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Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Shooting Stars Casting Director Breakfast

by admin

Just stumbled across the video of this year’s Shooting Stars casting breakfast, hosted by European Film Promotion at the Hotel de Rome during the Berlin Film Festival.

Lana and fellow members of the International Casting Directors Network (ICDN) met with ten of Europe’s top up-and-coming actors over coffee as part of the weekend-long event.

The ICDN has over 40 members from 18 different countries and is the first international network of its kind. Lana was inducted into the organization in 2008.

PS: Catch a glimpse of Lana’s former boss, London casting director Jeremy Zimmermann at 0:36. They had a surprise reunion at this year’s Shooting Stars!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Creative Space Available

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We thought we’d let our Portland film industry colleagues know that there’s a large 3611 SF creative space available in our building. We’d love to have someone else from the film industry as our neighbors!

Great part of town; very industrial with cool restaurants and bars in the vicinity. Feels like old SoHo!

If you know of any production companies, ad agencies or anyone else looking for creative space, pass on the details to them!

Sean Turley, Broker
Norris, Beggs & Simpson

Let him know we sent you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back Stage’s Spotlight on Regional Casting: Pacific NW

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Check out Back Stage’s recent article on regional markets, in which Les Spindle talks to Lana about the Northwest.

Spotlight on Regional Casting
April 21, 2011
Back Stage

Why cling to the major hubs when there’s work to be had from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters?

Sure, actors want to work in L.A. and New York. But other areas across the nation offer vibrant opportunities in film, television, commercials, and theater, for actors willing to step away from the coastal hubs and plant a few roots in homier soils. Back Stage checked out a few regions to see what’s available to actors of all stripes.

Link to list of US regional markets.

Pacific Northwest
April 21, 2011
by Les Spindle
Back Stage

Lana Veenker launched her Portland, Ore.–based firm, Lana Veenker Casting, in 1999. She says Oregon offers an abundance of employment opportunities—both union and nonunion—for actors in the vicinity. “This year is predicted to be the biggest year ever for us in films,” she says, noting that there are also plenty of television roles and many opportunities in commercials, though not much voiceover work. Veenker has cast 35 episodes of the TNT series “Leverage.” She doesn’t often cast theater, she says, but will do it occasionally—and pro bono.

Among the projects she has cast recently are “Grimm,” a pilot for NBC from the producers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” the Lakeshore Entertainment thriller “Gone,” starring Amanda Seyfried; and “Brain Trust,” a pilot for TBS. Veenker points out that the IFC series “Portlandia” has also been a boon to the Northwest casting scene. “There’s a ton of independent films shooting in the area,” she says. “It’s really cracking.”

The region offers a wide variety of shooting locations. “The cool thing about Portland is that you’re within an hour of desert, snow, mountains, ocean, cities,” Veenker points out. Furthermore, production companies are discovering a wealth of good talent in the area. “There are really great crews up here and a really strong acting pool,” she says. “Pretty much every production that comes up here is thinking they’re going to have to fly up actors from L.A. Then they realize they’re able to hire a lot of the guest stars locally, and the co-stars, even many of the leading parts.”

She continues, “The talent base here is really serious, making their own indie films and Web series and taking acting classes. A lot of people who had careers in Hollywood or New York, with long résumés, have moved here for the quality of life. So the producers don’t have to pay them for per diem or travel.”

Link to full article on Pacific NW.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oregon Filmmakers Testify before Joint Tax Credit Committee on HB 2167

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In case you missed this the other day, Oregon filmmakers visited the State Capitol in Salem last week to testify before the Joint Tax Credit Committee on HB 2167, the bill that would extend and expand our state film incentive program.

Committee members later said that this hearing was a model for how legislative hearings should go, as Oregon film industry members painted a very clear picture of the value of our incentive program from every possible angle.

Legislators first heard testimony from Dean Devlin, Executive Producer of TNT’s Leverage, Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, Steve Oster, Producer of the NBC pilot Grimm and former Executive Director of the Film Office.

They were followed by producers, crew members and vendors from around the state, a talent agent and casting director (moi!), and two representatives from educational institutions offering Film Studies programs.

As Co-Chair Berger summed it up: “This has been a real revelation of an industry that some of us, we only see what’s up in front, we don’t see all the things that are going on behind. Fascinating.”

You can listen to the audio of the hearing here:

RealPlayer required (free download here).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Variety loves "Rid of Me"

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Just got home from the premiere of Rid of Me at Tribeca Film Festival. New York City was a blast!

Check out this glowing review of James Westby’s new film in Variety:

Rid of Me
By John Anderson
April 23, 2011

An Alcove Prods. and Parkwood East Film Co. presentation. Produced by Katie O’Grady, James Westby. Co-producer, Raija Talus. Directed, written, edited by James Westby.
With: Katie O’Grady, Orianna Herrman, John Keyser, Storm Large, Theresa Russell, Ritah Parrish, Adrienne Vogel, Melik Malkasian.

Bracingly original, alarming and droll, the righteously ribald “Rid of Me” should prove a breakthrough for helmer James Westby and his producer and leading lady, Katie O’Grady. Pic also offers further evidence of the remarkably innovative indie cinema being produced outside New York and Los Angeles — in this case, Portland, Ore., where the domestic meller and the horror movie have met, wed and proven fruitful. A devoted cult following seems more likely than Pacific Northwest rain, although a reasonable ad budget could mean bigger things.

Reveling in risk, Westby has his central character, Meris (O’Grady), do something so alarmingly disgusting in the flash-forward that opens the film that it’s a wonder the character recovers our sympathies. But she does: As the story proper begins, Meris, newly married to Mitch (John Keyser), is heading back with him to his Oregon hometown. He’s lost his computer company, while she’s dewy-eyed in anticipation of wedded bliss. The move is a step down for Mitch, and Mitch is a step down for Meris: When she makes him eggs benedict for breakfast, he puts ketchup on it. This is not going to end well.

The lighting is creepy, the ambience dreadful, but they don’t hold a candle to Mitch’s old friends, who welcome him warmly back into the fold while treating his new wife like a leper. The physicality of the characters underlines Meris’s outsider status: She’s tiny, they’re intimidating; she’s quiet, they’re loud. But it’s their uncharitable nature that makes them such self-satisfied monsters. No one attempts the slightest gesture to make Meris feel comfortable, and while she initially befriends her new neighbors, the Masuds (Adrienne Vogel, Melik Malkasian), she ends up snubbing them after hearing others suggest the couple might be Al Qaeda.

Matters escalate over the course of a series of dinner parties, until one evening when Meris drinks too much and blurts out something embarrassing Mitch told her not to repeat, and the die is cast. From there, O’Grady makes Meris a figure of pity, horror, revulsion and, to Mitch, profound embarrassment; in one scene at a karaoke bar, she croons a soul-scarring, cringe-inducing song of love and reproach that makes one’s skin crawl. Ultimately, the pic demonstrates, it’s not living well that’s the best revenge; it’s just sticking around.

Westby employs all manner of techniques to keep the audience off guard and engaged, cutting together kinetic musicvid-style romps and freeze-frame tableaux, all held together by a terrific soundtrack that includes songs by Part Time Pony (“Hot Tranny Three Day Messy Weekend”), Laura Gibson and Shelley Short, and Cambodian pop star Ros Sereysothea. Helmer handled shooting and editing duties himself, very effectively.

Link to article.

Congrats to all involved and to Oregon film!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Krekorian Act violations: Talent manager pleads no contest

by admin

Finally a crackdown on scam operations that target kids and aspiring actors.

Krekorian Act violations
Talent manager pleads no contest

By Dave McNary, Variety
Friday, April 8, 2011

The operator of a talent management company has pleaded no contest to two violations of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. David Askaryar, 46, of Hollywood Stars Management and VIP Talent Web entered the pleas on Thursday. He’d been charged by the Los Angeles City Attorney with 16 violations in January.

The law specifically prohibits talent services from engaging in the business of talent representation and charging money upfront for the promise of securing jobs. It also requires such services to post a $50,000 bond with the state and calls for use of unambiguous language in contracts with aspiring performers.

Move comes a year after the city warned casting workshops and talent services that it would enforce tightened state rules barring “pay to audition” scams, with city attorney Carmen Trutanich sending out about 200 letters to notify the operators that the Krekorian Act had gone into effect (Daily Variety, April 22).

Askaryar pleaded no contest Thursday to operating an advance-fee talent representation service and to operating a talent listing service without a bond.

He was sentenced on the first count to 36 months summary probation on the condition that he shut down the businesses and not to own, operate or be employed in any talent agency business, talent management business or any talent service (which includes any talent training service, talent counseling service and talent listing service). Failing to comply with these conditions will result in a six-month jail sentence, the City Attorney’s office said.

Askaryar was sentenced to 36 months summary probation on the second count and ordered to serve 90 days in jail or perform 30 days of community labor; pay $819 restitution to three victims named in the complaint; and pay $3,000 investigative costs.

Link to article.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trailer & Poster for "Rid of Me": A ‘Low Budget Mean Girls for Adults’

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The staff of Lana Veenker Casting will soon be taking off to New York City for the world premiere of a film we cast, James Westby’s Rid of Me, starring Katie O’Grady, Theresa Russell (Black Widow, Bad Timing), Storm Large, Art Alexakis (of Everclear) and more.

Check out the trailer and poster!

Can’t wait to see Oregon take Tribeca and the Big Apple by storm!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oregon Lawmakers Advance Film Subsidy Extension

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Lana spoke with AP journalist Jonathan Cooper after testifying at Friday’s hearing on HB 2167 in Salem.

Oregon Lawmakers Advance Film Subsidy Extension
Oregon House committee votes to extend incentives for film, television production
The Associated Press
By Jonathan J. Cooper
April 1, 2011

SALEM, Ore. A state House committee on Friday advanced a plan to extend tax incentives credited with luring Hollywood producers to Oregon.

The tax credits will expire Jan. 1 unless lawmakers vote to extend them. The Transportation and Economic Development Committee voted 6-9 to support an extension and sent the bill to a joint tax-credit review committee, which will iron out key details including how much the program will cost.

The 8-year-old Oregon Production Investment Fund reimburses film and television producers for up to 10 percent of wages and benefits for Oregon-based workers, and 20 percent of other expenses incurred in Oregon.

Money in the fund comes largely from donations from individuals and corporations, who get a tax credit to offset their gift, plus an additional 5 percent to 11 percent.

For donors to the fund, HB 2167 would extend the tax credits through 2017. Proponents initially proposed increasing the total available funding from $7.5 million per year to $20 million per year, but the committee on Friday stripped the maximum cost from the bill for a future decision.

Supporters say the film subsidies create jobs on film crews and draw Hollywood visitors to local hotels and restaurants.

“This is going to be the biggest year ever for Oregon film, and it’s 100 percent thanks to the film incentives,” said Lana Veenker, a Portland casting firm owner who has done work for TNT drama “Leverage” and the NBC pilot “Grimm,” among other productions.

Link to full article.