Ken Feinberg has seen a lot in the entertainment industry. From acting to directing and everything in between, he has at least dabbled in it. Then he took steps and moved back to Atlanta, where he began, and opened a film academy to give back to generations of students wanting to get a good education and break in. His expertise has helped the academy build up and now, students have been part of a project to release a full length film, Santa’s Boot Camp. We got to talk with Feinberg about the film, the academy, and more. Check out what he had to say.
KRISTIN: You have a fantastic story. Let’s go back to the beginning and tell us how to first started in entertainment.
KEN: I did my first play in preschool and liked it so much I continue doing plays all through elementary school and high school. When I started college I was a premed major stop taking calculus, chemistry and acting for non-majors because I enjoyed acting. After a year of that I thought I really like film, so I switched to become a film major and a drama minor. So I continued acting and theater in college and producing and directing and acting and student films for the next three years.
KRISTIN: After years of working in films and TV shows, you moved back to Atlanta and started the Creative Studios of Atlanta Film Academy. Tell us about this process you went through to decide you wanted to do this and get it up and running.
KEN: After so many years and so many auditions as the biker, demon, convict characters, it stopped being creative for me to be stereotyped and to be the mean hateful person all the time. So in my heart I searched for something new that was creative and for filling.
KRISTIN: What exact do you all do at the academy?
KEN: here at the Academy, we train people to work as an actor primarily. We focus on business/branding as well as auditioning and performance and all the elements that go into the preparation and execution of auditions and performances because they are two different skill sets. Additionally, we produce original films so the actors can have an experiential on set acting class. We also bring in guest speakers and workshops. And sometimes we teach screenwriting, directing, VoiceOver etc.
KRISTIN: Now I’ve read that every student is given the opportunity to work on a real film during your yearlong program. Why is this such an important part for you to include?
KEN: producing an acting in a film is an important part of the program because it gives the actor and experience that you cannot create in a classroom environment. Sometimes I call it an experiential classroom. We hire professional crew and re-create an experience similar to what the actors experience when they get hired on a real job. Similarly, we have a red carpet limo graduation were actors walk the red carpet to gain experience what that’s like. Many of our actors have gone on to walk red carpets in Hollywood, and because of these exercises they know what to do on set and on the red carpet.
KRISTIN: On top of the many short films you and your students have made you recently did a full feature film called “Santa’s Boot Camp”. What’s that about?
KEN: Santa’s Boot Camp is the story about an elf strike, six teenagers and the true meaning of Christmas. The film started as a project for our actors to get experience being on set, but the story is so positive and the movie is so much fun, it’s been appealing to people outside of the film Academy. Basically, the story is about Santas elves are tired of making toys for kids who are bratty, self-centered and entitled, so they go on strike leaving Santa in such a desperate situation that he must bring six naughty teenagers to his Boot Camp to help save Christmas. I kind of see it as the Breakfast Club goes to Willy Wonka’s factory at Christmas time.
KRISTIN: The film was awarded the Director’s Gold Award at the International Family Film Festival. That must have been a great feeling for you and all the students who got to make it. What was the reaction like when you heard that?
KEN: I was completely and utterly surprised. Shocked maybe. I was not expecting the honor at all. I think I actually cried a little when they handed me the award. There is a video of my thank you speech that is included as a DVD extra with the movie because my reaction was so profound and the audience at the award ceremony he were completely supportive.
KRISTIN: When and where will we be able to catch “Santa’s Boot Camp”?
KEN: The movie gets released November 15 through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and SP Releasing. That means you can buy a DVD at target, Walmart, Best Buy etc. you can also get it streaming through video on demand in places like Amazon, iTunes, Hulu etc. In our last conversation with the distributor, they said they were still trying to get it on TV as well as Redbox and Netflix.
KRISTIN: What are some of the lessons you try and instill in your students while they are attending the academy, aside from the skills needed to be successful in acting?
KEN: Some of the skills that we try to instill in our students in addition to acting include: being OK with being yourself, supporting other people, allowing others to support you, knowing that you’re good enough, being a better listener, doing anything at 100%.
KRISTIN: Where can we keep up with you and the film academy online? Websites/Social Media?
KEN: We have a Facebook page that’s got some really good blogs on the cast and crew. We also have a website santasbootcampmovie.com.
Make sure you check out Santa’s Boot Camp on November 15th by picking up a copy in store or online. Also keep an eye out for more information about what Feinberg is up to and future projects!