Jan Waldman claims she has entered her life’s second chapter when all of a sudden she turned fifty years of age. She had been an involved mom on all levels while her husband had a very busy career as an interventional cardiologist. When her youngest went off to college Adam Sandler happened to be filming on her street for GROWN-UPS 2. And she says, “I can’t explain it other than I got bit by the film bug.”
So owing her new bent to Adam Sandler, even though she didn’t work on any of his films, her next step was to register with all of the Boston casting agencies and her first work as an extra was on the Larry David film CLEAR HISTORY.
“Over the next year,” she tells, “I immersed myself in acting classes, student films, screenings as well as financially donating to many productions. It was a whirlwind, but it paid off. I had an acting reel within six months and a commercial reel within one year, thanks to the expertise of Becki Dennis Buchman of the then Talent Tools. To date I have over sixty film and commercial projects under my belt. My evolution has been rapid, maybe because I am older, why wait? My strength seems to lie
in commercials and TV hosting. It comes easily to me and I enjoy researching and conducting interviews. I refuse to use notes, so I go over every piece of information I can locate on the person I will be interviewing.
“My hard work paid off when I received two Communicator of Distinction Awards for Entertainment Plus, along with my coproducer and editor, Steve Spencer of SATV in Salem, MA. The two shows that received the awards told different yet equally important stories. Horses of Hamilton covered the long and storied history of the Myopia Hunt Club and how horse shows, polo and the Myopia Fox Hunts are a way of life in Hamilton, MA. The second award winning show is about the loss of cardiac surgery at Northshore Medical Center and the effects on Salem, MA. In 2015 I was featured on the cover of IMAGINE Magazine, chosen by publisher Carol Patton, along with thirteen other women over fifty who are making things happen in the film industry.
“I have also had the good fortune of working on the Emmy award winning TV show, The Folklorist (NewTV) with the incredibly talented Angela Harrer and Andrew Eldridge, for numerous episodes. My role as Mrs. Worrall in the episode, Princess Caraboo is one of my greatest experiences on set and this episode was the recipient of a New England Emmy.
“My newest evolution has me teamed up with my daughter, Mikhaila Waldman, together we have started an animal acting agency called Critter Casting (see their ad in this issue).
“My daughter came up with the idea after her German Shepherd was cast as Aidan Turner’s (THE HOBBIT, POLDARK, and BEING HUMAN) dog in the newly premiered movie THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. We enjoyed seeing our pup in all his scenes and knowing my daughter was hiding behind trees or crouching in corners out of sight to give commands made it even more fun.
“In THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT, directed by Robert D. Kryzkowski, the casting call was for a German Shepherd to walk on a leash. That’s all!
”Upon arrival on set her dog was required to do some pretty complicated scenes, luckily he had been expertly trained to do all tasks required. And, they were complicated. The realization that a director would have a much smoother experience if they knew exactly what the animal is capable of on set or in a studio was immediately evident. Silas Archer Gustaf was much more talented and trained than the production knew and that played handsomely to the production’s benefit.
“….so our goal with Critter Casting is to access and videotape the animal actors with different stressors, to properly assess them. My daughter Mikhaila is completing her Master’s in Animals and Public Policy at Tuft’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and her animalexpertise is invaluable to our new agency.” To cross pollinate stories in this edition of IMAGINE, recently Jan and Mikhaila evaluated entertainment attorney Elaine Rogers’ horses and dogs for possible roles in future movie and commercial work.
Critter Casting is located north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts. They are in the business of casting animals of all species for commercials, fi lms and print ads. If you are interested in submitting your animal to be added to their online database contact them for an appointment. If you are looking to cast an animal visit their website for instructions.
Even though there is much on her plate, Jan is still expanding. Also in the works for Jan is, “This past January began my journey as an author with an autobiographical story which will detail the challenges and successes of raising a child with a disability. I have a children’s book in the works about a German Shepherd service dog that is in the infancy stage but hope to get published next year. This has been a very busy five years and I look forward to my next acts with great anticipation.”
At times her success seemed too easy and other times it seemed way too difficult and not worth the hard work. She remembers, “When I started out I encountered much professional jealousy because it appeared I started and then was hired for many jobs without doing my time, so to speak.
“The one thing I maintain is professionalism. I worked against this by taking classes, reading, and working behind the scenes on productions, listening, learning every chance I got. If I was working a large Hollywood film I would sit quietly and watch every single move the director made, or what the Hollywood actors did or said. Most importantly, I try and give back or support others. I refuse to be one of those people that say, ‘Why not me?’ I think a better question is, ‘Why her?’ Then go and find out why they chose this actor or that actor. I believe in congratulating and supporting everyone in the industry. Competition only makes each of us strive to be better.
“What has made me stand out in this industry would be my neutral accent, I am from Minnesota, but do not have any accent. My good nature, my smile and my hair color. These attributes have been very beneficial in my commercial acting success. I am also incredibly driven and creative and this combination works to my benefit in this industry. I am a speed reader and this skill helps me tremendously while researching my guests for my TV show, Entertainment Plus.
In a recent article for a Boston online magazine, Jan was asked what the future holds for the Film, Television and Commercial production industry. This is her reply:
“The biggest threat to the film industry would be the stability of the Film Tax Incentive. Every year it comes up in the MA State House Budget and the fact it is constantly being reviewed makes Hollywood filmmakers hesitant to bring their big budget films here. Commercials are done within a short period of time, so they can move forward at a rapid pace.
It appears that actors now benefit from having a Talent Agency supporting them, which wasn’t the case when I started five years ago. I would like to see more quality Independent films coming out of New England. We have the talent; we need to make sure that all aspects of the films are top notch. Sound, lighting, acting, editing, the entire package.
For now the film tax credits are intact and have been for the last two years, which may speak to why we are getting so many TV series. A hit TV series and we know we have one and maybe four, needs and deserves reliable and dependable film tax credits. Just think of all those jobs a ten episode series creates.
For more information about Critter Casting visit www.crittercasting.com.