Film Festival’s casting workshop helps budding actors

Do you want to be an actor? Well, just like with any other job, you really have to sell yourself.

On July 23, the third day of the Macon Film Festival, casting director Cynthia Stillwell held a casting workshop at the Tubman Museum on Cherry Street in Macon titled “Answering the Needs and Desires of Actors in the Southeast Film & Television Market!” The first step to becoming a success in the movie industry is to “just say yes,” Stillwell said. It all starts with putting yourself in the right mindset and opening yourself up to opportunities. From there, you have to ask yourself a few questions. “What is my product?” and “What makes my product special?” You really have to determine how you want to present yourself and what makes you stand out.

Macon Film Festival 2016
The Macon Film Festival occurs this week and there are many film and TV industry themed events. Image courtesy of Macon Film Commission.

Ms. Stillwell further advised to set goals for yourself. You should say that in three months, you will do one thing, in six months, you will do another, and in a year’s time, you will do something else. It is important to say that you will do these things instead of just hoping for them. If something sidetracks you, get back to your goals as soon as possible. If you don’t get a part, don’t blame yourself and, most importantly, do not give up. Keep trying and the law of numbers will eventually catch up to you.

In Stillwell’s one-on-one workshops, she gets in your face and pulls out your feelings. Scenes and character motivation is discussed in great detail. The best way to study a scene is to connect with it through something that has happened in your own past. An actor must have a “treasure trunk” of emotions from which they can pull. These work best when the emotions are natural and real.

At the age of 7, Cynthia Stillwell won the Little Miss South Carolina pageant. It just so happened that a Disney representative was in the audience and after the competition, he told Stillwell’s parents that Walt Disney was looking for new Mouseketeers and he thought Cynthia would fit the part. However, Stillwell’s mother said no. She wanted her daughter to live a normal life. That event lead Stillwell to “just say yes” in life. That path lead her first to theater, and then into the movie industry. After splitting her time between Savannah and New York, she began operating out of Los Angeles and New York for many years. But all the recent success in Georgia has brought her back here.

Over the years, Stillwell has created what she calls a “tapestry of faces” from which she can bring in talent. She gets to know people personally and sees what makes them unique. Using this method, she has been able to put almost 500,000 people to work throughout the years. This figure is no mistake – she has provided principal actors, background actors, and crowd scene actors to many feature films.

One of Ms. Stillwell’s goals is to get directors to realize that there are more than enough capable and talented actors in Georgia. It doesn’t make sense to fly an actor all the way from LA, cover their travel, and other expenses when you could easily hire a local actor. But she cannot accomplish this goal alone. Aspiring actors need to send their headshots and resumes to her so she knows who is available. Cynthia Stillwell can be contacted on her website at, on Twitter @CSCasting (, or on her Facebook page,

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Published by Steven Hodges

Steven Hodges is a Christian with a degree in computer engineering from UAH, a love of good food, and a flair for the eccentric. He also has a pug named Perky.