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FMS February 2024 Newsletter

“If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” - Joseph Campbell.


The “WHEN”


We wanted to give you specific things to re-inspire you and to keep you focused

on what you can work on and create.  


These are things that will help you in auditions and help you grow as an actor and as an artist.    You may have heard them before ad nauseam, or you may never have heard them.  They are the language of every scene.  And if you have been working on them each month, then yes, you are a better actor for it.    It’s not enough just to consider the 5 W’s but to practice and go deeper.  In the last few months, we have talked about the:


Who

What

Why

Where


Now let’s talk about the “WHEN”.

It’s the last of the 5 W’s that are traditionally discussed.  These are major elements of the “given circumstances” of the piece.  There is one more, but we’ll talk about that next month.  Let’s talk about the when.   The WHEN is many things.  Make a choice about

When does the story take place? When in history, when during the day, when in your character’s life, when in the storyline.

Make choices about this in your scene work and your monologue work.  Explore those choices, go deep into those choices, and then change those choices to explore the scene more, which makes you more able to take direction in auditions, in rehearsals, and on the set.

As yourself, “WHEN is this?”

Is it the present day or set in the past?

Is your character modern but of another time, or is your character in the past but trying to always break free of the social constraints of the past?

Is it early, or is it late in the day?

When is it in the story? What just happened?


Take any scene.  Take any monologue.  Explore, stretch, and be willing to change.


"MAKE THE MOVIE YOU CAN MAKE"


This is another saying that we actually live by.  It’s time we explained this saying. 


So many directors call us wanting us to work on films with an enormous budget, with money that they don’t yet have in the bank. They ask us to go after major stars that will give their project prestige.  And more often than not, the dream of the project disintegrates into dust.  It’s not because their dream was too big. It



was because they were making a movie that they could not make.   They couldn’t make it because they didn’t have a script that could fit the budget that they could be trusted with.  They didn’t have the reputation or the body of work that could let investors and studios trust them with a budget of that amount.  Actors, when looking for an agent, tend to go after agents that only handle big stars and earn big money.  Sometimes, it works, but most times, the actors get lost in the big agency because, as new actors, they cannot bring in that kind of big money to the agency.  In each of those scenarios, the actors, the producers, and the filmmaker get discouraged.


An entertainment attorney friend of mine advised me to ‘Make the movie you CAN make.”   If you have five hundred dollars, make the best five hundred dollar movie you can possibly make.  And then get it out there.

Perhaps some people on the sidelines will make fun of your efforts.  But it is not the critic who counts.    Cast it well, including yourself. If you do this, you will learn the business, get better at acting, and get more for your reel.  You can enter it into festivals, and you can move forward.  Don’t wait around for the 20 million dollars you need to make your opus.  By all means, reach for the stars!  Reach beyond your grasp.  Man’s height is indeed equal to his reach.



WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE STUDIO

It’s been an exceptionally busy month.    Megan and I had the pleasure of both casting and directing a staged reading of a workshop of a beautiful play written by Matt Boatman-Simon called Message to My Younger Me.    Matt is the writer/director of a political thriller feature film we are working on with him, and the producer is Dave Darmour.  It was very well-received, and we are now talking about a second incarnation of the play, using what we learned from the performance on

Valentine’s Day.   We’ll keep you posted on the progress.




KILLING HOPE  Just won Best Short at the Melbourne Live Indie Film Festival.  We are so excited about that.  Both KILLING HOPE and A CUP AND A HALF have been accepted into the Golden State Film Festival, which is held at the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood., now called the TLC Theatre. The Golden State FF is always a great time.    It never gets old to walk into a theater with the handprints and footprints of legendary actors and directors who have come before us.  The Festival runs February 22 -29.  If you’re in town, come join us. Both of our films are screening on Saturday, February 24.


A Word or Two about Excitement and Enthusiasm.     

Sometimes, your excitement and your over-the-top enthusiasm make people uncomfortable, and they express the need to ‘bring you back down to earth.’   But here’s the thing:   the excitement you feel is your fuel.  You have created that fuel, and it is for YOU.   To drive you forward the next day and the next.




Most artistic types I know get excited and want to share that excitement with friends and family.  However, the usual response they get to sharing their excitement is criticism, skepticism, and a talk on practicality, and they are just trying to bring you back down to earth.  Or worse yet, they are unimpressed, and you feel like they are not taking you or your new venture seriously.  Either the dream is not to be taken seriously, or you are not to be taken seriously.  Ouch.


As an artist, your mind and heart are rooms, important rooms in your studio.   You can share what you are working on if you want after it’s done. But not before. And share it to what end?  Approval?  Marketing?  Sales?  The last two are the only valid ends to meet.  You don’t need anyone’s approval. You don't need anyone's permission. Unless they are actually doing the thing you're doing, you don't need anyone's advice. That will only end up holding you back. See Chapter 7 of How To Trash Your Career, "Take Advice from Other Non-Working Actors." However, If you have a mentor or a teacher, make sure they know the journey you are on and that they have traveled it successfully.  Then, their opinion counts for more.  Everyone has an opinion.  And the more you push other people’s buttons, the stronger their opinions will be.    That is a sure-fire way to empty the fuel out of your tank.  The only way to fill it back up is to do something. Take action.  Motivation is the reward or the payment for the honest action you have taken, and enthusiasm is the rocket fuel for your...everything. See Chapter 17, "Beware of Enthusiasm" in How to Trash Your Career.  The more passion you put in, the higher octane fuel you get out.  





Now… How Does a Person Get Started?

We get a lot of questions throughout the year, and a lot of them are the same questions:

How do I get started as a professional actor?

How do I get an agent?

How can I get more auditions?

How do I get my movie funded?




Answer:  There is no ONE right path.  There are as many paths as there are actors.  However, there is a right direction to go.  Go in the direction of your dreams.  That is not a platitude; that is the truth.


So, the way to get started as a professional actor is to search out whatever professional acting job you can find and go after the jobs that you can actually do.   It’s a lot to explain in a newsletter, and we teach entire classes on this.  In short, it’s up to you to make contacts and keep those contacts alive.  Megan and I talk about this all the time.  We say, as an actor, “Don’t take. Give.”  You are a storyteller.  Give people stories that they will like and remember you for.   Most actors just ask for a break.  Smart actors tell stories through acting that they can tell and that people will like and remember.  Got it?  Yeah.. that can seem difficult.  And it can seem like a long and daunting road, but there you go.  Instead of shooting a ‘scene for your reel.’ Think of shooting stories. Our students have had great success with that path: 35 films produced and many wins at film festivals around the world; it is a process that works.

But whatever dream excites you, let us remind you to just begin it.


We find it best to set big goals.. but not overwhelming tasks.   You want to get to ‘there’.  Now lay out the tiniest daily steps. Steps that don’t or can’t possibly overwhelm you, except in that they chip away at your fears and expand your comfort zone.  So, if you want to get a role in a feature film, get your work in front of those filmmakers.


If you want to make a project, decide on a story you want to tell.  If you’re not sure about what story to tell or how to tell it.  Here are two books to check out: Sid Field’s classic The Screenwriter’s Workbook and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.   It is a great book for understanding the stories and their important power.   

If you think you don’t know how... then learn.  If you think you can’t do it, do it.  No one can do the work for you, but we are always around to help you live that dream.   As Joseph Campbell says, “If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”




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