Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – Sierra Katow

Photo credit - Saad Amer.
Photo credit – Saad Amer.

I’m so sad to see this year’s comedy showcase come to an end; but all good things must come to an end. We will end the week with a bang by “passing the mic” to a newcomer to the comedy scene, current Harvard student Sierra Katow.

 

Thank you Sierra for your contribution to our blog this week.  I want to begin by first asking what do you think is the hardest part about being a female comedian?

 

When I first started, I always looked very different from all the other comics at open mics: 5’ tall, girl, Asian, teenager. People tended to remember if they’d met me before, so it felt easier to make an impression. However, as I became more serious about comedy, I realize now that it’s limiting and hard as hell to be a woman in the comedy world. There are so many men in comedy that it feels like it’s their place and when you look around in a room full of comics and don’t see anyone who could be you, it seems like you don’t belong. This is, of course, all bogus. I think one of my biggest challenges has been getting over that intimidation and realizing that I can hold my own as a comic. There are always small comments that I have to ignore, but I think there is so much happening for everyone in comedy now and seeing people like Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings really make an impact on the comedy world makes it feel possible!

 

How do you come up with material?

 

I’m still figuring out the best way to come up with material and write comedy. I keep notes on my phone and make sure to record ideas whenever I can, which is a tactic a lot of comedians swear by. Then, I’ll try to sit down and form actual jokes from the sporadic ideas. Sometimes I’ll keep my phone by my bed and actually wake up to find that I wrote really strange ideas down. One note just says “Bbertha” (yes, that’s not a typo) and I still can’t figure out to this day what I meant by that. I still just have a lot of gibberish saved on my phone that haven’t yet turned into jokes but hopefully someday I’ll be able to use them!

 

What career aspirations with comedy do you have -stand-up only or film and television too?

 

I really love performing stand-up, so I want to continue with it and go as far as I can. I’d certainly love to explore film and television. I really haven’t done anything with either film or tv outside of stand-up related television type things, but I’m open to anything. I’d also like to keep writing comedy in some form, even if it’s just for myself.

 

What advice do you have or those who are considering a career in comedy?

 

I’d say go for it if it’s what you love. It can be terrifying, and I’m currently in college, so I still haven’t begun to really feel what it means to do it full-time. It took me awhile to convince myself to go for it. Nearly everyone I go to school with will have a nice job, working somewhere that pays a regular salary, so it often feels like I must be doing something wrong by turning down stability for telling jokes. But I would tell anyone who wants to do it to just get started right away. Open mics are readily available for anyone who is willing and even just writing funny things on Twitter or in a blog, no matter who is reading, is a great way to start. Of course, it’s important to watch all sorts of comedy because laughing often makes me more motivated to turn around and make others laugh! Also, the comedy world seems to be constantly changing and advice can get outdated fast, so take mine with a grain of salt!


 

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Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – Comedian EB4Real

EB4Real

 

 

 

 

There is so much to choose from on television and the big screen that I am often times overwhelmed by what to watch. I usually opt for dramatic or adventurous shows and I have my favorite dramatic actors and actresses that I love to watch. I’m usually so wrapped up in looking for a great drama that I forget about how important comedy is to television and film. Comedians play an integral role in making us laugh whether they are on stage, on television, or in a motion picture. Continuing this week’s comedy showcase, we are going to ‘turn the mic over to’ a rising star in comedy – EB4Real to tell us more about his career as a comedian.

About me. . .

‘Hi Reel Focus readers. My name is Eric Brown but I go by the stage name EB4REAL. I was born and raised in San Diego, California and as far back as I can remember I have always been funny – if I must say so myself.  To be precise, I have to say that I became interested in making people laugh around 12 years old. I would play this game with my friends that we over here on the West Coast call “snappin’ in the street.” For those that don’t know what this is, snappin’ is when you go back and forth ‘snappin’ on your friends, finding things about them to joke about – their clothes, their looks, their hair. We also would play a game called “playin’ the round table” which is roasting game similar to ‘snappin.’ Aside from these games I played with my friends, I used to go to school and amuse my school friends with my jokes. I was quick-witted and when my teachers said something to me, I would have a hilarious comeback that would often amuse my friends and annoy my teachers. So as you can guess, I was a class clown in school. I am a natural born jokester and I recall when I was 18, my girlfriend Carmen – now my wife – couldn’t stop laughing at me and asked “How many jokes do you have?” My response to her was “I have a million of ‘em'”and they still haven’t stopped coming out.

How I got my start. . .

Fifteen years ago, I decided to take this natural gift to make people laugh and turn it into a profession. I wasn’t someone who kept up with the comedy scene or with who the famous comedians were; but, I knew deep down inside that I was a comedian and I wanted to share my talent with the world. At that time, I did my first 3 minute open mic at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, California. I admit that I waited impatiently outside for 3 hours to make my debut but when I finally hit the stage, it was a fun experience that I have cherished ever since. I would say that this first open mic was when my professional career as a comedian began. That first open mic is behind me now, but since that first audition, I started to write and work on more material once my son was school aged.

My Style. . .

My style of comedy is what I would call down home comedy – I observe people and things in everyday life and joke about it. My comedy is mature and meant for a sophisticated audience. I admit, being a comedian is not an easy profession. I often find that my biggest challenges are that there are too many cliques and not enough support to help me grow and develop my talent. The industry is very subjective but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing my passion.

My career aspiration. . .

There are many levels of performing stand-up comedy and it’s just about getting regular stage time for an audience who appreciates my brand. I am a big fan of Tyler Perry’s productions because he offers opportunity for exposure. In the future, I would like to explore a role in a romantic comedy either on television or on film.

My Advice to aspiring comedians. . .

DON’T DO IT!!!! (laugh) Just kidding but this is a difficult profession and if you’re going to pursue comedy as a profession then my advice is to get into the industry be serious about it. Don’t do it just because you enjoy watching comedy. That doesn’t mean you belong on stage. This is my passion, my way of life and the reason I wake up every day and keep pursuing it. I enjoy making people laugh and if you want to survive in this industry, you should too.

 

For more information on EB4reel, visit www.eb4real.com.


 

 

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Reel Focus Comedy Showcase 2015 – The Improv Atlanta

The Improv Stage
Photo courtesy of The Improv Atlanta

 

Comedy has been a significant part of acting and theater since the ancient Athenians.  They often performed on stage using two types of masks to convey human emotion:  tragedy andcomedy tragedy mask comedy.   This week, Reel Focus will highlight comedy in its second annual comedy showcase.  We will feature The Improv Atlanta comedy club, comedian Eric Brown (a.k.a. EB4real), and comedienne, Sierra Katow.

The Improv is more than just a comedy club; it is a household name in the world of comedy.  Some of the most famous comedians we know today got their start or became a well-known act by performing on its stage.  Here to tell us more about The Improv comedy club located in Atlanta, Georgia is Stephen de Haan, President of Andrews Entertainment District.

Stephen, thank you for sharing this information with our readers.  First, tell us this comedy club’s connection to television and/or film, past or present. 

Budd Friendman
Photo of founder Budd Friedman courtesy of The Improv Atlanta

The Improv was founded 50 years ago in New York City by Budd Friedman.  Throughout that time, The Improv has been a proving ground for talent not only with its own TV program An Evening at The Improv on A&E, but also with original Improv staff members moving into film & TV, with one later becoming the head of HBO.

Who are some well-known guests that have made appearances or have gotten their start with The Improv

The Improv has always been where great comedians get their start.  Jay Leno, used to drive in from New Jersey hoping to get stage time at the Improv.  Others famous comedians who started at The Improv include Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Andy Kaufman just to name a few.  Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Marlon Wayans and George Wallace in May for five shows and greats like Jim Breuer and Kevin Nealon booked for later this year.

George Wallace
Photo of George Wallace courtesy of The Improv Atlanta

How does The Improv compare to other local comedy clubs in Atlanta? 

The Improv is truly a national comedy brand with 24 US locations all striving to provide the best comedy experience available.  That goes from the amazing national headlining comedians that we fly in, to the large variety of food and beverage offerings, to the quality of the showrooms themselves.  We still make a poignant effort to support the local comedy community such as working in tandem with Laughing Skull Lounge to host the finals of their annual comedy festival.

How is The Improv preparing aspiring local Atlanta comedians for stardom? 

Performing at The Improv is a huge milestone in the career of a successful comedian. We offer open mic nights on Wednesdays as well as eight week stand up comedy class taught by nationally acclaimed comedian Josh Harris from NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity. Both opportunities help boost public speaking skills, become a funnier more confident person and strive to be a professional com

Marlon Wayans
Photo of Marlon Wayans courtesy of ChuckyFoto.

edian. The Improv hopes to continue to give upcoming comics a fantastic platform to hone their craft and deliver amazing laughs to our crowd.

 

For more information about The Improv Atlanta, visit www.theimprovatlanta.com.

 

 


 

 

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CBS Presents the 69th Annual Tony Awards

Tony Vertical

 

CBS will be hosting another enchanting evening of the Tony Awards – its 69th enchanting evening to be precise.  The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre ceremony, better known as the Tony Award ceremony, will attract thousands of prestigious Broadway stars to Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015.

The ceremony will begin with the Red Carpet show – the first-ever in Tony Award history – and will feature hosts Darren Criss and Laura Osnes.

Laura
Courtesy of www.tonyawards.com

The Tony Awards ceremony will be hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.  Guest appearances will include Bradley Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parsons, Kiefer Sutherland,  Sutton Foster, Taye Diggs, and Taylor Schilling to name a few.

There will also be a simulcast of the Tony Awards on Clear Channel live from Times Square featuring hosts recording artist, Deborah Cox and former American Idol and film star, Justin Guarini.

Debra Cox
Photo of Deborah Cox courtesy of http://huff.to/1SGN25s

 

Justin Guarini
Photo of Justin Guarini courtesy of http://imdb.to/1FemSwQ

 

A few of the nominees and categories included will be:

Best Choreography

Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Christopher Gattelli, The King and I
Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Geneva Carr, Hand to God
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Ruth Wilson, Constellations

Best Play

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Disgraced
Hand to God
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Best Direction of a Play

Stephen Daldry, Skylight
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God

Best Musical

An American in Paris
Fun Home
Something Rotten!
The Visit

 

The show starts at 8:00 pm eastern time.

 

A walk down the Tony Award’s memory lane. . .

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) – Tony Award Winner for Best Play

 

 


 

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Lorielle Broussard On the State of Film in Atlanta

Lorielle Broussard

Revenue for film began to grow here in Georgia as early as 1972. As film began to generate a substantial amount of revenue – former Governor Sonny Purdue – revised the House Bill 610 (originally passed by Governor Roy Barnes) incorporating the revised Entertainment Industry Investment Act that we now have today. After that act was passed, Georgia began to change the game in the world of film. From being one of several top contenders vying for a number one spot outside of California and New York for film, it has outpaced the competition and is leading the way amassing over 5.1 billion in the last fiscal year alone.

Film is big Georgia business but as of 2013, it has become big Atlanta business. In order to step up efforts for film in the City of Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed called upon the expertise of LaRhonda Sutton, Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Entertainment, “to support the city’s rapidly expanding film industry.” This week, one of her dynamic team members, Lorielle Broussard – Marketing & Communications Manager – will share with Reel Focus readers what is going on in film with the City of Atlanta and how this office will help usher in developments in this industry.

Lorielle, it is an honor to have you on Reel Focus blog speaking to readers about the exciting things taking place in film in Atlanta. Tell our readers about how the office was started and what its vision is.

The Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment was started in July 2013 to provide a one-stop-shop for productions interested in filming in Atlanta. Our office acts as a facilitator for productions to usher them through the city of Atlanta offices that they need to go through in order to make their projects happen. In doing this, it was created to streamline the permitting system for film and TV productions, assist with facilitating employment of local talent, create production-related educational and training opportunities, and work with community leaders to safeguard the interests of residents and businesses affected by film productions.

Georgia has several cities within it, vying to be the film capital within Georgia. Does Atlanta plan to become the premier place for film in Georgia and if so, what initiative is it taking to become as popular for filming as Fayetteville, or Senoia, or Covington.

As of right now, 75 – 80% of filming already happens in the city of Atlanta but part of the vision for this office is for Atlanta to be the cultural, economic and entertainment center of the Southeast, the nation and then the world. I think several of the new developments that are creating connectivity and walkability within the city of Atlanta like the new streetcar, the beltline, redevelopment of the Underground, the new stadium, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, Buckhead Atlanta, etc. are really making Atlanta the place to film in Georgia. I think one of the major attractions to film in Atlanta is that there are several locations within the city that can look like any other city in the world, which is a huge draw for productions and producers.

As we all know, Georgia is growing rapidly in film. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development website, television, film, music, and gaming and digital media are attracting many to Georgia, generating 5.1 billion dollars in FY 2014. Tell us how much of this can be attributed to the city of Atlanta and how the Atlanta Office of Entertainment plans to become an even more substantial part of Georgia’s earnings in this fiscal year.

I know that we had a hand in the increase in the revenue generated for the city and the state. We do provide all of the permits for every production that films on public property in the City of Atlanta. In FY14, the revenue generated from permitting was at about $494,070.00 and since filming is tripling this year in Georgia, I know that there will be a significant increase in the amount generated from permitting for FY15.

 

 


 

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An “Empire” of Her Own

Attica's Photo
Photo courtesy of Jenny Walters

I’m sure most of you have heard of the new hit series on Fox called Empire and you may be familiar with some of its characters – Lucious, Cookie, Jamal, Andre, and Hakeem. But one person you may not be familiar with is Attica Locke. Lucious and Cookie may be the face of the hit series but Attica is one of writers for the series. This week, Reel Focus will explore one of the geniuses behind this phenomenal new series and will focus on how she built an “Empire” of her own.

Attica thank you so much for talking to our Reel Focus readers. We all of course are excited about your recent success with the new show but I want us all to go back down memory lane and get to know Attica Locke. How did your writing career begin?

AL:  I have always been writing, even as a child. But somewhere around high school, when I saw Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, something clicked inside me and I wanted to be involved in film. I started writing scripts. I went to film school at Northwestern University in Chicago and then moved to LA as soon as I graduated. I wrote scripts exclusively at that time, but I was only thinking of them in terms of being a path to directing. I wasPleasantville a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab and came out of that with a movie deal, which collapsed shortly after. It broke my heart. I was 25 years old. I knew I could write but was not certain at that time that I would ever get my own movie made, or that Hollywood was interested in my kind of black stories. So I became a studio screenwriter. I made a lot of money writing scripts for every major studio. I did it for years, but nothing ever got made. I grew bored and disenchanted and decided to write a book. That was three books ago.

What is life like for you outside of Hollywood?

I am someone’s mother. So that’s mostly my life outside of Hollywood. Soccer games and play dates. And I read A LOT.TheCuttingSeason

I myself am a book writer and screenwriter and so I’m going to ask this question on behalf of me and other fellow novelist and screenwriters. How did you make the successful transition from a book writer to a screenwriter and what advice can you give to the ladies of Women in Film and Television Atlanta?

 As you see above, I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist. I came back to Hollywood because TV has gotten really interesting over the last decade or so. All the stuff I was doing as a feature writer – character dramas, political thrillers, etc. – has all moved to television. It’s hard to live off book money in Los Angeles, so I went to my agents and said I wanted to exploreBlackWaterRising TV. I went in with an idea for my own show, but I also told them I’d like to look at the pilots that were going to series, and I wanted to take meetings. I had never done TV, so I was stepping waaayyyy outside my comfort zone. But I kept saying to myself, almost like a mantra, “I’m willing to be uncomfortable.” When I read the script for Empire, I knew I wanted to be part of it from the first page. It took a lot of meetings, but then I got the job!

My best advice is always to write, write, write, and be willing to stretch yourself. Reach high and stay ambitious. And believe in the power of your own voice.

 

Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for. Let’s talk – brag about your involvement with Empire. According to IMDB, you have co-produced 11 of the episodes of the first season and have written one: “Our Dancing Days.” I will let you share what you like to about this episode or about the show in general.

I love the show because it’s so fresh, so unprecedented. I’ve never seen these characters on TV before. I’ve never seen a Cookie on TV, though I’ve known them in my real life. I’ve never seen a Jamal on TV before, though I know young men like him in my real life. It’s all a breath of fresh air. And I love the fact that the show lives in a kind of high, low place. We do big soap opera turns and crazy plot twists, but we also deal with social issues like homophobia, mental health, race, and class. My favorite part of the episode I wrote was when Cookie took over the stage and gave the speech to investors in Lucious’s place. It was pure Cookie.

 

 

For more information on Attica Locke visit http://www.atticalocke.com

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So You Wanna Be an Indie Producer?

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Photo courtesy of Alex Orr

 

 

About a week ago, I – as did other WIFTA members and non-members alike – had the opportunity to listen to the zany presentation by Alex Orr. He filled the room with laughter about making it in independent film but his topic was no laughing matter.  Despite the humorous comments, Alex was spot on when it came to educating the audience about the ins-and-outs of being an Indie producer. One of the first most memorable statements that he made about being a filmaker in general is:

“You do what you want and you don’t have anyone telling you what to do”

From there, he went on to explain some not so positive sides of producing Indie films but still critical to the role. “An Indie film producer wears many hats and may have to perform most if not all of the jobs that may be delegated to others for big budget films.” As he made this statement, he then pulled up a sample film budget, complete with all the detailed line items from a big budget film. This was followed by his reasoning for why most of these things are NOT NEEDED by and Indie producer.

Lecture Photo
Event photo taken by Mel

“Minimal location changes and few scene changes in your film can take costs down tremendously,” said Alex. Many blockbuster films like James Bond films and Fast and Furious films have countless scene changes but these scene changes can drive up costs. Another significant point that Alex made is “if you wait on financing for your film, you will never get it made. Set a date and move forward with what you have.” Many have a tendency to go into analysis paralysis especially when analyzing budgets but going with the flow and not waiting on everything to fall into place is the way to go, according to Alex. “Get friends and family involved in order to keep down the costs of the film but compensate them with things such as providing meals,” Alex pointed out.

As Alex continued down the list, striking out a host of irrelevant line items for Indie producers, he responded to someone’s question about cameras to use. He mentioned the Arie Alexa camera as the one he often uses but he also shocked us when he told us that an Apple iPhone can be used. “With a zoom nearby you can sync the sound while you capture the image and cut it in editing software like iMovie,” explained Alex.

Alex ended the night by reminding us about how short an Indie budget should be. “While a big film budget will be generally 44 pages, Indie budget should be somewhere around 4.” He also reminded us that legal fees is one of those things that can be striked from the list of things needed in the budget; however, Indie film producers should make some serious considerations with regard to payroll or this could result in unwanted legal action. The audience digressed into this topic of payroll in film. One important point that was made is that it is important for an Indie producer to decide whether to use a payroll company to pay crew as independent contractors or to pay crews as employees using a 1099. Interchanging the two inadvertently can result in actions taken by the Department of Labor. This can be a really sticky issue as one audience member pointed out from her experience.

We ended the night on a great note. Alex took some questions from individual audience members and the remaining lingering audience members mingled. Those who were leaving also enjoyed a great treat, courtesy of WIFTA, from a place called Vintage Frozen Custard. Mmm. What a night filled with treats indeed – both Alex’s advice on Indie film and the custard.

 


 

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Tinashe’s World of Acting

Tinashe
Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese

 

Tinashe Kajese is no stranger to the world of acting. She is known for many acting roles on television and on stage.  Born in Zimbabwe, this sensational lady has been embracing the challenges of stage and screen for several years and she is giving back to her local community by helping others to hone their acting skills. For this Reel Focus blog, we will explore Tinashe’s world, both on and off stage.

Tinashe, for those of our readers who are not familiar with who you are in the world of acting and entertainment, tell us the roles that you have played in film and/or on television.

I would say the majority of my television work has been in the form of National Commercials like McDonalds, Homegoods, Hilshire Farms, Ford, and many variations of banks!! People may have also caught a glimpse of me in the HBO show ENLIGHTENED or on CBS’ Cold Case.

What brought you to Atlanta?

My husband, Keith Arthur Bolden, was offered a professor position in the Theater Department at Spelman College just over a year ago. We have a young son and felt like there were so many exciting things happening in Atlanta not just in our industry but also culturally speaking that we decided to make the move and explore our opportunities in this up and coming market. Having lived in NYC and Los Angeles, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that Atlanta was never on our radar in terms of a career move but we have been so blessed personally and professionally I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this time in our lives.

Tell us what Tinashe’s world is like outside of the limelight.

As I mentioned, I have a 2 year old son, so motherhood is the center part of my life. I am also a certified Interior Architect Designer – I had gone back to school for my Masters so that I could fully explore my passion for design. I mostly do commercial design and some residential remodeling. Having this other outlet of artistic expression is so rewarding and I love the process of reconstructing spaces into functional works of art that can remain long after I leave.

class
Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese

Tell our readers more about your acting classes and what you do to develop talent for stage.

Theater is huge part of my background and career. I do believe that craft and talent is developed through practice and ‘exercising’ that muscle of effortless storytelling. Also, knowing how to adapt your performance for different mediums is so critical if you want to be successful in this business. There are so many classes out there that teach actors how to audition but what happens AFTER you book that role and are expected to recreate what you did 3 months ago on tape for casting? I teach a very specific technique on how to break down scripts and create the most dynamic performance which not only makes you a memorable actor but also a marketable one. Being on set can be extremely nerve racking so I give actors tools that take them from the initial audition, thru the table read and into a successful filming experience. See the link below for details.

What can be expected from you in the future?

Haverty's
Photo courtesy of Tinashe Kajese

I have a couple national commercials running for Haverty’s, a furniture store, and some projects lining up in the near future. I just finished a production of DETROIT ’67 at True Colors Theater Company and am now at the Alliance Theater in BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY alongside Atlanta’s fabulous Crystal Fox (April 15th-May 10th). The fact that I am able to still pursue my love for the theater while having the opportunity to do television and film gives me so much excitement about living here in Atlanta and what the future holds!

 

 

 

For more information about Tinashe’s acting classes, email email captivatethecamera@gmail.com


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Spelman & Morehouse College – Paving Pathways to Hollywood

2014 photo
Photo courtesy of Keith Arthur Bolden

 

There is a lot of film activity taking place in Georgia. From Vampire Diaries, Madea, Anchorman 2 to the latest edition to film and television chronicles – The Originals – Georgia is getting into the game. It’s one thing to be in the game and another thing completely to stay in the game. How does anyone sustain growth in any successful market? Well, one pertinent way is to have useful and timely information and this usually comes from education.

As Georgia continues to film on location, build new production companies and other activities related to film, it can’t forget about training locals to fill positions in the local market. Spelman and Morehouse College is doing its due diligence and helping to create future stars. This week, Reel Focus will explore Spelman and Morehouse’s contribution to film and television by speaking to Keith Arthur Bolden – Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama and Dance at Spelman College – about their theater programs.

Keith, welcome to our blog. Tell us in general, about Spelman and Morehouse Theater programs and what it provides to students.

2014-09-27 14.51.27
Photo courtesy of Keith Arthur Bolden

The Drama and Dance program at Spelman College provides students with a real world theatre experience in a liberal arts setting. A lot of people don’t know this but Morehouse doesn’t have a drama program (they do have a wonderful film and emerging media program). So the young men at Morehouse actually earn their acting chops at Spelman College. We are giving our young people a taste of everything that the art has to offer from front of house to technical aspects to actually acting in full productions. My focus since being here has been to prepare our students for graduate school if they want a future in the arts. We prepare them exceptionally well for further study as well as real world application.

How did you get involved in theater and eventually begin teaching theater?

Keith Full length
Keith Arthur Bolden

I was a freshman at Fresno State University as a journalism major. They had just recruited a young professor – Thomas Whit Ellis – to establish a black theatre program. His first production was George C. Wolfe’s, The Colored Museum. Thomas had to recruit folks for this production and he’d come to University 101 classes to do this. I auditioned and I was hooked after being cast. I had no idea what theatre was or how to achieve it. Ironically I wrote a play about the birth of Christ when I was 8 years old and I did that never having seen a play. So I guess it’s always been there, but it was never nurtured. Theatre/acting has given my life purpose. The only reason I was a journalism major was to be a film critic because I never thought that I could actually be onscreen doing what I know I loved…little did I know.

Are Spelman and Morehouse preparing students for opportunities in the local market along with opportunities in places like California and New York?

I think that we give our students some tools to make a choice about what direction they want to go in the field. But they should always know that the training never stops. Just like a doctor or lawyer, there is always studying and training to be had. Even I still get coaching some times. Some of our favorite artists still receive coaching and they should know that. I am still a working actor and have work consistently since relocating here to Atlanta. I have lived in New York and Los Angeles and I am very aware of the temperament and landscape of each market and how rapidly it changes, specifically with emerging new media.

A lot of film and television shows are being shot on location here in Georgia as you know and there are a few schools around town that have had the opportunity to have their campus as a backdrop for production. Tell us what would be great features for Spelman and Morehouse, making it a great location for filming.

We have several locations that are excellent of course for classroom scenes, but we also have apartment style dormitories, cafeterias, executive meeting rooms, labs, theatres, parking structures and lots, stadiums, gyms and workout facilities, the list goes on and on. Anyone can film almost any type of scene here at Spelman or throughout the entire Atlanta University Center.

 

 


 

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Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael On Lady Edith’s Emotional Season 5

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Photo courtesy of Rosemary Jean-Lewis

Written by Rosemary Jean-Louis, Guest Blogger

Season five of “Downton Abbey” had the melodrama of a telenovela with no character being untouched by conflict and troubles.

But Julian Fellowes heaped the heartache on the Crawley middle sister, Lady Edith.

At the beginning of the season, Lady Edith had taken back her daughter Marigold and hid her away with tenant farmer and adoptive couple the Drewes.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, should have been the tagline for this scheme. Lady Edith planned on checking in on Marigold as much as possible. But Mrs. Drewe, unaware of Marigold’s true identity, made the Crawley sister miserable with each visit. At one point, she denied Lady Edith seeing Marigold during one stopover. By midway through the season, Mrs. Drewe banned Lady Edith from seeing the little girl altogether.

Add the confirmed death of Mr. Gregson, Edith’s lover and Marigold’s father, and what an emotional rollercoaster ride for the character and the actress who plays her.

That would be Laura Carmichael and at the second annual “Downton Abbey” themed weekend at the Sea Island Resort this past January, she shared how she navigated playing so many scenes with such a heightened sense of emotions.

“Really when you’ve got a day which is a lot of your big storyline (days), those are kind of easier. You’re in it,” she explains. “They tend to schedule them together if they can. So they’ll put all of your big scenes in one day which can kind of help the concentration.”

“It’s a performance. So much of what happens to Edith is that she has to show that she’s fine even when she’s not. So it’s my job to always keep it in my mind and be on top of that.”

You can watch Carmichael discuss it in this video snippet of a panel discussion she appeared on during the weekend event alongside Kevin Doyle (Mr. Moseley) and Raquel Cassidy (Baxter) moderated by Jessica Fellowes, niece of Julian and “Downton Abbey” book author.

 

If you’re suffering from “Downton Abbey” withdrawal, here’s a fix. Visit Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Downton Abbey” store to stock up on t-shirts, mugs and other swag.

 


 

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