Author Archives: Jamie

About Jamie

Jamie is an entertainment, lifestyle, comedy and advice writer, as well as an actor and entrepreneur.

7 Ways To Market Yourself As An Actor


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Marketing and promotion are important for actors at every stage and something that should not be overlooked. Here we look at ways YOU can build a smart marketing strategy and start to create a professional presence online through your website and social media marketing. Of course, you definitely need to be talented and good at your […]

Marketing and promotion are important for actors at every stage and something that should not be overlooked. Here we look at ways YOU can build a smart marketing strategy and start to create a professional presence online through your website and social media marketing.

Of course, you definitely need to be talented and good at your craft and if you want to build a name for yourself and your brand, you must find creative ways to market yourself. The game in the industry has changed and the standard route isn’t the only method to get your acting career lifted off anymore. For this reason, you can’t rely solely on the auditions that your agent sets you up for to be your only source of opportunity to get acting work. The good news is that there are a lot more tools at your disposal to promote yourself to a larger audience of people, which also means there is a lot more competition out there doing the exact same things you are. Actors are known to network and work on passion projects. As well, people are getting famous on YouTube, creating their own projects that launch them to stardom, people are getting famous for their wacky personas on reality shows, and overall, people are finding some very inventive ways to become noticed!

So as someone who wants to succeed in the film industry, how do you properly market yourself in ways that sets you apart from the rest of the actors looking to do the same?

Lets start with the key marketing tactics and tools for you to think about incorporating into your marketing arsenal:

AMP Talent Blog1. First off, have something to sell: If you want to be the second coming of “The Situation” and launch yourself to fame on a reality show, then you won’t have to worry too much about this. These reality stars hit it big for a couple of years, then they end up fading quickly into the long forgotten atmosphere of Hollywood and go end up working normal jobs and living normal lives. They peak early and make the most money of their life in a 2-4 year span, but they don’t have any real quality talent to fall back on when their hit reality show fades from the spotlight. So if you want to become a real actor and launch a career that is going to have longevity and avoid being just a thing-of-the-moment, then you need to first make sure that you have a product to promote. This means that you have talent and are working hard to develop that talent. Make sure you’re confident in your abilities and at a point where you feel confident pushing yourself in front of people to try to sell yourself. If you’re a little insecure and unsure of your acting chops at this juncture, you might be best to get some training and work on your core skills before even thinking about marketing yourself.

2. Marketing materials are ready to go: We reiterate your headshots, resume, and demo-reel a lot throughout these posts, but that’s because they’re that important. They’re your first impression on every director and casting director when you’re submitted for auditions. You can’t even begin to try to market yourself if you don’t have quality up-to-date materials that can present you in the best way possible. So talk to your agent, manager, or an industry professional about your resume, demo or show reel and photos to make sure that they’re going to market and promote you in your best light possible.

AMP Blog Actors Business Cards3. Comp Cards/Business Cards: A great tool for actors to use is a business card that has their headshot printed on it. These are much easier and more effective to hand out when you meet people at networking events, or other important industry people than handing out your full-sized headshot or resume. Plus this card can have all your social media links, contact information and professional representationTalent Agent, and any links to your website, or other information related to your acting online. Carry these cards with you when you attend parties and events and for various film festivals.

4. Make sure you’re online: You can refer to our past article How Actors Can Build A Brand Online for detailed information how an actor should be managing their brand on the web, as well as the most effective platforms for marketing themselves. But making sure you have some sort of online presence is key in helping to market yourself and show people who you’re an actor to be taken seriously. Creating a website is the most common platform for actors to promote themselves and list all their credits, as well as some of the most common social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure you’re on sites such as IMDB and Casting Workbook (which you should be if you have an agent).

AMP Blog youtube-logo5. Think outside the box and become a creator: The example I’ll use is a guy named Jimmy Tatro. He said he had always wanted to be on TV and become an actor, but never really wanted to go through the whole gauntlet and hassle of auditioning and trying to beat out thousands of other actors just like him. So what he did when he was attending the University of Arizona was start his very own YouTube channel called ‘Life According To Jimmy’. His channel was all catered around college life, partying, girls, and frat boy life. Well, he started putting out one video a week and his channel exploded and went completely viral. He built up a huge fan base and started to get a lot of exposure, not to mention promote himself as an actor who was exceptional at playing the “frat boy” character. Not only did he get to make his videos every week, entertain thousands, even millions of people, but also he also recently crossed over to do his first few film roles. Adam Sandler saw him in one of his videos and cast him in a small role in Grown Ups 2, then he was also recently in 22 Jump Street. Both movies saw him playing his signature “frat boy” character, but by creating his own stuff on the web he managed to separate himself from everybody else doing the audition grind, prove that he could act and had presence on-screen, as well as completely bypass all the years of grinding it out to get that one break. Sure he spent years building up his channel but he was doing exactly what he wanted to do.

Now there is a prime example of taking matters into your own hands, creating your own things and not sitting around waiting for your lucky break. Go out there and make big things happen and understand that nobody is going to give you a handout.

AMP 7 Marketing Tips for Actors6. Marketing & Mentorship: In the early stages of your career, it will be completely up to you to hit the street and do your own marketing and promotion, but as your career expands you will have the opportunity for more and more people to help you carry out your marketing activities. You can also seek the guidance from someone you know who works in marketing, or are experienced with various marketing methods and can help you out with your career.

7. Actors Workshops & Theatre: In order to market your talents properly, you will have to find as many outlets where you can perform and get seen in front of large audiences of people. Acting workshops will be important for you to perform in front of key industry people, while theatre will help you to sharpen up on your live performance skills, which are at the core of most great film actors. Make sure you’re auditioning and getting out there as much as possible for these other avenues outside of your typical audition circuit to maximize your opportunity and exposure.

AMP Blog 7 Marketing Tips for ActorsWhether you like it or not, you’re going to have to get out there and market yourself and network. It’s a huge component of the industry now and making it as an actor. Sure you may be a good actor, but if nobody ever sees you, or hears about you, then how are you ever going to show them what you can do. Simply waiting around for auditions is not enough; you need go the extra mile and really focus on yourself as a brand and making sure you’re marketing yourself as often, and as effectively as possible. The difference between someone who makes it and someone who doesn’t may actually come down to who’s the better marketer and promoter.

8 Voice Over Tips For Actors


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Whether you want to improve your voice work, or simply just get started in the voice over industry, it’s definitely a great tool for an actor. Voice work should not be taken lightly as it’s just as much acting as anything else you’ll do. Along with getting work as a voice over artist, working on, […]

Whether you want to improve your voice work, or simply just get started in the voice over industry, it’s definitely a great tool for an actor. Voice work should not be taken lightly as it’s just as much acting as anything else you’ll do. Along with getting work as a voice over artist, working on, and mastering your voice skills will help you in all your other acting performances. Your voice is one of the most valuable instruments and working on strengthening, and improving your range and clarity will help you to book more roles, adapt different characters, as well as increase your earning potential.

So what are some important voice over tips and ways to improve your voice skills?

amp-voice-acting-tips-research1. Know your character: One of the most important starting points before trying to work on creating a voice is to know exactly the character you’re supposed to be portraying. For example, before you were to create a voice for an animated character you would be given multiple pictures of the character and you would get an opportunity to talk with the writers before working on carving out a voice that would best suit the character. So, just as you would spend the time, and do your research on your character for an acting role on screen, for voice it is the same. You need to put in the time, to rehearse, study and create all aspects of the character you’re going to be playing.

2. Enunciation is key: Clearly you won’t get the job, or book work if you don’t have the ability to enunciate perfectly. Voice actors have absolute control and precision, and know how to use their instruments. You can’t mumble or muffle over your words. What you say needs to be completely clear, sharp, and articulated. It’s important to work on this by doing cardiovascular exercise regularly so you have stamina and can work your vocal instrument harder when it comes time to recording. Also drinking lots of water and making sure your sinuses are clear leading up to a job is going to be key to make sure that your enunciation is on point when the day of the job comes.

voice-mic-tips3. Voice work is acting: One of the great misconceptions of a new voice actor will be that voice work is a much easier than acting on screen because all you need is your voice. While it appear to require fewer tools to get into character, you need to be able to channel all the emotion, and feeling of a particular situation and moment into your voice. This will require you to do a lot more than just read from the script. You will need to use your whole body, your imagination, and have a clear understanding of the story and your character in order to accurately portray the voice for that scene. This is actually quite difficult because when you’re acting on screen you have your whole face, body, mannerisms, as well as the tone in your voice to perform with, but when you’re only lending your voice, you have just that one single instrument to get across so many different  levels and experiences the character is experiencing in that moment. It’s important that you use your entire body and actually act, and react, with someone in the room while you’re working.

script-reading-voice-tips4. Practice by reading out loud often: Obviously the best method for improving your voice skills is going to be to speak and read out loud as often as possible. You can find different passages to read and take on various voices and characters, as well as practice different voice techniques. The best voice actors in the business got to be as good as they are by working on their sound and constantly trying to come up with new tones and characters. So be sure find your own space and work on your voice technique as much as possible.

5. Avoid jewelry and never bring cell phones into the booth: Bringing your phone into the booth will create interface with the audio and potentially ruin your performance, while any dangling jewelry will take from the sound of your performance and disrupt your audio for the editor. So make sure you leave your cell phone outside of the booth and have your body free of any jewelry.

Voice learning accents6. Develop accents and a few key voices: Voice work is definitely a time when having the ability to take on different accents will be a huge advantage for you. Even if the accents are made up, through the process you could potentially bring different characters to life. So by improving your ability to take on some of the important accents, you can increase your diversity and marketability for booking voice work. Also, trying to create 3-4 voices that you have stored on the back burner to showcase if somebody asks you if you can do voices is going to be key as well. These are also voices that you can showcase on your demo reel when it comes time to making one.

voice-script-reading7. Know your voice type: Before even entering into the voice industry you should access what type of voice you may be. Are you going to be a real voice? A narrator? An announcer? A spokesperson? Or a character voice actor for animation? These are all very important things to take into consideration before proceeding because knowing your type will be exactly what your voice demo should be catered to. For example, if you saw yourself as the perfect voice for late night infomercials, then that would be one of the main selling features on your voice demo reel. Seek out voice workshops in animation, commercial, and or character, to learn what areas of voice work your best suited to, and to gain valuable feedback from voice professionals on your voice and where it is suited to be cast within the film, television, commercial and animaton voice market.

8. Building a voice demo: Even more so than acting on screen, a voice demo is going to be your number one selling feature for booking work. You must provide a voice demo to your Agent in order to be considered and promoted to voice castings. Most  work will be booked off your demo reel, so take the time and get feedback from professionals to know what your voice style is; then build a well rounded and professional demo reel. Make sure your demo reel highlights a diverse range of vocal styles that you can use to market your work. Your demo should include a number of professional recordings that showcase your talents in 15 and 30 second spots and titled; Commercial, Character, Narration and Corporate Demo. If you have a special skill such as accents, fluent languages, yodelling, or  your a skilled auctioneer, be sure to include those on your demo as well. Where should you get a professional voice demo done? Through voice workshops which are offered at accredited schools, and studios and taught by voice professionals in the industry. Many long time voice casting directors teach voice workshops in Toronto, NY and LA and other markets.

voice-acting-tips-femaleDeciding to pursue voice work is a very important thing for every actor to consider, as it opens up the doors to so much more work at your disposal, and will help to improve your acting performance on the screen. It also gives you another avenue to build a name for yourself and book more work. Many name actors (Kiefer Sutherland in Phone Booth and Scarlett Johansson in Her for example) are lending their voice to take the life of characters, whether it’s in big feature films, sports, car and beer commercials, or for the latest wacky and wild animation film. Voice work is another exciting way to broaden your opportunities off screen!

 

 

Audition Etiquette: Do’s & Don’ts


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How to execute the perfect audition? I’m sure this question has become exhausting to a lot of you, constantly being drilled with the correct way to go about the audition process. This is because without being awesome at auditioning, you will never be able to really show people how awesome you are at acting. So […]

How to execute the perfect audition? I’m sure this question has become exhausting to a lot of you, constantly being drilled with the correct way to go about the audition process. This is because without being awesome at auditioning, you will never be able to really show people how awesome you are at acting. So while it’s tedious and frustrating incessantly having it banged into your head like a broken record, it’s something that you will want to make sure you have down to a science.

This is why we’ve broken down the do’s and don’ts loud and clear, to make sure you know exactly how to kill it the next time you step into that audition room.

AMP Talent Group Audition Do's and Dont's Agent TipDO respond to all Agency Communication immediately. In this fast paced business, Actors must be on the ball with the best communication skills by responding quickly to confirm auditions, and all communication from the Agency.  Response times by the actor within the hour of an email or phone call being sent is required, not hours or days later.  Casting people are waiting to confirm or replace the actors for the auditions. Know there are many people involved in getting you the audition and timely response to auditions is key with respect to all and future auditions.

DO put your cell phone on silent. Vibrate won’t cut it, particularly if your leg starts shaking in the middle of your intense and dramatic monologue and it’s just your mom wondering if you’re going to be home for dinner or not.

DO be early for your audition. Ideally you will show up 20 minutes early, so you can sign-in, prepare yourself with whatever material you’re going to go off of, as well as ground yourself, relax, and de-sweat (if you were rushing) before going in for your audition.

DO be friendly and professional when you’re meeting everyone at the audition. Even though you’re promoting yourself as an actor, they will be more inclined to want to hire you if you show you are a respectable and professional human being.

Auditions Casting Dos and DontsDO turn up the charm before your audition begins. This is the time when you need to showcase your personality before you showcase your acting chops. Show them that you are ready, and would be a delight to work with, and not in an overbearing, front-row-of-the-classroom kind of way.

DO keep the conversation up-tempo and brief, letting the casting directors and people running the audition drive the conversation.

DO repeat the director or casting director’s name back to him or her when you’re introduced. It shows you’re listening to what they’re saying, instead of hammering out your audition strategy in your head like a nervous wreck while going through introductions.

DON’T shake anyone’s hand in the room unless they reach out to shake your hand first. You are just one of so many actors they have seen that day, you won’t make an impact by thrusting your sweaty palm into their hand.

DON’T wear cologne or perfume. If they meet you and are instantly over-taken by your intense aroma, then your audition is going to drop downhill very quickly.

AMP Talent Group Audition Tips Do's and Dont'sDON’T wear heavy make-up. You’re there to show off your natural self as a performer and what you can do with whatever character you’re auditioning for. Too much make-up will just distract from your performance and focus the casting director’s attention on all the wrong things.

DON’T wear self-tanner. So you just got back from a vacation in Mexico and have a bit of colour. That does not mean you can compensate your skin by applying bronzer you bought at the drug store. You’ll end up orange and won’t book the part.

DON’T bring props or wear costume unless directed to by your agent. Sure you may think you’re taking your audition to the next level by going crazy with your outfit, but actually, it’s the opposite. Never bring a costume for your audition unless it’s something that was strictly outlined in the breakdown from your agent.

DON’T apologize for messing up your audition, or apologize for nailing it, thinking that you did poorly. Just perform your audition, say your thank yous, and be gone. Do not continue to beat a dead horse by apologizing all your way out the door.

Al Pacino on Auditions quoteDON’T disagree or argue with any direction that you’re given. You’re there performing something for them, so make sure you do what you’re asked.

DON’T bad mouth anyone. Of course after enough auditions, you will start to see the same casting directors again and again, and build up a bit of a rapport. This does not mean that you should ever start to gossip about someone else in the business that you may have a mutual disliking for. You should always be professional and business as usual.

DON’T ask the casting director for feedback.  Feedback comes from acting classes, not auditions.  Work with a coach prior to your audition and ask them for feedback.  Come prepared with the material ready to give your best performance and don’t expect to get anything but a “Thank you for coming in” at the end. If you get more your lucky, but do not expect it.  The casting director is looking to hire the best actor for the parts she or he is casting. It is not the casting directors job to give feedback to all the actors at auditions. It is the job of the actor to come in prepared with all the emotion ready to give the best performance.

DON’T overstay your welcome. So you killed your audition, the endorphins and energy is running full-throttle and you instantly want to be chatty, try not to. Just finish with your performance, share a final word or two, and then thank them for taking the time to see you, and off you go. No casting director is going to want to deal with a over-chatty actor at the end of a seriously long day of auditions.

Auditioning can become a very simple, and smooth running machine once you do enough of them and nail down the right way to go about it. There are just some important rules that you have to follow to make sure that you don’t stand out in a bad way. These do’s and don’t are simple guidelines for you to keep in mind the next time you step into the room in hopes of booking your next job!

Remember your auditioning for your career, not the job.  Meaning that you do your best with each audition, come prepared, are on time, are well rehearsed, memorized, in character and ready to perform a killer performance!

Break a leg!

 

Comedy Acting: Is It Innate, Or Can It Be Learned?


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Comedy Acting: There’s an old adage, “dying is easy: comedy is hard.” This is very true — comedy is difficult because it requires a certain amount of spontaneity, creativity, and ability to play around with verbal and non-verbal text, and definitely comes easier to some people more than others. When you think of comedy, you’ll […]

Comedy Acting: There’s an old adage, “dying is easy: comedy is hard.” This is very true — comedy is difficult because it requires a certain amount of spontaneity, creativity, and ability to play around with verbal and non-verbal text, and definitely comes easier to some people more than others. When you think of comedy, you’ll probably think of some of your favourite comedians — the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, and Ricky Gervais. These incredible talent were born with comedy in their DNA, they knew from an early age that comedy was their passion and they wanted to devote their life to making people laugh. For a lot of actors, you probably didn’t grow up with quite the same devotion to comedy. Sure you like a good joke and enjoy playing around with your friends, but it was never something that held as much of a focus in your life as say, a comedian. But you want to try it, or improve your ability to perform in comedic scenes, or take on more comedic characters, and are unsure if you’re going to be able to do it because you have never really considered yourself to be the funniest person in the room.

Comedy Acting is it innate or is it learnedObviously it helps if you’re naturally funny, or have a natural tendency to use humour as a way to deflect problems and deal with your insecurities. Great comedy comes from drama, which comes from pain, so most comedians, or naturally funny people, have this innate tendency to use humor as a way to deal with the difficulties and downfalls in their own life. So if you do in fact find yourself to be funny, or are even a stand up comedian or comic actor already, you’re off to a great start and probably just need to hone the skills that you naturally possess.

“One can learn a very rudimentary timing or pattern of comedy. However, this “taught” method can hardly be compared to that of an artist who truly has the DNA of a comedian. This artist will always shine the brightest.”

— Robert Luketic, Director, The Ugly Truth, Legally Blonde

“You can direct somebody to be funny: you can direct timing. But it helps if you have that gift already. And I think most comedians are intuitive, which is why they make good actors. You can tell immediately if somebody has that gift.”

— Marc Webb, Director, 500 Days of Summer

stand-up-comedy-actingFor those that don’t consider yourself to be a stand-up comedian or naturally hilarious person, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to do comedy. It just means you’re going to have to work at it a little more and practice to get better at finding the funny moments in things you do. Obviously timing, and finding the right timing in a scene to deliver a particular joke or behaviour is something you can work on and get better at, the more you do it.

Timing is not something to be learned, it’s something to be found.”

Friends-Comedy ActingGood comedy acting is a collaboration with all the actors and it will be about going wherever the scene goes and finding a way to ground yourself in the truth of that moment. You’re going to have to commit to whatever it is your character is doing, no matter how ridiculous it might seem, as the audience won’t believe you’re going through it unless you do. You will also have to pay attention to the unspoken dialogue, as so much comedy is found in physical gestures, awkward pauses, and extreme behaviour that your character and others are doing in the scene. You never want to play for the audience and outwardly “try” to make the audience laugh, because that’s not where comedy comes from. Comedy comes from you, as an actor, committing yourself to the stakes in the scene as if it were the most important thing in your life. You get the laughs from the audience by committing yourself, whole-heartedly to the drama that your character is going through. The humour is going to be in the weird, quirky, and offbeat way that your comedy character deals with their circumstances.

Not every great comedic actor you see on television is also a touring stand-up comedian. They probably do have a natural sense of humour and know where to find the jokes, but they got good at it by putting themselves in that environment over and over again. Also by drawing on their own personal quirksquote-you-can-t-do-anything-to-be-funny-that-s-cringeworthy-if-your-humor-comes-out-of-a-place-of-love-john-krasinski-104970 and insecurities they were able to open themselves up to their own comedic world.

Comedy acting obviously isn’t for everyone, but most of you will be able to find it and hone it in a way that is hysterical. You just have to commit yourself to being fearless, looking like an idiot and having no shame, as well be willing to make mistakes and have fun while you’re doing it.

 

 

10 Personality Characteristics That Make Great Actors


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What personal characteristics help make GREAT ACTORS? This is probably a question that will intrigue a lot of people. What is it about certain people who make them great performers?  Or at least have the potential to be a great performer.  I know this question intrigues many of you, so I did some reading to […]

What personal characteristics help make GREAT ACTORS?

This is probably a question that will intrigue a lot of people. What is it about certain people who make them great performers?  Or at least have the potential to be a great performer.  I know this question intrigues many of you, so I did some reading to investigate what qualities/personality types really translate into great performers.

Charisma: This is one of those real surface qualities that you would expect. Obviously a performer is going to be charming, expressive, and charismatic, right?  They’re those real life-of-the-party type personalities that you aren’t surprised to hear they’re actors as well.  This is because performing on stage, or on camera, requires a certain amount of expressive energy, so those individuals with high-octanes of energy and the ability to translate that energy on-screen should go without saying. While not every actor is going to be the most charismatic personality type in their actual life, having a natural charisma to you will always benefit and help you with your performing endeavours.

No-Limits-Inspirational-Picture-QuoteHard Work & Commitment:  This is another trait that should go without saying.  Lazy people usually don’t make great actors — unless they’re so naturally talented and it comes easy to them. This is the case because acting is such a self-starter business and is going to require so much self-motivation, as well as endless amounts of your personal time in order to be successful. Also, with every job you get, you’re going to have to generously research for your role/character, as well as put in hours and hours of rehearsal time.  Then once you start working on the job, the days are long and you’ll be drained at the end of them. If you don’t have the type of personality that is ready to grind and endure hard work, you will go nowhere. Commitment is also a huge one. You will have to commit your life to developing your craft, as well as bringing 100% percent of yourself to each role you play. Acting requires you to be present in the moment at every turn, which can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.  People that can whole-heatedly commit themselves to something, even going overboard and becoming obsessive with their commitment, are the ones who will be successful as actors. (Just look at some of the greatest method actors in the business, as well as the great extremes that the best actors will go to in order to prepare for roles: weight loss, muscle-building, extensive research and character development, real-life situational training).

FullSizeRenderConfidence:  This personality trait is another common one.  It will help in a lot of areas in your performance career, particularly in the early stages of auditioning, as well as warding off criticism and rejection when times get tough.  Understanding who you are as a person and being confident in who that is will serve you well in the business.  You will be required to expose many facets of yourself (emotional, mental, and even sometimes physical) in front of people, so being confident in yourself and being able to surge into those vulnerable places without shriveling into a ball of anxiety is a huge component of an actor’s makeup.  Thankfully confidence is something that can be improved on. The better you get at your craft, the more confident you’re going to get in your abilities and the less self-conscious you will be.  They famously say, “tension is blocked talent”, and often anxiety and nerves will come from a lack of self-confidence and dread that you’re going to be horrible. Those nerves will lessen with practice and working on your craft, eventually leading to performances that come across brilliantly, with absolute ease.  So finding a way to be confident in your self, as well as your skills as an actor is absolutely paramount.

Intelligence:  If you listen to actors in interviews, you’re often blow away by how articulate and well spoken they are. They are smart and educated most of the time. But a good majority of actors out there are college drop-outs, that never even went to college, and a chunk of them never even finished high school.  How come they seem so smart then? Well it’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, their job requires them to do a ridiculous amount of reading and research on a wide-variety of topics that become school projects in their own way. So they’re well read and well schooled on important issues happening in the world because it often relates to the work they’re doing.  Secondly, they’re actually really smart people. You have to be very smart to be a good actor.  But often it’s the type of smart that doesn’t excel within confined institutions like high school and university or college.  It’s the type of intelligence that you could define as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, or a real adept understanding and insight into human behaviour and what drives people.  That’s because actors are constantly asking themselves these questions: what drives this character? What are their needs?  What are their desires?  Why do they act this way?  It’s a constant evaluating and breaking down of the human psyche, which requires a large degree of intelligence. It’s just a very real-life understanding of human behaviour.  So if you don’t find people fascinating, to the point that people watching is one of your favourite past-times and you’re feverously curious about all types of people, then the acting process may not be for you.

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Highly Imaginative:  This is obviously one of the biggest and most important traits that make great actors.  Sure there is a large component of acting that will require you to take emotion and realities from your own life into your acting world, but you won’t always have those resources at your disposal.  Sometimes you have to completely plant yourself in alternate realities that encompass absolutely nothing from the world you know. This is where your imagination will take over.  Most actors have wild and vivid imaginations, and have a real fostered connection with their imaginations. We basically are trained to grow out of our imaginations as we grow up, which is why most actors are adult-children — never really leaving the psyche of that 10-year-old boy inside of them who would dress up as superheroes and saw the world as full of infinite possibilities.  It’s crucial that actors are constantly finding ways to improve and get more in touch with their imaginations, as it’s a huge tool in your career. From the early stages of developing your character, as well as planting yourself in an authentic reality when you have several cameras, crew, and a very artificial world surrounding you on set. Harness the connection to your imagination and work on improving it whenever possible.  It’s one of the useful tools for great performances.

Understanding of Human Behaviour:  This section relates directly with intelligence, as this is where the actor’s intelligence will shine.  The best actors have an exceptional understanding of human behaviour – what people want and need, universally, on the deepest level.  This is what every single role they tackle will require from them — the ability to dig deep into the psyche behind their character and figure out their motives, which will determine their behaviour.  They have the ability to read between the lines of scripts and offer their own insight into the world of their character and bring assets to the script that weren’t there before.  This understanding of human behaviour, I believe, is something that the best actors will have naturally, but it’s also something they strengthen by continuous exercise.  Every actor should have a completely engrossed interest in people and the way the act.  The job of an actor is to emulate people who aren’t themselves, so it should go without saying that they love to observe people and watch what they do, and then try to figure out why they do the things they do.

193491Energy, Energy, Energy:  When you take an acting class, the beginning of the class is often dedicated to exercising the body — both physically with movement and vocally through voice exercises.  These exercises are designed to center the energy in your body and for you to be fully aware of where all the energy in your body is being stored.  Yes, actors are required to exert a lot of energy, thus it’s beneficial if they’re naturally energetic people. But that energy will be chaotic and counter-productive for a good performance if it’s not used in the correct way.  The best actors are exceptional at dispensing and controlling their energy. They know when to release bursts of energy, as well as when to bottle the energy up because their character is holding something back on the surface, but on the inside they’re exploding. So it’s so important that actors know how to move the energy in their body around to help guide and emphasis their performance.  Also, it’s important to note that not all energy is going to be emotionally expressive.  They’re forms of energy that are not emotional, and it’s important that actors have a handle on all energy types.

QuoteIntrospective & Constantly Learning:  One of the most important relationships an actor will ever have is the one they have with their self.  It’s essential that actors are constantly learning about themselves and trying to understand more about who they are as a person.  They will also go to great lengths to improve who they are as a person and get more in touch with their authentic self.  This is necessary, as acting requires bringing a large amount of yourself to every character you play. You will to make the emotion in your performances feel authentic. If you don’t actually feel all the emotions and sensations that your character is going through, the camera or audience will pick up on it and it won’t be believable. The great actors are able to dig deep into themselves and pull out the good, bad, and ugly of who they are and put it on show for everyone to see. If you aren’t willing to live with that type of revelation and truth in front of audiences, then acting will be a tough job for you.  You can’t be afraid, or unwilling to go to the dark and emotional places of yourself and become a great actor.  Actors have to constantly be assessing themselves as people, trying to improve, as well as get closer to who they really are. Another way to get closer to this truth is by constant exercise through meditation, mentors, relaxation, visualization, and classes.

Eager to Explore:  Most actors life out of a suitcase and are constantly on the road. A lot of them are feel best in the characters they portray.  They’re whimsical spirits, with a yearning for a gypsy life.  This obviously relates to the lifestyle of an actor — constantly going from project to project, place to place, changing where they’re working and whom they’re working with all the time.  There’s absolutely no structure (unless you’re a regular on a show) and you’re constantly exploring, both a physical world and the emotional world you’re living in.  It’s definitely important that an actor has a natural tendency to be drawn to this type of life, as opposed to a very structured and matter-of-fact world where most people live that work the 9-to-5 routine. Going deeper into it, acting is a constant exploration and is going to require a real commitment to a journey by the actor.  You have to be prepared to take scenes in directions you weren’t expecting, or let things they’re feeling come across at unexpected moments. A lot of actors live within a very small bandwidth, but the best ones are completely free. They trust their instincts and enjoy the work the most when it turns out different from first expected. So the exploring nature of an actor is going to be both, tangible and intangible. This is must in the makeup of an actor!

quote-the-purpose-of-psychology-is-to-give-us-a-completely-different-idea-of-the-things-we-know-best-paul-valery-189345Interest in Psychology and Humanity: This is not to say that a psychologist would make a great actor, or that an actor would make a great psychologist. But having an interest in the subject will go a long way in improving your performance. Again, understanding the psychology of humans and what drives people is essential in the acting discovery. So those people who are very intuitive and able to quickly conceptualize other’s behaviour and why they do certain things, is a natural skill that very good actors should possess. This also could be why you see so many actor humanitarians (also because they have so much money) but they have such a vested interest in humanity that they’re passionate about world issues, and really empathize with human suffering.

It’s not that you have to possess every single one of these qualities to be a good actor, but it just seems that in the makeup of actors, often you’ll see, at least some, of these qualities, interests, and personality types. While a lot of these qualities are essential to great performing, they can be improved. Great acting happens when both the inner and outer self are portrayed at the same time (sometimes conflicting one another). So get in touch with yourself, reach deep into your emotions, and continue to discover more about yourself and more about your character in the process.

 

 

Personal Branding For Actors


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  So what’s a personal brand? “Your personal brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever other people think of you. It’s what you stand for — the values, abilities, and actions that others associate with you. It’s a professional alter ego designed for the purpose of influencing how others perceive […]

 

AMP_personal-branding-for-actors_SEP14So what’s a personal brand?

“Your personal brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever other people think of you. It’s what you stand for — the values, abilities, and actions that others associate with you. It’s a professional alter ego designed for the purpose of influencing how others perceive you, and turning that perception into opportunity.”

So you can see that personal branding is everywhere. We all have developed a personal brand over the years (most of us without even realizing it) that other people use to associate us with certain things. So like the quote stipulated, personal branding is all about recognizing what your brand is and using its strengths to your advantage. As an actor, it’s going to be essential that you realize your brand and make sure you cultivate it yourself, instead of letting it be the one to define you.

What’s the purpose of a personal brand?

Obviously, first and foremost the purpose of developing a strong personal brand is to get more work, to improve your career, and to become more successful at whatever it is you do. A personal brand is all about leveraging yourself so you can influence the particular target market that you’re trying to reach. Your goal is to become a leader in your industry by clearly communicating your brand to your audience and what it is you have to offer. You’re building a promise with your audience about what you can provide them. The strongest brands have perfect alignment between what they promise to offer customers or fans and what they end up delivering. By executing a strong personal brand you will show your followers why you’re different and have something to offer that no one else does, that you’re exceptional at something in particular and always put forth great work. You will also show that your brand is a real person and accurately depicts who you are, what you represent, and that you’re passionate about what you do.

Is your personal brand the same thing as your personal image?

No, your personal brand and personal image are different. Your personal image is the set of qualities that your friends would say to describe you, such as your physical characteristics, style, personality, likes and dislikes, and so on. While your personal brand is how others will perceive you, particularly in a work setting. Your personal image is something that people will formulate, who know you and have been friends with you before, but a personal brand is more how the public will perceive you and the work that you do. They say that in the best circumstances, your personal image will be a direct reflection of your personal brand. But it doesn’t have to — people do go out and create personas that are slight or extreme exaggerations of who they are as a person all the time.

 

 

personal-brand-management

Why is personal branding so important for actors and entertainers?

Personal branding is especially key for performers because you are your product — your look, talents, and physical body is your selling tool for landing jobs. This is why being cognitive of your brand and creating something that’s authentic to you and your skill set is going to be a big difference maker in the success of your career. Also, there is simply too much competition and too many people in your same talent and look bracket that you have to find a way to create an advantage for yourself. You do this by creating a strong personal brand that sets you apart, highlighting what makes you uniquely you.

What are some key platforms that actors should use to execute their personal brand effectively?

We touched on this in a previous article about actors being active in the online space in order to help market themselves, but here are a few of the key platforms:

Branding SocialWebsite & Social Media: In order to effectively build and maintain a personal brand, you will have to be active in the online space. That’s where you’ll be able to build communities of fans and followers, as well as get the most traction with the least amount of work. If you’re serious about developing a strong brand for yourself, then you need to create a network hub online where you’re active in conversations and people can have access to your work and contact information.

YouTube (web series/comedy channel): Again, we’ve touched on this before but creating your own projects on YouTube is the most common theme nowadays for performers and comedians. It’s a way to potentially avoid the long and tedious audition process and build an audience for your work, which can bridge you into more traditional film opportunities if you get enough attention with your channel or web series. A prime example is Workaholics, which started as a series of videos on YouTube and is now going into its fifth season on the Comedy Central network.

Blogging: While creating an actual written blog will take a lot more time and effort, it’s definitely a great way to actively build your personal brand. By building a voice through your writing, you will be able to reach your desired market and connect with other actors who’re going through similar experiences as you. Considering how tough the business is, finding other like-minded people is going to help you to build confidence and gain some different insights and perspectives into the industry.

So now that you have a little more insight into where you should be going to build your personal brand, what are some of the golden rules to make sure you do things right?

Your goal with personal branding is to communicate 3 things:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What makes you different, or how you create value for your target market

There are too many bloggers, brands, and companies online that give off muffled messages to their followers. You have to be so clear to your audience about who you are and what you do. It’s important to have a niche and a very focused area that you excel in and provide value to your customers. You know what they say, “why do a few things good, when you could do one thing great.” You’re a performer so your message should be very clear to your audience about what you do.

Here are some important rules and guidelines to follow by in order to execute a strong personal brand:

personal branding artistBe authentic and inject your personality into your brand: As an actor, your brand is YOU and what can bring to the different characters you play. Just like you would in the audition room, you want to show off your personality and give everybody a taste of the type of person you are. You need to show people that you would be a pleasure to work with and are a quality person on top of your acting skill. You can do this by talking very openly and candidly to your followers online and creating a real person who others can relate to. Most importantly, just be yourself and leave your ego out of it. There are enough people who achieve a little bit of “social media fame” and think they’re King of the Net. Also, if you want to gain an advantage over others and give people something unique, then just be yourself, as nobody will see things exactly the same way you do.

You must have passion for what you’re doing: Obviously your brand will suffer if you don’t love what you’re doing. Treat your own brand as a labour of love and a unique voice that others can connect with. If you don’t love what you do and force your way through it, people will be able to tell and you will lose motivation over time to continue building your brand.

Personal_Branding_3Simplify your message: The best brands communicate a lot of information with very little. That’s because a strong brand is simple but it ignites a very specific emotional response. For you, it will come down to communicating very simply what you do and what you can offer your followers. Perhaps it’s just a fan page where people can follow you and ‘like’ you if they know your work, but if you want to create a stronger brand then you will need to provide value to your followers and communicate what that value is. Is it acting tips? Funny quotes? Hilarious articles that you find, or write? Find out what your message is and make it simple.

Engage your followers: This is one of the least interesting social media tidbits, but it’s always important to mention because people often forget about it or get too lazy and don’t do it. Always make sure you’re engaging with your followers as often as possible to create that two-way dialogue.

Be relevant: Particularly if you’re a blogger, it’s key that you keep up with current trends and themes so that you’re topical and people see a reason to read your stuff. Always make sure you read about what’s going on in the industry just as often as you’re writing about it.

Working on carving out your personal brand is going to take a lot of work, there’s no denying that. But will it be worth it? What will be the end result?

Well…there are a lot of positive outcomes that will arise from working hard and being consistent with your personal brand. For starters, you will start to gain attention from some key influencers in your industry if you’re active enough in the conversations in your industry. Important people will take notice and begin to follow you and start connecting with you. Secondly, you will start to create a community of like-minded followers who will boost your credibility in your industry. For example: if you go to an audition and the casting director looks you up online and sees that you have your own website and blog that’s professionally done, samples of your work on YouTube, as well as have a Facebook page and Twitter with thousands of followers, how much more likely will he be to cast you? Definitely more so than if you had absolutely no information about you online. Thirdly, not only will more opportunities come to you, but also more of the right opportunities will come to you. That’s because you have created a very strong personal brand that is directly in line with who you are as a person and what you can offer as a performer. Lastly, you will become a leader in your industry and will be perceived of someone who is an expert. That’s exactly what personal branding is all about, figuring out what you love to do and what you’re good at, and then strategically carving out a space for yourself that is in line with your goals and aspirations.

We’ve all been creating a personal brand in our lives, but most of us have been doing it passively. It’s now time that you take control and start to take the active steps to understand what yours is and make sure you’re communicating it to the world in the right way. So do so by creating something that is authentically you and something you can be excited about growing into the future.

 

 

5 Steps To Fulfilling Your Dreams


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January Means it’s Time to Get a Head Start on What You Want for 2015! I presume for a lot you reading this, acting is your dream. It’s the thing that stirs your soul and makes you feel alive. It’s your passion and what you’re hoping will one day be your full time job and […]

AMP Talent Group Agency Toronto Blog how-to-reach-your-goals-new-years-goals-set-goals-how-to-write-goals-how-to-set-goals-for-2015

January Means it’s Time to Get a Head Start on What You Want for 2015!

I presume for a lot you reading this, acting is your dream. It’s the thing that stirs your soul and makes you feel alive. It’s your passion and what you’re hoping will one day be your full time job and lead to a very exciting and fulfilling career. Firstly, I commend you for being courageous and deciding to walk the path of your dream. For a lot of people, their dreams remain ideas, things they talk about but never really take action towards; they remain as pictures they drew in elementary school of what they wanted to do when they grew up, but fear got the best of them and they took the safe route. But if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already done the hardest part — commit yourself to walking the path of your dream, no matter where it may lead you.

Dreams are big and scary, and sometimes hard to imagine that they could possibly come true, so how do you deal with their sheer vastness in a way that makes them seem more manageable?

AMP Talent Group Blog Leaving your Legacy 2015 

Identify What You Want Your Legacy To Be.

This is a very important question to ask yourself before you walk fearlessly in the direction of a large goal or dream. What do you want to be remembered for? This really breaks down and clarifies why you want to achieve this dream. You will know that your dream is in line with your truest self if your big goal is in perfect alignment with what you want to be remembered for as a person, what you want people to think or say when your name comes up. You should write your legacy down on paper, so the driving force behind the pursuit of this dream will become permanently etched into your mind and what fuels your motivation. So do you want to be remembered for making people laugh? For making great movies? For being one of the best dramatic actors to ever live? It’s important that you nail this down so this dream of yours can have some context and purpose towards what you desire in your life.

AMP Talent Group Blog Distance between Your Dreams and Reality 

Set Goals and Visualize.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

I believe this is absolutely the most important grass roots step in the pursuit of a big goal or dream. A dream becomes a goal when it’s put down on paper, but it’s just some fantasy or fairy tale when it’s kept in all wishy washy in your mind. You have to put a VERY SPECIFIC goal down on paper and then break down the necessary steps to arriving at that specific goal. You will have to break the path to your goal down into specific parts, by creating short-term and long-term goals. Your short-term goals will definitely change as you complete them, or other things come up, but your long-term goal will be the guiding force in your life. The most successful 1% of the population sets goals and the most successful 0.1% of that 1% reads and updates their goals regularly (Source: Brian Tracy). So by making an active choice to set goals, read them every day, and update them once a month, you’re already setting yourself up for massive success. To add to your goal setting regiment, you need to spend some time visualizing your goals coming to fruition. Visualize your world after you achieve your biggest goal — picture how you’re feeling, the excitement and contentment that you feel inside, how happy and inspired others around you are, and generally, just how fulfilled you feel. Goal setting and regular visualization are going to be the seeds that not only help your dreams grow, but help to make you believe that you can actually accomplish them.

Surround Yourself With People On A Similar Path.

Find people that support you. You may have people that you’ve been friends with for a long time, but you reach a point where it becomes perfectly clear that you’re headed down completely different paths. They begin to take you away from your goals by not supporting you, or believing that you can actually accomplish the things you’re setting out to do. You don’t need to completely remove these people from your life (you have all the history with them) but you do need to manage how much of an influence they will have on you. You won’t be able to see them every single weekend, as you will continuously get discouraged because they keep badgering you, “When are you going to get a real job? Are you still trying to pursue the acting thing?” Trying to become an actor, or artist and someone who’s successful in the entertainment industry is a very long and exhausting road — something that someone who doesn’t work in the industry won’t understand (particularly if they work in the corporate world or a standard 9-5 job). This is why it’s very important that you create a circle of actor friends, or friends that work in the industry that you’re pursing a career in. This way you will have people to bounce ideas off, as well as people that just generally support you and believe that you can accomplish your dream. They will be able to spot the talent in you, the drive, and all the potential you have to do everything you’re trying to do. These are the people that you will probably connect with the most and be the most like-minded with, but mostly, they will help bring you closer to your goals. They will probably know people and be able to put you in touch with people who will help you to get ahead in your career. If you don’t have any friends that have the same dream as you, or work in the industry you’re trying to get into, then you really need to make some changes to who you are hanging out with if you’re serious about accomplishing your dream.

AMP Talent Group Blog Failure is SuccessWelcome failure into your life.

This is the hardest one to accept, but it’s one of the most important. One of the greatest pre-requisites for success is failure. This is definitely true for entrepreneurs, as well as artists. The only way you’re going to get better, improve your technique and strategy, is by failing thousands of times. Success comes with a price, through a series of failures that you live through and overcome to create something better. You just have to have the endurance, patience, and persistence to understand that with every failure you go through, you’re getting closer to your big break, or opportunity for everything to turn around in your favour. Failure also makes success feels warranted, making you feel like you’ve earned everything that’s come your way. You don’t want to become hugely successful without feeling like you’ve gone through the gauntlet of struggle. The feeling of triumph will be completely squashed by the fact you feel like someone that just got lucky, instead of having earned every inch that came your way. So welcome failure into your life. You’re the one who decided to chase a dream, which means you chose to walk a path of criticism and skepticism from others, as well as path that will force you to walk into the fear of the unknown being judged every step of the way by people who want to bring you down. Failure is your friend, welcome it, and learn from it.

AMP Talent Group meryl-streep-portrait

Follow the stories of the key players in your industry.

Your dream is to become an actor, so my first piece of advice is to read every single biography of every actor that inspires you. If they have a biography book, go buy their book and take every word to heart. I would suggest that you watch shows such as Inside the Actor’s Studio and note the stories of how the actors got to be at the level they are at now, as well as their words of wisdom for beginning actors starting out in the industry. I would also suggest that you watch as many interviews as you can from actors who you respect and look up to for how they get into character for each role they play, and what they’ve learned from peers in their industry whom they respect. Just as a writer should study the work of the writers they most admire, you have to study the bodies of work of the best actors in the game. That way you can find certain things about their preparation methods, or course they took to success that you can try and mirror in your own career. For these are the actors and people who you aspire to be like, as well as hope to have a career that will be even just a slight semblance of.

I know from my own experiences that choosing to chase a dream is a tough thing to fully commit to, but once you do, you’re on your way. You are finally on the path that you’re intended to be on. However long it took you to get here, it doesn’t matter, because you’ve arrived and are now ready to make any sacrifice necessary to make things happen for yourself. That’s a huge turning point and something that you should feel good about. Just be prepared that along the way there will be endless obstacles, but if you make a conscious choice to overcome absolutely everything that comes in front of you and your dream, your success will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

In order to achieve a dream, you first have to completely surrender to it; you have to tell yourself that you’re at mercy to this path, wherever it may lead you. That’s because you love it, how it makes you feel inside, it’s something you can’t describe or properly put into words, you’re guided by a purpose, something greater than yourself.

5 Must-See Canadian Movies During TIFF


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One of the great parts about the Toronto International Film Festival it’s that it’s not only another opportunity for Hollywood to flaunt their endless talent and pockets, but it’s also a great stage to feature great films and world-class talent from all corners of the globe. Particularly our home soil talent here in Canada. So […]

Canadian Made Film Movies at TIFFOne of the great parts about the Toronto International Film Festival it’s that it’s not only another opportunity for Hollywood to flaunt their endless talent and pockets, but it’s also a great stage to feature great films and world-class talent from all corners of the globe. Particularly our home soil talent here in Canada. So while there are so many great American films at this year’s festival, I encourage you to check out some of this year’s highly anticipated films that came from your own country.

There are so many great Canadian films at this year’s festival, but we had to decide on 5 of the most buzz worthy:

Mommy-by-xavier-dolan-cannes-poster1. Mommy

Directed by 25-year-old Quebecquois filmmaker, Xavier Dolan (who is also at the festival as an actor for Elephant Song), Mommy is right at the top of the Canadian film must-see list. Dolan already took home the Jury Prize for the film at this year’s Cannes Festival, so it definitely has some fire behind it heading into TIFF. The story follows a widow who struggles to raise her sometimes-violent teenager.

 

 

Bang Bang Baby movie2. Bang Bang Baby

Definitely geared to be one of the most bizarre films at this year’s festival, Bang Bang Baby adopts its own fused genre of musical meets 1950’s sci-fi. Probably not what you were expecting, right? Well this is the first feature film from short-film veteran, Jeffrey St. Jules, and it’s definitely being anticipated with much curiosity. The story follows a young teenager, Stepphy (Jane Levy) in a small fictional town in Canada who has lofty aspirations of making it in the music business as a singer. She’s then accepted to a singing competition in the states, but her father refuses to let her go. Then things get interesting when the local plant appears to have a strange leak, which brings the sleepy town into a frenzy, just when Stepphy’s crush and hero, singer Bobby Shore (Justin Chatwin) arrives in town with his broke down car. Regardless of the film’s reception or outcome, that description alone must be enough to completely throw you with curiosity.

Monsoon movie 2014 sturla gunnarsson3. Monsoon

Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon is supposed to be a complete spectacle and exploration of the annual monsoons that soak India. The film is intended to highlight and capture both the beneficial and disastrous effects the monsoons have on India’s agriculture, society, economy, and personal lives of its inhabitants. The film was shot during an actual monsoon during the rainy season in India and has been described as “part road movie, part spectacle, and part drama.”

Elephant Song/Melenny4. Elephant Song

Elephant Song is the big-screen adaptation of Nicolas Billon’s play about a psychiatrist who is drawn into a complex mind game when he questions a disturbed patient (Xavier Dolan) about the disappearance of a colleague. The film sees veteran Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood going toe-to-toe with the young industry prodigy Dolan (who’s also at the festival with his film Mommy), in a very suspenseful and manipulative film that will leave your palms in a pool of sweat. Also appearing in Elephant Song is veteran American actress, Catherine Keener.

Preggoland movie james caan5. Preggoland

No the title is not trying to mislead you at all; Preggoland describes this movie in a nutshell. It’s clearly a comedy and the story is about a 35 year-old woman named Ruth (Sonja Bennett) who fakes being pregnant so she can fit in with her friends who are all baby-obsessed. The film is intended to poke fun of society’s baby-craze and show the lengths that some women will go to feel apart of the club. Based off a very hilarious script written by the star of the film, Sonja Bennett, as well as starring James Caan as her dad, Preggoland is bound to be a good laugh. I mean…if the title alone didn’t hook you, then I don’t know what will.

Every year the Canadian talent gets even stronger, which is great for our film industry and all the young Canadian up-and-comers. Lets also not forget two other big films that have Canadian directors at the helm — Wild with Reese Witherspoon and David Cronenberg’s Map To The Stars.

Get your tickets on the TIFF website and check out these great films!

10 Must-See Movies During TIFF


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Every year from September 4th – 14th the annual TIFF 2014 festival arrives in Toronto. The festival brings some of the world’s highest caliber celebrities and film industry talent.  While our city will be buzzing with celebrity sightings, red carpets and glamorous parties, at the core of the festival is always going to be the work — […]

AMP Talent TIFFEvery year from September 4th – 14th the annual TIFF 2014 festival arrives in Toronto. The festival brings some of the world’s highest caliber celebrities and film industry talent.  While our city will be buzzing with celebrity sightings, red carpets and glamorous parties, at the core of the festival is always going to be the work — in other words the new movies that are premiering. Every year the list of movies is stacked full of endless options to choose from, making it difficult to choose what movies you should see. In order to make that decision a little easier, we’ve listed 10 of the most highly anticipated films at this year’s festival. A lot of which are based on true stories, showcasing career-defining performances, as well as a couple of highly anticipated films from Canadian directors.

The must-see list is as follows:

Wild Movie Reese Witherspoon1. Wild

Starring Reese Witherspoon and directed by Canadian filmmaker, Jean-Marc Vallee (Who’s on a real hot-streak after directing the critical hit, The Dallas Buyers Club) is a film based on the best-selling memoir of Cheryl Strayed. Reese Witherspoon plays the title role, a heroin junkie who sets out to cleanse herself on a thousand-mile hiking trail. Witherspoon is already creating early Oscar buzz for what’s undoubtedly her most interesting role since Walk the Line. This is one you won’t want to miss!

Official Trailer

The-Imitation-Game-Movie-New-Pic-22. The Imitation Game

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, Imitation Game is based on the true story of Cambridge mathematician, cryptanalyst, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing (Benedict), who led the Enigma code-breaking operation during World War II. Turing was hired by the British military to break Nazi codes during the war, and then was later persecuted for being homosexual by the British government, which was illegal at the time.  Official Trailer 

Map To The Stars movie poster Image3. Map to the Stars

Map to the Stars is another film by a Canadian filmmaker that is anxiously being awaited at this year’s festival. Directed by Toronto-born David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis), Map to the Stars is a satirical film that examines celebrity culture and the pursuit of fame at the expense of absolutely anything. The film explores the dark side of “western culture” and dissects LA’s obsession with celebrity culture as it follows the life of two former child stars. The film has a star-studded cast and includes the likes of Julianne Moore (who won best actress at Cannes), John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, and Mia Wasikawska to name a few.  Official Trailer

Men-Women-and-Children4. Men, Women, and Children

Co-Written and directed by TIFF veteran Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Labor Day), Men, Women, and Children is surely going to be one of the most innovative films at this year’s festival. Starring Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, J.K. Simmons (who also stars in Whiplash), Emma Thompson, and Ansel Elgort (The Fault in our Stars), the story follows a group of teenagers and their parents as they try and deal with the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, communication, self-image, and their love lives.  Official Trailer

Nightcrawler movie Image5. Nightcrawler

A film noir from first-time director Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a drifter and petty-thief who joins the nocturnal legions of scuzzy freelance photographers who scour the city of LA shooting gruesome crime-scenes. The film also features what is said to be the best performance of Jake Gyllenhaal’s career (who lost a considerable amount of weight for the role and is likely going to be in Oscar conversations this fall). Official Trailer

st-vincent-2014-movie-wallpaper_1622184246. St. Vincent

There are a lot of great comedies slotted to premiere at this year’s festival and St. Vincent is right at the top of the list. The film stars Bill Murray (who is at his absolute best in this role), as a cash-strapped, carefree retiree who somehow becomes a wildly unexpected role model to the twelve-year-old son of his next-door neighbor (played by Melissa McCarthy) when he bottoms out his bank account and offers to take care of her son for cash. Official Trailer

Whiplash Image7. Whiplash

While Whiplash already premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s still one of the most buzzed about films heading into TIFF. It’s already won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Award at Sundance, so it will be on most people’s must-see shortlist. Starring Miles Teller as Andrew Neyman, an ambitious young jazz drummer at a prestigious music academy who ends up clashing violently with his intense music instructor, Terence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons). The film is all about asking the question: “How far would you go to achieve perfection?” Definitely a must see!  Official Trailer

WhileWeWereYoungMovieBenStillerNaomiWatts8. While We’re Young

While We’re Young is a comedy starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, and Adam Driver (who has three movies premiering at this year’s festival). The story explores aging, ambition, and success, when a middle-aged couple’s (Stiller and Watts) careers and marriage is overturned when they meet a young, hip, bohemian couple (Seyfried and Driver). The film is a close look at the New York creative class and is supposedly a bang on dissection of urban sophisticates.

 

Mr Turner Movie 20149. Mr. Turner

Before the great French impressionists, there was J.M.W. Turner, one of the greatest English painters to ever live. Mr. Turner is a biopic recounting the life of the famed British landscape painter. Timothy Spall stars as Turner, and has already won the best actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Writer-Director Mike Leigh is also receiving high praise for Mr. Turner, which is being considered one of his masterworks.  Official Trailer

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10. Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher is probably the most highly anticipated film at this year’s festival, just based off the reception it received at the Cannes Festival. Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote and Moneyball), who also won the best director award at Cannes, stars Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo. It tells the true story of two brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz (Tatum and Ruffalo), both former Olympic wrestling champions and their tragic friendship with a neurotic millionaire coach, John du Pont (Steve Carell, who is virtually unrecognizable in all the prosthetic makeup). Both Tatum and Carell are venturing into foreign acting territory with their roles — Carell receiving a lot of early Oscar talk for his creepy portrayal of Du Pont. Official Trailer

TIFF is only a week away so make sure you get your tickets to a few of these buzzed about films. For tickets and all other TIFF-related information, you can visit the official website — http://www.tiff.net