The Conscious Actor: Support Yourself Inside

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One arrow is enough!

No one is immune to the unpredictability of life. One week you’re riding high from a lucky break, and the following week you can’t seem to do anything right. Stop beating yourself up; not everything is under your control. Don’t get caught in the overthinking trap, trying to make sense out of the senseless—instead, use your energy to move through the pitfalls faster and wiser. Here are a few tips to shift out of a powerless, negative mode and into a positive, productive one.

Become an expert at supporting yourself on the inside.

Don’t wait for others to come to your rescue. Yes, it’s important and necessary to have supportive family and friends during tough times, but you’ve also got to develop the skills to rescue yourself. That means disarming your biggest critic: YOU! The first arrow going in is the undesirable thing that happened to you, such as not booking that job you were counting on in order to pay the rent, or being turned down by an agent or manager.

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The Competitive Edge: The Room Where It Happens

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What do Hamilton and commercials have in common?

The Room Where It Happens.” Everyone wants to be in the room where it happens, and in the acting world, it’s the call back room—the room with the producers.


[BURR AND COMPANY]
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
The room where it happened

[BURR]
No one really knows how the
Parties get to yesssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chesssss

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Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

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Despite being caught up in another Hollywood whitewashing controversy, Ghost in the Shell—which is based on the comic by Shirow Masamune—is actually a pretty entertaining action film. Scarlett Johansson—the source of the controversy, as the character she plays was originally Japanese—does an excellent job as Major, the world’s first 100% cyber soldier. The film drags at times, but the futuristic production design is excellent, and there are some genuine twists throughout. You might be better off waiting for video, but Ghost in the Shell is worth checking out eventually.
The movie begins with Major (Scarlett Johansson) lying on a surgery table. She can barely move. It turns out, or so she’s told, that she was in a terrible accident and that while her mind survived, her body did not. In this futuristic world, cyber enhancement is a general way of life, as body parts are routinely replaced with technology. Major (formerly a young woman named Mira Killian), however, is the first person who is entirely made up of cyber-enhanced technology. We cut to a year later, and Major is now a super-soldier working for the Hanka Robotics to help rid the world of criminals.
Working closely with her partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk), Major thrives in her new role, but she cannot shake the feeling that all is not what it seems. She hallucinates memories that occurred before her accident, and she eventually comes to find out from her once-trusted doctor Ouelet (played by Juliette Binoche) that although Major is the first successful attempt at fully connecting a human mind to a completely robotic body, she is not the first. In fact, there have been many before her. With Dr. Ouelet’s help, Major escapes and discovers even more secrets about her former identity. With Hanka Robotics on her tail, she must learn the whole truth in order to save herself and find out how Mira Killian ended up a test subject of the powerful organization.
Scarlett Johansson does a fine job as Major, aside from the controversy surrounding her casting. Critics say that Johansson’s portrayal of an originally Asian character furthers entrenches Hollywood in the whitewashing of characters of color. Others might say that a big-budget movie like Ghost in the Shell needs an A-lister like Johansson in order for the film to have enough of an audience to make its money back. While whitewashing is certainly an issue in the entertainment industry—and thankfully one that has been garnering a lot of attention in the recent years—one could also make the argument that the mere fact that this movie now exists will encourage fans to go back and read the original comic book and see the animated film from 1995. Either way, Johansson is terrific in the role, in both the emotional moments as well as the action-packed scenes that fill most of the film’s 107-minute runtime.
The production design, done by veteran Production Designer Jan Roelfs, and the beautifully futuristic landscape shots of Japan make the film visually stunning. There is certainly some digital enhancement throughout, as the buildings in the background look like something out of The Jetsons or The Fifth Element, but the end result is really something to behold. This, along with Johansson’s performance, almost make up for the fact that the story is fairly convoluted and the secondary characters are extremely one-dimensional. Are the visuals and leading performance enough to make this movie a top-notch action film? No, but they do make it mostly entertaining.
Ghost in the Shell is an engaging, albeit somewhat cliché and shallow, attempt to cash in on a successful comic franchise. Scarlett Johansson does action better than just about anybody, and despite the legitimate concern of Hollywood whitewashing, it is hard to imagine this role being played by anybody else. The production design is great, the story is acceptable, and the pace is fast enough to keep your attention. See this one when it comes out on video, and in the meantime, check out the original comic, as well as the 1995 animated film of the same name.


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.

Questions & Actors: Being Famous Is Not the Answer

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QUESTION: My son wants to be a fireman, but also tells me he wants to be rich and famous, so now he wants to act. Shouldn’t I encourage him to be a fireman, not an actor?


I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

ACTORS: I love Jim Carrey—not only is he an amazing actor, but he’s one of my secret actor crushes, along with Dick Van Dyke! I guess I love funny. Though his quote has humor in it, much truth lies underneath his words.

When I taught on-camera commercial TV workshops, I would ask the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and I heard fireman, doctor, lawyer, marine biologist, president, etc., but interestingly enough I very seldom heard actor. So when I asked why were they taking this class, the common answer was I want to be rich and famous, as if rich and famous was an occupation.

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The Inaugural Casting Directors Association Awards

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This year the CDA held their first ever award ceremony in the UK, and we were there to help celebrate and honour the work of casting directors. Over one hundred key professionals working in the industry attended the ceremony at the Crypt of St Etheldreda’s for a fun, packed night, which was judged by an independent panel of experts. On this year’s panel were Gabe Blair (United Agents Commercials Department), Matt Buels (Managing Partner, Hungryman), Steve Davies (Chief Executive, APA), Paul Gay (TV, Film, and Commercials Director), Ella Sanderson (Senior Producer, Partizan), Jason Solomons (Film Critic), Charley Stadler (Commercials Director), and Mark Waites (Founder & Creative Director, Mother). 

The event was hosted by the incredibly talented and funny Sally Phillips (Smack the Pony, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who presented each award to the winners on the night (see list below).

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Theatre Review: Ah, Wilderness!

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Ah, Mr. Eugene O’Neill. How is it even possible that you, Mr. Doom & Gloom, wrote Ah, Wilderness!? I’d love the opportunity to sit down and have a drink with Eugene O’Neill and discuss that, amongst many, many other things. If you follow these reviews monthly, you know both my admiration for EO, one of the “best” American playwrights, and that I sat fairly enthusiastically through 3+ hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night last month at the Geffen. I couldn’t resist the thought of seeing another O’Neill piece the following month at A Noise Within. A completely different kind of piece, which most call a straight-up comedy (though more in the warm/feel good realm vs. the laugh out loud type), in which the main character gets his happy ending. It’s presumed to take place in the same small town as in LDJIN on July 4, 1906.  And . . . that’s where most of the similarities end.

Ah, Wilderness! centers around the delightful middle-class Miller family. Nat Miller (Nicholas Hormann) is a newspaper publisher who, along with his doting wife, Essie (Deborah Strang), has been raising their four fine children, as well as providing a home for Essie’s never-been-married sister, Lily (Kitty Swink), and jovial/alcoholic uncle, Sid (Alan Blumenfeld). Wait, alcoholic Uncle Sid? Mr. O’Neill, maybe you DID write this play. Seventeen-year-old Richard (Matt Gall) is the second child and the central character who, gently mind you, rebels and pushes the boundaries by reading “daring” books, spouting socialist ideas, and quoting risque-ish poetry. As you might have guessed, he’s endearingly naive and harmless. It’s also not a stretch to predict that he happens to have fallen in love with Muriel (Emily Goss), but her grumpy and disapproving father has gotten squarely in the way by restricting his daughter to the house, and forcing her to write a letter to end their relationship. Heartbroken, Richard becomes a little unhinged, getting tangled up one crazy night with booze and fast women, before finding his way again, and returning back to her.

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Join us at Actors Pro Expo – NYC 2017

Actors Pro Expo 2017

Casting Networks is heading to the 4th annual Actors Pro Expo event in NYC! A day for professional actors to come along and network with the industry. There will be Seminars, Workshops, 1-on-1 careers advice consultations, an open casting call for feature film ‘Fiver’ and generals with casting director Michael Cassara.

General admission, Seminars and 1-on-1 advice is all FREE! Industry-led workshops will cost $30 each and are available for advance booking online.

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#BreatheMoveReact: Dance Like No One is Watching

la la danceDance first. Think later. It’s the natural order. – Samuel Beckett

Unless you’ve been on another planet, you know La La Land, the award winning film musical that brings singing and dancing back to the screen. Since the vibrant and grand MGM musicals, this powerful form of expression has long been a part of the movies and it is truly wonderful to see this style of film on the main stage being celebrated once again. I grew up watching the golden oldies like Singin’ In The Rain, South Pacific, and anything Rodgers & Hammerstein, so it’s super exciting to see the modern take on the genre.

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Rumble Music Promo for ‘Alpha Female’

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‘Alpha Female’ is the brand new video from UK band Wild Beasts, produced by APA member Rumble and directed by Sasha Rainbow. We chatted with Sasha to find out where the concept came from and what inspired her to shine a light on the skater girls of Bangalore.


Casting Networks: Where did the inspiration come from for the music video concept?

Sasha Rainbow: For the Wild Beasts music video, I directed I tried to pull apart the song title Alpha Female and think about what it really meant. I wanted to use the video as a platform to celebrate women boldly going against the grain through affirmative, inspiring action, by following their passions; in this case, through skateboarding. The core message for me is ‘big change can start with just one person.’ The Holystoked Skate Crew and the girls that I worked with are an inspiration that cuts through age, gender, and class barriers. I wanted to commemorate this incredible moment in India.

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The Results Are In for #MAP48

MAP 48

Last month Manchester Actors Platform saw the return of #MAP48 for its second outing after a very successful 48 hour short film competition last year.

Casting Networks speaks with MAP and the team behind the Best Film winner “Am Dram.”

We would also like to congratulate LouLou Dayeh and Will Huntington, the winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress award, each awarded with a 12 month Premium account with Pro Services.


Casting Networks: Where did the idea for MAP48 come from?

Manchester Actors Platform: MAP48 sort of arrived many years ago as a crazy idea I had in London. Everyone had heard of the ‘24 Hour Plays’ and ‘Play In A Day’ type competitions and events, but there was very little out there for films. When I moved back to Manchester it was clear to see there was a massive film community from indie, grass-roots film makers to established teams. Having done a bit of filming myself and enjoyed the challenges of it, it seemed like a good time to complete the initial planning stages and get the beast up and running. The beauty of it being that, as was proven with thee awards this year, experience isn’t essential. This was key to us in structuring the event. Because some people have access to all the quality gear, we couldn’t let that mean that they were a shoe-in for taking Best Film, so we ensure that the decisions made are not about where the film is in HD! We also want to encourage people to try out new skills—this year, Best Writer and Best Director both went to people who were doing it for the first time!
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