July 1, 2015

The Time I Accidentally Worked Naked For Free

                     Ella Steinbeck

This could be my BIG break. It wasn’t.

By Ella Steinbeck, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

[Ella Steinbeck is a stand-up comic, writer, and accidental exhibitionist for famous people.]

After doing stand up for about 2 years I got a call from a friend. He had given my name to a manager who was scouting for “the principal female role in an upcoming movie”. They had scoured both coasts and still hadn’t found the girl they needed. If you are coming to Ella Steinbeck after scouring both coasts then you are really scraping bottom of the barrel. I WAS ECSTATIC! I felt important.

I was in Las Vegas visiting friends when I got the call. They sent me the entire script, not just the usual 2 or 3 pages of sides. I had to audition with the first 13 pages. OMG! That’s a lot of pages. I rehearsed for 5 days in my hotel room. Met with an acting coach for an hour and then shot my video. It was good. Not great. But it was a sincere effort and I still look at it and think “not bad”.

Even though I didn’t get the part, the manager liked it enough to want to continue working with me. After a couple of months she asked me to come in and meet her in the flesh. I went to her office. It was the cutest little carriage house in NYC. While I was there I met her cats, her son and 2 other much younger and much more talented individuals who were also meeting our “manager” for the first time. She went on and on to them about how awesome I was and as I glanced at the resumes of the 2 young people there I kept thinking “boy, I am out of my league”. These two had training and credits and were the real thing. Who was she trying to convince that I had any reason being there? Herself or them?

After our meeting the manager would call me periodically to go on auditions. Once she called me to go on an audition for a touring musical. It was Rent or Cats or Hairspray or Le Miserable or Phantom of the Opera. I can’t remember. I don’t sing or dance. I tell jokes. I am average at doing that. She said, “just do the best you can”. I wanted to say “what are you talking about? Are you out of your mind” but instead I told her “I don’t sing or dance. A boyfriend once paid for me to take singing lessons just so I could sing along to the radio. It’s really not a ‘do my best’ kind of situation”. I swear to you that I did take singing lessons for radio sing-along purposes. I am seriously tone deaf. I try to play it off as being cute but I can guarantee that anyone who has heard me wail to Tool’s “Prison Sex” would not call my vocal training a “success”. 

A few months later she calls me for a Virgin America commercial looking for whacky talents. I asked her if she was sure I should go there and do my stand-up for the audition. Her reply “hmmm….can you spin plates or something?” NO. I CAN’T! I am not a ceramic juggler or a spinner. I can’t make fun balloon animals or swallow razor blades. I must be such a disappointment to this woman. Sometimes I send her roles I would like to be submitted to. Ones that seem more suited to what I can actually offer and play to my strengths but I never hear back.

I almost forgot, I did get one gig from her. I didn’t end up getting paid and I had to be totally naked. Well, to be fair, not TOTALLY. It was for fashion week in NYC. The designer, Tara, asked if we were ok being partially nude. I’m fine with that. Nude, fully nude, whatever; I don’t care as long as the role pays. I FINALLY booked a job! 

We were told it was TFC, trade for clothes, COOL! I get clothes instead of money?!?! I went the next day for the fashion show’s fitting. I was given a pair of flesh colored Payless Shoe Store heels for the day of the show. I am told that I will be wearing a dress made of glass and that my body will be distorted by the placement of the glass and videos being projected over my body. The day of the show I get there early and a man asks me to come into the bathroom and try on my outfit. By “outfit” he meant “hernia garment”. I was not familiar with hernia garments and I don’t remember them ever being mentioned at the fitting. 

They are a crotchless piece of elastic fabric that cradles the butt cheeks with a strap on each side and has a thick wide band that goes across the stomach. Nervously I put it on. He then places, with fishing line, what looks like a light bulb in front of my most private of parts. I am wearing a glass globe on my crotch and am totally nude otherwise. Ok. I can do this. I am getting free designer clothes. He checks with Tara, the designer, she doesn’t like the glass. “No glass”. One girl did get to wear an actual dress made of glass. She looked beautiful, like some kind of fairy princess. The rest of us, 8 other girls, wore a hernia garment. NO glass. The video projection did not camouflage us in any way whatsoever.

Everyone with a camera and iphone was snapping pictures. If you look online they are still there sitting in people’s fashion blogs. A couple of pics even made it to the Vogue Italia website. Chloe Sevigny, the director from The King’s Speech, and a guy from 30 Rock all saw us the way God made us. Hey, maybe they will remember me for that part they need to cast in the movie they are making and just can’t find the “right girl”. 

You never know. I could be discovered. You hear about these things happening. This could be my BIG break. It wasn’t. We never got free clothes or compensation of any kind. I emailed and called my manager and the designer. I was told that the shoes were my TFC. Great. Free Payless shoes. The message is clear…unless I learn to sing and dance and do acrobats the sum of my career in show biz will be full hernia supports and a closet full of free BOGO Payless shoes. Maybe if I really hit it out of the park someone someday will finally let me have some light bulbs for my crotch.

June 4, 2015

A Step Forward For Female-Driven Comedy

Caterine Moure

An Interview with Producer Jessica Elbaum

By Caterine Moure, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

[Cat Moure is an aspiring producer/comedian currently stuck in Florida until graduation. Find out if she makes it out alive by following her on Twitter @catmoure.]

The underrepresentation of women in the making of comedy (and film production in general) is no new discussion, but it’s a discussion that is gaining more attention, and with all that attention, there is more action being taken in solving this gender discrepancy.

Jessica Elbaum, producer of Bachelorette and executive producer of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, is one of the people that is taking action. After working under Will Ferrell’s and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions for 11 years, Elbaum learned the inner workings of the comedy world as an executive, and noticed an absence of women in the field that she wanted to address.

She hesitated when deciding to pitch the idea of a female-centric and driven production house.

"At the time that I produced Bacherlorette, it was a project that meant working with many amazing and talented women. I was out of the ‘dude environment.’ And I love working with Gary Sanchez and I will continue to in the future, but I started thinking about this idea of a company that would focus on women and give more opportunities for all the talented women in comedy to make film. I started thinking: why has no one come up with this? Are there enough opportunities for women to direct and write comedies?"

And it wasn't until a certain power in comedy told her to "go big or go home" that she took the leap of faith.

"Amy Poehler gave me the confidence to go forward with the project. She told me to do something big and do something important, and to do the things I believed in. Her saying that to me was so inspiring. Coming from someone like her, who has been so successful and has been such a prominent woman in comedy, it meant everything. Will and Adam couldn’t have been more supportive from the start, but hearing it from a woman, especially someone like Amy, gave me an extra push."

Elbaum’s idea hears criticism for isolating women in the comedy world. But she iterates that differentiating male and female comedy is not the purpose of this female-driven production company, which was named Gloria Sanchez Productions in correlation with Gary Sanchez.

Instead, the idea is for the company to act as a pipeline for women into comedy production. She assures critics that her vision for the company is bigger than the simplified male-or-female-comedy conversation.

"My vision for Gloria is to make good comedy. I'd rather not have that conversation about male or female comedy, but the statistics are there and women are underrepresented. Until that changes, we have to have some conversation. There's no real business model for Gloria but to make good movies. I went with my gut and thought about the market. It's a great time for something like this."

She was right. After Gloria Sanchez's launch last February, the company received a great response from critics and an influx of industry professionals interested in becoming a part of the project.

Already the company has produced Welcome to Me directed by Shira Piven starring Kristen Wiig and also produced Sleeping With Other People directed by Leslye Headland and starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis, in theatres August 12th of this year.

Ms. In The Biz Reviews Women in Comedy Festival

Tanya Perez in Resuscitation! A Love Story

Read This Great Write Up By WICF Filmmaker and Performer.

With 170+ contributing female bloggers, Ms. In The Biz is read in 193 countries with new posts Monday to Friday!

Founded by actress/producer/writer Helenna Santos, Ms. In The Biz is the premium online destination for women in entertainment who are looking for a positive community that shares resources, imparts wisdom, and fosters success.

With the firm belief that we are all stronger together, and seeing a need for a collaborative community of like-minded women in entertainment, Helenna created Ms. In the Biz as a hub for the next generation of female Hollywood Power Players.

About Tanya Perez

Tanya Perez is a recovering bicoastal actress currently living in NYC. Some of her TV and film credits include Orange Is the New Black, Blue Bloods, Madam Secretary, Hal Harltey's Ned Rifle and The Girl from Monday, ABC Family's Jane By Design and Law & Order. Her most notable stage appearances were in Seattle Rep's production of Anna in the Tropics, Sonia Flew at both CATF and Laguna Playhouse, and her sold-out solo show at the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Her self-produced webseries Itty P & DJ Model-T was nominated for two StayTuned TV-ITVF awards for Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy. She is also incredibly talented with balloons, laughs inappropriately during movies, and loves her four-legged roommate Tia Tortilla.

May 1, 2015

Have You Seen The New Webseries 'Meals With Mary'? It's Hilarious!

Search for Mary Dolan on facebook and like her!

MEALS WITH MARY, an irreverent new cooking webseries, premieres February 25th, right here at www.mealswithmary.com! Tune in for deliciously easy recipes and wild and wacky antics, all led by the inimitable Mary Dolan - a bizarre lovechild between Dame Edna and Ina Garten. The 8-episode first season tracks the fabulous foul-mouthed ex-vaudeville star and her uptight co-host, a camera-shy chef named Ruby Parker, as they make delicious food and delectable drama. Led by their hapless producer Kaz, this unlikely trio battles through the ups and downs of making a cooking show, including near-fires, drunken fights, and a budding on-set romance between Kaz & Ruby. Through it all, Mary teaches them, and us, that cooking is not just about food, it's also about feelings.

Created by Satya Bhabha (NEW GIRL, KEY & PEELE) and Petey Gibson (TRANSPARENT), this hilarious & helpful new series brings us such episodes as ‘Get a Boyfriend, Make Him Lunch: Roast Beef Sandwich & Cheesy Kale Chips’ and ‘KimoNo You Didn’t: Soba Noodle Salad & Homemade Miso Soup.’ Director and co-writer Bhabha says “Creating Meals with Mary was an amazing process… even though Mary tried to ruin me at every turn.” Gibson agrees, “Yeah, Mary’s a real piece of work. The food was good, though.”

Ms. Dolan, ex-vaudevillian and a self-described “trifecta of song, dance, and very good looks”, couldn’t disagree more. “They were lucky to have me at all! I’ve cooked post-sex breakfast for Bing Crosby for Chrissakes!!”

April 24, 2015

'Open House' wins BEST COMEDY SHORT at WICF Film Night at The Brattle Theater

Carrie Barrett and Herbert Russell
Congratulations to Deb Hiett on winning Best Comedy Short at the 1st Annual WICF Film Night on Wednesday, April 22nd at The Brattle Theater.

About the film:
A twisted look at what happens when a house-hunting couple and a real estate agent have a truthful conversation (listening not required).
Watch it here: Open House

A little bit about Deb Hiett:
Deb Hiett
Writer/Actress/Accordionist Player Deb Hiett created short comedy films "Open House" (voted "Best Video Short" at iOWest's Funny Women LA Festival) and "A Bit of Counseling" (Audience Choice Award recipient in the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival, Palm Beach International Film Festival, and Over The Fence Film Festival). Deb's newest stage play "Holding" is a semifinalist in the 2015 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. In reviewing one of her original one-woman shows, New York City's Village Voice called her "the bold new voice in solo . . . a sure-shot writer." As an actress, Deb has appeared in "Arrested Development," "The Comeback," "Parks and Recreation," and "The Office," among many other shows, plays, commercials, and films, and was a founding member of the performance group "Orson Welk." DebHiett.com

'Death, Taxes and Apple Juice' wins Audience Favorite at WICF Film Night at The Brattle Theater!

Hannah Perreault and Claire Dauge-Roth
Congratulations to Tamar Halpern on winning The Audience Award at the 1st Annual WICF Film Night on Wednesday, April 22nd at The Brattle Theater.

About the film:
Two little girls try to figure out the meaning of life while preparing their taxes and drinking chardonnay.

A little bit about Tamar:
Tamar Halpern
Tamar Halpern wrote and directed the feature Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life starring Mira Sorvino, Michael Urie and Joe Pantoliano. Previous features include Shelf Life, "a whip smart film" (Variety) starring Betsy Brandt of Breaking Bad and the Michael J. Fox Show, and the documentary, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and releases theatrically 2014-2015. www.tamarolandpictures.com

April 15, 2015

Love Funny Conversations? Check Out This New Web Series!

Web Series 'Conversations with Courtney' Has Its Host Talking With Famous Comedians On The Comedy Circuit

[Originally from Washington, D.C., Courtney Black is a sexy smarty with 2 Bachelor of Science degrees. But making people laugh is what this lady really has down to a science. The comedian shares her witty views on life, love, and adapting to the carefree ways of living in

About the Web Series:

The perfectly imperfect Los Angeles based comedian Courtney Black has a new web series titled “Conversations with Courtney” releasing every Wednesday. Living in Los Angeles and being a fixture on the comedy circuit enables Courtney to run into some interesting & more-famous-than-herself individuals. The series is funny, informative, and honest. Let’s see who Courtney has a conversation with next!

Check Out Some of these 'Conversations with Courtney'

Hannaibal Buress

Tiffany Haddish