Here comes Parasites!

Parasites Still from Fangoria
Production Still from Parasites

Last year I played the role of Hammer in the horror movie Parasites. The director, Chad Ferrin, has emerged from post-production with the first glimpses of the film in a story with Fangoria. We had a great time filming this in downtown Los Angeles at night under the old 6th Street bridge in and out of the LA River. We were all wet and cold, but one of the leads, Sean Samuels, was running around buck naked for half of one night – what a trooper!

Starring Robert Miano, the film has been submitted to festivals – I’ll let you know when and where you can see it!

Returning to a Film Role After Two Years

Last week I had the joy of wrapping on a film that I first worked on two years ago, Fear Itself! Filming of the last few scenes was put on hold due to a forest fire sweeping through the filming location the night before the shoot. Scheduling conflicts and finances led to a long delay in resuming production.

Getting back into a role that I performed two years ago turned out to be pretty easy. When I get a new role, I print out the whole script and dive in with pen and highlighters. I add yellow highlighting for all my lines and green highlighting for all my actions and other character actions that impact my character.

After many read-throughs, I’ll start writing notes all over the script. First I’ll write a sort of biography of the character’s life that leads up to the start of the script. I’ll highlight events in his life that led to or contributed to his current beliefs, values, and opinions. All of this history has to be grounded in the existing character circumstances in the script.

Once I have a character history established, I’ll write out the characters thoughts for each line. For example, on a line where I say “You can take credit for this” my character is thinking something like “I’m f*cking sick of this bullshit”, or “You’re a self-serving *sshole”, or simply “I’m done” depending on my character’s motivation and intensity. I’m not just thinking “You can take credit for this” as a real person’s inner dialogue is never identical to what they are saying.

By the time I’m on set all of this history, the lines, the thoughts, and opinions are in me and I’m able to be a character that is wildly different from myself. This is where the miracle of acting comes in for me as I get to really inhabit another world for a while. I can lead a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, try to kidnap an ass-kicking bride, or get murdered coming out of my trailer in back-woods West Virginia. In the case of Fear Itself, I’m a grieving father hunting down a serial killing clown!

So, returning to Mr Randall in Fear Itself was as simple as digging out my old script and going over my notes. There were some new scenes added but the changes were straight forward. I was able to find that character inside and bring him out once again. There was some movie magic involved in smoothing out some physical differences from the original shoot for me and some of the other actors but I think that time difference in filming the story will be seamless and the viewer will never notice. Here’s a trailer from the previous footage and I’m looking forward to seeing the new footage incorporated.

[update: Fear Itself was renamed Clowntergeist for release]

The reason you are afraid of clowns

Casting Director Workshops and Other Fee-Related Talent Services

I keep track of Casting Sites that are available for actors and having come across a number of scam websites, I’ve read the laws regulating their interaction with Californian actors and want to share what I’ve found in relation to the recent news about casting director workshops. Just a heads up, I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the casting director workshop system in Los Angeles where actors are paying to be taught or coached by people who make casting decisions. These businesses are regulated in California by the The Krekorian Act under “Fee-Related Talent Services” and are overseen by the Department of Industrial Relations.

Fee-Related Talent Services aren’t just workshops. The covered businesses include “talent counseling services”, “talent listing services”, or “talent training services” which means all paid acting coaches, all services that offer acting job listings for a fee, all services that host actor profiles for a fee, and all services that offer listings of agents, casting directors, or auditions for a fee.

Any owner, officer, or employee of these services who “willfully violates any provision of this chapter” is subject to a misdemeanor charge and imprisonment of up to a year, a fine up to $10,000, or restitution to the artist. Damages awarded an injured artist must be more than three times the amount paid to the talent service. 

All of these Fee-Related Talent Services are supposed to have a $50,000 bond to protect actors from abuse. A quick check of the list of Talent Services with bonds shows only 121 active Talent Services bonds. There has got to be more than 121 businesses in California that offer Fee Related Talent Services!  Included on the list are businesses like Breakdown Services (aka Actor’s Access) and Casting Networks (aka L.A. Casting). Not on the list (or at least not listed under their public names) are businesses ranging from Cazt to IMDb which are Californian businesses that offer regulated talent services for a fee. Teachers like Anthony P. Meindl have a bond while other teachers do not*. Many many teachers, workshop companies, audition sources, and actor profile websites should be bonded but are not. The question remains if out-of-state Fee Related Talent Services should have to hold a bond if they sell regulated services to Californian actors. If so, then there is a vast number of unbonded companies offering Fee-Related Talent Services to Californian actors.

Look, I’d love to have my $150.00 IMDbPro annual fees returned to me threefold since they are operating without a bond but I’d have to sue them and really I’d rather focus on acting. I’d just be happy if the Labor Commissioner did her job and sent them (and all the unbonded companies) a letter asking them to comply, made sure they do, and went after the ones who didn’t. I guess it all starts with filing a complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations – who’s with me?

* As of this writing, the bond spreadsheet was last updated in September 2015 so Cazt, IMDb and others not found in the spreadsheet may, in fact, now be bonded (thanks to Billy DaMota for pointing this out).

** I originally stated that Dallas Travers did not have a bond because I didn’t see it listed on her website. I reached out to her and she is bonded under the name Sage Creative, Inc which shows as active since 2012. She also has the full text of the Krekorian Act on her website.

New Headshots for a New Head!

Getting ready for summer and looking to play a role on Chicago P.D., NCIS, or something like that – I cut my hair short. For my new headshots I went for simple and natural so that casting could see me as I’d look walking into their office. Click through to the gallery.

My Episode of Cry Wolfe Airs Tonight

My episode of Cry Wolfe premiers tonight on Investigation Discovery at 7pm PST! This show is a recreation show of notable cases that the real life private detective Brian Wolfe has worked on in his 25 years as a PI at Wolfe’s Investigations.

Tonight’s episode is named Shopaholic and is about “an angry husband [who] fears his wife’s shopping addiction has returned after countless unexplained charges show up on his credit card. The truth is revealed when private investigator Brian Wolfe takes the case.”

I play the angry husband and Rachael Murphy plays my shopaholic wife, Audrey. Kari Lee Wasoba plays Lindsay. We had a lot of fun making this episode. The scenes were not scripted and only had particular goals and objectives. This improv allowed us to have authentic reactions to each other and made for some explosive arguments. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that the slap was planned for that scene but the timing was a total surprise!

It was a pleasure working with Karga Seven who run a great, professional, and friendly production.

Still from Cry Wolfe
Still from Cry Wolfe

New IMDbPro search extension for Chrome

I’ve gotten several requests to add an option to my IMDb search extension to make it use IMDbPro. Rather than making the extension larger I published a separate extension specifically for searching IMDbPro. Once you’ve added the extension to chrome, just highlight a name, a title, or anything then right-click and select the IMDbPro search in the menu. A new page will open with the IMDbPro search results for your text. Easy. You will need to have an active IMDbPro account for this to work. Here’s a screenshot of it in use:

Right-click search on imdbpro
Screenshot of using Right-click search IMDb pro chrome extension.

To Survive now Streaming

I’m excited to announce that the movie To Survive with my first lead feature role is now streaming on! You are only clicks away from watching it – so, grab some popcorn, cozy up, and watch Jonathan try to keep his clan of lost souls safe in the post-apocalyptic future!

To Survive Now Streaming
To Survive is now on Amazon Prime

A Tool to Improve Your Google Search Results

Have you ever googled your own name to see what comes up in the search results? As an actor, you should do it often as casting directors are googling your name when you or your agent submits you for a project or if they see your name in a film’s credits. It’s important that the top few links point to imdb, an online profile, or a link to your work. Do this on a desktop browser so that you can turn off the private results by clicking the globe icon on the right hand side. This will give you a view of what others would see. For an example, here’s a search for “Burt Culver”.

The owner of a do-it-yourself search engine optimization website called pitched his company on Shark Tank Friday night. I checked the website out and the free service is pretty useful and helps you think about and understand how you can improve your online presence. I have a history in tech and search engine optimization (SEO) and it found things that I hadn’t thought about.

The first thing it does is google your name and present the search results. Then you pick out the search results that you want to have further up in the results. Then the website steps you through various ways to improve a page to increase it’s ranking in the search results. They have a great point system that shows you which steps are most important. There is no need to pay for the extra service unless you want. You can analyse and track 3 urls for free and I just analyzed and deleted a bunch of different urls in my third slot.  You don’t have to analyse your name, you could use a business name or even the name of a film project if you wanted to boost the results for searches matching your film or web series.

One thing the website doesn’t cover is the section of search results with images. If the images that show up for your search results aren’t you or don’t reflect your acting then improve the SEO of the pages hosting the images that you do want to have show up. I did find a post in their blog that gives more detailed instructions.

This is one of my posts where I share something I’ve learned with other actors. I’m not super excited about SEO but how you look in google search results can have a significant effect on your career so make it something you check on regularly.

Bastard Gets Glowing Review

The Bride - Film Festival

The horror film website Horror Society has published the first review of the horror feature I’m in that filmed last year, Bastard. I haven’t seen the film yet as the directors are planning a screening party but it sounds like it’s going to be epic:

“BASTARD is a triumph for independent horror. A breath of fresh air in a dying subgenre of horror. Cleverly written and well acted, BASTARD is gory and intriguing and will be a favorable part of anyone’s movie collection. Packed with old school horror techniques but unique in its storytelling, BASTARD is the best dramatic slasher film I’ve seen this year. Greer steals the show amongst a character driven storyline with a creeptastic killer. I can’t stop raving about this. It’ll definitely be one of the titles I’ll try to push to you guys in the future.”

Check out the rest of the article and ask for Bastard to show at your local theater! I can’t wait to see it myself and I’ll keep you posted on it’s availability or you can like and follow the Bastard Facebook page.

Congratulations to writer/directors Patrick Robert Young and Powell Robinson and to the rest of the cast and crew!

Bastard Poster

Starry Eyes Released on DVD and Blu-Ray

The Bride
Starry Eyes DVD
Starry Eyes DVD cover

The terrific horror thriller in which I have a scene, Starry Eyes, is available as of today on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download. It’s a great film about the lengths an actress will go through in Hollywood to achieve stardom. Throw in a chance audition for the occult cabal that runs the star maker machinery and you’ve got a scary movie with some surprising twists and turns. The lead actress,  Alex Essoe, does an amazing job.