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Friday, May 27, 2011

Disney’s Howard Meltzer Workshops in Spokane, June 4th and Coeur D’Alene, June 5th

by admin

Howard Meltzer, the award-winning Hollywood-based casting director for The Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana”, will be at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA on June 4th and at the Resort at Coeur D’Alene, ID on June 5th to conduct a Kids Acting Workshop.

All kids ages 9-19 are eligible to attend.  This is an educational workshop and NOT a paid audition.  This is a workshop where both parents and kids can learn.  Parents are welcome for the first 30 minutes of the class, where Howard will answer all questions.  Howard will read with each child during a one-on-one mock audition with scenes from one of the shows he has cast.  The workshop is a total of 3 hours and is open to a maximum of 20 students.

Registration Info, FAQ & Testimonials:

*Save with promo code “Veenker”! Before registering, enter the promo code “Veenker” to reduce your registration fee to $200. (Promo code is not case sensitive.)

Disclaimer: You agree that you understand that this is a Seminar and NOT an audition. There is NO guarantee of employment. There will be NO REFUNDS after payment made. Please read full disclaimer on registration page before registering.  If you have questions, please contact Greg James via the phone number on the registration page.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Your Child in Movies: Better TV Interviews Lana Veenker at Tribeca Film Festival

by admin

Prior to the premiere of Rid of Me at Tribeca Film Festival, Casting Director Lana Veenker shared tips with Better TV‘s Rhiannon Ally on how to get your child into show biz, no matter where you live.

Your Child in Movies
Turn your child into a star! Casting agent Lana Veenker shares tips on how to get your child into show biz — no matter where you live.
by Rhiannon Ally
Better TV
May 26, 2011

Okay, parents: how many times have you looked at your child and thought they could possibly be a big star.

Well, believe it or not, it is possible to get your child on the big screen, even if you don’t live in Hollywood, New York or Chicago.

We met up with Lana Veenker, a casting agent who was in New York promoting her new film, Rid of Me. She has some tips on getting kids into show biz.

Link to video.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NBC picks "Grimm" pilot filmed in Portland for series

by admin

KGW’s Joe Smith spoke to Vince Porter from the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, Mayor Sam Adams, Doug Boss, owner of Pacific Grip and Lighting, and Lana Veenker about the new NBC series “Grimm” that the Film Office has confirmed will begin shooting in Portland in July.

NBC picks ‘Grimm’ pilot filmed in Portland for series
by Joe Smith
KGW News Channel 8
May 24, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. — Once upon a time in a place not too far away, the producers of a new NBC show chose the Rose City to bring its production. It’s not a fairy tale, but a true story.

The show “Grimm” is a cop drama based on the Grimm fairy tales. It’s also is a showcase for Oregon’s growing film industry, with hundreds of jobs in the starring role.

Producers spent weeks in Portland filming the pilot for the show, then waited. Would the network like it? They did.

The next question: Where would the series itself be filmed?

“NBC let us know they’re committed,” said Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Oregon Film & TV.

Porter says the network’s decision to film the series in Portland is having a ripple effect though Oregon’s film community.

“To have a big broadcast show that’s set in Portland is a real step up for us.”

But, as much as the producers love Portland, they also love the tax credits Oregon is offering. A percentage in cash rebates goes to the production company for spending at least $750,000 in Oregon on wages and service. That’s an easy reach for Grimm.

“It can really tip over $2 million an episode,” said Porter.

There are also other incentives: no sales tax, and built-in crews and services, from cameras, to lights to action with northwest actors.

“The minute Grimm starts up they’re going to hire 150 people and by July there will be 250,” says Lana Veenker, a local casting director who cast eight local actors for the pilot.

Link to full article and video.


Friday, May 13, 2011

US casting director Lana Veenker to teach workshop in Paris on June 12, 2011

by admin

If you’re based in Europe, don’t miss Lana’s workshop in Paris on Sunday, June 12th! Details below.

(Also check out the staged reading of “12, rue de l’Odéon” on Tuesday, June 14th at Carr’s Irish Pub, which Lana helped to produce! Presented in English with an all Paris-based cast. Admission is free. RSVP at the link above.)

What people are saying about “Cracking the US Market”
and Lana Veenker:

“It was very informative and invigorating. Lana is a truly inspirational speaker. Her advice is practical,uplifting and clarifies the whole casting process. I look forward to her coming back to London!”
— Ava


“I found it so interesting to learn how the business works in America and I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop… It was brilliant!”
— Tami


“I attended Lana’s workshop, which I thought was a fantastic and detailed eye-opener to the challenges to working in the US as an actor.”
— Neal


“I’d be delighted to recommend Lana’s workshop as I thought it was absolutely invaluable. I’m very interested in working in the USA and it was a real god-send to have such useful advice. Lana was extremely friendly and helpful.”
— Philip


“I found Lana’s workshop both illuminating and inspiring. She really emphasised the value of my individuality in the industry; and how to market it from a very active point of view. A very open and frank lady – something that can be very hard to come by. I have already taken steps to gain more control over my career and will let you know as things develop!”
— Samantha


“Thanks for the workshop, Lana. It was very helpful and it was lovely to meet you.”
— Josh


“My young actor friend in London loved your workshop and was so impressed by you and the knowledge you gave him! Thanks.”
— @jewelspice


I’m An Actor, But I Don’t Live in Hollywood:
How to Crack the US Market

Presented in English by Tools 4 Actors

Hollywood attracts countless actors to Los Angeles every year, but most leave after they spend all their money and discover they can’t even get an audition.

There’s nothing that can make Hollywood an easy nut to crack, but there are a few things actors can do to make it easier.

In How to Crack the US Market, Casting Director Lana Veenker will reveal how show business is conducted in the States and provide tips on how to work as an actor in Los Angeles, New York and other American cities.

For those who already have experience working in the States, the workshop will provide insights on how to make yourself more valuable to casting directors and talent agents, both at home and abroad.

This workshop will be conducted in English, in lecture format, followed by a Q&A, so please bring a notepad or laptop computer. Students are also invited to join Lana afterwards for a meet-and-greet at a nearby bar or café.

American casting director Lana Veenker trained as an actor/director and spent nearly ten years living, studying and working in France, England, Venezuela, India and the West Indies. After working as a casting assistant at Zimmermann Casting in London, she decided to return to the States, and in 1999, she launched one of the most successful location casting companies in the US.

Her passion is helping actors who live outside Hollywood to succeed. She has taught workshops across the United States and Europe, most recently at The Actors Platform in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, The Acting Studio in Berlin and Prague Film School.

Projects include the upcoming film Gone starring Amanda Seyfried, Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, Paranoid Park by Gus Van Sant, Extraordinary Measures starring Harrison Ford, and over 40 episodes of TNT’s Leverage, which airs on TPS Star in France and on Sky in the UK.

I’m An Actor, But I Don’t Live in Hollywood:
How to Crack the US Market

Presented in English by Tools 4 Actors
Date: Sunday, June 12, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Studio Bleu
Address: 7 – 9 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris
Price: 95
Registration Info:

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop requires a minimum of 15 attendees in order to take place. Students are asked to register by June 5, 2011 to hold their spot. If workshop is cancelled, Tools4Actors will notify attendees and provide a 100% refund.



Monday, May 2, 2011

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood

by admin

Thanks once again to Bonnie Gillespie for featuring Portland in her column The Actors Voice – POV for

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood
Lana Veenker’s POV: Portland Casting
The Actors’ Voice – POV
May 1, 2011

This fantastic contribution from Portland casting director Lana Veenker is not one meant to warm the hearts of Los Angeles-based actors, hoping production is headed back to Hollywood. It’s a column about how local talent has stepped up its collective game to attract–and retain–major productions in the past few years. “Come for the tax breaks; stay for the talent,” could be the new minor-market motto, you might say.

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood

In November 2008, I found myself in the Los Angeles offices of Electric Entertainment, meeting with the executive producers of TNT’s Leverage. They were considering moving their entire production to Oregon, but they had one big concern:

Was the local talent pool deep enough to fill the needs of their show, episode after episode, season after season?

Sure, my Portland-based company had provided casting on some big movies (including Twilight, Extraordinary Measures, and Feast of Love, to name a few) and some smaller ones (such as Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park), but it had been at least 15 years since a television series had set foot in the state.

Film and television production had just begun hitting its stride in Oregon when British Columbia implemented its film incentive program in the 1990s. This move–combined with a favorable exchange rate on the Canadian dollar–all but killed the momentum in the Northwest. Hollywood began to look past the forests, mountains, and lakes of Oregon, to the forests, mountains, and lakes of Vancouver BC and surrounding areas.

Many Northwest actors and crew who had been earning a decent living in their hometowns were suddenly faced with the decision to either uproot their families and move to Los Angeles (where there was still work to be found), or leave the industry altogether.

The creation of film tax incentives in Oregon in 2003–along with a more equitable exchange rate–has brought many of the jobs back to the Northwest, and we’ve been rebuilding our industry ever since. So when executive producer Dean Devlin threw down the gauntlet that November afternoon, I told him (a tad boldly, in retrospect): “Absolutely. We have enough actors to cast that for you in Oregon. No problem.”

Based in part on that assertion, Leverage announced a few months later that it was coming to Oregon.

Panic set in.

I knew what this meant to our film office, to the hundreds of crewmembers counting on these jobs, to Northwest actors searching for a reason to stay here, and to my own bottom line. I understood the financial commitment that Electric Entertainment was making–and the damage my career would sustain–if I failed to live up to my word.

I thought we had a strong enough base of actors to meet the demands of the show, but I had no idea whether or not our talent pool would truly meet their expectations, nor for how long.

My office organized a “town hall” meeting, which was attended by hundreds of Northwest actors. This time, it was my turn to throw down the gauntlet. An entire production company was moving its TV show to Portland, partly on my word. To prepare for it, I told actors, we were expanding our offices and staff, and upgrading to a new online casting system.

Now, I needed them to deliver the goods.

We challenged our talent pool to do everything in their power to up their game, whether that meant getting new headshots, assembling more professional demo reels, improving their online presence (website, IMDb, etc.), or recommitting themselves to ongoing training. I knew we had a number of actors who could compete in any market, but I was concerned that we might use them all up in our first season. I needed the next generation to step up and meet the challenge. And man, have they done so!

I can’t keep up with the number of weekly industry nights, script readings, and screening events going on in Portland, much less the countless independent films and webseries shooting around town. Our top acting coaches’ classes are filled to capacity, workshops are selling out, and it seems like every actor I encounter is in a show, penning a script, producing a short film or feature, volunteering as a reader in casting sessions, or simply focused wholeheartedly on training.

Talent agency rosters are filling out with new actors we never knew about before, and highly professional on-camera talent are hoofing it from as far away as Bend, Eugene, Ashland, and Medford to attend our casting sessions in Portland, never complaining about the commute. In my 11 years of casting in Oregon, I’ve never seen actors this motivated. And their determination is paying off.

Homegrown filmmaker James Westby–whose film Rid of Me features a cast made up almost entirely of Northwest actors–has captured the attention of the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival (his previous made-in-Oregon feature, The Auteur, was hailed by TriBeCa organizers as “the funniest film in the festival”).

We are now in our third season of casting on Leverage, with over 38 episodes under our belts. Its producers and directors are still as thrilled as they were their first year in town, when they realized that–although they had budgeted to fly up four or five actors per episode from LA–the average (not including name actors hired to satisfy the network) was closer to one per episode. At times, none are flown in at all, local actors having snagged all the guest star and co-star roles themselves.

Since then, other pilots, films, and series have hit the Oregon Trail:

    • Meek’s Cutoff starring Michelle Williams, Restless by Gus Van Sant, and Extraordinary Measures starring Harrison Ford, all filmed in Oregon in 2009.


  • The IFC series Portlandia (starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein) shot six episodes in Portland last year, and just got picked up for another ten.



  • TNT has increased its order for Leverage from 15 episodes in season two, to 16 in season three, to 18 this year.



  • NBC chose Oregon for its made-for-TV-movie A Walk in My Shoes in 2010, while Brain Trust (the TBS pilot we cast in December) may go to series this fall.



  • 2011 is projected to be the busiest year for film and video production in the state’s history. So far this year, in addition to the first few episodes of Leverage season four, we have cast Grimm for NBC (the highly anticipated pilot by the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and Gone, a Lakeshore Entertainment thriller starring Amanda Seyfried.


If Leverage and Portlandia continue to be successful, and Grimm and Brain Trust both get picked up, we will have four television series shooting concurrently in and around Portland.

I’ve heard the rumblings of more Hollywood films joining this wagon train in months to come, and local actors continue to lend their talents to dozens of indie projects, plays, commercials, industrials, infomercials, and voiceover gigs. In fact, more and more Northwest actors are now piecing together a fulltime living from their acting endeavors. This would have been almost unheard of just a few years back.

There’s never been a better time to be an actor in Oregon, and our actors have never impressed me as much as they have of late. Sean Hayes–one of the producers of Grimm–raved about the quality of our talent base after we had completed casting on the pilot. Gone producer André Lamal and director Heitor Dhalia did the same after our first round of callbacks. Leverage directors keep asking, “Where are you finding these people?!? How come we haven’t run out yet?”

Is there an endless pool of actors in the Northwest? Of course not. Are there categories in which I wish we had more options? Umm, yes. (Hint: if you’re a strong, non-Caucasian actor of any type–especially over 30–or a strong actor who fits the thug/bad guy or cop/security guard type, now might be a good time to hitch up your wagon and head west… or north, as the case may be). But what our actors, coaches, acting schools, independent producers, and directors have managed to accomplish over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable:

They have created an environment that supports and cultivates a world-class talent pool a thousand miles from Los Angeles, and three thousand miles from New York City.

As long as we keep endeavoring to raise the bar professionally–each generation of artists helping to groom and inspire the next–the momentum will continue and the pool will be replenished. In fact, I’ve already made it a habit to tell producers: “Give us a shot at the lead roles. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”


Kudos to you, Lana, and to all the local talent keeping so many major productions so well cast and well acted! Let’s hope all actors with the opportunity to work under local hire status in other markets see this as a great time to take advantage of all the great stuff going on. Congratulations, Portland, on getting better and better! Very exciting!

About Lana Veenker

Lana Veenker began her career in London as a casting assistant on international co-productions for major studios and networks. When the Portland native returned to her roots in 1999, she launched what is now the Northwest’s most successful casting company, helping to raise the bar on what producers can expect from a regional talent pool. She is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network.