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Saturday, June 08, 2013 11:55AM
By Children in Film

Let's be honest - In today's social media driven world, celebrities, politicians, and sports athletes find themselves with less and less privacy and they are increasingly being featured on the cover of tabloids or on "TMZ".

The talent industry is a tough business -- we all know that -- but how do you raise a well grounded, humble, successful child star in today's entertainment business?

When asked, independent producer Gregory James Blount who runs a summer camp dedicated not only to helping kids master their craft, but also to giving back to the community, and he had this to say... "I think that while talent is climbing the ladder of success for their own career, it is important that they give back through community service by helping others."  Sadly Blount says, "Today's celebrities often get involved or support a charity after they got in trouble and their publicist recommends it to help restore their public image."

Blount offers these 5 helpful tips to help you and your child star pick a charity to support:

1)  Make It Personal - The key to picking a charity is for your future child star to select something that is personal to them.  Sit them down and create a list of things that matters or interests them, whether it be a local humane society or feeding local kids in need for the weekend.  

2)  Do Your Research - After narrowing down your selection of charities you are considering to support, you want to find a local chapter to get involved in and then find out what their needs are.  

On a trip to Delray Beach, Florida - Disney Channel star Jake Short visited the students at the Village Academy and saw a need.  Over 98% of the 400 elementary kids are on the free and reduced food program, which means they get to eat breakfast and lunch at the school paid for by the Palm Beach County School District.  These same students often go hungry on the weekend.  Supporting a national charity called Blessings in a Backpack, Jake and Greg got together and raised funds to feed the 3rd graders for the remaining 38 weekends of the school year. 

3)  Build Your Team - Just like an actor might have an agent, manager or publicist  - you want your child actor to enlist a team that is going to support the benevolent cause, whether it is friends, family, classmates that can help out.  Enlisting volunteers takes effort and coordination. Depending on the charity's schedule of upcoming events and need for volunteers, you should speak to the charity to see how you and your team can help.  

4)  Raise Awareness - Whether you donate your time or help raise money, giving is all about the effort and energy you put into it.  To support the Blessings in a Backpack program, Blount used a website funding source called www.Crowdtilt.com, which allowed through the use of social media others to join in and contribute to feed the 3rd graders at the Village Academy.  For only $80, you can help feed one child for the 38 weekends of the school year.

In addition, Jake enlisted the help of actress Olivia Osteen, the niece of Pastor Joel Osteen to film a PSA for the Blessings in a Backpack program, which was shot in the green screen studio at Lakewood Church in Houston.

5) Be Grateful, Repeat Process - They say it is better to give than to receive...  So whether you raise $80 dollars or volunteer 50 hours doing community service, it's all about helping your future child star stay grounded and understand the importance of helping others.  

Research has shown that the benefits of giving include a greater feeling of security, good health, a sense of pride, increased happiness and a love for others.  


 
Friday, May 17, 2013 8:56AM
By Greg James Blount

 

How does an aspiring actor or model put their dream to the test?   

Every actor or model I meet talks to me about their dream of being on a Disney show, or walking the runways in New York or Paris or being a success like Amber Heardwho I discovered during the ELLEgirl Model Search.

The reality is that many talent may not ever realize their dream.  The question is why?   After being in the industry for over 20 years, I have met many talent and parents.  From the talent's perspective, talent often dreams of fame, fortune and success, but they don't put together a game plan.  Like any great sports coach will tell you, you have to have a game plan if your going to be successful and more importantly, you need to know when to change it, if it isn't working.  

Here are a few helpful tips to put together your game plan.  

1)  Set short term and long term goals - Just like if you are using your GPS or a map to follow directions, it is vital to set short terms goals.  Think of them as baby steps and each Sunday, map out 2-3 things you are going to do this week for your career.  Be specific whether it is updating your resume, researching casting directors or checking out an acting class.  Make sure you write your goals down.    

2)  Set a timeline - With regard to long term goals, you need to have a timeline in place.  This will allow you to set benchmarks.  When I start a new project or production, I start at the end of the project and back out of it.  I outline the key benchmarks and break things down into phases, then I outline how much time I think it is going to take to accomplish that step.  

3)  Build a team - A lot of actors and models surround themselves with the wrong people and compare notes.  Being successful in the talent industry is a personal journey and you should not compare notes with other talent.  You have your look, your talent and your goals.  For Amber, she has her agent, her manager, her attorney and her publicist.  She also has the support of several close friends and family.  

4)  Be honest with yourself - If you are 5'5", most likely you are not going to walk the runway in Paris.  It doesn't mean that you cannot be successful in the entertainment industry, you can.  Review your resume and see where your strengths and weaknesses are and start working on the areas you need to expand or train in.  In every career, we are judged by what is on our resume and what experience we have.  

In closing, our industry is all about who you know and all about who you train with.  Be positive and develop a "Can Do" mentality!   It is okay to dream, but it is better to have a game plan behind it.


 
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 2:14PM
By Greg James Blount

Everybody knows how to be spontaneous. It is in our daily behavior...  But improv is true and direct, you’re just saying and doing what happens now.

There are lots of benefits to develop your improv skills.  You develop your sense of humor, you make people laugh and they love that!  It helps you being the leader, gaining more confidence and you can deflect negativity.  

You also foster team building, sharpen your focus, stretch your creativity, imagination and increase your listening skills.  All vital things an actor needs to do for their career, and in life.
 
Warm-up - You have to warm-up before a performance that means doing an easy activity to raise your energy level and put you into a silly mood.


Working the room - Try to relax and have fun.  Approach people but don’t forget your character. You have to listen to what the others say, respond to them the way the character would. Don’t be afraid of silent moments.  Silence can be is powerful.


Making various connections - An important part of improv is to make connections with your environment - your clothing, accessories, listening what they’re telling you. All the information you take in, you can later use it to enrich the conversation.

Most importantly, have fun and let go.

 
Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:12AM
By Donna Balancia

 

DELRAY BEACH -- Jake Short, star of the Disney hit show A.N.T. Farm and Olivia Osteen, the niece of famous televangelist Pastor Joel Osteen, have taken to the airwaves to promote "Blessings in a Backpack," a nationwide charity aimed at fighting hunger in our schools.

The campaign is highlighted by a public service announcement produced by Sound Tree Entertainment's Gregory James Blount, who recruited two of today's brightest young stars to issue a call to action to help keep American school children from going home hungry on the weekends.

Through "Blessings in a Backpack," each Friday, volunteers donate their time putting food in backpacks of underprivileged children heading home for the weekend. In many cases their homes are without food, and some of the children have no home at all.  For only $80, the program can feed one child for the 38 weekends of the school year.

The PSA spot shows Jake and Olivia's efforts packing backpacks and detailing how others can help.  It was filmed at Pastor Joel Osteen's famed Lakewood Church in Houston. Chandler Kravitz, a student filmmaker, edited the PSA.

"Jake and Olivia actually support their own schools," said Blount who has wide-ranging experience in the entertainment industry. "Jake supports the Village Academy with me in Delray Beach, Florida, where he visited the school last year."

Olivia supports the Janowski Elementary School in Houston.

"Because I've had the opportunity to travel to Africa many times, I've met a lot of people who are hungry, even malnourished," Olivia said. "And through 'Blessings in a Backpack,' I've met kids who for different reasons need help with weekend meals. It's easy to think hunger only affects certain countries, but the truth is, there are hungry people living in America and your own city."

Olivia is the niece of Joel Osteen, Pastor of 43,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, and whose televised worship reaches 10 million households each week.  Pastor Osteen will host "Night of Hope" at Marlins Stadium in Miami this Saturday.

"The entertainment industry is a tough business and I think it's wonderful when you have young talent who understand the importance of giving back while they're climbing the ladder of success," said Blount who in addition to producing the spot, sponsors the Village Academy." Jake and Olivia understand this and are making a difference."

 

To view the PSA, visit:

http://youtu.be/pO8loiu8m3M

 

 
Sunday, December 23, 2012 4:41PM
By Gregory James Blount

 

Watching the Carrie Underwood concert with a thousand fans, reflecting on their own lives through her songs and stories. Starring at the faces, you can see the hurt, love and dreams of so many... From young girls to moms, dads with dreams and worries. The production elements live up to the tour name, Blown Away. 

Carrie, humble and thankful gives a performance for the fans of Fort Lauderdale who are hungry for one more chance for life, redemption. Following the 12/21/12 date, Carrie performs a soulful performance reaching out in an energtic concert that would rock off any red slippers from any remake of Dorothy visiting American Idol. 

Carrie concert literalies flies over the souls of those surfing underneath her - and captures the hearts of her fans. Carrie then turns up the tunes on the party bus and adds some fun times, beach balls with hands in the air to celebrate. 

Hunter Hayes comes on stage to add to the electric environment - and all the ladies say YES! 

Sweet Emotion has a new meaning. Just Remind me to reflect on my younger years that made me feel that way and dream about the future. Carrie connected with the crowd in Fort Lauderdale to give them hope in troubling times. She for sure reminded us to be thankful for the blessings bestowed on us and for the gifts, given to each of us.  

I was truly blown away.