Today we’d like to introduce you to Grayson Berry.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Grayson. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Houston (my Htown friends still don’t like Dallas:), and moved back to TX in 2009, after seven years acting in Los Angeles, to care for my father.
I like to think he brought me home. After he passed, I jumped into Deke Anderson’s acting class, mainly for distraction. Not thinking I would actually work as an actor in TX. I was immediately blown away by the talent in front and behind the camera. I worked initially, more than I ever had in LA, within the first couple of years back home. Co-Stars, Guest Stars, Films, Hosting gigs, Commercials. Of course, much of that was “regional” (Atlanta, Louisiana, New Mexico), but the point was, I was “working” more, amongst friends and family, and that brought a lot of joy.
I always had a knack for gathering talented, kind folks, and Directed/Produced my first TV Pilot in 2010 (“Prescribed”). Unlike the “initial rush” from booking a role, or even “performing,” passion projects seemed to be “the gift that keeps giving.” Texas cast and crew are still incredibly enthusiastic about the process, and that rejuvenated me.
Westerns had always been near and dear (Silverado, Young Guns, Lonesome Dove) as well as comedy (Blazing Saddles, Raising Arizona, Airplane) so I married them, with “Westish.” another TV Pilot, about a group of incompetent settlers heading west, via manifest destiny.
If you want to experience “happy humans” make a western. I was fortunate to meet an amazing “re-enactor” in Jason Ramirez, who introduced me to the vast “west world” Texas has to offer. From affordable pre-set western towns to period costumes and weapons, it was western Disneyland. I would go on to help Produce and Co-star in Jason’s feature western, “Cruzado,” shot in South and Central Texas.
Much of the crew Jason and I assembled for Cruzado, I still use today, including the greatest Sound Man in the biz, David Gutierrez, who referred me to you, Kristen.
Another passion project I aided in completing, as a Host and Producer, was the NFL Feature Documentary “25,000 Miles To Glory,” a story of two guys hitting all the stadiums in a 1967 air-cooled VW Bus. Rhett Grametbauer, the owner of the bus, nicknamed “Hail Mary” (never a more appropriate title) is in the process of having the book version of our journey, adapted into a narrative film.
Though I still act all over the country, aka “have role, will travel,” I really enjoy Producing and Directing in Texas. Part of it is having such a great pool of professional and generous actors to choose from. There may be bigger pools in bigger markets, but in terms of quality and diversity (yes, diversity) Texas fits the bill. Specifically, Linda McAlister Talent in Dallas has been a huge help casting many of my recent projects. Taped auditions are the way of the world now, and Linda’s actors have it down, which makes it easy for us.
Ironically, Linda introduced me to my Entertainment Attorney, who, in turn, introduced me to my current creative business partner, Dena Weaver, with Novel Trailers.
Like film-makers, I had author friends and family who were having trouble “standing out”. Similar to film distribution, both published authors, and writers who self-distributed, couldn’t seem to depend on good marketing. Dena, from Arlington, liked the idea, and we have worked together on several successful pieces in and around “Big D”.
We recognized a new way for authors to distinguish themselves and their work by cinematically capturing “one full scene” that captures the tone and essence. Sure, we still do the “highlight-driven” trailers if requested, but feel the “desert island” approach is much more impactful.
Most recently, we’ve been working on a Christian “Game of Thrones” piece, entitled “Calington Castle,” by R.A. Feller, shooting in the South and Central Texas. It’s a great example of taking an author, shooting her/his Novel Trailer, and parlaying that into a Feature Film adaptation. We wrapped a short film version of the piece last month, starring Dallas actors Selase Botchway, Melanie San Milan, and Justin Duncan. The author and I attended the ICVM (International Christian Visual Media) conference in Nashville earlier this month, and are awaiting word on financing for the full feature, to be shot in, you guessed it, Texas.
At the end of the day, there is so little within our control in this industry. Whether you’re acting or behind the camera “on spec” to sell a passion project. You’re up against already-established networks of people (actual Networks and Studios:), who have their “go-to” resources, that have gotten them where they are. The only question is: Do they need your product bad enough, at that particular time, to essentially gamble on an “outsider.” After many years, I’ve finally learned to divorce meritocracy from that reality.
To stay sane, and that’s debatable, I find doing both acting and production keeps me from fixating on one or the other. On the acting front, If you’re bored this Spring, feel free to catch me in episodes of Cobra Kai (YouTube Red), Interrogation (CBS Streaming), Tommy (CBS), Deputy (FOX), Manhunt (Lionsgate TV), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon). If you have a “passion project,” and are looking to have your music heard, contact us at novel firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth? Not at all haha. Nothing has come easy, and I now freely admit that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Be careful what you ask for, but also for who and what you admire and aspire to be. Leaving an empty LA apartment after many fruitless years, to go sell “widget’s,” when he got the call for “Good Fellas,” really hit home. Mark Ruffalo’s legendary 800 auditions, James Gandolfini, Morgan Freeman, Bryan Cranston, and Christoph Waltz, come to mind.
Paying the bills is probably the most obvious obstacle. The back and forth internal dialogue as to whether to work a part-time job to support your passion, to go “all-in” and max out credit cards, ask for handouts from friends and family, or all of the above, are constantly knawing at many of us. It is exhausting. Wearing deer antlers to sling Expedia swag, and living to get “living statue” work (How long can you hold a pose Grayson? Me: How long you got???”), to catering, temp’ing, working as a speaker for a fashion college (w/ zero knowledge of fashion:), and selling gym memberships.
I finally started making a living (when I say living, I mean paying my bills) exclusively through acting and production only a few years ago, and I’m grateful everyday. I also know it can go away in an instant.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my adult life, However, working in a business where you never know where your next paycheck is coming from, it’s hard to tell how much is biological vs. environmental. In a business where “you” are the product, it’s taken me a long time to realize the hiring decisions have little to do with “you.” I casted something recently, and had to pass on an amazing actor because they didn’t look like the rest of the family. I let them know after, but I’m sure it was little constellation.
Picking yourself up after a series of callbacks, interviews, and holds, only to not get the job, can take a toll on your psyche. Your first instinct is to look “inward,” and ask “what am I missing,” “what could I have done differently to get the part?” The answer if you did your work, and left it all on the field, is “nothing.” It likely had more to do with a fit, a look, the sound of a voice, or an idea, the writer/director had that they couldn’t shake.
In terms of Production, the challenge begins and ends with collaboration. Is everyone clear on what their job entails? How much can you expect out of others in terms of work ethic and preparedness? Like working actors, much of the crew is trying to make a living, and your job might not be their only gig. So how to navigate that contractually, and in terms of communication, is a steep and on-going learning curve. I once heard that making a project is akin to crash-landing an airplane. Projects have a tendency to not want to get made or finished. There are so many moving parts. Malfunctions are just part and parcel, and how you and your team “fix it on the go” determines your days.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’ve already laid it out in my voluminous previous responses haha. I split my time between acting and Directing/Producing pretty evenly now.
In terms of behind the camera, I specialize in getting Passion Projects made and distributed. Whether it’s an episodic pilot, reality pilot, documentary, or narrative feature, my team and I can get your music heard, and on platforms, for the rest of the world to see.
NovelTrailers is our main production company, and we specialize in helping authors and writers get recognized and sell more books. In addition, we help with TV/FILM adaptation. Our latest project, “Calington Castle” is the best example of the process. We took the author’s first of five books, and made a novel trailer, using one full scene. That doubled as his “sizzle reel” for networks/studios and we recently finished a “proof of concept” Short Film of the piece that will do festivals and help us gain financing for the feature film.
I’m most proud of the care and attention we give our clients. Our crew is like family, and when you decide to trust us with your baby, you become part of that family. We have an on-going dialogue, and ideally, a relationship with our clients, to make sure their vision is reached, and hopefully, surpassed.
Many of our clients have had bad prior experiences with production, in many cases, losing a lot of money, with not a lot to show for it. Hopefully, we can convince folks to come to us “first” to avoid these pitfalls.
The two most common heartbreak stories we hear are:
1) We went with the biggest, most well-known production house in the area, and they didn’t really care about the “story” or “the characters.”
2) We hired a family friend who said they could shoot and edit.
At the end of the day, you have been with this piece for years, you deserve someone who is going to take the time and energy to get it right.
On the acting side, I’m still looking for that next great role. My mom, a former actor in the 60’s (Ozzie and Harriet, The Green Hornet, King of Kings) once said “The role makes the actor, not the other way around.” I have faith that sooner or later, that role will come. I LOVE comedy more than anything and would love a chance to act the fool if the opportunity presents itself.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It’s the classic double-edged sword. There’s more networks and streaming platforms than ever before, but there’s also more product than ever before. Marketing is where it starts and ends for everyone, and there’s a glut of material to sift through to find that gem. So we are finding new and exciting ways to get the word out, and creative ways to distribute. Reality TV isn’t going anywhere, sadly, as people are busy and use it as “white noise,” without having to focus on plot points and story. Likewise, you’ve been seeing that evolve into YouTube influencers, who pray on the millennial and younger generations with shock videos or bite-sized pop culture snippets and do very well. The surreal world of gamer-watching is the perfect example or culmination of distraction for distraction sake. That said, there is a growing segment of the population who are starving for “content with meaning,” or more specifically, “content with a hopeful message.”
Whether you are a Christian, or just a consumer seeking something positive, there is a pendulum swing happening back to “pure entertainment” and that excites me. Stranger Things, The Kingsmen Series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and yes, many of the Marvel and DC comic films have brought back that “popcorn fun” feel, and we are so overdue. Like the Professional Sports world, less and less folks are going to the theatre to see films, but that doesn’t mean it’s a dead medium. It’s still the superior way to view a film. And with dine-in Movie Houses like the Alamo Draft House and Studio Movie Grill putting a premium on “NOT TALKING IN A MOVIE” and “keeping cell phones off,” people can still enjoy their favorite new releases at a theatre. There has been an inordinate amount of depressing and malady-driven or “agenda-driven” content at the Oscars the past 25 years, and the faster we get back to “entertaining people” instead of “assaulting people” the better. The ironic thing is that entertainment influences culture, and we humans have an amazing knack for finding meaning, without “being told how to feel.”
- Novel Trailers: $5,000.00 is our current price point. This includes every and all genres, including Fantasy, Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy, Western, all period pieces. Deliverables include: Long-form Trailer 2-3:30 minutes, Instragram Trailer 1 minute, Express teaser :30, a Thumbnail Poster Image for marketing, and FILM/TV adaptation
- TV PIlot (half-hour format) $20,000.00. Deliverables Include: Full cut, colored, sound mixed, and formatted ready-to-air Pilot, 2-3 Minute Long Form Trailer, 1 Minute Instagram Trailer, :30 Express Teaser, Thumbnail Trailer Poster for Marketing, and our TV/FILM distribution contacts for the sale of your piece.
- Documentary Feature Film (90 minutes) $70,000.00. Deliverables Include: Full cut, colored, sound mixed, and formatted ready-to-screen Feature, 2-3 Minute Long Form Trailer, 1 Minute Instagram Trailer, :30 Express Teaser, Thumbnail Trailer Poster for Marketing, and guaranteed Sale &Distribution.
- Narrative Feature Film (90 minutes) $250,000.00. Deliverables Include: Full cut, colored, sound mixed, and formatted ready-to-screen Feature, 2-3 Minute Long Form Trailer, 1 Minute Instagram Trailer, :30 Express Teaser, Thumbnail Trailer Poster for Marketing, and guaranteed Sale & Distribution.
- Website: noveltrailers.com, graysonberry.com
- Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @berrygrayson
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frederickwins11
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/grayson_berry
- Other: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1787652/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1