My AMTC Journey
God gave me the tools and resources to go through Shine in the Summer of 2015 and He has asked that I share the journey with you. Here is my journey and some helpful tips and advice to those attending Shine in the future. It is broken into sections so depending on which part of the process you are in you can scroll to the relevant portions.
I found out about AMTC from a billboard in Green Bay, WI. I was there on an assignment for work. I had always been interested in acting and filmmaking but never felt that it was a plausible field to pursue. But God had placed this desire on my heart and tapped me on the shoulder when I saw the billboard. So I wrote down the website to look up later. Later happened to be 5 months later when I found the website in my notes. The next audition was that weekend and I signed up. I was nervous and didn't know what to expect. The speaker, Jaco, spoke so passionately that I knew I was in the right spot. Of course I was shy at first but I had prepared a monologue and put my brave face on. After leaving the audition I prayed "God, if this is want you want me to do and it is your will please have them call me back." The next day at about 10am I got a callback and my journey began. Here is my advice for the AMTC audition.
1 Bring a pen, pad of paper or notebook, and some snacks. You'll be there for a few hours and you'll want to keep your energy up.
2 Have a 20-30 second monologue memorized and prepared. (this is for everyone not just those interested in acting!)
3 If your a singer or dancer, have something prepared. (if not you get stuck singing Happy Birthday-which you sing anyways but having something else is best)
4 If your a model, watch videos of women or men walking the runway and copy them using a hallway in your house. Remember to stand up straight and keep your eyes forward.
5 If your interested in multiple areas let them know and audition for that as well. (some people can receive a callback for one thing but not another so might-as-well just try everything)
6 Go into the orientation with an open-mind and an open-heart. This is a training program with great connections and opportunities. They are very open and honest with you about everything (which most similar companies are not).
7 RELAX! Take a deep breath and be yourself. This will be one of the nicest auditions you will go to in your career. This company is filled with love and wants to help you use your talents for great things.
8 When it's over, PRAY and do your RESEARCH! (they encourage this and so do I)
9 Whether you get a callback or not, do not stop pursuing your dreams. In this industry you will hear "no" a lot more than you hear "yes". Its about how you overcome the "no" that is a character builder.
The in-person and online training was great. I got to fellowship with other Christians in the area and learn from them. There were so many talented people during my first training weekend that I felt so many things at once, some negative and some positive. Things like; "I'm not as talented as them" "I must be talented if they picked me with these super talented people" "I wished I sounded/acted like them" "I'm not as pretty/thin as all these girls". You name it I thought it! But the weekend was filled with a lot of information and practice, all of which prepared me for the Shine convention in Orlando. Here is my advice for the AMTC training weekends.
- Bring a pen, a pad of paper or notebook, a couple water bottles, snacks and a lunch. You may meet people there and go somewhere close for lunch, but it's always good to save money where you can.
- Wear comfortable clothes! You will be moving around all day so be prepared with good shoes and a sweater you can layer in case it's cold.
- LADIES: Bring high heels for your runway practice. Everyone will learn to walk the runway and they will ask that ladies wear heels.
- Read your online modules before going! Nothing was worse than having to listen to everyone ask the questions that were already answered in the online materials. (Parents make sure your kids are learning the online material along with you)
- Have fun, let your creative juices flow and make lots of friends. It will be uncomfortable at first but making connections at these training weekends will help you feel more comfortable performing and at Shine.
- Get the phone number's of those that live near you so that you can get together and practice with them. (friending on FB works too)
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE and more PRACTICE! Get people together at a coffee shop, a park or someone's house and practice everything from runway/slate to cold/scene read. Develop characters and learn to make choices, even if you feel awkward. Then give each other honest feedback. No one is going to get better if you sugarcoat everything. If their pronunciation was poor or you couldn't hear them TELL THEM! Don't be mean, just be honest and helpful so that when it's your turn they will give you good feedback as well. (I wish I had done more of this, especially character development)
- Find people that your comfortable sharing a room with at Shine. The rooms are expensive so splitting it up is always a way to go! They usually allow up to 3 performers to a room.
- BOOK YOUR TRAVEL ASAP! Shine is during peak travel times of the year so the sooner you buy your plane tickets and reserve your room the better! Plan to be in Orlando the Saturday before Shine (I'll explain why in more detail later).
- Try new things and challenge yourself! Even if you didn't get a callback for dancing or singing but your interested in doing it, when those coaches come around to pull people back...go with them! The worst that can happen is they say "no". I had one friend that went in for singing the last training weekend before Shine and the singing coach said she was great but could use some fine tuning however it was so close to Shine that there was no way she would be prepared enough. She missed this opportunity. So speak up right away!
- Set up a Facebook page (must-do, parent do this for your kids), a Twitter (optional) and a website if you can (I used wix.com). You can document your journey on your FB page/Twitter/website and as you get further into the business you'll be glad you did this now. This will also come in handy when you make your business/promo cards after your photoshoot (to be discussed next).
- Set up a professional email account, usually with just your name. No silly hotchick@gmail email addresses allowed in this business! You don't have to put "actor", "model" or "singer" in the address, just your name is fine. This should also be something simple you could tell someone over the phone, so you don't want it too long or complicated. Some options I find that are best "first name MI last name" (no spaces or dashes, periods are fine) "first name.last name" "first name MI last initial" The combinations are endless just make it easy to remember and repeat to someone, you don't want to miss any important emails. Remember to check this email frequently (2-3 times a day, especially when your submitting for roles).
- Start researching your VIPs now. A lot of the same VIPs (or at least the same companies) come to each event. Create a word document with their website and interesting things that you find about them. Doing this a little bit will help you when your getting close you Shine, instead of freaking out you will be prepared and confident. Split the list up with some friends or your roommates for Shine so no one is overwhelmed. Reach out to some AMTC Grads to get some "insider information" on them (pm me on FB I'm always happy to help!- with any questions not just VIPs).
The photoshoot was one of my favorite things.The photographers are very friendly and they give you great advice and direction. Clothes are always the toughest part but luckily they pick out what you'll wear!
- Practice being comfortable in front of the camera. Grab a friend and a camera, go to the park or pick a room in your house, and take pictures of each other. Take full body pictures. Do this to see what your best side is, what poses you like and to help you be aware of your body. Make sure your standing up, your chin is out and down (chicken neck), ladies make sure your knees are together, guys don't puff yourself up. (Posture is important so practice sitting and standing with good posture...you'll also come across as more confident)
- Look in magazines or on google images to see how people model in photos then try to recreate the look. (I so wish I had done this!)
- Days before your shoot (don't wait until the night before like I did) try on all of your clothes in your closet. Dresses, slacks, shirts, shorts, belts, hats, and everything else. Don't bring items you don't fit in, don't feel comfortable in or don't like because they will choose those guaranteed!
- No clothes with logos. Solid shirts are best for headshots. If you don't have solid shirts I bought a bunch of gem colored t-shirts at Wal-Mart for $5 each. This is a great investment because you can wear them to auditions later as well.
- Pack all of your clothes into large suitcases. I recommend packing your clothes on the hangers if you can, this will save you time when you have to unpack and repack there. They provided hangers but since I did this on my own it saved me a lot of pain and anguish.
- ACCESSORIES- pack them all (except purses)! I have a little accessories thing hanging on my door with my necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, etc. and it was super easy to pack. Bring belts that fit, scarves and hats you like as well.
- SHOES- if you can walk in them and they aren't scuffed up then bring them. Nothing with logos. Again, make sure they fit and you can walk in them (preferably for a long time- you'll wear them at Shine). If you bring shoes you don't like, that don't fit or you can't walk in they are going to choose them (not on purpose it just happens).
- Bring a pen, paper and food! You will have forms to complete, you may want to take notes on the clothes they select and you will definitely be hungry.
- Relax and have fun at the shoot. Talk to people! Your going to do a lot of sitting and waiting so bring a book or a game. Encourage others while they take their photos. They may not be as comfortable as you are OR by encouraging them you may become more comfortable when your in front of the camera.
- Purchase additional looks if you can they will come in handy later!
- Ask the style team at the photoshoot to help you pick out what to wear at Shine. Take pictures of all the outfits they pick out and write down which showcases they are for. (I took a picture of each look and then sent myself a text with a caption of what each look was for so I could reference it later)
- EXTRA- If you feel like you need a make up or hair touch up SAY SOMETHING! I wish I had. There were about 20 great photos of me but I had a hair running across my cheek. Then in other photos you could see the cracks in my make-up. These are your photos and you want to look good in them and feel good about them.
- When you get your photos, download them, save them on your computer and onto 2 flash drives. Put 1 flash drive in a safe place (fireproof box or safe) in case something happens you always have a back up. Keep the other drive on you so if you are going out for an audition but don't have a headshot you can quickly print this. Put your resume on it as well and keep it updated.
- Create your business/promo cards! You can hand these out to the friends you meet at Shine (not VIPs they get headshots) and you can use them when you are out and about networking. An example of mine is above and I highly encourage you to like my Facebook page and check out my website for guidance.
Shine Dress Rehearsal
Here we go! I was a month from Shine, I had just received my photos from my shoot (which were great), I had all my travel arrangements figured out months ago, and I had read most of the material on the online portal. Preparation at it's best. Trust me you want to be prepared! If you aren't it will show and everyone will know! This isn't a scare tactic it's just the truth. I met a lot of people that were extremely unprepared, and you'll meet them too...they stick out like sore thumbs. Dress rehearsal is sort of like a try out. Your trying out for the showcases you want to participate in. Not all showcases require coaches approval but a lot do. I recommend doing all the showcases your interested in at dress rehearsal, then whittling down the ones you definitely want to do at the end. I did all but 2 of the showcases I tried out for and one of those I wasn't approved for. Don't feel bad for me, my budget only allowed for me to do a certain amount. Here is my advice:
- Bring all of your clothes that the style team picked out for you at your photoshoot. NOT all of your clothes JUST the ones they said were a go. If you have some items you'd like to wear for a showcase but weren't approved beforehand then bring those to ask the style team that will be at dress rehearsal.
- Bring a pen, paper, water and food. (this is a common theme)
- Follow the agenda so you know how to dress because this is the time they approve your clothes as well. They will call you out if your clothes don't meet the requirements. PS- there are dressing rooms designated in the back where you can change. It gets crowded in there so be strategic. I wore the same style jeans with different colored shirts for all of my showcases at Shine so to make things easy at the dress rehearsal I wore just one pair of jeans with a comfortable undershirt and simply slipped on the different colored shirts depending on the showcase. The only time I had to use the dressing room was for the Lifestyle runway, other than that it was a quick 2 second change in the restroom :)
- Cheer everyone on! When your performing you like applause and so does everyone else. Remember your there to support each other and love one another as Jesus loves you. Be an encourager!
- Do every showcase at dress rehearsal then you can, finalize your choices at the end. Challenge yourself. Don't just do the showcases you feel are the easiest for you. I challenged myself by doing stand-up and afterward Shine everyone said "I wish I had done that!"
- Sign up for your Shine showcases before you leave and the sooner the better. You have some time but there are showcases that are limited as to how many people can perform in them.
- When you leave PRACTICE more and as often as possible!
OK now to the main event! This was such a great week. I had highs and lows which I will share with you. This was a week I will never forget and I have made friends for life. But the most important thing is it's not about what you do at Shine it's about what you do after Shine. Example: I received 1 callback at Shine and a lot of other people received none. BUT a friend of mine (they didn't get any callbacks) and I have done nothing but work on sets since we got back from Orlando! We have been so busy and are so happy doing what we are doing. Shine was fantastic and I'm so glad I did it but it hasn't defined where I'm going and the path that God has for me. I know a lot of people that got several callbacks and I'm working more than they are! actually many seem to be spinning their wheels. God knew I only needed 1 and if I had gotten more I may be spinning my wheels but I'm not, I'm soaring! You can too! no matter how many callbacks you get, it's all about what you do when you get home. Hit the ground running and don't stop! Be like Forest Gump and just keep performing because that's what you love to do (he ran but you know what I mean). Advice and tips time:
- Go to Pre-Shine! This sets you up for success for the rest of the week. You get comfortable with how things are going to run, who you can go to with questions and you get to meet other talented performers.
- STAY AT THE GAYLORD RESORT! They tell you this during the trainings but it's important you stay at the resort at least for Shine (Pre-Shine you don't need to). This will make your life a million times easier. My family has a timeshare and we were going to trade a week there but I am so glad we didn't because it would have been a major headache.
- The rooms are beautiful and a decent size but you will want to make sure you are comfortable with the people you are rooming with if your sharing a room.
- I recommend sharing a room with other performers. You can keep each other on track, pray together and encourage each other.
- THE FRIDGE IS IN THE DRESSER! When we got to the room my mom freaked out because she couldn’t find the fridge, well it’s hidden in the dresser (odd I know). It’s probably the smallest hotel fridge I’ve seen so I highly encourage you to utilize my next tip.
- Bring a cooler! Mine is in the picture with my dog next to it so you can see how big it is. It holds 52 cans but is the size of a carry-on. We had 4 ladies in my room and the other 2 took up the fridge (which I knew would happen) so I brought this cooler and my mom and I used this for our food throughout the week. We’d fill it with ice every morning and before we went to bed. It worked out perfectly!
- If your in the halls and you see the maids they are really nice. Our maid would always give us an extra water. Oh! You get 2 waters in your room per day when they clean the rooms. They are free so you can take them and use the water at the convention center to fill them. DON'T DRINK THE TAP WATER! This includes using it for coffee or food, it's really gross. I brought my own water bottle as well that I filled constantly and I'm so glad I had it.
- Bring zip-lock bags with you in various sizes (freezer, pint and sandwich). Use the freezer bags for ice, they are a lot more sturdy than the ice bags the hotel provides. Use the others for snacks and sandwiches and such.
- There are no microwaves in the rooms but there is one in front of the coffee place by the convention center that you can use. And I never encountered a line at the microwave In case your worried.
- You can't bring grills or microwaves or other cooking gadgets because it is against the hotel's policy. That being said I may have cheated a little. I don't condone my actions but I wanted hot food and I didn't want to pay a fortune. I brought a little panini grill (pictured). It's about the size of a sub sandwich and easy to clean. I bought it at Big Lots for $10 and used it multiple times before Shine (recommended). I knew it didn't make a lot of noise, didn't smoke and It worked great for us. When we used it we made sure to clean it and hide it each day so that we didn't get anyone in trouble.
- The pools are ok. Fun for kids. But you will probably only be able to go to them during baptisms and after Shine. I didn't get to go until the Sunday we got our callbacks. And after Shine I may have enjoyed the pool and an adult beverage before having to go to the airport...it was fantastic!
- Go to the store when you get to your room at the Gaylord! Make friends with someone that drove and give them gas money to take you or get a taxi. But you will want to go to the store. Some stuff you can bring with you (protein bars, oatmeal, trail mix, etc.) but you'll want some good-for-you food as well.
- There is a Wal-Mart less than 5 miles away which is the only store I went to. This is the busiest Wal-Mart I have EVER seen! So pray before you go and have a lot of patience. I've warned you but I guarantee the amount of people in this store will overwhelm you.
- For breakfasts I bought those Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches in the freezer section. I bought 2 packs of 8 and my mom and I had breakfast for each day. They were perfect! I also bought some greek yogurts to go along with these but I ended up just eating the yogurts as snacks because the sandwiches filled us up.
- For lunches I bought sandwich stuff. I don't do BP&J so I got a 2lbs thing of turkey meat, a pack of provolone cheese slices, pre-cut romaine lettuce, 2 loaves of sourdough bread and a small jar of mayo. We had the best sandwiches! I also got some cheese crackers, cherries and bananas to go along with it.
- For dinners I bought chicken strips, pork chops and hamburgers to grill. We also got a small thing of BBQ sauce. (if you don't want to do the grill thing they have already grilled chicken and frozen foods you just need to microwave)
- With all of this food and the protein bars and cookies we brought from home we were pretty much set! We even had leftover food that we gave to a family that was staying a few days extra. For this food (minus what we brought from home) we spent less than $100 for 2 people to eat for the 9 days we were there.
- Food at the hotel is expensive if you go to the restaurants. We had food at the sports bar and they have a special AMTC menu. We spent $20 for 2 meals and no drinks. I had a lunch panini from the coffee shop with a coffee cake as a late night meal and that cost me $9. Not bad right!
- They did have a little meal area set up in the convention area for AMTC people that sold food to us for a discounted rate. We shared a pizza with one of our roommates for $10 and had a thing of mac & cheese for $3 (I love Mac & Cheese so we splurged lol). If we had known this set up would be so good we wouldn't have gotten as much as we did at the store...but now you know!
- Its a lot of "hurry up and wait" which is what the industry is like, especially film sets. From being an extra and a production assistant on set I know firsthand. You'll hurry to your showcases and then have to wait in line for what feels like FOREVER! that is unless you have a low number.
- Your split into age groups. Usually 4-15, 16-30 and 31+. Depending on the showcase they may just break it into two groups 4-17 and 18+. If your closer to the higher age range then you have a lot of waiting so make friends with the people next to you, they will be your line buddies all week.
- Go to as many seminars as you can that your interested in. If you have 2 you want to go to that are at the same time, ask someone to take notes for you or divide and conquer which is what my mom and I did. I put her to work lol.
- Don't miss your morning meetings they are very important!
- Keep your phones on silent. Not just when your performing but all the time. Vibrate is fine, just make sure it doesn't ring and disrupt seminars or other performers. Be courteous please.
- If a presenter is using the projector I recommend taking pictures of the slides as they appear because some of the presenters go through them too fast to write down what was all on them.
- If you can audition for scholarships DO IT! I didn't think I was interested in going back to school but after flash interviews I became very interested and wish I had gotten a scholarship.
- Remember all your hard work and training leading up to Shine. You are prepared and you are ready to let you talents shine for God. He gave you these wonderful gifts and now you get to show them to the world. This is just the beginning so start it off with a bang!
- Showcases advice: Be yourself, be real and put your heart into your performance. You only get so long on that stage so take advantage of it...but don't be a stage hog everyone hates that, especially VIPs.
- The day everyone is waiting for...flash interviews and callbacks. Now the pressure is on. I had some good interviews and some bad interviews so here is my honest opinion and advice.
- Have your headshot and resumes already stapled and ready to go. I saw so many people that had their resumes on regular paper instead of cut down to 8X10. Also there were people that had them paper-clipped together instead of stapled. Don't be this person! I saw 1 VIP almost refuse to take a performers headshot and resume because of this.
- Dress in nice casual clothes. This is an interview, no one wants to see your cleavage or boxer shorts. Keep it professional please.
- Do your research on ALL of the VIPs not just the ones that you are interested in. I know a lot of people that only researched those VIPs they were interested in but they received callbacks from those they hadn't considered. I created flashcards with information about each VIP so while I was standing in line for my turn I could review the information about them.
- Now you will have had practice doing your elevator speech but I have different advice. I mean if your under 15 the elevator speech is perfect but older than that and you will want to hold a conversation with the VIPs. Ask them about their company, how they got into the industry, what their favorite showcase was (even if you weren't in that showcase say something good about it). Talk to them they are people. Oh and ask them for specific advice like "what type of characters do you see me playing?, what age range can I realistically play?, what ethnicities do I look like?" (I wish I had done more of this to figure out my type. I look young and I'm of mixed race so I fit an array of character types but it's difficult to narrow down your type on your own so ask away!)
- There are some VIPs that will ask you some questions and others may comment on your outfit or resume. Be prepared for anything.
- Be confident in yourself but not cocky.
There was one VIP that a lot of performers thought was rude but he happened to be one of my favorites because he was honest. This business can be brutal and a lot of people want in. A lot of people will leave Shine and the VIPs will never hear from them again and they may never do anything else in the industry, it happens. I remember this particular VIP would pull up people in the line 6 at a time instead of individually. He pulled up my group of six, collected our headshot, looked at our resumes and pointblank asked people why they wanted to (dance, sing, act, do theater, etc.) and no one gave him an answer that he liked. He said something along the lines of "you want to be in the business because you want to create material that inspires and touches others. well woohoo so does every person in this room. Tell me something that makes you stand out, something that makes you different from the last girl or guy that came up saying they had dreams of Hollywood or NYC with their name in lights. Everyone wants that, tell me why you deserve it!" It was harsh and it was honest. God said he will spit you out if you are luke warm and so will the industry. Be on fire for this. Envision your life with this as the only path you see. A quote I read not too long ago said "If you have a plan B then you will surly fall back on it. There is only plan A"
Thank you for reading my blog. I'm so glad God put it on my heart to share. Please reach out to me with any additional questions you have. If there was something you want more info on o something else you'd like to know about, let me know and maybe I'll do another blog so everyone can learn.
Love you all!
In His name and for His glory!
Your friend, Alicia.
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