Friday, December 28, 2012

What They Don't Teach you in Film School

December 27, 2012


We have made it through the 2012 Mayan prediction that the end of the world was upon us.  I never had any doubt that it was even remotely close as God isn't finished with all of us.  So, now that Christmas day has come and come, presents have been opened, special time with our families have be passed and are now apart of another year's collective memories, we focus on the coming of the new Year.  For most of us, that means, we are either very happy that 2012 is almost over and a new year is emerging with promises of a better and bright future, or 2012 was that great and you really don't want to lose the current 2012 "Mo Jo!"

As for me, I am extremely excited about 2013 because filming is about to start on one of my dreams, The Keystroke Killer.  It seems like forever since first announcing the casting all last February.  In reality, that is ONLY 10 months.  And, when we finally announced the final cast for the film, it seems like it has been forever ago again.  But, once again, that was only 10 weeks ago .  In production time value that isn't very long as some development stages can last up to three or more years.  So, sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.

Additionally, during that 10 weeks, our production crew has been busy behind the scenes putting together "The Scenes."  By this, the production designer has been busy creating the sets, wardrobe has been putting together outfits, camera department has been working to put together the shot list etc.  But, right now, everyone is waiting on me as I have to re-write the television pilot script to include the first episode.  That means, I have to eliminate 48 minutes without losing the impact of the plot and "hopefully" not write-out any of the smaller characters.  So far, I am on target with the rewrites.  

However, I need a favor and I am going to ask for forgiveness first.  Don't worry, it isn't that bad.  I just need to "Down Time," to write without any interruption.  So, for the next couple of weeks, if you see me online on Skype or Facebook, I am probably doing some research and writing for the screenplay etc or in a production meeting and I need you help by not "IM" or instant messaging me on Facebook.  Just for a little why.  No worries as far as LACA NOLA is concerned as Robby, Caylen, and Jan will be picking up the slack and Robby, as always, will be available for all emergencies and questions.  She also knows how to get a hold of me 24/7.  I am going to thank you in advance for this.  

What many people don't realize is that when I am writing a script, I totally absorb myself into it.  And, if I get interrupted it takes me away from my thought process.  It literally takes me 20-30 minutes to get back to the absorption level I was prior to an interruption.  I believe all writers and musicians understand this concept.  Anyway, I will check with Facebook and be posting etc, during my breaks.

And, now for my New Year's Resolution!



Often the biggest issue to submitting a video audition is finding a reader.  But, don't let that stop you.  You have many options for your readers.  Take a look at this list:

1.  Use your family members.
2.  Use your friends.
3.  Record yourself for the other part.
4.  Skype with someone and have them be the reader for you.
5.  Call someone on the phone and use the speaker phone for your part.
6.  Call a professional reader service, e.g., LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP, we have actors who have signed on that will serve as readers for a small fee.
7.  Use other actors in your agency and offer to trade off as readers.

Just remember, you don't have to have your reader sitting in front of you.  With modern technology, finding a reader is easy.

Here is a list of some of our LACA NOLA clients who have signed up to be part of the professional reading service for auditions:

Challa Sabree
Jack E. Curenton
Jamie Alyson
Cristi Joilet
Dallas Joilet
Robby Cook Stroud
Helen Ray

Lastly, don't let you not having a reader get in the way of auditioning.


Now a review on an article on posted several months ago.  I was stunned when one of our clients made a comment to me that he couldn't submit his video audition because he didn't have the $40 dollars to have it taped.  I almost fell to the floor.  First, of all, you video auditions don't have to be professionally shot.  Remember, the casting director isn't looking for a director of photography, but are looking for actors.  The only thing that matters is that you can be seen clearly and that you can be heard.  So, out of review, I am re-posting the following article to help you out just before pilot season.


By Dr. Mel Caudle

There is an art to producing your own audition video for online submissions.  However, you don't have to fear that you aren't a cameraman, editor, or a director of photography.  As producers and casting directors, we don't expect actors to be experts in the process of making a video.  So relax.  

Additionally, you don't need to spend a great deal of money on cameras, film gadgets, or invest in editing software.  Most actors, nowadays, have at their disposal everything they need to produce their submission video.  Actors can use:
  • Cell phone camera
  • IPAD camera
  • Web camera on their computer                           
  • A flip camera
  • A consumer video camera
Research reveals that more than 92% of people from the ages of 16 - 55 own a cell phone.  So, the likelihood of you not having one is slim.  It is more likely that you don't know how to use the video camera application on your phone.  Therefore, take the time and investigate whether your phone has this application and learn how to use it.  If not, go to your Market area your cell phone service company provides and download an application.  I found plenty of free applications for every cell phone company.  This idea holds for your IPADs as well.  Lots of free applications that will meet your needs.

Flip video cameras can be purchased for less than $100 dollars and up. I purchased one for $79 dollars that was HD 1080 dpi and the quality is fantastic.  Do your research and you can find both new and used camcorders for this purpose.  It really depends on the amount of money you are willing or able to spend.   The way I look at it, that is a small investment toward your acting career.  Therefore, if that means going without a specialized cup of coffee at a coffee shop, or instead of buying a soda with your hamburger and bringing a thermos from home with juice or water it in for awhile to save up the money, then do that.  That money adds up fast if you put away your savings and not spend it until you purchase your camera.  Believe it or not, I have a "Money Jar" that sits on my credenza behind my desk.  Every time I sit at my desk, I check my  purse for loose change and sometimes even a dollar bill or two.  I put it in that jar.  I bought my first camcorder this way - a Canon XL1.    If it is important to you and your career, you will find a way.

So, how do you film yourself when no one else is available?  If you don't have a tripod, ask a friend to film your audition using your phone camera or as I demonstrated recently to a friend, prop your cell phone up high enough to capture your own audition.  

I have an actor colleague who has a special cell phone case they use for this purpose.  He attaches Velcro to the back of the cell case and then glued the matching part of the Velcro to a cheap small picture frame so it can be mounted onto the wall. That way, he doesn't ruin the wall by attaching the Velcro directly to it.  When not in use, he stores his special mount frame in his Chester drawer and hangs a picture up on the nail.  Then, when he needs to record an audition, he removes the picture that normally hangs on the wall, and hangs the Velcro "camera mount" on the wall and attaches his cell phone.  The only thing left is for him to press the record button and enter into frame and record his audition.

Another alternative is to purchase a Cell Phone Mount.  There are several available on the market for under $30 dollars.  The one I love is the RAM Mount Universal X-Grip Cell Phone Holder with the 1" ball.  It uses suction cups to mount to any hard surface and attaches your cell phone.  Another favorite of mine is the PanaVise 727-06-6 Slimline Series Pedestal Cell Phone Mount.  Also, many of the cell phone mounts, made for cars, can easily be adapted for placement on a bookshelf in your home, your desk, or on a table top.  Just use your thinking caps and improvise.

The moral of this story is not to make up an excuse as to why you can't video your own auditions.  If there is a will there is a way.

Before you begin taping:

  • Check out the lighting where you’re making your tape  - don’t stand w/your back to the window. The light should be in front of you.
  • Mark your spot on the floor where you need to stand or if you choose to sit, place your chair where it needs to be in the frame once you press the record button, you will be in frame.  
  • Frame yourself correctly:  1. You should be in the center of the frame, 2. Bottom of the frame should be at the center of your chest, 3. Top of the frame should be barely above the top of your head.
  • Don't leave to much white area above your head.  
  • Don’t walk out of the frame of the camera while recording.  We need to be able to see you.
  • It is best to stand in front of a solid background: e.g. a wall, a tapestry, a sheet, a drape, etc.   NOTE: It is imperative that the background be a SOLID COLOR. No patterns be used for slating.  The reason is to really showcase you without distractions.  However, you can use a setting for the scene or shoot against a green screen and edit in a background.   (Refer to the article on the page The Back Lot for information on how to make a green screen for less than $10 dollars.)
  • Make sure there is no background noise that will interfere with our ability to hear your character.
  • Have your reader speak lower than you.  It is you we need to focus on and not your reader.
  • Prior to the recording, please make sure the camera and microphone are ready to go. You can do this by setting it up, shooting yourself and then playing it back to make sure you are framed correctly and the audio is working.
  • Don't forget to slate at the beginning of your audition tape.  Make sure you speak clearly and if you have an unusual name or you spell your name creatively, be sure to spell it out when you slate.


More and more actors are getting more technologically suave and learning to edit their auditions.  There is nothing wrong with this as it is important that a casting director, producer, and director not only know your name and your agents, but how to contact you.  If you don't have an editing software system to add these important elements be sure to include them when you slate.

To place your contact information or your agents, often your desktop or laptop computers come with editing programs like Imovie Magic.  These programs are perfect editing software for your audition purposes.  But, if you want to get a little more fancy with your auditions, you might want to invest in an editing software system.  Professional editors in our industry lean toward Final Cut Pro.  However, that isn't necessary.  I have edited all of my documentary films, reality shows, and short films using Pinnacle System.  I started out years ago with Pinnacle Studio 10 and worked my way up to Avid.  An Emmy award winning filmmaker friend of mine uses nothing but Sony Vegas (less than $80) to edit his documentaries.  Therefore, if you want to get a little more creative with your editing, investigate some great software for this purpose.

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

With the ease of editing on our home computers, actors and filmmakers can easily bring the world into their monologues and indie films with the use of green screens.  You only need to search online to find one that will include the complete stand, muslin greenscreen, and clips for less than $200 dollars.  If you don't want to spend that much, there is a cheaper way.  

When I first got into this business, I had zero money for equipment and used whatever I could afford and used my ingenuity to "rig" boom mics, dollies, settings, props, and special effect makeup.  I also built a cheap greenscreen for my films and auditions.  I was an actor too.  

To make a greenscreen right in your own bedroom or living room for an audition, go to the nearest dollar store and purchase the lime green poster boards.  I bought mine for.50 cents each.  I purchased 12 poster boards for $6 dollars to cover one wall area.  

Then, I bought the sticky tacky white stuff that you roll into a ball and hung the poster boards seam to seam.  That was it.  My green screen was ready and I didn't spend but $10 dollars.  

For auditions, you really only need three poster boards and hang them in a corner.  Once edited, the creases where you joined them don't show and if you have an editing system software that can handle chroma-key, you can put any background you want behind you in post.  That way, if you are auditioning for a professor, you can place yourself in a classroom or if you are an oral surgeon, you can place yourself in the dentist office surgical room.  The sky is the limit.  

When I didn't need my makeshift green screen anymore for filming, they easily come down off the wall, store right beneath my bed, and stay there until I need them again.

If you want a more permanent greenscreen, you can purchase the lime green paint from the nearest home improvement store in the exact color you need for a greenscreen and paint a wall in your home garage, laundry room, or if you daring, a playroom or bedroom.  

If you don't want to paint a wall, you can also purchase cheap plywood,4 X 8 feet and paint it with the greenscreen color paint, and lean it against a wall.  When not needed, storage could be an issue unless you have a garage or somewhere else to store it.  

One thing I really like about using plywood painted for a green screen, when I need to film a shot outdoors I don't have to worry about securing a material green screen to keep it from flapping in the wind. This comes in very handy when I want to film someone driving in a car with a green screen.  The car never moves, I prop the plywood green screen up against the car or a couple of production assistants hold it secure, and we shoot our scene.  Then in post, we can combine the scenes with the chroma-key tool and have the car traveling anywhere in the world or universe we want them to go.

These are some, but not all, of the innovative approaches I have used to make cheap greenscreens.  If you have others, feel free to share them with your fellow members of this blog by adding to the comment section or emailing them to me at  If they are really good, I'll add them here in this article and give you full credit for your idea.


by Robby Cook Stroud

As this year of 2012 winds down, I look back in what I have accomplished.  Back in March when I jumped on board with Dr.Mel, I had no idea as to how many people that I truly adore and respect would come into my life,  From the very beginning of this journey we have worked 15 hours a day, cried, laughed, sweated bullets, bit our tongues and  every other emotion you can think of.  I wouldn’t  change a minute.  Mel and I grew as mentors to each other and  to all of you who believe in us.  I want to thank every one of you for being  in this special year in my life that I will always cherish.  And 2013 is even going to be more exciting, I can’t hardly wait to see what it holds for all of us.  I have a new lease on life, and I am going to make the most of it.  Happy New Year to all of my family and friends.  Love  Rockyn


Over the last several weeks I have introduced you to Gypsy Elise and the Royal Blues.  They are awesome and I love their music.  In fact, this is the band that did the original first soundtrack for The Keystroke Killer which is available for sale.  Another bit of good news is the fact that both Gypsy and I celebrate original music and musicians.  There isn't a day that goes by that music doesn't impact either one of us.  Now, in support of all musicians, single, duets, and bands, of all kinds, you can have the opportunity to have your music played on Gypsy Free Radio.

That's right.  Gypsy has created a Internet radio station featuring new and established artists to get their music out to the world.  The radio station features all of the original music by Gypsy Elise and the Royal Blues as well as ten other albums and new bands.  If you are an musician and want a to have your music added to Gypsy Free Radio, send your original music in a mp3 file and your liner notes to:  To listen to the station while you are reading this blog (HINT HINT) click here.  Happy listening and happy reading of Dr. Mel's Message



We also have a specialty casting need for a mother daughter team.  The daughter needs to be in their early twenties and the mother in her late forties.  They will not be playing a mother/daughter team, but, the daughter will be playing the mother at an earlier age.

If you are interested in being represented by LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP visit our webpage at and complete the ACTOR'S SUBMISSION FORM.  One of our agents will review your application and get back to you.  For more information call 504-301-8000.


It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our spotlight actor of the week, JERRY LOPEZ JR.  Jerry was our very first actor that we signed with our agency and has been with us since the beginning.  CONGRATULATIONS JERRY!  We love you.


Jerry is a very deep actor who can bring strong emotions into his character portrayals.  He has the ability to bring a viewer to a full circle with his comedic timing to his dramatic flare.  A true undiscovered talent.  Jerry is most known for his role as Ray Roche in Subrosan, and Andre in the film Rugaru.

Market:  Nationwide RepresentationC
CATEGORY:  Film, Television, and Commercials

Prinicipal, supporting, day player roles in film and television.  Will consider web-series if the role brings a dramatic flare and artistic challenge.  Also, available for commercial and industrial projects.  NO NUDITY.  NO BACKGROUND WORK.

Now take a look at a picture from the past.  This picture was taken the very first time Robby and I met Jerry at a fundraiser given by Gypsy Elise.  Who would have thought, less than eight months later, we would be Jerry's talent agents.  Geaux Jerry.  .


This last year as been so much fun and rewarding.  Robby and I have met hundreds of people who we have grown to love and adore.  Since this is the last blog of the year, I thought I'd post pictures we have taken throughout our journey.  Just look at the family here at KSK AND LACA NOLA.