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The Agent Diaries – September 2015

Tuesday, September 1st

It’s “Bloodline” week at Brevard Talent Group!

Production starts today on season two.  I can’t wait to see what the show has in store for Florida actors.  It doesn’t get much better than working with Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelshon and Sissy Spacek. Congratulations to Kyle Chandler for his Emmy nomination for lead actor and Ben Mendelsohn for supporting actor, and, a HUGE THANKS to casting director Lori Wyman and her associates, Erin Fragetta and Therese Verbruggen.

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Claire Bronson played the role of Dr. Andrea Weston on two episodes. Claire shared, “Ben was very laid back, quiet, and working his process.  He was kind and very giving as a fellow actor. It was my 1st day and 1st scene on set though and I was a little nervous trying to get to know the director and feeling out what he and the production wanted for this character – which was different than the description in the breakdown for the audition.  Kyle was an absolute dream.  He’s one of my favorite actors, and he was everything I wanted him to be and more: down to earth, funny, warm, welcoming, self-deprecating, talented, easy going… and he genuinely cares about everyone and their experience on the show.  He is the definition of ‘team player’.  All in all, Claire had a great time working with the fabulous “Bloodline” family.

Wednesday, September 2nd

Tyler Cravens worked on three episodes.  Originally the role was called “white haired man”.  Tyler auditioned for the show and a film at the same time.  He booked the film, with a drop and pick up and could not color his hair so the producers changed the role to Ralph Lawler, the hit man.  This goes to show you if the universe wants you to book a job, it will happen!   Tyler’s favorite story is after rehearsing with Ben Mendelshon in the bar scene where Danny and Ralph first meet, they were initially much closer, face to face, Ben acting the scene with his Danny southern accent.  At the scenes conclusion, Tyler decided to stay with him instead of standing and walking out like it ended up….and he didn’t pull away either, but commented in his native Australian accent, “Goddamn, Tyler, that was goddamn terrifying!”.

Thursday, September 3rd

Bill Kelly worked on four episodes as DEA agent Clay Grunwald.  Good news, Bill is returning in the second season.  Bill did not audition for the role he booked.  The role called for a late 20s/early 30s and Bill, like myself, passed that age many years ago.  The producers saw Bill’s auditions for other roles and kept him in mind.  Another example of the universe working its magic!  Bill shared, “The cast is amazing and all are very nice”.  Kyle Chandler came over to Bill while they were shooting the final scene of the season and said, “Thank you for knowing your shit”.  Bill replied, “That’s what I’m supposed to do, right?”  Kyle went on to say that it’s frustrating when an actor comes to set and is unprepared and doesn’t know their lines.  It was a nice gesture that he took time to say thanks.  Kyle and Enrique were great to work with and very good people”.

Bill with Enrique Murciano on the set of “Bloodline” Season Two

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Friday, September 4th

Jeremy Palko had a great experience working on “Bloodline”.  Jeremy said, “I remember my first day on set.  I was nervous, and then I heard Tate Donovan was the director, then I became more nervous.  Once we began rehearsing, I became more relaxed and I was able to just work.  Thinking I was only working for one day, I packed up and headed home.  Feeling very accomplished, deep down I wanted more.  A few days later, I received the call that I would be returning to shoot more scenes.   Having already met the cast and crew, the second time down was a bit more relaxed.  That’s just how it is in the Keys.  Through good fortune and a lot of praying, I found myself driving to and from the Keys for a couple of weeks as scripts came in and my character kept popping up in them.  I remember hearing that they were on the last episode of shooting… I was then asked to return to shoot my “last” scene.  I was sure they were about to kill my character off.  They didn’t, thank goodness.  But when I left, I received a cast/crew wide applause as the director yelled, ‘That’s a wrap on Jeremy’.  A truly humbling experience. I thought to myself at that moment…I am living my dream”.

Tuesday, September 8th

Zach Robbins used the word surreal to define the feeling he had when he found out he booked the role of “Young John Rayburn”.  When his mom, Tina, told him the great news, Zach started to imagine all of the talent he was about to be surrounded with on set.  Zach auditioned for “Bloodline” a total of four times for different roles.  Zach realizes how privileged he is to work on a hit show based in Florida and is looking to forward to returning for season two.

Wednesday, September 9th

Owen Teague is looking forward to returning for season two. Owen played “Young Danny Rayburn” in the flashback scenes in the first season and, a second character that is returning to create more drama for the Rayburns.  Although Owen said he is in awe of every actor in the show, the actor he was particularly interested in and fascinated by was Ben Mendelsohn.  “I’ve really had to study him, playing his flashback self and now his son, Nolan.  He’s extremely fun to study.  While filming Season 1, since we didn’t have scenes together, I didn’t have much to go on except some movies in which he was playing completely different characters.  So I would look for him around the base camp.  One day as lunch was winding down, I saw him come into the catering tent.  He loaded up two plates of food, then started to leave.  At that moment, I was clearing my own plate and heading back, so we ended up walking out together.  As he neared the door of his trailer, holding plates in both hands, I could see he might have a problem opening his door, so I rushed ahead and opened it for him.  He turned to me with this big grin, saying in his huge Australian accent, “Mad skills, bro!”  Those may have been the first words he ever said to me, and probably his last until the wrap party.  Remembering that moment still cracks me up.  Then at the wrap party, he was very encouraging and kind.  What I didn’t expect was how straightforwardly he mentioned, basically in the same breath, the challenge of being a young actor.  He said it can be lonely, you know, as a matter of fact. That could have been a downer, I guess, but it was actually so reassuring to hear that message of ‘Yeah man, I know what you go through, I’ve been there’, from this great artist. Needless to say, I’ll never forget that either”.

Thursday, September 10th

On a personal note, I attended the “Workshop on the Water” service at the Flora-Bama lounge and oyster bar on Sunday.  This should be a reality show!  Thank goodness it was a nonjudgmental service since a huge Bud Light bikini contest banner was hanging above the minister as he delivered his sermon and the offering plate was a tackle box.  You heard me, a tackle box.  The honky tonk hymnal stated on the cover thou shall not steal.  PRICELESS!  The southern rock Christian band was great and I did not catch on fire.  The service centered around the importance of family.  This made me think of the entertainment business and the family we are, regardless of whether you are in front or behind the camera.  While the entertainment industry is huge, the acting community is small.  After the service ended, the bar opened – bloody mary on a Sunday at a dive bar on the beach – my kind of place.  If you are not familiar with the Flora-Bama, check out Kenny Chesney’s video shot last year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqzM7bP6aRY.

Elena Varela on the set of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” with Andre Braugher and Andy Samburg

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Friday, September 11th

Catching up for the week.  It is a first…no dumb actor stories or bad excuses to share.  I booked two actors on “The Walking Dead”.  I love calling actors and giving them the great news that they booked the number one show in the world!  Or, any project for that matter.  One role is recurring the other is not since the character meets an early demise.  A bunch of actors shot an industrial for the “Veterans Administration”.  Steve Garland had an early flight today to Tennessee to work on the new TV show “Outcast”.  After arriving at the airport and numerous flight delays Steve did the next best thing.  Got in his car and starting driving north.  Steve did not complain (THANK YOU) which made me very happy since the BTG complaint department is closed on Fridays.

Jim Braswell on the set of the “Veterans Administration” Industrial

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On a more somber note, it is hard to believe it has been fourteen years since the 9/11 disaster.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  My friend, Pati Robinson, called to tell me about the first plane crashing into the first twin tower.  I grew up with planes being hijacked to Cuba, but those days were long gone.  I thought how did they get a plane to hijack and that is when Pati told me it was full of passengers. I was in shock as was the rest of the nation.  I heard about the second plane on my way to work.  I had a meeting with Pete Penuel or I would have stayed home.  The phones were dead, work came to a screeching halt.  This day will be in our memory forever.  Every day I count my blessings to have the privilege to live in America.  I hope you do, too.

Monday, September 14th

I spoke to soon.  Text from Saturday:  Can you get feedback from my audition?  REALLY?  On a Saturday?  When my football team is playing!  That is not an emergency.  Actors let your agent have a break.  We need it…desperately!!!

I had a call on my cell phone from a grandmother wanting information on how to get her granddaughter in the business.  I politely told her that the cell phone is for emergencies only and to call the office number.  She asked “What number is that?”  I told her you called the number because that is the only way she could have gotten my cell number!  DUH!

I hope I do not sound too bitchy, slightly bitchy is ok, just not too much.  But, HELLO PEOPLE take a lesson in common sense!  I know one thing for sure – if I could bottle and sell common sense, I would be rich!

Tuesday, September 15th

I recently sent an audition to an actor for a character that was older than he thought he was able to play. There was a joke in the script about him being “much” older than his co-star in the scene.  After he questioned me about whether he was right for it, I told him to not worry about the age and go ahead and tape.  When you have been requested to tape, always go for it.  Instead of thinking negatively about the reasons you should not tape, think positive and make the character your own.  You never know if casting or producers will see you as perfect for another role or a future project.  In this case, the actor booked the role and they removed the reference to the characters age.  If you find yourself constantly questioning your agent and roles you are requested to audition for then get another agent; if not trust them to do their job.

Wednesday, September 16th

All agents know that actors want to work and it is their “fix”, much like an addict needs drugs.  Maybe not the right analogy but, you get the point.  I can’t speak for all agents but, it is a job for me, not my fix.  I ask all actors to walk in their agents shoes and deal with the numerous issues we face every day.  Being an agent is not for the faint of heart.  It is tough, mentally demanding and never ends.  Actors who are productive in their career, study their craft and meet audition deadlines are a pleasure to work with; the others, not so much.  If you have an issue you want to discuss with your agent, make sure you talk to them and not other actors.  Word gets around if an actor is complaining behind their agents back.  Agents can’t read emotions via email or text.  Be professional and pick up the phone.  It is better to solve the problem than continue to harbor bad feelings.  This goes for all relationships, personal or business.  I think I made my point on this subject.

Thursday, September 17th

A big thanks to casting director Lisa Mae Fincannon for her contribution to “The Agent Diaries”

Written by Lisa Fincannon

Frequently I am asked why actors are asked to audition multiple, (if not hundreds of times) for the same show.  There are many answers to this question, none of which I am afraid rock in the favor of that actor.  I wanted to take a minute and address why, with Fincannon & Associates projects, this happens.

Up front, I think it important to point out that if you are continuing to be asked to tape you are doing everything right.  That is the job of a working actor.  We all, in this biz, are professional job seekers.  I am, you are, the DP, the Director, etc.  I think actors should be concerned if they are NOT being asked multiple times to tape, even if for the same CD or project.

Multiple tapings for the same show, ie, The Walking Dead, serve many purposes.

The most obvious of these is that episodics of any kind, while driven by the show-runner, have many different directors over one season.  Each of these directors are usually not privy to the actors who have read in episodes he or she are not directing. To them, you, the actor, are shiny and new!  For the show-runner, who has seen you many times over one season, it is a continued vetting process.  Because casting in the Southeast is done primarily through the net, and rarely in person, the CDs and show- runners want to know that your performances are strong in many auditions…not just the one in front of them.  This multiple taping scenario, in effect, becomes your reel. It proves strength of your craft in different characters and situations.  As a CD, it gives me peace that I am sending the strongest, best choices.  Also due to the lack of face time in callbacks, it allows me to get to know you better…your choices, strengths and weaknesses, you as an artist.

The not so obvious reason is one that at first blush seems a little ironic, but it exists.

Directors today are not always directors…by that I mean that many come from backgrounds of being writers or DPs, celebrities, producers who want to dabble in the arts, etc.  While many are fine directors in the sense of the technical aspects of directing, there are many who are not well versed in the direction of talent.  These directors tend to need to hire those folks that can hit their mark and deliver their lines with little to no interaction/direction.  To that end, again, their comfort level is greatly heightened when you, the actor, has delivered several auditions that are strong and they see your strength being consistent.

All in all, I think that the multiple tapings far beats how you were needed in the good old days…yes, way back in the 90’s, (telling my age now), when all SE actors got in a car and drove hours to Atlanta or Wilmington to spend 5 minutes in a room, not get cast, and be called back the very next week…

Try and hang on to that the next time you have to step into your living room or drive across town to tape for another character of another episode on yet one more TV show!

Friday, September 18th

Catching up for the week:  Demi Castro and Ricky Wayne had a great time working on “Bloodline”.  Steve Garland has driven over 3,000 miles the last two weeks attending a callback and working. Chelsea Talmadge is pinned for the new Netflix TV show “Stranger Things”.  Justin Kucuslain and Jeremy Palko loved working with the zombies.  Thanks to all of the hard working actors who are passionate about the business and work hard to reach their goals.

Demi Castro & Kyle Chandler on the set of “Bloodline”

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Monday, September 21st

Pilot season will be here before you know it.  Need new headshots?  Get them done since it takes a while to make final selects.  Is your resume updated?  Do you need to update your reel?  Are your on-line profiles updated?  Does your agent have your current sizes and resume on file?  Do you have extra funds set aside for a rainy day in case you need to book an airline ticket or put gas in your car?  What are you waiting for?  Time is tick ticking away so get busy!

Tuesday, September 22nd

There are so many things about your career that is out of your control, so when there is something you can control, you should.  Your profile on IMDb.com is a prime example.  While I am not a big fan of the system, I will admit it has become the encyclopedia for the business.  I wish I had thought of IMDB or at the very least SAG would have come up with IMDB instead of iactor.  Like your actors access account, your IMDB account should be kept up to date.  The best way to get your headshot on there is to sign up for the free trial of IMDbPro, upload your headshot and then cancel before the trial is over if you choose not to continue on.  However, if you can afford it, you may find the $12.50 per month fee a fair, tax-deductible investment in your career. IMDbPro members can upload demo reels and photos to their profile, and have priority approval when adding credits.  Speaking of which, don’t wait for production to add your credits to IMDb.  As soon as you wrap, you can add the new credit, which can take a few days to a few weeks to show up on your profile after the approval process.  Don’t call your agent and ask them how you can get your credits on your page.  This is the actor’s responsibility.

Wednesday, September 23rd

I have been waiting for this day for a long time!  The arrival of fall and the season premiere for the TV show “Empire”.  Jussie Smollett plays the role of Jamal Lyon.  Instyle magazine interviewed Jussie for the September issue.  Jussie was at the international upfronts for FOX and was about to sing one of the songs from the show and he said, “Two years ago, y’all had this party, and I was one of the catering waiters”.  Jussie’s life completely changed in that time.  So can yours.   Every actor has job stories from their past.  What did you learn from your past jobs that have helped you develop characters for your acting career?

Thursday, September 24th

A Throwback Thursday Story

In 2002, Hank Stone was requested to attend a callback for the feature film “Cold Mountain” starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman.  The film was directed by the late Anthony Minghella.  The callback was in Nashville at the same time the CMA Musical Festival and Fan Fair was going on.  Hank drove all night and could not find a hotel room so he slept in his car.  He pulled it together and went to the callback.  Hank called me after his meeting and told me that he did not have a chance because Mr. Minghella did not have him read the sides.  He just wanted to talk to him.  You can imagine my excitement when I called Hank and told him the great news that he booked the job.  Sometimes a director or producer wants to get to know the person, not the “actor”.  Especially, if they are going to be working with the actor for a long time.  Nobody has the ability to know what is going through another person’s mind so, don’t jump to conclusions after a callback and second doubt yourself.  The exception to that rule is if you bombed the audition and could not get the dialogue to come out of your mouth.  For those who have had that happen, you know what I am talking about.

Friday, September 25th

Weekly catch up: Dan Bright was in Louisiana working on the feature film “LBJ Project” directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson.  Owen Harn worked on “Nashville” with Aubrey Peeples (I love when BTG actors get to work together).  Darla Delgado booked a recurring role on the new NBC show “Game of Silence”.  “Bloodline” booked Demi Castro, Tom Nowicki and Ricky Wayne.  Bill Kelly, Zach Robbins and Owen Teague are back for season two.  “BTG” actors are driving and flying all over the pursuing their dreams.  If you are going to dream…DREAM BIG!  The sky is the limit with the opportunities in the Southeast.  The Georgia film commission wants to double the work in their state by 2017.  Time will tell if Florida will be granted funds next year for filming.  On behalf of all of the agents, I cannot express how thankful I am to the actors who do what it takes to get the job done and keep their agent in business.  Now go out and book work…we have bills to pay!

Monday, September 28th

I started Sunday frying bacon and sending out auditions.  Thanks to the actors who put their weekend plans on hold to get their NDA and audition in as soon as possible.  I received this text from Michael Christopher Rodney, I can’t thank you enough for the auditions you’ve sent me in the past 4 to 5 weeks.  Thanks for being patient with me.  We’re gonna come out on top!  Michael is one of the most talented actors I represent.  I have no doubt that he will have a long career ahead of him and his positive thinking will only contribute to his success!

On another note, I LOVE THE POPE! I wish I was his agent!

Tuesday, September 29th

textI am going to lay it out and tell it like it is.  For those who know me, I speak the truth and feel like blowing smoke up an actor’s ass is a waste of time.  Do you want your agent to be honest with you or tell you what you want to hear?  If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, the truth will eventually come out, so it is best to be honest from the start.  Plain and simple, AN ACTOR’S JOB IS TO AUDITION.  The booking is the icing on the cake.  You can’t book a job if you don’t audition.   There are thousands of actors with current credits and competitive reels who have moved to the Southeast, specifically in the Atlanta area, thanks to the amazing Georgia film incentive.  An actress recently asked me what the procedure is after receiving notification for an audition.  I want to receive a reply letting me know if the actor accepts or declines the audition and I want them to meet the deadline, without any excuses or complaining.  When an actor responds to the email regarding an audition and says “got it” that does not let your agent know if you are going to accept the audition.  This text is a perfect example of how you can sabotage your relationship with your agent.  It should not be up to your agent to chase down your auditions.  Actors complain about the cost of being put on tape.  It is the way the business is and it is not going to change so you need to accept that it is a tax deductible business expense that you must pay if you want to play.  I hope the article casting director Lisa Fincannon wrote on September 17th will encourage actors to keep moving forward to reach their goals and continue to tape.

 

Wednesday, September 30th

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