Beating ploughshares into swords for the Actor’s Arsenal

| May 3, 2013 | 0 Comments
Ron Fallica & Allie McCollough- Actors Arsenal 2013

Ron Fallica & Allie McColloch- Actors Arsenal         Photo © J. Saucier, 2013

The old adage- “Success is what happens when opportunity and preparedness meet”, hung like a resounding mantra on the backdrop of my thoughts as I spoke with this successful and attractive couple from Actor’s Arsenal today. The ’30-something’ acting coaches, Ron Fallica and Allie McColloch have both been in the trenches as actors for much of their young lives. They may just have a few secrets or ‘secret weapons’ if you will, to share with aspiring actors. With 35 years of combined experience between them, they have garnered some meaningful experiences as film and television actors, holding their own directly with some major Hollywood names. However, this is just part of what they bring to the table. Living the life in L.A. for a decade,  the act of getting hired may have proved to be more of an education than the work itself.

Romance found the young couple, of all places, in an acting class in L.A. which ultimately augmented the couples direction and priorities, particularly with the arrival of their first child, now two. Ron, pointing to a stack of audition sides said, “There’s the first scene we worked on as scene partners in acting class.” The fast lane of life in Hollywood, eventually merged with the 40 East and then ultimately to a slower pace and the more serene environs offered by Wilmywood. As two young aspiring actors became one family, change seemed eminent and thoughts of a big move consumed the couple. As Ron said, “When I heard that Iron Man III was to be filmed here, that really helped me decide on Wilmington”.  The two agreed that the lifestyle was definitely more appealing for a young family, so they made the move and Actor’s Arsenal came into being.

From being on the receiving end of some top-notch acting workshops and institutions, to standing dauntless in front of some of Hollywood’s make-you-or-break-you casting directors, to spending long days and nights on set acting with some of Hollywood’s A-list, the pair feel that they have both the know-how and real world experience to help other hopeful actors make the grade. They also feel that they have a great system to help even accomplished actors keep their instruments tuned. Allie pointed out, “We are not claiming to be a fancy conservatory for actors, but rather, we are really interested in preparing and equipping actors to get roles they are auditioning for.” There are a lot of actors here who are experienced and prepared but there are also a lot who are not and we’re hoping to change that so that companies aren’t looking to L.A. and New York for actors as much.”

The Actors Arsenal offers coaching and audition taping as well as month-to-month acting classes centered around the audition process. Allie feels that the relaxed atmosphere of their charming in-home studio helps put the actors at ease. They even provide the participants with what amounts to craft services on a sturdy butcher block table near the kitchen. It’s an irony worth noting that the relaxed atmosphere helps take the edge off for the actors who are at the same time hoping to find their edge in auditioning. Ron explained that the process of breaking down a scene can be very enlightening and helpful to actors who often have no real objective sense of how they might appear to the casting director. “They may not even realize simple things like the fact that they may be playing it way too big or animated for the part or the constraints of the camera frame”.

The process of the class sounds simple and effective. The actors gather at a set time and more or less “hang out”, grab a snack and chat about their experiences, be it finding agents, practicing, auditioning and even working as actors. They gather in a comfortable lounge area and then are brought one by one to audition their predetermined scenes on tape under the watchful eyes of Ron and Allie with one or the other acting as scene partner. Allie and Ron will help them be their best and then once the audition is done each actor will rejoin the other actors in the waiting area. Once everyone has been put on tape, then the group will watch and discuss each audition on the screen in the common area. This enables Allie and Ron to offer helpful suggestions and encourages group input.

 

We asked Allie & Ron a few questions:

CC: What separates your business from others that offer instruction/coaching in the region?

A&R: We are both working actors, living the life and have been for, between the two of us, over 35 combined years – we deal with the day to day life of an actor, we are in it, we are working and we have had success and we have had times of extreme drought. But we also have years of experience on the other side of the film and TV industry – we have both worked in some of the largest and most high profile film and TV casting offices in Los Angeles – and the experience we gained from that type of work is absolutely priceless – it is behind the scenes knowledge that very few actors ever have the luxury of knowing. Hearing the casting directors and the producers and director talk before and after an actor comes in to audition, observing the auditions – from totally new “green” actors, to major stars and celebrities, understanding why someone did (or did not) get the part, being privy to inside industry information from the top agencies to the smallest boutique companies – it’s completely eye-opening. We also are both filmmakers, producers, writers, we have done it all and continue to! We love to act but more than that, we love to create!

CC: What kind of success stories are you expecting to see for your new business in coming months/years?

A&R: Our main goal and mission for Actor’s Arsenal is to see our clients booking work, getting the callbacks, watching their careers start to take off. We get just as excited for our clients when they tell us they got a callback or booked the job as we do when we get the part ourselves! We are really driven to help equip actors in the area with everything they need to be professional, working actors with all the talent of anyone in any city in the country so that we see a turnaround in productions booking less and less out of LA/NY and more and more out of the extremely talented pool of local actors!

CC: What are the absolute basics that every actor should have before embarking on a career?

A&R: First and foremost – absolute passion and dedication for acting – if you’re serious about it, you have to put in the work. Get some training. Work on your craft. You have to want it and you have to care. Sure, there are people who don’t necessarily want to make this a career but they enjoy it and it can be a part of their life without being everything… and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we believe to make a career out of it, acting takes a true passion and drive. And it’s not for the faint at heart. It may be a tough road if you’re trying to make a living at it, but if you’ve been bitten by the acting bug, fasten your seat belt and try to enjoy the bumpy ride!

CC: What’s the risk for actors who tape themselves for auditions?

A&R: The main issue is that they don’t get the perspective of an outside viewer to make sure they are getting the best example of what they are capable of doing. They could be missing something. They could be completely misinterpreting something. Even the most skilled actors we know can still use some fresh perspective on their auditions. If you have a non-actor friend or family member tape you, they likely won’t give you much in the way of direction and you risk turning in an audition that is not as strong as it could be. On top of that, the production quality expectations these days are incredibly high, you’ve got to have professional equipment, lighting, the sound must be great! If you are taping at home – you have to know that someone somewhere is getting their audition taped with professional equipment and that could be the edge that gets them the callback or the part. That shouldn’t be the reason you don’t get the call!

CC: Can you really help an actor get a part?

A&R: Yes, we feel we can really help the actor help them self get the part! We believe we can work with the actor, to use their individuality, to pull out of them what they need to book the role. We do everything we can to make sure we’re getting the absolute best take. Quality matters, and we pride ourselves on high quality professional auditions. We work hard to make sure each person who walks through our door is getting the best version of their audition so that the only thing standing in the way of them getting it or not would be all those little annoying factors that are completely out of their control (their height, for instance, or maybe the hair color is wrong, the producer decides to hire his niece, etc…) Those things, no one can help, but the factors that we can help with – you can bet we will!

CC: Do you acknowledge certain strengths and weaknesses between you as a couple and how do you divide the duties of your business?

A&R: We both definitely have unique strengths and that’s why we love working together. Sometimes one of us will see something completely differently than the other and what’s great about it is we get to really have fun with the actors we are coaching, we can try everything and see what sticks. We compliment each other very well and have a blast working together!

CC: So many actors gravitate to big markets like LA. Is this a legitimate path for NC actors just starting out?

A&R: We definitely think actors or anyone considering pursuing acting should get as much work as possible where they are – Wilmington is a fantastic place to be working and we recommend building your resume with as much as you can, get the on-set experience, do student films, start building that reel, just be a part of everything you can and get every ounce of experience you can. You’ve got to be ready. And the best way to do that is to train, prepare, learn everything you can and when LA wants you – then you go.

CC: What are some of the biggest mistakes actors make when auditioning?

A&R: Preparation, preparation, preparation – you need to be so prepared, you really have to put in the work. Just knowing the lines is not enough. Second would probably be working out the action in a scene – some auditions have multiple POVs, lots of activity and many actors just aren’t sure what to do with this type of material (do I bring props, not use props, how do I portray that I am chasing someone, giving someone a shot, etc… the list goes on). You get better at it with experience and one of the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t is to see yourself on tape doing these types of scenes – that’s why our class is all on-camera and we pick all different types of material from week to week so the actor can get a firm handle on anything that gets thrown at them.

CC: Would you say that the ability to act is an innate gift that is simply better when refined or do you believe that with training, anyone can act?

A&R: It is definitely a gift. Some people are blessed with it, it can absolutely be refined with training and experience but it’s either in there or it’s not. Studying and training can help anyone get better but if it’s not there – it’s not there. For the most part – you would not be doing this crazy job if you didn’t have it inside of you! That’s why there are so many people who would never consider acting as a career or hobby. And there are many actors who probably wish they could do something else with their lives but they just can’t, they have to act! As much the ability to act is a gift, we are all such unique individuals and we feel that the most confidence you can have in who you are and what you do, the better. Just be you!

CC:  What advice would you give to young actors with no experience when seeking representation and work?

A&R: Build yourself a foundation – It all starts with training – get good at what you do, or what you want to do. Train, prepare and try to work on building your resume and reel if you can. Student films, non-paying gigs, whatever you have to do – we’ve all had to do them at some point and it’s a great way to learn and grow as an actor! The agent will come but you need to be ready! The right agent will want to see that you have put in the effort – you’ve worked, you’ve studied and are doing everything you can.

CC: What would you say to those who feel that there are already many very capable and prepared actors in our talent base and that the apprehension of directors and producers who insist on casting supporting actors from New York and LA is unwarranted and somewhat prejudiced?

A&R: It is totally unwarranted. There are SO many talented, incredibly talented, people here in Wilmington and in the Southeast in general. We feel privileged to be among the talent pool of working actors around here! One of our main missions with this company was to help better prepare the actors who may not be there just yet, so that slowly (but surely) this prejudice towards LA and NY talent starts to go away. It will, it’s just a matter of time – we have to show them that everything they need is right here and we can do that by equipping all the actors in this area with the tools they need to grow and succeed!

Visit: ACTORS ARSENAL

Feel free to leave comments or questions for Allie & Ron of Actor’s Arsenal below.

 

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About the Author ()

Jason Saucier was born in Burbank, California and raised in and around New Orleans which is his family's native home. He began working in the film industry in the mid 1980's and has been residing in North Carolina since the turn of the century.

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