Hollywood South is hoppin’. Movies starring Will Smith, Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Charlize Theron, Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage and many more fill Louisiana’s production calendar and the hit TV show, American Horror Story: Coven has set up shop here as well. What a perfect time for the 5th annual Film Industry Expo in New Orleans. As a first time attendee and one of the “The Acting Studio Presents…” guest speakers, I got to attend the event on both sides of the podium.
The Expo provided seminars on financing, marketing, social media for filmmakers, securing distribution for films and many more topics with top producers, directors and “money people.” There were even more seminars for actors. Many provided opportunities for actors to hear direct feedback from agents and casting directors – both local and from Los Angeles. I met a few actors who were signed by agents on the spot! And, of course, there was the “The Acting Studio Presents…” speakers series with Treme’s Lance Nichols, Jerry Katz (protégé of Ivana Chubbuck – acting coach to the stars (and me!)) and TEDTalk speaker Dr. Tina. There was also a giant room of vendors catering to our community.
I was thrilled to find my seminar sold out nearly a week in advance! I covered standing out at an audition, knowing what you’re selling and behaving like a pro on set – drawing heavily from my book (shameless plug) Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career with foreword by Richard Dreyfuss and endorsements from Kevin Costner, Lou Diamond Phillips and a dozen top producers, directors, agents and casting directors. For those who’d like to see some of the showbiz tips I shared, I will be posting short videos soon. In the meantime, you can check out the VIDEOS I made after my workshop at the Louisiana International Film Festival including tips on acting, auditioning, networking and working on a set. (Subscribe to be notified of the next videos).
The best thing about the Expo was having so much of our local film community under one roof. Expo founder and Executive Director of New Orleans Actors Resource Center, Shanda Quintal has done an excellent job of creating a one-day one-stop networking and resource center for local actors, screenwriters, producers and directors. I met people who’d come in from Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, New York and I ran into friends and colleagues from my old stomping grounds, Los Angeles.
Entertainment is a fickle business and one day this flood of filmmaking will slow. Until then, I’m grateful for the community we’ve built in this state. If I could have been 2 places – the New Orleans National Beard and Moustache Championship and parade were taking place just outside our venue. There were men with highly-sculpted facial hair and ZZ Top inspired growth all throughout the city all weekend. Only in NOLA.