De-Stress! Go on a vacation!

Hello Friends,

I spent over a week on vacation in Cartagena, Colombia this month


 I made new friends, ate at the same restaurants Anthony Bourdain raved about, explored new sites, jumped into a bottomless mud volcano and fell in love all over again with myself and with my life.

It was a big deal to get away from the hustle of LA LA LAND. 



The day before my flight to Bogota, Colombia, I was on avail for a commercial and promised my new commercial agents, if I booked it, I would cancel my trip. 



Originally at the casting and callback, the dates did not interfere with my trip.  As much as I wanted to book that $50,000 commercial so I could travel even more, I am glad I didn't because I would have had to cancel my July Colombia vacation.   And what would that have meant, I am putting my personal life aside again and again for my career.  I love traveling.  It truly makes my soul sing. And what I have learned since returning back to LA LA LAND is, I am a better actor and an even better person, because of all the places I have been, people I connected with and experiences I have had. 

Since returning back from Colombia, my energy is more in the flow.  Casting opportunities are falling in my lap and I just know I will be on avail again real soon for another spot and book it this time.  More importantly, I am enjoying life even more and embracing every step of this journey and ready for my next vacation.

New Mexico and Buenos Aires, Argentina is next on the list...for this 2018!




As I slip back into "work mode," I'm noticing the reappearance of stress already.  So my advice to all of you, (myself included), wherever you are in the world, wherever you are in your career, is to TRAVEL.  Get out there and visit those friends you haven't seen in years!  Go to that country you always wanted to travel to and try new foods, meet new people.  It will make you a more interesting actor, and ultimately an even better person!

Bottom line, Do what brings you joy!  Joy leads to more Joy!

Much love!
Christina DeRosa

From Munich to Sydney: Advice for Actors Making a Global Move

by Guest Blogger Julia Stubenrauch




















I’m from Munich, Germany. And you could say things were going well for me there. I was in my first year of acting school, had an agent, and had already made a few guest appearances on TV. I had a producer I was writing music with, and had opened for a huge concert in Romania, live-streamed on international television. Everything seemed to be on a great path. And then, I met a boy.

Not so much of a boy really, a man-- from Australia, who was living in Munich for a year. And badabingbadaboom, six months later I was on a plane and had moved to Sydney, Australia, a place I had never been before, for a guy I had known less than seven months. He had offered to stay with me in Germany if I preferred, but well...Australia...it sounded pretty exciting to me. And to be honest, the path I was on wasn't that great. My acting school sucked, my producer was preoccupied with his growing family, and Munich isn’t exactly the height of the screen industry-- unless your thing is becoming a soap opera lifer. So, Australia. I quit acting school, ended things with my producer, cleared out my childhood bedroom and hopped on a 25 hour flight. I cried. A lot. Spoiler alert – it all worked out in the end. But there were a lot of bumps along the way and I’ve made a little list of things to keep in mind for actors who are thinking of moving to a new place. Well, to be quite frank, I made it for myself, hoping that I will actually remember some of it for next time. There will be a next time-- don’t want things to get too easy ;)

  • Say yes, and figure the rest out later.
To be fair, I was 20 years old, had never had to pay for rent, let alone buy toilet paper and hadn’t really nailed this whole being an adult thing yet (I still haven’t, but at least I’m way better at pretending I have). So I was scared. And because I was scared I said no to things before they could become an issue – or an opportunity. I found the most bizarre excuses not to take that phone call, not to audition for that role, not to do that interview because – What if I can’t understand them (I was still struggling with that aussie accent) or even worse – what if they made fun of my accent? What if it overlaps with something else that I applied for? What if I don’t have anything interesting to tell them? Plus, I couldn’t do anything that was unpaid, because I was too good for that, right? Well, newsflash. It will all work out. Somehow. And chances are, you won’t exactly be swamped with gigs when you first arrive somewhere, so yes, you do have time to do that unpaid shoot if it gives you good footage and lets you meet new people. Don’t stress about it before it’s even begun. Say yes to each and every opportunity that is presented to you and to be realistic – most of them won’t work out anyway. But at least you tried, made new connections and hopefully you’ll still be left with some of them who do work out. And if two things ever do overlap – go with the one that’s more fun…or the one that pays more. See, easy.

  • Not learning the accent is not an option.
I was lucky enough to not have a very strong German accent to begin with, thanks to watching Gossip Girl, but still, when I met with agents they all said the same thing – we can submit you for non speaking commercials. That’s it. And I thought, what a bunch of crap, I’m broke, I don’t have enough money to take accent classes. There must be roles for people with a different accent. I mean… I could be a backpacker? Or a Bond Girl?! And maybe it’s not as big of an issue in the States, but it is a huge deal in most places and it’s always going to be very limiting. So be smart and go learn that accent before you move to a new place. It will save you a lot of time once you get there. If you’re committed it won’t even take that long and it’s definitely worth the money. Because let me tell you – I’ve been in Australia for almost four years and not once have I auditioned for a German role.


  • Connections, connections, connections.
Well this one is not exactly news and to be honest it’s the one that I’m still struggling with the most. Because who wants to be that person who annoyingly self promotes themselves everywhere they go? But, I have found a few ways to hopefully give me a bit of structure for when I start all over again. Step 1: make actor friends. Making friends is actually a lot harder once you’re out of high school, something I would have never ever expected. The best way for me was doing acting classes and community theatre. Hanging out with the same bunch of people for weeks on end, you’re bound to find one or two good people in there. Step 2: Find people who have experience and ask them what other courses they do? What acting facebook groups are they in? What acting blogs do they read? Are there any special workshops coming up you should know about? And most importantly – which casting agents do acting courses? I don’t know if this will be the same in every city but in Sydney there’s a bunch of casting agents and even directors who regularly hold workshops and courses. Step 3: Do courses with every single casting agent/director you can find out about (or that you can afford). This not only gives you a great opportunity to hone your skills but also introduces you to the people who have the power to get you into the audition room. Step 4: If you’re lucky (and you also must be reasonably talented of course) they won’t just remember you and bring you in for castings but they might also put a good word in for you with a good acting agent. One of the top 10 agents in Sydney met up with me after a recommendation from someone in the industry without having even looked at my footage. Which then unfortunately turned out to be an issue because I still had a funny accent (see point number 2) and he couldn’t represent me. But still I never would have gotten that interview if it hadn’t been for that recommendation.




So that’s my little list. I swear to god, I wish I would have known this when I first moved to Sydney. It would have sped up this whole process quite a bit.  But then again, sometimes you need to learn it the hard way, because with everyone throwing different advice at you it’s hard to filter out the crap.

#SelfTaping on the Global

In my head, when my big audition for that major Netflix show came along, I would have a day or two to delve into the character, try out different readings, and find the perfect scene-partner to read opposite me. I would have an acting coach give me those subtle-but-vital tips on my performance and, to tape in, I would have a professional studio (or my home studio) with a background and lighting that make my eyes pop. Well, that’s not how it happened. I was overseas and in transit when I received the submission request. And, the (wonderful) reality is, when you’re a global actor, you’re often not at home. So the best thing you can do is, be prepared for it to happen.


Here are my Top 10 Tips for self-taping on the go:



1. Don’t leave home without your smart phone, laptop and chargers. Your phone will be your camera, and possibly your microphone. If you want to ensure sound quality, you can carry a lapelle mic, they are very cheap and travel friendly. If you don’t have it already, get some basic editing software so you can start and end your video exactly where you want to, and insert title cards with your name, character name, project name and contact info. 

2. Use natural light. This means you have to shoot in daylight hours, when the sun is out,

near a window. Try different angles, walls to get the best light for your tape. If you have
blinds, you can mess with how much light you want, but daylight is key.

3. Any wall will do. Really. It needs to be blank, but you can take photos/painting off a wall, or move a bookshelf if you need to. You can also buy travel/fold-up photo backgrounds if you want to carry these with you.


4. You can also buy a mini travel “octopus” tripod for as little as AU $14,  but otherwise you can use whatever you’ve got to build a makeshift pod. Put a rubbish bin on top of a bookshelf on top of some books-- whatever you need to get your phone to the right height.


5. You will need an internet connection in order to upload your video to whatever platform required. Internet access usually isn’t an issue in most countries, but if it is, use an internet cafe. Make sure your charger has a USB connecter so you can connect to a computer.


6. Pack at least one camera ready clothing top and don’t wear it unless you’ve got a submission! Pack make-up if you won’t self-tape without it.


7. Any reader will do. Don’t worry if they can act or if they’re the right gender or have the right accent. 
A big casting director once told me about an actor who was overseas and grabbed a waiter at a local cafe to read with her-- despite the waiter's difficulty with English, she booked the job!

8. Use what you’ve got. If you’re on a shoot and you feel friendly enough, ask another actor or camera assist if they would mind helping you out. Use the new environment to give new life to your surrounding and character. Another CD once told me about an actor holidaying in Thailand who used his hotel reception and the locals in his self tape-- he booked the job in seconds. 

9. Call on global friends. If you’re in a big city, there will no doubt be local places to put down a self-tape (check some of our previous posts for recommendations in LA, NYC, London, Berlin & Sydney)-- but otherwise, ask your local acting schools or film institutes-- they can shoot you straight to being in the know. 

10. Remember to breathe. Do the best you can in the circumstances and feel proud that you used your
ingenuity and got it in on time-- what a global professional!


Bonus! Here’s an amazing video about setting up simple self-tape situations:

An Actor's Life: How to Fill the Silences



2018 so far has been a slow moving year, so I thought it would be best to share what I do to fill the silences of the industry. Lets jump straight in!

1.Produce. Produce. Produce!

It's more and more common these days for actors to become hyphenates. We are creators. We are artists. So whether it's theatre, film, pilots or web series you're into creating, it's best just to dive right in and get those projects going. There's nothing more rewarding than collaborating and creating when the string of auditions have all of a sudden become shorter for a few months; it keeps you focussed on your creativity and really, that is the challenge: to stay in your creativity through the tough times.

Right now I'm about to shoot a short that my own production company and a friend's production company are collaborating on. How did the project come about? From being introduced to an actor/writer (via a circle of friends who are a part of AMAW Studios) who had several fantastically written projects ready to go. The actor/writer managed to see a screening of one of my most recent films and wanted to work together right away, asking me to direct and play a role in this particular project - we also have one theatre project, a feature idea and two more shorts lined up.
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So it's important to find an artistic community that keeps you inspired and pro-active - you never know who you'll be introduced to, or who wants to pull you onto their next project. We have to be braver and bolder as artists to show up with ideas and start working in a very non-precious way - it keeps it all moving forward and before you know it you have a slate of projects that can be pitched and already-made content backing you as an awesome actor hyphenate! If you don't know where to start with all this, I'd always say people are the best resource-- dare to go to people you know who are already doing this and ask the questions. Keep your artistic soul alive!


2.Self Care

Our LA correspondent Christina has blogged about this awesome lady once already in her 'top 10' post -- I'm going to open up a little more on her as I discovered her work at the start of January. Her name is Wendy Braun.


It's very easy to busy our lives with the hustle of the industry and distract ourselves from what is really going on with us, so much so that we don't even realise we're doing it! The work that I have done via Wendy Braun has provided huge paradigm shifts for me, a lot of inner work that actually affects the outer. If you're feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and stuck within the confines of the industry and/or in parts of your life then her course is hugely worth it. There's a lot of self realisation that comes up about your desires too which I have found particularly useful. It's a good way to just breath, relax and focus on joy being the success of your life more than any job or idea of what your career/life 'should' look like.


3.Transform

No I don't mean like Robots In Disguise. Although that would be pretty awesome. By 'transform' I mean re-brand or change something in your life. Give yourself a new focus.

I'll use myself as an example. For me this was to do with my body which I knew would effect my 'cast-type'. A friend of mine introduced me to Kris Gethin's 8 week transformation challenge, a completely free online video trainer from a really brilliant body builder (you can see all his stuff at https://www.kagedmuscle.com). It was a tough commitment for sure, BUT the point is in what I have just written: commitment. I gained a new focus in my life, something I was set on doing every morning upon waking, making it work around any castings or jobs that came up, setting my mind to a very very specific task and feeling that I'm challenging myself more and more each day of the 8 week period.Image result for kris gethin

Overall, my mind and body are better for it - on top of that my body has drastically changed and it has certainly moved my casting into a different bracket which is working in my favour. Also, it took my mind off the obsession of being seen and getting work which gave more space for those roles to start landing - something to consider!

Your transformation may not be about the gym. It may be about a new haircut you've been considering but been too scared to take the jump, or to take that meditation retreat you've been thinking about but fear missing out on auditions/jobs along the way. Whatever it is, take the leap - life is too short to be in worry of not being there for the industry, it's really all about being there for you and doing those things you wish to do to improve your life. Don't get sucked into the acting industry vortex, stay out in the open of the wonderful wilderness that is life.


4. Re-connect With The Business Of Acting

This is contradictory to the above, but still certainly needs to be mentioned and I do touch on it where necessary-- but let that be heard loud and clear: only when it's necessary. Secondly, in small doses. I say that because this kind of work can potentially be obsessive to the point where you feel all the answers lie in your branding, etc and whilst it's important to know your business, it's also good to balance that with enjoying your life.

There are three awesome ladies I can recommend to delve into on this subject: Bonnie Gillespie, Dallas Travers & Amy Jo Berman.
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All three are useful in very individual ways - so if you're looking to find out your current brand and how you can make that attractive to buyers (agents, producers, directors, managers, casting directors) or not sure where to start on how to look for an agent, want tips on self taping whatever it may be there's a lot you can learn from these coaches. They're all very honest and have brilliant tools to help all, so I'll leave the rest to you guys to scout through their sites to see what hits home for you.

Enjoy!

Some of my favourite web tools!

I often joke with my friends that no one warned me about acting being such an office job but it is true a lot of my work ("the job is getting the job") is done on my lovely MacBook and iPhone. So I would like to share with you a few of the web tools I use and how I use them. Some might be obvious, some might be completely new. I'd also love to hear what YOU use!

MailChimpEvery 4 to 6 months I use MailChimp to send a personalised newsletter to Casting Directors in the U.K., Germany and France. MailChimp allows you to track who opened your email, how many times and which links were clicked on. The program is fairly straight forward but you need a day to save all your contacts in the right lists and get a grip on all the features. I keep my updates short and to the point, nothing personal and I only write when there is really something new to share - starting usually  along the lines of "I'd like to invite you to watch" or "I am happy to share with you" etc. I strongly suggest personalising (not starting with "Hi everyone" but Dear *FNAME* *LNAME*) and not sending them out more than quarter-yearly.https://www.mailchimp.com 

DramaQueenI have recently started venturing out into screen writing and DramaQueen is a brilliant, freely downloadable program that lets you write professionally formatted, Final Draft compatible scripts offline. https://dramaqueen.info/about-en/?lang=en Our own Michaela recomends https://v4.writerduet.com for writing together.

WixI built my own personal website with wix.com. There is a free version that comes with adds and it is super easy to use. The templates are simple and beautiful allowing you to create a very professional looking website. Albeit that it is not obligatory to have a personal website as an actor, I like the idea of having everything I want my professional contacts to know about me in one place. Check out my website: www.katharinasporrer.com

DuolingoLearning a language has never been easier and as actors it is always useful to learn or improve foreign languages. Duolingo and its sister app Tinycards allow you to practice languages easily and fun on the go. Podcasts such as “Coffee Break” are also a brilliant get to get into a new language. This is how my French and Italian became fluent :)

AccentsFor any accent or dialect of English you might need there is a voice sample on this website: http://www.dialectsarchive.com.  If you'd like lessons on different accents go to https://www.accenthelp.com

MeditationSometimes I do, sometimes I don’t but I know it only has benefits. Two apps have helped me: https://chopracentermeditation.com > Deepak and Oprah offer free 21 day guided meditation programs on a regular basis, a very easy way to get into it.Insight Timer > an app on my phone that times my meditations and ends them with a beautiful Gong.

IMDb pro
Having a pro account is definitely worth it once you have done some work in the industry. Not only can you add your own credits and control your pictures etc. but also you have all the industry contacts to your fingertips. Who represents who, who casts what? And what is their personal email address? In many cases you find all that on IMDb pro.

Casting Sites
These are the ones I use in Europe and have gotten jobs via: www.encast.eu, www.casting-network.de, www.castforward.dewww.cineaste.org and of course www.spotlight.com. This topic deserves an extra blog post ;)