Last week I shared screenwriting advice. Today I’m excited to share acting advice from actors whose abilities have been confirmed by their film festival awards. Learn camera tricks from Jenn Gotzon, tips for newbies with Courtney Lee Simpson, Venus Monique, and Patricia Binkley, focus techniques from Rhonda Oliver, and finding your identity with Garry Nation.
We’re at the halfway mark now. We’ve filmed all the Adult Rachel and Adult Mitchell scenes, a few Teen Rachel scenes and a few Young Rachel scenes. It’s been some pretty busy weekends made more complicated by the fact that I had a brilliant idea to tweak the script a bit and give it a new twist. Which is great, except it meant squeezing in extra scenes this past weekend. But we got it done, and they turned out great!
Day 5 consisted completely of Teen Rachel scenes at her home. We were all amazed when Teen Rachel actress Stacey Bradshaw arrived on set and she looked even more like Adult Rachel actress Juli Tapken then we’d realized. They even had many of the same mannerisms.
Friday, Day 6, was our most intense filming day yet. It consisted of all of the scenes with Adult Rachel and her mom Edith. Edith is without a doubt the most intense character in the movie. She is the only character who is played by the same actor throughout the movie. Which means that actress Irene Santiago plays a young mom in the 70’s for the Young Rachel scenes, 80’s mom in the Teen Rachel scenes, and elderly mom in the Adult Rachel scenes. Not only that, but in the later scenes, she plays a stroke victim.
We had no idea how it would work having one actress playing such a range but with Irene’s incredible talent enhanced by the makeup artistry of Jennifer Whitus, the transformation was completely believable.
After the intensely raw Rachel/Edith scenes it was nice have some fun date and wedding scenes in the afternoon.
After a full day of filming we relaxed by watching Flowers for Fannie with Irene and Rich. They especially enjoyed the scenes with the actors like Rob Wilds, Patricia Binkley, and Brittany Herd who are also in Providence.
The evening was topped off with texts from Jenn Gotzon letting us know that The Good Book won Most Uplifting Feature at International Christian Film Festival and Irene’s film Adrenaline won Best Director.
Although filming officially ended on Saturday, the fun continued on Sunday with Irene and Rich joining us for church then Rich performing his powerful one-man show at our church on Sunday night. Wow! What incredible talent as he transformed into numerous Biblical characters.
We concluded the fun filled evening by watching Adrenaline.
Just one day of filming this week then we take a short break to celebrate our daughter’s birthday and graduation from college as well as to attend the Aletheia Truth Awards Ceremony. When we return, we’ll be doing the teen scenes when Rachel and Mitchell first fall in love.
I remember a number of years ago we were watching Doc on TV and Brittany pointed out that all the actors were wearing blue. We started observing and realized that they were always color coordinated. So we wondered, is this something that was done on purpose? That simple observation led to research on color schemes in movies and television and how color affects the overall look of the movie. I find the subject extremely fascinating and now use color very purposely in our movies. In Flowers for Fannie, Fannie wore black or dark colors until the end when she softened and began adding color to her wardrobe. Louise wore florals or happy colors and prints. The other characters wore bright colors.
In the past six months The Good Book movie has received sixteen film festival accolades. The most recent recognition, the “Film Innovation Award” from Churches Making Movies, was a special award created specifically for The Good Book movie for its innovative approach to sharing the gospel without words. Other festival accolades include “Best Inspirational Film” at Holywood Christian Film Festival, “Best Feature” and “Best Female Director” at GloryReelz Christian Film Festival, “Best Faith Film Runner Up” at Mount Dora Family Film Festival, and nomination for the prestigious “Best Mission” Stellae Award at Pan Pacific Film Festival.
“Only the Word of God could move people to tears without ever uttering a sound,” says Minister Sheri Brooks, director of GloryReelz Christian Film Festival. “The Good Book is a remarkable film that engages and edifies. Astoundingly unique, incredibly moving!”
“Most people don’t have a clue what to expect,” says writer/director Sharon Wilharm. “They think it’s going to be like the old silent films with melodramatic action and title screens. They’re pleasantly surprised to discover it’s more of an hour long music video. Perhaps the comment we hear the most from audiences has been, ‘I didn’t know what to expect, but it far exceeded my expectations.’”
Michelle Danko of Faith Filled Family magazine says, “The film was unlike ANY movie I have ever seen. It was amazing! I would give this movie a perfect score, ten out of ten.”
Starring Jenn Gotzon, Evan Fielding, Apolonia Davalos, BK Bomar, Amanda Pentecost, Rebecca Lines, and Josh Childs, The Good Book tells the story of a small Bible that is passed along to fourteen strangers, impacting the lives of seven of those individuals. It’s told without dialogue, using only dramatic action and a dynamic soundtrack. The movie concludes with testimonies from a Bible smuggler and a convicted murderer whose lives were impacted by a Bible.
The Good Book also screened at International Christian Film Festival, Poconos Mountains Film Festival, Bedias, Texas, Christian Film Festival, Faith and Family Films, Christian Film Festival – Indianapolis, Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival, Louisville’s International Festival of Film, and the I Will Tell NdinadZawapanga International Film Festival.
The Good Book is the fifth feature film for Mainstreet Productions. Their last movie, Flowers for Fannie, is currently available in Christian stores as well as iTunes, Google Play, Christian Cinema and other online retailers. The Good Book is being distributed by Bridgestone Media Group and will be released nationwide in January 2015.
For more information, visit the website at www.goodbookmovie.com.
Red Carpet Premiere. It sounds so glamorous and exciting, something that most people only read about and never actually attend. But then I started noticing smaller filmmakers hosting red carpet events and I decided if they could do it, so could we. So at the completion of Flowers for Fannie, we decided to make our cast and crew screening a red carpet event. Only what did that involve? I began asking around, interviewing actors and filmmakers and discovered it wasn’t nearly as mysterious as I thought. In fact, it was something that could be done on a limited budget by any filmmaker.
Jonathan Everett is a talented actor who plays a wide range of roles. In Flowers for Fannie, he played the greedy nephew of Fannie. In Johnny Dynamo he’s the comedic member of the entertainment trio. Other roles have included a cook and even a drug dealer.
When did you first develop an interest in acting?
In high school, freshman year, when I took Theatre Arts as one of my elective classes. Up until that point, I had no real interest in acting because I was incredibly shy and not very outgoing or outspoken. I kept to myself most of the time, but my teacher and classmates helped me feel comfortable enough to let my guard down. It still took years for me to dare consider acting as a possible career, but my interest was forever piqued.
Tell us about your acting training.
When I first decided to get into acting seriously, I didn’t have any substantial training. I had taken Theatre Arts in high school and Stage Combat in college, but I hadn’t yet performed in any productions or studied further. In the summer of 2012, Chambers Stevens called me and invited me to attend his boot camp style class in L.A. I made the commitment and flew out there to train personally under Chambers with a handful of other remarkable actors. It was a three day intensive — and it was, truly, intense. We spent hours each day learning and performing new scripts, receiving very honest feedback. Chambers really challenged me to elevate not only my craft, but also what I should expect out of myself each and every time I perform.
More recently, I trained with Steve Flanigan in The Actor’s Workshop. It was a great, weekly class that helped me hone my audition skills further. Steve’s class was a new experience for me, as it was my first time actually training on-camera so that I could better understand what I needed to work on. We had a lot of fun with that!
What was your first film role?
My first film role was right after returning from training in L.A., and not quite what I expected. It was a small speaking role, with a little room for ad lib, in a film called Redemption, by Willing Hearts Productions. I played the part of a cook on his lunch break, alongside fellow Flowers for Fannie cast member, David Baker. Sadly, I think the project was shelved during post-production. I’m hoping it’ll be finished one day — I’d love to see how my first scene ever filmed turned out.
What was it like playing a character totally unlike yourself in Flowers for Fannie?
Playing Gordon was a strange experience, in some ways. Whenever I come to a new role, I look at the character and ask myself, “How can I relate to this guy?” With Gordon, I had some trouble figuring that out. He’s a manipulative, rude, and downright mean guy, but at the core of all that, there’s just selfishness. Gordon’s just looking out for Gordon, and nobody else really matters. So, that’s what I tapped into in myself. Everything I did in character was pretty much the opposite of what I’d really be inclined to do or say. It was sometimes hard to remember that I wasn’t really offending my co-stars. At the same time, it was actually strangely cathartic and a learning experience.
Tell us about Johnny Dynamo and your role in it.
“Johnny Dynamo” is a brilliantly produced new web series by the folks over at Left Brain Digital. The story centers around a washed-up action hero who gets a second chance at his career when three young entertainment upstarts show up at his door. My character, Jack Meredith, is a part of that trio, along with Ira Stein and Hannah Motlow. He’s an incredibly fun character to play, because he’s so well-layered. When Jack is first introduced, it seems as though he’s just there for a comedic foil to his partners — and he is that — but, as season one unfolds…Well, I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t watched yet. Suffice it to say, I had a great time filming the first season.
The series features a number of other great actors from around Nashville, and the production value and writing are top notch. All the episodes that have been released so far are available at http://www.johnnydynamo.com. I’m incredibly blessed to have been a part of it.
What’s the biggest challenge with doing a weekly series?
The biggest challenge of doing a series, from the perspective of an actor with a day job, is trying to get everything scheduled. When you’ve got so many different people involved, both cast and crew, trying to find a time where everybody can be there to film is rough. I know that Joe, Raquel, and everyone else in production put a lot of effort into that, and they did a fantastic job. Other than that, the only real challenge for me was keeping my hair relatively the same from shoot to shoot. I think my hair was a different length for every episode, but our stylist is so good, you’d probably never know.
What would be your dream acting role?
Spider-Man! Or the Flash!? Or maybe a villain, like Deathstroke or Mr. Sinister…Seriously, though, any chance I get to pay homage to the characters I grew up reading and dreaming about would thrill me to the core. I’ll be a comic book nerd til I expire!
What are your aspirations for the future?
I’d like to continue taking my acting career to new heights, and I’m considering pursuing fitness modeling in some way in the near future. Ultimately, I’d like to move my career to L.A. I thoroughly enjoy that city and can’t wait to go back someday.
Amelia Mann is a high school teen who divides her time between school, dance, and film acting. Her film credits include Flowers for Fannie, Season of Miracles, The Good Book, and The Gospel Writers’ Autographs.
What was your first film role? The first film I did was Calling all Zeros.
What faith-based films have you been involved in? The faith based films I have done have been Flowers for Fannie, Season of Miracles, The Good Book, and The Gospel Writer’s Autographs.
What was it like playing a teen mom in The Good Book? Playing a teen mom was really hard because it brought back many memories about what I was told about my being adopted. I really felt I did connect with the role, although my birth mom was not a teen, but I know what it is like to be adopted to a good family that loves you and cares what happens to you and tries to give you a good life.
What is your favorite aspect of film acting? What I like about film acting is that you can be many different characters and have many different dialogues and scenes. Also, at times we get to travel to other locations.
What would be your dream acting role? My dream role would be getting to be the voice of Winnie the Pooh, because if you really know me, you know I love my Pooh Bear and still sleep with him at night.
What do you do when you’re not acting? When I am not acting, I am in dance classes. I dance 4 nights a week. I am in dance troupe, and Dance Company. I also am an assistant teacher in a little ballet class at my studio.
What are your plans for the future? I plan on going to WKU and majoring in Dance and minor in Theatre/Acting. I hope it is more acting/film but don’t know if they do anything other than musical theatre there. I want to improve my acting and dancing.
Anything else? I hope you write many more movies that we have a chance to do because I really enjoyed working with you.
What films have you been a part of?
What is your favorite part of working on a set?
What led to your interest in lighting?
What a great time we had at the ICRS in St. Louis this week! I’ll be posting video interviews for the next couple of weeks, but wanted to give a brief introduction to all that we saw and did.
When did you first discover acting?
I first started acting in church and youth programs when I was about 5 years old doing plays and Biblical drama skits. I also started performing with our church youth group involving interpretive movement/dance. At the same time, our church opened up for puppeteers in which we acted out performances using character puppets. Later, I became involved in school and community dramas and enjoyed finding my character in whatever role that came available for me.
Which came first – modeling or acting?
Acting was my first involvement. I always wanted to do modeling, but my primary focus, when I was younger, was acting and portraying different characters. At times, I would stand in front of the mirror and pretend I was in a movie and would act out what and/or who I thought my character would be. I always knew I wanted to model. I would prance around in the house in my mom’s high heels and steal her makeup. By the time I was all dressed up, I would yell out, “Get your camera ready. Here I come!” And out of the bedroom I would come, just posing, waving, and smiling. I craved the camera. But, I would have to say that acting was my first preference.
How did you get into film acting?
When I was 11 years old, I joined an acting/modeling team which helped me to learn more about modeling/acting, monologues, cold readings and character beings. The more I learned, I found I wanted to do more and more acting. I signed up for just about any workshop available that would help me to grow and challenge myself to become a better actress. I still have a lot of room to grow in this industry. I have worked with some great directors and producers and look forward to my future jobs that become available to help me continue learning all I can to further my progress.
Which do you prefer, modeling or acting?
That is a tough question. I enjoy both so much. I have met and worked with so many wonderful people and have made so many friends that I could not put a preference on either position. Without either of these careers, I would have missed out on a lot of blessed people and role models in my life. I look forward to growth in both fields in my future career.
What faith-based films have you been a part of?
“Acts of God”, “The Song”, and “Flowers for Fannie”.
What other films have you been in?
“Lane and Russell”, “Split”, and “11 Seconds”.
What type of character do you enjoy playing?
As of right now, I consider myself more of an “Explorer” type of character. I enjoy the strategy of experiencing different but mostly challenging roles, but I find my best character as edgy, cocky or witty.
What has been your most memorable role?
When I played an orphan in the upcoming film “Acts of God”.
Tell us about your modeling/acting workshops?
Workshops have been very helpful to me in many ways. They have helped by building my skills, confidence, and have brought me out of a “shell” that I did not realize that I had drown myself in. They have also helped me to know how to reflect the character I am portraying. Because a lot of people, young and old, do not get or do not know how to step into these opportunities, I enjoy meeting with them and informing them a little on the “how to” about modeling and acting. I get to share my experiences and offer support to those who have the ability but not the resources.
Any upcoming movies?
I have a supporting role in an upcoming film which is to begin filming in the fall. I am praying and hoping this is a first of many for me. I look forward to what lies ahead.
What are your filmmaking goals for the future?
My plans for my future is to enroll into a theatre art program to help me continue to grow with my acting abilities to become a great actress.
At the age of 13, I have had people ask me about what motivated me at such a young age. Support. Not just family support, but support from my church, friends, community, my teachers at school, the many directors, producers, my management team plus many more. It has been a wonderful experience for me.