What a time to be alive, huh? So we're not really captive as I indicate in the title, but I'm a sucker for alliteration. And to be honest, my day to day hasn't greatly changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, as I work from home and prefer time with my husband and a small group of friends over big social gatherings. We moved our weekly friend hangs to Zoom/Netflix Party nights and sessions of online gaming, and have reduced our outings to only essential trips. I know it's huge adjustment for many. Many of my upcoming projects are paused or rescheduled for tentative future dates. The film and theatre industry have for the most part come to a screeching halt.
So how do we move forward when the whole world seems to stop?
Well we have a big beautiful online community of creators, so when there's a will, there's a way!
I've jumped onto a couple fun projects to keep the creative juices flowing - a "Line by Line Shakespeare" exercise, organized by a collaborator Britain Willcock, where he chose famous speeches from Shakespeare's works, then randomly assigned individual lines to different people, leaving us all open to interpreting and acting out the words ourselves. I got a line from Lady Macbeth, and it was so interesting to see everyone's interpretations.
Another fun collaboration from afar, put together by Chicago filmmaker Jeremy Applebaum, was the idea to put together some kind of film with a bunch of different people, but with footage put together from our own homes using what equipment was available to us. The result is a short film entitled "A Sheltered Rehearsal", about a group of theatre actors whose production of A Winter's Tale is cancelled due to the pandemic...but the director demands they continue to rehearse via Zoom. There's a twist in there too - however we went ahead and submitted the short to a couple "Quarantine Film Festivals" (yes that's a thing now), so I'll have to wait to share the footage for now.
I have managed to keep a few irons in the fire on more "official" projects too!
VO for Documentary Short
Last but not least, I've been hired to provide some narration voiceover for a documentary short which profiles the works of animator George Berlin, highlighting his unique work in projection mapping to massive buildings to create beautiful site specific digital works of art. This project is in process, we just have to wait to record my VO at a nearby studio once the shelter-in-place order is lifted.
As soon as restrictions are lifted in Chicago and across the country, I know we'll all be busting at the seams to create and tell our stories. I'm excited to see what kind of art we can create from this extremely challenging moment in our history. If quarantine has proven anything, it's that when people are bored at home, they turn to creativity - to movies, films, books - the work of artists. My hope is that drive for great storytelling and art will push us into a new era of artistic expression once we're beyond the "age of corona". Health & Love to all <3
PS - I've made some major changes to my site layout - going with a 1 page scrolling version so you don't have to click around as much to find things! Click my name at the top of this web page if you're on my site, or navigate straight to Amanda-Winston.com
Big news! I am now officially represented by Dream Team Talent. Dream Team is a great newer agency in the Chicago area which also produces an industry podcast and is soon spreading its wings to LA. Vilma, the agency owner, is such a delightful person and truly advocates for her talent. I can't wait to see what we're able to accomplish together in 2020 and beyond!
2020 is off to a rollicking start! Coming out of the holiday fog, I've been planting seeds across Chicago in search of exciting projects to get involved with. Here are a few things things that have "sprouted" since the start of the year!
I've been cast as Jamila, a soon-to-be initiated bounty hunter in the web-series "Confusion: Darkness Falls and the Fallen Rise". So far shooting once scene in May for an episode, then likely more to come! Check out ConfusionFilms on Youtube to see all the content being made.
Chris Shern, who is one of the co-producers (among many roles) of the film Evil Lurks (which I starred in, and is coming out this year!) also happens to have a pretty awesome band called Invisible Cartoons. He's asked me to play a small role in a music video for their single Space Cat - their videos are always high energy and awesome productions and I can't wait to join in the fun!
I've got a number of other seedlings in the works, between inquiries on involvement with a few prospective film projects and series, possibly getting back into audiobooks, and networking with agents and producers in the area. Lots of opportunity, so we'll see where it all leads!
Bonus: I also helped my husband get his actor website up to date and off the ground - check him out at www.jonahdwinston.com
Here are a few fun end of year updates!
100 Hrs: This past weekend I worked with Filmmakers in Action, team "Grey Method" to shoot an entire film from writing to completion for the 100 Hour Film Race competition. I played the lead Jen in our suspense thriller script. I was joined by my Little Women: A Modern Audio Drama podcast (episodes coming out weekly!) director/producer Shannon Campe as a cast member, as well as filmmaker & friend Mal Burns as AD. Our director and editor was Mike Stewart, our producer and writer was Stephen Peterson (who also acted), and Nehal Mohammed was on set as both crew and cast. All entries had to include the elements of "Sacrifice", a calendar, and the action of reading. All the films will be judged and finalists will be premiered in Atlanta, with awards in various categories. It was fast and furious and a lot of fun - I got to break some sugar glass bottles, get covered in fake blood (again), and jog through the park in far too little clothing for the current outside temperatures.....what we do for art!
Gentleman Grochowski: Last Friday I made my first talk show appearance promoting Evil Lurks. Our director/producer Aaron Hawkins brought myself and another actor in the film, Cindy Felonk to appear on The Gentleman Grochowski Show, an improv/comedy/talk show which appears on the Comcast network across 4 states in the midwest. It was fun and hilarious chatting with hosts Larry and Partee, alongside comedian Anna Marie Long. There's a live-taping on Facebook you can view, and the episode will air sometime in February - details to come!
Readings: Participating in a nice handful of readings this December! Mollusk Productions in Chicago, is working on selecting their next film to produce. So far I've participated in one developmental reading for a comedy script which takes a satirical look at indie filmmakers, and this coming weekend I'll be reading the lead for a script I'd describe as a suspense/drama along the lines of Black Mirror dealing with augmented reality. Finally, this week I'll doing a staged reading of the play "Midnite" by Reina Hardy and Rory Leahy, playing the role of Faye. The reading is directed by Iris Sowlat and will be performed at Boxcar at the Steep Theatre this Friday.
It's been a pretty busy jump into fall here in Amanda-land!
Shooting continues for Evil Lurks - we've got just a few small shoots & reshoots to finish and we're off into post. From the tiny rough cut and outtakes I've seen, it's going to be a really cool final product. A few behind the scenes (BTS) shots below - can you tell we've been making good use of the green screen?
Meanwhile I snuck in a quick commercial shoot for a local edible cookie dough company. I played "Karen", the put together mom of a 6 year old child mechanic, who is skeptical about raw cookie dough. Coming out on various social media in December. As a lifelong fan of cookie dough, this was an especially fun shoot - not to mention the bonus of getting to sample the products ;)
Finally the Filmmakers in Action team's submission for the Chicago 48 Hr Film Fest, The Inheritance is now available to view on Youtube! This was my first time participating in a 48 hour film fest and while we didn't win any awards, it was a helluva learning experience. It's a pressure cooker situation where a film has to be written, shot, edited, and completed in 48 hours. Our only criteria was an assigned theme (Dark Comedy/Sports), a prop (a hat), a line of dialogue ("I'm looking for my friend"), and a character name (Trudy or Trevor Fenderson). The fact that we were able to pull it off at all was really impressive, and folks stepped in left and right to fill in roles on set in order to get the job done. Give it a watch below!
Bonus content: I've updated my reel! Check it out below - will definitely have to make some updates once Evil Lurks comes out!
Quick post to share my new Commercial VO demo. What makes a commercial VO demo you might ask? It's a sampling of my work related to products, marketing campaigns, or businesses, generally as a narrator or spokesperson.
A sample of brands I've lent my voice to:
Ajenda Scheduling Services
Tech Guys Who Get Marketing
Core Digital Marketing LLC
Thanks for listening ;)
Alright friends - it's finally ready! You can now listen to the FULL Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga original trilogy in audiobook format on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes - full narration all done by yours truly. So much thanks to author Jeanne Hardt for her trust and patience through this process of recording and editing to present her words and story as faithfully as possible. It's a long labor of love to record, edit, and produce a quality audiobook and an awesome challenge to try to embody all these different characters. I truly hope I've done Jeanne's work justice.
The series centers on Lily Larsen and those close to her, set towards the end of the Civil War in rural Cades Cove, Tennessee. Her adventures (and sometimes misadventures) take her travelling beyond the comfort of her home where her resolve and character is tested by looming scandal and her journey to discover her way in the world. This series is perfect for lovers of historical fiction, romance, family sagas, and drama.
If you or someone you know is a reviewer, industry pro, or agent who is interested in downloading a copy of any of the books, please email me and I can provide a free Audible download code. If you are so kind as to give any of these books a listen, reviews on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes are very greatly appreciated!
Links to download all 3 below, and also on my new Audiobook Narration page.
Excited to share a recent project with you! I recorded the narration for this "Meet the Founders" video for The Beachwaver Co.'s "Dream Big, Make Waves" campaign launch. Beachwaver is a hugely popular hair tools company that's grown to global distribution with three amazing boss women at the helm, with a focus on innovation, accessibility, sustainability, and empowerment. Honored to be a small part of their story.