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I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out and having conversations with actors, lately. One of the main topics of conversation, more often than not, is how one goes about breaking into film work. Granted, the people I’ve been speaking to are mainly theater actors, but here in Las Cruces, there is a lot of crossover.

Many of our aspiring film actors hone their skills on the stage, while waiting for their big break – or at least the break that will land them a speaking role in an insurance commercial. Work is work, and commercials are every bit as important to the reel as a small speaking part in an episode of “Longmire,” “The Night Shift” or “Better Call Saul.”

But how does one go about making that happen? Is it a) who you know, b) being in the right place at the right time, or c) taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, whenever possible? It may be a little from column a, and a little from column b, but if we’re going to be completely honest with ourselves, column c is the only one we really have control over.

Whereas the other two are more about where we pull off on the interstate to grab a bite or get gas, only to discover, against all odds, the golden Wonka ticket to success crammed into our Crappy Meal, the third is more about choice. It’s about crossroads that require our attention and, depending on how we choose, could define the course of our journey. Not a rest stop, so much as an interstate exchange that wasn’t on the original map.

If you are one of the many aspirants to cinematic acclaim living in or within driving distance of Las Cruces, you’re about to find yourself staring at a sign, on the road up ahead. Not to the Twilight Zone, but to opportunity. So, pay attention.

On Wednesday, April 29, beginning at 9 a.m., the New Mexico Film Foundation will bring owner and head casting director for Good Faith Casting LLC, Faith Hibbs-Clark to the Dona Ana Community College East Mesa Campus to answer all of your burning audition questions. This three-hour seminar, led by a certified member of the Casting Society of America and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, is designed to help both seasoned and aspiring actors learn what they need to give a successful audition. Best of all, the seminar is free.

Yes, you read that correctly. A free seminar, given by a working casting director with offices in Phoenix and Albuquerque and a long list of credits – including such notable films as First Daughter, Goats, Savages, On The Road and Jarhead, as well as commercials for companies like Southwest Airlines, Qwest, Pepsi, Go Daddy, Toyota, Sonic and Volkswagen to name just a few – helping you to better understand the audition process.

So, what exactly can you expect, should you decide to attend?

“It’s basically a general overview of good auditions etiquette and the best approach to getting on camera,” Hibbs-Clark said during a telephone conversation. “You can expect to get inside information from an industry professional, tricks of the trade, real-life examples and techniques to help with their auditions. We’ll also talk about the business side of auditioning, because a lot of actors can’t afford agents to take care of the paperwork for them – things like release forms and payment forms and the protocols that go along with them.”

Only serious actors need apply, according to Hibbs-Clark. Her purpose for being here is to help local actors discover their inner potential so they can get the attention of those doing auditions and land those roles

“The thing about casting directors, particularly me, I always have an eye out for fresh talent,” she said. “I really love theater actors. It’s such an easy transition for them. They’re going to give it their all, because that’s what theater actors do. It would also be great to get indie filmmakers there, because even if they aren’t actors, they can get an idea of what the audition process is like and what it’s like to be an actor in the audition process. They can benefit from that information, too.”

Even better, Hibbs-Clark wants you to come with your burning industry questions – the kind of questions that can’t easily be answered by Google. She’s serious about making the connections necessary to get local actors the kind of work they have been craving.

“The one thing I don’t want people to feel like is that it’s a hard sell for full workshops,” she said. “It’s not really designed for that. I personally think there is a lot of value in opening up a whole new pool of talent from the Las Cruces market. Dirk Norris from the New Mexico Film Foundation and I are of the same mindset. We want New Mexico not to be so spread out. We’re all one acting community and we’re reaching out to welcome Las Cruces into the fold.”

To get a better idea of what Good Faith Casting and its owner Faith Hibbs-Clark can do for you as an actor, check out their Facebook page. Even if you are an actor or filmmaker who can’t make it to the seminar on April 29th, she would love to hear from you. Check with DACC for seminar times, which were not yet available at press time.

Basically, this is that interstate exchange with the orange cones and flashing lights. The one that says, “This way for the opportunity of a lifetime.” If you’re an actor wondering how to break into film work, you’re going to feel like an idiot if you miss it.

This article originally appeared in the April 3 issue of The Las Cruces Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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