48 hour film festivals

Probably the only people who know about these kinds of challenges are actors. I had heard of them over the years, and it sounded god awful to me. You have 48 hours to make a short movie from “inception of idea” all the way to “finished project.” Hellacious right? Then I started studying at Stuart Rogers Studio and met all these terrific actors who really care about their art and craft and are not afraid of doing really hard work. I soon realized I had become a pampered, passionless actor who had morphed into a giant pussy. I was scared, scared to get involved and to care anymore. Well I don’t like being scared. My life is only 1/2 over. What am I gonna do for the last 1/2? Hide huddled in a corner too scared to try something new; too scared to rediscover my enthusiasm, passion and drive because I’m afraid I’ll look like an idiot for caring? Since when did I ever care about what I looked like?

This February, Stuart Rogers Studio had their 48 Hour Film Festival. I was determined to be a part of it. Luckily my favorite people allowed me on their team. Mandy Levin and Brice Williams had assembled an incredible assortment of actors, director, writer, artist, and editor.

Most of us are really only trained to act so we knew there would many challenges, specifically technical, along the way.

We were given “Buddy Film” as our genre.
We had to incorporate, “The opera chef cooks and sings,” somewhere in the dialogue.
We had to incorporate the name “Maxwell Geanalkoplis.”
We had to use a “plunger” somewhere in the film.
The film had to be at least 5 minutes long but no longer than 10.

It is amazing what you can do for no money, no time and a gun to your head. It is gloriously silly and fun. *WARNING* there is some foul language. I hope you enjoy.

Heather Robinson won Best Director and I won Best Actress. This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

The Team
Brice Williams – “Jack” and Co-Captain, Chief problem solver
Mandy Levin – “Maggie” and Co-Captain, Chief pre-problem solver
Heather Robinson – Director and “Housekeeper”
Catherine Butterfield – Writer
Marcus Williams – Editor
Tommy Burr – “Maxwell Geanalkoplis” – script supervisor
Jack Krizmanich – “Gorgeous Cop” and all around helper
Brett Doar – “Maggie’s Husband” and all around helper
and Me

Talented Friends!

I am surrounded by talented people. Not just actor friends but writers, musicians, artists, photographers, storytellers, creators of things intriguing and/or beautiful, and problem solvers. This enriches my life and inspires me and I consider myself extraordinarily lucky.

I feel compelled to share with you some of this bounty and in turn you can share with others.

1503399_654394427949933_1681198025_nFirst of all, my sister Lucy Hagan wrote a gloriously haunting and beautiful Christmas song. CHRISTMAS HEAR THE BELLS. It is only available as an MP3. So download and enjoy immediately! Lots of places to get this: iTunes, CD Baby, Google Play, and Amazon.

51vv4OLzUALLynn Cohen has just recently published her book A TERRIBLE CASE OF BEAUTY. This novel drew me in and never let me go. I was deeply affected by this book. Naomi Shihab Nye who is a poet and novelist wrote about the book, “Lynn Cohen manages what politicians seem to find it so impossibly difficult to do – she imagines the experience of “the other.” Skillfully, tenderly she renders the infinitely perplexing and sorrowful occupation, the complicated struggle for justice in Palestine/Israel into particular human size and scale… Through chapters rich with intricate, careful details, haunting encounters, and a wide range of compelling conversations, Cohen shapes new possibilities for consideration and understanding.” Lynn’s book is available in print and as an eBook through Amazon. A Terrible Case of Beauty

My friend Andy Blackford wrote a collection of short stories called BUDDHA AND THE BOMB. These funny and charming stories follow Jayashinti an improbable British Buddhist Monk. This is a thoroughly entertaining read. And the appendixes are filled with REAL down to earth info on Mindulness Meditation. You can get this eBook through Amazon. With a Kindle® App you can start enjoying immediately. Buddha and the Bomb71Tw-Oau95L._SL1500_

Charlie Chessler has a romantic relationship with his beloved New York City. He shares his passion through his photographs. Whether he is photographing some of the city’s smallest denizens like the Tufted Titmouse to the largest landscapes of Central Park you will enjoy. Please visit his site to see these extraordinary photos CharlesChesslerPhotography

I am always bragging about my friend Lana Von Haught! There is nothing she can’t do. She IS all of the above, Musician, photographer, artist, blah blah blah;) Currently her passion is photography and videography. Visit her site to enjoy her wide range of subjects and services LanaVonHaught

48-Belle-Coco-long-270x270My dear friend Sasha Stone makes the most delicious and nourishing oil for body and hair BELLE COCO. I say delicious because it smells so good you want to eat it. It is 100% natural and made in small batches. You can buy it on her web site or at Liberation Yoga. BeOpenYoga

Thank you for letting me share just a small sampling of my friends’ work and Happy Holidays to you and yours.



The Power of Rejection

In December of 2012, after being in the business for 30 years, my agent of 15 years dropped me. It was a devastating blow. But had it not happened, I never would have made the changes I needed for my happiness, health and finances.

It had already been a terrible day. My agent’s call was the icing on the cake. As gently as she could, she said they no longer had any enthusiasm for me. It was a hard phone call for her to make, it was a hard phone call to hear. Upon hanging up I fell to my knees and sobbed… Keened actually. I gave myself 24 hours to wallow and wonder.

Then it occurred to me, how could my agency have any enthusiasm for me when I had none for myself? I would have dropped me if I had been my agent. In retrospect, I can’t believe they represented me for the past 3 years.

In the last 3 years, I began to doubt my ability to make a living as an actor. I began to doubt my talent as an actor. I had never had those doubts before. But now I believed jobs for women of my age were becoming few and far between and what little there was, I wasn’t going to book them anyway. I was living in a world of fear and paucity.

So I decided to pursue my second love… Yoga. I had already been teaching for 10 years, opening a Yoga studio seemed like the next logical, financially secure step.

Sounded good, sounded authentic. But it was neither. I opened the studio not out of love but out of fear. Fear is not an emotion from which to make a business plan.

I opened up my studio in the worst financial downturn in recent history. I then proceeded to reschedule countless auditions. I even canceled auditions. For all intents and purposes, I had abandoned my acting career. I had abandoned the one thing I had loved, brought me happiness and had always sustained me financially and spiritually.

Over the course of next few years, the Universe kept sending me little signs to let me know this whole situation wasn’t working. But I wouldn’t listen. Come hell or high water, I was gonna make the studio work. I taught too many hours for my body to recover. I spent too many hours scheming and marketing for my mind to recover. I was zapped and the studio still didn’t prosper. And my money maker, acting, kept limping along even though I gave it no thought, energy or attention.

I had one foot in the acting world and one foot in the yoga world. Both suffered because of it.

And then finally, my agent dropped me. Now for some that may have seemed like a sign to give up acting. But instead, I used that rejection as a wake up call. I had to look within and see what I really wanted. I first looked deep into my heart. And then looked into my finances. They both were telling me the same thing. I had to give up the studio. I had to take a long and maybe permanent hiatus from teaching in order to get my business back on track, the business of acting.

I rallied. Immediately, with the help of my manger, I got another agent. I got myself back into an acting class. The universe blessed me with granting me a gig out of the blue for which I had not even auditioned. And now, as I begin the process of closing the studio, the jobs keep coming.

Sure I maybe middle aged woman, but there ARE roles out there! Instead of focusing on the lack of roles, I now believe I am going to get those roles. I have never operated out of fear in my life. But I have operated out of rejection. I love a good battle. I love proving people wrong. Rejection was what propelled me into this business and at 51 it is motivating me again.

I cannot thank my former agency enough. They worked really hard for me when I was with them. I got some wonderful gigs through them. But the greatest gift they gave me, was dumping me. It reignited my passion and my competitive spirit. And you need both if you want to act.

Rejection? Use it as a tool!

For more thoughts on rejection check out Risa Bramon’s article