Category Archives: Hollywood

Squirrel – Coming Soon!

I did this movie last year. We shot at Aldworth Manor in late September and October. It was a gorgeous location and such a great time with a great team. I’m very grateful to have had this experience and I’m REALLY excited for you all to see it!

Follow these accounts for more details:

HCT.Media Squirrel Movie Instagram

Of course there’s still my Twitter, Instagram and Fanpage which will also have details as they become available – so follow those today!

Shameless plug:

If you like t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs I suggest you check out our merch in our SHOP.

And of course I’ll be posting updates here as they happen.

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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

Storytelling Discussion Highlights

We had a great conversation on Sunday talking about storytelling, how we do it, and what it takes to make that your career. I’ve trimmed down the over hour long conversation into about twenty minutes of just the most advice dense parts. And there’s a little bit of Skelly in there too.

Below is the full discussion if you liked what you saw above and want to see a bit more:

Don’t forget to check out our panelists where they do their work:

Jeff Garvin at JeffGarvinBooks.com

Erin Stegeman at her Twitter

And Zeke Pinheiro at FunSizeHorror.com

And of course check out the Andelon Productions Patreon. You get exclusive access to content and material there and it only takes a dollar a month to be a patron!

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Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen

Picture by Molly Hawkey

Picture by Molly Hawkey

Hi.

My name is Curtis Andersen and I have been an entertainment professional for over 30 years.

I started working professionally when I was 8 years old and haven’t ever stopped, but some years were definitely better than others.

From eight through my mid-twenties I made my primary living as an actor, you can see a list of most of what I did at IMDb. But then in 2005 I thought I’d have more control over my career if I tried producing. It went fine, made some movies; sold some TV shows; and made a lot of music videos, but something was always missing. It was not creatively satisfying, at least not in the way acting is for me, and a majority of the job was hunting for financing. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried independent film financing, but I don’t recommend it. It takes a lot of time to get a “yes” and then there are a thousand ways that are beyond your control where that “yes” can suddenly turn into a “no.” In 2012 I lost the funding for three projects on the same day – it was the next six months worth of work – and I started thinking that being a producer was probably not the path I wanted to follow.

At the end of 2014 I was ready to be done with producing. I was very pleased to be a part of the first year of Fun Size Horror, but found myself having a lot more fun being in the shorts than being behind the scenes. That’s when the final decision was made – I needed to be a working actor again!

That being said, becoming a working actor in Hollywood, even when you were one for over 20 years, is not easy. It takes dedication and persistence and a lot of hard work. I’ve decided to chronicle my path back both here and on my YouTube channel. I’ve created a playlist of the videos I’m shooting, you can see it down below:

I’d love to hear your comments as this keeps going either here on the blog or on the videos.

Let’s see if we can make the nickname “Television’s Curtis Andersen” a reference to me in the present instead of the past.

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Filed under acting, actor stuff, artist, behind the scenes, business, career, challenge, Hollywood, new projects, Operation: Television's Curtis Andersen, videos, YouTube

Actor 101 – The Hollywood Survival Guide for Actors

Actor 101 LogoHollywood Survival Guide Cover

The following is a review of the book The Hollywood Survival Guide for Actors by Kym Jackson. It is billed as, “Your handbook for becoming a working actor in L.A.”

Here’s the TL;DR version: If you are an actor in Los Angeles or coming to Los Angeles you should own this book and read this book. In the 30+ years that I have been working in this business, this is, truly, one of the best books on being an actor in the modern entertainment industry I have ever read. I cannot give it a higher recommendation, it is brilliant!

Here’s the full review: When I started working professionally in the entertainment industry in 1985 things were very different from how they are now. First and foremost I was a child who was plucky, had done some amateur acting and wasn’t shy. I had a very supportive family and parents who were willing to do the leg work and driving. My dad was able to locate a reputable child manager who helped me get really good headshots and also referred me to one of the top agencies for children at the time. I had a charmed start to my professional career. I went on my first audition, to be the voice of Schroeder (the piano playing kid in the Peanuts cartoons) and booked it. Because I was small for my age, I was older to play younger for a long time, eventually playing a sixteen year old until I was well into my twenties. Because there were very few bumps on my road to early success I’m not sure that I had a real sense of just how tough this industry can be… until 2005.

In 2005 I was told, very plainly and without any malice, “I just can’t see you as a virgin anymore” by a casting director when I was auditioning to be what I had hoped would be another in a line of geeky teens that, until that moment, had been my bread and butter. In 2005 I went from “regularly working actor” to  “barely auditioning actor” and my relationship to the industry changed. I’ll be really open about this, I don’t think I was capable of appreciating how good I had it. I look back now on those first twenty years and they really were amazing! I don’t wanna’ rest on the laurels of an old resume, but I’m still very proud of what’s on my IMDb page even if most of it is over a decade old. But I took it for granted. Mistakes were made. It’s easy to slip into the old refrain of, “if I knew then what I know now…” but regrets never got anyone anywhere and the past is a terrible place to live. Since I didn’t have to struggle when I got started I was horribly ill equipped to get my acting career back on track.

Enter the producing years!

What does every actor want to do after they’ve been acting a while? The correct answer is “direct” but I never really connected to that so I decided to be a producer. The original goal was to make things that I could be in, after all why not cast yourself in the movies you make? For the first project I wanted to just focus on one job, so I did not cast myself (a decision I’m still 50/50 on). There was plenty of work to do as a producer, especially on our small independent project. The budget was tight, down to the last dollar, so I was constantly managing something. This trend continued for the next several projects over the next several years. While my intentions to cast myself were good, a combination of workload and no appropriate parts conspired to take me, essentially, out of the acting world. I still do the occasional commercial here and there and do parts in friend’s projects, but no major theatrical work whether it be my projects or anyone else’s. What I was doing, though, was seeing the job of being an actor from a whole new perspective. In setting up casting sessions I saw that you’d probably only see about 60-75% of the people you scheduled for your audition – especially if it was non-union. That everyone is hustling for that “next gig” even agents and studio heads. The whole town essentially runs on moxie and bravado as opposed to contracts and handshakes (although those are important too). I learned more about the crew than I did in twenty years of working with them including how they are hired, how they are paid, and what it means when talent is late. I learned how the sales process of different projects works, including films, documentaries and television shows. Doing the hands-on work and being a part of every facet of the production process became a better education than proper film school. After a decade of fighting tooth and claw to get things made I came to the conclusion that producing was not the right thing for me and it was time to get back to what I really loved.

Back in the saddle.

At the end of 2014 I was just coming off a very successful turn as a board member of the Big Bear Film Festival and the first year of Fun Size Horror but I was ready to be done. Producing was lots of work and satisfying on a business level, but I really missed being an actor.  After a decade of being committed to making things people had forgotten that I used to be in front of the camera and that kinda’ sucked. I didn’t like the idea of being the guy who “used to be an actor,” being one has always been part of my identity. So in 2015 I decided it was time to rejoin the ranks completely and get back to being a full time working actor…

…turns out that’s a lot harder than it used to be.

No longer the adorable eight-year-old, it has not been as simple to just “jump back in.” Now-a-days you are required to have a demo reel to be considered for even the smallest parts. Agents won’t even look at you without a strong referral or a good list of credits. Booking the jobs I used to get is a lot harder now since much bigger actors are now taking smaller parts in films and T.V. shows.

What I’m getting at with all this preamble is that I have had a very full and complete experience in the Entertainment Industry School of Hard Knocks. I’ve been up and I’ve been down and I’ve seen some shit. It’s taken me thirty years to learn all of this.

You can get it all in one book.

The Hollywood Survival Guide for Actors

Kym Jackson has succinctly and efficiently placed all of the knowledge that a new actor in Los Angeles needs in one very easy to read book that covers everything from moving to L.A. to booking the job. I have often run into people that are ready to tell you “how it is” in Hollywood but never have I read something that I both agreed with and was able to learn something new from.

This isn’t a book you just read and put down, it is a resource. The chapters are laid out in an easy flow that makes sense as you go along. I found myself trying to come up with questions rookies might ask as I went through it. Each time it felt like the next chapter was answer to at least one of those questions with the remainder not far behind.

The best part about this book is that it is CURRENT. When I first started acting in the 80’s this business was very different and I’ve seen more change in the last five years than in the last thirty combined! All of the information in this book is up to date and looks to remain relevant for years to come.

It is a book I recommend to my acting students and one that I would recommend to any one even thinking of giving L.A. a try as an actor.

Get it, read it. You’ll be happy you did.

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Filed under acting, actor 101, actor stuff, audition technique, auditions, behind the scenes, blatant plug, books, business, career, casting, education, getting started, Hollywood, how-to, reviews, teaching, The Business

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

Am I a Startup? Part 2: The “Don’ts”

Startup Post Art

In part 1 we covered what a startup is and the four best practices to help get that startup moving, with definitions tweaked to work for the entertainment industry (although those tweaks may work for other industries as well). Having an idea of what to do is important and positive and helps get all the work off on the right foot. That being said, it is nice to also know what pitfalls to avoid so you can do your best not to fail on accident. Just like articles on what to do to help your startup succeed there are as many, if not more, articles about what makes a startup fail.

Thinking about it, that makes sense since, by definition, a startup has no guarantee of success so many of them (most of them even) fail. Entertainment careers are no different. In this life you hear “no” a lot more than “yes.” You can have a series go to pilot and then not get picked up. You can be edited out of a commercial after you’ve already shot it. For resilience we all say that it’s, “just part of the biz” but, part of the biz or not, that much rejection can be draining. So the following are four mistakes that can kill your startup inspired by and paraphrased from this article: The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups. Why are there not 18? Because not all of the mistakes really apply to my topic. Sure, I could shoehorn in a few descriptions and get all symbolic with the language, but that isn’t the goal. The goal is to have strong points that are easy to identify and avoid to keep things moving in a positive career direction. But if you want to read all 18, and I suggest you do, go to the link.

Before we get started with the actual four mistakes, I’d like to point out a overarching general mistake that the author Paul Graham points out that also makes very good sense in an entertainment career:

“In a sense there’s just one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want. If you make something users want, you’ll probably be fine, whatever else you do or don’t do. And if you don’t make something users want, then you’re dead, whatever else you do or don’t do. So really this is a list of (sic) things that cause startups not to make something users want. Nearly all failure funnels through that.”

In his explanation let’s trade out the word “user” for “audience.” Entertainment exists to be experienced by people, there isn’t any way around that. As a general rule of thumb: make and do the things you believe in and have passion for. Those are the things that have the best chance of taking off and if they don’t you can at least feel good about the attempt.

Now on to the mistakes:

  1. Bad Location. The internet and prosumer equipment have really allowed people to make high quality content just about anywhere, but if you want to work on the bigger shows and films (hell even the big online stuff) you need to be in one of the major entertainment hubs: Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta or New Orleans. Although theres also North Carolina, Chicago, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and the occasional shoot in Hawaii. And Canada. Puerto Rico is offering some really nice tax incentives so some productions are moving over there… All kidding aside, even with this expansive list there are still very few cities that can actually handle and support a large amount of filming. If you are ok just shooting with your friends and putting it up online then more power to you. Hollywood is decentralizing and I predict that we’re going to see more migration away from Southern California over the next five to ten years, but there will still be industry hubs where the camera crews live and where you can find a guy who can record decent sound. You want those people so you should be where they are.
  2. Derivative Ideas. Don’t just copy. I know Hollywood does it all the time, but those are the things people make fun of Hollywood for doing. I’m not saying that you can’t have your own spin on an existing idea, but don’t just straight up copy. Here’s an example: Zombies have been the dominate movie monster for over a decade now. There has been zombie everything, but the ones I remember: The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, and Shaun of the Dead all had unique takes on the genre. You don’t need to be the first person with an idea, but you do need to have a way to make it your own.
  3. Choosing the wrong platform. This literally came up in conversation today and it seems like something that I talk about with people all the time. There is both a literal and a figurative meaning to “platform.” The literal has to do with distribution of content that you and your team may be creating. When you decide how to get it out to the audience you either need to build to the distribution you have access to or hustle to get the distribution you feel the content requires. For example: I spoke to a buddy just today about their new project that, in my opinion (which happened to be an opinion he shared), needs to be a web release. It is built in tight little vignettes that are great for online audiences and the pieces all combine together into one big narrative that he could release as a stand-alone product and/or send to film festivals. But there is talk about converting it to feature length and trying to get the funding to do a movie version. In my head, at this time with the options available to them, online seems like the no brainer. Doing this project as a television show wouldn’t work, the premise wouldn’t last beyond a season. Doing it as a movie might work, but it would require a heavy rewrite and a massive investment. Right now they have a completed product ready to launch and it would be a shame not to release it. The figurative meaning of “platform” is for the actor. We can trade out “platform” for “type.” One of the biggest complaints that I hear from my casting director friends is that people submit for things that they have no chance of getting. As an responsible auditioning actor you need to be honest with yourself about your type. If you happen to be a strawberry blond skinny guy who does prat falls and makes faces you should not submit yourself for roles where they usually cast Ian Somerhalder. I promise you, Ian Somerhalder is going to get that part. Overall I think the lesson here is to play to your strengths. Swinging for the fences is great and all,  but you still need to be smart about it.
  4. Not wanting to get your hands dirty. This is probably the biggest crime in all of the entertainment business, especially for people new to it. As great as this job is, there is nothing easy about it. If it were easy everyone would do it because it’s awesome. A lot more people could do it, but most are not willing to put in the amount of work that it takes to do it right. Hell, even thirty years later I’m still finding ways that I’m deficient in my efforts. It’s an ever changing business that requires constant effort. If you’re not up for that find something else to do with your time.

Did I miss anything? Are there any best practices that I could have added to part 1? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time.

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Bloody Mary – Fun Size Horror Revisited

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They are finally able to be released publicly! The shorts we made for Fun Size Horror are now available for public view.

“Bloody Mary” was a fun bit of filmmaking made under surprise conditions. Originally we had a different crew, location and equipment – but then there was some bad luck behind the scenes. Thanks to some help from Fun Size founder Zeke Pinheiro we were able to shoot and get this in on time.

Give it a look and then watch it a bunch more and tell a friend. More next week!

See you next time!

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January 7, 2015 · 9:00 am

Due to schedule conflicts, please see this link…

I am in pre-production on a job that had a sudden and drastic deadline change so the blogs I had intended to write this week may be a bit delayed. However, there is still new content of mine on the internet!

My monthly article on Create with Jenna went up today and you can see it by going to any of the links that I have put in this sentence…

…or THIS ONE.

It’s about career management during slow times of the year – like the holidays!

Enjoy!

See you next time.

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