Working Artist Group

Business, Coaching & Management Services for the Working Artist

Everything You Want is on the Other Side of Fear!

Krista GanoComment

Fear....it's a tricky thing!  It's really our brain's way of protecting us from....well....everything.  Our brains have the best of intentions.  Fear is a powerful tool that has helped to ensure our place in the gene pool for generations. But, what is fear...actually?  It's a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles.  It's a tool your brain uses to impress caution.....and it can be very useful at certain times.  But, fear is almost always an illusion based on imagined outcomes, and it can become a huge barrier between you and the career you want.  Moreover, creation and fear can't really coexist.  So, as creators....we need to put fear in it's place.  This video might help.

Ready to jump?  What's on your other side?  Check out more inspirational videos at mateuszm.com

It Starts At The Door

Krista GanoComment

Let's be honest, a huge part of your job as an actor is auditioning.  It's why there are so many workshops to help that part of your practice.  Your audition technique matters.  However, while you may spend time and resources focusing on your audition performance....prepping the sides and making acting choices....have you thought about when your audition actually starts?  

It starts the moment you put your hand on the door or cross the threshold.  Don't forget that your audition is also a mini job interview….a way to make sure you are a a solid investment for their production dollars....that you will reflect well on the CD......be a good fit for the director and other actors....and that you will be an asset as opposed to a problem on set.  

This is why CDs prefer in person auditions as they get to know you.  They want to make sure they are making solid recommendations to production.

The first thing they are looking for is that you are okay.  Are you managing the pressure joyfully?  Or are you making the stress an all-consuming story about you?

How do you handle a false start or a mistake?  Do you take it with ease?  Do you beat yourself up or over-apologize?  How do you recover and get back on track?

How do you take a re-direct?  As an opportunity or a judgment?

You see….these are small tests to see if you will be a positive and collaborative member of the team, however short-lived.


If you’re not okay in the room, you’re probably not going to be okay on set.

If you are self-deprecating and full of excuses and drama when you make a mistake, you might need some hand-holding on set….and no one has time for that.

If you can’t take direction or a re-direct….or if you argue your choice in a room, you may not be directable.

What feels like a somewhat brutal and nonsensical right of passage on the actor side of  the audition the table, is actually a necessary and incredibly informative process for those behind it.

The decision on whether you are an OPTION happens very quickly….often within moments of stepping over that threshold....quite possibly before you open your mouth to start the work you have prepped.  So, how can you make every moment work for you?  What are the things to think about that are within your control?

How’s your prep?
In addition to working with the sides, have you researched the project and the possible players in the room?  Are you dressed appropriately...not in costume, but with a nod to your character?  In other words, are you honoring the time in that room by showing that you are thoughtful, prepared and ready.  

Do you look okay?
Take a breath at the door and make sure you step in as a professional.  Leave your complaints and worries behind and step in collected and with confidence.  You want to show them that you are ready to take on whatever they throw at you that you will be a stable and worthy investment.  Do you have a ton going on in your head?  Are you having a bad day?  Fake it!  It is tough to spend a day absorbing the nervous energy of actors all day long.  Be an energy influx in their day.  Wonder how you can manage your energy?  Practice...you do it all the time when in character and it's a big part of stepping into this as a professional.

Do you have a question?
Ask it.  Make it a concise and well crafted question.  Respect the room AND your need for clarification.  Don't apologize.  Ask it....heed the answer....move on.

Can you hear their notes and shift your performance?
Practice this!  If a casting director gives you a re-direct, can you take the note and make a new and distinguishable choice?  I know this sounds like a no brainer, but I find that sometimes we THINK we have made a shift, but it’s not showing up on the other side of the table....it feels big in our bodies, but is not apparent to those watching.  Make sure you can really deliver.  Think about the notes you've gotten in the past and practice shifting...film it...watch it with a discerning eye.

What if you make a mistake?
Pause, breath and move forward.  Understand that if they are taping you, that they will need a pause to edit out your mistake.  Don’t apologize….just pause, let them know where you will be taking it from and move forward.  Struggle joyfully.  That goes a long way to showing how you’ll be on set when things go awry.

Do you leave the room well?
Smile, thank them, say goodbye, and leave.  Once your hand is on the doorknob, do not turn around and add anything.  Let your work rest, be grateful and get out!  Then let your agent know that you had a great audition and start the process of unwrapping and releasing your brain from any ownership of that role.  Rest in the knowledge that you booked the room and showed yourself as an OPTION, not just for this role, but for future opportunities.  

Remember, the audition is your place of opportunity.  A place to show who you are and how awesome you would be to work with.  It's not just about the performance or the material.  It is a sum of all parts and it starts at the door.

Conversations with....TriBeCa Part III

Krista GanoComment

Here is the final installment of our post-TriBeCa process session.  It was a profound experience and we're really looking forward to what's next!

Me and Jessica at the festival

Me and Jessica at the festival

KRISTA: What greatest TIP do you have for others who are about to attend a splashy film festival?

JESSICA: As SOON as you get there, find the festival HUB! Or check in place or whatever they call it. Even if you don’t have anything to check in to, go hang out in that space and talk to every single person you run in to. Even the promo guys, actually, ESPECIALLY the promo guys, because they have free tickets to stuff! I also highly recommend talking to the volunteers and security people. I mean, these people have all sorts of top secret festival information. I would also say find the lounge, even if you have to be a “passholder” to access it, find it, infiltrate it, and make new relationships. People that attend film festivals are either filmmakers, or film lovers, and either way, they are the kind of people you want to get to know better! I would say every single person we talked to had some useful information in one way or another. Here’s a pro-tip: Festivals can be expensive, but you don’t actually have to buy a festival pass to enjoy them. Buy a logo’d hat or t-shirt and start talking to anyone else you see with swag. I swear that’s how we learned the most. What about you? Any tips?

My old boss, Dustin Hoffman on the red carpet with Robert DeNiro

My old boss, Dustin Hoffman on the red carpet with Robert DeNiro

KRISTA:  It’s tempting to want to attend the spashy festivals, and we had a great time.  However, they really can be geared towards being a playground for those who are already doing well in the industry, but are trying something new…..or film lovers, those that love to watch and be surprised by independent film and docs.  There are festivals out there that are more geared to supporting and teaching filmmakers.  I’m looking forward to attending more of those (even if they are smaller).  I know we have some on our radar in the next 6 months.  So….figure out what you want to get from your festival experience and then research the festival that you think will best help you get to your desired outcome….and it may not be the TriBeCa, Sundance or SXSW festival…..it might be a smaller festival that gets great rating for taking care of their filmmakers.  A great resource to find out that info is Film Freeway.  Also…really think about how you will engage best at that festival.  I tend to be a rule follower who doesn’t always feel comfortable approaching new people.  So, I want a festival partner that will push those boundaries and start a conversation with anyone…..which is why our partnership is perfect for festivals.  I think we both are coming home pretty inspired about our upcoming projects and adventures.  How are you going to leverage that inspired energy to move something powerfully forward?  What’s first?

JESSICA:  Well, I am super charged inspired! Right off the bat this weekend we are spending a day shooting some scenes for the webseries I wrote last year called Good Neighbors. A couple of the Working Artist Group Artists meet every Thursday to work on writing or acting projects, and we decided to schedule film shoots every month. Even though none of us are trained with cameras, we have figured out enough to turn it on, and we are constantly creating content. Some of it is usable, and some of it is not. However, we learn from ALL of it. I think that has become a little bit of my process, to keep creating work for myself, because every time I do, something great comes out of it. What about you? What’s next on your agenda?

Being tourists before jumping on a plane home.

Being tourists before jumping on a plane home.

KRISTA:  Well…..I got some inspired ideas about some next steps on the path for getting Comfort Food funded.  I also realized that we have been putting a ton of pressure on ourselves to move forward with that film.  The truth is that we might need to slow down and focus on some new learnings and new relationship building before we can speed forward.  So, next up is becoming a student a bit while also thanking those we met at the festival and nurturing some relationships. Hoping to attend some producer’s events in LA this summer, connect with some investors, and then we have some upcoming festival news for our little film Dime Short.  Also, I have been spending some time focusing on getting The Business of Acting into webinar/online class form.  Looking to launch it in the fall.  That’s probably the other thing that is coming towards me on my project conveyor belt.  Then I need to get behind the camera again for my own rejuvenation….that’s the hard part about being in pre-production for everything.  Another 48HFP might be fun….who knows?  Anything else you want to add or ask before we sign off?

JESSICA:   Sounds like we are looking for crew for another 48 hr Film Project! Any takers? Come on, it’s easy! 

Conversations with....TriBeCa Part II

Krista GanoComment

Well....things don't always work out as planned.  After coming back from the hustle and bustle of NYC, I took my oldest son on a week-long field trip to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center outside of Cortez, NM.  In my head, I thought I would have a ton of time catching up on work and getting the next blog posts ready for you guys.  But, honestly after tromping around Mesa Verde and helping to manage about 90 4th & 5th graders....I was just tanked.  

So....here is FINALLY....Part 2 of my conversation with Jessica Anguiano as we processed what we experienced at TriBeCa Film Festival.  The 3rd and final installment will come out on Thursday.

KRISTA:  We have several different projects in the works right now….a couple of series and a feature.  But this was the first trip that I really heard YOU say that you were more passionate about the series work.  Tell me more about that.

JESSICA:  You know, we heard these big name directors and actors talk about why they work on the projects they do. Basically, they all said they just follow their own process and make things that they are inspired by, and they don’t worry too much about money, awards, or what audiences will like. I think that really solidified my own thoughts when it comes to the kind of content I’m drawn to - episodic. I think I just love developing a character’s story beyond 120 pages. I can’t help but think about all the possibilities for each of my characters’ journeys, so I want to let their story come out fully, like a real person’s life. I also love television and web series in general. I prefer to watch an entire series than one movie any day! There’s so much more time to get really connected and invested in the character’s lives. I get attached. I genuinely start to feel like I know them and they are my friends. I mean, have real friends...I swear! Television just gives me a chance to have even more… Speaking of friends, we had the coolest group of gals to explore TriBeCa with. I am so inspired by them and spending this time with such strong, talented, and motivated women makes me want to create more work! When we attended the Paul Fieg/Michael Che conversation, Paul mentioned his love of working with funny women. I realized you are quite similar, as a director you also seem drawn to female driven comedic scripts. After the inspiration of TriBeCa, do you have an idea of what kind of process and what kind of projects you want to build on?

KRISTA:  I’m mot sure about “the kinds of projects” piece……I honestly just let my heart answer that.  I look for projects that I get connected to right off…and that I can see in my head as I read.  Right now, I’m working on a feature, Comfort Food, about a family coming together one hear after the father dies by suicide and it has tones of absurdity and humor….AND…heartwrenching discovery.  Then we have The Family Hood, written by you and Heath Arthur…which is a super fun exploration of an American family in the throws of life, trying to find happiness and passion in this new digital world while being knee-deep in raising a family.  And, we have The Cleaning Lady (also written by you).  I don’t want to go into that here, but the core is really about a father/daughter relationship.  So, the thread going through all of those projects is relationship.  I like exploring the joy, messiness and connection of relationships.  As for process, I think that Paul Feig gave me great insight into how I’d like to move my directing process into the next level.  I value creating connection and collaboration on set.  I love actors and think that they have a unique insight that only comes from slipping into a character's skin.  So, I want to find a way to nurture the atmosphere on set, while also honoring the break-neck speed in which we have to work when budget is a huge consideration.  When I asked Paul about that, he gave me some great ideas of how to honor both agendas.  The greatest thing I took from him was really honoring the spirit of PLAY.  I can’t wait to try it out. 

Conversation with....TriBeCa Tales

Krista GanoComment

I'm writing this on the plane heading back home from NYC.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about making the decision to go to the TriBeCa Film Festival.  After Jessica Anguiano said, “let’s go”…..WAG Artists and fellow collaborators, Raleigh Cain, Dani Payne and Sarah Sansoni decided to join us.  Soon after, we found out that we would be joined by Producer and Actress Mandy June Turpin and IT WAS ON!  

So, back to the plane.  As we begin to process our week…..we thought it would be great to start a conversation about our experiences.  Because I know that we only have time to read so many words in one sitting, I’m going to break this into a series of 3 blog entries.  So, here we go.

KRISTA:  What were you most hoping to get or learn from this trip?

JESSICA:  I was hoping to just really get a feel for the lay of the land at a big name festival. And we did! We were so lucky to start with TriBeCa, because this particular film festival is spread out all over lower Manhatten. Not only did we get to see some great programs, but we kind of got to do a lot of sight seeing too. I wanted to find out, really, what it would take to get into TriBeCa and I think I learned much more! Krista, did you feel like you came away with more than you expected?

KRISTA:  In some ways….I kind of feel like it’s a defining moment, like we’ll look back on it and realize how much things changed from here.  So, though we didn’t come away with a some big GET from the experience, it feels as if we came away with a better understanding of what we don’t know….and how to begin to learn it.  One of the biggest lessons was how everyone’s process is different.  Part of our experience was attending the Director's series.  It was great to hear how differently people work.  Noah Bachman is a really structured writer/director, while Paul Feig likes to create with a greater sense of play…..and then there is everything in between.  It gave me permission to settle into the process and path that works for me and us…permission to worry less about what we’re “supposed” to do and freedom to follow the path that rises up for us.  

I want to give a special shout out to friend, Brian K. Devine of Gigantic Pictures, who was super generous and gave us passes to see his feature documentary, Frank Serpico.  It was pretty darn inspirational to see a friend with a film at the festival.  See it if you get the chance.

Next up?  Where passions lie and what's next.  Also, watch the Greenroom for notes and learnings from TriBeCa.

What to do when there's nothing left to give....

Krista GanoComment

As artists, we are often juggling multiple projects, families, several income streams, etc.  There are times when everything converges and you just don’t feel you have anything else to give.  And yet…..and yet….the world moves on….deadlines don’t budge and the dream still perches firmly within your scope.  When you’re not sure what you have left to give, where do you go to find the energy to take one more….two more….ten more steps?

I’m not sure I have the answer.  I think some of it comes from simple resilience and grit.  Things, artists have in spades.  

In full transparency, I’m in that place right now.  I’m in the heat of projects, clients, work and end of school year family needs.  I don’t know where my next round of energy will come from, or if it will be good enough.  I guess my biggest touch-point is gratitude.  I’m in the thick of it due to one thing and one thing only.  Incredible Blessing.  I am blessed to be able to create.  I am blessed to be able to leverage my gifts and skills in various ways and I’m blessed to tap into my areas of passion on a daily basis.

Thinking you have nothing left comes from a scarcity mind-set.  And, it’s really tough to linger in scarcity when you look through the lens of gratitude.  So….and I’m thinking this through as I write this….maybe the thing that takes me out of feeling like I have nothing left to give, is the gratitude for the blessings that ask me to dig a little deeper to find more.

My wish is that you find those blessings in your life that call you to dig deeper....to forge a path when at first you see none.  I've got to get back at it!  Thanks for helping me to find my next push of energy!
 

 The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.
— Marianne Williamson

What I Wish Actors Knew....

Krista GanoComment
If I could wave a magic wand and suddenly make every working actor understand one thing it would be that because the word acting is used to describe both an art and a business, it’s very important to be clear about the distinction between these two things, and to pay careful attention to both. Putting all of one’s energy into the development of one of these areas without paying as much attention to the other is a quick path to disappointment. Too many brilliant actors are not yet making their livings acting because they are timid or ignorant in the business arena, while at the same time another group of actors who have become great at marketing themselves end up working very briefly, but aren’t sustaining careers because they didn’t develop the kind of acting technique that is necessary to compete long-term in the industry. For every actor, I say: Take a good look at the state of your craft and your business. They go hand in hand.
— Pamela Vanderway, Founder of DialectCoaches.com

Ready to take a good look at the state of your craft AND your business?  Our next Business of Acting Class starts on May 8.  I'd love to help you level up!  Let's get to work, shall we?

How To Pick Your Acting Coach

Krista GanoComment

Last week we shared the opening of Sandbox Actor’s Studio.  I want to make sure to talk a bit about other options we have for acting coaches/studios in Colorado.  I am not an acting coach and while I do direct, teach, and provide opportunities for our members to attend weekend workshops from top teachers from LA, I am not a substitute for on-going training.

The work I do augments your work with an acting coach.  The more you know about your business, the more you can know where to focus and grow your craft.

If you are looking for an acting coach in Denver/Colorado Springs, (and I recommend that be in ongoing coaching if you are really trying to take your craft to a new level) here some things to keep in mind.

-       Most studios in the area will let you audit a class for free.  You should audit at several different studios before picking a program.

-       All of the studios below have actors that have done well both locally and in larger markets.

-       For best results, the ideal coaching relationship is longer-term.  So, look for someone who you think will be a good fit for at least one year.

-       While you want your ongoing relationship to be steady, it is always good to take workshops from others to get a new perspective and shake things up a bit.  Consider picking someone who is supportive of that (most are).

-       A coach can be skilled, popular and transcendent for your friend....and still not be a good fit for you.  Pick the person that speaks to you, can push you, and that challenges and supports you to get uncomfortable.  Most importantly, pick someone who you are able to hear their notes and translate them into forward action. 

-       Don’t be scared to lay out your goals and ask questions.  In my experience, all of our local coaches are more than happy to help.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  This list of studios and coaches are the ones you are most likely to come across as you inquire within the community.

AEC Studios – AEC has been a successful studio in Denver for years.  Brian McCulley and John Crockett teach the classes which are scaled for level.  If you are wanting to improve your commercial work (which is most prevalent in town), this is a great place to check out..  In addition to the workshops, there is a lovely community of actors to learn with and from.

Benjy Dobrin Studios – Benjy’s technique is rooted in his time at The Beverly Hills Playhouse.  It is a well respected methodology that Benjy has shaped through the years to reflect his encouraging style.  Benjy also has an incredible community that puts on First Friday’s, which is a public performance opportunity for students.  BDS also offers a teen program.

Colorado School of Acting – CSA’s kids/young adult program is second to none.  Elizabeth Karsell Horne and Troy Horne are at the helm and have studios throughout Denver and Colorado Springs.  If you have a kid who is serious about this work, CSA is a place to have on your radar.

Denver Center for Performing Arts – DCPA’s education department has many excellent options with a highly experienced faculty.  This is a great fit if you are looking for different classes as opposed to continuous ongoing training.  Gives you a break and allows you to diversify your learning (they do tend to be more geared towards theater).

Film Acting Academy of Denver – Patrick Sheridan teaches on-camera classes and helps you to become more aware of what you are doing on camera, break bad habits, and how to use what’s “you” about you to shine effortlessly.

The Sandbox Actor's Studio – John Campbell is the new guy on the block.  He is a working actor (one of the only coaches doing both) with his pulse on the community as a performer.  He will be focusing on on-camera, scene study, and several different methods.  He will have a teen program.

Steve Austin – If you are in Colorado Springs, Steve is an excellent coach.  He does on-camera as well as scene study.  Steve is a working actor himself (one of the only coaches doing both) and that informs his teaching.

Like I said, this is not a comprehensive list of every coach in the city.  If you don’t find your acting coach here, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a great coach.  If you feel consistent growth with them, that’s what matters.  This is just a list of some of the local players that you’ll hear about often.  They are all respected in the community, run classes on multiple evenings per week and have students who are consistently auditioning and working.

Ultimately, you are your best resource to pick a coach.  Audit classes and pick the coach that inspires YOU to work.  If you want to take the mystery out of this business and figure out how you best fit into it, you may consider working with us at Working Artist Group.  The next Business of Acting starts on May 8.

Happy Exploring!  

Change is a Sandbox!

Krista GanoComment

I'm thrilled to welcome John Campbell as this week's Guest Artist.  John and I have been working together for awhile now and he's one of our most active WAG Artists.  John shares a story of vulnerability, discovery and ultimately new adventures.  I was honored to be his coach along this journey and am so excited for his new venture, The Sandbox Actor's Studio.  We have a special offer at the end of this post, so check it out!

When Krista asked me to be a guest writer for this blog, to say I was excited, would be one way to put it.  She is a mentor, a friend and a strong light in my life.  When people like that come into your life and then ask for your thoughts, well…you say yes…then go do happy dance while simultaneously wondering why me?

So, here we go.  How did I get here? 

It wasn’t easy…and it was.  Wait, what?  Finding my purpose, my path, my____fill in the blank. Having known Krista for some time now, one of the things she promises is that things will change.  Always change.  It is her one guarantee that things can and will get messy and change.  And it’s a great promise. Because life isn’t "color by numbers", it’s a little more Picasso abstractionism meets a 2 year old with marker and blank walls.  (Yes, I have pictures of that too)  That’s what's great about it.  As actors, as people, too often we get in this mindset that things should be one way.  That if I take certain steps in certain orders a specific outcome will happen.  If I get headshots, then an agent, then I’ll work.  Mehp.  If I get headshots, a great reel, a new agent, then I’ll get work.  Mehp.   I’ve learned those lessons.  They are tough ones to swallow.  Your headshots, your reel, your agent can only do so much.  Sometimes, most of the time, it’s about what else are you putting out into the world? What are you doing or working on that will create your own work?  And work gets work.  Work gets work.

So…about this time last year, I quit my job. It was for all intents and outwardly appearances a decent job.  One I’d given the company 12 years of servitude and countless 70+ hour weeks and late night phone calls to cover overnight shifts.  But those weren’t, ultimately what got me to leave of my own volition.  The company changed and my inner fire, my inner purpose for being there, was gone.  It was a good job, but my soul was literally disappearing.  I was angry all the time and put on a lot of weight.  I was unhealthy in the health industry.  So, I made a major change and left.  Literally for the unknown. 

I figured if I left, the universe would help me pick up the pieces. The universe that was telling me in a loud voice inside to follow my passion would take care of me.  So, I made some other changes.  But, it took me 6 months to decompress from 12 years of corporate life.  To feel, the tension dissipate, the headaches to go away, the checking of email that was no longer coming to stop.  But, my passion, the reason for leaving never picked up.  Auditions weren’t coming.  Nothing was coming.  Why wasn’t it coming?  I did what I was supposed to do dangit. 

Well, almost.  In my life, the universe has never handed me anything.  I grinded and and put in countless added time to play baseball through college and in Europe. I worked my tail off to save so I could get to Vancouver for acting conservatory. The universe has always shown me a path, but I had to beat the path down to get through it.  I don’t know why I thought this would or should be any different.  It isn’t.  I’m still in the middle of it.  Beating down a path.  Working to get work. 

The Sandbox Actor's Studio Space

The Sandbox Actor's Studio Space

But, as I finally got back on that path, as I’m chopping down branches and moving boulders in the way, I realized a big part of my path wasn’t just to act.  What I loved in my previous career was being a coach.  Being a leader, a guide and cheerleader for others.  Showing others what they are capable of doing themselves.  I lost that it my other career and that’s why my soul was dying.  I’m a coach.  I am almost never more alive and myself than when I’m coaching.  In ANY manner.  I love coaching acting. I love coaching sports.  Heck, I love coaching my 6-year son on the deeper meanings of Star Wars.  But, in my haze of bewilderment as to why the universe wasn’t giving me what I wanted, it was showing me what I needed.  What fills my soul and my purpose.  To help others.  To coach. 

So, I’m now the owner of my own acting studio.   The Sandbox.  Three days in.  It’s terrifying.  But, regardless of the future, I know my path. I know why I’m there.  I know what it took to get there.  And the work is just beginning. I know that.  But, work gets work.  The universe will never ever just give you what you think you want.  You have to work and sometimes grind, but it will always give you the path to what you need. 

And as Krista promised so long ago (at least it feels like so long ago), things will get messy.   They should.  Because somehow, it’s only then that we are truly capable of listening.  In the mess that comes from our knowing what we want and what we can’t take anymore.

So go, find your why.  Struggle.  Struggle some more.  Get messy.  It’s ok.  Your Sandbox is out there

What's in a Brand?

Krista GanoComment

There is a lot of talk out there about the concept of branding for actors.  Often when you hear about it in workshops, the focus tends to be on "typing".  And at times, “typing” exercise may leave more questions than answers.  Now, finding your “type”(s) is valuable.  However, it’s only a piece of the overall branding puzzle and does little to inform how that information can be used to grow your overall business.

So, that begs the questions….what IS branding?  And how can it help your career as an actor?

David Ogilvy described brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes”.  Here’s the big distinction to understand....the thing that will begin to shift your work.  Branding is in the eye of the beholder.  It is the perception that others have of you and the feeling that is invoked from that perception.  Notice that I did not say that your brand is what YOU think it should be (or want it to be).  Your branding hinges on the quick and initial perceptions of others and how those perceptions make THEM feel.  AND.....that branding (and those perceptions) are most accurate from those who don't know you.  This is why doing a typing exercise in acting class can bring more questions than answers.  Your community may know you too well to give you an accurate assessment.

We have to remember that we work in a visual medium where an audience needs to glean a ton of information from every single person we see on screen.  Quick perceptions and how they make an audience feel are a HUGE part of the visual storytelling process.  So, understanding the “intangible sum of your attributes” and the feeling that you invoke in others, goes a long way towards figuring out how to best leverage yourself in your market.

Let's take it a little deeper, one of the definitions I found of “brand” included the following:

"Over time, the image and feeling (of a brand) becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind.  Thus brands help harried consumers in a crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value”.

I just want to let that land for a bit.  Because here is the HOW it can help your career part.  Imagine the growth in your business if you deliver your brand consistently in auditions, such that you are able to create feelings of “credibility, quality and satisfaction” for those in your audition room.    Delivering your brand in a way that evokes genuine and rooted feelings to those across the table, will result in career growth.

Goodness knows we work in a “crowded and complex marketplace”.  And here’s the great thing, you have the power in your hands to stand out for the right reasons.  There are proven ways for you to uncover your brand and use it to position yourself to book the room.  This is only one of the things you'll learn in The Business of Acting.  You'll also create a plan to be able to put that brand into action.  Don't delay.  Class starts n May 8!  Register Today. 

Tribeca Adventures Await!

Krista Gano1 Comment

Take me to NY.gif

Yesterday, I called Jessica (one of my producing partners) and said, “I’m thinking about going to TriBeca for a couple of days.  There seems to be a small window of time that works in my schedule….I don’t know”.  And there it was…..an awesome plan with an undeniably gaping escape hatch framed in the words, “I think”….and ”I…don’t….know”. 

And this is the thing…..Jessica not only said, “LET’S go”, but she immediately stopped what she was doing and found us a screaming good deal on flights and had us booked before I even knew it (with a proposed event itinerary to boot).  It is SO important to find like-minded individuals who also fill your gaps and strengthen your weak spots.  While I’m not risk adverse overall (I mean, if I was I wouldn't have chosen the arts)...I do tend to talk myself out of my more impulsive ideas or delay things that might seem difficult. 

I know making plans for a trip 3 weeks in advance, may not sound impulsive to some.  But when you are juggling a consulting business, a family and producing, it feels downright adventurous.  The point is that when I hesitated, I had a partner to push me forward.  We need teammates to show us our blindspots, push us beyond comfort, and link arms with us to shimmy-shake forward when the road appears too rough.  Because no matter how difficult, the path is meant to also be joyful.  I happen to be blessed to have a tribe of partners who do this for one another and we are eager to add to add to the gang.  

Hence, we will gather at Tribeca this April.  The ultimate work trip disguised as a girl’s weekend with 4 kickass female filmmakers.  We will hawk our project wares, and share our dreams with like-minded folks...in what amounts to the speed dating of production opportunities.  Wish us luck!

WAG Community

Krista GanoComment

One of the things that I take pride in is the community that has sprouted from Working Artist Group.  The Working Artists have truly become family.  As artists, we tend to do this pretty effortlessly.  We create community and trust in our circles.  And while I’m proud that I have had a small part in building this community, I’m incredibly aware that I have very little to do with it.  Working Artist Group certainly provides a "container" and opportunities for like-minded artists to engage and work together.  But, it is the Artists themselves who find great worth in moving forward as a community.  Coaches will tell you that the real growth happens between sessions.....and the WAG Artists really take that to heart.  They learn together, support one another, seek advice from each other and push each other to be better.  

In addition, they have started to create together, independent of WAG.  I can’t tell you how cool that is!  This weekend alone, our CO group was shooting a short that one of the artists wrote and the NM group was gathering to celebrate one of our founding artist's birthday with dinner and games.  Two complementary ways of hanging out with tremendous love and support. 

Community is essential to our lives as artists.  I hope you have found your tribe….and if you are lucky...you find a couple of tribes.  If you haven’t, come check us out.

What is Your WHY?

Krista GanoComment

I was privileged to spend my early career as an assistant to Dustin Hoffman and his family.  It was my first real job out of college and I was wide-eyed and eager to learn as much as possible.  Dustin is one of the most passionate and honest artists of my lifetime.  It was an incredible honor to work with him for years and to know him, not just as someone who radiated off a screen, but as a mentor.  It also allowed me a view of the industry that few get to see.  As you can imagine, he is a master story-teller.  He would tell me incredible stories of his early days in New York.  Stories that included other struggling artists.....like Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall and a little known singer and actress named Barbara Streisand.    

His passion, integrity, sense of community and generosity absolutely influenced my view of this business and how I operate within it.  Below, is a segment from when Dustin did Inside The Actor’s Studio.  He answers a question from a young student about his WHY.  WHY does he act?  WHY do what we do?

I was incredibly moved by his answer and want to know…..what is your WHY?

On Monday, registration will open for The Business of Acting class that starts with me in May.  If you want to figure out how to take your WHY to the next level, this is the class for you. 

 

Title Photo by David Levene

WAG Challenge!

Krista GanoComment

Here is your next challenge!  Have you ever heard..."do less....just throw it away"?  Well, I would offer that note really doesn't mean do less.  Those are the moments to get even more present and listen more.  Get the scene more "over there".  

We can learn a ton from watching people going through tough conversations.  Notice how much they hide....how much lives in the silence.  Amazing work can come from letting emotion leak instead of pushing it to pour.  Below is a video from The Scene.  They have a series of videos where people are just being open and raw with one another.  There is a great one below, and you'll find more on the site.   Watch....then transcribe one and try it in class.  Try the "leak" and work the silences.  See what discoveries you can make in what is NOT said.  Now, these obviously aren't well written scenes...they are real life....but don't let that stop you from exploring it and making it work as a scene.

BROkEN


Want a transcript of the above so that you can try it?  I've got you covered!  Comment below to let me know you want it and Subscribe to the right and I'll send it to you!  Other interactions, like the one above, can be found at thescene.com

Every Single Step

Krista GanoComment

I was in LA this past weekend for a table read of the feature I’m producing, Comfort Food and It seemed silly to not give you an update on how it went.  The reading was so fun.  Our "baby" began to walk.  It was great to gather with old friends and new, to see this project come to life, and explore the next “big girl” steps towards fruition.

We had tremendous learning this week.  We re-discovered how much we love our script and characters....and that SO many of our casting instincts are spot on.  We learned that although we need to make a few adjustments (and we may always feel that way).....this script is ready, and so are we.  So, now there’s nothing left to do except STEP powerfully towards shooting within the year.  

Here are few things we've learned, so far. 

#1  We learned not to be afraid to ask.  The truth is that we all want to work.  If it’s been awhile since someone has worked, or if they are looking to do a new character, or step into a new medium or genre…..they might itch to be doing something new.  Years ago at The Groundlings, one of our well known alum was sitting in my office lamenting that as she was going through the breakdowns, she kept seeing the request for her type....as in they were using her name....we need a "so-an-so type".  I can remember her saying something to the effect of, “Why don’t they just ask me?  I might be willing to do it.….I AM that EXACT type...and I'm not doing anything else right now”.  That was a huge lesson for me.  If you have a good project, find a way to legitimately and respectfully ASK the actor, director, producer, etc that you want.  You might be surprised at their answer.

#2  We are learning to be thoughtful with all of the information that is coming our way.  Many people will tell you that you HAVE to do x,y & z.  Or that you will NEVER move forward unless you do "such and such".  Every project seems to have its own journey to being made.  So, take in all the info…..connect as many dots as possible….identify and try to hold your vision as the goal, while remaining flexible on outcome.  I read somewhere that although filmmaking is a business, unless a filmmaker holds the project whole from a creative place, it will get eaten alive.  I have no idea (right this second) HOW Comfort Food will get made or who will be our ultimate partners, but I have no doubt that it WILL get made, the right team will rise, and though things may change a bit, it will remain ultimately whole.  We just need to powerfully walk EVERY SINGLE STEP.  Speaking of steps....

#3  Celebrate EVERY last one of them…..EVERY milestone.  For real.  It's so easy to get caught up in the work and forget to pause to reflect, feel and enjoy.  There was a moment when I looked around the room at the cast that is rising up for this film and became incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude and awe.  It is no small feat to gather a stunning group around a project.  There was so much that was RIGHT in that moment.  Don't forget to stop, breathe and revel in every miraculous win. 

I’m entirely grateful for the ladies I get to share this journey with, Dani Payne and Raleigh Cain.  I’m floored by the talented actors that gave their time to support us (hoping to announce them soon) and the producers who gave their time to listen and consult us regarding next steps.  

I'm also acutely aware of my excitement, in advance, for the team that will make themselves known and my motivation to find them.  Here we go...taking EVERY SINGLE STEP!

SHAMELESS PLUG & PLEA (because it's my blog...so, why not?):  
Comfort Food is the story of a family coming together on the year anniversary of their father's suicide. It is an actor's story full of space to breath life into a family that is defining their new normal. It is achingly honest, funny, and ultimately hopeful.   

If you are a magical investor or experienced producer (of features in the 2-6 million range) and you want more information on Comfort Food, we want to know about you!  You can reach Krista through the Contact Page!  

Resilience - The Actor's Superpower

Krista GanoComment

When I was thinking about what to write this week, the topic of resilience kept coming up.  Years ago, a friend asked me what made me so resilient.  I’m not sure I knew how to answer him…..in fact, I had never really thought about it.  What I found was how much of my resilience was actually honed in auditions, rehearsal rooms, on stage and everywhere an actor fails or hears "no".  So, I started to research some basic tips how to harness resilience.   

Turns out, artists already excel in this area.  So, instead of talking about HOW to get it, I realized that it would be better to remind you of the ways in which you have ALREADY mastered resilience.  Here are a few of the tips that kept popping up in my search, and how you already rock them!

1 – Find a sense of purpose – Those who choose a career in the arts have this nailed.  There’s no way we could willingly walk into the lion’s den of creativity and judgement every day without this key trait.

2 – Build Positive Beliefs in Your Abilities – We practice this every time we put our art out there….whether it be an audition, in class, or in performance….without a belief system that says that we CAN do it, we wouldn’t be able to sit in vulnerability as often as we do.

3 – Develop a Strong Social Network – The performing arts are a team sport.  We are incredibly social and our networks are crucial to success.  Our networks often become family.

4 – Embrace Change – I think we are rock stars at this.  Ask us to give a different performance, we do it.  Change our call time in the last minute, we adjust our schedules.  Give us a last minute opportunity, we figure it out.  We are masters at this!

5 – Develop Your Problem Solving Skills – We are told “no” on a daily basis.  Our way forward is in leveraging our strengths in problem solving.  Our business is full of "chicken and the egg" problems.  I can’t get work without an agent….I can’t get an agent without work…..I can’t get my SAG card without SAG work…..getting a SAG card is an entire journey of it's own…..etc.  If we are producing our own work, we are probably doing it with little, to no, budget....which is nothing but problem solving.  And guess what, we figure it out!

6 – Keep Working on Your Skills – Most actors are life long learners.  We know that we need to stay in training and continually learn new strategies and skills to keep moving forward.  If we need to know how to tape a better audition….we learn how.  If we need to produce our own work, we step up.  Sometimes it's hard to know what to do, but the willingness to learn and sometimes fail, only to get up and try again, is ever present..

There are times that we get to stand a little straighter as artists.  When we get to teach others how to move through the world just a little easier.  This is one of those times.  You are a master in resilience.  Now this does not mean that you don’t get tired or sad.  In fact, your resilience won't trigger without challenge.  It simply means that you move yourself through challenge differently.  You create paths where others see none.  You see through a lens of possibility.  You are unstoppable!  Now take your bad self and get to work!

Business of Acting Class starts in May.  Registration Opens Soon.  Let's get to work!

Table Read #4 - The Beginnings of "Comfort Food"

Krista GanoComment

Today, I welcome WAG Artist Raleigh Cain as our Guest Artist.  This week, Dani Payne and I will meet Raleigh in Los Angeles for a table read of Comfort Food.  As writers and producers, we couldn't be more thrilled or honored by the actors who will be joining us.  We are stepping into the our next phase....securing funding, finding a team and ultimately heading into pre-production.  It is both exciting and terrifying.  After 2.5 years of hard work, these ladies wrote a beautiful story that is brave, honest and achingly funny.  It deserves to be told.  Please send us good artist energy as we embark on our next steps.  We will keep you updated on our progress and Dani will contribute as a Guest Artist soon, as well.
 

Want more information on Raleigh Cain?  Visit our Artists page or her IMDB.

The week is upon us! This coming Sunday we will conduct our 4th table read (sometimes it takes that many, lay off) of our feature screenplay, Comfort Food. Dani Payne and I started writing this 2.5 years ago. We have lived apart for the last 1.5 years yet still figured out how to finish the dang thing. I know, I know, super impressive. Oh stop, it was nothing really. Please, you’re too kind.

Dani and I got the idea when we were chatting about death outside of our acting studio. Typical conversation. As most actors do, we agreed we have all this time and no excuses, why not write something about it! Having no formal schooling in the subject of screen writing, and getting my first “D” in College English, what could go wrong? We found our subject that we were passionate about and a copy of, Save The Cat.

It was real cute at first. Favorite coffee shop, brightly color-coordinated note cards, flannel. We looked legit. The first draft was a short because a feature seemed too daunting and I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed to write that much. She and I made the beat sheets, we improvised bits, it was fun and new and distracted us from the lack of auditions. After the first table read, we quickly realized our writing was just too good to stay at 30 pages. It also made no sense at 30 pages, but whatever. Krista Gano, our guiding light/art mom turned producer, said it was time to go to feature town (other pending options, feature-land, feature-ville, feature-opia). Ok cool, so just add stuff in between to make it longer? No. You can’t do that.

I never thought of myself as a writer. I have a limited vocabulary and I struggle with commas. I fantasized of being one bundled up in a cozy cabin with a cup of chamomile tea and a leather bound diary with a quill as my only tool. I’m still working on that. As I mentioned, this is our FOURTH table read. You always hear once you finish your first draft, pat yourself on the back, and then go back to work. It’s very true. We spent a solid 8 months without making a single edit as the screenplay sat in the back of our mind. There were also 6-8 hour days where we sat without moving until those built-up ideas were put on the page.

Life as an artist is a real bitch sometimes. Sitting, pondering, pulling feelings from “the well”.

I often feel lazy as an artist. It’s always poking at me and yet I try to sit down and write and the best I get is 3 questions written on the page with no answers. Blehhhh.

If you ever think you maybe want to write something but don’t know where to start, here are a list of activities to consider from an amatuer writer:

-Read "Save The Cat" by Blake Snyder and "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby
-Ignore those rules (for a bit) and just write
-Write as often as you can (morning pages count)
-It’s ok if you don’t write as often as you can
-Have other people read it and grow a backbone; but know it’s ok to disagree


I’m not trying to give advice (even though I just did) on how to write a screenplay. We definitely did all the wrong things and are still super lazy and still question most lines of dialogue and just want your approval! Yet, whatever happens with this baby, it still feels kinda super cool to say, “Hey, I made that”. 

SHAMELESS PLUG & PLEA (because it's my blog...so, why not?):  
Comfort Food is the story of a family coming together on the year anniversary of their father's suicide. It is an actor's story full of space to breath life into a family that is defining their new normal. It is achingly honest, funny, and ultimately hopeful.  Our team were all touched personally by suicide and this is really a "love letter" to survivors.  

If you are a magical investor or experienced producer (of features in the 2-6 million range) and you want more information on Comfort Food, we want to know about you!  You can reach Krista through the Contact Page!  

Want to check out Raleigh's recommended books on writing?  Here they are!

Save the Cat is available on Amazon.

The Anatomy of Story is available on Amazon.

WAG TIP- Hitting Your Mark

Krista GanoComment

I first saw this as a post on FB in the Casting Directors for Actors group (a great group to join if you don't already belong).  I'm posting it here because I found it really valuable to hear this from a DPs point of view.  Also, I work with actors often who swear they know how to do certain things, and then consistently fall short when the pressure is on.  A set can be an intense and busy workplace.  Actors must be able to perform under these pressures, which sometimes means continuing to practice skills that you think you know.  This gives you a great insider view at why we work hard at these things (especially if you want your lovely face to remain in focus). 

My dear acting friends, agents and coaches. Please understand the importance of hitting your mark (that colored T shape tape or cardboard on the floor). It was placed there during your rehearsal by our Assistant Camera person. It’s not a suggested spot for you to be, it’s exact. 

If I’m filming you with a long lens, say an 85mm and I have an f stop of 2.0, then the depth of field (what’s in focus) is very shallow. Your eye will be in focus, your ear will not. 

If I’m filming you with a wide-angle lens, say an 18mm and I have an f stop of 8.0 then the depth of field is large. Almost everything will be in focus. If you’re working on a set with me, I always tell actors what lens I have on the camera.

Please practice at home. Get a quarter. Take your shoes and sock off. Throw the quarter out on the floor in front of you two feet. Close your eyes, walk to it and place your big right toe on it. Once you get it, do it with your left foot. Once you get that, extend the distance to 5 feet, then 8, 10, 15, 20, 25. Practice coming around a corner and into the room without looking at the quarter on the floor. 

Actors spend a great deal of time honing their craft with emotions and motivations… please spend some time on the very important technical aspects. 

And please, don’t ever yell at an A.C. who buzzed the shot because you missed your mark by two feet.

...................................

I'm gonna go find a quarter.

P.S. - This is a great thing to add to your Action List!  Also....if this happens to get to the person who originally authored this post, I would love to credit you!

WAG Challenge - Work Abundantly inspired by Ira Glass

Krista GanoComment

One of my favorite quotes about creating is from Ira Glass.  Please watch and then read below.

Okay....so, if you read last week's blog, you've made your list and have started to move into action.  What do you think about what Ira Glass just said?  Are you creating enough material to work on matching your skill with your vision?  Is there something stopping you?  What is that obstacle and how can you overcome it? (If you journal, feel free to answer these questions in your actor's journal)

I love the notion of putting yourself on a deadline.  Professional writers and creators consistently manage deadlines and it's a great practice to embrace.  Not everything has to be a masterpiece.  Just the simple and consistent practice of creating makes you better.  Look at the action list that you made last week.  What can you commit to creating?  Put it on there, get into action, and let us know how it goes!