Tony Doupé is a familiar face to Washington film industry professionals. As an actor he’s won roles in no less than 9 Washington incentive productions since 2011! He’s also starred in 2 projects that were awarded funding assistance from the Filmworks Innovation Lab, Box Walk and The Maury Island Incident. He teaches production as Head Faculty for the Shoreline Community College Performance Arts and Digital Filmmaking program and works with the newly formed Shoreline Film Office to help attract film business to the area. This June, Doupé shared his valuable insight about the film industry with the 253Film Collective, a group of filmmakers dedicated to fostering a vibrant and sustainable film and media community in Tacoma by encouraging, mentoring, and promoting local filmmakers and businesses.
While directed towards filmmaking in Tacoma, Doupé’s sound advice holds water in any jurisdiction. The following is a reblog of the 253Film Collective’s June 12 post.
While traveling to last week’s 253Film meeting from his Shoreline stomping ground, actor/director Tony Doupé was reminded immediately of his passion for the South Sound. “I love this town. I’ve worked here a number of times. There are so many beautiful exposures here.”
His admiration for T-Town helped form the basis for Tony’s discussion about the business and politics behind building a thriving arts community, much like the one he’s working toward in Shoreline. He recommended a three-point approach to building a thriving, sustainable business in Tacoma.
First: “Get to know the people who control access to the streets [of Tacoma] and things will happen a lot faster,” he implored. “I’ve seen how quickly things can happen when you have [politicians and city officials] on your side. Sometimes you have to make a few compromises… but they seem to get more doors open than just artists.”
Second: “Create opportunities for students. Combine the [film] community with local educational institutions… When you do this, I’ve found it’s hard for [politicians and city officials] to say no.”
The third thing? “Have a strategic plan. Something you’re working toward. In Shoreline, we’re working to create studios… space dedicated to production. It’s something they [politicians and city officials] see that they can sell to big business. They love that stuff.”
Switching gears to the artistic side of film, Tony spoke about auditioning, leading off with the process from an actor’s perspective. He emphasized the need for preparation above all else. “If I do my work [as an actor], I have nothing to apologize for. I’ll probably do something very interesting. It may not be ‘right.’ It may not be what [the director] wants. But I don’t really care… It took me a long time to get to that point.”
As a director, his expectations complement that notion. “When I’m directing something, I want to see actors who… tak[e] the material that was given to them, hav[e] no expectations of me as a director, [and show me] how it inspired them.” He feels the experience on both sides of the casting table informs each individual persona of himself. “Actors want to please… Directors should try to give them that opportunity.”
While actors and directors vary widely in both experience and talent, the consensus from the room was that every audition should be a safe, creative atmosphere where experimentation and collaboration are encouraged on both sides of the table. In the end, this alliance not only helps to create the solid foundation necessary for a successful film, it contributes to a heightened respect for each of the different disciplines.
“The higher we raise our game at all levels,” Tony concluded, “the better we make our films.”
Tony Doupé is a director and SAG-AFTRA actor with more than 25 years experience. His feature credits include Lucky Them with Thomas Hayden Church and Toni Collette, All I Want Is Christmas with Elliot Gould and David DeLouise, The River Murders with Ray Liotta and Christian Slater, and Safety Not Guaranteed starring Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza. He’s also been a guest star in TV series such as Grimm, Leverage, and Northern Exposure. Tony has been teaching and coaching actors both privately and at the college level in Seattle and Hollywood for nearly 15 years.