Last year, Cast Iron Studios and TNT–along with Act Now Studio and Scott Rogers Studios–hosted the first Northwest Talent Diversity Initiative. The 36-hour intensive acting course gave 32 performers of color the opportunity to hone their chops with two of Portland’s finest acting coaches and a myriad of guest speakers, at no cost to the actors.
Within weeks of graduation, the Class of 2015 began reporting an increase in their callback and booking rates on film, television, web and commercial projects. Cast Iron Studios therefore set out to repeat the initiative this year.
TNT agreed to return as the program’s main financial partner, thanks to Manager of Casting Alexis Booth, allowing Cast Iron Studios to send 32 new actors through the intensive this fall.
Acting coaches Kristina Haddad of the Actor’s Lab, and Ben Newman of Portland Actors Conservatory–both experienced performers in their own right–will be leading two classes composed of 16 actors each.
The success of the program also garnered the attention of the Portland Film Office and the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, who both stepped up to provide additional funding to bring last year’s graduates back for an intermediate class. Sixteen students will be returning this fall to undertake 36 more hours of training, under the tutelage of coaches Jana Lee Hamblin and Scott Rogers.
Participating actors were nominated by their agents as committed and talented individuals who would benefit from the initiative.
In-kind sponsors this year include The August Wilson Red Door Project, Artists Repertory Theatre and Teatro Milagro, without whose assistance this initiative would not be possible.
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:
- 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!
As some of you may have heard, our offices were damaged by a fire on Saturday, August 27th. Luckily, no one was injured, and the fire, which started on the roof, did not reach our floor. The smoke and water damage to our space, however, made it impossible to use and left us scrambling for an alternative. KATU covered the story:
Thankfully, we have been able to keep to our schedule by renting out space from nearby businesses. As we wade through waterlogged files, bag up garbage that used to be office supplies, and work out where to recycle the soaked electronics, we are staying positive, knowing that it could have been much worse.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support and offers of help that we received from our community through social media, phone calls and emails.
Meanwhile, the show must go on! Casting continues at a lively pace as we head into fall, and we’re grateful for that as well.