Film, Faith & Christ – AMTC Talent Development Company

Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ Talent Development Agency Atlanta, Georgia

Lights. Camera. Action. JESUS!  Yes, I said Jesus.  There is a talent development company in Atlanta that is changing the game when it comes to entertainment.  It is a faith-based organization that helps develop the careers of local entertainers with a little bit of skill, a little bit of hope and a little bit of faith.  I am teaming up with Carey Lewis Arban, owner and founder of this organization, to discuss how Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ is bringing a positive vibration into television and film straight from Atlanta.

Carey, I appreciate the time you have taken out of your busy schedule to assist me with this blog.  I really am intrigued by the work that you do and I feel that your organization is one of those unique gems in metro Atlanta that deserves to shine.  Many people leave faith out of their public lives, especially in business but your company places it at the forefront.  Tell us more about Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ and your mission within the world of film and television.

For AMTC’s first 24 years (1982-2006), we were not a Christian company. During that period, we launched thousands of performers and hundreds who achieved noteworthy success… like Megan Fox. Our transformation to a Christian company followed my own late-in-life conversion at the age of 51. Today AMTC’s mission is to educate and launch not just stars, but positive role models in film, fashion, music and theater–because the world needs them.

 

Have you experienced controversy while promoting your mission?

Most people do a double-take when they see AMTC’s billboards, or just our name, ‘Actors, Models and Talent for Christ.’ Both Christians and non-Christians are intrigued. They wonder not only if it’s real, but also if it’s possible. Yes and yes! It’s not hard to see that people of faith are rising in entertainment. Sports stars and film stars are ‘coming out’ about their love for God. Matthew McConnaughey’s Best Actor acceptance speech at 2014 Academy Awards shocked the world and it gladdened my heart. That being said, there is a ‘good guy (girl)’ movement in media now. I believe we will see an increasing number of faith-based films and performers.

 

Are people of any faiths welcome to be involved with this organization?

People of all faiths are welcomed to AMTC with open arms. We believe in prayer, laughter, truth, hard work and encouragement. It’s also important that AMTC performers be conscious of the examples they set–both on camera and off. Every star should be aware of that responsibility and consider the effects of their actions, especially on children.

 

Is talent hired only for Christian networks or is your talent hired by a variety of agencies and networks in film and television?

The SHINE Conference,which is held twice yearly by AMTC to launch its performers, hosts an extraordinary combination of agents, managers and casting directors–from both mainstream and Christian media. Therein, AMTC grads are everywhere: major reality TV shows, film, fashion, television, and music. It’s quite extraordinary. Not everyone is looking for Christians, but almost everyone is looking for excellence and truth. That’s what today’s top Christian performers embody – inside and out.

 


 

 

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SAG-AFTRA Atlanta: Mel Interviews Mel

Melissa Goodman Interview

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness. I had an opportunity of a lifetime to come face to face with one of the most powerful women in the world of film in the Southeastern region: Melissa Goodman, Executive Director of SAG(Screen Actors Guild) –AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and Internal Governance Committee Chair of Georgia Production Partnership. Before I met her, I was terrified of our meeting because I thought that I would meet an executive who would be impersonal and cold, sort of resembling the interview scene from The Devil Wears Prada in which Miranda Priestly was far too busy and important to deal with interviewing Andy, the “poor fat girl” who was rambling on about her credentials. I was pacing as I waited for our interview to begin, hoping that I didn’t drop something, break something, stutter, or say something completely ridiculous that would end the interview. After a few minutes of twiddling my thumbs, rehearsing what I would say, hyperventilating, and breaking a cold sweat or two, I was put at ease when she entered because I saw the same warm smile that she exhibits in this photo. She was very easy-going and welcoming and this was a great icebreaker for my rattled nerves. We shared a few laughs and also realized that we have the same nickname. Her name is Mel, short for Melissa, and mine also Mel, short for Melisha; hence, the name of the article. Below is a recap of some of the things that we discussed about SAG-AFTRA in my interview with her.

 

Transcript
Hi Melissa. I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to meet with me to tell Women in Film and Television Atlanta’s audience more about SAG-AFTRA. For starters, tell us what this organization is and what it does for the actors.

Well[as you said], I am Melissa Goodman, Executive Director of SAG-Aftra Atlanta. I have been with SAG-AFTRA (SAG and AFTRA merged two years ago) 25 years having become the Executive Director in 1992. Screen Actor’s Guild is a labor union and we protect the wages and working conditions of actors – and when I say actors, it’s not just our members only; but, if it’s on a union set and if it is under our jurisdiction here, especially in a “Right to Work State” we protect everybody. We are a professional organization made up of professional actors. In addition to us protecting the rights and working conditions, we also form a family for the union members. We do conservatory events twice a month and we do member-only events to help people build their skills. We even monitor agents that are franchised under us. Right now we have quite a few franchised agents. Some agents let go of their SAG franchise and became part of the ATA (Association of Talent Agents) but we still help them and work with them and the members they represent and even the non-members. Any and all of our projects – all the film and television that’s being done here in Atlanta or Georgia right now – is under our jurisdiction. The only shows that are not under our jurisdiction now are some of the reality TV shows. Our agents have to comply with certain regulations that we set forth such as the amount of commissions that they can take on jobs so that the actor is not scammed. For those that are paying thousands of dollars to get with an agency, we make sure that that doesn’t happen. In addition to the many [franchises] that we already have, we have 6 and one more that is looking to be franchised. [As a matter of fact, before this interview, I was just at a site] making sure that the franchise coming onboard with us has a physical office so that it meets the regulations that the national office puts forth. It doesn’t matter how pretty or nice the office is, we just can’t allow [franchisees] to be working out of their house or other unscrupulous behavior.

 

Does your local Atlanta branch focus on protecting Georgia actors?

[I reiterate], I protect anyone here working on set. We have tons of people joining now because of the amount of work we have due to the incentives that came here in 2008. Hence, we have been growing and growing and growing. Right now, our membership has been growing because of that but there have been a huge influx of people coming in from LA (Los Angeles); and because the incentives aren’t working out in North Carolina, we are also seeing people from North Carolina coming here. When they are working on a set that’s under our local Atlanta jurisdiction we monitor that. So [for example], if someone is here from LA and they have a claim against that, it goes through us. We work cooperatively with the Florida office if they might file a claim but we do the investigative part of the claim. For instance, when I was down on the set of “The Walking Dead” and there were members from all over. They are not just our [Atlanta] members but they are members in general, both [SAG-AFTRA] members and non-members.

 

Ok finally, I read that California recently passed the Assembly Bill 1839. How do you think the passage of this bill will affect our incentives here, if at all?

I think that it’s great for California. I think that it will help them maintain some of their shows and even take back a few of their shows, but for California, it’s just not enough for them. They needed a bigger package. I don’t think it’s going to affect us here at all. We are seeing a lot of new production coming in here all the time. Our incentives are still fine for what we need here.

 

For more information on SAG-AFTRA Atlanta, visit http://www.sagaftra.org/atlanta.

For more information on GPP, visit http://www.georgiaproduction.org/

Photo courtesy of Melissa Goodman


 

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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.

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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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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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Mary Lou Belli Teaches Us How to Master Make-Believe

Mary Lou Workshop with WIFTA Atlanta, Georgia

 

HER BIO

mary lou belli

 

Mary Lou's Book

 

Mary Lou Belli began her career as a stand-in and has risen steadily to the top to become one of the most powerful female directors in television. Her most prominent work includes “The Game,” and “Reed Between the Lines;” but, she has also directed episodes of “Sister, Sister,” “Eve,” “The Hughleys,” “Major Dad,” and “Charles in Charge,” to name a few.  At present, she is the director for a show now filming in Georgia called “Devious Maids.”

THE RECAP

On Saturday, February 20, a small group of actors, writers, directors, and producers gathered in downtown Atlanta at Georgia Public Broadcasting’s conference room to listen to Mary Lou share advice on how to master the world of make-believe. The morning began with small-talk and a light breakfast followed by a ’round table’ discussion led by Mary Lou.  She began the discussion with a synopsis of her film career which spans 20 years.  She then ‘cut’ right to an actor activity in which everyone who was gathered in the circle ‘passed lines’ to one another the first line being ‘Go Away.’ Not one person could hide or feign shyness because Mary Lou’s ’round table’ session was highly interactive.  In this activity one person would say the phrase ‘Go Away’ – acted according to the subtext given by Mary Lou or one of the directors present – and the person to their left would say the same line to the next person to their left.

Devious MaidsThroughout this exercise, Mary Lou would have us take it up or down a notch to perform to the level that was necessary to fulfill the subtext goal.  There was a lot of passion and a whole lot of laughter that ensued as we all took turns saying our lines.  Who would have ever thought that the the phrase ‘Go Away’ could change meaning by simply changing the subtext or the action surrounding the phrase?  This exercise allowed all of us – actors, writers, producers and directors – to get a feel for what she experiences regularly trying to get actors perform their roles to perfection.  As simple as this activity may seem, it had its challenges and if you ever thought that acting was easy, this exercise made you realize rather quickly that it isn’t easy at all.

After about 45 minutes of acting and building layers, there was a Q&A session.  Mary Lou answered a range of questions from “How to get actors to do what you want them to do even when they can’t seem to get it right,’ to ‘How to accept things as they are and when to fight for what you believe is the right way for a script to be acted out on screen.”  The topics in the Q&A were intriguing but two that really sparked a lot of interest from the audience was the discussion about Georgia film and TV production and women and minorities in film.  The discussion briefly veered off into the direction of how to keep Atlanta from becoming a mere fly by night extension of California or New York’s film production.  Mary Lou responded by saying that Atlanta is a viable market and stated that the experiences that actors and producers will have here on set will impact the desire to return and film even more because some of the production studios that have been built here are ‘bar none.’  In response to the discussion about women and minorities in film, Mary Lou has a positive outlook about the future and believes that there will be and explosive amount of growth within the next 5 to 10 years for women and minorities in film.

 


 

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Putting the Intrigue into Movie Trailers with Voice Actor Al Chalk

Voice Over Artist, Al Chalk
Image courtesy of Al Chalk

 

Just what is it that motivates you to see a film?

Of course, the story line is probably a major factor driving you to want to see a movie. Special effects can also play a role. Even a top-billing actor or actress lineup can influence your decision. But did you ever consider how powerful the voice of a voice actor can be in enticing you to see a film? Have you ever noticed this subtle but suggestive voice in movie advertisement?

One such voice is that of voice actor Al Chalk. Although you can’t see him, his voice is famous for getting you off of the couch and into the movie theater to see some of America’s top-rated films. Next time you are watching a movie advertisement on television or at the theater, try to envision how enjoyable the film trailer would be without the voice of a voice artist like Al Chalk. I can almost bet that the movie would lose its appeal. That is why such voice actors are integral in the movie marketing experience.

This week, Reel Focus gives you a glimpse into the world of voice acting with Al Chalk.

Thank you, Al, for joining us. Although your work is mostly heard not seen, it is certainly important in the world of film. You are part of the reason most of us find a movie intriguing enough to go and watch it. Let’s start from the beginning. Not just from the outset of your career; let’s go back to your childhood. As a youth, did you ever think that you would grow up to be an influential voice in Hollywood?

Hi Melisha, thanks for having me on your blog. I was raised and brought up in St. Albans, Queens, New York. And I remember my mom and dad bought their first house on 188 St. and 104th Ave., right in the heart of St. Albans. I must have been about 8 or 9 years-old. My dad loved to frequent pawn shops to get the good deals on various things. He happened to pick up a two-track reel to reel tape recording machine. Unbeknownst to me, my dad brought it home, thinking he was going to use it to have fun entertaining the family, he kind of thought of himself as an amateur singer and songwriter in his own right, even though he worked for the city as a New York bus driver. He showed it to me, and I think that kind of turned on the switch for me, once I started monkeying around with it, you know.  It was pretty easy to operate. It was our high-tech, back in the day.

My father kept the recorder in the basement, and one Saturday afternoon, I went down stairs, picked it up and started recording little voices of characters. At that point, I was the only child. I had a sister, and she happened to pass away from Lupus about a year or two before.  So, I was a bit lonely. It kind of helped me pass the time and heal the wound of my sister’s passing as well. As well as, jump starting me into the wonderful world of broadcasting.

I had always loved the disc-jockeys of that time. Murray the K was one of them, in New York City at WNEW.  He had a rock-n-roll show. Some other jocks I admired were Jocko and Cousin Brucie at WMCA. I mean, these are legendary radio personalities. Symphony Sid probably made the biggest impact on me because he had this huge voice that just kind of rattled the woofers on my parents high-fi set, back in the day. I was really “smitten,” (that’s the only word I can use). I mean I literally had my first “Bromance” with this radio personality because he was big and bold and solid. I believed [from the sound of his voice] that this guy had to have smoked at least two or three packs of cigarettes per day.  He did [smoke that much] which I later found out later on in life once I had the to meet him and thank him for being my first mentor.

I really didn’t look at disc jokeying as being an introduction into voiceover or being an announcer. I knew I didn’t want to be a disc-jockey especially when I found out early on, they didn’t make a lot of money, but had they did have a huge amount of visibility and notoriety especially back in the 60’s.

Every day when I came home from school, I’d take this machine and record, the little character voices in my head. I wasn’t going for the Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, or some of the more popular voices. I wanted to develop my own little cast of characters, and I was pretty good at doing that. And in that regard, that kind of got me started. I’d run home from school, didn’t do my homework, drop my bags at the door and run straight downstairs to the basement. Along with the characters voices, I learned how to make sound effects, it became addictive, and that was the beginning.

For those of us who can’t recall where we may have heard you before, name a few favorite films for which you have narrated.

Thee probably literally into the hundredths if not thousands. But some of the top ones are reads I did for most of the “Madea” films franchise created by Tyler Perry. I started working 20 some odd years ago for Kenan Wayans and the producers of “In Living Color”, which led to what I believe got me involved with a lot of Kenan’s films — at least the early ones — including all of the Scary Movie” franchise.  I have even worked on some of their recent films.

Some of the major blockbusters I’ve worked on is a trailer for George Lucas’ film, “Star Wars VII –The Force Awakens.” I did “Avatar”, the James Cameron film and “The Abyss”, another Cameron film. I did some early stuff for “Titanic”, and “There’s Something About Mary”. Wow, I could go on and on, but there are just too many.

And keep in mind, these are major films not just at the box office, but they were also popular hits with the public and still to this day, generate quite a bit of revenue in the home theater market and on-demand market.

There seems to be more to you than just voice acting. Your “office” or studio has a lot of complicated equipment in it. I guess it is safe to say that what you do is one part skill, one part art. Tell our audiences what is involved in being a voice actor and how much is creativity and how much of it is technical skill.

Well, just to get specific about that, I think it’s pretty much 50/50. Fifty percent skill and 50 percent art.  I could even break the art down to 25 percent art and 25 percent improvisation. I’m rather good at improvisation. I use to do a lot of improv with theater groups coming up in New York. I did a one-man show, many, many, years ago down at the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan and that was basically improv generated or fueled with different characters from my neighborhood, relatives, personalities, and people that I grew up with. It was kind of autobiographical and I’d be on stage for about 1½ hour.  I would do a lot of improvs, not necessarily comedic improv, but just stuff — you know — little vignettes as a solo artist, soliloquies, and narration of my one-man show.

Again, that help me kind of get into the world of character voices in animation and CD Rom. I did a lot of characters for “Hercules the Legendary Journeys,” produced by Sam Rami’s company, Renaissance Pictures.  He’s a wonderful man, wonderful director.  I also did a couple of mythical characters on the show. I had the opportunity to work with the great Anthony Quinn, which again, I get jazzed and goose pimples just thinking about it. He was a gracious and wonderful actor.  Of course, I can’t forget the original, “Zorba The Greek.” He, too, was a lot of fun and just had a million stories about not only Hollywood but about his many wives, his children and his love for the arts.

That’s kind of my spin on creativity versus artistry in the studio.  I call it, “The Golden Days,” when Don and I and Hal Douglas and those guys were working quite a bit as professionals. I’d get the chance, Don, not so much and Hal, definitely not so much, but, they would allow me to do characters for some of the promos. I did a very cartoonish character for “Space Jam”, the movie, which starred and featured the great Michael Jordan and that was a lot of fun. But generally, these days,voice acting is reserved more for the gamers or the game ads, as well as animation.  I did a lot of that stuff back in the 80’s. I did the original “Spiderman” series that was animated and I did “Ghostbusters” animated series right after the movie came out.  I also did the  “Cosby Kids” and did some stuff for “Fat Albert” — some of the other adjunct voices — not necessarily the main character.

Do you see yourself teaching this art to future generations? Also, for members of Women in Film and Television Atlanta who want to become voice actors, what advice can you provide?

Yes, I am already involved quite a bit with a lot of today’s’ youth and kids who aspire to take the baton. Not that I’m going anywhere, I’m not retiring anytime soon; I’m still actively working quite a bit. But I love kids and kids’ kind of love me because, they know that secretly I’m one of them.

I’d love to mentor students young and old alike, whether male or female or of a different nationality. I’m involved in a few programs within the Los Angeles Unified School Districts, that allow me to go into some of the Public Schools, Kindergarten, Middle Schools and High Schools. I talk to the kids, and sometimes I read to them. I’ve been a part of the Reading is Fundamental program for a long time and a couple of other programs through the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artist, (SAG-AFTRA) that, allow professional actors like myself to go into the schools and hospitals and other places.

I’ve done this so much over the years that I have been given the moniker “Uncle Al the Kiddies Pal”, which I love and has always stayed with me. It started way back in the Bronx when I was doing something for a friend of mine who is a school teacher, and she invited me to come to the school to talk and entertain the kids one afternoon. It was show and tell. I would have the kids sit around me, on the floor in the assembly and I would just take them away for about an hour. Then they would all have to go back to their class and be board to hell (lol). But, it was a whole lot of fun.

I was teaching privately for a while but, I don’t anymore because I don’t have the time. I also have a solo career as a musician, songwriter, and producer. I’m an Afro-Cuban percussionist who recently released my first album, “United States of Us.” I’m currently working on my second album of world fusion music.

Between that and the voiceover work, I’m also a writer of literature, which takes me away from the teaching aspects, the songwriting, and literary writing. But anytime I may have the opportunity, even on just a temporary basis to teach and mentor I’ll take it. As a matter of fact, I was recently talking with a young man about 14 or 15 years-old, who wanted to know how to get started in the voiceover industry.

I told him one of the most important things among others, of course, is having your own home studio. It doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. The average person, especially if they are not working or have a lot of money to get a startup studio, can spend a modest budget from anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00. Get yourself a decent microphone, get some kind of DAW, that’s a (Digital Audio Workstation), that you can work in, whether that’s Ableton, Pro Tools, or Logic Pro, because that’s going to literally be your virtual studio on wheels that you can take anywhere, on your device, whether it be a laptop, tablet or even your phone. I have done session via my telephone through source direct — oh yeah!

I have a more sophisticated system at my home, with a fire wire box you can record stuff via Mp3, Waive files, AIFF, and those files could be mailed to various clients. An agent is also an important factor.  Also, create a demo reel or have someone put one together for you, so you can take it to the agent and get work.

For future generations, I would love to see a lot more kids aspire to get into acting, get into the arts period, not only in this country, but the world. Whether it be music or dance or crafting something with your hands, sculpting something, painting — there are so many aspects of the arts.  We are going to have blocks of great young artist that come up in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 a hundred years from now and now is the time for them to get started. I like them when they are young, and I think it’s a good time, you know, because everything is magical and special.

For women in film in Atlanta, specifically, being a black man and African American actor, I would love to see a whole lot more of us, in the game and that would include women as well. And, people of other nationalities and ethnicities because, it’s not just the boomy voices that work in this business. There are all kinds of jobs and all kinds of specificities connected to the wonderful world of voiceover.

There is so much to do.  You can do character voices as I mentioned before — or be a newscaster, radio personality, do improv shows, blog shows, podcast, on-air promos, trailer work, teasers, sizzle reels or commercial work. I do a lot of commercials for a huge number of clients, J.C. Penny, and probably every major auto manufacture in the world. I have done national or international spots for GM, Honda, Mercedes, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, and Cadillac. You name the vehicle, I’ve done it.

There are a lot more women coming to the forefront in the voiceover business. However, there are still not as many in trailer work and on-air promos but more probably do on-air promos than trailer work. It’s as if Hollywood is still fearful of using women in these roles but I think if they want a specialist, someone that can tap the heartstrings and titillate, especially someone who can resonate with men and women, then I think it’s a good thing for Hollywood to start to use more women.

I remember many years ago when they were talking about using a woman for “The Bridges of Madison County” — the Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep film — but they chose not to. The producers said, “nah, nah, nah, nah, it’s not going to go over well.  The audience is just use to the big voices and the romantic voices and the basso profondo voices.” This is true for some films, but I think there could have been a separate campaign just for the ladies out there. And like I said, as a man, I appreciate it. I’m not one of those naysayers when it comes to the ladies; I’d especially love to hear more ladies of color out there, especially African Americans.  Sometimes in Hollywood we (African Americans) are thought of as second class performers when it comes to voiceover. The stereotype is that we can’t do or match the quality of reads of mainstream society.  But I’ve never understood this because we all speak the King’s or the Queen’s English. 

Melisha, it’s been wonderful being part of this blog and Women In Film and Television Atlanta and Reel Focus and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to speak to your readers this afternoon.

You have a good life, groove responsibly and again the name of my album is “United States of Us”, in case you’re interested and I have a website. It’s not strictly voiceover, but it gives you a cross section of what I’m doing musically, and there is a page dedicated to my voiceover and on-air career and history, and there is some archival stuff in there, as well as some new stuff. Go and check it out at www.chalktalkmusic.com. If any of your audience would like to reach out to me, they can reach me via email chalktalkmusic@hotmail.com, and I’ll be more than glad to return a response. Thanks for the opportunity, thank you for the good energy and the synergy and bless you and have a great life, all of you.

 

Check out more voice over trailers and teasers from Al Chalk here:  http://www.chalktalkmusic.com/chalktalkmusicvoice-over

Voice Over Artis, Al Chalk
Image courtesy of Al Chalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie poster images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.

 


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