Across the Board (ATB) Talent, founded in 2008 by entertainment professional and entrepreneur Guy Kochlani, is a full-service licensed Talent Agency. ATB represents its talent "across the board:" theatrically, commercially, in print, hosting, voiceovers and dance. The limited client roster and staff of 10 enables ATB to remain committed to the goal of developing high quality talent while providing the personalized atmosphere of a management company.

Across the Board’s talent has been seen on numerous TV shows, films, commercials and theatre productions. Their models and photographers have been a part of major fashion campaigns and have been seen across the pages of domestic and international magazines.

ATB is honored to announce its move up into the big leagues. Using talent from across the board, ATB is currently packaging a major feature film as well as television series. As the client list becomes larger and more high-profile projects are being tackled, founder and CEO Guy Kochlani avows: “No matter how much we expand, our original business model will always remain on point. We provide one-on-one care and service to each client, no matter what.”

ATB represents talent and models in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, with offices in Los Angeles and New York-Times Square. There are plans to open offices in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

For more info, check us out at WWW.ATBTALENT.COM

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

OSCAR ROUNDTABLE: A Critical Analysis of the 84th Annual Academy Awards

The Academy Awards are the crown jewel of Hollywood.  If a film is released and it’s excellent, the first critical response is, “[blank] is the first Oscar-worthy movie this year!”  The Awards are the golden ticket that everybody wants to win.  Now, the question of what is truly the “best” film of the year is debatable (the Oscars more often than not tend to do a pretty decent job of picking nominees that are at least serviceable), but every year the Academy is consistent in one thing: disappointment.  How many times have you exclaimed “That won?!” or “I’ve never even heard of that movie!” while watching the three-and-a-half hour telecast?  I still haven’t fully recovered from the 2009 snub of The Dark Knight.

Despite all that, the great thing about the Oscars, and their nominations, is that they promote healthy debate and discussion.  It’s only when you’re forced to deliberate the merits of your favorite film that you start to look deeper into it, analyzing the film in all its multi-layered facets.  Films become texts, not just entertainment…and that’s when the real fun starts.

My friends Saryah, Jared, and I, film lovers all, are a very vocal, opinionated group of guys.  I’m talking the New York-style loud and obnoxious; nothing is ever good enough.  Criticizing the Oscars is practically our hobby, and when the show was in full swing and Hugo beat Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the Visual Effects category, well…it took every ounce of strength I had not to throw a butcher knife through my television. 

For your reading pleasure we have a conducted a roundtable review and analysis of the 84th Annual Academy Awards, detailing everything from the presentation to the award winners.  This time, it’s personal.

Alex: So guys…the Academy Awards.  The Oscars.  The naked-guy-with-a-sword statue awards.
Jared: The 84th Annual naked-guy-with-a-sword statue awards.
Alex: I stand corrected. 
Saryah: Can we just call it the “What the Hell is That Doing There, it Sucked” awards? 
Alex: Did you know that, and someone might need to double-check this, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the poorest reviewed movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture?
Jared: It has a 47% rating on
Saryah: That’s rotten.  But it has Tom Hanks, so…
Jared: They must have really pimped those “For Your Consideration” ads.
Alex: They probably pimped a lot more than that.  But let’s talk about the show.  First, Billy Crystal.  What’d you think: bold and risky, or predictably comfortable?
Saryah: Meh.
Jared: I thought he—
Saryah: I said meh.  He was okay.  Nothing special.  Other than calling Nick Nolte out on sounding exactly like a motorcycle engine, there was really nothing new here.
Jared: Crystal was clearly hosting above the belt, something that may have been different had Eddie Murphy been given the go ahead before Brett Ratner's gay comments. Sure it was entertaining, as it is typically is every year, but there were no real wow moments.

Bret McKenzie & Kermit the Frog
Alex: I miss Hugh Jackman.  That was an increasingly fun performance.  There are very few actors in Hollywood who have the level of showman presence – or talent – as Jackman.  And was anybody else a little upset that Bret McKenzie’s song “Man or Muppet” wasn’t performed? 
Jared: It would have been cool to see Jason Segel perform it, especially after it won for Best Song. Even though the lack of a musical performance was generally favored this year, a rendition of that song would have been entertaining.
Saryah: Eh, who cares?  I was just happy the telecast was shorter than usual.
Jared: Well, this year, more than any in recent memory, played very much like a script.  Counting last night, Crystal has now hosted 9 times. It's time to throw out the safe card, which was very much the theme of the night, and find a performer who will be scandalous and racy. 

Billy Chrystal hosting again...what are your thoughts?
Alex: I’m glad you brought that up.  One of the themes of the Awards was “being safe.”  Everything, from the nominees to the décor of the theater, was just one big throwback to the cinema of yesteryear.  The focus of the night was channeling what once was, rather than appreciating what we have now.  Hell, the Best Picture winner practically exists on the idea of nostalgia.
Saryah: Anybody with an Internet connection knew that The Artist was winning Best Picture.  Maybe that’s why they tried to make the whole award show feel as “olde time” as possible.  Someone should have told Billy Crystal they were making it old fashioned so he didn’t have to try and shave 367 years off his life. He's been hosting the Oscars since the last time a silent film won.  What’s wrong with looking your age?
Alex: Again, nostalgia. 
Saryah: They even had theater attendants handing out popcorn!
Alex: And probably cigarettes.
Saryah: I was surprised, they didn’t hand anything to Angelina Jolie.  Get that girl a sandwich.
Jared: If Angeline Jolie does not gain weight within the next 48 hours, she might start slipping through cracks.
Alex: That was a nice leg, though.  But anyway, right from the get-go things started off at a slow pace, and everything seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing.  Predictably, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II was going to nab the Best Makeup award, right?

Nick Dudman creating a goblin.
Saryah: Guess which movie’s makeup team turned an American actress into a weird, mannish Brit?  If you answered either Albert Nobbs or The Iron Lady, congratulations!  You’re correct.  For those at home who don’t get the joke, let me clarify: THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO.  How about Harry Potter, the one other nominee?  Oh, all they did was make a dwarf look like a goblin and gave some guy a snake’s nose.  Pretty bland stuff.
Alex: You’re starting to touch on what is by far my biggest peeve with the Academy.  Time and again I find that the films that are genuinely deserving of honor are overlooked.
Saryah: *cough* The Dark Knight *cough*
Alex: …Exactly.  Take Best Makeup, like Saryah said.  Yes, both Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady offer extraordinary achievements in the field, but Harry Potter created other worlds.  New species came to life!  It’s like Star Wars set on Earth, and something of that nature deserves to be rewarded.  Making people look older, or fatter, or just weird is nothing new.  It’s, like Jared said in regards to the theme of this year’s Oscars, safe.  And that brings me to the Visual Effects category.
Jared: Oh no.  Here we go.
Alex: Look, you guys know what a massive proponent I’ve been for Rise of the Planet of the Apes in every possible outlet.  Andy Serkis should have been at least nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but whatever.  I get it.  What he did was new, the Academy is old, and that’s that.  I only assumed that Apes had the Visual Effects Oscar in the bag.  I mean, they took the motion-capture technology revolutionized by Avatar and said, “Hmm, how can we make this better?”  And then they freaking did that.
Jared: They revolutionized what was revolutionized.
Alex: The team behind Apes created a character that was so unbelievably lifelike and seamless that my dad kept asking me if it was a real ape.  For them to lose the category is not only preposterous, proving that the voters don’t understand the category…it’s also insulting.  I’ll say it here: Hugo does not deserve that award, and I hope its team of artists understands that.

How did this not win the Visual Effects award?
Jared: Hugo was a stunningly beautiful film, but you never really got the sense of visual effects playing a substantial role. On the other hand, both Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Apes exist on the quality and believability of their visual effects. I guess blowing up Chicago and creating an ape from a live actor’s performance was less impressive to the Academy than a reconstructed image of Paris.
Alex: And you know what?  The CGI in Hugo wasn’t even that great!  That one scene they kept showing during the ceremony, of the gears moving around as the boy turned into the robot, has CGI that is painfully obvious!  Isn’t the point of good visual effects to create a totally immersive experience?  The viewer should be unaware than effect is even taking place on screen.

This is not CGI.
Saryah: Rate in order of which is the odd man out: making dragons and having people fly around on broomsticks, massive robots fighting each other for 2-hours, slightly smaller robots fighting each other for 2-hours again but in boxing rings this time, monkeys so life-like that PETA doesn't know what to do, or a train driving through a wall and a little boy dreaming he was a robot who doesn’t even fight any other robots?
Jared: I hate your mind-games.
Saryah: If you’re a 70-year-old white man, the answer is obviously the train going through a wall with the little boy/robot-thing.  Thanks Academy for letting these talented men and women know that just because the demographic their films targeted was the general movie going public, their work is essentially worthless.
Alex: You know, there’s something about Hugo that’s been bugging me for a long while.  For the record, I really enjoyed the movie.  It was a gorgeous, nice film, and the use of 3-D was great.  But at the same time it, and let me know if you guys sort of feel the same way, didn’t feel like a Scorsese.  A number of critics have been pointing this out, and Crystal even poked fun at it, but I think it comes down to this: Hugo is a Steven Spielberg movie, not a Martin Scorsese movie.
Saryah: That literally makes no sense.

Steven Spielberg directing Henry Thomas on the set of E.T.
Alex: Bear with me.  Scorsese’s films have the common theme of corruption and violence.  The settings and players change, but the meat of the texts always remain the same.  Spielberg, on the other hand, deals with wonder and child empowerment, as seen in E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and both War Horse and Tintin.  His entire mission is to instill a sense of awe in his characters, and through them the audience.  That was Hugo.  The film’s appreciation for old cinema, and the excitement of rediscovering it, was executed in playbook Spielberg fashion.  Now, would the film have garnered as much award attention if Mr. Spielberg directed it?  Historically speaking, no, as the Academy has a tendency to shut Big Steve out.  Even so, it makes me wonder what a live-action, 3-D, Steven Spielberg-directed Hugo would have been like. 
Jared: I kind of agree.  In all honesty, it did seem like something that Spielberg would have done. We have come to identify Scorsese with “racier” flicks like Goodfellas and The Departed. Though Hugo was intended for children, it definitely contained elements that would likely go beyond the cognitive beyonds of 6-12 year-olds.  It was completely out of his element, but I'm sure he's not complaining about the results.
Alex: Saryah?
Saryah: I’ll let you know when I see it.
Alex: Okay then.  Moving on.  The acting categories. 
George Clooney hiding.
Jared: George Clooney definitely cried and ran out of the theater after losing out the Best Actor award to Jean Dejuardin.
Saryah: Jean absolutely deserved that award, not even a question.
Alex: The acting awards this year were fairly predictable.  I don’t know anybody who didn’t have Dejuardin, Christopher Plummer, and Octavia Spencer on their ballots.
Jared: Ahem…
Alex: Oh right!  Saryah picked Clooney!  How’s that working out for you?
Saryah: I was betting on the dark horse.  Look, if I was Mr. Plummer I would have started practicing my Oscars acceptance speech right after they announced the nominations.

Meryl Streep wins her first Oscar since 1982.
Alex: Yeah, that was a cakewalk.  I think we all got Best Actress wrong on our ballots, right? 
Jared: It seemed like a damn sure bet that Viola Davis was going to take the crown for her role in The Help. Given the subject manner of the movie, it seemed that Meryl Streep was a lock for the role of runner-up, especially since her last best actress win was for Sophie's Choice in 1982. I'm not going to say that she wasn't worthy of the Oscar but when you're nominated 17 times over a span of 4 decades, isn't that enough?
Saryah: I'm so sick of this woman.  We get it.  You've been nominated a lot.  That's no excuse to indignantly say that you'll “never be up here again.”  No, you probably will be up there next year because all you do is try to get up there. Is she a phenomenal actress?  Undeniably.  But think about this: in all of her movies do you even NOT think your watching Meryl Streep?  Was she Julia Childs?  No, she was Meryl AS Julia.  Was she Margret Thatcher?  No, she was Meryl AS Margret.  While everything about her performances is truly great, she never lets the audience forget who they’re really there to see.
Alex: Wow, I could not possibly disagree more.  Ms. Streep is one of, if not the, greatest working actresses.  She’s a chameleon, and is unique in her ability to portray any sort of role at any time.  It was a tough call between her and Viola Davis, especially considering the fact that Ms. Davis rocked every single Guild award.
Jared: Meryl was clearly not supposed to be the winner for Best Actress this year. She knew it and Viola Davis knew it.  There seems to be a trend now towards giving the supporting actress to an African American and then snubbing them for best actress, like with Precious.
Alex: That had nothing to do with race.  The lead actress in Precious was not deserving of a Best Actress win. 
Saryah: Exactly.  Acting is acting.  And the best acting of any of the Best Picture nominees was in The Artist. 
Alex: So you’re okay with The Artist taking home the big one?

They're waiting to be handed the Oscar.
Saryah: Completely agree with that one. Even if this was a good selection year I think The Artist would give any film a run for its money. But like we’ve been saying, how about giving us some suspense?  They should have announced this one right away just to get the show over with.  Let the people watching in New York get to bed early.         
Alex: None of my favorite films of the year were even nominated.  Most of them don’t tend to fit into the “Academy mold,” I grant you, but even so.  I think the fact that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II made more money at the box office than the nine Best Picture nominees combined says something about the current state of the Academy.  People just don’t care that much anymore about the awards when the movies they love don’t make it into the bracket, and that makes the show boring.  Last year we had Toy Story 3 and The Social Network, and the year before that we had Avatar and District 9.  What do we have now?
Jared: The beauty of the Oscars bracket is not knowing who’s going to win. That's what makes it so exciting, like the NCAA college basketball pool. There's always a Cinderella story somewhere, and someone always finds it. This year though, such a nominee was notoriously absent and the Oscars suffered greatly because of it. 

Alex: The picks this year were uninspired, and the show was neither exciting nor creative.
Saryah: The Oscars were boring and predictable, but with enough nostalgia to make it bearable.  The choices showed no imagination, and the whole night reeked of pandering to established stars.
Alex: Again Saryah, you’ve touched on the key word of the day, which is “nostalgia.”
Saryah: Thanks Alex, I try.
Alex: I ask my classic question: if we are so focused on celebrating the past, how are we supposed to move forward?  Art must evolve, and for that to happen we need to analyze and appreciate what once was whilst at the same time taking the necessary risks to break new ground.  Film as an art form needs to constantly move forward, improving on itself.  Otherwise we’re just treading water.
Jared: Exactly. 
Saryah: True…but The Artist was still great.
Alex: Fine.  I’ll give you that.  So I guess it’s up to us to take those first couple of steps to the future.
Saryah: Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
Jared: I have no problem with that.
Alex: Okay.  Mission: accepted.

Film, like any art form, must be in a continuous state of flux.  It must be able to stylistically propel itself forward while simultaneously taking the time to look back.  It’s a symbiotic relationship—we learn from the successes and failures of the past and spark our creativity with dreams of the future.  As Ben Kingsley’s Georges Méliès says in Hugo, “If you've ever wondered where your dreams come from, you look around... this is where they're made.”

Lights, camera, action.

 Got something to say about this?  Have any questions?  Comment below! 
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By Alex Tafet

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AGENCY TIPS, VOLUME I: Agent-Client Relations 101

The agent-client relationship is a sacred bond that dates back to the beginning of recorded time.  Take G-d and Moses, for example.  You think Moses could just waltz into Pharaoh’s palace and start making demands?  Heck no.  His agent G-d had to make some calls and pull a few strings. 

Across the Board Talent is dedicated to providing the best possible agency experience.  We flourish on creating strong relationships that can help sustain a successful career in entertainment.  The agency game is a two-way street that requires collaboration from both parties, and if one isn’t at the top of his or her game, everybody loses.

Here are three helpful tips from your friends at ATB Talent on how to navigate through the world of talent agents and managers, and succeed in the entertainment industry.

1. Always Keep Your Résumé & IMDb Updated

The most important weapon in any actor’s arsenal is his or her résumé and IMDb page.  The entertainment industry is a harsh and often impersonal business, and the first thing agents, managers, and casting directors look at is an actor’s résumé and IMDb page, which is why it’s important to always keep them as up-to-date as possible.  Just landed a role in the new Christopher Nolan movie?  Put that up ASAP!  Substantial credits are practically free passes into casting offices.

Another piece of ammunition at your disposal is your acting reel, which is a short edited video showcasing various pieces of footage from your full body of work.  This adds some nice panache to your résumé and IMDb page, and lets casting directors see a bit more of you.  Like everything else, reels always need to be updated.  Replacing that old VHS-quality footage with new Blu-Ray material will make a world of difference.

Screenshot from Marvel's The Avengers.
It’s also important to not overload your résumé with extra work.  Every agent, manager and casting director knows that being “featured” in a film doesn’t mean squat.  Do everybody a favor and don’t include it…nobody’s impressed that you were part of that 200-person mob in The Avengers.  New talent can squeeze in one or two featured credits, but try filling up those blank spots with student films, short films, or even theater work…any sort of principle credit that showcases your ability as an actor is a plus. 

Always ask permission! 
2. Proactivity is Key

The actor’s job doesn’t stop upon acquiring an agent—it only starts.  An actor must always work alongside his or her agent, keeping all eyes open and looking for potential projects to be involved in.  Always be proactive and involved.  The agent-client relationship is just that: a relationship.  Both sides need to have a hand in things.

Having said that, you must get permission from your representation before asking them to pitch you for specific projects.  Clients will often go directly to their agents and ask to be submitted for specific projects.  Unless they give you permission, do not do that!  Most agencies have a very strict policy against client involvement, so be careful.  ATB Talent, on the other hand, encourages their clients to become involved in the process. 

3. Communication, Communication, Communication!

Always respond ASAP!
This is the single most essential aspect of the agent-client relationship.  The world of casting directors moves at light speed; everything needs to happen now, now, now!  When an audition comes in, a confirmation is needed ASAP.  To save time an agent will usually send an audition notice to the client using one of the casting websites (Actor’s Access, Casting Networks), as well as follow up with a text or call, so be sure to always be prepared to answer.  If a message is left, please respond promptly.  Remember: it’s not just the agent awaiting your response.  The casting director is, too.  Why would you want to upset the person booking you for a job?

Responding to a text message (or email) is probably one of the simplest tasks possible, especially in the era of iEverything.  It doesn’t take too much effort to respond, and all that’s needed is a message letting your agent know your confirmation status.  If you can’t access a computer, no worries: that’s what your agent is for.  Just let him or her know that they can go ahead and confirm you for the audition.

The entertainment industry is all about relationships, and it’s important to treat them with care.  Every road runs both ways.  Agents and managers are here to help you, the client.  Take advantage of that, and do whatever it takes to succeed.

Lights, camera, action.

Got something to say about this?  Have any questions?  Comment below! 
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By Alex Tafet