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Rene & Curtis Do The Big Float!

We are really jumping into the Portland life and enjoying a lot of what our new city has to offer. We regularly use the public transportation, we enjoy the local bars and restaurants, and the creative scene is more than we could have hoped for. On Saturday July 15th we joined in on the annual Big Float put on by the Human Access Project. See the video below:

To learn more about The Big Float and The Human Access Project you can follow the link for more information, but here is a description of what they do:

What the heck is THE BIG FLOAT?
The goal of The Big Float, quite simply, is to encourage people to “get into their river” and support its preservation and healthy development as a recreational resource. And to have a whale of a good time in the process.

The annual event is a fundraiser for the Human Access Project. Open to all ages, TBF begins with, naturally, a parade. Floaters gather at Tom McCall Bowl Beach (where the Blues Festival is held), then carry or wear their floatation devices and march south along Waterfront Park to the put-in point at Poet’s Beach beneath the Marquam Bridge.

Floaters will paddle down river and land on the west bank at the Tom McCall Bowl. Here, Portland’s grandest downtown beach party will be held – complete with music barge and live bands, food carts, beer/wine garden, sponsor booths, and a kids’ activities area.

Human Access Project
Wouldn’t it be great if people in Portland could actually get into the Willamette River? Simply stroll down to the water’s edge, wade out into it, and swim or paddle around to their heart’s content in a safe, public area? It’s time we did something about that. And that’s what our not-for-profit organization, Human Access Project, is all about.

Let’s face it, even if you wanted to swim in the Willamette River in downtown Portland today, how would you do it? There’s no easy way to get into it. It’s like this: if you want birds to come into your yard you put up a bird feeder and plant trees to create a bird-friendly habitat.

The same is true for humans and the river. If we want to make it so people can swim in the Willamette we need to create better access and a more inviting environment. For instance, imagine the Tom McCall bowl area redesigned with a beach instead of the unfriendly jagged rock river edge currently there.

In short, the Human Access Project is driven to promote activating the Willamette River for recreational use that considers all the critters that live and love the water, including humans.
Human Access Project Mission
The Human Access Project vision is simple: a city in love with its river. This grassroots not-for-profit group has three concentric goals:

1) Create a human habitat and more access points along the Willamette River in downtown Portland.

2) Inspire people to get into the Willamette River.

3) Facilitate stewardship of the Willamette River and Watershed.
HAP Accomplishments
Human Access Project (HAP) was conceived in November 2010 when founder Will Levenson began organizing an event called “The Big Float.” The Big Float (TBF) is a group innertube float and after-party on the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Oregon. The idea behind TBF is to get a large number of people in the water in an enjoyable way and make a powerful statement showing Portlanders and our city government that the Willamette is safe for human recreation. In short, to transform our relationship with the Willamette River.

TBF had its first launch in 2011 with 1,300 participants. By 2014 TBF had grown to 2,300 participants. This year, we hope to draw 3,000 participants.

Human Access Project has undertaken three Willamette River beach clean-up, habitat restoration projects which are ongoing. The first is on the eastside of the Willamette River by the Hawthorne Bridge. HAP has to date removed 18 tons of concrete in numerous clean-up events in this area revealing a sandy beach. HAP aspires to create a formal beach in this spot, which we have nicknamed Audrey McCall Beach after Tom McCall’s wife.

The second project is a beach creation effort at Tom McCall Bowl on the west side of the Willamette River by the Hawthorne Bridge. HAP hosted a community kickoff event called UnRock the Bowl in 2012 and has held an annual beach clean-up event every year since. Volunteers move rip-wrap rock from the water’s edge of the Willamette River back to the bank where it was initially installed 30 years ago as bank protection.

The third project is Poet’s Beach (under the Marquam Bridge on west bank) where HAP has hauled out immense chunks of basalt to clear the way for safe access to an existing sandy beach. To bring life to the site, HAP worked with the not-for-profit Honoring Our Rivers and the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde to inscribe children’s poetry and Chinook phrases into rocks lining the path to the beach. Hence the name Poet’s Beach. HAP will continue to undertake beach clean-up activities to support its mission.

Our first major advocacy success was in 2013, working with the City of Portland to install “Swim at your own risk” signs at the Tom McCall Bowl and Poet’s Beach .

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Should I read the Dark Tower Series this Summer?

That’s the question, so I got some of my best friends together to try and figure it out.

What do you think? Leave your opinions in the comments.

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Operation: Television’s Curtis Andersen Day 50!

Op TVs CA Explosion Opener

We’ve reached Day 50!

Here’s a recap of my activities leading up to today and a little news about what’s coming up for 2016. It’s a long one, but there was a lot to say:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Rene, Frankie, Charlie & I!

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Autumn, Nostalgia & Mixtapes

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It’s only August, but just the other night I got a hint of a scent in the air that was unmistakable to me as Autumn. I don’t know how to describe it other than wet and earthy. It’s a smell that reminds me of October and all of the Americana that goes along with it: changing leaves, costumes, Halloween in a Normal Rockwell kind of way, and the best parts of my adolescence.

There are certain smells that just go with things. Football players talk about the smell of the field before a game.  I remember that smell, there really is nothing else like it. It almost smells as if the field is sweating before the game begins. The other day at a rehearsal for “Rope” I caught the scent of  a very specific hairspray in the dressing room, a hairspray that I’ve smelled in dressing rooms for decades and with that one contact I was suddenly reminded of all of those shows. The Autumn smell works the exact same way and triggers some of the strongest nostalgia I feel during any given year.

Every year, usually later than now, when the air starts to change and the nostalgia comes on I find myself searching though my music to make a playlist appropriate to the season. I started doing this back when I was a teenager, making mix tapes on my dual cassette/CD stereo system. There was more of an art to it back then. People had tape lengths that they liked to work in (I was a Memorex 90 minute man, myself) and you’d have to plan out your songs and hope that they would fit each side perfectly. I became very good with the Play/Pause button and mastered the length of the tape lead before it started recording. I could do it by feel, no counting required. Somewhere, deep in boxes that probably haven’t seen the light of day in at least a decade, there are dozens of mix tapes made from my music library circa 1990-1996. These tapes were with me during car rides with my friends when we first felt the “freedom” of being teenagers with cars. They were there for early relationships and the break-ups that went along with them. They were there for my first cigarette and for my first sips of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. They were the soundtrack to my coming of age and represent all the songs that meant something to me at the time. They were also a pretty good representation of alternative hits and underground bands of the time.

My friends did it too, across the board. We’d listen to what each other made, finding new songs that we liked and new bands. My friend Jeff introduced to me to Oingo Boingo, Voice of the Beehive and October Project this way. I discovered that my friend Dan and I had a mutual love of The Cars and The Police this way. And my friend Scott exposed me to the power of Bad Religion and Pennywise this way. Entire backyard parties were powered by these tapes. They were teenage sorcery that could help bend the mood of entire rooms full of hormone fueled basket cases.

Technology changed and iTunes and iPods made it very easy to generate playlists based on whatever mood you were in at that second. Gone was the finesse of tape creation; instead you could just slam together song after song on a whim. I remember sitting at the computer for hours at a time, days in a row plugging songs into the playlists where I felt they belonged. I had the perfect list for whatever mood I was in. It was pretty awesome… until the crash of 2007 when iTunes and all of my playlists crashed and burned. That killed a lot of the fire I had for digital playlists. So much time was spent creating things that were wiped away in, literally, a moment.  After that it took until I discovered Spotify before I felt that a digital playlist would be worth creating again. I haven’t created as many playlists as I did before 2007, but I do find that the ones I curate now get a lot more play.

I started a new playlist for autumn 2015 on Spotify. It’s the start of something that will probably get bigger as the days get shorter and the air gets crisper. I’m sharing this because I selfishly want you to share your playlists with me. Back in the day we would swap tapes and CD’s, but now we can toss entire playlists around digitally. This playlist is full of songs that take me back to being sixteen-and-angry, ready to rage against the world… as soon as I finish my journal entry about no one understanding me. It’s what I would want to listen to on a rainy day, hence the name. Check it out and let me know what you think, but more importantly share your playlists with me. Drop them in the comments and show me something new. I want to try and capture that feeling of sharing music again from back in the day. Whether it’s a favorite album from your favorite band or a playlist of your own creation, pop it in the comments and let’s hear something new.

Happy listening.

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A Death in the Community

Curtis Jerome

A man named Curtis Jerome has died. He was a director, set-builder, costumer, actor, dancer, singer, and all-around performer. He was a tent pole at The Maverick Theater in Fullerton, CA. He was in a terrible car accident and did not survive. His death was as shocking to our little theater community as it was tragic. He was a man who meant a lot to a lot of people and I am sad that he is gone.

I really didn’t know Curtis, other than how he and I were often confused in conversation for sharing the same first name. He did most of the musicals at the theater and I did only plays, usually, if I wasn’t doing Shmimprov. I’m sure that he and I were in the same room more than once, but we never quite got introduced. While our paths never crossed, his reputation preceded him.  Many people credit him with giving them their first chance at something, whether a role or a new skill, and for being very supportive in his direction. He was known as a work horse who got things done. He was good people.

Theater, when it comes down to it, is a community more than anything. It’s made up of people who come together for the shared goal of telling a story, live, in front of a group of strangers. It doesn’t require a special location or crazy technology – as long as you have free space and people who will watch you can put on a show. It’s the quality of the people who come together to tell that story – the community – that dictates how well things work. When that community grows it depends on each person to help it run. And when you lose a part of that community the ripples of that loss are felt throughout.

I didn’t know Curtis, but I miss Curtis.

I feel for everyone who had the benefit of knowing him personally, but I’m also grateful for all of the lives that he touched and people that he helped to mentor while he could.

Thank you, Curtis. You will be missed.

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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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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

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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Come Watch Andelon Productions Discussions: Creativity on the Daily

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We’re starting a new program series later this month. Round table discussions about using creativity and performance skills in other businesses and daily life. I’ll be inviting friends of mine that work in a variety of industries to participate and we’ll be taking questions from you, the audience, as well. Afterward the video will be available on my YouTube channel so you can watch it whenever you want. Not subscribed to my channel yet? Click below:

Curtis Andersen’s YouTube Channel

The first discussion will be on

Thursday February 19th at 8:30pm Pacific Time LIVE!

It will cover Creativity in your Daily Life and will feature my oldest friends from high school and college who have gone off to the four winds when it comes to careers:

  • 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.

All of them have very different perspectives on how they use the creative sides of their brains and I’m looking forward to a lively conversation.

We’ll be doing these roundtables once a month in the 3rd week of the month so stay tuned for more!

See you next time!

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