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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.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Show business is booming in Oregon…and FREE screening tickets!

by admin

Casting Director Lana Veenker joined KATU’s Helen Raptis and Dave Anderson on AM Northwest to talk about the latest productions and what all the activity means for Oregonians.

For more information on the productions and how to get involved, see our previous blog post below.


Excited about all the movies and TV shows shooting in Oregon? Want to help us make sure these clean, green, high-paying jobs keep coming in, not only for local film industry professionals, but for individuals and small businesses all across the state?

We need you to show your support of extending the Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF), the successful incentive program that has attracted all of these productions to Oregon.

2011 is projected to be our busiest year ever for film and TV, and we want to keep the momentum going!

The program is due to sunset in 2012. Without your help, it could all go away, so please join us!


Join us in Salem on March 15th at 4:00 pm, when a conceptual video about the program will be taped on the Capitol steps. We want your presence and your stories, to help raise awareness of the powerful economic and cultural impact of the film and video industry in Oregon.


RSVP for the video shoot, and you’ll get a FREE ticket to the exclusive 7:00 pm screening of “Meek’s Cutoff” that follows at the Historic Elsinore Theatre (normally $20!).

“Meek’s Cutoff,” directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Michelle Williams, was filmed in Eastern Oregon and has been shown at Venice, Toronto and Sundance Film Festivals.

The individuals and businesses below have made an extraordinary show of support by donating the cost of the tickets AND bus service from Portland so that you can go, because they understand the value of this legislation to our state.

Free tickets are limited, so RSVP now at Be sure to mention that Lana Veenker Casting referred you, so that your ticket comes from our allocation!

Tuesday, March 15th
Oregon State Capitol Building
900 Court Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301
2:00 pm: Arrive at OMSI, if taking the bus from Portland
4:00 pm: Be ready at Capitol steps
Be sure to mention Lana Veenker Casting in the “Who Referred You?” box!

Tuesday, March 15th
The Historic Elsinore Theatre
170 High Street SE, Salem, Oregon 97301
6:30 pm: Doors open
7:00 pm: Screening
Free ticket when you RSVP for 4:00 pm Event

Can’t make the 4:00 pm video shoot? Buy advance tickets to the screening at Tickets West, The Elsinore Theatre or the Oregon Film office.

Hope to see you there!

Thank you to ticket sponsors Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Bent Image Labs, David Cress, Koerner Camera, Kamp Grizzly, Gearhead Grip and Electric, @ Large Films, Picture This Production Services & Stage, Bonnie Roseman, Rose City Realtors, Funnelbox, Gales Creek Insurance, and Pacific Grip and Lighting.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Film Production is Off the Charts in Oregon!

by admin

Film production is off the charts in Oregon right now, thanks in large part to OPIF, our state film incentive program!


Casting is underway for three major film and television projects at Lana Veenker Casting, including Season 4 of TNT’s “Leverage,” starring Timothy Hutton,


a new pilot for NBC called “Grimm” starring David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell, Russell Hornsby and Bitsie Tulloch,

David Giuntoli (left), Silas Weir Mitchell (right)

and a feature film for Lakeshore Entertainment called “Gone,” starring Amanda Seyfried.

Amanda Seyfried

To find out how to get involved in these productions as an actor or extra, CLICK HERE to jump to the bottom of the page.


Portlandia,” the IFC series starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, has just been picked up for 10 more episodes, scheduled to debut next January,


and producers should be finding out soon whether or not “Brain Trust,” the TBS pilot that shot here in December, starring D.B. Sweeney and Michael Urie, will be going to series!

D.B. Sweeney (left), Michael Urie (right)

Congrats to everyone involved in Oregon film and television production. This year is shaping up to be our busiest yet!

Moreover, our homegrown productions are gaining national and international attention:


On March 15th at 7:00 PM in Salem, there will be a special screening of “Meek’s Cutoff” starring Michelle Williams, which recently shot in Eastern Oregon, and was shown at Sundance, Toronto and Venice Film Festivals. Come show your support for the Oregon film industry, and all of the clean, green, family-wage, high-tech jobs we are creating all across the state!

Meek’s Cutoff

For information on tickets to the “Meek’s Cutoff” screening at the historic Elsinore Theatre, please visit Tickets West or the Oregon Confluence website.


Tribeca Film Festival in New York has just announced that feature film “Rid of Me,” directed by James Westby and produced by Katie O’Grady, and shot entirely in Oregon, will premiere in April 2011 as part of its Viewpoints lineup.  Not to miss!

Bravo to all the hardworking cast and crew who make these productions possible.



NOTE: This information is for extras and actors who live in the Pacific Northwest.


For information on working as an extra on “Leverage” or “Gone,” please contact Extras Only.

For information on working as an extra on “Grimm,” please keep an eye out on Portland Craigslist, under Talent Gigs. Any openings will be posted there.


If you are a professional actor based in Oregon or Washington and you are NOT represented by a talent agency, you can create a free profile in our casting database.

  • Go to The Casting Frontier
  • Create a Basic (Free) profile in the Pacific NW Region
  • Fill your profile out completely, including your headshot and resume
  • Send the Public Link of your profile to talent[at]slateplease[dot]com, subject line: NW Actor Submission

Hint: Your public link contains a lot of random letters and numbers. If there aren’t a lot of random letters and numbers, it’s not a link we can use.

If you are seeking representation in the Northwest, please contact SAG or AFTRA for a list of franchised agencies, or check the Production Directory on the OMPA website under Talent Agencies.

NOTE: We are a casting company, not a talent agency, so we don’t represent actors. Creating a Casting Frontier profile will put you in our database, but you still need an agent to promote you!

If you are a professional actor based in Oregon or Washington and you ARE represented by a talent agent, you should already be on Casting Frontier. There is no need for you to resubmit or self-submit. Just let your agent know you’re interested and available, and they’ll do the rest.

****Please no calls or drop-by visits.****


For more information on film production in Oregon, check out the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television‘s website or the Confluence website.

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