2 Months In

So, we’ve practically lived in LA the last month. We did a couple auditions & then Kenzen booked a deal with National Geographic based on his looks alone. The director liked how he looked, green eyes particularly, so she booked him. I know because I ALWAYS ask whoever casted him WHY they chose him. It’s important to know. Why? I am not sure, I just feel like it is important. That makes it so, as far as I am concerned.

The thing with National Geographic was not a big deal in the way of effort on Kenzen’s part. All he had to do was play and look cute while a camera followed him around, and he got PAID FOR THAT!!! It was 2 days of shooting at sunset, so for basically an hour each day. The footage ended up being in a series of short films that promote the TV show Genius. The thing that made this kind of a big deal is that most actors starting out do not get to have a name like NatGeo on their resume. Kenzen got it as his first credit. I thought maybe that was just beginners luck.

Then he booked People Magazine Investigates with Discovery ID. Again, perhaps we just had some beginners luck getting these 2 good names. He is going to be in an episode called Killer In The Family. He plays the younger self of Myles Sachs, whose brother murdered their parents. He didn’t have to say any lines, but he did have to show some emotions. It was more than just playing & looking cute, although there was some of that too. He filmed for 2 days & enjoyed every second of it.

But now he’s booked another one. You’ll know the name soon enough. I am not saying just yet because I am not sure I am committed to the job… I still have an out if I want it.

I’ve stuck to my guns so far that he would not do any roles that were longer than a couple days of filming. He is only 8 years old and I insist that he gets to be himself more than he gets to be somebody else. He would film every day if it were up to him. He loves meeting the people, telling a story, and getting paid. The set teacher asked him how he came to realize he wanted to be an actor. He answered, “It’s the only job I can have at my age & it sounded like a good idea, so I wanted to do it.”

The role he is considering taking right now is in a short film, and he would have speaking lines but not a lot, and it should be just a couple days filming.

We have not sought out a talent agent yet, but one did reach out to us. We will meet with her next week to see what she has in mind.

Kenzen has done several auditions where he didn’t get the part, and he isn’t disappointed or discouraged by it. That makes me happy. This is a hobby for him & that’s a healthy way to look at it right now. He has so much of his mother in him that when he doesn’t get the part, it doesn’t even cross his mind that there’s anything wrong with his audition. He doesn’t beat himself up over it even the slightest bit. He knew going in that 100s of kids try for the same parts, and he can’t win them all. Gotta share the work. So he moves on to the next one and continues doing what he does every day: exercise & watch for any improvements towards the 6 pack abs he wants.

That is all for this update. I am a tired mom, this little boy is keeping me busy. There IS lots more I could say, but it’ll have to wait. I wanna watch TV. I haven’t done that in SO LONG it seems.

 

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Self Tape for the TP scene + bloopers

See, what happened was… we needed tape. 


So, within 24 hours of registering Kenzen at ActorsAccess, he got a request for a self tape audition. These are kind of a thing now, with technology being so fantastic that you no longer have to pollute the environment to do an audition when you can do it various other ways: Skype & self taping, etc. It’s great for actors that don’t reside in Hollywood too, saves them time & money. 
So, of course we had never self-taped & of course our first opportunity had to have FIVE scenes. And my camera tripod was at the office, I had to improvise. I needed a way to steadily hold the camera at face height. We used an iPhone (it’s actually the most convenient tool for the job), green screen my son used for video game streaming) a laundry basket, a lamp, a monopod (that’s basically a stick) and… Duct tape. Photo doesn’t show the role of the laundry basket.. But what we did was put the ‘pod into the handle of the basket then used duct tape to keep it from tilting crooked on us (which it still did every 10 minutes or so). Then, we duct taped my iPhone to the top of the monopod. Of course it kept slipping too, leaning backwards etc. It also left a sticky film on my iPhone. I learned to use more duct tape, rolled up sticky side in, to act as a non sticky buffer between iPhone and tape. This was a nightmare, but Kenzen laughed a lot as I kept fighting with it šŸ˜

You can see from the photo that we also had to duct tape the green screen to the wall. We couldn’t find the actual frame work at the time, but self taping had to be done, so we made do. The screen kept falling down as well šŸ˜  we got through the first scene after what ended up taking much longer than it should have due to us having so many maintenance issues with our set up. 

We taped scene 1 that night, at the end we were frustrated & ready to tell Hollywood to go to hell. Well, at least I was. Kenzen was still hanging in there. We went to bed (he prefers to do his focusing in the evening) & vowed to not do scene 2 until we had all our gear! 

Next day, my husband brought home my tripod to replace the monopod & laundry basket. He also went to Best Buy & got us an actual iPhone holder thing to attach to the top of the ‘pod. That was heaven by itself, but where he really earned his keep was finding the framework for the green screen. Here’s our new, permanent set up in Kenzen’s “studio” (our spare bedroom):

The 2nd phase set up in Kenzen’s studio
So, the above set up was perfect for scenes 2-5. No issues at all. We will probably leave it this way. This blog title promises the blooper reel so, because I can’t share the script (you’re never allowed to share your self tapes) I can at least show you how he handled his goof ups šŸ˜ 

ā€‹ā€‹
Kenzen is great about self taping, and he will do his scenes over and over until he thinks it’s the best he can do. He knows he will get better with each audition and that we need to send up the “tape” even if it’s not perfect because there are too many variables to be able to define “perfect”. You could totally screw up an audition and get chosen, just because the director saw something about you that a) fit the character personality, b) had the right official characteristics, and/or c) the screws ups could be worked through. He knows that if there’s anything about him that is right for the role, he will be chosen and if he isn’t chosen, it’s really got nothing to do with him & everything to do with the role itself. That’s a powerful thing to understand from the very beginning of a career in show business. I’m glad he gets it, really gets it. 

Next blog: his first in person audition and how mom may have blown that one. 

Hollywood Mom “Starter Kit”

When I told close friends & family that I got Kenzen into acting, first question was HOW did you do that? So, here’s how, if you want to join Kenzen in his career adventures… we’d love to have a family member or friend learn the ropes with us. But, if you don’t want to & were just curious, this will be a boring blog entry for you.

First thing you need to do is get your child’s headshots done. This head shot is your child’s business card. It needs to beĀ a high quality photo of your child’s face. Should be from the shoulders up. The reason for this is that when a Casting Director gets a list of actors who fit the character they’re looking for, the photo is only a thumbnail size, so they need to see the face.
This photo should be of your child at his/her best, & you should have a few facial expressions: Serious, Funny & an all around good smiley one. Avoid using digital programs to touch up the photo. A little, within reason such as fly away hair strand removal, is to be expected, but do not conceal real characteristics.

How NOT to do Headshots

Next you need to create your child’s resume. If your child has no experience, this will be super easy.Ā There is great advice on Backstage.com if you would like to see some examples of others resumes or click the link I gave in the first sentence.

You then need your child to have his own email address. Trust me on this one because I am friends with another mom who didn’t do this and it was a royal pain to change everything over once her son was in a position to manage his own email. For the email address, you may as well just purchase your child’s domain for a webpage, because if you are serious, you will need this and you don’t want to have to buy your child’s name from some other domain squatter who beats you to it for the sole purpose of exploiting your procrastination & trying to get you to pay $1000 to buy it back. If you don’t think that will happen, or aren’t sure how serious you are, just use good ol gmail.

After you have an email address, you need to create your child’s social media pages. Instagram, Twitter, etc. Decide if you want your child to use their real name or a stage name. We chose stage name. Your child’s real identity will eventually get out there if they are successful, but this is still an added layer of protection.

To Hire an Agent or not to Hire an Agent

Most parents want an agent for their child. I chose not to get one because I think I can do it myself for at least a little while. I want to know how to do the job so that I can tell when anĀ agent is doing a good job or a lousy job later on down the road when we hire one. I decided to learn everything, little by little, the hard way. We’re not in a hurry to get famous, so, we have time to learn the ropes.

But, if you’re going to pursue finding an agent first, you need to get yourself a list of the best ones to start with & plan to sit at your computer awhile calling them, getting their email addresses & asking what their preferred method for receiving info about new talent is. Some want you to mail it, email it, drop it off in person, upload it somewhere etc.
Decided which agents you want to call first, and go down the list. Create a paragraph that you can copy & paste into every email with your attachments.

<Top 10 talent agencies for kids>

Then you just wait.

If you are like me, and you don’t want to wait, then join Showfax.com. If you get an annual membership there for $68, then you get to use ActorsAccess for free for a year, and Actors access has all the stuff you need to get started finding auditions for your kid. In addition to ActorsAccess you might want to get the membership to Backstage.com. Its either $20 month to month, or $11 a month if you pay for the whole year. I just did the month thing at first, because I don’t know if I am going to end up handing this over to an agent & not needing my own subscription, and I don’t know yet if it’s different than you find on ActorsAccess.

Once I got Kenzen on the roster, so to speak, we had audition invitations within 24 hours. This is impressive, but may not actually mean anything. The websites I mentioned above are a must have, and if you set them up right, they’ll email you anytime a new casting call comes up that fits your kids profile. And since you want to be in the first 500 to respond, it’s nice that the website keeps your kid’s info so that all you have to do is hit one button & it sends it to the casting director. There is still so much more that I have to do, but this is the starter kit, its what you need to do first, so that you can do other things. Without these things contained in this blog post, you can’t do anything at all.

So, to recap: Head Shots, Resume, Email Address, Social Media, Talent Agent or dedicated parent willing to go ALL IN.

Hollywood: Take 1

I took my first trip to Hollywood last week. I was by myself, on my way to San Diego, when I decided on a whim that I would just stop for the night in Hollywood & poke around a little. Traffic was awful at the time I was driving through & I couldn’t stand to deal with it for another 3 hours to SD. And since I am a person who gets through lifeĀ on intuition, I went there intending to pick up on all the energies in Hollywood. I used airbnb instead of Marriott. I decided that when I am travelling alone, I will use airbnb forever because I love it so much, but particularly in Hollywood. The locals who are renting apartments are usually aspiring entertainers themselves, and because they need the extra income to make ends meet, they rent out their extra room. The room is usually nice & clean because they certainly need good reviews or no one will book them. They are very hospitable so if you are a frequent visitor to their area, they’d like you to come back & stay with them again. That is perfect for me because I get the opportunity toĀ ask questions about their industry. They’ve seemed very happy to be “interviewed” (so to speak).

The first couple I stayed with was right on Hollywood Boulevard at the foot of Runyon Canyon. I arrived & he gave me the run down of the area, told me where I could eat. There was a pub a couple blocks over called The Pikey so I went there. There were no tables available so I sat myself down at the bar & ordered me a burger. At that place, I met Brian, the bartender. He asked me what brought me to Hollywood for this trip & I told him that I was just hanging out & getting to know the scene because my son wants to be an actor, so I felt like I wanted to at least learn my way around a little, get a feel for the culture. He then admitted he is an actor as well as a bartender. He asked about to boy & to seeĀ his ‘headshots’, which I had not even taken yet, so I showed him Kenzen’s Instagram & just what’s on it. He said he genuinely thought my kid had a great presence and the fact that he was talented archer, eskrimador & avid runner was helpful in roles for which those characteristics may be relevant. He said to make sure I put every single skill & ability on his resume. Then, another actor walked in. He sat at the bar next to me. I talked to him for a bit then Brian asked me if I knew who he was. Of course I didn’t. He then officially introduced me to Ross Partridge from Stranger Things. I had never seen the show, and in hindsight, I probably should’ve lied & said, “Oh I knew you looked familiar!” but of course I didn’t think about that on the spot. So, I shamefully said, “No I actually don’t watch much TV, I need to start!” Which felt like a stupid thing to say, but then he said, “Well they nixed me for season 2 so you don’t have to watch that show.” I felt better & said, “Well to hell with them then!” Then, I got to talking to the guy on the other side of me. He had forgotten what he was drinking so I reminded him, “You had whiskey” (which I remembered since because his accent was so strong I had been eavesdropping to see what his story was) and from there we just talked about stuff. He, too, asked me what I was doing there, so Brian told him “she’s here to check us out, her son wants to be an actor”. I then said, “ok you know my secret, what’s yours, what are you doing here?” Turns out he is a talent scout for Coachella, a music festival I’ve never been interested in. This time I was on point! I said, “Oh awesome how do you feel about the turnout this year?” I didn’t know squat about Coachella except what I saw come across on twitter. In 3 minutes I had his life story, where he was from, how many kids & what a day in his job is like. All without even asking for the info. Thankfully, due to my personality, I get that a lot, people just spill their guts to me & in this case I took advantage. So, he offered me some advice about entertainment overall, then I tried to get him to book Metallica for the next one. Hey, I had to try. He says Metallica must hateĀ his festival as they’ve blown him off every time.

Brian then told me about a friend of his who was a successful actor, Jack Plotnick. Jack has decided to give back by guiding the next generation of aspiring actors through the industry in every which way he can think of. Jack wrote a book that you can get for free if you know the right avenues. I am now armed with it, & with any luck, in a few days I will be this big know it all. Or at least, I will be wielding the false confidenceĀ required to push me to the next step šŸ™‚

I have sent Jack a facebook message thanking him for the eBook and introducing myself & the boy who will benefit from the knowledge obtained from the book. Perhaps he will respond back & be totally interested in my kid. But perhaps not. It would be just TOO easy for Hollywood to REALLY come and get us, so I figure we will never hear back from that nice fella. I had to look him up to see who he is, apparently he’s kind of a big deal!

On my way back from San Diego, I stopped again in Hollywood & used airBnB & stayed with another young-ish couple pursuing a career in acting. Funny side story: When I showed up at their house, they hadn’t gotten home from work yet, so I went into Runyon Canyon park to hike a little. While I was in there, they locked the gates! I couldn’t get out, I had to leap the fence! My 5’6″, 160 pound, nearly 40 year old self had to leap a 10 foot fence. Don’t get me wrong, I am flattered & proud as all get out that I could jump the fence. I ain’t as good as I once was, but as good once as I ever was (thanks for that line, Toby). There was a batch of us there who got locked in. The hosts I was staying with, who rushed home to let me in, texted me that they were there & I could come up any time. I had to text back, “Uh yeah, I am locked in the park at the moment… I will be out asap”. So the guy came to the fence & said, “Which of you is Teralyn?” I said, “Um that’d be me, you must be Shaun, nice to meet you, from behind bars.” We chuckled & I realized that no park ranger was going to pick up the phone & come let us out. Some others considered actually calling 911, and I said, “Nah, I will get us all out of here.” So, I leaped over, making sure no one was filming in case I fell on my face as I demonstrated, and then started coaching others over. Well, there was one girl who was afraid of heights. She got to the top & stayed there awhile. I even tried to use chocolate to get her down… because that sure would have gotten me down… anyway, eventually we got her out, too. She was so embarrassed, poor thing, her boyfriend was there watching her panic & refuse to rescue herself.

So, Shaun & Leela were my hosts that night & they gave me additional info that was helpful. They introduced me to this app (Postmates) where you could order food from so many places & they’d just drive it over to you. I was impressed. I chose a taco place & ate dinner, I was starving after hiking Runyon (which I fell in LOVE with, by the way, I love that park).

So, that is how I decided that I could do this for my boy. I could help him pursue his dream because it isn’t at all outside my comfort zone. Next blog, I will tell you what I found to be the ultimate starter kit for a Hollywood mom & her boy. I had to figure out how to find out where the jobs were, who was looking for extras & support roles, which acting schools were best value & which just looked good on a resume.

Gettin This Party Started.

“Hollywood, Hollywood, come & get me Hollywood!” Yes, you absolutely SHOULD say that the way Hollywood says it in Mannequin.

Intro: Hi. I am Teralyn. Mother of a child actor. Well… I mean he’s an actor, but we’re seeing about getting him paid to do it. This is HIS goal, this is HIS idea, and because we are from a line seeming to be full of entertainers, I am taking him seriously about it. Clearly, something wild is running through the bloodline. If he doesn’t make it big, it won’t be because mom was not supportive.

Kenzen is 8. Is that a little young to know exactly what he wants? Maybe for some kids, but not Kenzen. He’s known his calling for a very long time. But, in the last 6 months, he’s talked about it a lot & put his heart & soul into learning skills that will make him be a better actor. His ultimate dream: To be an actor in a superhero movie, or something with dragons. You have to have a goal, and that is his. This goal may change over time, because that’s what humans do, we move the target. For now, we’re working towards super hero status. Kenzen wants to be The OneĀ to tell the story. The one with the responsibility of a role model for the next generation. Many actors stumble into that role just by auditioning for things & getting the job, but Kenzen is summoning it.

He is currently home schooled and it will probably stay that way. It gives him more time to be a boy, to discover himself, his interests and the world on his own terms. He has been to public school, K-2 & he’s had enough of that for now. He would rather be working towards skillsĀ for Hollywood, when it comes to get us.

Right now, he spends his time this way, in this order: wake up> wake mom up > drag mom out of bed in her PJs to the depths of the backyard with her camera > shoot bow & arrow while mom films in Slo Mo > watch each shot to observe how smooth the arrow met its target > eat breakfast > go to ninja warrior training deck in the backyard > does pull-ups, climbs his ropes, jumps on his trampoline > brainstorms which piece he wants to add to his obstacle course next > repeats is ninja circuit 7 or 8 times > show mom belly & ask if she sees the abs yet. Only then does he come in to do school work. After that, he is hungry for lunch. Of course, now he’s rested & he is ready to go shoot arrows again. Soon as his dad gets home, he practices Eskrima, which his dad teaches him. He needs this skill because a hero needs to know how to fight using ANYTHING, ANYWHERE & EskrimaĀ is just the thing for that. It happens to be the same style The Arrow (Stephen Amell) uses, which is one of Kenzen’s favorite heroes. He also loves the Flash (Grant Gustin), which reminds me, in addition to his daily routine, about 3 times a week he gets me to take him running.

He will, on occasion, do yoga with me, but only because there’s the chance that he will see me fall. I have this ball I use, and just yesterday he nearly peed himself laughing at me as I flopped right over the thing & fell on my face while trying to hold a plank position on the ball. Glad I could provide his comic relief!

His other inspirations are: Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America and the TV series Merlin. He does love magic as much as any other supernatural ability.

Kenzen would also like to be as funny asĀ Jim Carrey. Will will be doing videos of his favorite impressions of Jim Carrey and uploading them to his new YouTube, I haven’t set up that channel yet, I am stalling, I know. I am sure he will find many other things to upload too, like any time he can do one more pull up than he did the day before it will warrant a new video.

So that is our story. Some other things I can say is that I have 4 sons, Kenzen is the youngest. Only one of his brothers is open to doing TV, which takes 2nd fiddle to NFL dreams. His dad is a Real Estate Agent. We live in Central California. Hollywood is a 5 hour drive for us. We do not particularly want to love in Hollywood, ever, but my recent trip there did go pretty well. I fell in love with Runyon Park, even though I got locked in it. Apparently they don’t check for hikers before they lock the gates. At nearly 40 years old, I leaped a 10 foot fence & rescued myself because the park ranger line was busy indefinitely. Sometimes, you just have to be your own hero.