Rob Bessette is winning awards and working on his fourth major motion picture in the last twelve months….
The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is doing amazing things in Boston these days. It is allowing local companies to get in on the conversation when it comes to big budget filmmaking. Companies like Finish Post, located downtown on Columbus Avenue, are leveraging this massively successful government program. Artists and entrepreneurs like Rob Bessette and Tim Montgomery are finding new and creative ways to get involved.
The Film Tax Incentive is changing the dynamic and the industry is changing along with it. Once all the
talent and facilities were centrally located in NY or LA; they are now spread out across the country and the world including places like Boston. Critics of the Film Tax credit say it’s an unnecessary government subsidy, but no one can debate that subsidies are needed to stay competitive in this global market. Massachusetts’ incentive program is truly working to lift this industry locally.
Luring the movie magic to Massachusetts has always been a struggle for local shops like Finish Post.
Even when films would use the gorgeous backdrops of the Bay State for production, they would wrap
their shoot, put the negative in the can and overnight right back to LA for post. “Hollywood is not
an easy nut to crack,” Montgomery said. “The business of fi lmmaking is risky, the studios have their
pipelines in place and deviation from workflows increases risk. So getting new people or facilities
involved becomes a very difficult decision for them to make”.
That’s where the Film Tax Incentive comes in. “It’s given us a seat at the table and a chance to show
that we’ve got the skills, talent and infrastructure to do it just like NY and LA,” said Finish’s Senior Colorist, Bessette. And that’s not just lip service, Bessette is currently working on his fourth studio film in the last twelve months “They’re starting to know that we’re here… and we’re good.”
Color Correction, Digital Dailies and highend digital workfl ows are a few of the ways that Finish is doing it in this ultra-competitive market. Bessette uses tools like DaVinci’s Resolve to ingest camera files, grade the material, and output fully prepped bins for editorial. All the outputs are packed with meta-data and ready for the most robust pipelines in the industry.
Another avenue for growth as a facility is Finish’s has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed screening room. With a Barco DP2K projector casting to a seventeen foot screen and full surround sound; it is high-end viewing to critically analyze footage. “Our clients have put in a lot of time and effort to achieve the look of their footage. They want to see it with a very high level of clarity. Our minitheater is the perfect venue. It’s fun to see clients get excited about what they’ve shot,” Montgomery said.
The Film Tax incentive is stimulating the local film business and it is having a major impact on local companies with local employees. It’s a program designed to lure a highly competitive and lucrative industry to The Commonwealth. Oh yeah, they also have one of the top ten roof-decks in Boston. Not a bad way to unwind after a long day at the office.
My acting career began in the first grade with the play The Seven Silly Simons. Having watched my father and older sister perform numerous times, I was thrilled to have my first speaking role. It was a highly acclaimed production, I assure you, and it sparked my never-ending desire to entertain.
Throughout high school and college, where I minored in music, I played everything from the Ingénue to the sidekick to a Skid Row street urchin and 17th Century storyteller. After college I continued singing in choirs, storytelling in Salem, MA for Halloween, and spent a year in Florida performing in shows as my favorite Disney characters at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. Well, all the characters that were five feet tall that is. Yes, yes…I was a number of dwarfs.
Upon returning home to Massachusetts, I took to the stage again in local community theatre productions and large chorales, and finally landed a coveted spot in the Worcester Foothills Children’s Theatre Troupe. I spent the next several years bringing to life some of the most beloved fairy tale characters, as well as a few originals from local playwrights. It’s where I got my first taste of playing the bad guy. How terrible is it that I loved scaring the kids?
As my own children grew, finding time for the stage became more and more difficult. I was beginning to think I would need to give it up completely. Then, one day after a meet and greet at Foothills, a little girl came up to me and exclaimed, “I’m your biggest fan!” Her mother told me she came to every one of my shows and was a budding actress and singer herself. After that, I knew, there was no way I was giving this up. Not completely. I began looking for ways to continue performing that would have less impact on my family. I found it in film.
I began auditioning for History Channel documentaries, commercials and corporate videos, finding quite the little niche in the “Business Woman” and “Soccer Mom” arenas. It was a perfect fit schedule wise. I auditioned for student and independent films to continue to hone the skills I learned in college and beyond: Films where I could stretch my physical and emotional limits. Like VISIONARY where I …oh…wait I can’t tell you. It hasn’t been released yet, and I’ve been told I can’t divulge details. Watch for it this fall!
Throughout all this time, I was also pouring myself into a singing career…and tight gowns…performing across New England as a Cabaret/Lounge singer. In 2013 I was nominated for “Sexiest Musician” for the Pulse Magazine Music Awards and dubbed the “Siren of Song” at Nick’s Cabaret. “Acting” the song as myself on stage, not a character someone else created, has been incredibly challenging and rewarding. My debut CD, Here to Stay, will be released later this summer and includes an eclectic array of music from musical theatre, jazz, folk and opera.
Singing, and the training that goes along with it, provided the tools I needed to delve into the world of voiceovers. I have become the stock female voice for a company that produces short corporate videos and my voice was heard across the country in a campaign for the Lysol No Touch Hand Soap system as well as for the New Balance Psyche Sports Bras.
Corporate narrations are my forte but I would love to one day be the voice you hear on an animated series or video game and I know ongoing training and perseverance is key.
Here in Boston, we are lucky enough to have a number of outstanding workshops and classes to help us actors develop our skills, and now that my kids are older…er…still very young as I am only 28…I am enjoying studying with the most passionate people I have ever met; teachers and students alike. Cheers, to the future of film in New England. It’s a very exciting time to be working here.
Jennifer Antkowiak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit jenantkowiak.com to learn more.
In 1997, I moved from my hometown of Toronto, Canada, to Boston to begin a Ph.D. at MIT. If someone had told me at that point in time that I would eventually become an actor, I would have laughed—that is, if I looked up from my textbooks long enough to respond.
I spent the next seven years of my life working on my doctoral thesis. With a commitment of such magnitude, it’s no wonder that halfway through my graduate student career, my mind began to wander. I started dabbling in various sports and artistic pursuits—tennis, basketball, flag football, photography, and sailing—but I eventually settled on acting.
It all started rather innocently with a couple of musicals at MIT, and then I branched out to student films and independent films. I pretty much tried to do whatever I could get my hands on, which was important at that stage to build my confidence, my experience, and my resume. I also started getting onto the radars of the local casting directors and would get called in regularly to audition.
My first breakthrough was getting cast in Disney’s UNDERDOG. That was soon followed by a role in the CW pilot “I’m Paige Wilson”.
At this point, I realized that I needed to take my budding acting career to the next level—but how? I was well aware that I wasn’t young (by Hollywood standards), nor was I beautiful (again, by Hollywood standards). I concluded that if I ever wanted an agent or a manager, I’d have to impress them with acting credits and training.
In 2007, I enrolled in the east coast branch of Carter Thor Studio, an LA-based studio founded by Cameron Thor and Alice Carter following their work with legendary coach Roy London. Unlike most (if not all) acting classes in the Boston area, this was an ongoing scene study class where the acting coach guided me based on who I am, where I was as an actor, and where I needed to go. For the next six years, I was in that class every week and also rehearsing outside of class several times a week with my scene partners. In that period of time, I literally worked on and performed hundreds of scenes.
In 2008, after being cast in GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST and Showtime’s Brotherhood, I felt I had sufficient credits and at least some training under my belt to branch out to New York. Unsolicited, I sent my headshot, resume, and demo reel to some carefully chosen managers and agents in New York.
I signed an exclusive agreement with the manager I felt demanded excellence, had great advice, could connect me with others in the industry, and (most importantly!) respected me. I also signed an exclusive agreement with an agent who was very enthusiastic about me, which opened the door to incredible audition opportunities, including ones for series regular roles.
Since then, I have had the privilege of working in both New England and New York, being cast by such directors as Spike Lee and Greg Mottola to act opposite Helen Hunt, Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Justin Long, Larry David, Cybill Shepherd and Mariska Hargitay. I’ve even worked on some of my favorite shows, such as 30 Rock and Law & Order SVU (twice!).
In 2011, I felt that I needed to work on my comedic chops, so I started working with Shari Shaw, an acting coach in LA who is brilliant at teaching comedy. Once I began to understand comedy, I became much more confident in comedic roles. I also became a better actor in general, because comedy demands the utmost honesty and truth from actors, which is also true for drama. As an actor, I am constantly learning and evolving.
But these days, being an actor isn’t enough. Technology has made it so easy for actors to become filmmakers, that there’s no excuse for actors to sit around waiting to be cast. In 2008, I wrote, directed, produced, and starred in my first film as a filmmaker, FATE SCORES, an experimental silent film which was recognized by the National Film Board of Canada. Casting was simple—I cast eight other actors from my ongoing scene study class. That is the beauty of being in an ongoing acting class: you meet like-minded artists who have made a similar commitment to excellence and hard work. I again starred in my follow-up film, THE COMMITMENT, which has screened at over 25 film festivals on four continents and won multiple awards, most notably edging out Oscar-nominated MOONRISE KINGDOM to win a 2013 NASW Media Award. I am now just completing my third film, DESCENDANTS OF THE PAST, ANCESTORS OF THE FUTURE, which stars myself and Golden Globe, Emmy, and Drama Desk nominee Tina Chen.
In 2013, the latest chapter of my career began. I founded Aspiral Acting Studio and began offering an ongoing acting class of my own. Every Sunday night, my students get together in Davis Square in Somerville to play, learn, and grow as actors through scene study and on-camera audition technique. In working with my students, I continue to learn and grow myself and have a blast doing it. So far, my career has taken me places I never would have anticipated. I eagerly look forward to seeing what other surprises my career holds in store for me!
Albert is Boston based and can be reached at email@example.com.
UNDERDOG, GHOST OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST and Brotherhood were all shot in Rhode Island under their then new Film Tax Credit Program. PUB
From the tranquil beaches of Cape Cod, comes fiery newcomer and gifted actor, Cailey Calisi. Although she hails as a native Cape Codder, Cailey has spent the past year acclimating to the Boston area and as a member of the Hollywood East Actor’s Group, she’s been privileged to meet and work with many of the great local talent that the area employs.
Cailey discovered her love of acting through theatre while on Cape Cod. Her first role as Ophelia/Laurie in Magic Time at Cape Cod Community College was like baptism by fire. It was her first opportunity to work in an ensemble cast of experienced actors that had great chemistry. “It was such a wonderful initiation and camaraderie that I continually seek that level of acting cohesion in each part I take.” The play received favorable reviews and Cailey’s performance was described as “the shining light of the show”. Following this, she quickly received roles in productions with the Wellfleet Actors Theatre as well as Cotuit Center for the Arts.
Her most challenging role was that of Desdemona in a same sex relationship casting of Othello. Taking the role a mere two weeks before opening, her performance won her rave reviews in the local theatre community and further fueled her acting desire.
Cailey describes her acting philosophy stemming from a deep spiritual belief best articulated by Leo Buscaglia “your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
She goes on to say, “I feel everything so intensely. It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” She draws strength for each role after having experienced her own bout of serious depression in adolescence. “My mother and I moved somewhere new every few years and I was always the new kid. My father didn’t have anything to do with me either, so that, combined with having experienced bullying while in high school, contributed to me feeling isolated and depressed“.
She attributes her acting as a form of therapy. “It gave me a passion for life after years of being depressed and alone. I used to constantly worry, but now I hold the belief, ‘why blend in, when you can stand out. My passion for acting shines from the inside out, and when I’m in that zone, I radiate!” Her ultimate goal is to be a pioneering feature film actress.
She wants to use her acting to spread the message, especially to underprivileged youth, that you can do and be anything you want. It takes courage, hard work, perseverance and faith but ultimately, you become what you believe and envision yourself to be.
One tremendous influence on Cailey was meeting Academy Award nominated actress Jessica Chastain. Cailey had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Chastain and briefly told her what her dreams and goals were, and how inspired she was by Jessica herself. Ms. Chastain told her she hoped to work together one day and that she was looking forward to seeing her on the silver screen. On departing, she told Cailey to never give up and looked forward to the day they could work together.
Cailey also had the wonderful opportunity to flex her acting muscles when she played a possessed woman in a book trailer directed by Rhode Island cinematographer, Rajah Samaroo and author, Tara Mantel. Working with independent filmmaker Norman Lang on his production of REVELATION was a recent triumph of Cailey’s . In REVELATION, she plays an eager reporter searching the scientific reasons for the meaning of life after death.
One of her proudest achievements was being cast in Seth Chitwood’s web series, In the Bedroom. In the Bedroom was a huge collaborative effort from a talented team of filmmakers from all over New England. In her episode, Cailey portrays a woman who may or may not, be a figment of imagination in another character’s mind.
Ultimately, Cailey will continue to hone her craft here in Boston and acknowledges she has a long way to go, especially since she plans to eventually relocate to LA. She states “What matters most is looking back and being proud of what you overcame and accomplished to get where you want to be.” She states, “wait and see, when I’m on the Oscar podium, it’s you I’ll be talking to…. all of Boston and New England….this is no dress rehearsal.”
Cailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a youngster, I was heavily influenced by the legends of the Silver Screen, Bogart, Cagney, Robinson, Brando and DeNiro. After watching THE GODFATHER in 1977 as a teenager and awed and floored by Marlon Brando’s Oscar winning performance portraying Mafia Don Corleone, I found myself re-enacting scenes and dress rehearsing scenes from the movie. I would borrow my grandfather’s vintage tweed overcoat, his grey fedora hat, and leather driving gloves and stand in front of my mother’s bedroom bureau mirror and awkwardly recite lines and delegate family business from the movie. Never thinking that someday this could happen.
Hollywood movie-making seemed a world away. Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island provided me with a stage of a mob movie. I witnessed a daily cast of characters straight out of Central Casting and daily happenings of the underworld. I witnessed the good, the bad, the ugly. To this very day on my acting resume under special skills I list street smarts as my area of expertise.
Fast forwarding to 2008 I make my leap into the world of acting, but first I face a medical crisis that forces me to re-examine my purpose in life. One day at a routine doctor’s appointment the doctor finds a large mass on the left side of my thyroid. He then proceeds to tell me all his tests point a very aggressive form of cancer. He needs to operate and not sure what my outcome may be.
Dumbfounded for days of the possibility I may have my life end, I sat evaluating, pleading and praying to give me a second chance at life and what I would do differently. Acting was one of the wants I promised myself. Luckily, following surgery, after a six agonizing week wait for results, the mass came back benign, my journey as an actor starts and I never looked back.
Later in the summer of 2008, I enroll in an Intro to Acting class at the Perishable Theater in Providence studying under Mark Peckham. Shortly after I then enroll into a beginners acting class at LDI Casting in Providence studying with casting director Anne Mullhall. I proceed to have headshots done and submit for a Showtime television series “Brotherhood” being filmed in the Ocean State. I receive my first acting casting call to work background and featured background for Season three and work in three episodes.
It was exciting to work with actors Jason Clark and Jason Isaac. After this experience I knew I was hooked. I registered myself with the Boston Casting Agency Pro Talent site, took courses with casting director Angela Peri and proceeded to take an advance course of being in front of the camera with casting director Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting for an intense six week course.
I’m on my way! Between working television pilots I get a call for ABC’s “Body of Proof” prime time drama starring Dana Delaney. It’s coming to Rhode Island. This is a medical crime drama, based in Philadelphia. I submit for a Philadelphia Police Officer. I work background and get featured background in eight episodes. Then one day I get called from Boston Casting to come in and audition for a speaking role on the show. I was excited. I went, I booked I lived it and it was a new chapter in my career. Day player! Loved hearing those words! You’re booked!
I also get booked to work on ‘Royal Pains’ on the USA Network for an episode. I then receive a call from Director Michael Corrente and Producer Chad Verdi. They’re filming the movie LOOSIE’S and need a heavy for a violent scene to beat and collect money from the star of the film Peter Facinelli, They explained the scene and what they needed, I replied I’m your man for the job! It was intense and they needed violence. So much so I almost broke the pretty boy Peter Facinelli’s nose on the second take. Another story for another day.
My career and name is starting to circulate in the business. Next up I get a notice for an open casting call for the movie THE FIGHTER starring Mark Walberg and Christian Bale. Little did I know my acting life would be changed forever.
I became Union on this film. A member of SAG – AFTRA! I also refine my career aspirations. I was cast as a Boston Policeman, while working a scene at Top Donut, in between takes I was looking for a seat to sitdown, I notice a chair open at a table where Director David O. Russell is sitting. I swing my leg over the back of the chair and say “what do you need me to do now boss?” He smiles and says, “wow your a big guy and your arms are huge.” Then he offers me a piece of fruit from his lunch and says, “what do you want to do?
I reply, “I want to act.”
He says, “you want to act in this crazy business? I told him I’m crazy and I want to act! He then calls over his assistant and questions him about a scene on Thursday and if so and so is going to make it for it. The assistant responds unsure. David then turn back to me, grabs my face, turns it left, then right. He says, “get your hair trimmed and tight, shave your goatee and go to wardrobe. I’ll see you Thursday – you are now an Actor!”
I felt like I was hit by lightning form the acting gods above. I did as he asked, not knowing what David had in store for me. I show up on set at Billerica State Prison. I’ m dressed in a prison guard uniform. We first shoot exterior prison yard scenes with Christian Bale. Then we move inside for interior scenes. I then hear my name being called and report to inside a small prison cell with a film crew.
David O. Russell, the other guy who was suppose to play the part, Christian Bale and me. My scene is I escort him into the cell and then proceed to tell him to start to strip for a search. Unreal! The scene never made it to the final cut in the movie but it did make it to the featured deleted scenes on the Blu Ray disc. Also I could be seen in the Top Donut scene playing a Lowell police officer. Playing two roles in one movie and one was with an Oscar winning actor in the movie he won his Oscar for!
Nothing is impossible at this point. My next project is I get cast to play a heavy underworld strong arm named Big V. My job is to enforce and control daily business on the streets of South Boston. This was written by Adriano Masciarelli and directed by Ben Proulx. In this film I get to kill for the first time on the screen. It was intense and took me two days to get out of character after the killing.
Next I get cast by CP Casting as a SWAT officer in the movie THE TOWN directed by Ben Affleck who also starred. This was a great thrill to work with Ben and to be directed by a great talent. This movie was a crime drama. I worked six scenes in this movie. I was featured and in one of them I work alongside Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver. I then get a call from a writer director Dana Howard. She’s writing an online web Mob series named “Fedoras.” She explains the outline and has a character that is tailored for me. Mafia Don Nino Ponticello. After review of the script I accept. This character brought me back to the days of being in full garb in my mother’s bedroom mirror giving orders to the mafia family I adopted. The series is set in the 1930’s and I’m the Mob boss of all bosses. Controlling and running the family business. Wow dreams do come true.
Next I get cast by CP Casting in the film GOD ONLY KNOWS written by Emilio Mauro , directed by James Mottern and Starring Harvey Keitel. I play a Mob Crime Boss, attending a swearing in of a new family member played by actor Ben Barnes.
I go undercover for my next film KILLING KHAN directed by JR Hepburn. I attend an open casting call in Boston. I audition for a role of a cab driver. I book the part. I was so intense that they offered me the role of Ivan a Russian spy. I’m treacherous in this role. I have a Russian accent and I am a cold hearted killer. It’s due out this Summer.
My career turns into a horror show. I receive a call from director/actor Tom DeNucci from WoodHaven Productions telling about a film their doing called SELF STORAGE starring Eric Roberts, Michael Berryman, Jonathan Silverman. He forwards me a script and the plot is my boss Jonathan Silverman buys body parts to sell on the secondary market. I would play a character named Mumbo. He’s the enforcer and heavy of the operation. This project goes VOD to 1,000,000 homes, Netflix, and DVD sales. I received great publicity and marketing on this project.
I follow this up with another WoodHaven Production named ARMY OF THE DAMNED, starring horror icon Tony Todd, and Michael Berryman, Joey Fatone and Sully Erna. I play SWAT officer Beefcakes turned Zombie. I act throughout the whole second half of the movie with Tony Todd. With this project I didn’t have a boat load of lines but I had an incredible amount of action. I die three times and each time I come back stronger and crazier than ever. This was a great challenge. Worldwide distribution with VOD, and DVD sales. It’s great seeing your work on store shelves!
I worked on AMERICAN HUSTLE directed again by David O. Russell and starring Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner. I was cast as a featured FBI Security Guard. I shoot the scene with Amy Adams where I escort her down the hall to a padded cell throw her in and she runs back to try to get out. I close the door on her. When the film comes out it shows the back of me throwing her in the cell and my hand closing the door. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Great fun to work this project with great talent.
Right after this film I was cast by Boston Casting as a featured Electric & Power worker in the film THE EQUALIZER starring Denzel Washington. It was a small scene with four of us Denzel, Chloe Grace, a counter worker and me. Great to see a legend at work. He’s a real pro.
2014 is going to be a great year. I’ve just been cast in my second lead role in the film BLUE SUEDE to be directed by JR Hepburn for Vendetta Motion Pictures. My role is Mafia Don Franco Pizzano. I’m avenging my fathers slaying by the Chinese Mob and daily trials and tribulations of them trying to take over my family’s territory in Chinatown. No War! No Peace! This film and my performance will be epic! Shooting begins in Boston late July 2014 I also was just cast a Mafia Don in a Wes Williams film DISTRICT C-11.
Stay tuned because I just finished auditioning for a movie THE WHOLE TRUTH starring Rene Zellwinger. I’ve been called back twice. I also just auditioned for CP Casting by Carolyn Pickman for a role in BLACK MASS, the Whitey Bulger story, directed by Scott Cooper starring Johnny Depp. I have a lot to bring to this film , living and knowing the chain of events and the first hand experiences are priceless to add to the realism of this film. Then I’m waiting for auditions for Chad Verdi’s passion piece BLEED FOR THIS. It’s the Vinny Paz story that is being produced by Verdi and Martin Scorsese. Vinny is my cousin. In this film I have a great advantage. I lived the whole story first hand.
The best is yet to come my friends and I want to take a moment to thank Carol Patton and Imagine Magazine for their undying efforts and energies for introducing and fighting for the film tax credit legislation and incentives. The efforts they put forward on our behalf have assisted and assured us the continuing progress of movie making being made here in Boston. I personally thank you Carol and IMAGINE Magazine for keeping me and so many others dream of acting alive here in Boston. All dreams come true, the difference is how bad you want them! Just Imagine!
I started acting at the age of six years old. I had a severe lisp as a child and my speech therapist suggested performing as a way of improving it. I joined a local theater group and as soon as I stepped onstage for the first time, playing the role of Jane in Peter Pan, I was hooked- I knew it was something I’d be doing for the rest of my life. I acted in plays through high school, college, and beyond, working with Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida and The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania before settling in Boston where I continued to perform onstage with many wonderful theater groups including the Devanaughn Theater, Theater Cooperative, and Molasses Tank Productions. I also created the role of Deb in the world premiere of Gail Phaneuf’s Breakfast with Mary in Harrison, Maine.
In 2010 I decided to take my acting life in a different direction and explore opportunities in film and television. In preparation, I studied Meisner technique for a year with Lyralen Kaye of Another Country Productions, which was incredibly helpful in making the transition from theater acting to film acting. After so many years onstage it was quite a challenge to act for a camera instead of a theater full of audience members, but I soon became comfortable with being on a film set rather than onstage. I am still passionately in love with the theater and hope to do more of it, but I also really appreciate the intimacy of film acting. I also took a number of other film acting classes, including three at CP Casting with Bates Wilder, Peter Kelly and Carolyn Pickman.
Since embarking on my film acting journey I’ve been lucky enough to be cast in many incredible projects, including the multiple-award-winning short film WORLDS WE CREATED (Bullmoose Pictures), written and directed by Nicholas Santos, which was shown at over 25 film festivals including the 2013 Cannes Short Film Corner. Another high point was playing a speech therapist in Talin Avakian’s beautiful film DEMI POINTE, winner of the Indie Soul Best Picture Award at the Boston International Film Festival, the Audience Award for Drama at the 2013 Online New England Film Festival, and a “Shifty Uplifty” Award at the Filmshift Festival. Probably the most thrilling moment of my career to date has been attending the world premiere at the Capital District Film festival in Albany, New York of Mark Lund’s feature film JUSTICE IS MIND (Affidavit Productions/ Ashton Times/Zone 5 Pictures) in which I played the lead role of Margaret Miller. JUSTICE IS MIND has had, to date, nine theatrical screenings with more to come, three university screenings, and has been shown at four science fiction conventions. It has been so exciting to watch its success and I am so proud to have been a part of it.
In addition to film, I have also had the opportunity to perform in a number of industrials and assorted video projects. Recently I have been exploring voice over work as well. I recorded five audio books for Audible.com, which was a dream come true for me as I am a huge fan of them, and I hope to do more in the future.
It is such a fantastic time to be an actor in New England, with so many productions choosing to film here and with the New England Studios in Devens providing even more amazing possibilities! I am constantly awed and inspired by the talent, drive, and creativity of those who work in film in this area and I love the supportive and welcoming community. I look forward to continuing to develop my craft and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Robin Rapoport is a Boston based actor. You can reach her at email@example.com
Growing up in the north Jersey suburbs meant regular bus trips into NYC for theater with my best friend. I loved it all: musicals, naturally, but also dark dramas, edgy comedies, elaborately costumed classics and even a few operas at the Met from top balcony seats. Theater tickets were the only gift I ever wanted. Friends and relatives complied.
A busy drama schedule in my teen years and subsequent college theater courses covered acting basics. I sang with several classical music groups, studied dance, and played leads in standard musicals like “My Fair Lady” and the Neil Simon/Alan Ayckbourn favorites. But any skills I have were really forged through many summer seasons of genuine rolling repertory at The Theater at Monmouth in central Maine. Switching daily between Shakespeare, Shaw, Sheridan and Moliere required flexibility, clear choices, accurate memory and incredible teamwork – and let me work opposite talented actors like Boston’s Jeremiah Kissel. On-camera work began when a theater patron hired me to represent a drugstore chain in TV commercials. Soon my credits included a national Chitisol infomercial that matched ratings with the Ginzo Knife and the George Foreman Grill. I continued to do theater, commercials, voiceovers and occasional film work while teaching theater programs for young people as well as London-based theater classes for Colby College. (Being paid to attend theater productions in London and discuss them with students may be the best job anyone ever invented.) I was particularly proud to play a homophobic, closeted camp director in simultaneous film (Fawn Yacker, director) and stage productions of Carolyn Gage’s “Ugly Ducklings,” as part of a national campaign to support LGBTQ youth.
Among favorite medical projects was modeling best practices in dealing with suspected spousal and elder abuse in a series of teaching videos produced by Cathy Plourde (AddVerb Productions.) The series has been presented at the College of Medicine at the University of New England, the Maine Public Health Association and The Global Alliance for Arts and Health and is now open-source available on YouTube.
A few years ago, roles in Mark Lewis’ warmly reviewed (48 so far) comedy WILD GIRL WALTZ and Bill Miller’s drama COWBOY SPIRIT coincided with a more flexible life schedule and convinced me to make stronger professional connections in Massachusetts. Lucky choices in student film projects introduced me to additional vibrant actors. I was Marshall Berenson’s annoying neighbor in GOOD TASTE a quirky BU short that’s become a festival favorite. In John Bickford’s ADVENT, an Emerson thesis film that will be shown at Cannes in the Creative Minds Program, I worked with Kate Jurdi, Wayne Shore, Harry Aspinwall, and charming young Charlie Tacker, who seems to be the busiest actor in the Boston area.
My favorite film role to date was the juicy starring role of feisty DA Constance Smith in Mark Lund’s feature JUSTICE IS MIND, which the IMDB named the 8th most highly rated indie film of 2013. The large cast featured Paul Lussier, Robin Rapaport, Mary Wexler and Carlyne Fournier. Boston actors know how things can build from a few connections. Carlyne offered me a small role in THEORY OF CONFLICT, starring Eddie Frateschi. I didn’t meet Eddie on the set, but he cast me in the trailer for his intriguing series focusing on cultural and religious theories about what happens after death, BEYOND THIS. When I arrived to work on Mark Battle’s film THE CONVICT, Wayne Shore was also in the scene and Robin had already filmed. Through the Emerson grapevine I was offered a central role in Emily Deering’s thesis film PINE.
My Boston transition was also aided by sound advice from Becki Dennis Buchman, who brought me work with Butler Hospital in Providence, addressing addictions treatment patients in two sets of videos funded by the NIH. At one of her Talent Tools workshops I met Andrew Wilson and was happy to gain representation by Model Club Inc. Talent Tools also keeps my reels updated and linked me to Dina K for headshots
It’s a challenge to live in central Maine and work in the New England market. A three-minute audition at an agency in Boston is a gamble that means hours of driving and outlay for gas and tolls. A shoot in Providence may require crashing overnight with friends in Norwood. Luckily, I share the car and life with an understanding actor/ director husband, Richard Sewell. A joint project is both fun and an economic bonus.
A year and a half year ago I embarked on a wild ride by jumping on the New England acting wagon. My first foray into acting started as a background actor for Larry David’s CLEAR HISTORY. I submitted myself and was shocked to be chosen for two days of work. Not one word of film terminology was familiar to me, not “back to one, speed, or, background.” The only two words I kLnew were “action” and “cut.” When faced with any other unknown situation in my life, I asked questions when able, listened and followed everyone else. The PA’s gave us basic instruction more to do with what not to do, like never approach the main actors. That I knew!
What I learned in those two days is that the other actors are your friends and allies. So many stepped in to give me advice, explaining the terminology, and telling me which casting companies in Boston to sign up with for more background work. I have made it a point to pay it forward with any other newbie I meet on set and pass along all that was passed on to me.
That’s all it took. I had the bug. I threw myself into finding out everything I needed to do to work and be part of this exciting community, starting with student films, web series and indies, working my way to documentaries, music videos and my personal favorite, commercials. It is imperative for actors to take classes and as frightened as I was to take that first class, it was the best step I took. My classes in the past sixteen months include, dramatic acting with Kevin Lasit, Meisner level 1 technique with Rich Bailey at NEAW, Tom Todoroff, Steve Blackwood, Jenn Lederer, Angela Peri, and the wonderful workshops provided by Becki Dennis Buchman from Talent Tools. Volumes of information have been gleaned from these classes and it should be the number one thing new actors do while embarking on their acting journey.
Some shoots have been almost comical. While filming an infomercial in a private home with no AC on a hot and humid summer day; the sweat started to pour down the sides of my face. The script was handed to me just minutes prior and I had to open a pickle jar, which was not cooperating. The final cut was a testament to brilliant editing. Some student films were shot in apartments I was sure had been condemned. I would not change one bit of it, because I learned something valuable from each opportunity, or at least had a good laugh from the experience.
Not all of my experiences have been positive and being a newbie likely worked against me. In addition to acting, I desired to learn as much about behind the camera as possible and threw myself heart, soul and pocketbook into a production. Though many red flags began popping up months before filming was to commence I attempted to rationalize my misgivings by attributing them to the director’s stress. Had I had done my due diligence, research, and spoken to former actors involved in the project, the answers I sought would have been revealed and I could have saved myself much aggravation, discomfort and money. A hard lesson to learn for a newbie, but a mistake I will never make again.
This May I will be working behind the scenes with the talented Seth Chitwood of Angelwood Pictures and his cast and crew. As mentioned, commercials are one of my favorite types of industry work. In the past five months I completed seven commercials and had three running simultaneously on the local Boston channels. I wrapped on an indie film named MOMENTS FROM A SIDEWALK directed by Silvia Kovatchev, which will be entered in film festivals worldwide starting this spring. A student thesis film DREAMERS by BU graduate student Joe Dwyer, in which I played a scientist, has been nominated for a Student Academy Award by The Motion Pictures Academy for Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. I had the good fortune of being a principal actor in two episodes of The “Folklorist,” a local TV show produced by the talented crew at NEWTV, which is up for five Emmy’s and a Telly this year.
With fifty film projects under my belt I consider myself lucky to have met so many inspirational, talented and dedicated industry professionals. In the past year and a half I have tried to become a consummate professional, choose specific roles and make wise choices that have allowed me to work my way from background to commercials. Most importantly, I give back by supporting actors, films, sharing casting notices, attending screenings of local films, and passing along what I have learned to others. What’s next for me? A short comedic screenplay to be written cast and directed with two of my actor friends. And I hope to continue to take classes, act, and become more involved on both sides of the camera.
Jan Waldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.