Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Which Title?

We've made several references to a new feature film we're working on...

And we're trying to come up with a good working title. The main character is a girl named Penny, so we figure that's a good starting place. Also what's important is that she spends a majority of the movie in an alternate universe of sorts.

Here a quick synopsis about the story:
18-year-old Penny wants nothing more than to escape the clutches of her overprotective mother. Late one night she goes to a dark alley to buy a mysterious box from a stranger. Scrawled on top of the box are the words: "Open Me." What's inside the box steals Penny's mother away from reality. Left to her own devices, Penny must find a way to rescue her mother and bring her back into the real world. Or so she thinks...
The candidates for titles are as follows:

1. Penny-Go-Round
2. Penny in Wonderland
3. Penny in a Box
4. Penny in One-derland

We want your vote! Which of these titles grabs you? Which one piques your interest? Makes you want to see the movie? Let us know. Vote below...




Feel free to share this poll with your friends. On Twitter or Facebook. Wherever. Vote once and vote often. (Well, you can't actually vote often... But you can try.)

Voting ends at noon on April 16, 2014...

[Can't see where to vote? Go to this link... http://poll.fm/4qfzu ]

[Photo by Keith Ivey]

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Camera Vehicle

We felt that the time has come to invest in a high-quality camera vehicle for our next movie. The salesman gave us the full pitch, assuring us that it comes with the following...

-Fully open back with custom-designed permanent camera column and swivel seat.
-Unique hydraulic camera platform that lowers silently to ground level.
-250 litre fuel capacity (1500 km range)
-GPS and hand-held radios.
-Inverters for charging camera batteries.

Pretty sweet deal, right? Well, here are some pics of the vehicle. Not quite as advertised. But there are some pros to go along with the cons...

1. Con -- This vehicle could use a paint job. (Pro -- But it clearly was used in the Tour de France. That's got to count for something.)


2. Pro -- It comes with its own camera and tripod. (Con -- But it probably can't hold the weight of the RED camera.)


3. Con -- We couldn't find the swivel seat. (Pro -- It's got a red floor.)


4. Pro -- It comes with a driver. No extra cost! (Con -- But does he have a driver's license?)


5. Con -- The wheels are pretty threadbare. (Pro -- It has wheels.)


6. Pro -- This vehicle will fit into tight spaces. (Con -- This vehicle is pretty tiny.)


Happy April 1st!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Working with Green Screen

Casting for our next feature film has begun.  Pictured here is one of our newest additions to the ranks of crew, Aaron Rintoul, as he and Cinematographer Martin Munoz chat in a quiet moment between actors auditioning.

Green Screen is a new step for us.  The most promising element of its use will be for us to minimize the need to always shoot on location. For shots such as close ups to driving scenes.

Of course, the Green Screen doesn't eliminate the need to go on location. Being in a physical space allows us to achieve more developed moving shots; where a space's architecture becomes a larger player in the scene.

If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering for our pre-production shoots, or would like to audition as an actor, please contact us by visiting our website.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bugs Bunny Eats His Carrots

Mel Blanc was one of the great voice actors of his day. They called him the man of a thousand voices. He's famous for being the voice of the likes of Barney Rubble, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird...

And Bugs Bunny.

But where would "What's up, Doc" be without the sound of a crunching carrot?

In his memoir, Mel Blanc says: "Bugs Bunny did for carrots what Popeye the Sailor did for spinach. How many lip-locked, head-swiveling children were coerced into eating their carrots by mothers cooing, '...but Bugs Bunny eats his carrots.'  If only they had known..."

What those mamas didn't know is that Bugs Bunny hated carrots. Or rather, Mel Blanc didn't like them. In fact, he tried other veggies, but it didn't sound quite right. (According to Mel, the crunch of carrots is a unique sound. But that might also be because he was a bit of a method actor.)

So, what did Mel Blanc do? He suffered for his craft and ate the carrots. Sort of.

He actually had a wastebasket waiting right next to him. As he sat in the recording studio, he would say his line into the mic, bite into a carrot and chew. Then they would stop recording so he could spit it all out. During one recording session, Bugs would go through several full wastebaskets.

Oh, the stories that go on behind the scenes...

[Photo by color line]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Questions for an Open Call Audition

We're holding an Open Call Audition in Niagara this Saturday. (If you're interested in more details, go to our website at http://www.cubecity.org/auditions_on.htm )

We often get questions from new actors about some audition terminology that is unfamiliar to them. Questions about what it means to slate. Or who can come to an open call audition. Or what a cold read means.

We've put together a series of questions and answers about auditions that will hopefully be of help to you...

Q: What is an Open Call?
A: When an audition is labelled "Open Call", it means it's open to everybody. You just show up; no appointment necessary. Depending on how many other people show up, you should be prepared to wait. Expect to be called in on a first come, first served basis.

Open casting calls are probably the one of the best ways for an aspiring actor to get noticed. Giving a good audition takes practice and if you're serious about acting, you need to go to auditions. Open Calls provide an excellent way to exercise those audition muscles.

Q: What is an audition side?
A: An audition side is a short section of dialogue -- most likely from the script or screenplay of the project for which you're auditioning. It might be a page, or it might be several pages. It might also be a monologue. If it's a dialogue between two characters, you'll be asked to read for one of the roles, while a reader (perhaps another actor) will read for the other role.

Q: Do I have to memorize my lines for an audition?
A: It depends. If you're asked to prepare a monologue, then yes; come prepared and have it memorized. Anytime you are given the audition side ahead of time, it is also a good idea to memorize it (unless they tell you otherwise). However, if you are given the side on the day of the audition, you won't be expected to have it memorized. That's what is called a "cold read."

Q: What is a cold read?
A: When you're asked to do a cold read, it means you haven't seen the audition side until the day of the audition. The purpose of a cold read is not to test you on if you can memorize. Instead, the casting people want to see what you can bring to a character on short notice. No prep time other than the time you will have to read it over in the waiting room. Here are a couple tips about giving a cold read...
  1. Nobody really expects you to have it memorized, so don't worry about that.
  2. The casting people need to see your face, so be sure to hold the audition side high enough so you can read it, but low enough that they can see who is reading it.
  3. If you're unsure about a pronunciation (eg: a name unfamiliar to you), ask about it ahead of time. You can usually ask the person who is signing you in. Or if you're already in the audition room, ask the person who is giving you directions.
  4. Stay in character when you're not reading lines. Remember, body language is very important, not just your voice.
Q:What does it mean when you're asked to slate?
A: When you're auditioning for the camera, you will be asked to "slate". This basically means you say your name to identify yourself  for when the screentest is later viewed. Look directly into the camera lens, say your name clearly and confidently. Usually you do it in your own voice, rather than saying it in character.

Any other questions? Post them in the comments. We'll be happy to answer...

[Photo credit: Iowa Digital Library]

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Definition of Acting

What is Acting? Here are seven quotes to help with the definition...

"Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation."
~ Bette Davis

"My old drama coach used to say, 'Don't just do something, stand there.' Gary Cooper wasn't afraid to do nothing."
~ Clint Eastwood

"Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances."
~ Sanford Meisner

"The best acting is instinctive. It's not intellectual, it's not mechanical, it's instinctive."
~ Craig MacDonald

"Good acting--real acting--is impossible to spot. Do you ever catch talents like Robert Duvall or Kathy Bates acting? No. I defy you to show me where."
~ William Esper

"Acting is a question of absorbing other people's personalities and adding some of your own experience."
~ Paul Newman

Have a good quote to add?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

3 Tips for Video Auditions

The screentest. If you want to act in film, you have to prepare yourself for auditioning before a camera. In addition to your headshot and resume, it's your time to impress the casting people, the director, the producer. To make them see you in a particular role in the movie. 

So, whether you're called in for a screentest, or you're asked to self-submit a video audition... Here are three tips to consider to help you in your preparations.

Tip #1 - Use Your Eyes
Less is more when it comes to film acting. Many actors get their start in theatre, performing for a live audience. And in theatre, acting is about dialogue. But with film, dialogue isn't always as important. The actor still needs to communicate, but there are other ways. The camera can capture a glint in the eye. A twitch of the lips. The clenching of a fist. So, dial it back when you're doing a video audition. Don't speak so loudly. (Of course, this may depend on the audition side you've been given.) And don't be afraid to let your eyes speak for you.

Tip #2 - The Fourth Wall
When you do your video audition, remember not to break the fourth wall. In film, that happens when you play directly to the camera lens. (It can be unnerving to watch an actor staring straight into the camera.) Aim your gaze at camera right or left. Or have the person reading the other lines sit next to the camera and play to him/her. Is there ever a time to break the fourth wall? Yes. When you slate; or if the audition side specifically says to do so. (Think Ferris Bueller.)

Tip #3 - Slating
You spend so much time in prepping for reading and memorizing the audition side that slating can often be overlooked. But slating your name is the first impression the casting people get of you. And it's the only time in the video audition that we get to see you, the actor, and not the character you are portraying. To slate, you need to look into the camera lens. Think of it like an introduction. "Hi, my name is Harrison Ford and I'm reading for the role of Han Solo." Have an agent? Then tell who represents you. Also, if the casting director gives other instructions about how to slate, do it. (For example, when we ask for a video audition, we want to know your location.)

Of course, as with most things, the more practice you get, the better you get. Try these three tips for your next video audition.

By the way, we are currently holding auditions for our next upcoming feature film that's scheduled for this summer. If you're an actor interested in auditioning, or want more information, go to our website at http://www.cubecity.org/auditions.htm

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Casting for a New Film

We're beginning the audition phase for our new feature film, a coming-of-age story...

Filming is tentatively scheduled for August 2014 in the Niagara Region in Ontario. We're looking for Non-Union Actors from New York City to Toronto. (New York actors must be willing to travel.)

Here's a character breakdown:

PENNY (female / 18 years)
Our heroine in the flush of youth. (Think Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz", Alice from "Alice in Wonderland" – struggling to assert her freedom from her "controlling" mother, thrown into an adventure where she is forced to grow up.)

TENSHI (male / 30-50 years)
Good humored rogue

LUCIEN (male / 25-45 years)
A dark stranger, equally terrifying and calming

FUDGE (female / 20-30 years)
Brute, tough-as-nails bully

PITCH (male / 25-50 years)
Sneaky, slimy "operator"

MOTHER (female / 40-50 years)
Conflicted parent of a troublesome teen

GADGET (male or female / 18-19 years)
Colorful, smart-alec

Submit your headshot and resume...
» For more audition info

Friday, January 31, 2014

Actor or Character?

When it comes to acting, is the character,  the character, or the actor?

Here's a scenario... You've just seen a movie for the first time. You love it. It had your favorite actor. It had the best lines. The story was top-notch. So, you want to convince all your friends to go see it.

How do you describe it?

Let's say you've just seen The Matrix (1999). (Over ten years late, but hey, it's an example.) Do you talk about Neo? Or do you describe the story as Keanu Reeves doing this and that?

Is the character,  the character, or the actor? Perhaps both? It may depend on the high profile of the actor. Many film stars (and studios) bank on the fact that you will want to see their next movie... simply because the actor is in it.

Then there are those character actors. You've seen them in every movie, but you don't really know their name. Yet when you watch them come into the story, you're excited because you know you're in for an acting treat. But because they have no name (at least that you know of), they seem to inhabit the story world perhaps just a tad better than their movie star counterpart. They become that character.

As a kid, you probably experienced this at its height. You were not so aware of the power of an actor's name. You watched a movie for the story. And the characters were characters in the story.

For a movie to really work, on some level the actor has to become character. A famous actor might be playing the part, but a good (famous) actor will make you forget that. (Of course, they're happy to remind you that it was them all along when the credits roll.)

We need characters to make a movie. And it's the job of the actor to become that character.

[Photo by popturf]

Friday, January 24, 2014

Popcorn at the Movies

Most people associate movies with popcorn. But, it wasn't always so.

The original movie theatres were glamorous and decadent. Think Roaring 20s. So, theatre owners didn't want trash littering their floors. Candy wrappers. Peanut shells. And especially popcorn kernels! You went to a movie and that's it. No snacks allowed.

Fast forward to the Great Depression. Everybody is struggling, including those decadent movie theatres. While they had already begun to allow some candy inside theatres, the owners realized another way to bring in money.

Popcorn.

Popcorn was a cheap snack to make. Bonus for the theatre owners. And it was also affordable to families that didn't have a lot of expendable money. You could buy a bag for 10 cents. Bonus for the theatre-goers.

But even though it was so cheap, the movie theatres made a nice profit on the popcorn. Because people bought it.

Popcorn got another helping hand during World War II. With all the sugar rationing, candy just wasn't an option. Hello popcorn.

And that's how popcorn became synonymous with the movie-going experience.

Too bad it's not 10 cents anymore.

“Don't you go to the movies?"
"Mostly just to eat popcorn in the dark.”
Charles Bukowski (writer/poet)

[Photo by danmachold]