Spring Forward

13 Apr

Hi all,

I didn’t intend to take two months to get back to the blog.  My March had a series of unfortunate events.  First off, I had a car accident the day before my birthday.  Fortunately, it will be covered by insurance.  But my acting mobile will be in the shop for at least 8 days.  Then, my birthday twin, my grandpa, died while the family was visiting Arizona.  I scrambled to get a flight to get to the funeral in Portland.  I haven’t been able to think straight and I’ve felt sick ever since.  I had two migraines in a row one week and then two in a row the next.  I never get them like that unless I have food poisoning and have never had it happen twice within the space of a week.

Let me back step to what I have been up to.  This past weekend I was part of the table read for the film, The Last Responders: Life After Death, and we all gave the screenwriter feedback afterwards.  It can be nerve-wracking having your script critiqued, but necessary for development.  Having table reads for my scripts is not really my style.  I generally edit them by myself.  Both of my scripts are finally fully-edited and ready for production.  I did approach someone to direct The Go-Girls, but I haven’t heard back from him yet.  He’s generally really busy and soon to break out in a big way.  I’m really shy about approaching people and I’m not sure if I should start the funding campaign with no one attached.  The next thing I did this weekend was being an extra in a Burning Suns Entertainment commercial for Adobe.  They have an entire campaign of 40 commercials to film.  Back in February, I was the lead in one of their commercials in which I had a real monkey for a boss.  She was a lovely macaque, but I was really scared of her because monkeys are skittish.  I felt great being on-set, though, and playing an important character.

You might be wondering about the further fates of my two short films.  I haven’t heard any further news about distribution for Pick Me!.  I should call the distributor again.  As for Climbing Stairs, you’ll probably never see that one because there is not yet a coherent edit.  It’s a hard decision not to show something you’ve created because it’s not up to proper standards.

I have scheduled the first of the Equity theatre auditions.  Surprisingly, one non-Equity theatre that pays a weekly salary did not grant me an audition this year.  I have auditioned for them twice before.  I’m not sure if they re-scheduled them or what.  I did call to make sure they received my submission and was told that they were still looking through submissions.  No news yet on the Broadway revue that I auditioned for or the performance group I auditioned for months ago.

I did a five-week class at the Actors WorkHouse.  Duane Daniels is a genius, who is even writing a book about his acting theory.  One of his philosophies is “If it feels good, don’t do it!”  That really freed me to stop being a control freak and actually pay attention to what I’m doing and saying.  I didn’t realize how mechanical I had become.  The class was actually a music in acting class with some singing.  Only two of us in the class had an actual interest in singing.  I look forward to getting back there again.  I finally saw my voice teacher again to go over my audition pieces for the big auditions this year.  I am going to get out there, stop second-guessing myself, let the material breathe, and stop believing I’m a second-class actress!

The Power of One

3 Feb

Hi all,

Looks like I missed January for blog updates.  I just received my first acting paycheck of the year from the Skittles commercial in which I was an extra in December.  The commercial didn’t air during the Super Bowl, but that’s alright.  It was also in Phoenix this year and no, I didn’t have tickets, but Chris Pratt and Chris Evans did.  I had the opportunity to work six days at the NFL Experience in downtown Phoenix and it was a great deal of fun.  The pay was good and I didn’t have to work shifts that were too long.  However, that’s not the acting news you’re waiting for.  I was also cast as a stand-in for the Pro Bowl rehearsal through Good Faith Casting, who brought me in for the Skittles commercial.  I look forward to working with them again.  I got to pretend I was one of the players drafted into the Pro Bowl and give mock interviews.

I bought the domain name for this blog, so it will now be http://www.annasahlstrom.com.  My friend, Stephen, the amazing film god re-edited my demo reel for easier posting.  I have known my reel was too long and with the wrong cuts the moment I received it.  Additionally, if I am going to renew my Actors Access subscription after four years, I really need a competent reel.  I need to re-instate my memberships and LA connections so I can get a lot more opportunities.  I haven’t yet heard about Bogie and Bacall.

I’m going to strive to go to the Actors WorkHouse as often as I can so I can continually train.  I have an audition for the production of Twelfth Night with Class 6 Theatre company on Monday night of next week, so I have to really practice my monologue.  I will also be auditioning for a production company for their future commercials, feature films, and other projects.  The Sunday before last I auditioned for Burning Suns Entertainment, headed up by the famous Bobby Shook, for their upcoming commercials.  All these projects pay, but as for union contracts, I’m not sure there are too many of those upcoming in the Phoenix area.

I have made some changes to La Famille, with specific focus to the first 15 pages of the script I shared at the In The Works reading series.  I understood that the history the script deals with needs a great deal of explanation as most people don’t know Acadian/Cajun history.  I also short-changed that character and made her part much too short.  I am going to get The Go-Girls campaign going.  I need to put together my pitch to potential production partners, cast, crew, and directors.  A fellow stand-in at the Pro Bowl shoot told me there was no reason I couldn’t go ahead and get the funding campaign started.  He told me I need to quit waiting for someone else to get started.  I need to establish the Cactus Flower Pictures mission statement and industry presence.  To clarify: I am not trying to be like a major studio, just a small collaborative production company for my work and that of others if it gets to that level.  This is not a replacement for submitting to acting projects.

I did a bit of fan page promotion on Facebook and I now have 107 likes, up from about 65 just two weeks ago.  Also, the paperwork has gone through for Pick Me! with the distributor.  More details on that as they come.  I additionally have registered the copyright of the film with the US Copyright Office.  I found out that you have to list the company producing the film if more people than yourself worked on it.  I’m just learning these things.

Pray for my success.

December to Remember

24 Dec

Hi all,

Here is the last post of the year considering there are only two weeks.  Merry Christmas! or whatever you celebrate.  This is my favorite holiday of the year.  I love the Christmas shopping, the beautiful lights, baking cookies, the tree, Christmas carols, Santa Claus, and spending time with my family and friends I haven’t seen in a while.  I am also a very faithful Catholic so I see this as all about the birth of Jesus and how He changed the world.  I tried to keep myself engaged with acting during this festive month.  Casting director Mark Sikes, who has a weekly blog on the Showfax page of Actors Access, gave a challenge to actors to not let December pass them by.  I wasn’t sure how many auditions I would get and what I could book not being in LA and having an agent.  I’ll tell you in a moment what I accomplished.

First off, let me tell you about being in the Filmstock Actors Showcase.  The whole festival took place at the Harkins Valley Art and now includes short films from around the world in the categories of drama, comedy, animation, and documentary.  I performed Ariel’s Harpy speech from The Tempest and I received rave reviews.  They had an onstage director, Alejandro Montoya, who is a filmmaker from New Mexico.  He was awesome to work with and gave us all redirects after our initial performance of our piece. He told me to do the speech like Patton’s speech from the film.  It’s my Dad’s favorite movie, so I knew exactly how to do that.  I had a lot of fun acting like I did back at Drama school.  I also got coaching on the monologue from Duane Daniels at the Actors Workhouse.  I attended a free workshop at his studio and really loved it.  I would take classes there every week if had more money.  It’s only $30 per class.  He helped me move the monologue in the direction of making it how Ariel would actually do it, not Prospero.  Before, I made it an angry monologue, but Ariel is mischievous, light, and funny, so I changed my portrayal to show that.  I will inquire about getting the footage of the performance to put on my Social Media.

Remember the casting office where I got to audition for the commercial?  I booked another commercial shoot and it’s a big one.  I can’t divulge any details at this time, but look for it soon.  That certainly added to my making December count.

My script, La Famille, got to be part of the In The Works series reading this past Tuesday.  You get to have an excerpt from the screenplay, so I went with the first 15 pages about Laureatte.  I didn’t get any French speakers to read the script, but it was really cool to hear my words.  (I put the French bits into English. The French parts are not all translated because I’m not fluent in French and don’t know the Acadian/Cajun versions.)  The young lady reading Laureatte did the cutest French accent ever and I wanted to hug her for going for it.  I was really happy with just about everything that I wrote, but I knew I needed to add more.  After the read, the audience can give the writer feedback.  They said that I needed to have more explanation of the history, since many people don’t know the history of the Acadians/Cajuns.  However, they were really impressed with my research and my characters though they were differing opinions on how well they felt they knew the characters.  I will definitely be fixing the first part and adding a lot more explanation and scenes with Laureatte, Madame Richard, and the other characters in that part.  The most important change will be Dawn giving the audience (and her daughter) the introductory explanation of the history.

I signed up for the SMFA: Get in Gear for the New Year challenge hosted by casting director, Bonnie Gillespie, which is about getting actors on the right track to get hired in 2015.  I’ve done the homework so far and received some useful feedback on what my headshot says about me and how to target my materials.  SMFA stands for Self-Management for Actors and it’s the guide she wrote for actors to be successful in the industry.

I hope that amazing things will happen for me in the New Year, like finally being union eligible, getting significant credits on my resume, making The Go-Girls into a film, and getting La Famille produced (after edits, of course).  But first, I’ll go ahead and enjoy the holiday season.  I can at least take Christmas off, right?

 

Turkeys on Parade

24 Nov

Hi all,

I’m squeezing in a November post and Happy Thanksgiving!  There are a great deal of things going on in my schedule.  I was part of the table reading for the upcoming SAG-AFTRA film, Bogie and Bacall.  It was my first table reading and I hope to be part of the film.  I also just found out that I was chosen to be part of the Actors Showcase at the Filmstock Film Festival, which runs December 5 through 7 at the Harkins Valley Art theatre near ASU in Tempe.  The showcase is on December 6 at 7pm.  Audience members get to vote on their favorite actor and the panel of judges is composed of prestigious industry professionals.  You can get tickets at: http://www.filmstockfilmfestival.com/  I’ll give you a hint about my performance piece: I’ll be creating a storm onstage.

I auditioned for a local casting director a few weeks back for whom I hadn’t auditioned in a few years.  I hope to be a regular in their office.

I need to send in the paperwork for the distribution of Pick Me!.  I neglected to have everyone sign release forms when we filmed it and now know that was a mistake.  I have the paperwork on my end ready to go, but am waiting on the forms to be returned.  Climbing Stairs is still in post-production, so you will hear about that as soon as I have the completed film.  I have a possible offer of having that at the Eastern NC Film Festival and a distribution offer.

I auditioned for a small commercial this past week that was a last-minute casting.  I was very glad to be on top of checking my audition sources so I could submit in time.  I will find out soon if I booked it.

I just attended a free workshop at the Actors WorkHouse, headed by industry veteran, Duane Daniels.  I really liked his approach.  One of his acting philosophies is that you have to have a visual for what you are saying or you won’t have a connection to it.  He said a key to memorizing lines is to have images that go along with the words.  Hopefully, I will find some money to take his classes and coaching sessions.  Check out their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/actorsworkhouse

I also finally got to attend the In The Works event with the Phoenix Screenwriters Assoc. and I got to read the narrator part of a script.  I always enjoy getting to do a staged reading of a work.  I will be submitting part of La Famille for the next event.  Basically, the actors read the script and then the audience gives the writer feedback and asks them questions.

I am working on getting some much more significant bookings.  I miss theatre, but the best way for me to get people to notice me is through film.

The Fall Quarter

26 Oct

Hi all,

This week is Halloween and I’m thinking about what fun activity I will do.  I know that there will be trick-or-treaters this year and I need to get some candy.  I might dress up as one of the X-Men, a shinigami from Bleach, or my OC Mario Bros. Princess.

I connected with some people for help producing, The Go-Girls, but I don’t have anyone on board yet for actual production staff.  I guess these things take time and you must choose people you can trust who have the same goals you do.  I have had a few people send me web links for articles about union minimums for pay and business plans.  I really need someone who knows what they are doing to join with me, not have me just do it all myself.  I attended a new group only to be told that it may not be possible for me to star in my own script because I’m not a name talent guaranteed to get people to finance the film and buy the DVDs.  If you can’t help me, that’s alright, but don’t shoot down everything I want to accomplish.  I asked how to do what I want, not do you think that’s possible.  Everyone has an opinion and no amount of experience guarantees that someone is right.  People star in their own films all the time to launch a career, and they’re not all A-listers.  Some people were just like me: professional non-union people.  I have to admit I was a bit lazy these past two weeks about my marketing and networking campaign, or is two migraines a week apart a valid excuse?  It’s hard to know who will team up with you.  I really think for The Go-Girls and La Famille, that the younger, non-disillusioned, set is the best bet for team mates.  I just joined the Louisiana Filmmakers Group on LinkedIn.  Some film people have expressed concern that I would accept some erroneous business agreements or come up with some investor business proposal myself, neither of which I would do.  I know my limitations and some part, mainly for The Go-Girls, of the funding will need to be crowdfunded.  I definitely believe having SAG talent around me would be an asset and I have connected with an actor with some legitimate Film/TV credits.  I have already established the demographic for The Go-Girls and understand that it’s not competing with major Hollywood blockbusters.

I received the script for the table reading, but I can’t give you any details as it’s a big project.  Also, I just found out that a SAG-AFTRA web series that is a joint Arizona/California production will be casting and filming locally.  They have already shot several episodes here.  As for agents, there is only one left here I would like to have represent me, but they are not getting in touch with me.  So, I figure that I won’t worry about them, because most of the gigs here are ones that I can submit to myself.  And I also can represent myself better than anyone has been able to in the past.  The last one was the best.  I don’t know when the move back to LA will happen.  My apartment lease is up at the end of next March and the decision will be made by then.

I started on the first TV episode of the La Famille series about the legendary, Felicite.  This may all sound insanely ambitious, unrealistic, and impossible, but then remember that a bunch of people back in the early part of the 20th Century dreamed of an industry in which they could put stories on something called a camera.  It’s now a billion dollar industry spanning theatres, televisions, smart phones, and the internet.  The impossible happens everyday.

 

 

Show Me The Money

21 Sep

Hi all,

Once On This Island had a grand performance on two weeks back.  I was really glad how it all came together and for the magic that happened.  My part was pretty challenging playing an older man who goes through some harrowing experiences.  One number had me going from one side of the stage to another, have three challenging key-change, no support from the orchestra, solos, fall down, and get beaten up.  The show does not stop and hardly anyone gets a break from being onstage, dancing, and singing.  And with that, my accepting of unpaid gigs will finally end.  This was a student production at ASU so that was understandable.  From now on, the talent buyers out there will be paying me.  I came to a realization from knowing many people who have regular jobs and act that acting should pay your bills, not have your bills pay for acting.  I also know a number of people who have made acting mostly pay their bills.

Pick Me! was accepted to the Eastern North Carolina Film Festival.  It’s a new festival that started this year and played Sept. 12-13.  I found out about submitting to it on Stage 32.  Pick Me! did not generate any ticket sales, but I was glad someone out of state actually liked it.  The film company that began the festival is working on distribution agreements for the short films in the festival.

I got behind on networking for the production team of The Go-Girls, but I will get on that.  I am attending a workshop with major producer Marc D. Evans about getting film scripts produced.  It’s through the Phoenix Screenwriters’ group and the founder, Carlo, reached out to me personally to attend.

I am mostly stepping away from theatre right now.  Two of the ones that pay weekly are not near where I live and did not express any interest in casting me, and the Equity ones have once again not even given me a callback.  I can’t keep letting it make me depressed and feel that I’m not good enough.  Theatre takes too much time anyway.  Film, Commercials, and TV will always pay more money on average.  But if Broadway comes calling again to Phoenix, I’m so there.  Maybe film is the best place for me.

I am currently reading The $11 Billion Year by Anne Thompson.  She is a veteran entertainment journalist specializing in film and in the book she recounts the banner year of 2012 in Hollywood and the changing trends of the film industry.  I have surprisingly not done much reading into how Hollywood works; I was so caught up in getting an Equity card.  It’s going to be a SAG-AFTRA card first at the rate things are going.

I have an upcoming audition with the Black Theatre Troupe for a production called Tommy J and Sally.  It sounds absolutely fantastic and I would be love to be a part of it.  But mostly, it’s film from now on.

Climbing Stairs Trailer

21 Sep

Hi all,

I wanted to share with you the trailer for Climbing Stairs, the short that I filmed this summer.   The editing process should be finished by mid-October.  My friend, Luca Patruno, wrote the script, directed, cast, provided the food, got the crew, and is editing the film.  Right now he is attending Chapman University and is already getting hired on major film shoots.  In the future, I would like to submit the film with Pick Me! as a double-feature at Filmbar, a local bar and cinema specializing in local independent film.

 

 

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