What MAKES Sammy Run? – ACTORS & FILMMAKERS: MAKE IT HAPPEN ON YOUR OWN! CREATE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES!
Welcome back - everyone. I wanted to give everyone a chance to read my Ernie Borgnine tribute, as you all know what he meant to me. Being a close friend of his, and getting work with a Living Legend, was - and stil is - one of the great thrills of my career and life.
Now, on to new business. And, this next bit of advice that will make up the entirety of the BLOG, goes for both ACTORS and FILMMAKERS. Ready? Get your pencil and paper out ... or your I-Phone to make notes on:
In this business, you have to create your own opportunities.
I know, I know it's simple common sense, but if that were true - why don't more people follow that simple, common sense? I'll give you an example - another ForTalent member, who is one of my best students - Anthony Pallino, just wrote and produced his own short - a high-end short. I was the first person he came to for help, and he asked me to consult on which I happily did. Both he and the young director, Edward Blumenthal, did a wonderful job of taking advice and listening, as well as STEPPING UP when they had - and they did!
They both wanted to succeed so badly. They assembled a cast that included Pallino, Maria Rusolo (for so long the IT Girl in Staten Island Indie Film), Mariam Giorgadze, everybody's little sister in my monthly acting workshop, the very talented Bill Sorvino, who may just steal the show, Noelle Kovary, who I had not met before the auditions, myself and the very talented and beautiful Samantha Tuffarelli, who you know is every day becoming My Next Great Success Story more and more. She has been cast in something like seven of my films already. Hey hard work will get you everywhere in this business!
Pallino and Blumenthal could NOT have gotten a better group of actors to work with. But, more on that later. My point here is Anthony invested money in this project, he hustled to get locations - GREAT LOCATIONS, none better than Irish Times Pub and Restaurant, where the owner Lorcan Phelan could not have been nicer, basically giving us the run of the place for three long nights.
But, everyone on that cast and crew had to work extremely hard in order for us to finish this movie, and they did. But, I keep harkening back to Pallino and all he had to do to put this together, to create an opportunity for himself. And, how willing he was to listen to the people that knew what they were doing - namely me. LOL - I know, I know, you think I am tooting my own horn, but that's NOT what this is.
If I had a quarter for every former student of mine who thinks they know what they are doing - and in actuality don't know their backside from their elbow - I would be a rich man. And, well, that appears to be happening so ...
Seriously, I am taking former students who with no real background or a few shoddy producing credits on nothing substantial, feel they are playing in the same ballpark as me. Guess what, 'aint even the same league. 'Aint even the same planet.
Former students who have NEVER written a script yet want to give "notes" to an award-winning writer.
Then, I think of Pallino, listening, working hard - nearly having a nervous breakdown in hopes of finishing this film. There were two days straight he must have gotten a total of four hours sleep! And he had some good people willing to help.
Not only did Bill Sorvino come out to this set, he was there at 5 a.m. and took a funny idea for a character and actually brought it to life, almost stealing the show. Or Samantha Tuffareli - as professional as any actor I've ever worked with. She takes nothing to heart that is business-related. I know other actors, think I am "beating them down," by simply giving them direction or correcting them, but Samantha? She takes nothing to heart. You could be yelling one minute and then the next she has you smiling, because you misunderstood her and she has you laughing about it.
She was ready to go for her call-time at 3:30 a.m. with a laugh and her trademark smile that would brighten up any set. And those kinds of people are always welcome on my sets - they are usually welcome on MOST sets. She also has been learning the producing aspect from me, and she is always listening and learning. She even approached me about an idea recently that, again, speaks to this whole idea of 'create your own opportunities.'
There is also a difference between creating your own opportunities - the right way - and making a film that doesn't have a real director, a real consultant, a script that only showcases you and has one-dimensional supporting characters, doesn't make sense and a person who is not used to operating a high-end camera.
Create your own opportunites ... the right way, and watch as help will come from every corner of the Universe.
That's what Pallino did and that is what Tuffarelli has been doing since the day I met her. She is not only extremely talented with a wide range, but she is a wonderful human being and that counts for something in my book. She never fails to make you smile on a set, just Pallino never fails to make you root for him. Just like Sorvino works so hard and even having done things at a higher level, is always filled with an attitude of gratitude.
Then, we come to Kovary - Noelle Kovary, and don't call her Nicole (as I did rather mistakenly several times). While she does not have the amount of experience of Tuffarelli - not even close - she does have a drive and desire to learn and to work. She showed up on days she wasn't even scheduled to shoot, to help out on the crew, was willing to cut her hair and even play an extra. I notice these sorts of things.
And, how about the Producer of this film - none other than my apprentice, Nihad Shalabi, another ForTalent member! In a short time, Nihad has become a very close friend of mine - just as Sorvino did a little while back. You see, they are both like-minded people. But Nihad, has listened and learned himself - already a successful businessman, he is learning how to be successful in the business of movies. A great director-in-the-making, as well, he has already become a disciple from the Sam Borowski School of Producing, as has Tuffarelli.
Watching him on the set, you would have thought he had produced 10 films! He also had that same tough demeanor I exhibit on a set, but also knew how to make others laugh and smile. He did everything from drive around New York and New Jersey for three nights to picking me up a crueller when he thought I needed it ... and a chocolate glazed donut, to helping assist our young director, to being my right arm in consulting to producing this film.
Nihad did so much, I want to write an entire BLOG on him ... but, that is another BLOG for another day.
The point being is that ALL of these people created their own opportunity. In fact, three of the reasons I agreed to consult on this film, and even play a role as myself - LOL see the film LOL - is because Pallino deserved the help and both Tuffarelli and Shalabi deserved further opportunities. Nihad was chomping at the bit to get started, and Samantha, she impressed me in so many ways, even offering up a key tip for me to give one of the characters. Two days she showed up ready to work at 4 a.m. (Did we really do that?)
And, honestly, I was so excited to act opposite a tremendously talented actor of that ilk. She took a funny scene or two so seriously. And, she brought her A-game as if she was acting with Paul Sorvino - although that will be happening for both her Bill Sorvino in less than three weeks in Iowa, in the movie I am producing, "A PLACE FOR HEROES." That movie, BTW, is directed by Scott Thompson and features the acting talents of Kiera Morrill, also ForTalent members.
So, what is the point I am getting at here?
Create your own opportunities - and do it the right way! Work with people you respect and admire, don't simply seek to produce and "star" in every crappy little short film out there. Make positive, impactful films - even if they are just hilarious shorts. Spend your own money as Pallino did and watch as other people offer in-kind donations such as locations, their services, even food.
Do as Tuffarelli does - use every day to come up with a new idea, find a new audition, meditate and pray on your goals and keep people talking about you, either with your wonderful reel or your insightful and charming posts on various social networking media, including ForTalent. Force your way into their Inner Circle, much as she did when she made herself invaluble with her talent and work-ethic. Made herself likable with her charm and willingness to learn things she didn't already know. Just about the only thing she is missing is ego - and that is something I have noticed, as well.
Be like Nihad - not afraid to drive around two states, and to jump into the fire - or the frying pan - or to ask many questions in learning from the best. Show the same passion he shows in talking about his favorite films - we had a wonderful conversation on the way into the set about Luc Besson's "THE PROFESSIONAL," which co-starred my cousin, the Academy-Award Nominated Danny Aiello. ;)
Follow Bill Sorvino's lead - he created a film festival that is now a MAJOR film fest in New York/New Jersey Tri-State area. He still acts and reads many, many scripts. He watches countless movies for his festival and travels to many other festivals to scout for movies, talent and ideas.
How about Blumenthal - he put his ego aside to learn from me, and I watched as he stepped up several times when needed to become 'The Director.' I still remember the final shot he framed as we were finishing the film with our window about to close.
Keep moving forward and learning like Kovary did. Ingratiate yourself by doing other jobs and if you find someone you respect - seek to take their class. I was actually surprised by the hard effort she gave. Was a nice surprise.
Be like one of our young leads, Mariam Giorgadze, who excelled in her first part in a film - ever - who did everything we asked and was as bubbly as you could be for it being 2:30 in the morning. And, who revealed an addition for ice coffee during this shoot.
Be the next Maria Rusolo who was there every minute of the two days she shot, willing to do anything to help out or to offer a kind word. Who I would always think about casting because of her wonderful attitude, her burgeoning talent, and her ability to help others around her. Much like Tuffarelli, Rusolo is only missing the ego - and that is definitely a good thing.
All of these people shared one thing in common - they created their own opportunity. And they did it the right way, with hard work and minus an ego. This was just one project, but each of the above have other things going on, again another subject for another day.
Now go forth, take this advice and ... create your own opportunity!
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Film / Theater / TV, Writing
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