Thom Michael Mulligan is a successful actor and producer. His latest short film, “The Witching Hour,” recently won Best Period Short at Silver Docs!
In This Episode
- 00:21 – Cirina introduces Thomas Michael Mulligan, a successful actor, and producer. His latest short film, “The Witching Hour,” recently won Best Period Short at Silver Docs!
- 07:11 – Thomas shares some tips on how to do self-taped auditions with a cellphone.
- 15:07 – Thomas tells an interesting story on how he started writing his first play, “Just Dirty Laundry.”
- 22:22 – Thomas talks about his film company, Film Dreams Entertainment, that he started with Lizet Benray.
- 27:58 – Follow Thomas Michael Mulligan on his social media accounts, and visit his website thommichaelmulligan.com to learn more about him.
This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I have Thomas Michael Mulligan on the line. And he is a fascinating person that I met recently. He’s an actor, producer, writer, who’s been working in the industry for a long time, has a company called Film Dreams Entertainment, and we’re going to go more into the details of all of this. And that’s going to be part one, and stay tuned very briefly for part two, which will be about the New Hope Film Festival, which he co-founded. And we want to find out, obviously, much more about festivals. So here we are, Thomas, welcome. How are you today?
Oh, I’m doing great. And thank you so very much for having me on your show. Really appreciate it.
I appreciate it. Because you’re sitting in your car talking on your cell phone.
I’m talking into my dashboard, so that’s good.
There you go. So for those listening, I pulled him over out of traffic so that he’s not talking while he’s driving, but he is in his car. So we really appreciate you doing this. So let’s start off by talking about what you do. You’re a hyphenate. What does that mean in our business?
Well, number one, I’m an actor. That’s the thing I love doing most is acting. But back in 2007, I met a guy named Joey Lanai, and I had the script called Callous. And it was a feature film script based on a true story of his life, of child abuse and family dysfunction. And I read the script and loved it. It was very raw and real. And it took a couple of years, we finally produced the film, and it did really well in the Film Festival Circuit, and so that’s the first time I produced something. My very first film was a feature film. And I’d say very successful; we won a lot of awards. And then it got distributed, it is on cable, a video on demand. And so for a first film, we did pretty well with it. So that got me into producing. And I used to read a lot of plays back east, but then I started writing these short films here in California with Lizet Benray, who I met at Halo Cinematic Acting Class.
Let’s back up and talk about you. You weren’t raised in LA, where were you raised?
I was born and raised in New York City in Hell’s Kitchen, on the west side of New York.
And my father was a dock worker, and my mom worked as a waitress. So those were the early years growing up on the west side there.
There’s good food on the west side though in New York.
I remember the small stores on the corner. My relatives were from Brooklyn, from the Italian side. And actually, my grandfather was a longshoreman. He worked on the docks as well, hauling those big hundred-pound bags of sugar.
Oh, really? Wow.
Wouldn’t it be funny they–I’m older than you are–but wouldn’t it be funny if they knew each other, that’d be funny. But yeah, it’s a great life, it’s colorful, that’s for sure, right?
Well, yeah, I would say, I’m really glad I grew up there. We were pretty poor and didn’t have very much and lived in a tenement building. But you know what, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned a lot and gained a lot, and as time went on, things got better. We got out of that area, and my father got off the docks, and things started to change. But still, I’m really happy that I did grow up there.
So when you were living in New York, when did you realize you were really creative? When you were in Hell’s Kitchen, were you a creative kid? What was life like for you?
Actually, I’ll tell you how I got started acting. My mom was a theatre actress. She was a very, very good actress. And when I was about seven years old, she took me to an audition with her, and she said, “Tommy, come on. I want you to come with me. I want you to see what this is like.” So I went with her, it was at the Hudson Guild Theatre in New York, which is a pretty, pretty good theater. And anyway, I went and my mom got cast, and they said, “Hey, we have a role for a kid. Would he like to do it?” And so that was my very first acting role with my mom on stage. And my very first line was, “Hey, Mom, give me a dime. I want to buy a cone,” that was it. That was my start.When you're taping yourself, make sure you have a vision of who you're talking to and what it is you're talking about. Make it seem believable that you’re really talking to another person. Click To Tweet
What was the name of the play?
It was called Street Scene, and this was around 1955, and the play was supposed to be set in the late 30s in New York. That’s why it was like, “Hey, Mom, give me a dime. I want to buy a cone.” Because today that wouldn’t get you anything, but anyway, I think I liked it. And I did three more plays with my mom, and then people saw me and cast me separately. So I did three or four other plays, but by the time I was 10, I was into the sports. Baseball, hockey, basketball, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. So I let acting go. And when I was 30, that’s when I started again. When I turned 30, it was like, woke up one morning and said, “I think I’m gonna move back to New York, and I’m going to start packing,” and that’s what I did.
So where did you go from New York? Because you didn’t go directly to LA, right? Didn’t you live in Pennsylvania for a while?
Yeah, I moved back to New York in the 80s and started acting in New York. And I was there until about 86-87. But I also had the apartment in New Hope, Pennsylvania. I just go out there on weekends. And then finally I moved back there, and I was there before. I left New Hope in 1994 and moved to Southern California.
So a lot of people ask me, can I be an actor? Can I be a producer? Can I be a writer and be successful in the film business and not live in New York or LA? How do you react when people ask you that?
Well, the main hubs are Atlanta, New York, and LA. Those are the three main hubs, but because of the way the industry is now, because of technology, I think there are more movies being made than ever before. And you can start an acting career almost from anywhere. For example, I was talking to somebody recently, a woman who’s in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She friended me on Facebook and started asking me how she could get in acting. I said, “Well, why don’t you do some local community theater?” Right? That would be a good way to start. And then I think Pittsburgh is only about an hour from Altoona, I said, “You could register with central casting and do background work.” So because of that, because of sites like lacasting.com, Actors Access, Now Casting, Casting Frontier, you can start acting from anywhere now.
How do you feel about the fact that auditions are being done digitally? I mean, you basically get a “call,” and you have to record a tape and upload it. How do you feel about that as an actor?
Oh, it’s interesting, because I still think in person is better but the way it is going, Cirina, and I think you know this is most of the auditions now are self-tapes first and then if they like your self-taped, then they’ll bring you in. But I’d say nine out of 10 auditions now are self-tape, that’s what I’m running into. So you got to get good at self-taping.
So do you have any tips for people about how to do that well?
Yeah, I mean, most of it being done on a cell phone, like all my self-tapes are built off my cell phone. Well, I’ll tell you something really personal, but anyway, I set it up on a tripod, and I have a little lighting kit that I bought, it’s set up in my living room. And sometimes, I can get a reader, but sometimes, somebody’s not available to read. So I will just read my lines and react to whatever the other person is supposed to be saying. And I let them know that I actually booked a couple of jobs that way, even though there was no reader. They really liked the way I came off and the way I looked. This is gonna be a little bit funny; I’ve even done a couple of self-tapes in my bathroom because the sound is great, that’s why. I have this blue like turquoise blue background, and I just recently self-tape in there, and I booked a role in a short film.
I know people are doing it in closets. A lot of people go into their cars for the sound. It’s amazing. I mean, it’s so different from the old days where you got the call, and you sat in a room with 100 people. I just worry about really talented actors kind of being maybe if their tape isn’t good. As somebody who’s been on the casting side, right? When somebody walks into the room, you can feel them; they have a presence about them. I remember reading hundreds of little boys for The Black Stallion, this was years ago, and this little kid sauntered in with his rodeo buckle on, and I said, “Well, who do you admire the most?” He said, “John Wayne,” and there’s just something about him. He had confidence, he just had charisma, and he actually ended up being flown to Hollywood and came in second for the role. He didn’t get the role, but he came in second, and he was devastated. That’s another conversation. How do you handle the nos? But I think about that when I see my actor friends who are now doing these self-tapes, and I just wish them all well. It’s kind of hard to be spontaneous when you’re talking directly to a cell phone, right?
Well, here’s the thing, Cirina, it’s hard because like I read a lot of posts from casting directors about self-tapes. They’re very picky about every little thing. Like I read one where they’re saying, “Oh, this guy submitted and, he was a good actor, but there was a wrinkle in the curtain behind him, and it was distracting.”
Oh, come on.
Now I’m thinking, “Oh, come on, come on.” But I think on a self-tape, you got to be more precise and just make sure when you’re taping yourself, especially if you’re doing it by yourself, is you have a vision of who you’re talking to, and what it is you’re talking about, and really see that person, you know what I mean? And be in the moment and forget your taping yourself. Just be like, here’s what I’m doing, here’s what I’m saying, here’s who I’m speaking to, and really feel it and see that person. Yeah, that’s it. And if you don’t like the first tape, you can take a second and third one until you feel it’s decent enough. Anyway, that’s the way I do it.
Do you think it makes a difference if somebody is reading for you, and they’re good or not good?
Well, I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I kind of know how to do it now. But sometimes, readers, you probably know this, readers don’t give you very much.
No, they don’t.
They’re just reading. And so you have to work as if they’re bringing something else. So even if I go in where I still go into an audition and as a reader, like I had one last week in LA for a feature film in Hollywood, and it was a woman reading, and it was very just like, “yeah, okay, so anyway, what happened?” But I had to work as if she was giving me something else. Anyway, that’s the way I do it.
Yeah. Well, you’re really good, you can do that.
Well, I don’t know, I try, I’m trying.
What advice do you give—and I absolutely did not intend to go on this path, but it’s so interesting because you have such a rich background, you’ve been doing it your whole life—what do you tell people who get discouraged? There are a lot of actors who are so good, and they haven’t been discovered, and they desperately want to be discovered, and they want these wonderful parts. What do you tell them to keep them going?
Well, I started this journey in 1980, so it’s been 40 years. And either I love what I’m doing, or I’m out of my mind. I’m not sure.
Well, it’s because you’re creative.
I would say first, do you really love acting? Do you really love what you’re doing? Can you make it through? Let me use this example in 83-84 in New York, and I booked eight straight TV commercials, back to back eight straight auditions. I booked those commercials. I was working in soaps, and I was getting under-fives and day players on soaps. I thought this is it; I’m taking off, and guess what, all of a sudden, for the next year and a half, I couldn’t get anything. Either if I got an audition, I wasn’t booking, or I was finally getting an audition thinking, “What the heck is going on here?” That’s the business, that’s just the way it is. So you have to have a thick skin and when you go to an audition, and if you don’t get it nine out of 10 times, you’re not going to get it. It’s just the way it is. I mean, it’s a numbers game. A lot of times, it has nothing to do with whether you’re a really talented actor actress. It has to do with looks. Maybe you have a perfect look, maybe you didn’t read as well as the other guy, or you read really well, but the other guy had the looks, and he was okay. They’re probably going to book him because he looks like the character, or maybe he sounds like the director and producer’s vision of that character. And so you have to go in, do the audition and forget about it. And it took me a lot of years. I would probably say about ten years or more ago, I finally just said, “I’m just going to audition. I’m going to go in and give it my best, be prepared, and I’m going to forget about it. And if they call me, they call me on to the next.” And that’s been my mantra now for the last ten years because you can drive yourself crazy.
Especially if it’s something you really want, and you feel like you did well, and you don’t get that call. Yeah, I understand.
I’ve gone audition Cirina where I walked down where I was really bad, and I blew it. Guess what? I booked the role. I’ve gone to audition, so I thought I nailed this man, I was feeling it, I was in the moment, didn’t get it. So there you go. That’s it. So I would just say, you got to keep the faith if it’s what you really want to do. And you have to realize that you’re not going to get every audition and most of the time, you’re not going to book it. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s just the way the business is.
You’ve done off-Broadway, you’ve done TV, you’ve done features, you’ve done a lot of shorts, you’ve done commercials. That’s pretty awesome. You started out as an actor and a writer, and the writer was mostly for theater?
Yeah. Back in 1985, I was living in New Hope, and I had a girlfriend. And one day she came to my apartment, and she saw some stuff in my files, she said, “What’s this?” She found this play; it was called Laundromat. I had started to write. I said, “Oh, yeah. I’, writing a play.” It was like 15 pages, she goes, “This is really cool. You should write this.” I said, “Yeah. I’m doing a show, too busy.” “No. I’ll tell you what, you either write this play, or we’re done.” And she meant it. She wasn’t kidding.
Good for her.
She goes, “Write this play, or we’re done.” And you know what? The next few nights, and that was 30 pages, right? And she looked at it, and she said, “Well, you got to add more.” “I’m gonna go make a copy of it.” So I was walking down the street of New Hope, I met this friend, [Paula Citra], who owns a dinner theater in New Hope, and he said, “What’s that?” I said, “Oh, it’s a play that I wrote called Laundromat.” “Oh, let me look at it.” I said, “Well, it’s not done.” “No, no, let me look at it.” He took it and called me later that night and said, “Hey, I really liked this. I want to make this the first play of the season, but you got to expand it.” And so I did, it got out to be about 70 pages. And then we started going into rehearsals. And we were making a lot of changes, and we were going along, things were changing right on set. Yeah, it premiered in 1986 in New Hope. And the final name of it was Just Dirty Laundry.I started this journey in 1980 and it's been 40 years. My biggest takeaway is either I love what I'm doing, or I'm out of my mind. Click To Tweet
I want to read this.
Because of the Laundromat, I found that there was a play by a female author called Laundromat. And then I was going to call it Dirty Laundry, but about that time, a movie came out called Dirty Laundry. So I called it Just Dirty Laundry.
And it takes place in a laundromat on Christmas Eve.
That’s wonderful. Oh, I really want to read this. So are you gonna thank your girlfriend, your former girlfriend, when you win an Emmy for your writing at some point?
Well, we haven’t talked in years, I don’t know where she is. She broke up with me anyway, but that’s a story for another time.
She kicked you where you needed to be kicked in. You got it done. So you were acting, you were writing, and then when you started Callous, as your first film as a producer, was it hard to make that transition?
Not that hard. The hard thing was committing to doing it because I had never produced any film before. And like I said, I really liked the story. And I thought it should be told because I thought it could help people. And the guy who wrote it lived it; it was his life story. And I just thought, we got to do this. And so we talked to a lot of investors, and they said, “Hey, let us know when you’re ready to film. We’ll sit and talk with you.” And it took a couple of years because he was booking a lot of roles, I was booking a lot of roles and finally were like “Are we going to do this?” “Let’s just do it.” And we decided to move ahead, and that was in 2007. Of course, none of the investors that we had spoken to the previous year were interested in investing. So one of it is I wanted to put most of the money up for it and took money out of my life insurance twice, and went into credit card debt. I don’t know how he did his part. And we did it, we got the movie done, we shot it in 22 days, 14 straight days, three days off for the cinematographer’s wife had the first baby, and then we shot. We shot three more days and then five separate individual days, so 22 days total. It was kind of unnerving and thinking, Okay, how is this going to come out? How’s it going to be received, but we won like five or six best feature film awards. And then it got picked up for distribution, and it was on video on demand for about two years, and then it was on, like 35 cable outlets in the US and Canada for about two years.
That’s awesome. So what was the hardest part for you about producing? I’m a member of The Producers Guild, and I really respect that job a lot. When you kind of jumped in with both feet, and you had to do it, what was the hardest part for you to learn?
Well, there’s a number of things. First of all, overseeing because I was in the film, I was one of the co-stars, but I was also the executive producer. And so I had to make sure everybody was happy, I had to make sure the crew was doing well, all the actors. We had about 40 different locations.
Oh c’mon, seriously? Woah.
Cirina, I will never do it that way again.
That was my question. I was gonna say, Would you ever do that again?
No, I would not do it that way again unless I had the money upfront. I had the budget set.
But I will say this, and we did plan everything out, we set a shooting schedule, we had a shot list, we got somebody to do storyboards. I mean, we did it as pro as we could. And I think that’s why for a first feature, it came out pretty well. And actually, in 2009, the first year of the Oceanside Film Festival, we won best picture their very first year of Oceanside.
Oh, that’s awesome. So tell me about your journey with film festivals. Well, we are going to talk about film festivals in the next segment, but for Callous, how was that? That’s expensive, right? I mean, you have to pay every time you apply, and then you have to fly in. How was it back then?
I will tell you what happened. So we sat down after the film was ready to go. We sat down, Joey, and I made a plan. And we selected, I think it was like 30 film festivals, and we submitted the first 23 festivals we submitted to we got not selected notices. And we both thought, man, well, maybe we really don’t have anything here. And then all of a sudden, the next one we get in and then one after that and one, and then we start getting into festivals. But talk about perseverance and keeping the faith, 23 straight festivals we got rejected by. And then the first one we got into was the Riverside International Film Festival, and it won Best Picture.
So then that propelled you into the other ones, right? Because you could put the [laurels on it, and then you could resubmit. You obviously resubmitted
Well, not only that, but it was the fact that at Riverside they had filmed with name actors there, feature films and Callous won best picture. It was a shock, and I will tell you what, when they announced the Callous, my partner and I and his wife were like, This is unreal. After all those rejections, now I’m getting the best picture.
Congratulations. You deserve it.
Well, thank you. Thank you that helped. That helped for sure.
So, Tom, you have a film company right now called Film Dreams Entertainment, right? Can you tell me about that and what’s on the docket?
Okay. So I met Lizet Benrey at Halo Cinematic Acting Studios, where I’ve been going for the last four years. William and Kenny Wall run that. William was there presenting in Oceanside; he’s been a multiple Emmy winning director. So I met Lizet, and we had great chemistry, and one day I said to her, “Let’s do something outside of class.” and she said, “What do you have in mind?” I said, “I have something in mind.” So I always remembered this incident from my childhood when I was about five years old. Like I said, my dad was a dock worker, and one Christmas Eve, it was after midnight, and he wasn’t home, and my mom was pacing around, my two little brothers were in bed, and my mom was like, “Where’s your father? blah, blah, blah.” And all of a sudden he comes in after midnight, I’m standing there, she said, “Where were you?” he goes, “None of your business.” He was drunk, and I never forgot that. It’s The Witching Hour. “Please make me some eggs.” she goes, “Get your girlfriend and make you eggs.” “I don’t have any girlfriends.” And he tries to kiss her, and she goes, “Get your hands off me. You can’t just come home whenever you want.” Anyway, I never forgot that, so I thought I’m gonna write a film about that. And so I wrote the first three pages of it, and I showed it to Lizet, and she loved it. And she said, “Let’s do it.” And so then we together wrote the whole script but what we did was instead of setting it back in the 50s, because it would have made it more costly and everything else to have those clothes and all the other stuff. We set at the present day, and we incorporated Lizet’s story, having grown up in Mexico City. And so we made it partly her story as well.
She’s Mariela de la Rosa from Mexico City from a wealthy family. I’m Jimmy Callahan from Dublin, Ireland, a really poor guy dock worker and they meet, fall in love, get married, they have a disabled child, and her family has disowned her because they did not want her to marry below her. And she was marrying below, but Jimmy was so charming that she couldn’t resist his Irish charm, that kind of a thing. Anyway, that’s how it started, that’s how the film was developed. And we wrote it and produced it and co-starred in it and filmed it in 2017. And we’ve been having a pretty good successful festival run with it.
And it’s called Witching Hour, right?
The Witching Hour. So, where do people go to find out more about The Witching Hour?
You can go to my website thommichaelmulligan.com. If you just Google The Witching Hour, stuff will come up.
Yeah, that’s awesome. So do you know what the future plans are for it? Where do you think it’s going to be going in the next year or so?
Well, in a couple of weeks, we just got into the Silver State Film Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s a pretty big festival; it will be screening there on Saturday, September 7.
Yeah, so if you’re in Las Vegas, Saturday, September 7, go to the festival and watch the film. That’s great.
Yeah, the silverstatefilmfestival.com is the website, and you can check there for tickets, etc. So yeah, I’ll be out there, Lizet and her husband, my family will be out there, and it should be a fun screening.
So do you still play roller or ice hockey?
I sure do. I skated this morning.
Did you really?
But let me tell you, I was very cautious today because I did not want to get hurt and miss this interview.
Oh, I call it the fear of falling.
Well, I love hockey. I coached peewee hockey for 15 years in Oceanside, that tri-city Hockey League. And that’s something I love, that was my way of giving back to my community of Oceanside. And I loved it, but it hit a point where I was getting so many acting things happening, I was missing practices and games. Not that this is not fair to the kids. And so five years ago, I just walked away. I really miss it, maybe someday I’ll go back to it, but I just don’t have time. I can’t do anything. But I do miss it, and I really do, I love those kids.Talk about perseverance and keeping the faith. We got rejected by 23 festivals. On the first one we got into, we won Best Picture. Click To Tweet
Oceanside, as a creative community, is really improving. I mean, what Carly and Lou have done with the festival and with everything happening at Oceanside. There’s a feeling when you walk through that small town. That’s just creative stuff coming out at you from everywhere. I love that.
Yes. Look, I get to meet you, right? There are so many talented people in Oceanside, just Oceanside alone.
Yeah, I met you. I met you at the Oceanside Film Festival, and it was great talking with you. That is the whole purpose of what I do with OWC Radio. And I have to thank Other World Computing because by sponsoring the show, they let me create a forum where creatives can have a voice, and I can share the amazing work of my friends all around the world, and I love it. So big kudos to OWC and Larry O’Connor and the whole team there. So, where do people go to find out more about you as an actor?
Is that under your name?
Okay, awesome. Yeah, I wonder what’s next for Instagram. I’m wondering how long Instagram is going to last because it seems to be peaking, but it’s still very popular. That was one of those noodling that I do at five o’clock in the morning, you know?
Well, let me tell you this. Let me share this with you. And this is good for other actors or actresses or people in the industry that might be listening. Lizet was the one that got me on Instagram because it was already enough with Twitter and Facebook. She goes, “No, this is about two and a half years ago. You got to get on Instagram.” Okay, I got on, and I have to tell you, I booked two feature film projects from production companies that found me on Instagram. They started liking my post, and they started commenting, and then I got direct messages by both companies saying, hey, I really love your stuff, checked out your demo reel. You’re a great actor. I got cast into SAG feature films because of Instagram.
And so I tell my friends, my friend was like, “Ah, yeah.” No, start posting on Instagram. And the other thing too, Cirina, is when you post, don’t just totally make it about you, like trying to make it about other people as well. Include other people in your post; say something about other people. Anyway, that’s the way I do it. People are finding me, especially on Instagram. It’s crazy.
I could talk to you all day. We’re gonna close out part one, and I’m going to thank everybody for listening. This is Cirina Catania. I’ve been interviewing Thomas Michael Mulligan about his acting, producing, writing career. And stay tuned for part two; we’re going to post very, very soon where we will be talking about the New Hope Film Festival and how to get your film to be successful on the film festival circuit. Thank you so much, everyone, for listening. Remember what I tell you every day, get up off that chair and go do something wonderful.
- Thomas Michael Mulligan
- Thomas Michael Mulligan – Facebook
- Thomas Michael Mulligan – IMDb
- Thomas Michael Mulligan – Instagram
- Thomas Michael Mulligan – Twitter
- Thomas Michael Mulligan – YouTube
- Actors Access
- Casting Frontier
- Casting Networks
- Halo Cinematic Acting Class
- Hudson Guild Theatre
- Joey Lanai
- Larry O’Connor
- Lizet Benray
- New Hope Film Festival
- Oceanside Film Festival
- Other World Computing
- Riverside International
- Film Festival
- Silver State Film Festival
- Street Scene
- The Black Stallion
- The Producers Guild
- The Witching Hour
- Consume as much creativity as you can. Look at different kinds of art, read more books, listen to different genres of music, watch various styles of film, and internalize what each masterpiece portrays.
- Train yourself to become more creative. You become what you consume and you get better with constant practice. Keep creating art and improving your craft.
- Consider living in the main hubs of show business so you get to live loser to auditions. In the US for example, the popular locations are Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.
- Join the local theatre scene to hone your acting skills. Aside from acting, you get to meet local talent who share the same passion.
- Utilize the Internet to share your talents. Social media sites are a great way to gain exposure and connect with your audience.
- Keep perfecting your self-taping skills. Your audition serves as your first impression in the industry. Use a tripod, invest in a high-resolution camera, and ensure good light and sound quality when recording video auditions.
- Make sure you’re doing what you love because it’s never going to be easy. In fact, show business isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re not 100% invested in it, you might as well find another path.
- Be resilient and don’t be easily discouraged. There will be more no’s than yeses when auditioning for a role. At the end of the day, show business is a numbers game and if something is meant to be, it will not miss you.
- Develop a “thick skin”. Know your worth and set your boundaries. At the end of the day, it’s still business and you need to be wiser with the moves you make.
- Visit Thomas Michael Mulligan’s website to learn more about acting, producing, and the world of show business.