How to Get Booked in a Movie… Guaranteed.
One of the first things I did when I moved to LA was look up my old friend, Brad Fowler. Brad and I performed stand up comedy together in Chicago. He had been here for 3 years pursuing acting. We met at an old diner where two old friends in movies go to eat. It was perfect. I remember thinking that Brad did not look very good when he first walked in. He looked skinny, pale and just exhausted overall. Before we even got our food he started spewing out advice. “Don’t blow your savings. Get a job right away. This is a marathon, not a race. Don’t just get an agent, get a good agent.” and the best piece of advice was “don’t wait for it to happen, make it happen.” I was so grateful for his advice and as we parted we agreed to help each other any way we could and have each others back. And we meant it.
So a couple months later when Brad called to do PA (Production Assistant) work on a web series he was filming I did not hesitate. Even though he couldn’t pay me anything, I saw this as a great opportunity to be on a set and learn the terminology used in television and movies. My job was pretty easy. Move this light here, unload this car, stay out of the way. I was having fun immediately.
Some time after lunch, Amanda Markowitz, the lead actress and co-producer of the project was frantically dialing her phone. An actress who agreed to be in the shoot that day had bailed on her. To me this was the weirdest thing I had ever heard. You get to do what you love and you don’t show up? That was weird. So as I sat there eating some fruit I casually told Amanda, “I can play the part. I mean it’s only one line, right?” She said, “say the line.” and in the most homosexual voice I could think of while throwing cantaloupe in my mouth I said, “You’re 9 o’clock is here.” She excused herself and grabbed the Director and made me deliver the line again. He said, “Perfect.” Get changed.
I had read in an acting book somewhere to keep an extra set of nicer clothes in your trunk in case you are out and about and get a last second audition. I followed that advice and got changed and found myself delivering one line in a web series that I knew nothing about in the gayest voice I could come up with. I was hooked. I had done some acting in high school and went to Second City to do Improv but once the Director said “Action!” I was like a kid in a candy store. I left that day thinking how cool that would be to do for a living.
A few weeks later Brad called and they were desperate for background actors and would I be interested and again he couldn’t pay me. I jumped at the opportunity and spent 15 hours wearing a mask and a cape. It was a long day and after a while as I’m inclined to do when I get bored I started joking around with the crew and just trying to keep things loose. Plus they had Twizzlers so I wasn’t really going anywhere anyway. I mean, they’re Twizzlers. Come on. Amanda walked up to me around midnight and said, “I want to thank you so much for being here today. You’ve made the mood today so fun and you haven’t complained once. You’re the type of person I want to work with for a long time.” It was such a nice compliment but to me this was a blast. I got to play dress up and have Twizzler knife fights with the key grip. This wasn’t work.
A few weeks later Brad called me and I don’t think I realized it at the time but it’s one of those phone calls that when you look back you’ll know that it probably changed your life forever.
“We decided instead of doing a web series that we are going to make a movie.”
“Sweet, let me know how I can help.” I replied.
“Well that’s the thing. We wrote you a part. We needed comic relief in the movie and a through line for the plot. You’re playing the leads best friend.”
I can’t recall exactly how I replied but I think it was something like, “I’m sorry. What now?”
So in a matter of a few weeks I went from being the guy who moved sand bags to being the co-star of a independently produced film. This thing took a life of its own. And Brad did exactly what he told me to do that day at lunch. He didn’t wait for LA to find him. He and Amanda wrote a script that they loved and they begged and pleaded and sweat and bled to make it happen. They were able to cast some very well known veteran actors including Ed Asner, a 7 time Emmy winner and acting legend.
We completed shooting a few months ago and the movie is in post production right now. We just hired an amazing composer to do the music and they are going to be submitting Love Meet Hope to festivals this year. It’s been an unbelievable experience and I could not be prouder of my friends Amanda and Brad and so grateful to them for taking an immeasurable risk on someone who had little acting experience and no formal training and putting me in a project on which they have staked their entire careers.
Los Angeles is a city that is designed to get you to leave, to get you to give up. It’s expensive, it’s hot, it’s dirty, the traffic sucks and there are more pretentious and fake people per capita than anywhere else in the world. But there are good people here too, a lot of them. So my advice to any aspiring actor is to surround yourself with good people. People that are REAL and passionate and will work 20 hour days to make something happen that has no guarantee of success because they believe in it so much. I’ll go to battle with those guys any day.
So how do you get booked in a movie in Los Angeles? Show up, work hard, don’t complain, be prepared for unexpected opportunities and don’t wait to be discovered. You want to get booked in a movie? Then go make a movie. All you need is a project you believe in, a group of people who get it and a shit load of Twizzlers.
We are currently funding our post-production costs through an Indi-gogo campaign. If you would like to learn more about this amazing project and would like to make a donation to help us get it finished please visit www.lovemeethope.com today.
Ken “One Take” Garr