Acting in Columbus alumni Orel de la Mota on the set of NCIS Los Angeles.

"Back to work and super excited to be part of a new season for NCIS LA airing this fall! Stay Tuned..." -Orel de la Mota

'Captain America' alumni to film 'Point Blank' remake in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – Two actors with ties to Marvel Studios' "Captain America" film franchise are coming to the Queen City.

Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie will begin filming "Point Blank" Monday in Cincinnati, according to Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati. Crews will be in Cincinnati for six weeks.

“We are over the moon to host such an extraordinary project,” Schlotman said.

Grillo and Mackie first appeared together in the 2014 Marvel movie "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Grillo played villain Crossbones and Mackie the winged hero Falcon.

Mackie lasted portrayed Falcon in this year's "Avengers: Infinity War."

Gaumont and WarParty are producing "Point Blank" as a Netflix original film.

The film is a remake of Fred Cavaye's 2010 French film "À bout portant." The remake will tell the story of Paul, an emergency room nurse and Abe, a criminal, who are forced to work together to save Paul's pregnant wife after she is kidnaped.

"Point Blank" will take place in the Queen City, according to Johanna Byer, the film's producer and vice president of US Films for Gaumont.

The movie is a bit of a homecoming for Byer. She grew up in Cincinnati and said she fell in love with movie making after watching crews film scenes for the movie "Traffic" inside her parents' home in 2002.

Byer was a student Cincinnati Country Day at the time.

"My dad had a strict deadline that filming had to be done by 5 p.m.," Byer said. "I remember rushing home from school to watch."

She also met Schlotman, who coordinated "Traffic's" local film production for Cincinnati's nonprofit film commission.

Byer received a Bachelors of Science in business administration and cinematic arts from the University of Southern California in 2009.

"It's truly a dream to be here," she said. "I never thought I'd get to come home, and just being home for the summer is so amazing."

Byer said she hopes to feature local businesses such as Skyline Chili and Graeter's Ice Cream in "Point Blank." She also wants to incorporate ArtWork Cincinnati's James Brown mural located at 1435 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine.

The movie is looking for nearly 500 local extras to be in the film. D. Lynn Meyer is the film's local casting director. She said people interested in being an extra should email a resume and headshot to pointblankextras@gmail.com

"Point Blank" will be the first time Mackie has worked in Cincinnati. Grillo though is no stranger to the Queen City.

The actor previously appeared in Cincinnati-filmed "Reprisal" and "Donnybrook." "Reprisal" will be released to theaters and direct-to-digital on Aug. 31.

"Donnybrook" is listed in post-production on the Internet Movie Data Base.

New York-native Joe Lynch will direct "Point Blank." Grillo is also a producer for the film. 

Besides her local ties, Byer said the Ohio Film Office Tax Credit helped Gaumont decided to film "Point Blank" in Cincinnati.

Schlotman also briefly discussed the return of Backlot party, a celebration of Cincinnati's growing film industry. Last year's Backlot marked the Film Cincinnati's 30th anniversary. 

This year's event will take place Sept. 8. Tickets for the event range from $60-$160 and are currently on sale at filmcincinnati.com.

Craft Notes by Ed Hooks

Vivian Leigh
"PRESENCE"
Suppose you are portraying a character that has a lot of self-doubt. Like, for instance, Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” or Martin in Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love”. You know from your study of psychology that anxiety presents itself as a high and heady power center. Blanche is already on the verge of a nervous breakdown when she makes her entrance in the first act. Anxiety expresses itself as tension, and tension makes you feel light, not heavy. Confidence, by contrast, manifests itself as a feeling of relaxation, which you experience as weight. Stanley is confident and therefore has a lot of weight. Blanche is bird-like.
The question one of my students put to me recently is how it is possible to play – with confidence and weight – a character that is inherently anxious, tense and light. “Isn’t that,” the actor wanted to know, “a contradiction?” “How can you be light as the character while feeling the weight of confidence as an actor at the same time?”
This is actually a very good question that must be answered in two parts. Part One has to do with an actor’s role vis-à-vis the audience; Part Two has to do with characterization.
If I asked you to walk across the stage like a regular person, someone like your own self in real life, could you do it? Good. Now, suppose I ask you to walk across the stage like a professional actor. Would there be a discernable difference? Probably not. Now suppose I ask you to walk across the stage like Blanche Dubois. Blanche is not comfortable in her skin, but you the actor are. In other words, you have weight, but the character you are playing does not. Indeed, Blanche seems frequently on the verge of taking flight. But here is the key: It takes the confidence (weight) of a good actor in order to portray this characteristic of Blanche’s personality. If you are yourself unsure of your footing on stage, your interpretation of Blanche will make the audience nervous. It will make it more difficult for them to willingly suspend their disbelief(Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1817).
Regardless of the role you are playing, you are first and foremost an actor. The audience expects you to lead them. They did their part by showing up tonight. If you are not confident in your ability to lead, the audience will feel cheated, uneasy, worried for you as a person. They will not be able to get past you and into Blanche. Have you ever seen a nervous actor on stage with a teacup and saucer, with her hands trembling so that the liquid almost spills out?
The actor who asked me the question in the first place is relatively new to her craft. And she is worried a lot about being truthful and honest. Blanche is a nervous wreck and so, for this actor, the correct portrayal was to be a nervous wreck. The problem, of course, was that she appeared to have no weight – i.e. no confidence – on stage as an actress when all we saw was Blanche’s tension. All that honesty and truthfulness, although appropriate for Blanche, was only succeeding in making me nervous for her as an actress as I watched. Before anything, it is the actor’s job to let the audience know it is in good and confident hands, that the actor knows his job. Recently, I read a review of the all-black “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, now playing on Broadway. Anika Noni Rose is playing Maggie “the Cat”. I imagine she is quite good, but all the reviewer had to say was that she was “pushing too hard” at the role. In other words, the actress herself was coming off as lightweight, while playing a character that oozes sexual confidence.
There is a wonderful book by British writer/director Patrick Tucker, Secrets of Screen Acting, in which he speculates why it is that such a large number of Best Actor and Best Actress Academy Awards are won by British actors. This very year, for example, Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor and Marion Cotillard won Best Actress. Both are British. Tucker muses about the difference in training between British actors and Americans and, somewhat with tongue somewhat in cheek, he observes that American actors are really too obsessed with being honest in their acting. He pointed out that British actors don’t worry about that; they only want to APPEAR that they are being honest. In other words, the British may be more aware of what the camera (i.e. the audience) is seeing. Acting is, after all, pretending. The British-trained actor perhaps – according to Mister Tucker – has a somewhat stronger grasp of that distinction than American actors with all of their Strasberg Method and Meisner Technique. Whether he is correct or not is almost beside the point. It is necessary for an actor to know he is acting. Theatrical reality is not the same thing as regular reality. I have myself sat in classes and heard reputable acting teachers advise that, when acting is “right”, the actor becomes unaware of the audience. That, forgive my French, is hooey. An actor never is unaware of the audience. Stanislavsky never advocated oblivion! The audience is the reason the actor showed up at the theatre in the first place!
“If I am totally in the moment”, goes the argument, “I will not be aware of the audience.” That’s fine except that being totally “in the moment” is an ideal that is not achievable. If you were actually to get “in the moment”, you might just wander off stage. Acting is a discipline, and the actor is in control. The audience does not show up to see you be “in the moment.” They care about the story and the characters, not “the moment.”
Put in a more practical way, I often advise new actors to avoid physically leaning forward from the waist in order to emphasize their lines. If you go to any high school production, you’ll see the actors on stage bending from the waist all night. If you go to a Broadway show, you will rarely see it. Professional actors learn the power of weight; they learn not to chase the audience, but to bring the audience to them.
Regardless of the kind of character you are playing, the audience expects you to be confident of yourself as a leader. Actors are shamans. Truthfulness is nice, but it is only part of the successful theatrical transaction.

BOOK OF THE MONTH - The Ultimate Reading List for Actors By Jamie Irvine

As actors, we must continue to expand our own collection of plays and acting books. The right collection enables us to revisit material, help us find scenes and monologues, and be a source of inspiration when we’re lost and need a couple of key ideas or quotes to get us to that next breakthrough. A library—or even just a modest collection of books—is a symbol of community, a coming together of ideas.

To help get you started, here is a list of some of my favorite acting texts and plays that have helped me:

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre” by Keith Johnstone
This book is a brilliant resource for actors, teachers, improvisers and directors alike. It’s full of wisdom, encouragement, and some of the most profound ideas on the subject I have read.

Truth: Personas, Needs, and Flaws in the Art of Building Actors and Creating Characters by Susan Batson
I was lucky enough to do three months at the Susan Batson studio a few years back. Once a week, she would come in and do a class with us from 6 p.m. on a Sunday to the early hours of the next day. It was a wild, thought-provoking, reformative time for me and looking back, incredibly important work. This book is great for analysis, building a character and cutting to the core of what makes a character tick. As far as the American tradition goes, Susan’s influences are people like Uta Hagan, Herbert Berghof, Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg, and she carries on that tradition. This book is easy to understand, at times inspiring and a good start for someone wanting to understand this type of work.

Year of the King: An Actor’s Diary and Sketchbook” by Antony Sher 
This is another brilliant bit of writing. A diary chronicling the development of a character by Actor Antony Sher, who played Richard III in 1985 in what has become a legendary performance. Again, inspiring, because he very much takes the opposite approach to someone like Susan Batson. He begins by drawing his character and developing from the outside in. It’s useful to think that we can approach a job in a variety of different ways.

Save the Cat!” by Blake SnyderThis one is about writing and it’s the simplicity and clarity that make it such a powerful tool. Snyder has a brilliant way of breaking down structure and story, and throughout his writing, he gives us an incredibly valuable how-to guide that will keep you in good stead throughout your career. It’s specifically about screenwriting but the concepts have helped me in all of my work. 

Making Movies by Sydney Lumet
A brilliant book that covers most major elements that go into filmmaking from the director’s perspective. It’s an informative, entertaining page-turner and even though the technology has changed since it was written, it’s still an incredibly relevant and vital perspective. Actors will find this useful as it provides a great overview of the entire filmmaking machine and clearly defines the different roles and responsibilities within filmmaking.
As for plays every actor should have on his or her shelf, I’ve chosen mostly classical and American texts that are often referred to in pop culture and modern writing. It’s important for us to be familiar with these works: they’re timeless and constantly referred to. They also provide great examples of story and character arc, and understanding these works will help the reader in developing their own material. Follow your nose, but these are a good start:
  • William Shakespeare, all of it
  • “The Rover” by Aphra Behn
  • “The Seagull,” “The Cherry Orchid,” “Uncle Vanya,” and “The Three Sisters” by Anton Chekhov
  • “Hedda Gabler” and “A Dolls House” by Henrik Ibsen
  • “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde
  • “Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht
  • “Tartuffe” by Moliere
  • Anything by August Strindberg but especially “Miss Julie”
  • “Long Days Journey into Night” by Eugene O’Neill
  • “Fences” by August Wilson
  • Anything by Arthur Miller but especially “Death of a Salesman”
  • “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner
  • “Beyond Therapy” by Christopher Durang
  • “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams
  • “Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet
  • “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas
  • “This is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan
  • “Translations” by Brien Friel
  • “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett
  • “True West” by Sam Sheppard
  • “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw 
Happy reading and happy new year!
Originally from New Zealand, Jamie is an actor, director, and acting coach. As an actor, his TV and film credits include “Underbelly Land of the Long Green Cloud,” “Crushed,” “Westside,” “Anzac Girls,” and much more. Currently a member of the faculty at Theatre of Arts in Hollywood, Jamie has also coached and directed for Actors Centre Australia, NIDA, Griffin Theatre Company, North Shore Drama, Ensemble Theatre and CCMT.