Today I welcome young actor and fundraiser Sam Lant.
Sam was born in Truckee, California. He spent his primary years growing up on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, learning to ski and wake-board depending on the season. Sam’s break through in acting came at IMTA New York in 2006. Realizing acting was Sam’s big dream, his family made the move to Los Angeles, along with his dog, Capone, and a fighting fish named Sapporo. In his free time Sam enjoys riding his mountain bike, taking Tae Kwon Do and spending time camping with his Boy Scout Troop.
ANTHONY: Hi, Sam. Thanks for taking the time to chat.
SAM: Thank you for having me. I am excited to chat with you and get the word out about my upcoming projects as well as the Ronald McDonald Walk for Kids.
ANTHONY: How long have you been acting, and what was your first professional credit?
SAM: I have been acting professionally in Los Angeles for 5 years. I started out taking classes in Reno, NV and was approached about competing at IMTA in New York. I went to New York and won pre-teen actor of the year 2006. Which brought me to Los Angeles to audition with many agents and managers who were interested in working with me. I commuted from Tahoe for the first 3 years but then officially moved out here in 2009. I worked a bunch of student films and did background work when I moved to learn about being in front of a camera. I would say my first real professional credit was when I worked on the game show Destroy Build Destroy. It might be a game show, but there was a lot of behind the scene stuff going on to help pump up our energy. It was a great project to work on even though my brother’s team ended up winning. My favorite part of the project was when I was howling at the moon for fun and one of the producers saw me, he came running over and said to do it again for the camera. They ended up using that footage in the commercials promoting my episode “Big Bros vs. Lil Bros”.
ANTHONY: You’re in the cast of the upcoming PROJECT X. Tell us a little about the movie, and your role.
SAM: Project X is about 3 high schoolers who throw a party because they think it is their last chance to become cool before they graduate. Things get way out of hand. The party gets so big that Jimmy Kimmel reports on it during his opening monologue. It is pretty funny stuff. I play Dave. He is a freshman trying to sneak into the party. He keeps getting caught and thrown out. You will have to watch and see if he is eventually successful or not. 🙂
ANTHONY: The movie looks just a little bit … insane. What was filming like?
SAM: The movie is more than a bit insane. HA. Scott Budnick and Nima Nourizadeh were amazing to work with because they were very encouraging. In fact, all the crew were awesome. One of the days we filmed, it was my birthday, and they all wished me a Happy Birthday. But filming for me wasn’t that bad because I am a minor and they couldn’t film some of the scenes around me. So, the days I worked were pretty tame. The final scene was a lot of fun though because I had to dance with this really hot girl. When I got to set I found out it was going to be Anna Sophia Berglund, who Hugh Hefner’s current girlfriend. All the guys on set that night were very jealous of me.
ANTHONY: Your other recent project is “too perfect.” How did you get involved in that project, and where can people see it?
SAM: I got involved with “too perfect” through LA Casting and over skype. The director, Julie Rubio, contacted my mom after my mom submitted me for the role on LA Casting. My mom actually didn’t realize the project was filming in San Francisco when she submitted me. I then auditioned over Skype and Julie thought I would be perfect as Skylar. We did several table reads and rehearsals where I was skyped in to follow along since I lived in Los Angeles. I went to San Francisco to film for 9 days. It was a lot of fun.
You will be able to find “too perfect” on netflix and blockbuster sometime this year.
ANTHONY: You also seem to be the only one of the main 5 cast-members whose character is not named after himself. How did you manage that?
SAM: Originally, the story was written about 5 friends in real life. Unfortunately, Skylar couldn’t film so Julie put out a notice on LA Casting to see if someone else fit the role. The other 4 kids who filmed with me are all friends and go to school together. I met the real “Skylar” the night of the premiere and he congratulated me on doing a great job acting like him. Now we are all friends on Facebook.
ANTHONY: You’ve done a few short films. What do you see are the differences between working on a short film and a feature film?
SAM: I guess the main difference would be how long you are filming for, short films can be shot in a weekend or even a day sometimes where feature films need a lot longer to get all the scenes filmed. Another difference is the craft services – bigger productions have the budget for more food and bring in catering companies to cook main meals. My favorite thing about being on set besides acting is the amazing food. ha ha ha
ANTHONY: I know the job search for teen actors is just as difficult as it is for adults, possibly moreso because there are fewer “big” venues for kid actors — if you’re not involved in a Nick or Disney series, options for regular tv work are definitely smaller — so how do you get your name and face out there for casting directors to see?
SAM: My agent and manager are great about pitching me out to casting directors for upcoming projects. Also a lot of shows have guest starring roles for kids such as Criminal Minds and CSI, so the opportunity is there. Another way I network is at casting director workshops which allow me to meet casting directors I haven’t before while also learning something new or building on previous knowledge. And, every year in November there is an event called Actorfest which has casting director meet and greets, and holds training workshops hosted by top professionals in the business. I try to network at events like these to get my name out there.
ANTHONY: What kind of prep do you do for auditions? Are you working with an acting coach, taking classes? Do you ever think “man, there are just SO many of us trying for the same few parts, maybe I should do something else for a living?”
SAM: I am taking classes with the amazing and talented Amy Lyndon who is teaching me the 15 main guidelines for cold read and booking a role. When I prep for an audition, I have a work sheet Amy gave me that I use to break down a script. Then I work on it until I feel I have the character just right. It is all about a choice. My choice might not be the same as someone else, so it is up to the casting director to see who made the best choice to bring the writer’s vision to light. As far as doing something else, I act because I love it not for the money. I really can’t see myself ever giving up something I love doing. Although, I am planning to get an aeronautical engineering degree in college because I would also like to be an astronaut.
ANTHONY: Speaking of classes — how do you balance auditioning/being on-set and school work?
SAM: I home school, actually go to a year-round charter school, so I only go to class twice a week for an hour to take tests. Because I do my work at home, I can do my school around my audition schedule. Sometimes, I do homework in the morning and when I have had a hectic schedule preparing for auditions then I will do it at night. Since I go to a year-round school I am actually working faster than being in regular school and should graduate a year early. Being on set is a even easier, because the law requires me to do 3 hours of school each day we are working.
ANTHONY: Okay, let’s talk about causes. I know you’re doing a Ronald McDonald House fundraiser at the moment. Why this cause, and how did you get involved? What can my readers do to help you and your Walk For Kids team?
SAM: I was filming a short film called “Tears Asunder” and the location was about 5 houses down from Ronald McDonald House Pasadena. We walked past it everyday on our way to set and I asked my mom what it was. She explained what they did and I thought that was really cool because when I was little I had very bad asthma and often was hospitalized. We lived in a small town so my mom was able to stay in the room with me but I know that isn’t always possible in larger cities. I was glad to have my mom close because it was very scary sometimes. I got involved with Walk For Kids last year when one of my friends invited me to join her team. I raised $400 last year and want to raise even more this year. I decided to start my own team this year because I wanted to be more active in helping Ronald McDonald House.
People can help our team by donating any amount, even $1 will help us reach our goal of $10,000. My favorite thing to say is…can you give up your morning latte today and donate that $5 to our fundraiser. A lot of people don’t realize if they just cut one specialty item out of their schedule they would have enough to help a child have their mom close by if they get scared.
Here is the link to my donation page — My goal is $1000 but I would like to raise even more than that if possible.
ANTHONY: What other causes are important to you, and how involved are you with those?
SAM: I am working with several organizations. Last year I donated my birthday to Project Night Night. They give security totes to kids whose families have become homeless due to the economy or loss of job. Each tote has a blanket, teddy bear or stuffed animal, and a bedtime story. On my 15th birthday, I asked my guests to bring one or more of these things to donate to the tote bags. We were able to stuff over 75 totes for kids ages 0-12 years old. I was over whelmed with how generous everyone was to help these kids. I am doing the same again this year for my 16th birthday. I don’t have a lot but there are people out there who have a lot less and it feels good to help those people.
Another project I am working on is a Freeline Skate team which will be going around to different charity events to teach kids to Freeline skate who might not have opportunity to learn. We are going to work with the Boys and Girls Club, Autism Talks, Make a Wish, Starlight Foundation and anyone else who is interested in having a fun time learning to skate.
ANTHONY: And my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
SAM: My favorite book right now is “The Hunger Games”. Which is really actually a series of books. I read the first one in a single day because it grabbed my attention and I didn’t want to put it. The plot had a really great twist at the end which surprised me. I think a lot of kids would really enjoy reading these books. I am excited for the movie to come out and plan on seeing it the very first day it comes out. 🙂
ANTHONY: Thanks again, Sam!
SAM: Thanks for the interview. These were some fun questions and I enjoyed answering things I hadn’t been asked before. OH…and thanks for your donation to Walk For Kids. YOU ROCK!!!!
ANTHONY: As I said on Twitter: “Curse you, Sam Lant! Stop ruining my reputation as a big ol’ meanie!”
You can follow Sam on Twitter as @ActorSamLant, check out his Facebook fan page, his IMDb page, and his freeline skate team’s YouTube channel. And of course donate to his Ronald McDonald House fundraiser!