Digital Spotlight: Honey and the Whirlwind

We’ve been talking about Digital Spotlights since May and now that we’re in post production for This Is Art, it’s time to put up or shut up! Needless to say, we’re really excited to FINALLY kick off this companion series. We’ve met so many amazing new media artists while working on This Is Art and we’d be crazy not to ask them to share the pearls of wisdom they’ve gleaned from their process with all of you!

So without further ado, here’s our first Digital Spotlight, featuring the creator of the amazing webcomic Honey and the Whirlwind, Tim Ferrara. He gave us some insight into how self publishing on the web became a tool for him to tell a story he’d had locked up inside him since being a creative writing major in college. He also offers some advice on how new media artists can begin to monetize their work and connect with new audience members.

 

What I love about our webseries, This Is Art, is that it’s about real people facing real obstacles while trying to make art happen at the outset of their careers. Tim truly embodies the struggle that the characters on our show face.

He’s doesn’t have a major publisher backing him or previous artistic successes to supply Honey and the Whirlwind with a waiting audience. He is independently producing work on a consistent schedule while still working a day job to make ends meet, but he stands out from the crowd because of his determination and the innovative strategies he’s employed to start making a living as a new media artist. He is making smart decisions and constantly refining his methods to grow his project from the ground up. The things he has done to monetize his work are things that anyone can do in the context of their own project. We can all stand to learn a lot from him!

Tim, thanks so much for letting us pick your brain! If you’re interested in being a guest on our Digital Spotlight series, leave a comment, DM us on Twitter, or email us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com.

Anne Richmond

@annerichmond

@followthisisart

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Introducing: This Is Art Composer Laura Intravia!

"I'm super excited about the project and really looking forward to working with such super talented people!" - Laura Intravia. Ditto, Laura!

One of the many exciting aspects of working on This Is Art is the ability to assemble a creative team that can perfectly execute mine and Anne’s vision for the show, and have a great time while doing it. Anne and I were ecstatic to recently announce a new addition to the team: Laura Intravia. Laura is the official This Is Art composer, and she will be writing all the original music and scoring for the show. Not only is Laura an exceptionally talented musician, she’s a perfect fit for the This Is Art team, and I’m here to tell you why.

Come with me, if you will, on a journey back in time. It’s the summer of 2008. Laura Intravia, a student at Ithaca college studying vocal performance and competition, has entered the Masquerade talent show/costume contest at Otakon in Baltimore. I am sitting on my couch in Manhattan watching Paprika while this goes on, as many of my friends are busy attending Otakon without me this year, but that’s neither here nor there.

All I can say is this: Laura walks on that stage in her Link costume, and magic happens. And, of course, that magic later appears on YouTube for the rest of the world to see.

Nine months later, Tommy Tallarico discovers the video of Laura’s Flute Link performance on Youtube and invites her to be a part of Video Games Live, touring the world while performing some of the most iconic video games music of our time in front of hundreds of thousands of audience members across 47 cities.

The year is 2009 when Laura joins the VGL tour, which is also the year I snag tickets to see Video Games Live at the Beacon Theater in New York City. I take my seat at the Beacon totally expecting the Warcraft segment to be my favorite, but Flute Link blows me away with her talent and, of course, the unique aspect of her performance. When I leave the theater, it’s the Flute Link segment, plus her unexpected vocal abilities in some of the other segments, that have me raving.

Fast forward to the year 2011. Anne and I are cast in the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective‘s production of Alice Au Pays Des Merveilles at the SoHo Playhouse. Halfway through rehearsals we learn that “Beautiful Soup,” the one musical number of the show, is being written by composer Laura Intravia.

Laura as Flute Link

Laura as Flute Link

I’m sure you all can picture the total nerd freakout I had when I realized that I was going to be singing music written by Flute Link.

I finally met Laura when she came to see Alice. Of course, it’s always nice when you find out that someone of whom you’re a fan is also a totally cool, incredibly nice person; Laura is and was both of those things.

So when Anne and I lost our original composer and were tasked with finding a new composer for the show – and quickly, too! – Laura immediately came to mind for both of us. Working with her during Alice had been great, we were both fans of her work, and she shares so many passions that Anne and I share – passions that went into the making of all the other aspects of This Is Art and deserved a place in its music, too. Besides, Laura’s unique career is the perfect example of an artist using new media to share their art with the world. From the beginning, This Is Art has sought to widen the community of artists in the world of new media, and Laura is definitely an inspirational figure for that community.

We approached Laura about composing for us and she hopped on the project at full speed. Now, as the calendar quickly approaches our production dates in October, we are working with Laura to put together the musical numbers of the show. I have to say, it’s incredibly thrilling to have your work come to life through the eyes of a collaborative artist. Hearing Laura’s musical demos has inspired an exhilarating new excitement in us. More than ever, Anne and I can’t wait to get This Is Art off the page and on its feet. Now, thanks to Laura, the musical piece of the puzzle is solved, and we’re that much closer to making it happen!

We’ll try and keep you posted about musical-related developments as we head into production, without giving too many surprises away! Meanwhile, check back here to learn more about our recent additions to the This Is Art team!

You can find out more about Laura by visiting her website!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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This Is Art New York Comic Con Meetup: Are You In?

As you may already know, we recently hosted our very own This Is Art Livestream party to celebrate the success of our IndieGoGo campaign and to thank our donors and supporters. You can watch the video and read about how we put it together here.

In our webseries, Anne and I tell the story of creating art through the main characters, D and Cami, and their artistic experiences. The art they create is vastly impacted by the people they meet along the way. That is, after all, a huge part of the artistic process. As such, the idea of community has always been an important one for This Is Art. This was one of the main driving forces behind our Livestream party; we wanted to give our community a chance to interact and share, and – most importantly – to show themselves! We were not disappointed. For me, one of the most exciting parts of the event was watching the chatroom scroll as our community – a vast combination of people of all ages, locations, and demographics – got to know each other. That sense of bringing people together is one aspect of art that is always a favorite of mine.

Of course, bring a community of people together and you’re bound to hear a variety of different opinions and ideas. One such idea arose from the community gathered at the This Is Art Livestream party: the idea of a New York City Comic Con meetup.

Anne and I instantly loved the idea the moment it came up in chat, but in the days that have since passed we’ve discussed it and are now growing even more excited at the prospect of bringing our community together in person, especially during an event that represents an even larger community of which Anne and I consider ourselves a part. We would love the opportunity to organize a meetup for new media fans and creators – in other words, the community we are creating through This Is Art! Anne and I will both be at NYCC all 4 days (we’ve got our press passes and we will be there representing This Is Art, of course!), and we’re confident that we could find a time convenient for everyone (ie, not during the Felicia Day panel).

So here’s where you come in. Friends, family members, fans, new media creators, and new media lovers – sometime between October 13 and October 16, would you be down to attend a New York Comic Con meetup hosted by This Is Art? Let us know! If there’s interest, we will be happy to put it together! Simply comment on this blog post, hit us up on Facebook, or tweet your interest with the hashtag #thisisartnycc to let us know!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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How We Exceeded Our Crowdfunding Goal

Last night marked the end of our Indiegogo campaign for This Is Art. Our funders reached our $6000 goal ten days early and we’ve had the last leg of the journey to exceed our goal by as much money as possible. After 34 days, we’ve raised $7,010. Because our donors have exceeded our goal by such a significant margin, we’ll be able to make the show just the way we envisioned it and still have enough money left over to help us start promoting the show. Needless to say, our gratitude is boundless!

Meeting our goal presented us with the challenge of incentivizing our community to go above and beyond our original request. We knew that once we met our goal, we’d have to give our donors a good reason to keep giving and that our influx of funds would slow down significantly.

We decided the first thing to do was to lay out exactly what the extra funds would be used for and to show donors the effect that those additional donations could have on the project. We knew we wanted to take the show to conventions and film festivals, but that gets surprisingly expensive. Originally we hadn’t put that into our budget because we were already unsure of our ability to even reach our initial $6000 goal just to cover the show. Exceeding our goal gave us the opportunity to cover those potential costs. However, we realized that some people weren’t going to be familiar with the kind of impact festivals and conventions could have on a webseries, so Emily wrote a great blog post about developing a community and garnering support through attending these events.

We had originally intended to do a Livestream event when we got close to our goal, but we reached it so fast that we didn’t have time to put it together beforehand. Instead we turned it into a celebration of our success and our donor’s valiant efforts to make the show the best it can be. I contacted our cast and crew and invited them to participate, whether it be on camera or in our chat room. We ended up with one special guest on camera, Clint Okayama, and Bryan Vu, our webmaster joined us in the chat room to moderate. We also had cast member Chris Ruth stop by the chat room for a little bit. We hoped that this event would function as an opportunity for our growing community to see the results of our efforts and to get a little more insight into the people behind the project. If you want a more detailed description of the event or if you want to view the recorded video of the broadcast, you can check out our post about it. In the end, this was a great community event and we’ll definitely do more like it.

When we got close to $7000, we pretty much stalled out and stopped getting donations which was completely understandable considering how many people have been so generous with their contributions. Still, I couldn’t resist setting just one more incentive milestone for our donors to see if we could in fact raise $1000 more than our goal. I released an announcement on all of our social media streams that if we broke $7k, we’d release our favorite piece of concept art yet. It was down to the wire, but we did reach that last milestone! So of course, we released our final bit of concept art for the campaign. I can’t believe our supporters met every goal we set forth. That just blows my mind and I love them for it!


As I drew up our four main characters in this image, I couldn’t help but to swell with excitement as I realized that very soon they’ll be leaping off of the page. It’s absolutely thrilling to be done with the daunting task of fundraising. I’ve been so humbled by the outpouring of support for the project and I cannot wait to tell our story!

I’d like to honor the funders who brought us through the home stretch of the campaign! Thank you all so much!

Anonymous
Markus Hunt
Katharine Nathan
Alan Ruscoe
Anonymous
Alexandra MacArthur

A full list of our donors can be found on our Donor page and I’ve done my best to link back to those with projects of their own. If you are one of our donors and would like a specific link attached to your name, please feel free to drop us a line at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll be sure to include it as soon as possible.

We’re now entering a new phase in our journey and we have lots of plans for production updates as we move through this part of our process. One of our major plans for the blog during this period is to feature content by other new media artists. So if you have a webseries, podcast, blog, vlog, webcomic, sketch blog, etc., link to your project in the comments and we’ll get in touch with you to do a feature. We already have a few submissions, but we’d love more!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Indiegogo Home Stretch Video

Once again, we set a goal and our amazing community has risen to achieve it!

With exactly two weeks left in our campaign, we are over $5000 funded. Thank you so much for all of your pledges! As promised, we have attached our Homestretch Announcement video for your enjoyment. In the video, we not only have a lot of fun, but we make two huge announcements for the webseries!

 

Announement #1: Donation Matching
Now that we have gotten within $1000 of our overall funding goal, an anonymous supporter has offered to match each donation up to a limit of $500 to help us reach our $6,000 goal.

If you haven’t yet donated to get us into production, here is a chance to make your gift work twice as hard. If you have given, thank you for getting us to the point where a like minded angel has decided to make this generous challenge grant.

Announcement #2: We’re having a USTREAM Party!
We’ve noticed an amazing community growing around “This Is Art.” Emily and I want to bring the community together in cyberspace to celebrate the home stretch of our campaign and to make sure all of you have a chance to meet each other. That’s why we’ve decided to throw a USTREAM Party so that you can interact with us in real time and living color while getting to know the many incredible individuals who have been getting involved with the show. This is your chance to ask us any questions you might have about our project and/or our process. We will be announcing the date of this LIVE streaming event as we approach our final $6000 goal. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and check here on our blog so you don’t miss out on the event details.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our most recent donors. Without you, none of this would be possible!

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew Park-Floyd
Anonymous

I continue to be profoundly moved by your support of our show.

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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5 Tips for Standing Out at an Audition: Lessons from the Other Side of the Table

As most of our followers probably know, we recently held auditions for a few open roles in our webseries, This Is Art. This was not only an exciting milestone for our show, as we got to see our characters come to life in the hands of strangers, but it was also an important experience for me as an actor.

After all, this was my first time being on the other side of the table. For years I’ve been coming into auditions blindly, singing “God I Hope I Get It” on repeat in my head while I nervously lock eyes with this mysterious person whose job it is to judge me. Later, when it’s all over and I’ve received no phone call and my hope starts to dwindle, I always find myself asking, “What could I have done differently?”

Unfortunately, casting is such a subjective business. As actors, we’re trained to assure ourselves that we just “weren’t what they were looking for.” Usually, this is true. I learned that the hard way while casting This Is Art; there were a lot of really talented people who, sadly, just weren’t what we were looking for.

However, I also learned a lot of other important things about casting and auditioning during that experience. I can truly say that after sitting on the other side of that table, I will never go into an audition the same way again. It is now my sincere belief that every actor should get this experience at least once. So my first big acting tip is this: write a fake show, post auditions all over the internet, throw down a few hundred bucks for renting an audition space, and hold yourself some fake auditions!

Ok, maybe that’s not the most practical way to learn these lessons. How about I just share with you all of this priceless knowledge I gleaned from my own personal casting experience?

Now, there are 2 important factors for doing well at an audition:

#1: Obviously, the thing that will help you most at an audition is talent. You have to be good at it. But I hardly possess the ability to help you with that, especially through this blog. Let’s assume you’re confident in your talent (and you should be! You’re an ACTOR! And you’re fantastic!) and just focus on the other thing:

#2: You have to stand out. It sounds easy enough, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You already know that at every audition you’re competing against everyone else in the waiting room – sometimes hundreds of people! Now think about it this way: That person on the other side of the table, the one casting you, has been sitting behind that table for 3 hours when they see you. Five minutes after you finish singing your sixteen bars and reading your sides, they see another person who looks remarkably similar to you. And so on and so forth, for another 3 hours…

It took being subjected to this for three hours myself before it finally sunk in for me just how important it is to stand out. And here, my friends, are the easiest ways you can do it. From submission to audition, follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll be more than just another 5 minutes.

 

1. Submit yourself, not just your headshot.

When Anne and I first looked at all our submissions on Actor’s Access, we were overwhelmed with just how many faces were staring back at us. Unfortunately, the evil truth IS the truth – our first step was to go through, face by face, and determine which faces we wanted to see in person. We essentially looked at every headshot and every resume and formed a gut-instinct Yes Pile and No Pile. It was grueling and made us feel dirty and shallow. But! Every now and then we’d come across a submission that had a note attached: “I can definitely connect with this character!” or “The project sounds like a lot of fun, I’d love to be involved,” or even just plain old “Please consider me.” These notes were few and far between, but they made the actors who wrote the notes stand out. Often, someone would be heading for the No Pile, but we’d see that they “really loved the concept” and we’d put them in the Yes Pile just because they showed genuine (or non-genuine? Who knows, or cares?) interest. Long story short: When you are submitting to a project or asking for an audition, include something that denotes your interest in the project. If you’re submitting via e-mail, write a cover letter! This takes a little extra time, but it shows you’ve actually read the breakdown and aren’t just blanket-submitting to every project you see. Note: Yes, I’m aware most actors blanket-submit to every project they see. But you don’t have to make it so goshdarn obvious!

2. Répondez s’il vous plaît!

Simply put, if you get called or e-mailed to come in for something, respond! If you’ve recently submitted and know you should be expecting a call, then don’t freak out when you get a call from an unknown number. I called people to offer them audition slots and got treated like a telemarketer. That just… baffled me. It also surprised me how many people I’d call to offer an audition, only to hear “And what is this project?” I get it. It’s that whole blanket-submitting fiasco again. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that every person who submitted for This Is Art desperately fell in love with our project just because of the breakdowns, BUT I will say that some of the people we called had no idea what a “webseries” is. Pro tip: If you are submitting for something, please know what it is. A little research never hurt anyone.

And while we’re on the subject, keep in mind a little enthusiasm never hurt anyone either. When someone sounded happy or excited to get the chance to audition for my show, or was even just polite about it, it made me all the happier and more excited to see them in the audition room.

3. Remember: You’re at an audition, even when you’re outside the room.

You know that person who sits outside and hands you your sides and tells you when it’s time to go in? For bigger-scale auditions, this person may just be hired to do that portion of the job, or may be volunteering and have no connection to the project. But if you’re auditioning for more independent projects, like webseries, independent films, or small-company theatre, that person outside the room is probably somehow connected to the people inside the room. I’m not saying to be fake to them, or feel nervous around them, but I WILL say that if you’re nice and personable to them, that person might remember you. Remember: People want to work with people with whom it’s easy to get along.

Please allow me a mini-tangent about this stage of the rehearsal process: You know that little sheet you usually get at an audition, with a few questions for you to fill out and turn in with your resume? Everyone is turning one in, and everyone is answering the same questions. Don’t be afraid to use this space to really express yourself. It’s just another chance for you to stand out! The people for whom you’re auditioning may never even glance at that sheet while you’re in the room. But later, as they’re rifling through endless piles of headshots and trying to narrow things down, they will read what you wrote, and it CAN make a difference.

4. Dress the part!

At Tisch School of the Arts, we learned that when getting dressed for an audition, you should always wear what the character would wear if they were getting dressed-up. In other words, you want to look nice, but show a little hint of the character. Even the prominent New York casting director Bernard Telsey once told me a story of the time a girl auditioned for the role of a princess character in a full-on princess gown. It was a little much, but he and his staff remembered her and ended up calling her in for other things.

I’ve always followed this rule religiously. Once I even auditioned for the role of Ophelia in a Steampunk production of Hamlet wearing a huge pair of custom-made Steampunk goggles. I don’t think it’s always necessary to go this over-the-top, but a suggestion of the character in your wardrobe really helps you stand out at an audition.

For instance, the actress Melanie Portsche was auditioning for a role in This Is Art which we had described as a “feminazi.” She came in to her audition wearing a nice black shirt paired with army-green cargo pants and boots. The moment she walked in the door I instantly took notice! During her audition, as Anne and James were complimenting her performance, I jumped in and complimented her outfit. Anne proceeded to hastily cover up for me with a quick “And your acting was good, also!” Of course, I didn’t mean that Melanie’s outfit outperformed her audition. I merely appreciated the fact that she’d put some thought into the character, and it showed in ALL aspects of her audition.

Later, as we were narrowing down our picks, Melanie endearingly earned the nickname “Cargopants.” What really pulled it off for her was a fantastic audition, but the detail she put into her audition, including the way she dressed, really helped her stand out to us so that we could REMEMBER just how fantastic her audition was. In the end, she got the part! She’s now a member of the This Is Art cast, and… hopefully still likes me even now that I’ve told you all this story.

5. For the love of all things holy, Make A Choice!

Seriously, this is the most straightforward tip I can give you. Make. A. Choice. If you get the sides beforehand, read them carefully and Make A Choice. If you get the sides right before you go in, read them quickly and Make A Choice.

Here’s something I think we actors forget: We’re not expected to nail the character perfectly at an audition. That’s not what they’re looking for at all. Instead, it’s more important that we prove our chops as actors (ie, Make A Choice) and that we can follow direction. If you come in having Made A Strong Choice, that shows the casting team that you are capable of Making Choices and it is most likely assumed that, given the context of the script, the Choices You Make will greatly influence the character during production. If you come in Making a Ridiculously Wrong Choice, it really doesn’t matter. The director will probably just tell you “This time, do it this way,” and then you have a chance to Make ANOTHER Choice. That’s Two Choices! In one audition! Do you know how much that will make you stand out?

 

So, there you have it. Five very important tips for standing out at an audition. Most of these primarily apply to auditions for independent projects, like our own, but even if you’re going to a Broadway Equity casting call, following these steps can only help you.

Finally, please keep in mind that even if you stand out really well at an audition you will not always get the part. Sometimes you just “weren’t what they were looking for.” Le sigh. The bright side: when they tell you they’ll hold on to your headshot, or keep you in mind for future projects, it’s probably not a white lie. What benefit do they gain from falsely boosting your confidence? If they’re not interested in you, they won’t pretend like they are. But if you’ve stood out to them – if you’ve proven that you’re a polite, fun to work with, smart choice-making machine – then they probably DO want to work with you.

Anne and I saw a lot of people at our auditions that really inspired us, even if they weren’t right for the part. In some cases, we even wanted to write new roles for them. In most cases, we hung on to their headshots and information so that we can call them in as soon as we have a place for them. It’s not a myth. You’re not just auditioning for the role for which you were called in, you may be auditioning for every role that the casting director will ever cast. That’s a GOOD thing!

Now, since we’re all learning here, I highly encourage you to comment with any other audition-related wisdom you might have.

 

Emily Floyd

@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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What’s a Digital Spotlight?

This is our first Digital Spotlight vlog for This Is Art, a new comedy webseries about young artists struggling to stay afloat in NYC.

In this vlog, This Is Art Creators/Writers Emily Floyd and Anne Richmond discuss the second part of their project; an online database that will connect new media artists from around the world, give them a voice, and tell their story.

 

Email your submissions for Digital Spotlight consideration to thisisartwebseries [at] gmail [dot] com.
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