UnionWorking Podcast

5 - Los Angeles Conservatory

February 27, 2020 UnionWorking Season 1 Episode 5
UnionWorking Podcast
5 - Los Angeles Conservatory
Chapters
00:00:00
Intros
00:02:08
What is the Los Angeles Conservatory?
00:09:08
What's new at the Conservatory
00:12:14
Volunteering and some well-known visitors that have taught at the Conservatory
00:13:56
Podcast Sage
00:15:06
Part 2 of our episode
00:20:32
Writers and actors together
00:22:29
The nuts and bolts of making this happen
00:25:38
A little more about Shaan's background
00:29:17
Final thoughts on our union, the table reads, making it happen
00:34:32
Outros
UnionWorking Podcast
5 - Los Angeles Conservatory
Feb 27, 2020 Season 1 Episode 5
UnionWorking

A conversation about the Los Angeles Conservatory.

UW Voices: Kevin E. West, Rob Fitzgerald, Jim Connor

Guest Voice: Shaan Sharma

UnionWorking Links:

Guest and Topical Links:

Email us at info@unionworking.com

This episode of the UnionWorking Podcast was recorded August 10, 2019, at Culver City Studios
Executive Producer Jack Levy
http://podcastsage.com / jack@podcastsage.com / 818-233-0640

UnionWorking.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

A conversation about the Los Angeles Conservatory.

UW Voices: Kevin E. West, Rob Fitzgerald, Jim Connor

Guest Voice: Shaan Sharma

UnionWorking Links:

Guest and Topical Links:

Email us at info@unionworking.com

This episode of the UnionWorking Podcast was recorded August 10, 2019, at Culver City Studios
Executive Producer Jack Levy
http://podcastsage.com / jack@podcastsage.com / 818-233-0640

UnionWorking.com

spk_0:   0:06
and we're rolling on the union working podcast at Culver City Studios with podcasts. Age Union Working is a grassroots organization of film, television and commercial performers of SAG AFTRA. We're

spk_1:   0:18
dedicated to solutions, ideas and creating a union that works for all of us. So we hope you will enjoy our informative, entertaining and at times irreverent podcast about the challenges facing the modern day union actor. We support a membership driven membership model because way people Hello, we're

spk_2:   0:36
here. Culver City casting can tell us who you are, who you are.

spk_3:   0:40
I My name is Rob Fitzgerald, and I'm a proud member of SAG after and a proud member of the grassroots organization union working

spk_2:   0:48
that It's fascinating. Well,

spk_4:   0:50
you know, Kevin the West and just happy to be here. But I am part of the union working corps, and it's a good time.

spk_2:   0:56
I just go on your own in New York, so we have to introduce him. And what was the guest? Go ahead. I'm Jim Connor. I am wearing a hat called the Union Working. It's not really called in working

spk_4:   1:06
many years of experience in this room. Lots of money made by especially

spk_2:   1:11
this guy's first time I've been in this rural. So no lots of money. Mads in I think it's

spk_3:   1:16
important that we introduce the really important person in this room. And it's Mr Shawn Sherman.

spk_5:   1:22
Oh, that's kind.

spk_2:   1:23
It is none other than Sean charmed

spk_3:   1:25
another. There will be no substitute. Well, although with science, we could get a

spk_2:   1:32
Let's get right to the oh, what's going on? What is it with you and ice cream? I mean, I saw you yesterday. You were like wolfing down some sort of.

spk_5:   1:41
I have been dad consuming chocolate milk shakes his comfort food during the W

spk_2:   1:45
W starts

spk_4:   1:50
and you have a script reading writing behind this. Right?

spk_5:   1:52
We've been doing table reads for two years. Yes, we have one for a Writers Guild member of this afternoon.

spk_3:   1:56
Now, for people that don't know who Sean is other than a great actor and an outstanding ah uh, man in service of his other members.

spk_6:   2:07
Ah,

spk_3:   2:08
you are part of the conservatory and you're heading up important program. Basically, you've taken this dinosaur that was asleep. You've awoke is woken waken got it up.

spk_2:   2:21
You've lapped it around the poke the dragon and

spk_3:   2:24
now you have some interesting things going on that I think our members should know about, because it's going to service them. So if you just like, give us kind of your summary of what you've been doing it.

spk_5:   2:34
But I'll try to be as brief as I can. Many of our members don't know. Okay, right? Many of our members don't know we have a conservatory. They confuse the conservatory with the foundation all the time, and we do have our own educational wing of the Los Angeles local called the Los Angeles Conservatory. And I started just teaching in a three and 1/2 years ago at the invitation of another union working brother of our union, Kevin McCorkell, whose record co chair of the Conservatory Committee. Um, it was under the chair manship of Ron Morgan, who's another union member for many years before. But they changed the co chairs in 2000 and 16 I believe, and that's when I was brought on board. So I just I just started looking around at the way it was functioning, and I found it to be an absolute disrepair, and it was a passion for Kevin and myself along with a couple members of the conservatory committee at the time, although most of the members of the committee had been using the committee and the conservatory as pretty much their own private social club, just using it fish students out of our membership for their own private studios, me master says it was very it was very unprofessional. We had a different staff person in charge who really wasn't focused on the education of the programming. Um, and many of the teachers wouldn't show up. The classes were just bait and switch for joining my own studio like there was all kinds of crap going on and the teaching criteria like the experience, the pedigree of the teachers was questionable that they even had the expertise to be teaching our members.

spk_2:   4:10
Plus, it was in an old Walgreen storefront. You guys moved it to the American film. Where is it?

spk_3:   4:16
Where is their conservative?

spk_5:   4:18
So the conservatory started as a partnership between the American Film Institute and SAG after about 45 years ago, and what if I gets out of it is that their first year students out of a two year program have to use conservatory member exactly for their films, and then hopefully in their second year, they'll continue to use SAG AFTRA members, even though there's no requirement that they dio, um and so they get access to our talent in return. Um, you know, we help them with their projects and things like that from an actor's perspective. And then while we have this pool and we have these facilities, we also had some classes. So it became both an educational project as well as a content creation collaboration,

spk_4:   5:03
right, but also Sean. I mean, Rob said that it was a state of disrepair. I mean, you and I have talked with all due respect when I first came to California in the late eighties between where it was then and even what Rob said before, you kind of came in and decided to sort of put your hand around the throat of this and make it like your thing. Disrepair is being kind because you know, the sack after whether was sagging. Then, after now merged, it's a we're a multi $1,000,000,000 union guild, and and disrepair would even cover it. I mean, it was it was not even treated like a redhead stepchild it was. It was almost non existent. No one even

spk_2:   5:42
cared about that. That has more to do with a five and then anything else that seem

spk_5:   5:46
like, Well, it has to do with our leadership. I mean, if if you're the head of the Los Angeles local, um, and you have a conservatory committee that was established for this thing, that's the Onley structure where we can provide all kinds of educational. Resource is and support Resource is for a member. So one of the things I love about being part of the conservatory committee is that there's few other committees that have the opportunity and the mandate to make his big of an impact on our members that they can touch and feel more than just about any other committee. You know, we do have other ones that got in volunteer and do you help organize in March and things like that? But in terms of giving our members critical service is there's no other, uh, you know, structure through which they can do that, like the conservatory, which is why the foundation has become so popular because the foundation offers things that really we should be offering our own members. But people don't realize the foundation isn't part of SAG after it is a completely separate company. They have a completely separate board. They all get paid for their instruction. You know, they we have no impact over their programming over their curriculum. So I often disagree with some of their programming and information that they give. So when you think of the foundation, just think of that as a completely separate company. But they've taken on a couple of these service is like casting director classes or, you know, a voice over elaborate can go on record your voice over auditions. Those are things you would expect to get from your union. But instead it took this other company to come along and offer it as a service. So s Oh, yeah, the to me, the the reason I got so involved in the conservatory because I'm an educator and I have been for a long time, and if I was gonna be a part of something, I always look to see how I could make things better. And I just saw so many areas that were out of date and we didn't have passion in that committee really make this thing something powerful. And to me, just the whole reason I've been volunteering for the union has been to make our membership valuable, that we feel in a tangible way every single day, so that you never question whether it was worthwhile to become a member of this union

spk_4:   7:49
and and to that end and what now is almost three years of your doing that if you had to put a number of just a guess? We know this is not exact, but if you had to put a number on Sean, I mean, what how much is the membership increased since, say, the beginning of 2016 isn't it, like, hasn't increased like 400% or something?

spk_2:   8:07
The conservatory.

spk_5:   8:08
Wait, So there's there's kind of the number. You can calculate it in a couple of different ways. The conservatory has mainly been a resource for people who want to work on a fi films, but because you have to be a conservatory member to access the classes, um, so a small fraction of that overall membership of the conservatory actually took classes. They were mainly joining it

spk_4:   8:32
just on

spk_5:   8:32
the A f I waited. So, you know, I'd have to ask our staff with the latest numbers are because they know and we just finished a year that we're about to start a new session in junior than for the next year of programming. Um, what I'm interested in is not only the total amount of members, which I think at this point is, is almost 3000 something like 2,503,000 members. What I'm or excited about is what percentage of those members are actually attending classes and taking advantage of the resource is that we have to offer. And that percentage has increased so much. So

spk_4:   9:02
you could live. Make it look like an instagram social media thing where you're talking about the percentage of engagements per se. Yeah.

spk_3:   9:08
So what are some of the programs that you brought that are listeners air listen to and they go? Oh, that sounds great. One do that name a couple of programs.

spk_5:   9:17
So you know him. As as much as I recognize that I have devoted a lot of time after an energy to increase in the programming, I have to give credit to our local President Jane Austen for, you know, coming in as the co chair of the conservatory and allowing me to implement a lot of these ideas, even in the face of a lot of opposition from some of the old time conservatory committee members that nine of which I think at this point have resigned in the last three years to clear room for more focused on the future of this union and actually making use of this is a resource, but I can't take credit for everything. It's a team effort with Serena Kung, whose associate executive director of the L. A local. So she's staff really on our executive director of L. A. And of course, many of the conservatory committee members now. So as I share this, I don't want it to feel like it's a one man operation. But I certainly can say that I've brought a lot of energy, and I've been donating probably 20 hours a week for three and 1/2 years over in the at the union to try to bring these things to life so that the first thing that we had to dio, in my opinion, was, ah, bring our conservatory into the into the 21st century Tohave, an actual camera studio

spk_4:   10:22
sounds familiar,

spk_5:   10:23
right? We're the on camera actors union, among other professions, but certainly we're not equity. So we do a lot of our work on camera. Why we wouldn't have a room that is set up like a professional casting studio was beyond me. So we spent 20 grand and brought up put created a state of the art studio to use for our classes. But also in the time that it isn't being used for classes, we've made it available to members for self taping for free, that's group. And so, two times a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can get a self tape done for free, whether for an audition or for your real or whatever that a working actor will be. Your reader will also put you on tape and handle like the files and uploading and all that stuff, and all you have to do is come into your work, and we're

spk_2:   11:04
right there. That's new.

spk_5:   11:05
That's new. We've done it for the last year and 1/2 and serve something like 250 members in that last year, year and 1/2 saving them. God knows how much money with that service.

spk_3:   11:14
Now, you also have guest speakers. Come and speak to,

spk_2:   11:18
uh well, so Okay, so you had made some of those those the guy's gonna get people. Yeah, for sure. Well, you know, it's like women.

spk_5:   11:24
One of the things that I was also appalling to me. And I say that with love. I mean, we're moving for we're all doing the best weekend role volunteers. But how we could not have prepared read on camera classes as part of her education. When that's how we auditioned for film and television every day. We're also just a mystery. And so I started something called Audition Style. Prepared reads on camera, while the first Saturday night of Every month is drama The Second Saturday, a single cam comedy, The third Saturday is multi cam comedy, and so you come in as if it's an audition. You're prepared. You chewed, chooses seen from our database and you come in ready to do it and then we have a Q and A for the first hour. Then we put the work on camera. We coach and all that stuff through it and review the tapes and stuff like that. So it's a really great class A. And I wanted to not only share what I know to help others be successful, but because of this union. And the whole reason I got involved in volunteering for this union is I made a strategic decision that if I could be of service to my community through SAG AFTRA, it might have positive impacts on my own career, which it absolutely has in far beyond what I could possibly have imagined when I first started volunteering some time to play, some people do other things. I decided to volunteer for SAG AFTRA and

spk_4:   12:33
and we thank you.

spk_5:   12:34
It unites me with not only all of you but with our most successful accomplished performers in our community. And I've been able to reach out to them and say, Would you come and just be a guest teacher for one of our classy

spk_2:   12:46
I'm so I'm so sorry, Mr Peavey. Herman E was really So

spk_5:   12:50
it's It's remarkable that you know, having the title of the chair of the, you know, subcommittee on curriculum and faculty or being in L. A board member or, you know, being on the conservatory committee. I get responses where otherwise they may have not. And I think it's because our more members who are successful are willing to do things for this union that they wouldn't do for any private business or

spk_2:   13:09
disagreed. So that's that's really interest because it seems like, you know, you've you've had some really big A list actors come in and say, Yeah, I'll do it right away. You didn't have to. Martin

spk_5:   13:19
Sheen, Bryan Cranston, Matthew Modine, Frances Fisher, Patricia Richardson, Jonathan Taylor, Thomas, Eric Lutes. Um, who else? Emilio Estevez. These are people that have just taken time out of their day to come and hang out with 10 of us in a room at A F. I. And the reason they've been able to do it is because we don't publicize it, and we don't want our conservatory members to expect every time I go to a class, there's gonna be a star there. But we wanted it to be an extra exciting possibility that I have the opportunity to connect with members that otherwise wouldn't be able to learn from for free through my union.

spk_1:   13:55
Hi, it's Jack, leading producer of the Union working podcast and partner of podcasts. Age as an awarded audio producer who's contributed to some of the finest feature films, television shows, video games and records produced. I've been inundated with requests by peers and major studios alike to produce and manage podcast production, and I'd be delighted to do the same for you. I have an idea for a podcast and don't know where to start or who to call. Look no further. Have a scripted podcast, investigative or documentary interview show, solo cast, game show, talk show or literally any other project. Give me a call at 8182330640 That's 8182330640 or email me at jack at podcast sage dot com. We have world class studios here in Culver City and can work remote on location literally anywhere, and have the broadband experience to help with everything from concept development to recording and editing, staffing and writers and, of course, music. Call me at 8182330640 or shooting email. A jacket, podcasts age dot com Mentioned union working and get a 10% discount help. I'll make it 15. And now back to union. Working Now, I've taught

spk_3:   15:08
a commercial class there. Describe the room to people that they're coming into. And there's Bryan Cranston right there.

spk_5:   15:14
Yeah, I mean, so you

spk_2:   15:15
know, it's a small room. How you can only foot like rows of theater seats. Yeah, and

spk_3:   15:20
you're basically in a big A closet, like jog aboard. I got to get some better modern references. Who's really rich. Okay, whatever. Name I don't want to say, Kim, You know who else? Her closet size? Basically. Yeah. And you walk in to this little room and there's Bryan Cranston, R Martin Sheen. Whoever else you name

spk_2:   15:40
and I always have to be, presses

spk_5:   15:41
it with the with the with the students or the participants in the class to say, you know, we haven't publicized this. None of you knew this person was coming and we didn't want them. I don't want you to ask him for autographs. I don't want you

spk_2:   15:55
to try to get yourself. Use them. Yeah, I want them to just be there

spk_5:   15:59
Here, in the spirit of their just another performer who's just further down the road than many of us, and let's just make them feel comfortable. Let's not be weird. Let's just and they always are. They've been lovely. The participants in the class have been lovely, and it allows the the higher profile member to come in. And they all say this. I'm just like you. I was lucky. I This is my people. I love being with you people. Um you know, it's it's and it really eliminates this feeling we've had that there's such a gulf between us and the higher

spk_3:   16:30
you know, one thing that will get into later in these podcast is we did the campaign. The video campaign slipped support, and that was our experience. They walk into the room and you start talking to him and you're and you're actually educating them cause they don't know about the plight of the middle class, blue collar work or whatever, and on down, even though they were one. And it's a reminder to them that Oh, that was me. Yeah, I'm in. I'm helping. And that's such a It's the first time, and I've been in this business 37 6 years that I felt I'm a part of a union. My d N a. Is a part of George Clooney or whoever else is big and

spk_5:   17:11
successful. One camp were

spk_3:   17:12
all in there, and this was the first time I felt that way. And so one of the things I want to get your sets, that's what That's a great one. But also you have reached out to the Writers Guild and created this new program that I never think I don't think existed before you got there.

spk_5:   17:30
No, I don't think it did. Um, I know the Writers Guild has reading Siri's that they've done in their past, but it all spraying from this idea where where we sat down me and Kevin McCorkell Ah, and said, You know, like, why isn't there more creative collaboration between us and our sister union now? And if we really wanna understand what their contributions are, we should have more projects that were doing like that. And so what's the easiest thing to do? Find a beautiful script that a Writers Guild member has written and bring our acting talents to it. And we had the facilities that if I beautiful facilities to be able to start it. So two years ago, almost we just started doing table reads, and it took about a year to get the internal process approved in the Writers Guild will. Now any Writers Guild member can submit their scripts for consideration. And Steve Chivers and Jazz. My encore. Two Writers Guild members are in charge of that process, and then they pass this the scripts onto me that have been improved. And then it started as one reading a month that we would do. And now we're doing one a week, sometimes two a week, and we've expanded from not only working with Writers Guild but with the Black list just about to start working with a company called Cover Fly. And we've been working with independent production companies and the C. S. A. Got involved because I was meeting with them about inviting more casting directors to come in and teach our members in the Union. And during those discussions, they heard about the readings, and they said, This is how we, as casting directors, find our clients that will, you know, will cast their projects up through their big features and everything. And so we've had the Casting Society of America, the top casting directors in our business that in the local 3 99 get involved and great casting directors like Wendy Kurtzman and Lisa's and Betty and and Becky Silverman and, uh, Kendra Shake Clark and, you know, on and on it goes of But you're missing. I can't name everybody

spk_2:   19:20
but you You're the one casting right

spk_5:   19:23
I cast the ones that we don't have a C s a casting director passed.

spk_3:   19:26
So I mean, you cast a lot of

spk_5:   19:28
So I cast independent ones that are outside the union does not. Not every readers through the union, the union gives me one reading a month that they cover the costs for that, they dio And then because we had all this demand to participate from writers and a swell as actors, I've just been shelling out of my own pocket for us to do another three or four a month, and

spk_2:   19:47
sometimes we do them here over

spk_5:   19:49
city casting studios. We do them at, um at ah, um at the Writers Guild Foundation Library, which has been a beautiful space to be surrounded by all

spk_2:   19:58
these scripts. And that's hurry to do. Oh, yeah, Jimmy, you've

spk_5:   20:00
been toe one in each of you.

spk_2:   20:02
A participant. I do what you do. Yeah,

spk_3:   20:06
because you're first of all, you're a great advocate for the artist and not just the actor, but the writer, the director. And it's It's such it's setting such a great example about how this community could be very powerful and could be very together working with one another if we really had someone to to show us the way.

spk_2:   20:31
And I think it's unlike, unlike theater, we are separated from the writer, you know, separator writers at a studio, the producers at a different place, that directors that are deeply and we all go in with little room. And we read, you know, part of their script. And the reason that this is so successful is because you know you organized. But it's also because writers need to hear their words. It is, But

spk_5:   20:50
I'm so clear for me how how little interaction writers actually get to have with professional arms like we've talked. I've talked to these writers and they say I never get to spend an afternoon with professional actors just working through my piece for free, you know, like this whole thing is completely free for the writer. We call it a gift from our community to the writer. It's like throwing a surprise birthday party for a writer every week, like they come in and the food, the decor. The scripts

spk_2:   21:15
were named five year

spk_5:   21:16
the movie credits on the screen like we've brought their entire script toe life, and it gets emotional for some of them because they've come in and a roomful of professional strangers have brought their piece toe life for an afternoon without asking for anything

spk_2:   21:28
in the script I did with you was about football. Yeah, and you had foot balls, you know, decorations everywhere. He had football footage on the extreme TV. You had no foam fingers. You had all this. It was just like what? This is crazy, man. The writer comes

spk_5:   21:42
in and they're just like it gives them so much energy to go to carry their project forward into the marketplace. And some of them we had resell Rosette, who's a Writers Guild member who we did a reading for. And I said, because the only the writer can invite guests to these these air private readings for the writer. So it's the actors and the writer and their guests. And I said to resell when we were getting ready for the reading, you know? Yes. So invite your team, whatever. And then she said later, she's like when you said that I said, Do I have a team on? So by the time we did the reading, she had amazing people there with energy behind the project that got to hear it come to life. It was cast by Caroline. Liam was a national board member of C S. A. And so a beautiful cast, very diverse all women. It was a really cool experience. And now that project has got all this energy moving four that otherwise it may never have had.

spk_4:   22:28
And I got to tell you, Sean, on on a macro level, there may be people listening to this podcast in other unions or even sister unions of ours who might think to themselves when you're discussing self tape or discussing classes that have, you know, higher level professionals associated or even things like this that that this would be normal, like this would be something that other unions in other ways and other industries either are getting from their unions or kind of it's a given. It's a part of it. And it may be kind of shocking, an amazing that that you've had to kind of you and Kevin be a part of bringing this toe life in the last two and 1/2 years this far into the 21st century ago. No, no, no. And you have 10 or 15 other departments of stuff that we can't go into. But there's for $45 a year.

spk_2:   23:13
That was. Apparently, there's a

spk_4:   23:14
litany of things that are available.

spk_2:   23:16
So two things I

spk_5:   23:17
want to make people aware of that $45 a year that you pay does not go back into the programming of the conservatory, which, to me is is really a shame. So all this money that we're spending to join the conservatory and that you know, the union is bringing in 100 grand plus ah year for that that money is not turned around and invested in our education for many years. It was just put into the general fund without any investment back into the right. So we have to submit our budget request through the L. A local to the national board and hope that they will reinvest the some of that money back into the conservatory.

spk_3:   23:51
So they make the money hold on. They make money off the membership fi. Yeah, and then they say, Well, we'll give you some back with your but

spk_5:   23:59
we have to go begging for it, right? It's not like we have we have. It doesn't so are so. The success of the conservatory in terms of the revenue that it brings in is not tied it all into our programming and giving us Resource is to use to develop the program so you know. But that being said will eventually change that. But I just want people to know that that money is not immediately put into the conservatory. But we have been able to expand the department's from commercial theatrical voice over young performers and improv to also singers, dancers, stunt performers, background performers, mindset classes, business classes, social media, social events. So we have tried to create a place where every constituency of our union has resource is programming education apart from broadcasters. At this point, we don't have a broadcast apart.

spk_3:   24:48
Let's get him in and I want to just say, son, because you're rattling off a lot of great information. But this is based on What's Margaret Mead's? Ah, you know it verbatim.

spk_2:   24:59
Oh, she used today. He's today market. Well, it's

spk_4:   25:01
my one of my favorite course lives there. Never never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has

spk_5:   25:08
a man.

spk_4:   25:09
That and that is you.

spk_3:   25:10
What you have done with your group that those people that I don't know, I don't have a record that I don't know. But that's what you guys have done. And I think that's what union working is done. Absolutely. Is that we helped influence a commercial contracts being successful, you're gonna You're gonna take this dinosaur. You woke it up. Your Fred Flinn some baby. You're right here in the quarry. You're working hard. You're building

spk_2:   25:33
a little better looking at Fred Flintstone. That's guide. And here too,

spk_3:   25:37
So you have great information. But I would like to know, where does this come from? Because not everyone would go. Hey, I'm a part of the conservatory and I've got these great ideas. You just don't people don't do that. What made what Your background. Where you from?

spk_5:   25:52
Well, I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I did nine plays in high school, which means I I started pursuing acting as a side hobby. Like after I graduated high school, because music was my main passion. So I had a music booking company and I played shows and, you know, have published music all over the world. And stuff is a musician. Most people know they don't know I'm a musician.

spk_2:   26:13
That was my first love. Yeah, I don't respect you as much drums getting drums,

spk_5:   26:17
bass, guitar, piano. Nice thing I'm on Spotify. I

spk_2:   26:20
toured. Really? You would actually look charming. You'll see it, but yeah, I have a charming

spk_5:   26:25
Yeah, I haven't published more music on those service is in a decade, but because when I came out here, you know, acting became my primary focus. But I also from getting involved in the acting world. Back in Minnesota, there are these predatory companies like Barbra's on John Robert Powers. John Qassam longer course will find a family at a mall and try to convince him there's a star for five grand or 10 grand or whatever it is. Yes. And I got screwed out of five grand myself is an 18 year old by one of them, and I was outraged. So I started producing these fashion shows called The Fresh Face Showcase, and I did them for four years. They were some of the biggest fashion events in the country, with 1000 attendees, 100 models, you know, visual artists, dancers, the whole thing. And the entire thing was free for the participants. And and it was all to protect people getting into the industry of acting and modeling from these predatory organizations.

spk_2:   27:17
Where did you were to do? I'm just, um, Annapolis. Or did them

spk_5:   27:19
at First Avenue, which is where Prince shot Purple Rain. Yes. And then we also did him at the Quest nightclub, which is a club that Prince owned,

spk_2:   27:27
and black one. It's all black. Yeah, First Avenue historic venue in Minneapolis at first place like

spk_5:   27:34
that. And then we didn't met another place called Myth Nightclub in 2006 but it was 40 volunteers across four departments that helped me create these shows. Um, and it got John. Casa Blanca is shut down and kicked out of the state of Minnesota. We got a front page article in the Star Tribune, so it's always been in my DNA to try to protect people when they're getting into this industry. So then when I came out here, I randomly got into commercial casting where I've been a session director for 45 hours casting directors in Los Angeles. So for the last decade, I've been helping actors book work, and I've been supporting them in the room and educating them based on what I know. And so when I was invited to come into the conservatory to teach, it was because I wrote an article for backstage where I've got something like 50 articles. There's something that I published there about standing up for your union, and it was because I had auditioned for a NFL Network series of spots, and they it was a union audition. And then I got a call from the casting director saying, Would you be willing to do it non union because they're willing to pay you, MME. Or they just don't want to do it through the Union? And I said, No, I'm a union actor. If you want me, they're gonna have to make it union. Otherwise, I'm gonna have to pass that. Four hours went by and they had changed it back to a union production to hire me.

spk_2:   28:43
Now he did

spk_5:   28:43
eight spots that ran on everyone that worked for six months. And I wrote an article about how we have the power, especially in commercial casting. If you can get all the clients everybody to agree on their first choice, nobody wants to go to their second choice. And so that got some attention from our leadership. And so they invited me in. And that's how I got involved in volunteering. I didn't ask for it. It just kind of happened.

spk_2:   29:03
It's where they get, like, the NFL, the MBA, huge unions, right? Brand huge player. You? Yeah, each player unions. And they don't know that most some of their stuff is being shot in on you. That's interesting. I don't think about that. Yeah,

spk_4:   29:17
Shawn, I have educated. I'm sorry. I have ah ah. One final question for you before we wrap up. And that's this. Since you have done all this that you put all this time into this, what is your favorite to date? professional anecdotes success story out of all of your efforts regarding the table. Reaser. With regards to I know you've got several, but the one that for the conservatory sort of stands out to you is like, Wow, because this is here now. This happened

spk_5:   29:44
well, So I want to also finished addressing the question you asked earlier with, and I'll wrap that into this one. Sure, which is that what I'm doing is not that special. Anyone of us confined a wonderful Writers Guild member or another professional writer get we all know so many professional actors anybody can put a table read together. It's just that I have been trying to make them each one better than the one we did last. So I've got a couple of years of really refining the way we do this, to sit for it to be just a sublime experience for everybody involved. But I encourage everyone to not only contact me if you're interested in participating or producing, and we also need funds. It costs me about $500 or reading to put these things

spk_2:   30:20
really well, Yeah, you know, between the food in the location is the core of this grabs doing all

spk_5:   30:24
that kind of stuff. So we're looking for sponsors and people that can help with that. But you know, it's it's Ah, it's a blessing to be able to do it. Uh, is I don't know why people don't create more of these and just assume that someone's doing these at their union, you know, like the SAG after is a member run union. If you want something, you have to make it happen. The

spk_2:   30:45
staff are there to

spk_5:   30:47
help you. But the members themselves need to create anything that you want your union to do. And you have the power to do that. I've learned that one person can make an enormous difference, but one person cannot or should not make all the difference. It needs to be people getting involved.

spk_2:   31:02
And why is that? Because we are you. Yeah. No, that's not That's like four part harmony. We're port harmony. Being involved in

spk_5:   31:10
the conservatory and teaching so many members, I got approached by the two main kind of political factions that have been controlling our union's leadership for the last 20 years.

spk_2:   31:19
Which one's your favorite? Yeah. No, I I am interesting. out of marble and

spk_5:   31:24
ideas. Not in labels, but so so for for me. Uh, they people said if you get involved in leadership, if you're on the board or whatever it is

spk_2:   31:34
you're doing, you're on the national board here on the vocal, But I'm on the L A local board. I have

spk_5:   31:38
served in every national board meeting as a replacement for Martin Sheen or Francis Fisher. Morale is one of those guys. I'm not a national board member of my own, right? Well,

spk_2:   31:45
you're also more handsome than Fred. This is very

spk_5:   31:49
kind. My mom would be very happy to hear all of this. She will, but the people said Sean, from serving on the board, you're not gonna get any more jobs or things like that. Like none of this translates into moving your career forward. And I believe they lacked imagination because I have been able to expand my relationships and network in in a way that would never have been possible in any other way, from my volunteerism. By creating value to other people and and becoming indispensable and trying to make every member I interact with more successful has supported, let them know I'm here for them. And so my success story to this date, how else would I be able to sit in a room with the people that I grew up watching and idolizing on TV than through these types of programs? Well, how could I have people coming to me casting directors coming to me? The top writers of film and TV coming to me to just share an afternoon in the most lovely way that if you want to talk about networking, how about sharing art together for 34 hours and there's no better place to meet people in a way that isn't weird and isn't at a party isn't in some kind of defensive situation. It's like so the, you know, one. It was just a couple months ago where I booked my first job as a direct result of my volunteerism, A. C s, a casting director who's helped us with with photography as well as casting Judy Boulais. You know, she actually had invited me to her house for Chai, and we talked and all this stuff about the table reads, and she said, Listen, there's a job I'm casting right now. You're not right for this role at all because they're looking for a Colin Powell type. You know, it's

spk_2:   33:20
just like you can Americans Something like that, right? You're more so. She's like, I just

spk_5:   33:25
want you to meet this this team, that's all. Are you available to come in for an audition in a couple of days? I'm like, Of course, you're gonna give me an opportunity to do my art. Of course. So I memorized the peace and worked it to death and was ready to go in and do my best. And she grabbed she. I've never had a casting director invite me in to audition like this before. She meets you out in the lobby, takes your hand, kiss on both cheeks. So good to see you take you in by the hand. Hey, everybody, it's Sean. If you haven't done your work and you get introduced like that, you could feel

spk_2:   33:54
something. That was a good thing. I did my

spk_5:   33:57
work, so I did my piece and she texted me at 7 a.m. The next morning. They make sure you act surprised when they call you to tell you booked the role. So you Indian Americans don't always get the opportunity to play like Special Forces commanders in the military, because there's not a lot of East Indian ethnic people in the military. In the armed service is so is that it's not a role I would ordinarily get a chance to play. But thanks to these relationships, I now have had the opportunity to to play this type of a character in it directly was a result of relationships made through my volunteers. And so I we need to make volunteering for your union sexy again because it is. It's so much fun to be spent. I wouldn't be sitting here with you guys. It's all come from my volunteers,

spk_4:   34:41
and it goes to show that just as you knew, working is genuine, sincere altruism actually does have payback.

spk_2:   34:52
You know, Basically, I just got into this for self serve. So when someone use their way back that way, just had you here

spk_4:   35:00
so that you could help us get a job but

spk_2:   35:01
something Yeah, that's right. I'm trying. You've all done reads for you. Thanks for all you're doing. I don't think so

spk_3:   35:07
much. Ah, for doing all that you do for, uh for us. and for the membership. And ah, good luck going forward. And

spk_5:   35:17
we'll has been such an honor to be serving with you guys. You guys have made such an important difference in the entire industry of commercials as it relates to union acting. And so I might hat is off to you literally. At this moment.

spk_2:   35:29
It is. It is often on the

spk_5:   35:30
table. I am so honored to be in your presence. I look up to you guys as mentors and I just appreciate you, including me and old

spk_4:   35:38
and everybody listening. Your local l A sack have to remember joined the damn concert

spk_2:   35:42
going with the servants or $45 for a whole year for a whole year. Stop. You didn't work, and I'm you know a word. Uh, you can go now, people. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you. Make sure you get your parking validated, Shawn.

spk_1:   36:00
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Intros
What is the Los Angeles Conservatory?
What's new at the Conservatory
Volunteering and some well-known visitors that have taught at the Conservatory
Podcast Sage
Part 2 of our episode
Writers and actors together
The nuts and bolts of making this happen
A little more about Shaan's background
Final thoughts on our union, the table reads, making it happen
Outros