Top 5 Takeaways From Our October Seminar With Casting Director Vicki Goggin


The incredibly talented and knowledgeable casting director Vicki Goggin joined us for our October seminar to share some of her wisdom with us. Let’s see what she had to say.

1. There are a lot of myths out there. Don’t believe them.

“They” will tell you a lot of things. But what do “they” really know, anyway. Whether it’s “smiling isn’t in this year” or “always have a picture of yourself playing tennis”, “they” might not know what “they” are saying. So don’t believe the myths!

2. It’s so easy to put a reel together these days, you might as well have one.

You might have editing software on your computer, or you likely know someone else who does and can edit a reel together for you for relatively cheap. And if you don’t have any footage yet, just shoot something yourself and use that. Just get yourself on camera.

3. Your personality is more important than the lines.

Knowing your lines in an audition is important, but not as important as showcasing your personality. In commercial casting, the audition is nothing more than a vehicle for your personality. Don’t try to play a “character”, just be yourself. You’ll be amazed at the difference that makes.

4. Every line in a commercial is the answer to a question.

The dialogue in commercials don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a much bigger conversation. A good trick to help this shine through is to ask yourself the question that came before the line. That way you have a reason to say it. So if your line is, “This soup is delicious!”, maybe you are answering the question, “How does that soup taste?”

5. 3 Second Rule: After your last punctuation mark or word, stay in the moment

Just like you do in real life. While using a button at the end of a scene might not be the best idea, it’s a great idea to stay in the moment, even when you’re done saying your dialogue. You might find a moment that the director hadn’t thought of, and you will definitely be able to share even more of your personality.

Mike Danner is an actor, a painter, and a Cubs fan. He has a Master’s Degree in Film Production from Chapman University, his favorite movie is Jaws, and he enjoys a good breakfast sandwich. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Movie Review: Sully



While everyone remembers the headlines hailing Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger as the heroic pilot behind the Miracle on the Hudson, Clint Eastwood’s new film Sully, based on the book Highest Duty, written by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow, takes a closer look at the man behind the miracle. Tom Hanks is stellar as always in the title role, while Eastwood’s pacing and attention to detail make the film considerably more dramatic and tense than you might imagine it to be—particularly during the scenes that take place during the aftermath of the accident. While it is unlikely to garner too much awards-season attention, Sully is a taut and engaging drama that is sure to please audiences all over.

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Movie Review: Southside With You

Southside with You


Summer, 1989. Do the Right Thing tackles race issues in America and puts director Spike Lee on the map. Janet Jackson’s hit song “Miss You Much” plays on radios across the country. And a 28-year-old Harvard Law student named Barack Obama goes on a date in the Southside of Chicago with his summer advisor, Michelle Robinson. Southside with You is illuminating, entertaining, and the film’s leads, Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers, are both terrific. Opening in a limited number of theaters, this is definitely one to check out on the big screen if you can.

At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Barack Obama (Sawyers) and Michelle Robinson (Sumpter), each in their element as they prepare for what they both classify as “not a date.” As each gets ready, we get a great sense of their environments and how they interact with their loved ones. Barack is calm and cool as he smokes a cigarette and talks on the phone with his grandmother, who warns him that he better not be late for his date or he’s not going to get a second one. Michelle gets ready and keeps telling her parents Marian and Fraser (Vanessa Bell Calloway and Phillip Edward Van Lear) that she is Barack’s advisor and that this is definitely not a date, just two colleagues going to a meeting, even though she is clearly dressed for a date.

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Top 5 Takeaways From Our June Seminar With Casting Director Gabrielle Schary

It was terrific to have casting director Gabrielle Schary come in for our June seminar, as she shared with us some great tips to succeed in the commercial casting world. From questions you might get asked at an audition, to current trends in the industry, take a look at the Top 5 Takeaways from our seminar with Gabrielle Schary.

1. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself.


Gabrielle (and many other casting directors) like to ask actors questions about themselves, to get a better idea of their personality. Oftentimes, you will not get a lot of copy in an audition, so you might be asked questions such as, “What was your best day ever?” or “What scares you the most?” Just relax, and be ready to talk about the real YOU.

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Movie Review: Lights Out

Lights Out


When the lights go out, Diana shows up. Lights Out, based on a popular short film that went viral in 2013, stretches a simple premise from three minutes to 81 minutes, and provides a few decent scares in the process. While definitely not a perfect movie, and not even the best horror movie to come out this summer, you can definitely feel producer James Wan’s master touch from time to time throughout the film. David F. Sandberg, writer and director of the short, does a serviceable job in his feature film directing debut, the actors do what they can with the somewhat limited material, and there are some genuinely frightening scenes throughout.

The film begins ominously, in a dimly lit warehouse on a dark and stormy evening. Here we meet Paul (played by Twilight’s Billy Burke), who is on the phone with his son Martin (played by Gabriel Bateman, who also appeared in James Wan’s Annabelle). Martin complains his mother is acting strange and “talking to someone,” and Paul promises he’ll be home in an hour (spoiler alert: he will not). After Paul’s assistant sees the figure of a woman appear every time she turns out a light (this opening scene is actually very similar to the short film, even down to the actress Lotta Losten), Paul begins to lock up for the night. Soon, lights are turning off on their own, the figure that appeared to Paul’s assistant is now aggressively pursuing Paul, and you can probably guess what happens next (remember the above spoiler alert).

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Movie Review: The Conjuring 2


The Conjuring 2


If you are already scared of nuns, then The Conjuring 2 will probably give you nightmares for the rest of your life. America’s favorite ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by the terrific duo of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), are back in this sequel to the popular 2013 horror film. While the jump scares accompanied by loud music cues are plentiful, director James Wan is also able to maintain a prolonged sense of terror throughout. The cinematography, the score, and a tight script pull you into the world of one of the better scary movies in recent memory.

The Conjuring 2 takes place six years after the original movie, this time in England during the Christmas season of 1977. The Hodgson family, which includes single mother Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), daughters Janet and Margaret (Madison Wolfe and Lauren Esposito), and sons Billy and Johnny (Benjamin Haigh and Patrick McAuley), begins to experience some strange things in their home. At first, as is always the case, it starts off small. A bump in the hallway, a banging on a bedroom door. But soon, chairs are being flung across the room in front of the children, the mother, the neighbors, and even the police. Eventually, the Warrens are called in to investigate what the newspapers have dubbed “England’s Amityville”.
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Movie Review: The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys


Shane Black’s first film since Iron Man 3 is funny, action-packed, and pairs the unlikely duo of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling to perfection. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, The Nice Guys is an entertaining buddy action-comedy about two private detectives who investigate the death of a well-known adult film actress and try not to kill each other in the process. The performances are terrific across the board and there is plenty of heart in between laughs in this enjoyable summer flick.

The film opens with the death of porn star Misty Mountains (played by Murielle Telio), as she crashes her convertible in the backyard of a luxurious Hollywood Hills home. Soon, we are introduced to Holland March (played by Gosling), a two-bit private eye who has been hired by an elderly woman named Mrs. Glenn (Lois Smith) to look into the death of her niece, Misty. March is a single father trying to be a role model for his twelve-year-old daughter Holly (played by Angourie Rice), while struggling with the fact that he is not a very capable private investigator. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is also a private eye, who is hired by Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) to inflict some pretty serious pain on Holland March for sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong (in case you are wondering why Ryan Gosling is wearing a cast on the film’s poster).

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‘The Jungle Book’ Review

The Jungle Book


Jon Favreau, who has become a master of both the understated indie comedy as well as the mega-budget blockbuster, combines heart and spectacle with his rendition of The Jungle Book. The film includes terrific newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli, a star studded cast of voice talent, and some of the best effects in recent memory. There is action, adventure, and plenty of lessons to be learned by children and adults alike.

The Jungle Book, based on the Rudyard Kipling stories from the late Nineteenth Century, combined with elements from Disney’s 1967 animated feature of the same name (including updated takes on several of the songs from that movie), tells the tale of Mowgli, an orphaned man-cub. Having been rescued by a panther named Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley, who also provides the film’s narration) when he was just a baby and raised by a pack of wolves, including adoptive parents Raksha and Akela (voiced by Lupita N’yongo and Giancarlo Esposito, respectively), has adapted quite well to the life of the jungle, but still finds he doesn’t quite fit in. One day, a tiger named Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), bent on revenge for the scars on his face that were caused by a man, vows to kill Mowgli once the rainy season begins, forcing Bagheera to take Mowgli on a journey back to the man village. After being separated from his protector Bagheera, Mowgli encounters many colorful characters on his adventure through the jungle, like Baloo the Bear (voiced perfectly by Bill Murray), a python by the name of Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), and a gigantopithicus named King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken).

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Review: Hello, My Name is Doris


The first film that Michael Showalter has directed in over a decade, which stars Sally Field as the eccentric title character, is an incredibly sweet and funny take on an older woman who finds herself in love with her younger coworker. Showalter, who is well known for collaborating with David Wain as an actor and a writer (Wet Hot American Summer, MTV’s The State), proves that he has real chops behind the camera, as well.  And Sally Field turns in her best performance in more

Movie Review: Room



Once upon a time, before I came, you cried and cried and watched TV all day, until you were a zombie. But then I zoomed down from Heaven, through Skylight, into Room. And I was kicking you from the inside. Boom boom! And then I shot out onto Rug with my eyes wide open, and you cut the cord and said, Hello Jack!’”

Room is unquestionably one of the most thoroughly engrossing movies of the year. The screenplay, written by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the novel on which the film is based), is terrific, and you will not be able to take your eyes of the stars Brie Larson, who won an Oscar for her performance, and terrific newcomer Jacob Tremblay. It is difficult to watch at times, but it is ultimately an incredibly uplifting film about the power of hope and the love between a mother and her more