Dedication, Focus, Risk & Reward

by | Jul 23, 2020 | Acting Tips

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it! Action has magic, grace, and power in it!” ― Goethe

After a series of defeats: a series of acting projects I was involved in had not panned out, my new agent dropped me, and I had to get a “day job” to stay afloat.  As an actor, these things are par for the course, they say, but to me defeat is defeat no matter how you slice it or view it. As actors we know when we are down for the count. We can feel it in our moods of disappointment and our waves of sorrow.  But my motto is always, “Never give up,” and I soldiered on!  I showed up at the “day gig” thinking, “How am I going to get my acting back again?!”  Truly “blocked” once more, WTF?

These outside factors can and do stop actors. That’s why in chapter one of the workbook, I ask point blank, “The reason I stopped acting, is….” There is always something that “happens” to actors that “blocks” them or prevents them from moving ahead.

I knew that I did NOT want to go through another round with an agent who didn’t understand me and sent me out on leprechaun and elf auditions. I’m five feet tall, you do the math!

As fate would have it, a co-worker said, “There is this company called Film Freeway where you can submit to film festivals for FREE! I’m submitting MY short film!”  Well, those were the magic words that turned my ship around!

We (my partner writer/director Chuck Pelletier and myself) took our short film “That’s Opportunity Knocking” which was sitting on a shelf gathering dust, and I IMMEDIATELY dedicated myself to submitting to film festivals. I bought books, I did research, created a PR campaign, and made the submission rounds. I had a “hunch” it would lead to something great, but NOT without hard work! I found a great quote in The Complete Filmmaker’s Guide to Film Festivals that inspired me: “The real work begins AFTER the film is in the can!” Which is great advice for actors who believe once they film something their work is completed. Hardly! I wish!

I started with a handful of festivals I had attended for other films and was rejected by them all. So much for, “It’s who you know!” But I kept submitting, and knocking on doors! Rejection, Rejection, Rejection! We finally got into some indie film festivals and then it all started to be “magic.” We started to WIN awards: Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Comedy Scene. We were on a roll, and we stuck with it!

After you’ve done the work, and you’ve committed 100%, the Universe rewards you all over the place. Doors start to fly open, opportunities seem to come out of the blue. But it’s not “out of the blue!” or luck or anything of the sort. It’s called synchronicity, it’s called law of attraction, it’s called like attracts like.  My partner Chuck Pelletier and I travelled all over the USA and Europe promoting our little baby film. We went to London, France, Amsterdam and Warsaw! Vacationing while working.

During the first 2 years, the film got accolades, great reviews, awards then, suddenly, I started to get nominated and winning best supporting actor awards! I found myself stepping up to podiums to give acceptance speeches for my work.  I was finally able to be seen in my acting and it opened many new doors for my career. Many other filmmakers wanted to use me for their projects! In total we won 24 awards and 5 of them were mine for acting!
This encouraged me to look at other projects I had buried (screenplays, plays, web series, videos) and to unearth them and put them back into circulation with a new determination to NOT stop!

So, if you find yourself stuck or blocked, do some digging, “What blocked me? Who blocked me? What happened?” and immediately get to work on ONE thing! One project that stalled you and see if you can mend it, fix it and get some mileage out of it.  I bet you can!  I know you can. “Never give up!”

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"


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