked actors to submit their biggest on-set gaffes to help prevent other actors from committing the same mistakes. Here’s her latest column, based on the valuable (and cringe-worthy!) examples they submitted, courtesy of Backstage.

(Names have been omitted to protect the guilty, but feel free to take credit for your fantastic submission in the comments, if you dare!)

Lana Veenker CSAEarly in my career, I was invited to the set of a film I had cast. The producer seated me near the monitors and gave me a headset, so I could see and hear the action. Imagine my horror when my cell phone went off in the middle of a take, ruining the shot. I’ll never forget the crew’s faces as I panicked to turn the thing off.

The good news is that it has never happened to me again.

In hopes of sparing you from similar faux pas, I asked around for the best examples of actors’ worst on-set nightmares. Kudos to ye who submitted these fantastic tips, all based on actual occurrences. Read and take heed…or prepare to bleed!

1. Working with cameras and mics.
“One of my most embarrassing acting memories was forgetting I was miked.”
Between takes, the crew can hear your every word. Never make fun of, hit on, gossip, or gripe about your colleagues. This is one of the most common on-set blunders.
See also: looking into the camera; not being off book.

2. Handling food and drink.
“During the lunch break, I dipped my tie into the BBQ sauce and soiled my white shirt.”
Protect your wardrobe from spills and stains. Also avoid overeating—or eating the wrong foods—on a shoot day, otherwise, as one actress put it, “your stomach may improvise its own lines.”
See also: pocketing craft service items for later; chewing gum on camera. 

3. Blocking and moving around.
“Once I walked into the lead actor’s line of sight during a take, and let me tell you, he was furious.”
Similarly, if you fail to watch your back-to-one, you just might kick your “unconscious” co-star in the head, not realizing how close they are to your feet. There’s a lot happening on set, so be hyper-aware of your surroundings.
See also: missing your mark, tripping on cables; bumping into lighting instruments and set dec.

4. Interacting with the set and props.
“I peed into a toilet that was actually part of the set.”
Know what you’re allowed to use and not use on a set. If unsure, ask!
See also: taking a bite out of waxed fruit they were going to use later as a prop.

5. Negotiating hair, make-up, and wardrobe.
“I thought I blew my audition for a guest role, so I cut my hair very short the next day. When I booked it, they freaked.”
Ask before changing your look whenever you’re up for—or have booked—a role.
See also: shaving your beard after your character has been established; forgetting sunscreen and getting sunburned on set; not bringing everything Wardrobe has requested or not wearing exactly what they asked you to wear.

6. Making people wait.
“I had to pee for at least an hour, and when I finally did jump off set, I failed to tell the AD. When I returned, I got the ‘Where the hell were you?’ vibe and they never hired me again.”
Relieve yourself before being called to set. Always inform the first or second AD if you need to leave for any reason, and pay attention in case your name is called. Everyone’s tired; they don’t want to wait for you.
See also: wandering to craft service for a latte without telling anyone; heading to base camp when everyone else is returning to set.

7. Losing focus.
“Don’t listen to the lead who tells you funny anecdotes and keeps at it until you break. SHE gets away with it because she is a mega star. You are not going to get out of it unscathed.”
We all like to have a good time on set, but remember that production is on the clock, and every minute costs money. Be friendly, but don’t allow others—including the names—to distract you too far from the task at hand.
See also: freaking out, swearing, or having a meltdown after blowing a line.

8. Knowing your place.
“I sat in the star’s chair for 10 minutes before the director approached and sent me to base camp. I recall a group staring at me, including the lead actor, who was very tired.”
Set regulars may seethe when actors or background usurp their assigned chairs. Don’t do it, unless you’ve been expressly invited.
See also: announcing impatiently to the director after a take, “We got the shot, we’re moving on!”

9. Behaving awkwardly or unprofessionally.
“I once stared straight at the lead actor when I was an extra. Like, intensely staring. I thought we were having a moment. We were told the next day that we were not allowed to make eye contact with the actors.”
Everyone gets a little star-struck at times, but try not to unnerve co-workers by gawking, blurting out how much you love their work, or otherwise acting weird.
See also: cracking insensitive jokes; blatantly hitting on someone; being intoxicated on set.

10. Knowing whom you are working with.
“I asked the lead where the coffee cups were, because I thought she was Craft Service.”
Another actor nearly scolded a famous director for calling “Cut!” not knowing that the director was playing a small cameo opposite him. Read the call sheet, and if necessary, research the VIPs you’ll be working with prior to arrival, so that you recognize them.
See also: initiating small talk with a crew member about a celebrity who committed suicide, only to find out it was his father; raving about a famous actor to his ex-flame, then discovering Make-Up has been instructed to make you “look ugly.”

11. Being upfront about your abilities.
“I was asked to force the lead actor to the ground, handcuff him, pick him up, and slam him on the police car hood. Instead of admitting this was incredibly intimidating, I tried to pick the handcuffed star off the ground, and accidentally dropped him.”
Speak up if you’re nervous about doing something, and don’t pretend to know a skill that you don’t. Otherwise, you’re inviting disaster.
See also: volunteering to jump over a stair rail in a chase scene and then eating it; not mentioning you’ve lost your voice until you’re on set and have to be replaced.

12. Maintaining confidentiality.
“I posted a photo of myself in the make-up chair of a TV series. I was then told that was a career-ender.”
Networks and studios are paranoid about plot points and casting choices being disclosed prematurely, so photos on set are a no-no. The same goes for commercial shoots: products and marketing strategies are confidential prior to release. Do yourself a favor and put the smartphone away.
See also: spoiling the season finale of a TV series on Twitter, invoking not only the rage of fans, but a public lambasting by the executive producer. 

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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

11 Tips for Monologue-Challenged Actors

by admin

Lana’s latest expert column, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAEach December, our casting company joins others across the country to host a Meals for Monologues event. Anyone and everyone can be seen by our casting directors in exchange for a few cans of food. Actors are given two-minute time slots, during which they can perform one or two monologues of their choosing. We have a blast discovering new faces—and new facets to actors we already know—and our local food bank reaps the benefit.

Do you dread monologues? You’re not alone. Since we typically use sides in auditions during the year, many actors fret about what to prepare and what to expect. Let these tips transform your monologue from a loathsome chore into a mini-performance.

1. Find out what types of pieces are acceptable. Should you do one monologue or two contrasting ones? Classic or contemporary? Serious or comedic? How long is your time slot? Will you be asked to sing? (In our case, we request contemporary monologues, since we rarely cast period pieces or musicals.)

2. Know whom you are auditioning for and what types of projects they cast. What are the names of the people behind the table? Can you find their photos online so that you recognize them upon arrival? What are they currently casting and what do they typically cast? Knowing your audience will help you select an appropriate piece.

3. Choose a monologue that features you in a role you might easily be cast in. If you’re a young leading man type, don’t attempt King Lear or Caliban. Choose something in your wheelhouse, especially if you’re just starting out. Help the casting director picture you in a suitable, age-appropriate role. Don’t make their job more difficult.

4. Or, go against type to demonstrate your range. If you’re an experienced actor always getting called in for the same types of characters, try mixing things up. If casting directors only think of you for comedic parts, knock their socks off with a poignant, dramatic piece. Nail it, and you just may renew a casting director’s enthusiasm about your work.

5. Avoid monologues you’ve written yourself—unless you’re really, really good. Performing your own material is risky. Casting directors may focus on the quality of your writing, instead of your acting. They may assume you haven’t been hired on any real projects, that you have problems memorizing others’ material, or even that you may be difficult to work with. Keep the casting directors focused on your performance, not wondering why you didn’t choose a published piece. If you do present your own work, make sure it’s flawless, and don’t say you wrote it when you slate. Just state the title and role you’re playing and jump in. If they love it, you can always reveal the author’s identity afterwards. (Wink, wink!)

6. Read the whole script. This goes without saying. Give yourself the best chance by understanding your role in its full context. Even if you find a piece in a book of monologues, go back and read the original script as you research your character.

7. Know your monologue backwards, forwards, and inside and out. Nerves on audition day are par for the course so be sure that you’re fully prepared and that the monologue is so much a part of you that you could improvise the whole thing, if need be. Just found out about the audition and your monologue isn’t entirely polished? Better to wait for the next opportunity. You don’t want the casting director’s first impression to be you going up on your lines.

8. Time your monologue precisely. Choose pieces that run a little short of your allotted time. Practice performing them with a stopwatch to make sure you don’t go over. It’s no fun to have the casting director interrupt you mid-sentence to inform you that time’s up.

9. At the audition, state your name clearly, along with the title, role, and writer’s name. When entering the audition space, don’t be so nervous that you launch right into your monologue without an introduction. Let the auditors know who you are and what you’ll be performing. Allow your personality to shine through during your slate, demonstrating the fun and positive human being that you are. Smile and gain your poise. Those first few seconds are critical.

10. Own the space and think of it as a performance. Once you begin your monologue, forget about it being an audition. Claim the space and invite the audience into your world, as if it were a real performance. (It actually is.) We want to be moved, entertained, and drawn into the story. Strut your stuff!

11. If time runs out before you finish, end gracefully. If your audition runs long and someone calls “TIME!” don’t get flustered, angry, or apologetic. Simply stop, break into a huge smile, say thank you, and exit confidently. Going over won’t damage your employment prospects, but having a meltdown in front of the CD might.

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.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Things To Do If You Think You’ve Been Blacklisted

by admin

Think you’ve been blacklisted by a casting office? Here are a few things to consider from the casting side. Lana’s latest column, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAIn response to my article, 10 Tips for Surviving a Bad Audition, an actor I know sent us this (edited) message:

You speak of a “next time.” What if it takes an actor literally years to get another opportunity to audition? If an actor blows it in 2009 and hasn’t been called in for a decent role since—in spite of keeping up with classes, losing weight, keeping a current look and headshots to match, in spite of lots of self-reflection and therapy, in spite of doing all the things you recommend, but still can’t get a foot in the door anymore—what then? I would love to hear your thoughts about how an actor can survive being blacklisted, and advice on how to redeem oneself. Thanks!

Surprised that she thought our office had blacklisted her, we contacted her for further information. She described a disastrous appearance on a show we’d cast her in a few years back, and thought that we’d stopped calling her due to bad reports from production. She lamented having only had four auditions in four years, and regretted having fallen out of our graces.

It was enlightening to hear her side of the story, and easy to see how she had come to this interpretation of events. We appreciated her candor. The funny thing was, we didn’t consider the actor blacklisted at all!

Her message taught us a few things about how the casting process feels from the actor’s side. Here are a few things to consider from the casting side.

1. Are you sure you’ve been blacklisted? We never heard a peep from production regarding this actor’s performance. As far as we knew, she’d done a great job. And she had a memorable turn in a feature film we cast a while back, so for us, there was no problem! (See also Tip #5 on blunders from my last article.)

2. Find out if you’re really to blame before you start blaming yourself. Sometimes productions and casting sessions themselves are stressful, disorganized, and rife with conflict. Actors may be unaware of the climate they’re walking into and blame themselves when tensions flare.

3. Try not to take things so personally. It’s not always about you. Not long after I started casting, an actor I knew to be talented seemed very nervous in the audition room. When I asked if everything was okay, she burst into tears, saying that we hadn’t called her in to read a single time since her first audition for me six months prior. She thought she’d been blacklisted.

The truth was, I had only just opened up shop, and had hardly landed any casting jobs myself during that period. It wasn’t that her first reading was terrible. It was that I was unemployed!

4. Consider other possible reasons why the phone may have stopped ringing. These are not in any way directed at the actors above, but are general reasons why an actor may not be getting called in.

We love you, but…

Things are dead around the casting office.
We’re casting a film and there are no roles in the script for your type.
We’re casting only one TV series, and you’ve already appeared on it.
We’re casting mostly non-union gigs, and you’re union.
We’re casting mostly union gigs, and you’re non-union.
You’ve moved into a new category (due to age, weight, etc.) that’s harder to find roles for.
You were on the audition shortlist, only to be bumped off due to the limited number of timeslots.
You were on the schedule, until your agent informed us that you were unavailable.
You’re going up against really stiff competition and didn’t make the cut. (Sorry!)
You’re too good for the small parts, so we’re holding out for the right opportunity.
You’ve come in too frequently in a short amount of time and clients want to see new faces.
You’ve been off your game recently, so we’re giving others an opportunity while you get your head back together. We’ll circle back.
You’re too green. We’re waiting for you to gain more experience before we call you back in.
A specific client has irrationally decided they don’t like you. We’re waiting to be working with new clients, so we can start bringing you in again.
We’re simply unaware that you haven’t been in in a while. It’s hard to keep track!

5. If you’re pretty sure things have gone awry, ask your reps to do some sleuthing. A quick call from their reps to the casting director’s office could have quelled these actors’ fears and saved them a considerable amount of stress. It would have also brought their circumstances to our attention, so we could make sure we weren’t unintentionally overlooking them. (I generally would not recommend an actor inquire directly with casting, but to use an intermediary to neutralize the info.)

6. Let it go. Positive you made a bad impression somewhere along the way? Make amends through your agent—if they think it’s a good idea—shake the dust off, and let it go. Maintain a positive attitude and look towards the future.

7. Show them what you’re really made of. Early in my career, after messing up on a casting job, a producer told me, “You’ll never work in this town again!” I’ve proven her wrong several hundred times. You can do the same. Just keep getting better.

Focus on your craft. Go out and get some new credits. Produce and star in your own movie or web series. Keep honing your skills. Concentrate on your marketing and training. Remind casting directors that you’re actively pursuing your career and getting work. Make them want to find out what all the fuss is!

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 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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

10 Tips for Surviving a Bad Audition

by admin

Lana’s latest column, courtesy of Backstage!

Lana Veenker CSASo you tanked that big, important audition? Hang in there. Here is some advice to help lessen the pain.

1. Are you sure you blew it? I’ve often heard actors say, “I was terrible. I can’t believe I booked the job.” I’ve also heard them say, “Why didn’t they hire me? I thought I’d nailed it.” Countless elements of the final casting decisions have no relation to your read so don’t sweat it. It’s very possible that you did just fine.

2. Let it go. If you’re sure your audition was a stinker, don’t beat yourself up. We all have good days and bad. If you have a solid track record, it’s unlikely to affect your future prospects. Even if it was your first audition for a particular casting director and you really bombed it, they may not even remember a few months down the road. (I can rarely recall auditions from one week to the next—good or bad. There’s not enough brain space to retain that much data over time.)

3. Analyze it. Instead of a pity party, see if you can objectively analyze what went wrong. Did your nerves get the best of you? Figure out what to do next time to stay more centered. Were you rusty? Maybe it’s time to get back into a cold-reading class. Was it the part? Some roles you just can’t connect with, even if you’ve learned the lines and figured out your intentions. So be it.

4. Keep an audition log. Make it your practice to keep an audition log so you can detect patterns, identify what works, and repeat the experience. How can you recreate conditions that lead to successful reads? Psyching yourself into the right mood? Getting a good night’s sleep? Leaving a few minutes earlier, so you’re not circling the block looking for parking when you should be getting centered?

5. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to your blunders. No one may have noticed that you messed up your lines or that your head wasn’t in the scene. I’ve received apologies from actors outlining all the ways they failed their audition, when I hadn’t particularly noticed. Sure, it may not have been their best read, but I hadn’t perceived it as a massive failure—until they assured me it was.

6. Start over. If you recognize early in your read that things are going downhill, stop immediately and say, “Hang on, I’m starting again.” Wait a beat for the camera operator to reset the shot, then start over without a fuss.

7. Don’t start over late in your read, though. Instead, use Michael Shurtleff’s “blame or give” strategy, from his classic book “Audition: Everything You Need to Know to Get the Part,” to radically change direction and jolt yourself out of it. Shurtleff writes, “Use whatever words the script provides you at the moment of need to create an outburst of blame that will rock your partner off her feet. Then, if you feel so bad about unleashing your wrath upon an innocent partner, follow it with a total, unexpected opposite: You can make up for your dreadful conduct of falsely blaming her by offering her your love.”

8. Read “Audition.” If you haven’t read Shurtleff’s book, pick it up immediately.

9. Ask for a second read. After a disastrous read, you can always try and ask for a second one, if you’re confident you can do better. You may not get the opportunity, but if the casting director says, “Sure, go ahead,” make this take significantly different from your first. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a mediocre audition, only to have to sit through the same one a second time. Take a moment to focus, renew your resolve, or do whatever you need to ensure your second read is the audition you had in mind when you entered the room.

10. Don’t let it affect your work. Remember this: An actor who continues to improve his or her craft will ultimately not be affected by a few less-than-perfect performances. I messed up early in my career on a casting job or two, due to inexperience or nerves. Over the years, the same producers—most of whom scarcely recall my early gaffes—have hired me again. Keep perfecting your skills, and each experience will build on the previous one. And if one of your reads doesn’t go so well, be grateful for the accelerated learning opportunity that mistakes provide.

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 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.

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.

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

Link to original article.

Monday, March 18, 2013

12 Steps To Surviving Open Casting Calls For Parents

by ranielle

Lana Veenker CSAWhile we rarely conduct open calls, sometimes clients request them for specific reasons. And so it was that several hundred babies, kids, and toddlers recently tottered through our doors over the course of a long Saturday. Afterwards, my team and I compiled this list for parents to make the process easier.

Courtesy of Backstage.

 

 

 

 

1. Confirm that it’s a bonafide audition, not a bait-and-switch. Real casting calls are free. If it turns out they’re selling classes, photos, or talent competitions—or someone offers to “represent” your child for a fee—it’s not an audition, it’s a sales pitch. Research, read up, and ask around.

2. Make sure your kids fit the specs exactly. If we’re looking for 5-year-olds, we’re not looking for 11-year-olds. Children who don’t fit the specs slow the process down for everyone.

3. Don’t burn them out on the lines. If there are lines to learn, consider soliciting an acting teacher’s help, if you’re not an actor yourself. Kids can have a certain delivery drilled into them by well-intentioned parents, rendering them impervious to direction. (Check out this article for more great advice!)

4. Read carefully and follow all instructions (photos to bring, wardrobe, arrival time, etc.). Don’t be the dad who shows up on the wrong day, or the mom who clogs the casting director’s inboxes with questions that have already been answered.

5. Dress and groom kids appropriately. Keep outfits simple. No fancy dresses or weird shoes; it’s not Easter. Barring specific requests, we want kids being KIDS in their regular play clothes. (Please, no heavy make-up or high heels on young girls. That’s just creepy.)

6. No sugar prior to the audition. Well-behaved children often start bouncing around like ping-pong balls or succumb to mood swings after consuming empty carbs. This creates chaos in the waiting area and reduced focus in the studio. Keep healthy snacks on hand and distribute sweets afterwards, if you must.

7. Leave siblings and other miscellaneous humans at home. It’s not always feasible, but your efforts to help are truly appreciated. We may only be auditioning 200 youngsters, but with parents and siblings in tow, it can add up to 600 people over the course of the day, wearing everyone down.

8. Have your child’s info handy and current (height, weight, date of birth, clothing/shoe sizes). And please relay it to whoever brings the child to the audition (grandma, dad, etc.).

9. Be patient. Casting directors try to run a tight ship, but sometimes there’s still a wait. Bring something quiet for you and your children to do.

10. Smile: It’s your audition, too! Our clients are just as interested to know if you’re going to be easy to work with as your offspring!

11. Don’t force a child to audition. And no need to be embarrassed if your child acts up on a particular day. Kids go through phases and just because they aren’t into it today doesn’t mean we’ll overlook them next time.

12. Celebrate afterwards. Help kids enjoy the experience, without putting too much pressure on them.

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 NBC’s Grimm, now in its second 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 Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, 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.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

8 Tips for Networking at Film Festivals

by admin

On assignment at this year’s BerlinaleLana Veenker CSA, Casting Director Lana Veenker asked actors from a dozen countries for their top networking tips. Here is their best advice!

Courtesy of Backstage.

 

 

 

 

1. Commit. If your film is accepted in a festival and you can afford to go, GO! It’s an excellent opportunity to meet people in the context of your work. Relationships may form and doors may open. You’ll also feel like you have a reason for being there. You’re not just a hanger-on, but an integral part of the festivities.

2. Prepare. Once you’ve committed, conduct a little research. Which films will be screening? Who would you like to meet? Be realistic and read up on the smaller independent films. Chances are slim you’ll be hanging with Tarantino or Clooney, but an up-and-coming director whose work intrigues you could turn into a good contact so familiarize yourself ahead of time and purchase screening tickets. Some multilingual actors even reach out to attending filmmakers to offer their services as translators. Smart cookies!

3. Get Invited. Festivals occasionally post lists of the major parties on their websites. If you contact them early enough, you might score some invites. Seek out Facebook pages or other groups organizing parties or get-togethers. Join the conversation and you may already have friends on the ground when you arrive. Be sure to pack business cards that include your photo, contact info and a link to your reel.

4. Sleuth. Once you’ve touched down, identify where people hang out. Clock the nearest fast food joint to the main theaters. One actor said everyone from movie stars to producers zip over for a quick bite between screenings, and he’s met a lot of people this way. Nearby restaurants and cafés will do the same trick. For longer conversations, hotel lobbies and bars are prime hotspots.

5. Participate. Certainly attend screenings of your own film, but check out others as well then stick around afterwards to chat. The best icebreakers are conversations about the movie you just watched (and preferable to simply talking about yourself). Perhaps you’ll click with someone or meet the filmmakers and cast. Hit up the panels and seminars as well. Learn from the pros and make friends at the same time.

6. Enjoy. Don’t just be on a mission to hand out postcards or collect business cards. The best exchanges happen when you’re being yourself, having fun, and taking the time to really get to know people. If you’re feeling negative or needy, psych yourself into the right mood or stay in.

7. Beware. Festival parties are primarily for producers, directors, financiers, and distributors. Actors are there, but they’re not the main focus, so don’t impose yourself or hover. If you interrupt a conversation, you might make a bad impression, especially if you’re not directly involved with the project. You risk choosing the wrong moment or gushing. Be open to opportunities, but aware of how you’re coming across and always have a professional approach. If you’re desperate or slutty, they won’t take you seriously. Above all, don’t drink too much! Crossing paths at sloshed o’clock in the morning with the one person you wanted to meet can be disastrous.

8. Follow-Up. Once home, follow-up with your connections. Depending on the contact, it might be appropriate to email them, add them to your social media accounts, or make plans to reconnect. Look for ways you can help your acquaintances, instead of asking for things, and they’ll be more receptive to staying in touch.

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 NBC’s Grimm, now in its second 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 Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, 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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 Things To Know Before Heading to Hollywood

by admin

Courtesy of Backstage:

Lana Veenker CSAFor a regional casting director, it’s tremendously fulfilling to midwife actors through their big move to Hollywood. But too often, actors take this leap haphazardly, convinced the red carpets will unfurl for their boundless talent and good looks.

Many actors I’ve watched scuttle off to L.A. over the past decade were gifted with charm, talent, and good looks. What they lacked was preparation. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when they pushed off the curb, most return a few years later, hardened, cynical and full of war stories.

Hollywood has no pity for the weak of heart or pocketbook. Your drive to carve out an acting career in the palm-lined “Jaws of Hell” must be so fervent that the thought of not doing it makes your skin hurt.

Convinced that you must try your hand in the City of Angels? Then for the sake of all that is good, position yourself for success with proper planning.

Behold five elemental items that belong in your arsenal, long before you pack your sunscreen:

1. Chops. I cannot emphasize this enough. The talent you’ll be competing against are hungry and masterful. Secure top-notch training and a few real credits before setting sail. No world-class schools, theaters, or productions chez toi? Consider moving to a larger market first to hone your skills. Classes at Second City and a turn at Steppenwolf in Chicago will impress more than a dozen hometown community theatre credits.

2. SAG-AFTRA Card. It’s easier to snag your SAG-AFTRA card in a busy regional hub than in L.A. Why? Producers get fined for hiring non-union actors on union gigs, unless they can prove no suitable union actors were available. That’s a tall order in a metropolis teeming with unemployed guild members, but doable in a market like Portland, where the pickings are slimmer. Get it before you go. Once you’re in L.A., no one wants to help you procure your card.

3. Connections. Reputable regional coaches, schools, talent agents, and casting directors often have connections in Hollywood and may be able to help you land representation or get a toe in at the top casting offices. A director you befriended on location might recommend you to an agent, manager, or other contact upon arrival. Got friends or family in the industry? Hit them up!

4. Money. Take lots of it. More than you think you need. By the time you touch down, your expenses will multiply: gas, food, parking…parking tickets! You’ll need new headshots right away. Those small-town ones will never fly. And you’re not moving to L.A. just to slog at a day job and spend the rest of the time in traffic, are you? Just think: if you only had to work part time your first year or so, you could spend the remaining hours taking classes, doing showcases, networking, and hustling—things that are important to do when you’re new to town, before you’ve lost your luster and become jaded.

5. A Plan: Make your move when you’ve got momentum from a few high-profile bookings, film festival accolades, or a gajillion hits on your web series. Generate buzz before you go, then know your plan when you hit the ground. Don’t think you can wing it and get discovered at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. You need a plan for your housing, training, representation and day job (a field guide like Bonnie Gillespie’s Self-Management for Actors can help).

Once you’ve got all these, then you can bust out the sunscreen. (You’ll need the periodic R&R to preserve your sanity and renew your sense of possibility.) Now go get ‘em!

_______________________________________________________________________

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 NBC’s Grimm, now in its second 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 Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris and Prague Film School.

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.

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

Link to original article.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Complete our survey & win a free career consultation

by admin

Hey actors! We’re trying to learn more about how actors are able to get off-book quickly with fully-developed characters, while remaining in the moment and pursuing their intentions. Want to weigh in? We’ll enter you into our contest for a free career consultation with one of our staff.

Click on the image below to complete the survey: