New York Agrees With Us



It’s cliche to say that New York is an exciting, vibrant town. It is truly a working model in “hustle and bustle.” The sidewalks are full of people going somewhere and the streets, although packed like the 405 at rush hour, still seem to move at various steady paces depending on the time of day. As much as New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude, we find that they are actually some of the friendliest people you could meet who are happy to help when they can, but will also tell you to shove it if you’re being an ass. Rene and I have only been here a few weeks but we are already finding that New York works pretty well for us. 

I started this post when I was still in the city. I was in the apartment that were were sitting and curled up on the couch. I never did finish a post while I was there, mostly because there was so much to do and so many people that we wanted to see. And the experience itself was overwhelming. I’ve been to New York before. The last time was a while a ago, 2004, but one thing that’s great about New York is that it doesn’t seem to really ever “change” in its fundamentals. There are probably a few New Yorkers that would argue me on that, and I would concede on points that are specific to the new economy of the city and the gentrification of certain areas, but the fundamental energy, can-do spirit and cultural ferocity that songs are written about and that draws people from all over the world to visit and settle there has never really changed. It’s a viceral thing, you can actually feel it as you walk around. For a week straight neither Rene or I got the kind of sleep we normally need and functioned as if we were powered by a celestial Dynamo. There’s a reason they call it the city that never sleeps. This was illustrated all the more for me when I got home and found that I was bone draggingly tired. You could blame the lack of “vacation adrenaline” for the change, but I’ve travelled a lot and have not ever felt this kind of dip except when visiting New York. It took me a week to really recover and my recovery required a great amount of sleep. 

But as great as the city is, this trip was as wonderful as it was due to the people that we got to see while we were there. From Kim and Roy who were the reason we were there in the first place to Jenna and Joel who are a powerful reminder of what I want to be doing to all the folks that we met for the first time, they helped to make New York a wonderful temporary home. 

There is so much that I want to talk about, some touristy stuff and some not so touristy stuff, but those are best left for different posts. Do you like slide shows?

See you next time!

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The Business: Adi Shankar Breaks Down Indie Film Finance

The Business Logo

I talk a lot about the changing entertainment industry in this blog, mostly from the perspective of an actor, but the business of movie making itself is in constant flux. I rarely talk about the projects that we are working on until they feel like they are in a position where they look like they are definitely going to happen.

“But Curtis, ” I hear you saying, “you’ve talked about things that have totally gone belly up before. What about those?”

Well, dear readers, those projects that I’ve talked about that ended up not working were all victims of a dangerous calculus known as Independent Film Finance. Getting a film made is a metaphorical tightrope walk over a mile deep chasm filled with razor blades and sulphuric acid. At any moment a stiff breeze could come by and destroy you and everything you’ve worked on – but the promise of a completed project is enough to make you try and if you get to the other side…? Oh there is no sweeter feeling of satisfaction!

However the realities of film finance are not well known among the audience. If you knew what filmmakers know you’d be amazed that any movie ever got made ever and how terrible movies are getting made at all. In the interest of education I’d like to share with you a video made by indie filmmaker Adi Shankar, he’s the guy responsible for the gritty Power Rangers remake that hit all the blogs in late February/early March. He is also the guy behind DREDD which was a great adaptation of the popular comic hero judge Dredd. He breaks down, in a wonderfully efficient way, how independent films get made currently. It is beautifully succinct. Oh, and there’s adult language so be aware.

How do you feel about all this? What movies would you like to see happen? What movie would you erase from existence if you could?

See you next time!

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March 9, 2015 · 8:00 am

Video Friday – The History of Piracy

 

piracy

Piracy.

It is the bane of the modern entertainment industry.

It has completely changed the paradigm of the music industry and altered the business of television and film distribution in ways that have yet to be realized.

For many consumers, media piracy is thought of as a new thing. Something that the industry has to cope with in a world full of modern marvels that allow for quick duplication and distribution. But that isn’t actually true. Piracy is something that is as old as the entertainment industry and CineFix has done a great job explaining it in their latest Film School’D video.

Another lesson from this video? Edison really was a prick. An industrious prick, but a prick.

How do you feel about piracy? what do you think the industry can do to combat it? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time.

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March 6, 2015 · 8:00 am

NEW! AVENGERS! TRAILER!

Age of Ultron Logo

HOLY CRAP THIS LOOKS GOOD!!!!!

I’m so excited for this movie!

See you next time.

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March 4, 2015 · 10:49 am

Is TBS Speeding Up Seinfeld?

seinfeld logo

TBS logo

I was cruising around Reddit the other day, just burning some screen time, when I stumbled on this little tidbit:

TBS Speeds up Seinfeld Reddit

 

According to this post TBS airs reruns of Seinfeld faster than the shows were originally broadcast to gain extra ad-time to sell. This notion isn’t new, radio stations have been speeding up songs for years to help cut run times, but I haven’t ever heard of it for television. If it’s true (and in the link it does say that it was reported by CBS news on 2/20/2015) then I’m not surprised. The changing ecosystem for television has seen a drop in ad revenue as audiences have found new ways to consume the shows that they like. Since they can’t charge the same for the current air time they have it makes sense to try and create more of that air time.

The way networks used to do this is by cutting actual run time – the shows would actually have additional cuts made to remove a minute or so that could then be sold for commercials. This used to bother me a lot, especially when I was a kid. I’d specifically remember something in an episode and then in syndication it wouldn’t be there. When I finally did find out that the shows were getting trimmed it was relieving, but also still sucked because the shows was shorter.

An example of this is an episode of Diff’rent Strokes called “A Haunting We Will Go.” It was the Ghostbusters episode where Arnold and Sam think the house down the street is haunted. It looked like this:

At the end of the episode they find out that the ghost is fake and that the man who supposedly died in the house was an inventor who faked his death. More HERE including the whole episode. In the episode, when the ghostly things would begin, the doors to the parlor would slam shut. Once everything has been resolved at the end they all go for ice cream and walk out with the parlor doors doing one final “slam!” When I was a kid I was convinced that this meant that the house really was haunted and that the door was open for more spooky business. Problem was, when I watched the reruns that last slam was always cut out. I started to think that it was cut because it was too scary and then that I was imagining it completely. Many years later I got confirmation that I had remembered it correctly when I finally saw the complete episode again.

If TBS is only speeding up the episodes then it might not be that bad. You’ll see in the video below it’s hardly noticeable. But if they’re speeding up and trimming…? Well let’s hope there’s still enough episode to watch.

What do you think about this? Fair game in a declining market? Total greed from corporate overlords? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time.

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March 2, 2015 · 8:00 am

Video Friday: A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

LeonardNimoy-Memorium

This morning Leonard Nimoy passed away. Although I did not know him personally, he has always been a favorite of mine. Like so many other people, I was a Spock fan, I watched his show about movies on Nickelodeon when I was a kid, I learned about Bigfoot from his show In Search of…, and one of my favorite movies is Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. In interviews he was genuine and thoughtful and always seemed to have something interesting to say. To me, he appeared to be the gentleman actor who was always willing to give something a try – even a song about Bilbo Baggins. The world is a bit darker today because of his loss.

Instead of a fun video today I’d like to share the funeral scene from Star Trek 2 where Captain Kirk honors a fallen Spock. Although Mr. Nimoy was not the character that he played, this scene is the first that I remember when the death of a character had actual impact on me. It’s a moving send off.

Live long and prosper.

See you next time.

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February 27, 2015 · 11:40 am

Net Neutrality: The FCC Votes Tomorrow

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

Tomorrow is a big day for the Internet, the FCC will vote on the proposed rules to govern broadband. Even if these open Internet friendly rules pass it looks like the Internet Service Providers are going to take the whole thing to court. What does that mean? The fight is far from over. It’s up to each of us to let our representatives know that an open Internet is what we want.

Still confused about why you should care? Mashable put together a short video about the history of the internet and why Net Neutrality is important. And if you’d like more than you can check out some of my PREVIOUS POSTS.

Keep up the fight!

Ready to reach out to your representatives? Go here: SAVE THE INTERNET

EDIT: Update from today’s successful FCC Open Internet vote.

See you next time.

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February 25, 2015 · 6:17 am

Actor 101 – Marketing: 5 Best Practices

 

Actor 101 Logo

Back when I first started Actor 101 I posted an article about basic marketing for the actor. In fact it was called…

The Actor and Marketing

It is really basic, truly a 101 as far as marketing goes. If you are just getting started with how to market yourself in the entertainment industry I highly suggest giving that post a look before you continue with this post.

I was a guest speaker at a friends acting class the other night and we did a short Q&A about the changes in the industry and ways that an actor, especially a new actor, can market themselves. The conversation started with social media, websites, and online presence in general. Everybody had the accounts they need, but when it came to content it was all blank stares and mouths agape. That was a pretty big clue that it might be a good idea to cover some best practices specific to the new actor. The things I talk about in this article are best practices, which is to say that, all things being equal, these are things everyone should be doing. That being said all things are not equal so use what works for you.

  • Don’t Post Just To Post: Let’s start with a biggie – NO POST SPAM! Some people, especially when they are starting out, will post non-stop to their social media. This is how we get things like pictures of food and the “I’m bored, talk to me” posts. These posts are the kinds of things that get made fun of and do not help your social media presence at all. As an actor or other creative storyteller your goal is to connect with an audience through the telling of a story and a good story has a point which is why it’s worth telling. That’s how you should think of your marketing posts, they need to have a point. It could be as on the nose as “I have a new video up!” or as open as “Does anyone ever feel like Meisner technique makes them feel too vulnerable?” but it should be relevant and poignant to your intended audience. So if you go a day or two or a week without posting anything don’t panic. Likewise if you have a bunch to say that’s OK too, but you may want to consider scheduling some of those posts to spread the wealth.
  • Let Technology Help You: While I’m thinking about scheduling, there is some great technology out there to help you schedule where and what you posts to different social media sites. While most social networks have good cross posting abilities, you may not want to same message going out across all of your platforms. What you post to your private Facebook page may be very different than what you post on your LinkedIn page. Here are two solutions that I like. I have no affiliation with either of these companies, they just happen to be solutions I have used and like and they work well for entertainment professionals. Remember that regular posting helps build an audience.
    • Hootsuite: This is a personal favorite and the solution that I use daily. While they really push the idea of signing up for their paid services, most folks doing DIY social marketing will only need their free service. It allows you to set-up for five social networks and those can be changed at any time. My favorite part about Hootsuite is that you can either schedule your posts manually or allow it to auto schedule. I use the auto schedule option the most and it has increased my audience engagement dramatically. They also have a web extension call Hootlet that allows you to broadcast web content across your networks as you find it with the click of a button. They’ve recently added a YouTube feature that, admittedly, I haven’t played with yet but that addition is another reason why my gut instinct is to recommend this platform. There is also an easy to use smart phone/tablet app.
    • Buffer: I was first introduced to Buffer three years ago when a director at a touring show company we were working with showed it to me. The service has changed a bit since then and for the better. Buffer operates primarily as a web browser extension and app. With it you write a bunch of posts in advance and let the system space them out at appropriate times or time you select. Like Hootsuite they are looking for users to sign up for their paid service (their’s has the fun name “The Awesome Plan”) but their individual plan is still available. It covers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+. It is a bit more structured about what social networks you can add and how many of each, but since most people only have one of each network I doubt you’ll miss any functionality.
  • Share Your Personality: The mechanics of regular posting are fundamental, but just like we want our posts to have a point they should also share your personality with your audience. Social media is an electronic medium, but people don’t want to read posts from robots, they still prefer to talk to people (even if that means that sometimes there’s a computer screen between them). Identity is important, I mean you’re an actor after all, and if you’re using your social media to market yourself then you need people to get to know you. Define and refine your online voice. Unlike the financial advisors I speak to during the day, actors are allowed to have opinions no matter how unpopular. To be clear: this does not give you carte blanche to be an asshole but don’t be afraid to state your opinion. Did you recently discovered a film that you think people should see? Talk about it and why you liked it. Are you excited about The Razzie Awards? Name your picks! That being said, remember performer rule #1 – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! You want them to enjoy your posts and follow you, not turn on you. Ideally you’ll engage with a community that will interact with you which will increase your reach online and the farther you reach the better you’re doing.
  • Interact: Just like you want to have people engaged with your posts, other people want you to engage with their posts too. Social media is “social” by definition and the only way a community works is if people participate. If you are a performer marketing yourself on social media then participation in the community is a requirement. Think of it as joining in the conversation at a party – it’s just that this party is, literally, hundreds of millions of active people large all the time and everyone has something to say. Remember the first rule, though, NO POST SPAM! Don’t interact with a post unless you have something to contribute. Always go for quality over quantity when it comes to engagement. Going back to our party metaphor, no one wants to be the guy that clears the area around the punch bowl with his bad Christopher Walken impression. If you’re going to say something make sure it’s worth saying.
  • Make Sure Your Posts Benefit You: As an actor in this town, with all the changes that are happening to the business and with all of the competition, your primary goal is to use all of the tools at your disposal to benefit yourself. The goal of all the bullet points above are to get people to pay attention to what you have to say and, ideally, help you build a brand that might get your signal recognized above the noise. That means that you need to always remember the basics we discussed – know your audience, be relevant to your audience,  and be conscience of how you are perceived in your chosen community.

Do you have thoughts on this list? Feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments – engage in my community ;).

See you next time!

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Filed under actor, actor 101, education, Facebook, marketing, teaching, Uncategorized

Fun Video Friday The First Andelon Discussion: Creativity on the Daily

Fun Video Friday Update

We conducted our first Andelon Discussion last night LIVE via Google Hangout on YouTube where we discussed Creativity on the Daily, how people use their creative muscles in everyday life. It was a lively discussion that covered creativity for problem solving, trying to make a living creatively and what it takes to get your creativity going.

This being the first one we had a few technical issues with the sound at the beginning (my bad), but those stop about 10 minutes in.

The participants are some of my oldest friends who work in varied industries and had a lot to say on the matter. Check it out and let me know what you think!

This was a very male heavy discussion, so we’re doing an all female panel of this topic at the end of March hosted by my wife and partner at Andelon Productions, Rene Bordelon. If you’d like to check out more from the panel check out the links below:

Scott Sanford
IT specialist for the financial industry.

Dean Ethington
Graphic Designer and web developer for Oakley.

Dan Zarzana
Manager at an entertainment payroll company.

Jeff Garvin
Author and musician.

See you next time!

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February 20, 2015 · 8:00 am

A Lesson on Screen Writing by Michael Tabb

michaeltabb-215

I have the pleasure of knowing screenwriter Michael Tabb. Many years ago I tried very hard to get one of his scripts made, but it was during the darkest times of the economic meltdown and the funding was not secured. However that script has stuck with me as one those that “got away.” It was one of the finest movies about changing friendships that I’ve ever read. A few years later Michael helped out a friend of mine during a set of rewrites and I scribbled the notes that he gave down in a notebook I still keep on my desk. They still come in handy to this day.

So when I learned that Michael was writing a series of articles about screenwriting for ScriptMag.com I dug right in. His most recent article is about a character type that is one of my favorites:

The Antagonist

It’s a master class that is free on the internet so I hope you take advantage of it and enjoy it. Check out the other articles as well, it’s all good stuff.

See you next time!

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