Catching Up with Ace Michaels

My friend Ace Michaels has been slaying with his online talk show on Facebook.  During my recent trip to Las Vegas, I got the chance to sit down and catch up with Ace.

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Check it out!  

 

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Hollywood Dreams Announces Nominees

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Photo courtesy of Hollywood Dreams Film Festival

I am very honored that Seeking Valentina, a short film which I produced with Armin Nasseri, has garnered two nominations at this year’s Hollywood Dreams International Film Festival, including BEST SHORT & BEST VISUAL EFFECTS. ¬†Our film screens later this week, in Las Vegas. ¬†Want to catch it in Vegas? ¬†See here.

Hollywood Dreams calls itself,

“A blend of new classic world film, hospitality, industry connections and of course a hearty brand of distributors, buyers, audience and special guests will round out what is sure to become a major stop in the vein of top U.S. and international film events.”

¬†¬†For a full list of nominees for this year’s Hollywood Dreams International Film Festival, click here. ¬†Congratulations to our cast and crew, whose talents and efforts continue to receive world-wide acclaim and many thanks to Del Weston and Theresa Weston, the founders of Hollywood Dreams Film Festival.

Hollywood’s Problem Starts in High School

The success of Wonder Woman and the live action Beauty and the Beast has generated a great deal of discussion about women in cinema and woman-centric narrative. ¬†A Variety article pointed out, though, that despite record box office, women, “made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016. That represented a decline of two percentage points from the year before.” ¬†Without getting too heady or too political, I need to point out that women’s narratological problems start off long before a screenplay gets optioned by the studios and directors are hired. ¬†It starts in high school, with the ways we are taught narrative structure.

Read more on Mogul.

Moviemaking is a Messy Business

If you’ve been watching my Instagram lately, you will have noticed someone has a gripe against a guy named Vinnie. ¬†ūüėČ

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I was back on the set of James Balsalmo’s The Litch this week and I was again impressed by James’s wizardry, this time with masks, snot fabricated from cottage cheese and blood from chocolate syrup and food coloring. It was a messy, fun, albeit, occasionally odorous time. It’s amazing what creativity we have when we use it and James is a truly creative fellow.

Behind the Scenes of The Litch

Behind the Scenes of The Litch

This week, I got to have a fun part in The Litch, directed by James Balsalmo of Acid Bath Productions. ¬†It was a high-spirited, improvisational shoot. ¬†Coming out later this year, the film also stars Tom Sizemore, the legendary ¬†Lloyd Kaufman and fellow scream queen Genoveva Rossi. ¬†James is creative, collaborative and fun and I told our manager Matt Chassin that he was like the “Christopher Guest of horror”. ¬†This is sure to be a fun horror comedy.

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Armin Nasseri of Seeking Valentina fame was also on-hand helping with our scene. It was great to have his positive energy there. ¬†I can’t wait to see it debut on the big screen later this year!

litch group shot

 

 

LIKE The Litch on Facebook to get all their updates!

the litch

The Mask: Acting when in Mourning

“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.” HENRY VI, PART III

It’s true that actors suffer for their art. ¬†We go to countless auditions, get told no more often than yes, among many other grievances. ¬† Actors are bettors. ¬†They gamble on themselves constantly, each day, in the name of their art and their talent.

As someone who’s experienced this twice, there may come a time in your acting life where you may be on stage or on set and someone you love dies. ¬†The thespian’s motto is “The show must go on.” ¬†Yes, it does, but sometimes it may not be in your long-term best interest for it to go on with you. Sometimes, though, the time on stage or on set may be healing.

The first time this happened to me, I was 17 years old and performing in a community production of Othello ¬†Though it wasn’t a professional production, I treated acting as my profession. ¬†My grandfather died a week before opening night. ¬†My mother spoke to director on my behalf and his response to her was, “Is she still going to be in the show? She’s really talented.” ¬†It was about the show for that director, not necessarily what could be done to keep me in a safer space. ¬†When I came back to rehearsal, it was weird. ¬†Fellow cast members didn’t know what to say to me or how to act. ¬†I didn’t hold that against them. ¬†It’s hard to know what to say when someone close to you has someone die. ¬†I was very close to my grandfather and though legally almost an adult, I had a hard time coping with all the feelings.

The second time this happened to me was six months ago.  My godfather, whom I held in high regard, died unexpectedly.  We had been talking on the phone a lot in the six months prior.  He was going through stuff.  He was in mourning himself and then took a sudden turn for the worse.  I was in the middle of filming a short film when I heard the news of his death.  I let my director know what was going on via email and he was very kind and compassionate.  He let the cast and crew know that I had a death.  Everyone was very kind.  He worked around my schedule so that I could leave the state to go to the funeral.  He was a true professional.

Both times, at least to me, there was no discernible impact to my performance. ¬†I got on stage and set and executed the director’s vision to the best of my ability. ¬†However, I can tell you that the earlier experience with the death of my grandfather has followed me in some not-so-healthy ways. ¬†When I saw another production of Othello five years after my grandfather’s death, I was in tears most of the play. ¬†I had this deep association of Othello with my grandfather’s death. ¬†I saw Othello two years later and I was just angry the whole time. ¬†I had to go because of the drama academy I was enrolled in required me to go. ¬†I am hoping time will help me shed my baggage with Othello.

Here’s some advice to you if you are acting and lose a loved one:

  1. ¬†Don’t feel pressured to do or be more than you can handle. ¬†Ask for an understudy if you need one.
  2. Evaluate where you are in the processes.  Are you in first rehearsal?  Final dress rehearsal?  Are you filming for one day?  Thirty?
  3. How much responsibility do you have to your family? ¬†If you are in charge of making funeral preparations for the loved one, take a long look at what you can handle or sustain. ¬†Funerals are very messy to plan, even under the best of circumstances. ¬†You may be able to take a week or two off your production or have the producers change a shooting schedule, but there’s not really a do-over on a funeral. ¬†If you have responsibility to your family, focus on your family first. ¬†Above all, the funeral is to help you find closure and if you have any doubts, choose to focus on the funeral.
  4. Reach out to your director and/or producer. ¬†If it’s to hard to talk about it, send an email about what has happened and what you may need. ¬†If you have a manager, ask them to help you work out the issues with production. ¬†Focus on your healing.
  5. Do not push for emotion. ¬†You are likely maxed out. ¬†You are an instrument. ¬†Don’t break your instrument. ¬†If you’re not feeling it, don’t force it.
  6. It may not be a good idea to bring a recent death into your scene work. ¬†I’ve seen this really mess folks up. ¬†It’s going to be time before you go through those stages of grief and bringing something in that’s too fresh and too raw may harm your psyche more than it helps your scene. ¬†It’s not brave to dredge up something that you are unprepared to handle. ¬†It is brave to assert your healthy boundaries.
  7. Care for your body and care for your spirit.  Acting is already hard, with a great deal of little disappointments.  Having a death cloud you doing what you love is a real downer.  Take extra care of yourself.  Enlist a friend to check in with you from time to time.  An actor friend who you trust is a great choice.

As actors, we constantly search for emotion. ¬†We study emotion. ¬†There will be times when our life on stage and screen ¬†may be impacted by a death or other tragedy. ¬†Above all else, “…to thine own self be true,” and care for yourself in your time of loss. ¬†As an actor, you are your instrument, you are your truth and you owe it to yourself to care for yourself as best you can in your time of loss.