Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Overview on The Biz

Flying out to Nevada I took along the book Making Movies by the late and great director Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Murder on the Orient Express, Network, The Pawnbroker, Serpico, 12 Angry Men, Running on Empty, and on and on through 73 films and TV episodes).

What a find! As actors we tend to see just one part of the elephant and can only guess about the rest. This book takes you through the entire movie-making process and explains the considerations at each step: concept, funding, writing, locations, editing, lighting, sound, directing, acting, post-production, audience previews, and marketing.

Why does a film need star casting? On what take is an actor likely to be giving the director their best? What is the preview process like? Why does a director choose to do a particular film? How has the film-making process changed over time?  And does it now make sense?  Not always.  Not even to Sidney Lumet.

But this book illuminates a lot of the whats and whys that go into making a film, and information like that makes you a more informed actor and better able to shape your career.  This is a book that is going on my Quick Reference shelf. 

I'm reading it through again, now that I'm no longer distracted by the wild-eyed woman passenger who went streaking up the airplane aisle just before the door closed and promptly keeled over in the gangway, leading to a short delay in takeoff while the airline staff called the paramedics and removed her luggage from the plane.  Ah, the joys of air travel.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Goblin Baby Premieres

The Goblin Baby, Shoshana Rosenbaum's supernatural short, premiered to a full house on September 27th at RiRa's in Georgetown. Michael Gabel, Oriana Oppice and I were among the cast who attended. Well done, Shoshana! On to the film festivals!
(L to R) Actor Michael Gabel, actress Kathryn Browning, writer/director Shoshana Rosenbaum (and son), actress Oriana Oppice, and production staff Robin Noonan-Price and Victoria Buksbazen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Time for New Headshots

Every year or two an up-and-coming actor needs new headshots, and since my hair had gone from almost black to ash blonde (Hey, blonde is the new gray, Baby!) mine were overdue.

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that the point to headshot photography is to show what I will look like when I walk in the door to audition. Well of course, you say? Try convincing the photographer! I've had inexpensive family photographers and really expensive New York photographers. I've been flat-lighted to the point where my face looks like two eyes and a mouth on a white sheet of paper. I've been photoshopped to the point where I look like I'm made of plastic.

Every actor has had this experience and the odd thing is that (1) the photographer thinks that you want it that way and (2) his or her ego is such that they can't release a photo without making you "pretty."

But the result is that whenever I see a breakdown posted, half the time the casting director now asks for a snapshot so they can see what you really look like! So who's kidding whom?

I AM pretty (well...on a good hair day), but I'm also a woman of a certain age and I wanted that to show in my face, complete with crow's feet and freckles. I also wanted lighting that put some dramatic shadows on my face, because I have been making do for the past few months with a screen shot that did just that and it was getting me auditions. I talked over my concerns with actor Ken Arnold, who does headshot photography as a sideline in Baltimore (and leads some really helpful workshops at Studio-Boh), and he got some great shots.

By the way, to look your best in headshots be sure to use Clear Eyes or other eye drops before your photo session to get the red out. You want the color of your eyes to pop and if you're like me your eyes are often irritated from makeup, hairspray, bright lights, etc. Teeth a little dull? Swish for 30 seconds with a mix of 3 parts mouthwash to 1 part hydrogen peroxide (spit it out!) and then rinse your mouth with plain water. It will remove surface stains. It also pays to learn to do your own makeup and style your own hair so you can reproduce that look for auditions. I even cut my own hair. Finally, you know the look you're going for, so choose your own outfits.   

Anyway, here are the final four, chosen for the three kinds of roles I most often get  - older Mother (which I used at right on my blog), senator/detective, and secretary/socialite - plus an "everywoman" look, since a big budget mini-series may be coming to the area where "factory worker" is likely to be a role. I didn't change my hair, makeup, or earrings from shot to shot, so they all have a similar look, but they're still just a tad in one direction or another, depending on what I was going for. An actor doesn't need to be too much in character in their submission photos. They just need to hint at the possibilities while still being themselves. Ditto the big grin. I try for a middle ground of looking amused/pleasant and keep the toothy smile in reserve if casting specifically asks for it.

Ken added a bit more color saturation on some of these, but none were retouched (which you can really see in the larger 8" x 10" prints). We'll see if these get me in the door at casting.