Erica Arvold: 5 Questions

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When it comes to fulfilling the title of “Casting Director,” there’s not much Erica Arvold, of arvold.casting, leaves unchecked. From constantly working on the next big feature or television show shooting on the East Coast, to writing a blog for the education division of Arvold Casting, to even maintaining an active and informational Twitter account (more on social media to come, stay tuned for a TTK post!), Erica Arvold is a supreme example of a hands-on, hard-working, and dedicated Casting Director.

Her perspective on the current market, how she got into the business, and what she does when she’s not a casting director are just a few of the things Erica passed along for ‘5 Questions.’

A special thanks to Erica for sharing her thoughts. Enjoy!

1) How did you get into this business and what attracted you to it?

By accident. My senior year at DePaul University’s Theatre School (formerly the Goodman School of Drama) I was restless and wanted to enter the real world so thanks to the Dean, I began a full internship with Jane Alderman Casting. I knew within the first hour of working that casting was what I had been longing for and that the many lists of actors I had made as a child actually had a purpose. Casting combined my love of actors with my love of art (casting actors is very much like painting) and my passion for business and entrepreneurship. It was the first time in my life I felt like I really belonged somewhere. And I never stopped…I can’t imagine life without casting.

2) You made the move from LA Casting to Charlottesville, VA where you created arvold.casting. Can you describe some of the differences in working in both markets?

In Los Angeles I was lucky enough to work on many different sized film and television projects including some major studio pictures. Making lists of name actors, navigating the nuances of offers and negotiating deals was a huge part of my job. I read a zillion actors from LA as well as all over the country and I was able to witness many careers take off, which was (and still is) immensely gratifying. Casting in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast is somewhat similar to the LA experience, especially when I am hired to cast the entirety of an independent film (it’s really no different). Collaborating with the director, producer and writer is my personal comfort zone and that can happen in both television and film regardless of where I am based. I am also often hired to serve as ‘location casting director’ for film and television, now that I’m in Virginia. In these cases, I condense and streamline our casting efforts to a specific region. Depending on the project’s needs, our region can be defined as local to Richmond, VA only (very seldom the case), the Mid-Atlantic & and sometimes the entire East Coast (including NY – occasionally the case). A majority of the time when my company is hired as ‘location casting’, our main responsibility is to cast the day player or co-star roles. But, as regional actors become more and more seasoned (and as the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets continue to attract production), I find that actors here are sometimes considered for larger roles. Being based in the Mid-Atlantic for nearly a decade now, I’ve had the honor of witnessing actors grow at an extremely rapid rate, both in their craftsmanship and in their professionalism. I have had the pleasure of casting local and regional performers in their first tv/film roles, and have even cast actors in career-changing projects.

Being based in the Mid- Atlantic for nearly a decade now, I’ve had the honor of witnessing actors grow at an extremely rapid rate, both in their craftsmanship and in their professionalism.

3) arvold. is involved in much more than simply the business of casting. Can you tell us more about it?

We have three stand-alone departments (production, casting & education) that together support our overall mission to help ‘raise the bar’ in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets. I like to think of our three departments as the three legs of a tripod. 1. We produce. We are a start-to- finish production company for original content. We also provide consulting and production services to many independent film and commercial projects. I consult a bunch and our line producer stays on her toes. Credits include indie films Josephine, Coming Through the Rye, Wish You Well, Elemental and others, as well as several commercials and multimedia projects. 2. We cast. We helm & oversee the casting process for independent films and often serve as location casting directors on television series and larger studio films. We conduct quite a few searches throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, and we cast many commercials and multi-media projects. Credits include Loving, TURN: Washington’s Spies, House of Cards, A Wrinkle in Time (lead role search), Stranger Things (series regular search) and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, among others. 3. We educate. As the daughter of a professor, I believe we are and will always best students of one another. Our education department is committed to providing master classes for actors (no workshops here, only deep intensive work), panel discussions and events for all film artists. By sharing our knowledge with one another we collectively contribute to the growth of our industry. arvold.education collaborates with several schools and universities on the East Coast and holds master classes in Charlottesville, VA and Atlanta, GA.

4). Where do you see the TV/Film business in Virginia going over the next decade?

I hear that there are more films and television shows coming to Virginia. A couple of series have based here successfully over the past few years (namely AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies), and the state is a proven and viable destination for more. Virginia is attractive to historical projects (such as the aforementioned series and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln), is a magnet for independent film (some are contemporary too), and is encouraging to area filmmakers who create their own content. I have helped produce a few indie projects (Josephine, Coming Through the Rye, Wish You Well, Texas Rein, Faux Paws, Elemental among others) and the support from the VFO towards each production has been simply incredible. Word must be spreading as the number of project inquiries my office receives has increased. I think the next decade will present a really nice balance between studio films, network series and independent films.

5). What is your favorite pastime or activity when you are not hard at work with arvold.?

Being with my family. Whether on a road trip or camping (being in nature and not having cell service) or cooking a big meal and playing games…this is how I recharge. Also, witnessing my son grow up is one of my favorite things. Oh, and I row.

I feel it is the actor’s job to bring something to the table, which includes their own interpretation of the character and the scene.

* What is your biggest pet peeve?

When actors ask what I’m looking for. I feel it is the actor’s job to bring something to the table, which includes their own interpretation of the character and the scene. I hope that the actor’s own artistic instinct takes over when they begin to read the sides and that’s what I want to see first. Then we can play and discuss…because we’ve established a baseline.

* What piece of advice would you give to actors?

Train. Seriously train. The competition especially in the MidAtlantic and Southeast is getting tougher and tougher as casting from all areas of the US and the world is at our fingertips. I actually think this healthy competition is wonderful because it raises the bar for everyone (filmmakers, crew members and actors alike). So, take your craft seriously, practice it daily, grow and be the best that you are able to be.

Check out Arvold Casting’s YouTube channel here.

Image: Courtesy of Erica Arvold/Twitter

Melissa Goodman & Ric Reitz of SAG-AFTRA ATL: 5 Questions

It was an honor to be able to interview both Melissa Goodman and Ric Reitz of the Atlanta SAG-AFTRA office for AMTology Blog’s ‘5 Questions’ series. A special thanks to them both for allowing me to pick their brains on everything a local, working actor needs to know. Feel free to take notes, and enjoy!

Susan G. Reid:  Can you please define SAG-AFTRA and what it does for the actor? 

Melissa Goodman: SAG-AFTRA is a union to protect the wages and working conditions of in-front-of-the-camera performers. We set the scale wages, minimum protections, turnaround time, rest violations, when you eat your first and second meal, and that you have craft services. All the protections that are there; that are set.

Ric Reitz: So that our people are not taken advantage of anything. We advocate for the highest level of professionalism, which we know in this market is both union and non-union.

We advocate for the highest level of professionalism, which we know in this market is both union and non-union.

MG: In addition to that, we have a lot of learning opportunities in our local office. We have a twice a month conservatory. We have the SAG foundation that hosts webinars that teach different programs– from casting sessions online to conversations with stars. There are a lot of programs and classes available through the union, and if you are member in good standing, you can participate in them.

RR: We talk to agents; we talk to casting directors; we ask how we can be better as a market and then educate our members. You’ll always have an office advocate, locally here and nationally. SAG provides a team of people, a professional organization, that can give you legal advice.

SGR: Would there ever be a time when SAG and AFTRA work together with no divisions between the two entities?

MG: Yes. We don’t know about pension, that’s a total unknown.

RR: We’ve merged already, for three years. And now we’ve just merged our health benefits which commence on Jan. 1. We’re working on pensions.

MG: Right now, we have different tiers of television. Right now, all film is done and all money goes into the SAG pension fund. We still have legacy shows that became grandfathered in, such as The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. Those are still under AFTRA. Although, when those drop off, and it’s all new productions, they will be under the SAG-AFTRA standard television agreement. However, if we are not yet merged on the pension plan, there will still need to be a way to distinguish from where money is allocated. It needs to be standardized at some point, we just don’t know when that will be. All these grandfathered shows will have to run their course. Any new shows would be under the new agreement.

SGR: What does the term ‘right to work state’ mean and do you consider this a positive or negative to our market. 

RR: The right to work status began in 1947 when a federal law allowed states to individually select whether they would be a union secure state or a right to work state. Here’s the difference. In a union secure state, unions are able to operate really in their own world and without extra influence from the government. In a right to work state, individuals cannot be prohibited from getting union work when they are non-union. A union person, because of our global rule one, cannot work non-union jobs. But non-union perfomers are allowed to work union jobs. So the typical catch 22 actually doesn’t exist here. That sounds like a great advantage for young and aspiring actors and actresses. And it is, because it’s a great way to get into the union, cut your teeth, get some experience, and determine whether you want to join.

In a union secure state, unions are able to operate really in their own world and without extra influence from the government. In a right to work state, individuals cannot be prohibited from getting union work when they are non-union.

We actually don’t advocate everyone join the union at the beginning of their career when they’re first eligible to join. We understand that people have to work their way up.

We benefit because NY and LA are union secure states. All the work that comes into Georgia of a large scale is union bound and we are the beneficiaries of that. Because we’re not in a similar situation, there’s a perception problem that we can’t be on the same level. Are we really working at the highest level all the time? No, we’re not. Sorry to say. Are they in NY and LA? Perhaps not, but they aspire to higher goals, and they’re regarded as the measuring stamp.

Well put it into perspective, you go to LA and you’re not a member of the Union, you’re not working. Go to New York, you’re not working. Then you go, how do I become a member? Well, I can’t audition if I’m not a member—catch 22. There’s NO catch 22 here.

SGR: Can you address safety on set and how you can enforce it?

RR: You’ve got to kind of keep your eyes peeled. In theory, that should be already done in advance for your safety, but we’re never sure. We have a new field rep that goes around and investigates if we hear rumors or get a tip.

When somebody hears something in the pipeline about a serious potential safety issue, we are all informed, and all of our resources are put forward to put an end to it as quickly as possible. You know sometimes we hear after-the-fact. We have an 800 number for safety and you can call from a set. Not that everyone has a phone on the set and that you can immediately call, but we’ve tried to take every precaution. You can always go to the AD department and stage a complaint and follow it through with your agent. Course you could be shooting at 8 in the morning, not a popular phone call, but if there’s a serious safety issue, then the phone call happens. Melissa answers in the middle of the night.

MG: And it’s answered. I mean there’s two of us that keep the phone by our bedside because both of our numbers are on that. It is: 1-800-SAFER SET.

RR: That is for members to call, and even non-union members that are on a union set.

MG: It will be answered by an answering service in New York that will call us.

RR: Now, we didn’t have that in place a couple of years ago, but we’re happy to say that’s evolved and we are really concerned about it. It first begins with education, and we want to remind actors: you always have the ability to say “no.” I want you to do this and the answer is no. I want you to ride on this motorcycle, no. I want you to jump off this cliff into the water; no, I’m not comfortable. If you’re not comfortable doing that and you feel it poses a potential risk for you, you can say no. Oh, they’re going to blackball me, say no. There are more fish in the sea, more jobs, more people.

If you’re not comfortable doing that and you feel it poses a potential risk for you, you can say no.

SGR: What is your best piece of advice?

RR: This market is so uber competitive now. Because of our great success, we all have to be in heightened awareness about what it takes to compete at the new level.  So my advice to this market is that you’ve got to invest in your market and your craft every day, find a way to get better, don’t sit on your laurels. Because tomorrow is not guaranteed. There’s only so much an agent can do. They can create opportunity for you, but to pay off the opportunity you have to be ready.

MG: More advice that I have is: we get a lot of calls about people who have quickly signed with an agent before having a courtship. Before they’ve had that opportunity to test the waters, spend the few months and have a handshake agreement first to see if there’s a good relationship fit. We have people signing agreements and two months later asking: how do I get out of this? Why did you get married before you even dated? Have a test period to see if that person is a good fit for you and vice versa. I mean, it goes both ways in that regard. It’s such an important relationship between the actor and the agent that it has to be the right fit.

RR: You work out your expectations with the agent. What they expect of you and what you expect from them. This is a business relationship.

SGR: Alright, that wraps it up, just give us your top pet peeves.

MG: One pet peeve that I have that we’ve heard from a couple casting directors is that when they do hold in-person auditions, as opposed to taping, that people still aren’t going. Actors, members take the opportunity and meet the casting director in person, and be prepared when you walk in that door.

RR: A lot of us have lost the skill and the edge it takes to make good work in the room. The work that you did that got you there is thrown away because it’s not prepared for in person. You’ve got to be ready to move in person. In the old days, that’s all we did, so you got good at it. Now we’ve gotten lazy, and people aren’t good at it. It doesn’t mean you weren’t good, but it means you weren’t at your best. If you’re not at your best, you’re not getting booked.

You’ve got to be ready to move in person. In the old days, that’s all we did, so you got good at it. Now we’ve gotten lazy, and people aren’t good at it.

MG: My pet peeve is that we get phone calls and people say “well I didn’t get fed until 7 and a half hours but I’m afraid to file a claim, or a cancellation fee, I may never get work again.’ The rules are there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to file a claim.

MG: Read your contract. Don’t sign anything that has blanks in it, don’t sign blank production time reports, make sure they’re filled in. Take photos. Make sure you have the right materials. You wouldn’t buy a house without knowing the interest rate. A producer should not say, I’ll fill that in after the fact.

RR: We all have a cell phone, so take a picture and use it as your receipt. Don’t wait for them, because chances are you aren’t going to get a copy or a receipt from them. It’s good business.

Images: With permission, Melissa Goodman and Ric Reitz

5 Questions: Melissa Goodman & Ric Reitz Of SAG-AFTRA ATL

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Guaranteeing correct treatment on set, assuring fair financial treatment, and defending the overall rights of actors is not an easy job. Yet Melissa Goodman and Ric Reitz dedicate their days and nights to it as representatives of the Atlanta Local SAG-AFTRA office. Goodman, as the Atlanta Local Executive Director, and Reitz, as the SAG-AFTRA Atlanta President, hold busy schedules with the thriving TV/Film business in Atlanta, but I got the chance to sit down with both one recent afternoon.

Weighing in on union rights, right to work versus not, and what SAG-AFTRA really does for the actor; Goodman and Reitz are knowledgeable, fearless representatives and every local working actor should be familiar with them.

Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘5 Questions’ coming very soon!

FELDSTEIN/PARIS CASTING: 5 Questions

Chase Paris and Tara Feldstein of Feldstein/Paris Casting are by far some of the most active, honest, and busy casting directors in the local Atlanta area. We recently met for lunch, and I followed up with a few questions for them for the third installment of 5 Questions. They weigh in on their experience working both as an agent and a CD, plus their most rewarding projects and infamous Twitter lunches. They are a wonderful source of information for casting in the south east region.

Special thanks to Chase and Tara for their time. Enjoy!

1. How has your past work experience informed and influenced your work as a CD for Feldstein/Paris casting?

It’s been incredibly beneficial. Having seen both sides of the table, I feel like my eyes have been opened up to the entire decision making process. It took some transition to go from working for the actors to working for production, but I think I’ll always partly be an advocate for the actor when possible, and that’s due to working so closely with them as an agent.

Some may find this hard to believe – but because of my experience as an agent, we try to cater as much of our process as possible to making the agent’s and actor’s jobs easier. Granted we don’t meet every need and request, but we at least try!

2. Which projects or types of projects (no need to give names unless you want to) have been the most rewarding for you to work on? What has made the projects gratifying and productive?

The Accountant and The Founder stand out to me. Both creative teams, especially the directors relied on us heavily for our input, and we put together an amazing cast full of locals in prominent roles. Productions can often be wary of local talent which limits our creative involvement, so when we’re able to spread our wings and show what we (and our local talent!) can do, it can be very rewarding. It also doesn’t hurt that both films are getting early box office and reward buzz.

On the TV side, we recently wrapped Atlanta, which I loved because it felt so genuine to the city. Donald Glover grew up here and just wrote what he wanted to see, but having lived here my whole life, it’s refreshing to see a project that takes place in Atlanta that isn’t the “LA” version of Atlanta, which can happen at times. We were also forced to dig deep to find new talent, which is always fun!

3. What is the best way for an actor to get to know you?

Twitter lunches are the best way to get to know us one-on-one, which we’re finding is more important than we thought previously. But we both still want to get to know you as an actor above anything else, so good auditions and pitches from your agent are the best way for US to get to know YOU.

I don’t know that it’s necessary for YOU to know US – we’re both boring suburbanites with 2.4 kids and a dog. =) We’ve made a push this year to be more social and get out in the community more, so there might be other opportunities to see us, but I think talent should be more concerned with US knowing THEM than the other way around. Plus, we’re pretty boring!

4. How has your outlook on the business changed since you started Feldstein/Paris?

For me, it was really eye opening to see the true level of talent we have as a market vs. only seeing what was in my talent agency. It’s astounding what we have to work with at times, and if you don’t get the chance to see what all is out there, you can be blind to it in your own little bubble.

It’s also amazing to see how much the industry has grown down here in the past 4 years, and it’s only picking up steam.

It’s also amazing to see how much the industry has grown down here in the past 4 years, and it’s only picking up steam. It can be a daunting amount of work at times, but that’s also why we feel like we need to work at such a fast pace on everything.

5. You both have amazing families, so how do you balance your work and your family? You guys make it look kind of easy, and I know it is not.

The funny thing is we don’t really plan too hard. We have the luxury of working from home, so we get to be around our families a lot, which really is one of the best perks about what we do. At first we poured every bit of free time in to the job and sacrificed a lot of personal time, but recently we’ve been carving out 1-2 hrs a day for personal time, be it the gym, quality time with kids or spouses, etc.

I’ve found that very valuable, and it’s just about committing to it and not giving yourself over every waking moment. We love our jobs so it’s easy to just default to work, and we do that often as is, but we work hard for our families, so we don’t want to neglect them!

Pet Peeve: What is a pet peeve that you have about our market/actors?

Other than self-tapes with a smart phone that’s being held in portrait mode – I’d say it is actors being patient with the market. It’s evolving; it’s getting better, more and better opportunities are coming your way, but it’s moving slowly, and you can’t force it to move faster.

Just because the work is here doesn’t mean you’re entitled to the large roles in that work, not yet at least. We’re still a local market, we may be a bigger one, but we’re still a tier down. It wasn’t that long ago we were happy with a fraction of the work we have now – please keep some perspective and be patient!

Advice: What is your best piece of advice?

Be yourself. Most of our roles don’t require a ton of acting, we need you to be yourself in that role, not try and fit outside of your mold. The actors that work the most in this market are still working within their type – if a role feels like too much of a stretch then it’s probably not a good fit. Go in and do the best YOU for each role, and I believe you’ll book constantly. If you find you have to keep ACTING for each role, it’s probably not working!

Images: Courtesy of Feldstein/Paris Casting

5 Questions: Feldstein/Paris Casting

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It’s time for another ‘5 Questions’ segment, and this time I got to speak with Tara Feldstein Bennett and Chase Paris of Feldstein/Paris Casting.

We exchange emails often regarding current projects, but it was refreshing to send another type of email to F/P to hear their perspective on casting, willingness to meet and greet with local talent, and their overall presence in the Atlanta market.

Stay tuned for the third installment of ‘5 Questions’ with Feldstein/Paris Casting.

OLUBAJO SONUBI: 5 Questions

I got to sit down with Olubajo Sonubi of OAS Casting over lunch and speak about his involvement in local casting, as well as his biggest pet peeves when it comes to his job. He was honest and kind, which is something we should all value in this market, and it was a great pleasure to pick his brain about his personal take on casting. Many thanks to Bajo, and I hope you enjoy this segment.

For more information on Olubajo Sonubi, please visit his website.

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w/ OLUBAJO SONUBI of OAS CASTING

1. What are the challenges of going from casting on The Vampire Diaries to Containment or the pilot, the Untitled Paranormal Project?

The biggest difference tends to be the creative team behind it. That’s the biggest change. Regardless of whether you’re switching genres, you have different people who have different tastes for their projects. And then obviously the other consideration is, what kinds of actors work better for what projects? Ultimately, the fact is that even when you switch from the Untitled Paranormal Project to Containment, to The Vampire Diaries, there’s a type that will work for any of those. It really depends on what kind of spin the actor can put on it for that certain genre. It’s all about the actor and the choices they make.

2. What surprises you the most about working in our market at this particular time?

What surprised me the most is actually what everyone would say: the amount and volume of work that has come in. That was a good surprise and a very welcomed surprise. Another thing is having our market keep up and adjust to those transitions. Some things are happening faster, others slower. The level of talent has definitely grown, and we’ve had an influx of talent from LA and NY that has forced local talent to step up their game, and I’m appreciative of that. But there’s still a lack of expertise, and we still need to get better. That’s not a complaint, it’s just part of the job. I think the challenge is all of us getting used to that, managing our expectations from people who come from LA and from here.

3. Everybody approaches casting through a different lens, so how does your actor’s eye inform you as a casting director? 

It goes without saying that I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to use a degree I earned every single day. Given that I have an acting background, I believe it gives me a better rapport with the actors. Just with the by product that I’ve seen so many plays, been in so many plays, and been in acting classes, I think I have an eye for what comes off as authentic and believable in acting. I feel confident that I can identify someone who can act, and sometimes I recognize that I just don’t like their choices. That has nothing to do with their ability or level of talent.Even if someone disagrees with me, it can be about taste at that point.

4. What’s coming up next for you?

I’m a free agent at the moment, since we’re wrapping up with The Vampire Diaries, and we finished up the Untitled Paranormal Project pilot. We’ll see what happens with Containment. There’s a short I’m doing for a friend, it’s a small project. But I’m not really sure what’s on the horizon next, so I’ll wait and see.

5. What’s the first thing on your bucket list?

Strangely enough, mine is very industry related.

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to tell interesting, universal stories. What’s very personal to me are stories that include more people of color and women. Basically, voices that don’t get heard that often. That’s one of the challenges I see and it’s maybe because I’ve spent a lot of time working in the industry with women. I don’t know what it’s like to have a non-female show runner. Julie Plec is someone I work with. It’s not odd to me, it’s what I’m used to. I hope that it spreads over the industry, where the same kind of universality which is afforded to a lot of stories told from the west, Caucasian stories in general, I hope can be given to anybody.

People think Black Americans have it bad… I’m thinking about Asian Americans and Latinos… When is the last time you saw an Asian American as a romantic lead? At least here in America, that shouldn’t be the case. And I’m wondering what part I can play in order to make that happen. If I end up being able to direct or produce one day, these are the kinds of things I’d want to work on. I don’t know where the industry will take me; I’m really enjoying casting right now.

Travel wise, I’d love to hit every continent at some point. I’m from Africa, I’ve been to North America. I have not been to South America yet, or Australia, or Europe.

6. What’s your biggest pet peeve as a CD in terms of actors?

I have three big pet peeves. One is not following directions. And I get it, I know it can be complicated, and it can vary with the casting director. I hope at some point it becomes a standard. But when we ask for you to label the file, understand that it’s not for our health. It’s a fairly simple, small request. That’s what bugs me. It slows us down, and since the turnaround is so quick, it doesn’t make it easy. Separate the files. I need you to do those things, and it annoys us when that doesn’t happen.

Speaking of self-tapes, landscape not portrait. Please. You think the word would have gotten around by now. Get yourself a good reader, someone who can move back and forth with you. Sometimes your reader kills it if they don’t know what they’re doing.

This is my other thing, too, I have what I think is a very approachable and friendly demeanor. But what I think actors don’t know now is that when you come to see me in the room, don’t try and cross and shake hands with me. It’s a small thing, but I will initiate. It’s a common courtesy. It wasn’t happening before, but the reason why I mention it is because it’s happening more and more. I get it; I understand, but especially during flu season. You need understand it from our perspective. It may be one handshake for you, but it might be my 50th.

7. What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for an actor?

As an actor, you need to understand basic business skills. Starting from simple budgeting; it’s a really good idea. It’s fairly general in our society that we don’t do that, but when you get to a certain level, you should know how much you earn per day. Along with that, you should have an understanding of marketing as well. You are an entrepreneur, and if you don’t have that mindset, then you need to surround yourself with people who do. Your agent only gets 10 percent, so that means 90 percent of the work is still on you. You need to understand that a lot goes into it.

When your agent reaches out to you, you need to reply ASAP.

Get a better understanding of the industry as a whole as quickly as you can just to understand the part you play in it.  We’re in the age of HULU and YOUTUBE; look up a clip of the show before you audition for it. That’s part of the business and marketing aspect, pick up a business book and take those things and apply it to understanding the market, and the product you’re selling: yourself.

If you get an opportunity to work behind the scenes in any capacity, you should take it. That goes back to understanding the business and understanding what role you play in it. If you can get even the smallest role, take it so you can learn more.

Image: Courtesy of Olubajo Sonubi

5 Questions: Bajo of OAS Casting

The second voice featured for my ‘5 Questions’ segment is Olubajo Sonubi, prominent local casting director of OAS Casting. Over lunch, Bajo and I got to speak about how casting changes on different projects, what’s most surprising about our market here in Atlanta, GA, and his biggest pet peeves.

Stay tuned for the second installment of ‘5 Questions’ with Olubajo Sonubi.

 

LISA MAE FINCANNON: 5 Questions

Lisa Mae Fincannon of Fincannon & Associates was kind enough to take some time and speak with me about the TV/Film business in the southeast. She spoke several times about the importance of being generous and gracious, and she could not have been more so to me as she is a busy lady these days, juggling several projects and lots of hats. Many thanks to you, Lisa Mae.

For more information on Lisa Mae and Fincannon & Associates, please visit their website.

5 QUESTIONS, A PIECE OF ADVICE AND A PET PEEVE
w/ Lisa Mae Fincannon of Fincannon & Associates

1) What excites you the most about what you do?

That’s an easy one for me. At heart, I am a writer. So when the right human being says the right word, I find that moment is magic. I am looking for the perfect union of the word and someone’s soul. This happens a lot in scripts I have a connection to. I have that with Ray (Mckinnon) in Rectify, and it happens with The Walking Dead. I have an actor tape, and I know that they are right for it. I still send on the top 5, but I know who it is when I send over the tape. Sometimes agents will also put actors in their submission; they will suggest someone, and I think, well may be the actor could be right for this role. Then I hear it and know they are right.

2) What goes into the process of choosing a project for Fincannon & Associates?

The creative voice is what feeds Fincannon & Associates. We are in a wonderful place in our careers where we are not forced to take something we don’t want to work on. If there are projects that we hear about, we will court them. I am not very interested in tent pole movies. It is not as rewarding to cast Soldier #1, but there is a place for those as well sometimes. I embrace cable, and I look for recurring and series regular roles. The growth in the market has not changed us much at all; we have not changed our approach over the years. If anything, it has given us a freedom we did not have before. In the past, if we were too busy, and we said no, they would call and beg us, and we would feel obligated. Then we get too busy and are strung out from the work. We look for a balance in things now. I will quote Craig here, he says “Competition keeps us good and healthy.”

3) Since our market is predominantly one of self-tapes, what propels a self-tape to the next level and can you describe its journey?

Since actors are no longer in the room and selling themselves, then the basic great lights, good sound and a strong reader who is not better than you are important. Actors have to take things to the next level in the world of internet casting. Creativity needs to be at play. Look for ways to bring ambiance to the scene through taping choices; create mood with the use of lighting. I also encourage actors to say something at the end of the tape, with the slate. It is nice to humanize the taping experience. Be kind, grateful and gracious. Even in the room for callback situations, it is easy to be nervous as you audition for this committee of 4 or more. If you don’t feel comfortable with taking an artistic risk in the room, be sure to make your mark in a gracious way after you read. Do not underestimate the importance of a thank you.

4) There are several new projects that will be shooting in Wilmington this spring, can we expect to see more episodics and features coming back to North Carolina?

It looks like our incentives will be eeking back in N.C. I am hoping the establishment here is seeing the error of their ways and moving towards them again. I can say that the series that are here are very happy. I expect it to grow. Craig and I are many generation North Carolinians and we can be here, and Mark can be based out of our Atlanta office. We feel so blessed that we can work in both markets.

5) When you are not casting the next big blockbuster or an exciting new pilot, what is an average day off for you?

I have 3 grandchildren under the age of 6 and 3 parental units over the age of 80, so my days off are spent interacting with them as much as possible.
The 2 things that I love most are cooking and gardening. My family calls me the sauce-o-saurus and the soup-o-saurus. On a Sunday, I open the fridge and put anything that may go bad in the next 2 days in a pot. You have a genetic propensity to love cooking or not.

***Biggest pet peeve.
It’s not in me to have a pet peeve, but I guess my one would be when a great performance is ruined by a bad reader. When someone’s grandma is louder and pulls all the focus off of the actor in the scene, I cannot send it on. Of course, sometimes it backfires if the reader is amazing. I remember the first time I ever heard Brian Bremer read with someone. I called the actor’s agent and said the person is ok, but the reader is incredible. It’s a double edged sword. You need a proficient reader, but they cannot over-shadow the person auditioning.

And people who are not gracious.

***Best piece of advice for the working actor.
The piece of advice I would give everyone, and I struggle with this everyday myself, is to live in the moment. We get caught up in the next thing and the rat race, and we forget to enjoy the moment. Don’t take anything for granted, soak every bit in and love it!

5 Questions

With this blog, I hope to provide information about the industry, but I also want to more voices than just my own.  I will be debuting a new segment for AMT-OLOGY called 5 QUESTIONS. For this segment, I will interview prominent figures working in the industry for advice, pointers and pet peeves in the business.

Stay tuned for my first interview with Lisa Mae Fincannon of Fincannon & Associates.