November Rising

 

A scene from “Human Flow” Ai’s Weiwei’s documentary about the global refugee and migrant crisis.

The Fall season has been filled with climate disaster, political doom here and abroad, cries of terrorism, crazy acts of violence, fears of deportations, and every other day there is a new charge of sexual harassment and strife in Hollywood.

Serious stuff is happening and peoples’ lives and jobs are at stake. I am so proud of the many strong women and men who have come out and shared their stories, written intelligently and passionately, and most importantly started a movement, a movement for change.

November is also a month for the best movies to be trotted out for Academy Award consideration. This is the season for important and impactful films. But imagine a world where we could see stories that matter all year long, a world where superhero, sequels and tentpole films were only a small fraction of what was offered. Imagine a world where thoughtful character-driven stories and documentaries could be found in your local theatre. Imagine such a world that represented us all, a world where gender, language, physical ability and color do not set limitations, but rather reflect characters in complex truths.

If we imagine these scenarios, we can write and produce them for audiences to see and be inspired by. We can use the power of film, to change the narrative that we see in today’s’ headline s and push a political movement for change, equality and justice forwards. With the power of good storytelling and equal representation, 2018 may become a little brighter for us all.

 

Genie is Back for the Summer

School is almost out and Genie is back for the summer.  With the Fall season set and the lineups announced  Genie is reporting on what’s casting and who’s who in Hollywood.  Don’t forget, every day we will feature your favorite actor’s giving advice and insight in Today’s Take.Take the summer to do your best research and try and build your resume. Summer is also a great time to take a new class, get new headshot and improve your audition technique.

Genie is thrilled to be back in action and ready for her close-up. Log on to see What’s Casting in LA and NYC.

Time to Take a Bow

Dear Family, Friends and Fans of Actor Genie,

We launched our App on iTunes in January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival. Mark Ruffalo, one of Actor Genie’s first supporters and a frequent contributor, premiered his film Sympathy For Delicious and won a Special Jury prize. Genie cast that film, launched the app, and the journey began.

Since our launch on iTunes in 2010, we expanded to Android and have connected with over 65,000 users. We loved connecting with you, and along the way, we made lasting friendships and our small dent, or as Steve Jobs said, a “ding in the universe”, becoming a true voice in Hollywood.

We were the first app on the market of our kind and chosen twice to be featured by Apple on the front of the iTunes App Store. And, even better than that, we cast a few actors who reached out to us through the app. One of those actresses even got to experience Awards season back in 2012 as we cast her in the Oscar-winning film, “The Artist”. The story was featured in this article in The New York Times. Maybe It Should Be Called ‘The Artists’

As Sundance plays to a close this weekend and The SAG Awards are presented on Sunday, Genie will take a bow. We will no longer update ‘What’s Casting’ after February 1st, 2017. But will continue to update “Todays’ Take,” the opening page of the app where we feature people we admire; Actors, Writers, Producers, Directors. We will continue to share inspiration, advice and Genie’s unique perspective daily. We will also maintain our contact base in LA and NY and our users can still register with Genie on our app to get updates through our newsletter.

We know that this is a bummer for many of you during pilot season, but Actor Genie was never meant to be a job listing service. It was meant as an informative app to empower and educate those interested in pursuing a career in the film and television business. Most importantly, the App will continue to be free on iTunes and Google Play and our Actor Genie website will list resources for you to track what’s casting.

Genie is taking a bow with a heavy heart, but you never know, when we might come back for an encore, a revival or a complete reboot. Stay tuned and stay connected through our Actor Genie Website, FacebookTwitter & Instagram, which will continue to be active.

Love,
Genie

Resources for Who’s Who and What’s Casting

Now that Actor Genie is taking a hiatus (February 1st, 2017) from posting What’s Casting, we still wanted you to have access to the resources available that will help continue to empower you as you continue being a proactive Actor. Here is our list of our favorite resources for Who’s Who and What’s Casting. Our resources will always be updated and available on the right panel of our website.

Resources for What’s Casting

CASTING ABOUT

FUTON CRITIC

SAG-AFTRA

CASTING FRONTIER

ACTORS ACCESS

LA CASTING

CAST IT TALENT

BACKSTAGE MAGAZINE

NOWCASTING

Contact Resources

IMDBPro

SPOTLIGHT UK

BEST CAST FILMS OF 2016

IndieWire asked 13 of the top casting directors to nominate films worthy of casting recognition this year. Heidi Levitt wrote about Asghar Farhadi’s film “The Salesman,” in lieu of global casting, even though “Moonlight,” is close to her heart.

Casting Directors have a strange distinction in the awards world: Their guild has an Academy branch, but it’s the only one without its own Oscar category. Imagine for a moment that they did. What are the best-cast films of 2016?

Here’s why “Moonlight”, “Loving” and more deserve honors, according to 13 of Hollywood’s best casting directors. Best Cast Films of 2016 According to Top Casting Directors. 

MAKE HOLLYWOOD GREAT AGAIN

** Note to our users. We have recently moved away from using Parse as our app server and would love for everyone to re-download Actor Genie again at either the App Store or Google Play Store to get the latest updates!

Make Hollywood Great Again
By: Heidi Levitt

Hollywood, the dream machine, the center of global entertainment and movie culture was built by immigrants like Samuel Goldwyn, from Warsaw and Louis B. Meyer to Minsk.

The history of Hollywood includes films and filmmakers who challenged the status quo, went to jail for defending their free speech and who have made a difference by speaking out. And yet, in 2016 Hollywood cinema, perhaps The United States most important export, the beacon for global cultural exchange is dominated by blockbusters, tent pole, sequel, superhero popcorn movies that are led by a white male presence.

Now is the time more than ever to shift the paradigm and make movies that matter. We need to include voices and faces of those who have been left on the perimeter of our industry.

Last years #OscarsSoWhite seems small in light of this past week’s election results, but it is not small by any means. In fact, now more than ever we need to show the country and the world that we in Hollywood have compassion, empathy and the power to open hearts and minds. We must make certain that those behind and in front of the camera reflect who we are; Black, White, Brown, Yellow and every shade in between.

Recently, the hugely talented actor Jon Leguizamo wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about this subject called Too Bad You Are Latin.

The article highlighted the difficulties any minority actor faces trying to make it big in Hollywood. Today more than ever is the moment to harness the power of story to change the culture. We must start by telling stories that reflect who we are, where we have come from, and where we hope to go.

In this year’s Oscar season we have already seen an excellent contender in Barry Jenkins film, Moonlight that authentically allowed us into the world we seldom see on the big screen. I hope that Moonlight gets the attention it deserves, because not only is it a powerful film, but it is a film about people who are black, gay and poor. It delivers a sense of hope through humanity. Donald Trump and his supporters could take a few lessons from watching a film like this one that opens your heart and leaves you feeling breathless and transformed.

I hope Oscar season brings us more surprises and more films that are inclusive and diverse. We can change the direction of our culture through the power storytelling. And we need to see many stories to change the way we think, because as the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her powerful Ted talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” is not that it is untrue, but rather that it is incomplete.

For example, if we only tell the story of Mexicans crossing the border without papers, then that story becomes the story of the undocumented and we fail to see and know the individual. Through great storytelling and the power of global cinema, we can break racial and ethnic prejudice by allowing us to see the person, the character and not merely the color of their skin nor the accent in their voice. These kinds of stories will enable us to see how much we share in common as the human experience is not defined as much by color and language, as it is by the universality of the shared experiences of mothers daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, and sons.

2017 is the year for Hollywood to focus on producing films that reflect the true population and not the Electoral College. 2017 is the year to push the envelope not only in America but also around the world where the refugees and the disenfranchised are fighting for freedom and a better life. Let us show President Trump and the rest of the world that making films and television reflect who we are.

To the 11,000,000 undocumented, the refugees, the exiled living in poverty, the minorities, women and anyone else who feels marginalized – Hollywood can help make America great again because in less than 15 years from now the American population will be more brown than white. I hope and pray that inclusion and diversity in our voices and numbers will translate into a society that is accepting and empowered. Hollywood can and must do their part to change the culture.

voice2

Los Angeles Protest, November 12, 2016 @Chessdesign

HOW TO BE AN ACTOR

Heidi Levitt with some advice on how to be an actor and the relationship between actors and casting directors.

Every actor strives to find the spark of truth in every action and every word spoken. The goal is to act without showing you are acting. This is a truly an extraordinary task. It is important for actors to realize that just as hard as they work to get the part, the casting director will have worked equally hard to find them. Every day and often into the night, too, we are seeking to fulfill the vision of the writers, directors, and producers by casting the actor who fits so seamlessly into the role, that it is almost impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part.

The journey of casting is a shared adventure between the seekers and the talent. I consider myself a terribly conscientious hunter and gatherer; I feel pangs of guilt knowing I may have skipped over a submission or email. I am all too often Googling late into the night,much to my husband’s chagrin! The Internet has given us an endless supply of talent to sift through and study.

Honestly, we must rely on all the curators of talent. How can we possibly know everyone? And though some actors may slip through the cracks, the best ones tend to stay in the game long enough to be discovered. If we missed them the first time in their equity waiver showcase or in that fleeting guest spot, the talented actor will do it again and again until that tastemaker, agent, manager or casting director, finds them and knows that attention must be paid.

I think actors who have built long careers are those who approach their career from a similar conscientious point of view: learning, researching and practicing their skills, arriving at auditions with pictures and resumes stapled, in hand. (I consider myself a 21st-century techie CD, but I still need tactile reminders.) Actors must prepare to find the extraordinary moment in the room with us.

At The Golden Globes in 2010, Meryl Streep stated it was not that she herself is extraordinary (Who are you kidding, Meryl?) but more importantly, that she is the vessel for extraordinary characters. Well, not every role will be a Meryl Streep-award-winning-kind-of-part and not every actor will have that opportunity, but just as every casting director must do the extra work to discover the best talent, actors must strive to be extraordinary in roles big and small, starting from the ground up, building a career that lasts.

Truly we all want the same things. Both the seekers of talent and the actors that fulfill themselves by giving life to a character. Sometimes, I may be a discoverer, sometimes a doula nurturing the process, sometimes a mother hen protecting it, but always like the actor, I am seeking the truth.

Rest assured, the casting directors are the first ones watching you celebrate as you walk the red carpet. Remember us as you celebrate the extraordinary. Chances are, we were there, behind the scenes at the very beginning.

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