I Meet Lots Of Actors On Twitter, From All Over The Country, All Over The World
When I met actor Curt Hendley on Twitter, and I learned he lived in Austin; I was stoked. I’d been to Austin on a roadtrip back in my college days, where I had a wild weekend of live music, and ordered handmade cowboy boots. I know it’s still a happenin’ locale.
More than ever. Many LA actors that originally come from Texas; buy an additional home there, after they start to make some real acting bucks.
Some actors, and others involved in film, choose to stay right there. They live in Austin, and come only to Los Angeles when, and if, they have work here. I have a different friend from Twitter friend, who moved there to run a theatre company.
Just this past year, I met two directors who live in Texas, and generally shoot in Texas: Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater. They both make films in the style of their choosing; they are interesting and A-level directors. (And if you don’t know about their work, click on their names, to find out.)
Robert Rodriguez has a movie out right now, called ‘Machete’. He’s got a prolific resume, which started with a full-length feature he made for $7000, called ‘El Mariachi’.
Richard Linklater you may remember from here at Hollywood Actor Prep. Or you’ve seen ‘Dazed And Confused’… His most recent release was ‘Me And Orson Welles’. In that film, he cast a completely unknown actor for the role of Orson Welles, who starred alongside Zac Efron.
I wrote 2 separate posts, with video interviews. If interested, you may click on titles of the posts to open them up in a separate window:
1.Hollywood Actor Prep: How Did The Lead Actor [link] With No Credits Get Cast To Play Welles?’
2.Hollywood Actor Prep : Prepared Actor Christian McKay
At first, I asked Curt on Twitter, what the acting life is like for an actor in Austin, Texas. Not an easy kind of question to tackle on Twitter–with a 140 letter restriction. So then, in under 140 characters, I tweeted him to email me a description that I can post on Hollywood Actor Prep.
He did, and here it is.
My name is Curt Hendley. I’m an actor living in Austin, Texas. Let me first say that it’s impossible to generalize anything about my home state. It’s a vast place with astonishing variety in its landscape, economy, artistic endeavors, and cultural sensitivities. So while I might attempt to explain “what acting is like in Texas,” understand that my chief experience has been in Austin and that I know little of what’s going on in Dallas or Houston (the two biggest markets), much less the rest of the state. Also, although Texas has a vibrant live theater scene, my main area of interest is film.
Many filmmakers love shooting in Texas simply because of the variety I mentioned above. The Texas Film Commission provides a list of nearly two thousand films that have been shot here since 1910. If you choose to shoot a film project here, you won’t have to leave the state for anything–not for locations, not for cast or crew, not for equipment, and not for money. For a few years, most filmmakers have not taken advantage of this simply because other states offered far better tax incentives. That changed in 2008 when the state legislature raised the level of tax incentives for film to 15 percent–still below places like Michigan and Louisiana, but enough to be competitive.
As a result of the new levels of film incentives, major projects have
come to Texas including Predators, Machete (both by Robert Rodriguez), Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn), Temple Grandin (HBO), and some others with more to come. There are also five network TV series shooting in Texas: Friday Night Lights (in its final season), Lonestar, Chase, My Generation, and The Good Guys.
More than the major studio projects, independent film is thriving. You can’t swing a tripod in Austin without administering a concussion to someone involved in film. The University of Texas has a strong film
program, and even non-students here are passionate about making films.
Quite a few organizations are dedicated to fostering talent and
community, including the TXMPA, The Alliance, The Austin Film Society, Reel Women, and several others. Anyone who wants to act can find a network of support and lots of work pretty easily… unless they want to be paid.
I was talking with one of the top casting directors here a couple of
years ago, and she told me, “If you want to make a career out of
acting, unfortunately your first step toward that should be to move away from Austin.” Although there are ample opportunities to hone one’s acting craft, both in study and experience, there’s simply not enough paying work to sustain anyone without a day job. I’ve heard that a few people in Dallas and Houston are able to make ends meet through a combination of film, TV, commercial, industrial, and VO work, but I haven’t met them. I’ve had representation from the top agency in Central Texas for the last two years, and I’ve worked a total of three pittance-paying jobs. I’ve done a lot of acting, but most of it was for free. I should add that I know many people who have made significant money, though certainly not enough to live on.
That said, Texas (Austin, at least) is a great place to be if you want
to work with people who are passionate about acting and filmmaking. SXSW and The Austin Film Festival bring a lot of attention to the region every year. There are a few production companies that are making headway toward building a sort of “middle class” level of film productions (Willie Nelson’s Luck Films, and my friends at Mattermedia Studios, for example) with high-6- and 7-digit budgets. And there’s realistic hope that projects with megabudgets will soon be here and able to sustain careers, so I feel like I’m kind of on the ground floor here. For now, we’re all just doing our best to maintain and build up our film community, create our own opportunities, and be ready when all this momentum reaches the tipping point.
Austin Actor, Curt Hendley, can be found on the Internet at CurtHendley.com, and on Twitter he is @chendle.
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