Friday
Nov022012

Pilots!

The district was represented this year in the New York Television Festival, and I was lucky enough to be involed with two pilots.

The first was The Louder The Better. Originally, it was created as a short film, a graduate thesis project for director Michael Toscano. He reapropriated it and repitched it as a pilot, and the project was accepted into the festival. Here's the trailer:

The second was The Conspiracist. This pilot finaled in Samsung's Second Screen Storytellers competition. While the project did not win, directors Barry Gribble and Kevin Good made an incredible pitch. I've seen the pilot, but it is not being released just yet--the pilot is still being shopped to networks. I hope to be able to post the pilot episode here soon; I think that it turned out fantastically well, and I cannot wait for you all so it in. In the meantime, I've added one of the promos to the Photos page. Check back soon for updates.

Saturday
Aug182012

The Artist's Way

One week ago, I began reading and working through The Artist's Way, a book for "unblocking" artists. I am not able to take classes at Studio this go-around (for financial and scheduling reasons), so I am turning toward one-on-one training and artistic self-improvement resources.

This book has been recommended to me by several artists, all at different stages in their career. It's been an interesting start from two perspectives. First, I'm approaching this book as an actor. Without giving too much of the book away, there is a lot of focus the first week on finding and silencing your inner critic. Being able to identify from where my self-doubt comes has been an intense and enlightening experience, but the ultimate question will be whether or not these revelations translate to stronger acting choices. I've been supplementing my work with this program by simultaneously re-reading Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen; the goal here is to combine the courage I find in the Artist's Way with the exercises and techniques discussed in Hagen's book.

I'm also approaching this book as a writer. I published a novel (a discussion of quality can be had on another day) with a good friend from high school when we were 18. I've written little projects here and there, had a short play of mine produced while I was in college, but the big projects I've been wanting to work on remain half finished. I'm hoping that the Artist's Way will unblock my writing and encourage me to finish these.

Currently, I'm writing a:

1) found footage horror movie, dealing with some issues I don't think many other films in the genre tackle
2) film adaptation of an epic poem
3) detailed video game plot line

It's time to get these wrapped up so I can work on some new projects; I'd especially like to focus on some new collaborations with a couple writers that I've worked with before. If I can find someone interested in any of these, great. If not, they'll always be in my back pocket.

I recently saw a friend's cell phone background that said, "Always be writing." So I'm back to work!

Monday
Jun182012

Ecce!

All of Judea is clamoring for the execution of Jesus Bar Joseph of Nazareth. The man is accused of a litany of crimes, which, in aggregate, will destabilize the region. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, has to choose whether to A) execute a hated man in accordance with the direct orders of his caesar or B) protect a man that Pontius knows is ultimately innocent.

(Photo coutesy of Wikipedia)

Instead, he presents Jesus back to the citizens of Judea, bound and in crown of thorns. Pontius declares, "Ecce homo!" (Latin for "behold the man") and delivers Jesus back to the Judean citizens. It may be the most famous non-decision in all history. But the most interesting question is "Why?"

I'll be playing Pontius Pilate in the upcoming production of Ecce, producted by A.J. Rhodes Entertainment for the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival. The play really focuses on the build up to that Ecce Homo moment. I think the challenge for me as Pontius is to really put the audience there and make them consider what they would have done under the same circumstance, but to do this without sugar coating Pontius' serious personal flaws.

More information on the show at the website for A.J. Rhodes Entertainment.

Thursday
Feb162012

Reviews for Almost, Maine

The reviews are in for my show Almost, Maine at 1st Stage. Overall, critics and other audience members have been really enjoying the performances The show has two more weeks left, and it’s been selling extraordinarily well.

Since you are on this site, you are probably curious about reviews of my performance in particular:

“Kashner speaks clearly and articulates his love in ways that most people only dream of ever doing. His defining characteristic is the way he physically plays off others.”
            ~MD Theatre Guide

“Kashner is the epitome of physical comedy…”
            ~MD Theatre Guide

“Elliot Kashner provides an impressive first performance at the 1st Stage with his depiction of quirky and thoughtful characters.”
            ~The Tysons Corner Blog

“Kashner gets quickly to the essence of his characters.”
            ~The Connection

I’m quite flattered, and I was interested to hear the feedback about the show, especially from the MD Theatre Guide. I had never really thought of myself as a particularly physical actor. The Washington Post in their review also highlights my scene with the phenomenal Jonathan Lee Tailor, a very physical scene.

These notes regarding physicality have encouraged me to try to push the envelope a little bit with the physical character of Frankenstein (see previous post). If that works, I’ll keep pushing with Pentheus in The Bacchae at WSC Avant Bard (my next show).

In a conversation with one of my peers, his critique included the thought that my characters (I play five characters) were not vocally distinct enough. I agreed with this comment, so to further my development, my focus really needs to include continue working on how to manipulate and control my voice.

Reviews:

dctheatrescene.com
MD Theatre Guide
Connection Newspapers
showbizradio.net
thetysonscorner.com
Washington Examiner
Washington Post

Friday
Feb032012

Ninjas vs Monsters

In an exciting bit of casting, I will now be playing Frankenstein in Ninjas vs Monsters, an Endlight Entertainment production, directed by Justin Timpane. Here's a great article on the project in TBD Arts. I'm actually  NVM is the third installment in the Ninjas vs Trilogy.

(Photo: Joshua Yospyn/TBD)

With a kick like that, it's no wonder they cast me as a character that mostly uses blades!

I'm already deep in the throes of preparing for the role. Based on the previous films, I can only expect that the fight choreography will be as difficult as it is amazing. I'm returning back to some of my martial arts training ahead of meeting with our choreographers, praying that they won't regret casting me.

For character work, I've been going back to as many old school sources as possible. I've just finished Mary Shelley's novel, watched a couple of the old movies, and now I'm seeking out some more contemporary iterations of the character. Something I've noticed is that past actors have played Frankenstein as "crazy" and kind of leave it at that. There are so many levels to Frankenstein, especially as presented in Shelley's novel, and the appearance of insanity really should be the confluence of all of Frankenstein's deep seated needs and desires. So far, the most compelling take on the character has been Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. There is a really unique obsession and desperation about his Frankenstein, which I love but will not attempt to replicate.

I feel like every movie villain will be compared to Heath Ledger's Joker, and for good reason. As with previous iterations of Frankenstein, there is no advantage to be gained by trying to compete, but rather understand success and build on it where it's appropriate. However, to my advantage, there IS a lot of unique stuff in the script that will allow me to put my own spin on the villain. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to create a compelling villain that will fit within the Justin's vision of a classic monster flick.

Hopefully we'll have the poster up on this site soon! More to follow.