Category Archives: actor stuff

There is SO MUCH Going On!

I am currently on location in Harrisville, New Hampshire at Aldworth Manor shooting the new indie horror movie Squirrel. It’s been a lot of fun and you’re going to see a lot of it if you’re following me on social media.

Autumn is my favorite time of year and October is one of my favorite months. Rene and I got married in October, we LOVE Halloween, the weather is my preferred type with clouds and rain and chill, it’s our cup of tea. It’s really hard to be all the way across the country away from her and Frankie. They seem to be having a good time back in Portland and Frankie is super-cute in his outfits to keep him warm, as you can can see in these pictures:

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But it’s still hard. So I’ve been keeping myself busy in my downtime.

In the interest of Halloween, I’m telling spooky stories here at the manor. The first one you can see here:

I’ll be doing more all month and these stories are TRUE! Also, the manor house is apparently haunted so I’m going to be going through it with some of the cast and crew later this month to see if we can “catch” anything. Here’s a preview of that from Friday the 13th:

Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween if I didn’t post Bloody Mary again – it’s a tradition:

And since we won’t be able to do LIVE Discussions for a while, here’s one that i think is still incredibly relevant on being a journeyman actor:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we have COOL NEW MERCH NOW! You can see that HERE.

You can currently order these cool designs:

Of course, our patrons have first crack at all new material and at the higher levels of patronage you get discounts on your order! You can check that out HERE.

Please like, subscribe, click the links, share, follow – you know, do all the good social media stuff! We’ll see you soon!

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The Creative Storm: Prioritizing the Mess In a Creative Brain

Since Rene and I have moved to Portland we have been so excited to follow all the creative endeavors we felt we could not pursue while living in California. And we have been! The things that have been made public, like the current projects on the YouTube channel, are the easiest things to make and get out but only scratch the surface of what we’re hoping to do.

There are lists.

Normally I like lists. They help me keep track of things. You can check stuff off of a list. But when your list gets too long it gets hard to keep up with everything, so you have to prioritize. This is where I break. I’ve been accused of having a “yes” disease where I will say yes to doing things because they sound fun and exciting. I can’t deny that. I’m an enthusiastic person. If I am pitched an idea and I like it then I will want to do it and really commit to it. This can lead to a lack of focus and overcommitment and I’m feeling that right now.

The reason I write about this stuff is to help other creatives and people who are starting out by talking about how I solve problems common to creative people, but this is a tough one for me. So rather than being able to rely on my multiple decades of experience to help figure this out, you’ll actually be on the journey with me as I go – warts and all.

When problem solving the first thing to do, and one of the most important steps, is to figure out what the problem is. Fortunately for us I have already spend time figuring this out:

Lack of Focus.

That’s pretty broad. That’s not going to help. As with acting and performing, specifics are key; so what am I not focused on?

I am not focused on what creative endeavors I want to pursue.

Better. Probably not specific enough, but it’s better. So next step, if I am not focused on the endeavors I want to pursue then the next logical question is what are the those endeavors?

I want to make a living as just an actor again.

Woof! OK, tall order. This is not the easiest time to want to do that and now that we live outside of a major market, like L.A. or NYC, it’s even tougher. Also, this requires a few different steps to do efficiently and effectively:

  • Getting a local agent in the PNW.
  • Probably time for new headshots.
  • Regularly check the breakdowns and submit myself (currently happening)

So, that being said, even though there is some progress on that front I will need to drop this goal down the priority scale…

OK, wait a minute! Why is this – the giant overall goal – getting dropped down the priority scale?!?!?!?

Good question, here’s the answer: Paying Bills

I hate this answer. I hate it sooooooo much. If I didn’t have to pay bills I’d have so much money (#sarcasm). But rent, electricity, food, internet, etc. all of it requires paying someone and it is impossible to stay focused on your craft and your goals if you are constantly worried about whether or not things are going to be ok at the end of the month.

Thus thusly and therefore, since I cannot rely on acting money to cover said bills at this time, since I am in progress on that goal in a way continues to move it forward even if it is at a slower pace than I would like, I can move it down a few positions and still feel confident that I am not abandoning the goal. #justification (This can be debated in the comments.)

OK, so what’s next…?

I want to generate more content for the YouTube Channel.

OK, again not quite specific enough. I am generating content for the channel. We do LIVE Discussions every week (#shamelessplug) so I need to drill down deeper.

I want to do more sketches and scripted videos for the YouTube channel.

There we go, that’s something that can be a goal! When I look at the channel analytics the things that do best are things that are funny and either scripted or follow a narrative of some kind. Even though I’d love to be a creative person’s guru (I want to share knowledge!) or be able to do “talking-head” pundit style stuff (they are soooo much easier to make) that is not what people come to the channel for they want me discussing Pokemon Battles, Rene singing about the fall, and our niece using Bloody Mary to murder her brother. I want to provide more of these things, but they have been a little tougher to get done. So what do I need to do to make this happen? I need:

  • Ideas – We have a bunch of these, a bunch! So what I really need to do is focus on which ones to do first. (Check)
  • Time – This is the resource that is completely under my control and I don’t know that I’m parsing out very well. If I really want to do it I can make the time. I find time to do other things and so I know I can do it – I just need to really hanker down and commit. (Check)
  • Money – For some of the ideas I need to get stuff:
    • Music Rights
    • Props
    • Specific Equipment
    • Crew

Money is rough to discuss because that needs to be prioritized too. Let’s not forget the “Need to Pay Bills” part – so that’s in first position priority-wise. And that takes up most of the funds. Rent, food, car (payment & insurance), health insurance, Frankie (food & meds),… It all adds up, there ain’t much left after that. So when it comes to making these things that do cost we need to find a way to pay for them. YouTube Adpocolypse  really affected small channels like ours so we can’t rely on that. Rene and I have started a Patreon account but I understand that in order to grow that we need to have more of the content people really like to watch (see links above). So, if one of the big things holding me back from creating is funding for these projects then I need to raise those funds.

So, in order to do more sketches and scripted content for YouTube I need to raise funds.

There we go, that’s now in a top priority slot.

I’m not going to write about next steps on this in here (I gotta’ keep some mystery about things) but this does help point me in a direction. If you’d like to help get things moving a bit faster don’t hesitate to sign up on our Patreaon #shamelessplug. Or click on the ads, that always helps too!

Is there something you’re working on? Things that you need to prioritize? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Filed under actor 101, actor stuff, business, career, commentary, Curtis Andersen, day in the life, Hollywood, in real life, Operation: Television's Curtis Andersen

Here’s an Update Video for August 2017

Rene and I have only been in Portland for about 10 weeks, but we have hit the ground running! Here’s an update on what’s going on:

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LIVE Discussions & Patreon – We’re doing things!

We have been hard at work on all of our new stuff and while we’re are still working on things like sketches:

And things like Rene’s music parodies:

The thing that seems to be taking off is our series of LIVE Discussions. These are weekly (Sundays at 11am Pacific Time) and recorded live on our YouTube Channel. We have a topic of discussion (usually arts or creativity related) and I assemble a panel of friends, co-workers, and contemporaries to talk about it for at least 20 mins (although lately we’ve been going longer). Once a month we do a Feature Discussion with a bigger panel. Feature Discussions last for at least an hour and I do a follow-up video of just the highlights after the fact. Below is a playlist of all the discussions so far:

Please check these out, feel free to click on any of the advertising (wink).

Rene and I have some big plans for the future, especially as we continue building our own content. We can do a lot on our own, but we could use some additional financial support to help raise the bar on our activities. Everything we’ve done thus far has been done on a shoestring where we beg, borrow and steal what we need to get a project done. This has worked pretty well, like with The Chili and Bloody Mary:

But with a little bit more money we can do a lot more!

Please consider joining our Patreon page. We’ve set-up some good starter rewards and I’m very pleased to announce that I got some of our art proofs back this morning for the merch that we will be releasing (actual release date TBD, but it’s coming!!!).

If Patreon isn’t an option, please don’t be afraid to click on the advertising links you see here and on the channel. I try to make sure that all of the ads presented are appropriate for the page and they should be set-up so that the items shown are things you, as the reader/watcher, would be interested in.

Thank you all for your support! We have seen the page jump in activity since we started – and we’re doing very well for only being about 4 weeks into this new effort! We’re really looking forward to what’s next!

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Improv workshop in Newport, Oregon!

If you happen to be in the Newport, Oregon area on Saturday August 5th come participate in my improv intensive put on by the Red Octopus Theater Company!

Here are the links:

CoastArts.org

OregonCoastToday.com 

And here are the details for the link disinclined:

FREE IMPROV WORKSHOP

presented by: Red Octopus Theatre Company

Starts:Saturday, August 05, 2017  12:00 PMEnds:Saturday, August 05, 2017  5:00 PM

Cost:

FREE ($5 Suggested Donation)

LOCATION:

NEWPORT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

777 W. Olive Street
Newport, OR 97365

EVENT DESCRIPTION:

Those of all skill levels are invited to come experience the crazy, creative world of “Improv” in this fun-filled workshop, led by television’s Curtis Andersen. 

The event will include a broad range of topics, exercises, and games, including (but not limited to): building trust, warm-up games, how to listen, building a scene, ending a scene, comedy improv vs. dramatic improv, and more.

Curtis Andersen spent the last decade as a member of the nationally-acclaimed improv troupeImprov Shmimprov, performing live improvisational comedy on Friday and Saturday nights. He also conducts a seminar titled Think Fast, which trains business professionals to use improvisational techniques to increase their performance and solve problems creatively.

Andersen has guest starred on many television shows, including That 70’s ShowMalcolm in the MiddleParty of Five3rd Rock from the Sun,Veronica MarsThe Gilmore Girls, and Feud: Bette & Joan. He has had recurring roles on Saved by the Bell: The New Class7th Heaven, and is often recognized as Gordie from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

In addition to his television work, Andersen can also be seen in many films, including The Rules of Attraction, and Michael Bay’s Oscar-winning film,Pearl Harbor

Red Octopus Theatre Company is excited to welcome Andersen to Newport. For over a decade he has helped artists do the work that has lead them to network television shows and major feature films – in the form of private coaching, or in his role as head of faculty at the McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts.

This event is appropriate for those aged 13 and up, and is free (however, there is a $5 suggested donation.) The Newport Performing Arts Center is located at 777 W Olive Street in Newport, Oregon.

 

The Red Octopus Workshop series allows established and/or new performers alike a creative outlet, and an opportunity to hone their current skills and/or learn new ones. Past workshops topics have included movement, performing Shakespeare, puppetry, audition skills, and short play writing. Those with questions about this workshop or future offerings are encouraged to visit the Red Octopus Workshop’s official Facebook page:www.facebook.com/RedOctopusWorkshop

For more information about Red Octopus Theatre Company, visit www.OctopusOnStage.com

READ MORE ABOUT:

EVENT LINK:

http://www.facebook.com/RedOctopusWorkshop

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Filed under actor 101, actor stuff, improv

We are doing things on the YouTube Channel!

We’ll be posting new videos every week now on the YouTube channel! See the video below for details:

If you want to get all the videos as soon as they are released please visit the channel and subscribe:

What kinds of videos do you want to see us do? Tell us in the comments!

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Acting 101: Serve the Story

There are some fundamentals that are always worth revisiting. Film, television, theater, even commercials are all forms of storytelling. They all have a beginning, middle and end. They all have characters that go through changes. They all have a conflict and resolution. This applies to all consumed media and you notice if any of these things are missing – that’s when we call something a “bad movie” or show or book or whatever. Storytelling has been around for as long as humans have  smeared berry pulp on cave walls and not much has changed about the process except the technology and number of people telling the story.

Working in the modern entertainment industry, both old and new media, requires collaboration. The story needs a writer. The director is there to interpret the writing. The actor is there to give life to the story’s characters. None of these jobs can tell the story alone, they all need to work together to create the final product. Yes, there may be differences in status between the roles during the course of creation, but in the end all participants at all levels have one job: to serve the story.

Speaking on actors specifically, we end up being the primary face (literally) of this process and therefore we are the focus of a lot of the scrutiny of a final product. When we do our job well even the most ridiculous stories can seem “good” and be enjoyed by the audience. And if we don’t do our job well even the best material can suffer. Serving the story is the most fundamental requirement of all entertainment professionals. Yes, technique is important but those who can serve the story will always win against those who only focus on technique.

And I guess “serving the story” for many would be considered part of some people’s technique, but I think you get what I’m saying so let’s not quibble on technicalities.

To serve the story it is important to realize what your character’s place is within the story. While in the real world we are all heroes of our own stories, in a script each role is laid out clearly and deliberately. There are our leads, the protagonist and antagonist. There are the supporting players, their friends and associates. And there are the atmosphere, the extras that make the scenes feel “real.” Just as there may be differences between the status of a writer, director and actor there are also different strata for the actors with leads on top and extras at the bottom. It’s important to remember that while their status may be different on set all of them are required to effectively tell the story. Each one is a cog that must work with the rest to make the machine operate correctly.

In that working together it is important to maintain the function of your place in that story. It’s an issue that I see most often with actors that are new to the business. Often that are coming to it with stars in eyes and visions of fame in their heads. For them any role they portray is a chance to be the star of the show, even to the detriment of the show itself. Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you are doing a show to perpetuate your own glory then you are working against the show and you are not serving the story. Worst of all, your attempt to shine actually draws the wrong kind of attention to you and will tarnish your reputation making it harder for you to achieve your initial goal in the first place.

What the naive actor does not realize is that the best way to shine is to do your specific part the best that you can within the parameters of the role. This is demonstrated regularly in the characters that we fall in love with who may not be the overall “star” of a piece. Characters like Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in Tombstone or Jennifer Coolidge’s Paulette in Legally Blonde. These were supporting characters that stood out, in a very strong way, in films that were not missing plenty of star power in general. They did not make an effort to steal the show, they were just doing what they were hired to do so well that the quality of the work could not be denied.

In my personal opinion, and I’m confident that I’m not alone in this, this is what we as actors and performers should strive to do. All stories are bigger than the single performer. We all have our place, some larger than others, but when everything works together, when the collaboration is effective, then we get the kind of art and entertainment that people not only enjoy but return to over and over again – a classic!

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.

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This, this, all the this!

If you are a creative, this video will sounds very familiar – but it’s a universal message. Lord knows I’ve been down this road a few times. Determination, persistence and touch of naivete is usually enough to win the day – it’s just the “day” in question usually lasts for years.

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New Movie Trailer – East of Jesus

Last summer Rene and I shot a movie called East of Jesus.

It comes out this spring! Here’s the first trailer:

Like it, share it, enjoy.

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Filed under acting, career, shameless self promotion, trailers, video, YouTube

Day 430 Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen – Phase 2 & Your Headshots

Happy New Year!

If you didn’t see my last video, I was able to achieve the primary goal of booking a job on TV at the end of the year! In case you missed it, here it is:

The show is a new show that has an NDA the length of my arm so I can’t say a bloody thing about it, but I promise I won’t shut up about it once I can. So now that I can unironically call myself “Television’s Curtis Andersen” again it’s time to move on to Phase 2 – getting on a genre show! What’s a genre show? Watch the new video to find out.

Also, to add a little actual advice to this blog after a long stretch of just me talking about myself and auditions, I talk a little bit about the importance of getting a good headshot – because I’ve seen a lot of BAD headshots lately.

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