Category Archives: making movies

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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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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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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Day 249 Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen East of Jesus Shoot Update

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It’s Day 249 and we are still on location shooting East of Jesus in Oregon. I always have high hopes about my abilities to post and generally “social media” when I do things like this. In my head I know I only have one job to focus on and so naturally that means that I’ll have all kinds of extra time to be able to commit to maintaining everything else that I like to do like this site, my Twitter feed, and my Facebook page, but that’s never how it turns out. Regardless of what may be perpetuated by conventional wisdom it takes a lot of work to make a film at any level. It’s a lot of hard work in a very short amount of time. You are dominated by factors that you cannot control, like the weather and unexpected technical problems, and even in the best case scenarios getting it done right means being focused and and dedicated. Distractions like this site, my Twitter feed, and my Facebook page all start to feel pretty small when you have a whole set of people relying on the ability to be on set, memorized, and good. I’m not very good at doing both jobs. Rene really has a better handle on that. Sometimes I think I should just make her the Andersen Family documentarian and photographer. We still have some shooting to do, but we got an unexpected day off today due to rain so I forced myself to catch up on all my stuff – hence this post.

Below are some select images from the shoot and an exclusive video of Rene from the beautiful Oregon Coast when we hiked up the side of the sand hill. Enjoy! And if you like these then you can see even more over at my Facebook page.

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Day 244 Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen Day 1: East of Jesus

Op TVs CA Explosion Opener

Rene and I are here on the Oregon Coast filming East of Jesus and I actually have a free day today which means I can catch up on some of the stuff that you may have missed that I’d like to pimp out.

First off, here is the short I Hate Mondays from the folks over at Fun Size Horror. It’s a bizarre little tale where I’m an obnoxious office manager. I know, I’m really stretching my abilities #sarcasm.

And, my bad, I promised in my last video to post all of the updated playlists so people could catch-up. From the absence of people clamoring for those to be posted I’m probably fine not posting them, but I said I would do it so I’m going to. They are below.

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Home – A Horror Short Starring My Wife

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You may remember that last year Rene and I were involved in the Fun Size Horror project, a series of 31 horror shorts that were released the week of Halloween. Rene and I were directly involved in the production of two of them: Bloody Marywhich featured Rene and our niece Katie, and Home which starred Rene and our friend Matt Conde. After the release embargo was over I released Bloody Mary right away – but I thought that I had lost the final file for Home!

During a massive file transfer to my backup drives I found it, and posted it on YouTube for all to see! So please watch and enjoy Home:

 

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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

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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Op Ed: The Future of Entertainment

Image from MediaBistro.com

Image from MediaBistro.com

The entertainment industry is changing faster now than it ever has before. The last decade has seen an exponential change in how audiences consume content, where content is created, how content can be monetized, and what that means for the people who create all of this content. I see this from the perspective of the “working class” trenches: no development fund, need to maintain employment, still keeping up a hustle. For people like me (and there are a LOT of us) we have seen this change in a very real way for a long time and, as much as I hate to admit it, haven’t been as proactive as we probably should have been to be on the front of that wave.

Instead the younger set, those without the idea of “this is how things work” found their place. YouTubers are doing very well for themselves and Hollywood is taking notice, ready to monetize on their popularity. Fan films get national attention and have their own festival circuit. The biggest name in horror for the last seven years has been Paranormal Activity – a series that started with a movie made for about $11,000 in a dude’s house with After Effects.

For those with vision and a camera the future is open and ready…

…that being said, the old model is far from dead.

A lot of talk happened the Monday after the Golden Globes when Netflix and Amazon both walked away with coveted trophies about how the nature of television is changing and that the very business is already inexorably changed. And it is, but not completely. Not yet.

Here are two articles that, for me, were kind of the yin and yang of the future of the business, at least for the next few years especially in the context of wide public distribution, like television.

A Few Caveats About The New World Of Television from Monkey See from NPR

The Golden Globes Tell Us Everything About the Entertainment Industry in 2015 from IndieWire

I’m a “new model” guy who’s ready for the wild west, but it’s hard to pass up the money that can come with “old model” companies.

What do you think? Comment below.

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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