Saturday, April 30, 2011

365 Movies Day #32 "Sublime"

In honor of TEXAS FRIGHTMARE WEEEKEND, here is a psychological horror movie that delivers. Imagine being stuck in the craziest hospital on earth filled with torture, mutilation and horror...and all you went in for is a routine check.

Tom Cavanagh of television shows like "Ed" and "Scrubs" stars and he's fantastic. A great film that plays with your head and is pretty disturbing...and touches on an important issue or two in health care. Check it out!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

365 Movies Day #31 "Exam"

In a quest for more cool, I caught this on netflix tonight. It was a game of I picked a film to add to my queue and netflix told me I might like this one. pretty smart sometimes.

"Exam" is a British low budget sci-fi flick that all takes place in one room. I am continually fascinated by films that can stay compelling in a single location. You will see a trend of them in this series. The key to low budget is good story, few locations and a small talented cast. "Exam" delivers on all fronts.

Like "Audition" this is one where I don't want to reveal much of the plot. It unfolds so beautifully and naturally that I don't want to ruin it for you. Take a risk and check it out on netflix instant. You won't be disappointed.


Affective Memory

Re-reading "The Intent to Live" by Larry Moss and thought I would share a bit about Affective Memory. Legendary acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, used this as a method of pulling up emotional triggers. Basically, you put yourself in a semi-meditative relaxed state and find a moment in your life that conjures up an emotion that you need for your toolbox.

Explore every sensory detail about the event. Recreate the sights, smells, sounds and physical sensations of the moment to the most minute detail. The idea is that eventually you will hit a certain piece that is core to the emotional experience. It could be the smell of perfume, the sight of a picture on the wall, the feel of the carpet under your feet. Grab that core sense and hold onto it.

Later, when you are on stage or in front of the camera and you need that emotion, conjure up that core sensory piece and it will allow everything to flow from that memory. Moss suggests that you create about 5 of these triggers for every emotion. This way you won't wear out a particular event, desensitizing yourself to it and losing its effect. He also says that a certain physical action will come into your head when you delve into the emotion. It could be placing your hand on your stomach or even placing more weight on one leg. Combining this action with the core sensory trigger can create instant results. Just be careful not to turn the action into melodrama!

I HIGHLY recommend Larry Moss's book "The Intent to Live". He takes all of the great acting teachers and presents their methods and tools in a way that is easy to follow with LOTS of great examples from film that you can reference to see what he's talking about.

365 Movies Day #30 "Audition"

The other night, I stayed up late to watch "Ichi the Killer" at the suggestion of some friends. I enjoyed Miike's "Sukiyaki Western Django" and was hopeful. Not my cup of tea though. I just didn't enjoy the flick. It was too far out there. It was watchable though (I turned off "Tokyo Gore Police" after 3 minutes). I don't knock those who like either film. Just not my style.

The point of all this is that I decided to give Miike another chance tonight and watched "Audition". Eihi Shiina is going to be at Texas Frightmare Weekend this weekend, so I had another reason to give it a shot (especially since she stars in "Tokyo Gore Police").

I was floored. I won't ruin it for you (any more than the trailer does) by telling you much about it, but it shifts gears in a way that will knock you through a wall. It gets graphic. It's incredibly moving and disturbing. It impressed me. Very much looking forward to more Takashi Miike and telling Eihi what a fabulous film "Audition" is!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

365 Movies Day #29 "Official Rejection"

So yesterday we talked about "Ten Till Noon". Scott and Paul put blood sweat and tears into making the best film they could and with big dreams set out to cruise the festival circuit, get discovered and score a big distribution deal leading to certain fame, multi-picture deals and big bucks. Then, they discovered like so many other filmmakers just how difficult it is to beat the system.

In "Official Rejection" Scott and Paul track their adventures with the help of Kevin Smith, Lloyd Kaufman, Andy Dick, Troy Duffy, Chris Gore and a slew of popular independent filmmakers to examine what it takes to get into the big festivals and the politics behind it all. This documentary is a MUST SEE for indy filmmakers and pretty entertaining even if you aren't running the gamut.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

365 Movies Day #28 "Ten Till Noon"

First of a few two-parters I have planned. This film follows the lives of 10 separate people from 11:50AM until noon on the same day. Opening with an assassin played by Alfonso Freeman (Morgan Freeman's son) at the foot of the bed of our hero and ending with...well watch the blasted movie if you want that part.

Also featuring facebook buddy and fellow Wendy's kid Paul J. Alessi. It's part funny, part deadly serious and all cool. Something for everyone from director Scott Storm and writer Paul Osborne. With no sequel, why is this a two-parter? Tune in tomorrow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

365 Movies Day #27 "Midnight Clear"

Starring Stephen Baldwin and one of my "Coyote County Loser" co-stars K Callan (also featuring Nikki Boyer and Wayne Grace from CCL) this is a touching and somewhat more gritty than expected faith based film by Dallas Jenkins. Written by Dallas's father Jerry B. Jenkins (co-author of the popular "Left Behind" series), this film focuses on the interconnectedness of our lives in God's plan.

It shows how through hardship and seeming hopelessness, people can find hope and forgiveness. Very rarely do faith based films actually move me. Many are too preachy or too poorly done to make a lasting impact. Dallas delivers with this and another film I'll talk about later. It was a pleasure to meet him on the set of "Coyote County Loser" and K, Wayne and Nikki are all amazingly talented. Please check this one out.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

365 Movies Day #26 "The Beast"

A Russian tank crew fighting to survive in war torn Afghanistan. This flick stars Jason Patric and is an excellent study in the nature of war and the human condition. Saw it years ago and loved it and then rewatched it on a trip to Afghanistan in 2006. Definitely a film to see.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

365 Movies Day #25 "Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight"

Still one of my favorite flicks of all time! Billy Zane is one of the coolest villains ever as The Collector. Enchantingly evil, much as I suspect a real demon would be. Bill Sadler rocks the house as long lived protector of the key, Brayker. Some early Jada Pinkett Smith and Thomas Hayden Church as well.

I can't say enough cool about this movie. I wasn't a big fan of "Bordello of Blood" either. This is one of those rare gems and the soundtrack is right up there with The Crow, featuring Filter, Megadeth, Rollins Band, Pantera, Ministry and Machine Head. I bought it recently with Bordello for $10 at Wal-Mart.


Friday, April 22, 2011

365 Movies Day #24 "Rubin and Ed"

Here's one that my buddy Jason Engstrom first turned me on to back in college. Crispin Glover is one of the most talented and underrated actors in the business and this may be his funniest film. He and Howard Hesseman are the perfect odd couple.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

365 Movies Day #23 "Killshot"

Yep, another Thomas Jane flick. His character in this one is such a great guy. Would love to just hang out and have a beer with him. When he and his lovely estranged wife, played by the lovely Diane Lane, have a bad run in with some crazed killers played by the always powerful Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon Levitt. a killer? Let's just say that he is scary psycho in this flick. His performance was over the top and fantastic. Rumors were abound that he could fill in for Ledger as the Joker. This flick definitely shows his darker side. As far as tension filled crime drama goes, this film is fantastic. Based on a story by Elmore Leonard and directed by the guy that brought you "Shakespeare in Love". Madden nailed this one.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

365 Movies Day #22 "Intacto"

A remarkable Spanish film delving into the supernatural qualities of luck and fate. The luckiest people alive compete in the ultimate game of chance to determine who is the the luckiest among them. In the end, one walks away, intact, and another dead.

This is a very captivating and original film. Great appearance by Max von Sydow as well. Wonderfully acted, beautiful to watch and a fantastic story.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

365 Movies Day #21 "Ink"

Facebook buddy Paul Damon's profile pic reminded me of this film. It's one I lucked into awhile back on netflix view instantly, perhaps after soliciting films from facebook again. I can't remember. Anyway, this one is a great little flick that didn't get nearly the attention it deserved.

Basically there are two forces that exist in the land of sleep. There are protectors and beings of light and evil nightmare shades. One man is driven to a connection with his daughter over a battle between these creatures. Fight scenes are amazing with some of the most creative filming I've seen. The nightmare shades are also originally creepy. The namesake for the film, Ink, is exceptionally cool as well.

Imdb says if you like Donnie Darko, Dark City and Pan's Labyrinth, you'll dig this...and I think IMDB is right on the money.


Monday, April 18, 2011

365 Movies Day #20 "Six String Samurai"

This flick is a trip. Imagine an alternate time line in which the cold war went hot during the prime of rock and roll. A recently deceased Elvis Presley (the king of Vegas) has left a throne vacant and one of the top contenders is our story's hero...Buddy Holly?

Guitar slinging sword wielding badassery and a beautifully shot homage to the exploitation film. Features some cool music and appearances by the Red Elvises as well. Oh, and HvZ co-star Rheagan Wallace plays little Peggy Cleaver. If you like weird, this one is for you. I'm totally baffled that Jefferey Falcon didn't do another film after this.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

365 Movies Day #19 "The Minus Man"

Owen Wilson as a serial killer. No it's not comedy. It's disturbing in that he's so likable in the film (he's Owen Wilson) but capable of such behavior. You cheer for him. One of the most twisted serial killer flicks I've seen in that regard. I saw it when it came out on DVD and it still haunts me.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

365 Movies Day #18 "Love and a .45"

Here's a cool one from awhile back. Great flick and a badass soundtrack featuring Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, The Flaming Lips, The Meat Puppets and the ever-amazing Reverend Horton Heat (who performs IN the film).

Rory Cochrane kind of steals the flick for me as villainously insane Billy Mack Black, although Gil Bellows and Renee Zellweger (in one of her first roles) were a pleasure to watch as well. This is a classic example of a well done modern western that ranks up there with the likes of "Extreme Prejudice".


Friday, April 15, 2011

365 Movies Day #17 "Banlieue 13"

Awhile back, cruising facebook I saw someone post an amazing action sequence. This guy is running from a bunch of folks down a hallway...he's jumping though windows, from building to building and is doing all this amazing stuff. One of the best chase scenes I'd ever seen.

I got proactive and tracked the source of that video down to "Banlieue 13". The film's stars, Cyril Raffaelli and the father of modern parkour David Belle are just incredible to watch. Lots of great action and a decent plot keep the hits coming and leave you wanting more. I don't suggest trying to find it in the film's sequel though. Not nearly as good.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

365 Movies Day #16 "Prey Alone"

Checking out the new Mortal Kombat series made me think back to the first internet film I saw that pushed barriers for me. In 2004, a couple of Irish cats got together to make what looks like a multi-million dollar short film, for barely anything at all. From their website:

"It uses the latest up to date digital film techniques but didn't cost a fortune to make. It is in fact the first digital home movie. None of the backgrounds even exist - they were all created in computers. 9 home computers that the directors hooked up together and arranged to operate like a high end digital TV post production system. It's a home movie!"

Check out more info on how the film was made AND WATCH THE MOVIE (15 minutes well spent) at the SAINT AND MATHER HOMEPAGE The page has some cool details about the making of etc. for all you digital commandos out there.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

365 Movies Day #15 "Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy"

Was reminded yesterday that this film was released exactly 15 years ago...which makes me feel a bit old. I was a big fan of the show "Kids in the Hall" back in the day on Comedy Central. It was a brand new network back then and only had 5 shows or so running. Kids and MST3K were my life for awhile. I also had the pleasure of working with Dave Foley a couple years ago on "In Plain Sight". Very cool cat.

Scott Thompson steals this flick in my opinion though. I can't even describe his scenes without ruining them. Some of the best comedic dialogue ever written. Definitely a funny flick worth checking out.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

365 Movies Day #14 "Darfur"

I am incredibly surprised by this one. I'm sitting here late and pulled up a "stupid Uwe Boll" movie on netflix to poke fun at and was instead left heartbroken. In the end I wanted it to be a dumb movie with visual effects as stunningly horrible as "Bloodrayne". I wanted the violence to be cartoon stupid and the characters flacid and dumb. I wanted plot holes the size of the Titanic. Instead, the most horrifically wonderful display of genocide ever captured on camera. Wonderful in it's effect to move the audience. I was treated to the grandest acts of heroism I've seen on film since the two snipers rescued the downed pilot in "Blackhawk Down". Noah Danby, David O'Hara and Hakeem Kae-Kazim were just fantastic.

Hats off to Uwe Boll for this one.


Monday, April 11, 2011

365 Movies Day #13 "Bug"

The announcement of Michael Shannon starring as General Zod in Snyder's upcoming "Superman" flick got me thinking about this film. Shannon was amazing, as was Ashley Judd. Such a disturbing film about the descent into madness. Done in very independent style with just a handful of locations and driven by an amazing cast and freakishly disturbing storyline, this flick delivers.

If you haven't seen it, you need to find it ASAP and KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

365 Movies Day #12 "Kentucky Fried Movie"

I find myself continually amazed that almost everyone has seen "Airplane!", but so few people seem to catch my references to this film. It ranks as one of the funniest films I have ever seen.

Too few people know about Rex Kramer: Danger Seeker, Big Jim Slade, That's Armaggedon, Fist Full of Yen, or the tragedy of gorilla impotence. But there again, I'm a Sagittarius so you never know what to...


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Acting as a Passion

There are days when I wish "Transformers" would have never happened. I was somewhat at peace in my life and was a proud member of the armed forces. I had no clue what I was missing out on. I had given up any dreams of being an actor. I decided that it was too far fetched...too unrealistic, especially if I planned on getting married and starting a family.

Then that day came. I think I would have been fine just working behind the scenes, greasing the wheels and making new friends in the film industry. I could have gone about the rest of my life and it would have been simply an interesting story, like having written seven articles for InQuest gamer back in the day. It would have been a milestone, but not life-changing.

It didn't stop there though. I was drawn into being in front of the camera. The large part of me, the dreamer(which I've always been), the driven, obsessive compulsive, entertainer is so grateful for the experience. It also can't let go of it. It's like a drug addiction that can't be set down and when I go to long without a fix I start to lose my way.

This may sound overly dramatic to some of you, but what the hell, I'm an actor...right? It's all true though. I stay awake at night contemplating "doing something else". I concoct crazy ideas for jobs that would take its place. I think about quitting...just hanging it up and never looking back, but I just can't. How could you?

I have a feeling that good things will be happening soon. Some break is just over the horizon. I am hopeful. I believe in my talent. I believe in my persistence. I need to hit the gym a bit more. I need to do a few things differently, but I'm headed in the right direction and I enjoy taking you with me.

There's a karma in this blog of sharing my experiences and collecting tips for other actors. Heck, some of you might take this info and beat me out of a role one day (if you haven't already). I'm okay with that. There's plenty of parts out there. I'm just glad that maybe I'm helping someone get to where I am at least. I've done some very cool stuff. I love what I do...too much maybe.

Well, there it is, I bled a bit. It's therapeutic. This is probably the most real thing I've written and I'm putting it out there for the people who are reading this. If you're paying attention, I really truly thank you. Keep with me. This is going to get interesting.

365 Movies Day #11 "First Snow"

So I'm in Big Lots the other day browsing their $3 movies and I see a Guy Pearce flick I'd never heard of. Seeing that it also had William Fitchner and JK Simmons as well as Piper Perabo, I was intrigued. What a well spent $3.

Basically, Pearce's character stumbles into a fortune teller who tells him he doesn't have long to live...and that's where everything falls apart. Lots of quiet intensity. Some very believable conversations and reactions. An exquisite study of fate. Also set in New Mexico, which is such a beautiful place anyway.

Yes, this is my second Pearce movie already. He's that good though.


Friday, April 8, 2011

365 Movies Day #10 "Chocolate"

Take the Taskmaster from Marvel Comics...make him a young Asian girl with autism and you have a pretty badass flick. Brought to you by the folks responsible for the original "Ong Bak", this is an impressive flick filled with amazing fight sequences and a lead character that might give Hit Girl a run for her money.

There is an appropriate level of cheese from the flick, primarily in the form of tranny henchmen and the bad guys have their own special needs commando (how convenient), but for the most part the plot is moving and easy to follow.

There is a fight scene in a meat market with some funny cringe moments. I laughed out loud a couple of times. The end fight scene on multiple levels of ledges outside of a building is so reminiscent of 80s NES games it was like a time machine. I could see Ninja Gaiden unfolding in front of me.

A fun flick and if you like martial arts movies it's a MUST see!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cake "Opera Singer"

There's just so much here that's relevant to the blog.

365 Movies Day #9 "JCVD"

Yes, it's Jean-Claude Van Damme...acting. And yes, he's playing himself...and NO he isn't a badass in the film? Oh, and it's subtitled. What? I mean that alone should have you clambering to see the movie. Also, you can get it in a 4 pack at Walmart for $5-$10 right now.

Somewhat true to life, JCVD is a washed up action star who wants to do higher quality work. He's been through a drug addiction and a bad divorce that has left him in an intense custody battle for his daughter. While in Brussels visiting family, he wanders into a bank/post office to wire money to his attorneys and is caught in the middle of a bank heist. There is an amazing monologue he takes to the camera (though with a weird through the ceiling shot) where Van Damme is quite vulnerable. He also demonstrates some acting chops in a film where he barely kicks anybody.

The ending is also a surprise. I won't spoil it for you. This is definitely one that flew under the radar that I consider a must see.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

365 Movies Day #8 "The Proposition"

One of the greatest modern westerns out there and it seems to have disappeared quickly into obscurity. I've been a huge fan of Guy Pearce since "Memento" and I think he is one of the most underrated actors working today. His performance as the lead, Charlie Burns, sent to track down his sociopathic brother, Arthur (chilling played by Danny Huston who most Americans will remember from the Wolverine movie), is wonderful. Rounding out the cast is the very talented Ray Winstone who instigates the whole mess in order to civilize his little part of Australia. Emily Watson also gives a wonderful performance as Winstone's wife.

It's a very character driven movie following the Burns brothers and Captain Stanley (Winstone) in equal parts, examining the wildness of Australia and it's impact on all of their psyches. Good western action. Amazing chracterizations. A solid film. My one complaint is that John Hurt has a fantastic character that is only loosely tied into the script and somewhat wasted.

If you like westerns, this is a MUST see. If you don't like westerns, what's wrong with you?


365 Movies Day #7 "Chrysalis"

Buddy Aaron Self turned me on to this film awhile back. It's a French sci-fi action thriller. I won't give away too much of the plot, but it deals with memory tampering and a cop's quest to find his wife's killer. The fight scenes are intense. The cinematography and digital effects are gorgeous. Check it out! You won't be disappointed.


365 Movies Day #6 "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead"

They say the longer the title, the less successful the film...which may explain why I keep having to tell people about this movie. Treat Williams plays one of my favorite characters ever put on screen in Critical Bill. Andy Garcia delivers his ultimate suave badassery. Steve Buscemi is ruthless...and Christopher Lloyd pulls off a criminal role with ease. Plus, Walken in another great Walken role and my favorite role from William Forsyth.

Basically the film is a crime caper gone wrong and everyone involved is marked for death. It's all about salvation, retribution and just a great story. If you've never seen it, it's a MUST!


365 Movies Day #4 "Zero Effect"

This is a film that has stuck with me since I randomly picked it up from the video store back when I was in college. Bill Pullman plays neurotic super sleuth Darrel Zero who is brilliant, but a total sociopath. He communicates to the world through his assistant, played affectionately by Ben Stiller. Basically, this film reminds me of "Super", "Kick Ass" and "Defendor" and all the real life super hero flicks out there today...except done 13 years ago.

Odd little tidbit I discovered in looking on imdb about the film. Director Jake Kasdan (also responsible for "Orange County" and "Walk Hard" apparently put together a TV pilot for NBC that was never picked up back in 2002 starring Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler from "X2" ). I always wanted to see more from the Zero character, but not sure what it would be like without Pullman in the lead.


365 Movies Day #5 "Italian Spiderman"

Breaking away from conventional film to present one of the funniest things I've seen on the internet, ever. "Italian Spiderman" is the product of now defunct, Australian production company Alrugo. It is a tongue in cheek recreation of all those great (and not intentionally comedic) foreign superhero knock-offs. It's filled with intentionally bad dialogue and special effects and the BEST "crocodile holding a handgun in an apartment fight scene of all time".

No data on imdb for this flick, but you can see the fictional history of Alrugo HERE, and find out what the folks who made this amazing flick are up to HERE.

If you are looking to watch the full film, youtube is your best bet with Alrugo's official channel being RIGHT HERE!

365 Movies Day #3 "Dark Country"

Here is a surprise flick that leaped out and bit me. I was in New Mexico trying to get a break on a film when I heard this little flick called "Dark Country" was rolling into the ABQ area. A little more research turned up two names. One was illustrator Tim Bradstreet, whose work was such an inspiration back in my Vampire: The Masquerade days (not to mention Shadowrun and his work on comics like The Punisher) and Thomas Jane, who will always be FRANK CASTLE in my eyes. It was through this film that I found out about Tim and Tom's comic book/film endeavor RAW Studios. These guys rock and "Dark Country was their first flick out of the gate.

Turns out there were only a few speaking roles in the flick. Ron Pearlman and Chris Browning (see my latest blog with input from Mr. Browning by clicking his name) beat me out for a chance at the gig. But, hey, I got to meet and hang out with both cats because of all this and plan to do so again in late May at the Dallas Comicon.

Anyway, I picked the movie up first thing when it hit DVD...and let me tell you I was a bit worried I wouldn't dig it. For one, it had a very limited theatrical release (but I like plenty of films that fit this category) and second, it was filmed in the beginning of the craze...and because it was on DVD I was going to lose the 3D effect. But, I love these guys so I bought it.

It's a fantastic Hitchcock journey through a desert of despair and mayhem. I don't usually watch a film more than once, with so many out there to enjoy. This is one of about 10 or so that I watch over and over. Every time I find something new and different. It nags at me in the back of my mind as I type this that I need to see it again. If you like old school horror, beautiful cinematography and a little film noir feel, you NEED to see this film.


365 Movies Day #2 "Bone Dry"

The best way to do indy film is to use very few actors in very few locations and tell a compelling story. "Bone Dry" does this with two very cool actors in the form of Luke Goss and the epic Lance Henriksen. The trailer gives too much away, but Luke Goss plays a man who finds himself suddenly stranded in the desert at the mercy of a psychopath in the form of Henriksen.

Not only is the story slick, but the scenery is beautiful and really makes me miss New Mexico. I'm also fortunate in that I got to hang out with writer Jeff O'Brien on a trip to Vancouver recently and I've got to chat a little with the director, Brett Hart, on the web. Took more than a few talented cats to pull off this film and I'm proud to know these two.

Take some time out and pick up a copy. You'll dig it. One of Henriksen's best roles.


365 Movies Day #1 "The Prodigy"

Would you like to see a film put together with blood, sweat, tears and a few bucks that rivals nearly all the action crap out there today? What about a film that I akin to "Jason Vorhees...if he were special operations"? Then you need to check this flick out.

I first saw this film while looking for independent filmmakers to connect with on myspace. My dear friend Wendy Shepherd turned me on to Texas filmmaker Will Kaufman. I bought it at Wal-Mart when it was released and was blown away. When you hear indy and action in the same sentence you don't expect much. This film rocked. Since then, I've got to meet with so many folks that were involved with this film including Will, Holt Boggs (finally worked together on "Cut!"), Matt Beckham, Mark Hanson (the lead on "Cut!") and so many others.

Thanks to the wizardry of Ron Balicki, this film has some of the most epic and brutal fight scenes and gun battles ever captured on film. Definitely check this film out. You won't be disappointed.

Accents -- Learning Stuff from Facebook?

Actor pal, George Katt,recently asked a question on facebook that sparked a very informative discussion. George works with a fantastic acting group in NYC called The Indies Lab and has a pretty solid film and stage resume. You can check out the trailer for his upcoming film "Conquering the Rose" here:

Conquering the Rose - TRAILER from J. Michael Whalen on Vimeo.

George asked his facebook pals for some great resources pertaining to accents. Actors love to use them, but using them incorrectly can really destroy your performance. A few of the responses were VERY helpful and ideas I hadn't really though about.

My contribution to the discussion was to recommend the program "Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen" by Paul Meier. It's part book/part 12 CD set that walks you through all kinds of accents, but it prices for about $100 on amazon. Definitely not the cheap route.

Mutual actor pal Holt Boggs, star of the first movie on my film a day series "The Prodigy", who is currently in development on a new project "The Wicked Garden" suggested using youtube videos of people speaking with real accents. This shaves a LOT of money off of your training and it helps you to focus on REAL accents vs. copying what you see on TV and movies (which are sometimes horrid to anyone in the know). You get to copy the real deal and focus on inflection, plus you even get some phrases and slang out of the deal.

Another great suggestion came from actor Joseph Bartolotta. He suggested using a book by Jerry Blunt entitled "Stage Dialects". Joseph points out that learning the exaggerated accents and dialects is easier to leap into and that once you have down the more stereotypical speech, you can rein in the over-the-top nature to something more real.

Exploring this from all angles, you could use the program I suggested in conjunction with Blunt's books and then use the youtube avenue to help you bring out the "real" in the accent. On a shoestring budget, skip the CD program and just grab the book OR for tighter purse strings, surf youtube. Notice that NO ONE suggested copying films (though foreign films might work).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Price of the American Dream II

I got back from Afghanistan and fully expected to rocket into super-stardom from my brief appearance in "Transformers". Expectations were running...high. A friend asked me, "What if you get cut from the film?", which made me excessively nervous until LtCol Paul Sinor, the military adviser on the project emailed me to let me know he had seen it and I was in there. A couple of lessons there. First, never have too much faith in a project's ability to "launch your career"...and if it's a dayplayer gig, it almost assuredly will not. Second, the smaller your role, the easier it is for them to eliminate your role entirely from the film...I've been fortunate so far.

I had some headshots done by my pal Rich Gill out in the deserts of White Sands and crafted up a resume with all of my theater work and classes from college as well as my ONE film credit for "Transformers". I had emailed agents and casting directors in the area while in Afghanistan with the clever title of "Hello from a New Mexico Actor in Afghanistan" and had high hopes that I had greased the right wheels (and I an extent).

No agents called. No casting directors called. I was doing nothing. I had even paid in and got my fancy SAG card. Nothing was happening.

Then I got a call from a less reputable casting source in ABQ. He said there was opportunity as an unpaid extra in Albuquerque (3.5 hours away) on a little indy film called "Price of the American Dream II". He said that if he could get me in with the director, he would love me and I could get a bigger part. I jumped at the chance. Coincidentally, this casting person's assistant on the project turned out to be Everett Scott Ortiz. He struck me as a good kid and months later when a role needed to be filmed on "Coyote County Loser", I remembered him and got him on the project. I love helping my fellow actors get work.

I drove up and worked in a theater scene where the lead character is showing a film that he made. I met director, Michael Amundsen, and he did seem to dig me. When he found out I was SAG he balked a bit, but I wasn't getting any work with my card and I cleared up that they would come after ME, bit him. We struck a deal.

Turns out they needed someone who could shoot a gun. Someone needed to put a bullet in a main character. I'm in the film for two scenes, looking tough in a Hawaian shirt in the background and then shooting poor Omar Paz Trujillo with a .45. My first work with blank firearms on set and I didn't speak a line. I even got a name, Harvey, in the credits, though I don't think anyone ever addresses me by it in the flick.

I had a blast. I was on set. I ALWAYS have fun filming, no matter how large or small the project or whether I'm an extra or a principal actor. Something is just intoxicating about the whole thing. It feels right. It's where I belong.

After adding this film to my resume, I got a call from The Phoenix Agency up in Albuquerque. They wanted to meet with me. It seems a bunch of the talent from the project had been recommended to the agency and they were basically picking up anyone who had worked on the project. I had my first agent!

Notice that my role in "Transformers" could not do for me what an unpaid performance in a low budget indy flick could. Take risks. Break the rules. Get where you need to be.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Actor/Director Kerry Beyer with Some Solid Audition Advice!

Actor/Director (and damned fine photographer) Kerry Beyer put together this great video to help you audition better and land those roles you’re reading for!

You can check out info on Kerry’s upcoming project, “Code of Evil” (I’m IN this one) and check out the trailer for and purchase “Spirit Camp” HERE!


Kerry Beyer’s photography has been featured in VOGUE, LUCKY, ALLURE, the NY TIMES and more. He is co-founder of SplatterFest, winner of the Slamdance Anarchy Film Showcase, and a Semi-Finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His feature debut Spirit Camp is now available on DVD, and coming soon to Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon VOD.