Step 1: Write the dang thing
The film has been written. It has been written at least twice now, with two different plots, three different outlines and re-arranged characters each time. One of the plots included a psychic and a detective. The latest version just has a psychotic brother and there’s a bit more vomiting and pepper spray than the original script. When I finally finished it, I immediately started to…
Step 2: Break down the scenes
There is a way to do this in studio binder, but I used a spreadsheet instead. I went through each scene and wrote down the actors needed, the props needed, costumes, location, any extra set decoration notes, stunts or choreography involved, whether it is shot during the day or night, the crew we can scrape by with, how many pages the scene is and what pages the scene starts and ends on.
Step 3: Create a general shooting schedule
This is a little bit of a weird step to take here because I don’t have any of my team’s schedules or the availability of the locations. At the end of the day, the shooting schedule can be rearranged, but I felt it was important to figure out how many days I would need certain locations and actors so that I can present the locations and actors with a general timeline.
Step 4: How much is this going to fricken cost?!
Wow. Films are ridiculously expensive. And I am literally shooting most of it with two characters in a car. The thing is, a feature film needs layers and everything costs money. The reality is, any movie that is reflective of reality requires building a world. That’s expensive even with free locations. Things just cost money. Food, labor, gas, equipment we don’t already have, you name it. Now comes the time where I:
Step 5: Find locations
Particularly locations that don’t require a lot of building, props, or set decorating! This is the best way to go. It keeps things natural, it’s less work for me, (since I won’t be hiring a set decorator or builder), and it already has history built into it. The only catch is, this can be challenging to find. Some locations are locked in, but some will be pending as we get closer to filming.
Step 6: Cast the thing!
I am casting mostly people I know. Many of these roles were written for my friends and many of them are just waiting to see what the heck I’m having them do. Bless their hearts. I love them. I am incredibly lucky. Everything from the script to the locations to the costumes is centered around making this cast shine. They are all incredibly hilarious.
Step 7: Lock in the schedule
I want to give the cast, crew, locations, and myself a solid calendar so that everything is locked and ready and all other equipment and props can be planned accordingly.
Step 8: Crew!
Since we are shooting in Mississippi, Lafayette, New Orleans, and Atlanta it opens up the possibilities of many different people passing the crew torch. We will be shooting on a little camcorder, (!!!!!!!!) so that will make it easier to find help, since it doesn’t require much training to shoot. The sound department is more delicate so I will try to lock in sound as soon as I feel more confident in our funding.
Step 9: Table Read
The table read will be the first and possibly one of the only times the whole team will be together. This is crucial for covering logistics, and getting my director's brain in gear since I will actually have to direct. This is mostly for the actors though, so that they can get comfy with the script and ask any questions they have. With this cast I don’t imagine I’ll have to do more than give them the blocking since each of their roles were written just for them!
Step 10: Equipment
Ah yes, more things I know little about. With Jeff’s help I will sort out what lights we need, how many freaking batteries we need for the cameras, and start practicing with the equipment so that it will be ready well before we start any shooting.
Step 11: Props, costumes, set dec, oh my!
Many of the props were written as household items for a reason. The regional popcorn convention scene, the front of house for Todds! And some character props will need the most attention. The props I can make by hand can turn into a prop making party but the odds and ends will have to come from dollar tree, amazon, and ordered straight from the screen printing services that makes our Todd’s shirts. Yeehaw!
Step 12: Crowdfunding
Once I give the audience a clear picture of what our budget breakdown is, the Todds community will be embraced with open arms as our art project truly begins when friends of the film decide that this is something worth being part of.
Step 13: The shot list
This is where I take what’s in my brain and I write it down so that during filming we move as efficiently as possible. I will absolutely be way too overwhelmed to even know what shots we need for each scene, so I will have it written out for myself as clear as day. I like things to be popped off quickly so we will not do a zillion takes or a zillion angles. It will be rehearsed, planned, and in the can! Nothing will sit long enough to get stale and if I have to get a cue card out for an actor so we can move on I will.
Step 14: Start planning logistics. Like food.
Where are people staying? How far are they driving? What’s the snack situation? Any dietary restrictions? Food is everything and a massive part of the budget. People need to eat and this is hard work. No hangry people here!
Step 15: Organize
The props are in their respective boxes, the locations are updated, and everyone involved has the schedule. The food is planned down to the penny and the talent is ready to rock and roll. The supporters are receiving their stickers and tshirts and I am probably a little overwhelmed in the best way at this point.
Step 16: Filming
This is the best part. I am so excited. BTS will be captured by all.
Step 17: Post production
First comes saving money again. This time, no crowdfunding. We’re editing, getting a poster together, adding some foley, and maybe getting some ADR in. We’re planning what festivals to submit to and how we want to release this bad boy with a bang.
Step 18: Sharing the finished product
Those who contributed financially above a certain price point will receive access to the film along with the actors and crew. There will be a private viewing if the film while it is still circulating the festivals. Eventually a public viewing party will be had. The film will be released on DVD, BluRay, and available to stream.
The “Todds! The Movie” community will forever live on as a project that radiates joy, friendship, hard work, and love from its kernel core.
Gig work, side hustles, being an independent contractor or sole proprietorship, call it what you want. Gig work is work found outside the traditional long-term job. It could be a few hours, a day, or a week, but it is generally short term compared to contract positions that one may have while working for a company.
I consider myself a gig worker. I am an actor, door dasher, private voice instructor, temp worker, voice over artist, and will occasionally do other types of work (like dog walking or care taking) once in a blue moon. I support myself off of gig work most of the year. I have had stints where I will work in a restaurant or bar, only to return to gig work again because of my need for flexibility. Some people struggle with deciding if they should leave their normal job and start gigging full time, so here is my list of pros and cons for being a full time gig worker:
You get to be your own boss (mostly)
Usually there is someone to answer to even if you are your own boss, technically. If you’re an illustrator or temp, there’s still someone on the other end giving you instructions. With that being said, there’s no question that most gig work is a lot more lax than a “traditional job.” You run your business, you decide where you work, what your brand is, what your business model is and are in control of mostly everything involving your earnings.
Gig work is almost always reliant on the worker to accept a client (and schedule their work for that client whenever they see fit) or accept a shift that is offered. The schedule offers a lot of choice as to when the gig worker is able to work.
Since jobs are accepted per day or on a short term basis, there is often a lot of variety in what your schedule looks like week to week with gig work. If you need something steady, gig work can potentially offer that too. It just depends on what type of work it is and how structured the worker can make their own schedule.
Control over what jobs you take and when
Don’t want mow Mrs. Johnson’s lawn today? Fine! When you’re the boss, there is no one to answer to. You can decide what jobs you want to take.
Sometimes allows for higher hourly rates and better earning potential
When I work for myself I set my rates at $35 for a 30 minute singing lesson and $30 for a 30 minute creative consultation. If I were going through an agency or business that had me on staff, part of my pay would go to the business that I work for. When I teach singing lessons through another business, I make $13.50 per 30 minute singing lesson because a cut of that $35 dollar lesson goes to the business’s overhead. This is understandable since I am benefiting from working under a trusted company, they are giving me a space to work, finding clients for me, and scheduling those clients for me.
Very little structure and sometimes more uncertainty
As a gig worker, the structure has to come from the worker. No one is making your schedule when you work for yourself. You have to do that on your own and that isn’t something everyone inherently knows how to do. There is uncertainty in any job or industry but gig work requires the gigger to continually find the next gig, so that uncertainty is magnified. And let’s be real, stressing about when your next paycheck is coming is pretty rough.
Taxes have to be managed more by the worker
If you are an independent contractor or sole proprietorship, chances are you will have to put aside 15-30% of your earnings (depending on how much you are making from the gig and what the work is) so that you can put some of that towards your income taxes that are due every year. It takes a little bit more organizational skills than punching in numbers from a couple of forms on Turbo Tax but I manage it myself every year! (Thank god for extensions.)
Running your own business can feel like a lot of pressure
If you’re a gig worker, you are essentially running your own business. You’re doing the marketing, the scheduling, the communicating with clients, you’re job hunting, delegating, and doing the books. Unless you hire someone to do some of these things for you, it’s all you! I have somehow managed to do this over the years but I’m not going to lie it can pile up sometimes and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing at first.
You’re always looking for work
Looking for work constantly has to be my least favorite on this list. To me, this is the suckiest part of gig work. You’re always advertising, counting clients, and making sure you have enough every month. The income can be all over the place since your schedule is irregular. You hope you retain some clients but sometimes people drop off or only need your services once, so you’re always building that roster.
There’s no roadmap
Another fun one. If you’re hopping around from gig to gig, your schedule and lifestyle might look different even to another gig worker who does similar stuff. There are tips and tricks you can take from other workers but there isn’t always a clear step by step process like there is in a traditional job.
The freedom and flexibility of being a gig worker is unmatched, but the stress of managing your own business can be overwhelming. I have gone back and forth throughout my twenties between freelancing and working for someone because it really depends on other lifestyle factors when you’re committing to a job.
If you are interested in a free 30 minute consultation to help you get started with your new gig work driven lifestyle, send me an email at email@example.com and mention this blog post!
The film industry is a beast. If the film industry were a mythical land it would have everything. Mountains to climb, oceans to cross, deserts to shrivel up and die in, and buried treasure that a few lucky souls will find! Here are 10 things I wish some barnacle head would have told me when I started acting in film.
1. You are not in control of a lot of things in this business
When I started out, my goal was to book a network television job within the first year of being with my agent. That is hilarious to me now because I realize at this point that a goal like that, while attainable, is not something I have a lot of control over. Here’s why. You can audition your butt off, become the best actor you can be, have the most amazing headshots and reel, do everything right, and if there isn’t a role for you, then there isn't a role for you. That’s that. There are a zillion factors that go into casting a role that actors are not aware of when we are submitting to a project and a lot of those factors have nothing to do with us. That’s not to say that hard work doesn’t pay off, it does! But to have a specific goal like that might mean that you don’t know how the industry works. And that’s okay, it’s just better not to beat yourself up over things that aren’t in your control.
2. You can change your look
I seemed to think that keeping my hair the exact same all the time (a tight, blonde bob) was extremely important. The truth is, yes, you need to have updated headshots, but you don’t have to keep a certain weight or style just because you feel like that’s how the casting directors currently know you. They will adjust. Live your life. And dare I say… blonde vs brunette? Bangs or no bangs? Glasses? Doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things. There are roles out there for the bang-ed and the bang-less.
3. Those student films you did will pay off
I don’t regret a single film I did for free or little to no money. There’s no better training than actually doing the work. There’s also no better way to meet other creatives than on a film set. Of course there is a time as an actor when you have to think about when to draw the line at working for free and that is definitely something to consider as you move along in your career. When you’re just starting out though, student films and short films are your best friend. Most of the people I know now are people I met at the very beginning of my film journey. (Pro tip: be cool to work with, you never know if you will cross paths with these lovely people again. Like any industry, it is smaller than you think!)
4. No one knows what they’re doing, but you can learn something from everyone
Go easy on yourself and humility is always a good trait.
5. Just do it
A lot of people say that the camera can tell if you’re lying. I would argue that this is not always the case. Maybe I’m just a terrible actress, but I don’t think so. There will be times you will be shooting and “you’re just not feeling it” or you can’t “find it.” (Whatever it is for you.) You’re a human being and humans get tired. Acting is hard! My advice is, it’s okay if you don’t feel anything while you’re acting sometimes. Adam Driver said in one of those round table interviews something to the effect of “we’re not paid to feel.” Ain’t that the truth. Sometimes you just have to get out of your head, say the words, mean them, and stop worrying about how you are feeling while you’re doing it. At the end of the day, we are talking props and we have a job to do. Feeling is not one of our jobs, making people feel is our job.
6. You can push through the jitters
I used to think that when I was nervous everyone could tell. They couldn’t, but thinking they could would get in my head. Stage fright is normal and it is most certainly not a death sentence to your performance. Accept the nerves and find a way to perform while your heart is beating and your palms are sweating. Eventually I learned that if you don’t let the nerves defeat you, they will quiet down a reasonable amount. After some success in acting, confidence does wonders for the nerves. That can take time, but it should give you hope that it can change.
7. Everyone has an opinion
Acting is an extremely vulnerable craft. There’s a lot of rejection and opinions flying around about how to act, how to be your own business, how to audition, and so much more. This includes my opinion, too! Take it with a grain of salt! At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. This seems obvious and is probably said too much, but I wish I embraced my own path and instincts even more at the beginning of my acting journey. Acting is about letting YOU come out, so playing your strengths and where you are comfortable is a great place to start. Are you naturally serious? Funny? Good at mimicking? Like doing commercials? Voices? Embrace it, use it, and run with it. Don’t take your talents for granted. Use them! Make money!
8. 5 years into my career and it is still an expensive endeavor
Headshots, taking time off from your serving job to do a student film, acting classes, the list goes on and on. Acting costs money. Some actors say that acting shouldn’t be a hobby, it should be a job. I somewhat disagree with this because acting has to be a hobby and a job. Hobbies cost money and free time. So does acting. This is my perspective as someone who treats acting as a craft and a journey, though… I admit I lack some business sense! This takes me to my next point:
9. It’s called show business for a reason
Show biz is show biz. It’s about making the dollar bills for those big picture shows. It’s something to always remember when you want to make sense of it all.
10. Your career changes as you change
As your acting career evolves, you must too. Since I haven’t been going to acting classes in awhile, I feel the effects of that. Some actors I know grow too big for the New Orleans market (or they feel they don’t fit into it) and they move to Atlanta. Some actors decide that at some point they are going to need an LA manager in addition to their New York agent. When things feel stagnant, sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk and make some changes.
If you are interested in a free 30 minute consultation to help you get started, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this blog post!
In this list I have compiled some of the websites that I use to help facilitate my creative businesses. There are different types of creatives out there, of course, so keep in mind that these websites are what I use as a performer, teacher, and creator. If you are reading this, chances are you consider yourself a multi-hyphenate as well! I am also willing to bet you are trying to build multiple sources of income streams, or at the very least multiple avenues in which people can find your work. Here is a list of websites that I use that have proven to enhance my creative life.
Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, or any other website builder
Building a website gives you a platform to link all of your stuff! I can’t tell you how many times my simple website wowed new clients. Websites are a great way to present your portfolio, show your resume, link your social media, link your online shop, and show your personality! Having a website alone will make you more professional. The website builder I chose (and still use) is through Weebly.com. I might transition to Square Space as Weebly consistently has issues with supporting videos, even though I pay for a subscription that allows videos on my website. Weebly is great, but it is not as good as the others in my opinion. (It is outdated.)
Instagram is a place where people go to see what you’re all about and build a community with you. It’s a scouting tool and networking must. (I totally understand if you choose not to have a social media presence, though.) If you do choose to use social media as a tool, having a presence on Instagram will help you build trust with your audience. Period.
Like instagram, having a Facebook page for your business is essential in terms of building trust with your community. Facebook ads are affordable for brand new businesses and will give you a lot of reach! Most of my students come from Facebook and I think it’s because Facebook makes it easy for potential clients to thoroughly vett you. I mean we’ve all creeped on Facebook at least once… right?! Put simply, people think they know you after they creep your Facebook profile regardless if that is true or not.
Google Business Profile
If you use the internet, chances are you use Google. A lot. Join the party and make a business profile for your services. Google Ads are definitely worth it. I have gotten a lot of traffic to my website thanks to Google and have even landed on a South African online bulletin board (I am in the USA) all because someone snatched up info on Google and shared it. I am glad they did because I got two regular clients out of it! It’s always a plus when you can say that your business operates globally.
Side note: I also use Gmail and Google Drive a heck of a lot and definitely can’t imagine not having a Gmail account because of this.
I know what you’re thinking… sketchy much?! But hear me out, if you are smart about your interactions on craigslist, it can be an amazing way to build great connections with people. Craigslist is not as busy as it once was, but there are lots of people who still peruse the listings. Many of my students have come from craigslist and on top of that, I have found THREE awesome long term jobs on there and one creative project that to this day is one of my favorites to look back on. None of them were weird! Pro tip: if you are advertising an online service, post your listing in multiple cities. (Keep in mind that there is a small fee per listing.)
These days it is insanely easy to make print on demand products. If you aren’t a creative maker already, you can 1) design some merchandise 2) slap it on some t-shirts with a print on demand site like Printify and 3) link it up with your Etsy store. I like to use indie musicians as a model for creating multiple platforms and income streams. Creating merch is a great way to get your name out there and it doesn’t have to be complicated! I like Etsy because it is easy to use and takes care of the sales tax for you.
For a long time I ignored Canva, despite the fact that I heard about it from multiple creators who use it DAILY. This website is a gamechanger. In Canva you can customize anything from mugs to flyers to videos to banners, you name it. Don’t sleep on Canva, use it up and create your own brand! The first logo I made for myself was on Microsoft Word. Don’t do that. You really don’t have to do that anymore. Oh, and it’s much easier to use than photoshop.
Having a YouTube channel is a lot like having a Facebook. Just having an account in general helps put you on the map. Another great thing about the tube is that these days you can learn ANYTHING on YouTube if you know what to search. Having a YouTube account allows you to create video playlists, like videos, comment on videos, and subscribe to other creators. YouTube is the best place to show your audience who you are. They can see your face, hear your voice, and get a sense of your essence better on YouTube than any other social media platform.
If you’re making YouTube videos, why not extract the audio and make a podcast? Anchor makes it easy to get your podcast onto Spotify, iTunes, and other podcasting sites with a click of a button. Having a podcast is yet another great way to get yourself out there and build an audience.
These are just a handful of sites that I use, but they are the most crucial ones that I use. Of course there are tons of alternatives to each of these, but I can say that all of these sites are easy to use and cost little to no dollars! The cool (and also a little scary) thing is, with these sites anyone can make a creative business within their home. Will it be successful? Well, that’s up to you, the market, advertising, and a little bit of luck. These sites are my recommended starting point in building your online presence.
If you are interested in a free 30 minute consultation to help you get started, send me an email at email@example.com and mention this blog post!
Cults are scary, I get it. If you are like me, you need a little something magical in your day. Call it a prayer or a higher power, whether you believe in the thing upstairs or not, many of us crave some sort of spiritual comfort. I grew up in a Christian home and believed it all until I went to college, so I have had this spiritual hole to fill ever since. Here are some things that fill that hole for me, since I am now afraid of any sort of group-think.
I was introduced to movement when I was taking an acting class in New York with the William Esper Studio. Before this class I didn’t really dance much anymore and I certainly didn’t do “movement.” Every once in a while I will practice movement instead of doing a traditional exercise and it is always a spiritual experience. Whether you are doing yoga, lifting weights, dancing, or riding a roller coaster, (I think that counts) movement can spark that crackling energy that comes with what used to be seeing your crush at youth group.
I am super anti-woo woo and have still found that meditation challenges me in a way that few other activities can. It scratches that prayer… itch?
When you’re journaling and get lost in it, the world falls away and those things you are writing about take over your mind in a way that only a flow state can. Reflection is not reserved for the religious type and daily devotionals do not have to include a bible verse.
Being in nature is one thing, but how about watching nature? If meditation is too much of a snooze fest for you, I highly recommend sitting and watching a bird or a leaf blowing in the wind. There’s something about it that makes me feel good, just like church used to.
Listening to music or creating music is, to me, like stepping into another dimension. If it isn’t like that for you, maybe try a new kind of music or go to a live show. Maybe pick up the ukulele or start to learn piano. There’s so much out there to tingle your senses.
Drawing, playing with Play-Doe, singing, acting, teaching, or doing some other craft has proven to be so fulfilling to me, much like those Sunday sermons once were.
Chilling with your pet
Animals are more in touch with the spirit world! Now I know I said I’m anti-woo woo but this is just a fact. Hang out with your dog and maybe you’ll get this warm fuzzy feeling, you know, the kind of feeling you get when a ghost is watching you.