Some Of My Favorite Blog Entries

Hello everyone! I wanted to quickly share some of my favorite blog entries of 2018. Here they are! All in one place!

Honor Your Genius: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Co

I Can’t Act! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-CJ

Table Read Fun! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-CM

My Oscar Speech: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-CU

How I Got An Agent Offer In One Week: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-D0

James Franco Said No To Me: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-D4

How To Make Yourself Valuable: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Dd

Finding An Agent Is Like Dating: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Dp

An Ode To Actors: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Dr

You ARE An Artist! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-E1

How I Wrote A Script In One Hour: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-E6

Advertisements

You ARE An Artist!

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well!

I was teaching a class recently called the Professional Development Program 1.0. This class is designed to look at the whole of your career. In addition to helping students create a business plan for themselves and teaching them how to audition on camera and having them read industry books, we also require the students to film 10 short films (3 minutes or less) that are each designed to make them stronger artists and individuals.

Recently, my students shot, edited and turned in their first short film. We screened them in class and their first films blew me away. At the end of the screening, I told them: “Give yourselves a round of applause. You are now filmmakers! Congratulations!”

The class applauded, and immediately, I caught one student in the front row do air quotes with his fingers, “Filmmakers”. He said “Filmmakers” and did air quotes with his fingers. And I got all his subtext behind that: “Yeah right”; “sure”; “sure we are”; “if that’s what you say”; etc.) And I was like, “No, you ARE a filmmaker. Claim that. You just turned in a short film. You didn’t have a film to your name last week. And here you are, a week later, with a film that you originated, conceived, wrote, acted in, shot and edited.”

I continued that just because it’s a short film for class, just because it’s a three minute film, doesn’t mean that you’re not a filmmaker. You ARE a filmmaker. You MADE a film. The first step to believing that you are a filmmaker is to believe that you are. Point. Blank. Period. Fuck it, the first step to believing that you are anything is to believe that you are.

I continued by saying that people like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron believed from jump street that they were filmmakers. I added that if you looked at their first films, it probably wasn’t the greatest in terms of production value and what they are able to create now, but I bet you anything that they stood by their films with pride and confidence. You couldn’t tell them anything that they weren’t filmmakers.

When I look back at the films I did when I took the PDP 1.0 class, I claimed that I was a filmmaker. You couldn’t tell me shit. I stood by each film project I did with confidence and pride. Each film came out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. Now, when I look back at these films, I chuckle and cringe sometimes because the sound was off or the lighting was off or some production value was off. However, that being said, I could also see each film getting better and better.

I look at the films I am able to produce today and it is night and day. But the only reason why I am able to produce better films today was because I fucking claimed that I was a filmmaker from the moment I shot my first film project in PDP 1.0 and because I kept getting better and better. I failed forward.

I’m sure Steven Spielberg and James Cameron got better and better with each film they did. I’m sure many artists have gotten better and better with their craft (actors, writers, dancers, painters, authors, photographers, musicians, etc.)

So, claim that you ARE a filmmaker. Or an actor. Or a writer. There’s this fucked up notion in the entertainment business that you aren’t anything unless you get paid for it. Or unless you’ve “made it”. “I’m not an actor unless I’m on a series.” Fuck that. You ARE an actor because you’ve decided that you are one and you’re building a career around that passion and love you have for it. Don’t wait until you’ve “made it” to declare or believe that you are an actor.

The belief starts now. The enjoyment starts now. Because if you don’t believe it now, claim it now, own it now, then you’ll never be happy. You’ll never be satisfied–even when you book the fucking series. You’ll qualify your series booking with some unfounded nonsense.

The student got my point of view and his attitude towards being a filmmaker changed from air quotes “Filmmaker” to “Yes, I am a filmmaker.”

Cause truth be told, if I had let that moment slide by, then 1) His ability to create future projects would suffer and plateau/crash immediately. He would not be able to soar to his greatest potential. 2) His attitude would have infected others to go into agreement with him. Other students–who just one minute ago had a tremendous win and a tremendous sense of pride with their own film projects–would have started questioning themselves and gone into agreement with him: “Yeah, he’s right. We’re ‘filmmakers'”. They would have been air quoting as well.

And the tragedy is that we then lose the future Steven Spielbergs, James Camerons, Ava DuVernays, Patty Jenkins, Ryan Cooglers, Guillermo del Toros, Alejandro G. Iñárritus, Kathryn Bigelows, etc.

And I won’t let that happen.

An Ode To Actors!

According to dictionary.com, the definition of “ode” is:

  1. a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.

That being said, I hope this provides inspiration!

Dear actors,

For all the times:

*We’ve faced rejection

*We’ve compared ourselves to others in the casting waiting room

*Others have sized us up and compared themselves to us in the casting waiting room

*We’ve dealt with horrendous traffic to get to auditions

*We’ve gotten a flat tire heading to an audition

*We’ve had trouble finding parking

*We’ve gone to the wrong casting office

*We’ve gotten a parking ticket after an audition

*We’ve had 3-4 auditions in one day and have had to do the actor wardrobe change in the car (we are fucking masters at that)

For all the times:

*We’ve gotten so close to getting that part and they went with the other person

*We’ve forgotten our lines

*We’ve been nervous in an audition

*We’ve been nervous on stage

*We’ve been nervous on camera

For all the times:

*We’ve been told to give up our dreams

*We’ve been told to get a real job

*We’ve been told that acting is not a real profession

*We’ve been told that we are not good enough

*We’ve been told that we are not important

*We’ve been invalidated and made to feel less than

*We’ve been shamed to celebrate our journey and wins

For all the times:

*We’ve taken crazy jobs to make ends meet

*We’ve worked more than one day job to make ends meet

*We’ve had pasta for dinner instead of steak

*We’ve endured long periods of time of not auditioning

*We’ve endured long periods of time of not booking jobs

*We’ve received eye rolls or chuckles or silences whenever we tell people we’re actors

*We’ve told people with shame that we are actors

For all the times…know that it’s all worth it. We are so blessed to be actors…to be artists. We are some of the most important, influential, impinging people in the universe. And what we do is so much fun, fun, fun! Hang in there. Keep pushing through. Keep showing up and getting the work done. Keep taking risks and walking through the fire. Don’t give up. The universe needs you.

**I also realized I can do a “For all the times” entry for writers and producers as well!

**Is there anything up there that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comments below!

Finding An Agent Is Like Dating

Hey gang! A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog entry about how I started looking for new representation and that I received an offer in one week. I ended up not signing with that particular talent agency and I have since continued the search for theatrical representation (I received an offer for commercial representation on May 4th and I accepted that offer)

A few days ago in my PDP 3.0 class, I was chosen to do cold stand up comedy. I talked about how searching for an agent is like dating. Listen to my stand up comedy below and find out why! I would also love to read your agent dating stories in the comments section below.

 

 

What Is A Slate?

And why it is so important!

When an actor auditions for a film, a TV series or a commercial, they are usually asked by the casting director, casting assistant or session runner to slate for the camera. “Give us a slate for camera” or “Please slate for camera”. Or something similar along those lines.

A slate is an industry term in which you introduce yourself on camera right before you begin your audition. “Hi, my name is Jorge Ortiz”; “Hi, my name is Jorge Ortiz and I’m reading for the role of Anthony”; “Hi, I’m Jorge Ortiz”; etc. There are many variations on a slate depending on the instructions that the casting director gives to you. In the case of self-tape auditions, the instructions provided may ask you to include your height and location in your slate.

So, slates vary. But the point is that you are introducing yourself on camera right before you begin your audition.

And why is that important? Because you are introducing yourself to the decision makers on the other side of the camera. You are introducing yourself to decision makers who will be watching your auditions later.

This is your opportunity to let your personality shine through. This is your opportunity to let us know who you are because your slate is our very first impression of you. Is your slate warm, open and inviting? Does it make us say, “Wow, I like this person. I want to get to know them.” Does your slate come from a place of a great attitude that makes us say, “That’s someone I want on my set for the next 4-6 months.”

Don’t throw away your slate by coming across as unsure, tentative, nervous, hostile, unclear, mumbling, monotone, etc. Or they quickly state their name and move on to the scene. I’ve seen a number of actors in the classes I teach throw away their slates. Rather, impinge us with your slate. Make us sit up and say, “Who’s that?”

Think about how you introduce yourself to people. Or how you say hi to your friends. Bring that quality, that energy, into your slate. It’s open, warm, inviting, friendly.

However, that doesn’t mean you phone it in. That doesn’t mean you run for mayor and make your slate over the top. Because at the end of the day, we see and sense that too. It reads as phony and trying too hard. It makes us go “Ugh! They’re trying way too hard. Ease up. Relax.”

Here’s the key to a great slate. The slate starts before you even come into the room. Your slate is connected to how you feel about yourself. Your life force. Your purpose. Your sense of self. If these dynamics are off, then your slate will reflect that and be off as well. Your slate, how you introduce yourself to a group of decision makers, is connected to you. If you are connected to yourself, then there will be a certainty in your slate.

A great question that comes up all the time is, “If I’m playing a dark character or if I’m auditioning for a heavy, dramatic scene, then how do I slate? Do I slate with an upbeat, positive attitude or do I slate as this dark, heavy, dramatic character?”

This question really comes up because actors want to stay in character and stay in the zone of the material they are auditioning for. They feel that they will lose the character or lose being in the zone if they have to slate as themselves and then jump into the character. They feel that they won’t be able to get back into that heavy, emotional character or scene if they have to slate beforehand with an upbeat, positive attitude.

At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. I personally like to come in as myself so they can see me, the person. My job is to come in as a person first and then get into the acting second. I want them to see my personality right away and know that I am easy to work with, fun to work with, a joy to work with. And then we’ll get into the acting part of the audition. Auditions are about being a person first and then acting second.

And because I’ve done the work beforehand, I know how to quickly transition into character and into my moment before once I’ve slated. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, and you want to stay in character and slate as your character, go for it. I would just say that at the end of your audition, recapture the room by slating again as yourself. In other words, slate again at the end of your audition as yourself so that they can see your true personality. They’ll say, “Oh wow, they were in character the whole time and then they slated as themselves at the end of their audition.”

Like I mentioned earlier, don’t throw away your slate. Really communicate and impinge us with your slate. Your slate is our very first impression of you. An actor I know-who works all the time-had an opportunity to do a directing fellowship with a major television network. They were in the room with the executive producer and creator of a major TV series. They were watching the auditions (the selects) that the casting director forwarded to them. The actor told me that the executive producer and creator would skip over auditions right at the slate. The executive producer and creator would say these things after certain slates: “Too nervous” or “Too green” or “Not confident”.

They stopped the auditions right at the slate! They didn’t watch any further. So you could have done a great job in your audition, you could have thrown the fuck down, but they didn’t watch it because your slate was lacking in some way. They’ll never know how great of a job you did because they stopped watching your audition at the slate.

So, don’t risk your slate. Practice, practice, practice!

How To Make Yourself Valuable

How to make yourself valuable on set or in an audition room. When I taught the Professional Development Program class on Monday, April 23rd, I had a great and passionate discussion with my students about where in their lives they could make themselves more valuable in a certain area. Where could they put in a conscious effort to improve an area that will make themselves more valuable in the casting rooms and the sets they work on.

Help us help you by being the best you can be. By making yourself more valuable, we want to work with you over and over again. When you’re valuable, the exchange and collaboration is more fun and easier for both parties involved.

 
Help us help you.

 
I’ve been on set as an actor, director and producer. I have sat on the other side of the casting desk. I have taught hundreds of students at the Richard Lawson Studios since 2010. I have interviewed hundreds of potential students for the Richard Lawson Studios. From the above experiences, I’ve compiled some quick tips that I want to share that have helped me become more valuable to others.
 
Arrive EARLY. Need I say more?
 
Actually, I will. Arrive EARLY. Give yourself the respect and experience of being early so that you can be present and focused and so that you don’t have people waiting on you. Cause what happens when you’re late is that a domino effect occurs. You run late to set, it affects the other people on set as well. They are now behind schedule. The DP is losing light. The producer and director are running out of time in a location. Scenes get pushed. The budget increases as a result. People have gotten fired for being late. So always be early!
 
You run late to an interview with me and a domino effect occurs. I now have to either push other interviews back or, as it has happened many times before, the next person arrives and they now have to wait until I’m done. Which now affects their schedule and their day. And it affects and throws off my day too. Help us help you.
Have a great attitude. Make the room or set better in terms of your attitude and energy. Art is collaborative. It’s a team effort. Let’s have fun! Make them want to work with you again. Make them want to bring you back again.

Follow the instructions to a T. Make their job easier. Don’t have them trying to figure out what you submitted. Don’t have them trying to figure out what you intended. It wastes their time and it will end up in the trash bin. For example, when it comes to self-tape auditions, follow all the instructions provided or they will not view your audition. If you’re submitting your materials to an agency, follow their instructions to a T. Otherwise, they will not view your materials. One agency website states, “If you do NOT use this form, but instead use the casting people’s contact button, you will automatically go straight into the trash…because you’ll be showing me right off the bat that you can’t follow directions! ​Need I say more?!” Help us help you.

Don’t take short cuts. It will eventually catch up with you and set you back. The short cuts will backfire. Do the work.

Make it easy to find you! I can’t tell you how many actor profiles I see on IMDB with multiple contact listings. And I don’t mean the actor who has the contact info for their agent, manager and entertainment lawyer listed on their profile page or the actor who has the contact info for their agent and publicist listed on their profile page. I don’t even mean the actor who has the contact info for their LA agent and NY agent listed on their profile page. I’m talking about the actors who have several LA agencies listed on their page. It’s so confusing because I don’t know who you’re actually repped by! Actors, please know that you can edit your profile pages and keep them current. I don’t have the time, nor do others in the industry, to call several agencies in LA to find out which one you’re with. CLEAN UP YOUR PAGE! Who are you actually repped by? Help us help you.

Don’t disappear on set. Don’t have us looking for you. You’re wasting valuable time when you disappear. Inform your second AD of your whereabouts. Be a professional and be on stand by, ready to go. Help us help you.

 
What other tips can you add to this list? I’d love to read your comments below!

Homeward LA (Art Making a Difference)

Art is powerful. Art creates change. Whether it’s a movie, a song, a painting, a book, etc. Art has the ability to make us move towards change. And as an artist, I love using my art to create and inspire change. That’s why I am honored to be a part of Homeward LA.

Homeward LA is a 10-day citywide event from April 13 to April 22, where over 20 productions of monologues based on stories from people who have experienced homelessness will be performed by actors all around the Los Angeles area. I will be acting in the April 22nd production at the Richard Lawson Studios at the WACO Theater Center!

Together we will experience stories from the lives of those who strive to find their way home, increase awareness around the homeless crisis facing Los Angeles, and raise funds for The Midnight Mission, an amazing nonprofit organization on Skid Row.

If you are interested in attending, please click on this link:

http://bit.ly/homewardla

Homeward LA