The Business – Directors on Acting: Feature Film

Friday, April 28, 2017 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

A conversation with feature film directors to discuss and reflect on their approaches to working with actors. The panel will address techniques for communicating the director’s vision for a scene and the ways in which they collaborate with performers to execute specific goals for the film as a whole. Hear from these distinguished filmmakers about the process behind directing a feature film and how the actor can best serve that process.

PANELIST BIOS

Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily made her first film at age 12, a horror movie starring guests of a slumber party. She has a varied background in the arts including painting and sculpting, and was bass player and frontwoman of an artrock band before moving to Los Angeles to make films. Her debut feature film, the Iranian Vampire Western A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, premiered in the NEXT section of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was opening night selection at the New Directors/New Films Festival at the MoMA in New York. She is also creator of a comic book series A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which chronicles the ongoing blood-soaked journeys of the lonely vampire known only as The Girl.

Her second feature, The Bad Batch, starring Suki Waterhouse, Keanu Reeves, Diego Luna, and Jim Carey, is a dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals. It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, winning a Special Jury Prize and will be released theatrically this coming June.

Ana Lily’s favorite things are Bruce Lee, David Lynch, and dancing.

Patrick Brice
Patrick was born and raised Grass Valley, a small town in the foothills of Northern California. He graduated with a BFA from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Film & Video. Creep, his first feature-film as director/writer/actor (co-starring Mark Duplass) was produced by Blumhouse Productions, premiered at SXSW 2014 and was released through Netflix and iTunes. His second feature as director/writer, The Overnight (with Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman) premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. His writing has appeared in The Talkhouse and ZYZZYVA. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Liza Johnson
Liza is a writer and director whose films have screened at the Cannes Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival and are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Johnson wrote and directed the film Return (2011), a drama about a woman returning from her military deployment, starring Linda Cardellini and Michael Shannon. Her film Hateship Loveship (2013) was an adaptation of Alice Munro’s story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, which starred Kristen Wiig in her first dramatic lead. She also directed the satiric comedy Elvis and Nixon (2016), starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey. Additionally, Johnson has created many short films and video installations, often working with nonprofessional actors in specific social environments. These include the films South of Ten, In the Air and Karrabing: Low Tide Turning, which she co-directed with Elizabeth Povinelli. For television, she recently directed the pilot for the Amazon series Good Girls Revolt (2016) and an episode of Ryan Murphy’s Feud (2017).

Johnson has been a fellow of the DAAD Berlin Kunstler programm and the Sundance Institute, and has been recipient the Wexner Center for the Arts Residency Award and the De Cordova Museum’s Rappaport Prize.

Adam Salky
Adam’s second feature film, I SMILE BACK, garnered star Sarah Silverman a 2016 Screen Actor’s Guild Award nomination for outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.  Adam made his feature film directorial debut with DARE, a Grand Jury Prize Nominee of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the Dramatic Competition Category. It features Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, Alan Cumming, Sandra Bernhard, and the first starring role of Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara.

In 2016 Adam was selected for the Warner Brothers Television Directors’ Workshop. He then directed an episode of NBC’s hit show, Blindspot, which just aired in January of 2017. Pursuing a deep interest in new media content creation, Adam has directed viral videos with over 12 million hits on Youtube, and recently directed UNCABARET, an unscripted pilot produced for Amazon.com.

Adam has served as an advisor at the Sundance Labs, has guest lectured on directing at Columbia University and various high schools, and taught directing at USC’s Graduate School of Cinematic Arts. A magna cum laude graduate of Emory University, Adam completed his MFA at Columbia University’s Graduate School of the Arts Film Division where he directed several award winning short films, and was the recipient of the James Bridges Award. Adam currently lives in LA.

Moderator – Michelle Satter, Sundance Institute
Michelle is the Founding Director of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, the inaugural program of the Institute. She has worked most closely with the Feature Film Program which has provided year-round and in-depth support to the ground-breaking and award-winning filmmakers Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), and Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), among many others. Satter was also responsible for establishing the Institute’s international initiatives in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and India. She spearheaded the establishment of the Creative Producing Fellowship and the New Frontier Story Lab. Satter, who co-produced the Academy Award nominated documentary Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey in 1989, has been recognized with the Women in Film Business Leadership Award, the ACLU Bill of Rights Award, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles U.S.-based Industry Leadership Award, and a tribute celebrating 30 years of the Sundance Institute.

Join the conversation!  Tweet your questions to #SAF, comment on YouTube or email livestream@sagaftra.foundation.

Conversations – Careers in Focus: Colorful Works

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM (EDT)

Imagine getting the chance to have a candid conversation with your favorite performer who has made a career for themselves that allows them to do good work, pay the bills and still keep that fire in their belly. It’s happening: join us on Wednesday, May 3rd for “Colorful Work,” where actor/writer/director/producer Adrian Martinez leads a cohort of artists of color as they share proven insights, expert advice, and words to work by on how to create a career and keep shining in show business. This program is made possible through the generous support of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation along with SAG-AFTRA’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities and NextGen Committees and Remezcla.

PANELISTS
Amir Arison
| The Blacklist, Girls
Raul Castillo | Looking, Special Corespondents
Dascha Polanco | Orange is the New Black, Joy
Yul Vázquez | Divorce, Captain Phillips
Moderated by Adrian Martinez

PANELIST BIOS 

Amir Arison – Actor

Widely known for his extensive film and television work, Amir is currently a SERIES REGULAR as fan favorite ‘Aram Mojtabai’ on the Sony/NBC hit series THE BLACKLIST, opposite James Spader, heading into its 5th season. Notable RECURRING ROLES in television include HBO’s hit show GIRLS, the Emmy Award-winning HOMELAND, ZERO HOUR, LAW & ORDER: SVU, DALLAS, and STATE OF GEORGIA. Notable GUEST STAR appearances include

FX’s AMERICAN HORROR STORY, ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND, MAJOR CRIMES, THE MENTALIST, NCIS, LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT and FRINGE amongst others, as well as Rodrigo Garcia’s hit web series BLUE with Julia Stiles. Amir was also a SERIES REGULAR on Bryan Singer’s digital series H+ For Warner Brothers.

Recent film credits include JANE WANTS A BOYFRIEND, BEFORE THE SUN EXPLODES, BIG WORDS, MERRY FRIGGIN’ CHRISTMAS with Robin Williams, TODAY’S SPECIAL, Nia Vardalos’ I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY, Tom McCarthy’s THE VISITOR, and Amy Heckerling’s VAMPS.

Upcoming, Amir will be starring in the indie feature, 20 WEEKS, which will have its World Premier at the LA Film Festival in June, as well as the Waterwell production of Hamlet alongside Arian Moayed and Sherie Rene Scott.

NY Theater highlights, Off-Broadway: THE MUSCLES IN OUR TOES (Labyrinth), AFTERMATH (NYTW, Drama League Nominee), Christopher Durang’s WHY TORTURE IS WRONG (The Public Theatre), Charles Mee’s QUEENS BOULEVARD (Signature), A VERY COMMON PROCEDURE (MCC), MODERN ORTHODOX, OMNIUM GATHERUM (Pulitzer Finalist), CANDY & DOROTHY, A FIRST CLASS MAN, and countless workshops. International theatrical highlights: LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST (RSC’s Complete Works Festival). Regional credits include The Shakespeare Theatre, The Huntington, Yale Repertory, Paper Mill, Long Wharf, The Lyric, Shakespeare Theatre of St. Louis, Olney Theatre Center, and The Dorset Theatre Festival.

Additionally, Amir has directed theater projects in New York and Los Angeles for IAMA Theater Company, Circle X and Mind the Gap, amongst others. Amir produced and directed the award winning short film, FORTRESS.

Raul Castillo – Actor

An actor at home in film, television, and theater, Raúl Castillo is most recognized for his portrayal of the charming Richie on the acclaimed HBO series Looking, which in 2016 concluded with the telefilm Looking: The Movie, co-written and directed by Andrew Haigh. Set in San Francisco, Looking highlighted the unfiltered experiences of close friends searching for happiness and intimacy in an age of unparalleled choice. For his work on the show, Castillo earned a Best Comedic Actor award from the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and received the Lupe Award from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.  Raúl was recently included in Variety’s coveted “10 Latinos to Watch” list.

He has recently completed production on three independent films. These are, respectively, Sweets, directed by R.E Rodgers; Permission, with Rebecca Hall for director Brian Crano; and iCreep, with Dascha Polanco for director Adrian Martinez. In April 2016, he was seen starring opposite America Ferrera in the Netflix feature film Special Correspondents, a comedy written and directed by Ricky Gervais. Also for Netflix, Castillo has appeared in Joe Swanberg’s anthology drama series Easy and will star in Veena Sud’s series Seven Seconds and Robia Rashid’s dark comedy series Atypical with Jennifer Jason Leigh. Currently, he is in production on the feature adaptation of the Justin Torres novel We the Animals, directed by Jeremiah Zagar; and is filming a recurring role on The CW’s Riverdale, the Archie comics reimagining debuting on the network in January 2017.

Castillo made his feature film debut in Amexicano, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2007; Variety praised his performance in it as “pitch-perfect.” He earned an honorable mention at AFI Fest in 2012 for his work in the Student Academy Award-winning short film Narcocorrido. Additional film credits include the SXSW favorite Cold Weather, Don’t Let Me Drown, My Best Day, The Girl, and Bless Me, Ultima. His television guest appearances include Nurse Jackie, Blue Bloods, Law and Order, and Gotham as DC’s comic villain Eduardo Flamingo.

Also a playwright, Castillo is a proud member of the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City. He authored the plays Between You, Me and the Lampshade, which premiered in April 2015 with Chicago’s Teatro Vista; and Knives and Other Sharp Objects, which premiered in 2009 at the Public Theater.  His theater acting credits include Death and the Maiden, alongside Sandra Oh (at the Victory Gardens Theater), Adoration of the Old Woman (Intar), Fish Men (Goodman Theater/Teatro Vista), A Lifetime Burning (Primary Stages), and School of the Americas (LAByrinth/Public Theater).

Born and raised in Texas, Castillo studied theater at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts. He currently resides in New York City.

Dascha Polanco – Actor

Dascha Polanco is recognized for her role as “Dayanara Diaz” on the hit Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black” (OITNB). The three-time SAG Award winning and Golden Globe nominated show is currently in production for its fifth season, scheduled to release in June of 2017.

Recently, the SAG Award winning actress co-starred in the 20th Century Fox film, “JOY”, directed by David O. Russell opposite Jennifer Lawrence as her best friend in the film. In the Golden Globe nominated film, Polanco played “Jackie,” Joy’s best friend and was one of the only Latinas to work alongside the award-winning director/actors of “Silver Linings Playbook.” In addition, Polanco starred in “The Perfect Match” (2016) for director Bille Woodru and producer Queen Latifah. Polanco also landed her first lead film role in Adrian Martinez’s indie dark comedy “iCreep,” scheduled to release in 2018. Polanco has also starred in Tom McCarthy’s “The Cobbler” with Adam Sandler (2015) and made her big screen debut opposite Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson in the dramatic independent flick, “GIMME SHELTER.”

In addition to numerous film and TV roles, Polanco has been featured as the face of Old Navy’s national Spanish commercial campaign. Last year, she became part of the NFL’s 2015/2016 Women’s Apparel campaign, representing the New York Giants and the Latino community.

Her achievements have been recognized by numerous awards, including the ALMA Awards, HOLA Awards, and The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (Lupe Award). Huffington Post recognized her as one of the Latinas to be “Breaking The Mold,” and The Hollywood Reporter named her one of the 40 Young Latino Powerhouses in Hollywood. Recently, it was announced that Dascha Polanco is the film and television ambassador for her country of the Dominican Republic. A role that the President of the country assigned to her.

Yul Vazquez – Actor

Yul Vázquez can be seen in a number of upcoming projects, including “Last Flag Flying” directed by Richard Linklater opposite Bryan Cranston and Steve Carrell; “American Express” directed by Nash Edgerton and opposite Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, and Amanda Seyfried; and “The Super” opposite Val Kilmer.  He also will star as ‘Rev. Emilio Sheehan’ in the recently picked-up NBC series MIDNIGHT, TEXAS, based on the book by TRUE BLOOD creator Charlaine Harris.

Vázquez won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for the Steven Soderbergh directed film TRAFFIC.  Seamlessly moving between film, television, and stage, Vazquez received a 2011 Tony Award nomination, a Theatre World Award, and Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for his portrayal of ‘Cousin Julio’ in the Broadway production of “The Motherf**cker With The Hat.”

Other recent feature films include: “Captain Philips” directed by Paul Greengrass opposite Tom Hanks; “The Infiltrator” directed by Brad Furman opposite Bryan Cranston and Diane Kruger, “Kill the Messenger” directed by Michael Cuesta opposite Jeremy Renner; and Netflix’s “The True Memoirs of an International Assassin,” directed by Jeff Wadlow opposite Kevin James.

Over the years, Vázquez has had memorable roles on some of television’s most popular shows, from his recurring character ‘Bob’ (the “angry gay Puerto Rican”) on “Seinfeld” to ‘Rueben the Cuban’ on HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Vázquez starred on the Starz drama “Magic City” opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Other recent TV credits include Netflix’s hit show “Bloodline,” the HBO series “Divorce,” FX’s “Louie,” CBS’ “The Good Wife,” and HBO’s “Treme.”

Vázquez has an extensive film resume, working with directors such as Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Greengrass, John Sayles, and Steven Spielberg.  His credits include “The Phenom” opposite Paul Giamatti and Ethan Hawke, “The Cobbler” directed by Tom McCarthy opposite Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, and Steve Buscemi; “Glass Chin” directed by Noah Buschel opposite Billy Crudup; “Runner, Runner” directed by Brad Furman opposite Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake; “The A-Team” opposite Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson; John Sayles’ “Amigo” opposite Chris Cooper; “Salvation Boulevard” opposite Jennifer Connolly, Pierce Brosnan, Marisa Tomei and Greg Kinnear; “Little Fockers” with Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller; Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” alongside Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington (a 2008 SAG nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture); Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” opposite Tom Cruise; “Bad Boys II” opposite Martin Lawrence and Will Smith; “Runaway Bride” opposite Julia Roberts; “Nick of Time” opposite Johnny Depp, and  “Che” directed by Steven Spielberg opposite Benicio Del Toro.

Vázquez is a founding member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company. Other theater credits include “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” (The Public Theater) opposite Sam Rockwell and directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman; “The Stendhal Syndrome,” (Primary Stages) with Isabella Rossellini and Richard Thomas; and “The Floating Island Plays,” (Mark Taper Forum).

Adrian Martinez- Moderator

Adrian Martinez is an actor, writer/ director, and producer, with over one hundred film and TV credits, and is presently a series regular on NBC’s THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION.

Some in casting have called Adrian, “the sidekick to the stars,” as evidenced by his recent work– Will Smith’s sidekick in Warner Bros'”Focus,” Ben Stiller’s sidekick in Stiller’s Fox remake of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Will Ferrell’s sidekick in Lionsgate’s “Casa de mi Padre,” and Zach Galifianakis’ sidekick in Focus features’ “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”.Adrian’s critically acclaimed work led to straight offers to several films premiering in June, 2017 including, “Once upon a time in Venice,” opposite Bruce Willis and “White girl,” now streaming on Netflix.

Adrian has been seen in a wide range of character portrayals including “Mail Order Wife,” a mockumentary, where his lead portrayal was so convincing, audiences thought the film was a documentary, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” as ‘the hugging man’, opposite Sandra Bullock,”The Interpreter,” opposite Nicole Kidman, opposite Jimmy Fallon in “Taxi,”and “Mona,” which he also co-produced. “Mona” aired on PBS’ Indie night and won best picture at the Santa Barbara film fest.

Mr. Martinez’s TV work includes over sixty guest spots, including recurring on “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Gotham,” “Louie,” recurring in CBS’ “A Gifted Man,” opposite Patrick Wilson, HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords, “Three Strikes,” produced by Jon Stewart, and “Deadbeat” produced by Brad Pitt. Theater audiences know Mr. Martinez from his daring off-Broadway performances in Jose Rivera’s “Massacre,” for Rattlestick theater, “Our Lady of 121st Street,” at the Union Square theater, and “The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot,” at the Public theater, both directed by Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, and written by Pulitzer Prize winner, Stephen Adly Guirgis for the LAByrinth theater company, of which Adrian is a member. Adrian has also done dozens of national/ regional commercials, most notably, NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers obsessed cheesehead fan for State farm.

Adrian is presently in post production for his full length feature film,“iCreep,” which he wrote, produced, directed, and stars in opposite Dascha
Polanco (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK)

Join the conversation!  Tweet your questions to #SAF, comment on YouTube or email livestream@sagaftra.foundation.