“Grown-up” jobs are tricky. While some people thrive in their professional careers, others discover something’s missing. And for Amanda Victoria Moore, that missing piece was acting.
After graduating in business and music at Mount St. Mary’s College, Amanda snagged a gig in advertising. It seemed like the logical path to a stable career, but as years passed she became increasingly unhappy. “I realized how unappreciated and used I felt at my job,” she says. The arrival of a new creative director renewed her motivation and interest in the business, but soon enough Amanda found herself listless again. “I was tired of hiring talent that I felt I could do better than,” she says. As she reviewed actors’ auditions for the agency’s TV and radio spots she realized, I could do that — no, I should do that!
For Amanda, a steady income wasn’t as attractive as doing what she was inspired to do. “I wasn’t going to ignore who I was anymore because of some paradigm of ‘this is what you’re supposed to do,’ because I feel like now in our society those rules don’t necessarily apply anymore,” she says. There was no point in being miserable at a job that barely paid the bills. Amanda sought to strengthen her acting ability and join a community of like-minded creative people, and she found that environment at Playhouse West — the same place Jim Carrey, Michelle Pfieffer and James Franco honed their skills. Her first time there, she audited a class. And it felt like destiny.
“When you know you’re meant for something more,” Amanda says, “you can’t lie to yourself any longer.”
Coincidentally, Amanda was laid off from her job two months later, but she wasn’t worried. She gained focus and strength in finally knowing her path, and while she studied at Playhouse West she was able to sustain herself with a part-time job and living at home.
Amanda is thrilled by the freedom filmmakers have these days. They don’t have to rely so much on studios to get their films made, distributed and consumed. Online platforms such as Kickstarter allow independent filmmakers to fund-raise their projects with the support of their communities and interested backers from around the globe. What’s more, the possibilities provided by self-broadcasting on YouTube and Vimeo enable worldwide distribution of their work.
Amanda’s sketch comedy group and production company, Gibbon’s Tail, independently shot a feature film earlier this year, and was able to do so by raising the money themselves via Kickstarter. It’s given Amanda a chance to learn about other aspects of filmmaking like wardrobe, product placement and company sponsorships. The project has also offered Gibbon’s Tail the opportunity to reach a wider audience.
“If you have something to say and you can say it with passion and in a way people can relate to,” Amanda says, “then people will get behind you.”
Richard Johnson is currently in post production and will premiere at SXSW next year.
Alisa Damaso: What is your view on the current prevalence of sensational movies that lack story? Where do you think Hollywood is headed when visually striking films fall short on narrative?
Amanda Victoria Moore: I think it’s kind of a Catch-22. I read a couple articles recently based on the idea that Hollywood is not in the business of storytelling anymore. And they throw bigger budgets at these huge blockbuster movies because you’re upping the percentages, therefore you’re upping your return. Hollywood makes a bigger profit off movies where the story doesn’t have to be good. I read a blog post in regards to indie filmmaking and the indie community — how true it used to be. It’s now turned into the who’s-who with big names and a bigger budgets. Sundance was a true indie filmmaker’s playground, but then it got taken over [with glamour], and Slamdance was its replacement, and now even Slamdance is going in that direction.
AD: On the LA Shorts Fest website there are scrolling head shots of huge Hollywood actors. It doesn’t really give a chance for the up-and-comers to get discovered if everyone’s always trying to look for a name.
AVM: I intern at a casting office and some of these young people that come in to read, I’m looking at their audition tapes and I’m like, “Really?!” It doesn’t always compute. And then sometimes I get discouraged, but it reminds me how important it is as an actor — especially if you don’t have an agent — to self-market, self-promote, and write and create your own projects.
So that’s why I was so lucky to find Gibbon’s Tail within the Playhouse community. It really does inspire me to create better and consistent writing habits because no matter what age you are, or what you look like, or where you’re from, creating for yourself is necessary. Just because you haven’t been cast by some major casting director or producer or director, doesn’t mean you’re not an actor.
With things like Kickstarter and indiegogo, there are at least some platforms to get your message out there, to a wider range of people. [In terms of exposure], there are good indie movies that end up going to Netflix, and there’s also a website called Mubi that is Netflix-esque, but it’s all about indie festivals and indie films.
AD: That seems like a great tool for people in the independent film industry to see what’s out there and maybe even collaborate with each other.
AVM: I think so. Also, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord — that’s a really great platform to get people together to collaborate and create. I think there will be more stuff like this — people will find ways to work around the machine, and Hollywood will have to comply, and fingers crossed that they will.