JOAN OF ART: A Magnificent Dance Company, photo l.a., an Iconic Rock Group and Guy Ritchie at His Best

Even though most people will have their minds on Super Bowl Sunday, there are still a lot of other fun things to do this upcoming weekend starting with seeing The Lula Washington Dance Theatre. I've seen them many times in the past and they never cease to blow me away. They are that good!

Lula Washington's company focuses on using dance to explore social and humanitarian issues, including aspects of African-American history, culture and life.

This brilliant ensemble of dancers will be celebrating their 40th anniversary on January 30th through February 1st at the Bram Goldsmith Theatre which is part of The Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts.

This company has built an international reputation for their earthiness, vitality, energy and humanism of its repertory, bringing charisma and interpretive power to every dance.

The performances are at 7:30pm on Thursday, January 30th, Friday, January 31st, and Saturday, February 1st. The Wallis is located at 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

To purchase tickets go to TheWallis.org/Lula or call the box office at (310) 746-4000 from 10-5pm. This is definitely a 'must see' event.

Another event I go to every year is photo l.a.. The event is starting at 6pm today and running through Sunday, February 3rd. Once again it will be at the Barker Hangar at 3021 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica.

photo l.a. brings the best of the photography world to you with a collaborative platform that links dealers and collectors with a gamut of galleries from around the globe. If you're a lover of photography this is definitely the place to be.

They will have over 65 galleries represented along with 10,000 collectors and enthusiasts. Personally I can't wait.

To purchase tickets or to find out more information go to photola.com.

Now if you're in the mood for some Rock & Roll, then head down to the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills to see the legendary Jefferson Starship on Saturday night, February 1st.

The band rose from the ashes of another legendary San Francisco band, Hall of Fame inductees, Jefferson Airplane. Founder Paul Kantner who died in January 2016 at the age of 74 knew that combining powerful creative forces, personalities and talents could create something far greater than the sum of its parts and that's exactly what he did.

Between 1974 and 1984 Jefferson Starship released eight gold and platinum albums, twenty hit singles, sold out concerts worldwide and lived out legendary rock and roll escapades.

Today the Starship remains dedicated to breathing new life into the living catalog of the Jeffersonian legacy, going to the edge, pushing the sonic boundaries and staying true to the original spirit of the music.

The music that defined a generation and spanned decades is alive and well and more relevant than ever in pop culture. Songs such as Volunteers, White Rabbit, Wooden Ships, Somebody to Love, Today, Miracles, Count On Me, just to name a few, continues to reverberate throughout the collective consciousness today.

The Jefferson Starship go on at 9pm with doors opening at 6pm. The Canyon Club is located at 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills 91301-3304. To purchase tickets click here or call (888) 845-5006.

Lastly if you are done seeing all the Oscar nominated movies and want to see a film that is so much fun and so well acted, then head over to your local movie theatre and see Guy Ritchie's new film, The Gentlemen. I absolutely loved it.

It stars Charlie Hunnam, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant who has never been better. Everyone in the cast absolutely nails their part. The film is funny, clever and full of twists and turns that you won't see coming. At least I didn't.

Without wanting to give too much away, The Gentlemen is the story of Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) who is an American expatriate who became rich by building a marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from those who want his fortune.

This action comedy opened wide and it's playing at an AMC theatre near you.

Whatever you do this weekend people, make it a great one.


Steven Sabel's Twist on the Trade: A Head Above The Rest

Most head shots are horrible. Mine is. My headshot is a perfect example of a number of things that are wrong with most headshots. Before I get into all that is wrong with my headshot, and many headshots I see on a regular basis, let me give you the really lousy and lazy reasons I don't have a better headshot. I have no excuse. I know several very good photographers who take fantastic headshots, who would give me a great price for a setting session with multiple looks. I don't want to do the work. I don't want to take the time to schedule the session, choose the looks, decide a location, and drive my ass to the location to pose for photographs. I hate posing for photographs. It's a good thing then I'm not trying to build a career in front of a camera. I always laugh out loud at actors seeking film careers, who say they hate posing for pictures. It is sort of a requirement of the trade.

After the arduous work of having to pose for photos in my favorite clothes in front of cool locations, I don't want to have to filter through the scores of photos to narrow them down to the best selection. I mean, I don't want to spend that much time focused on how my own face looks on film. It's a good thing I'm not out there trying to land a national commercial. I don't want the anxiety of having to choose just one photo to be my commercial look, and one photo to be my comedy look, and one for dramas, and one for stage – it's just too much stress! Lucky for me, I'm a producer/director, and those rare times when I do get on stage or (God forbid) in front of a camera, it's for my own productions. I don't have to submit headshots to anyone…

My horrible headshot

I can actually remember the days when the industry standard was to submit hard copy black and white 8 x 10s. I remember composite cards, or “comp cards” for actors: an 8 x 10 composite of multiple black and white shots in different looks. Only print models really use them anymore. If I recall my own comp card, it contained a headshot in the center, surrounded by one shot of me as a gang member, one in business attire, one “sporty” look, and one of my silly grin with a can of generic peanuts in my hand. The goal was to get into the room by showing your various “looks.” Fast forward to less expensive color printing, and suddenly the industry standard was color 8 x 10s, and black and white comp cards disappeared. Show them that beaming white Procter & Gamble smile to get yourself a call, and bring your portfolio of looks with you in case they ask for them.

   The digital age changed everything about headshots, and I mean everything. Most importantly, digital technology has changed how producers and casting directors view headshots. It used to be that they received them in the mail in giant manila envelopes. They (or some assistant of theirs) opened the envelopes one by one, removed the contents, and immediately had your photo, your resume, and your trite little cover letter right in their hands all at once. They were seeing actors for the first time in full 8 x 10 color print, one at a time. Not anymore.

Bring on the digital thumb nail. In today's world, we view actors by the page full, all at once, sometimes as many as 20 to a page on our computer screens. When a producer or casting director sees an actor for the first time, it is in a 1 x 2 photo surrounded by 15 other people who look a lot like you. If we are looking for a very particular type, we can scroll screen after screen of tiny little faces until one catches our eye enough to actually click on it to see more. Oftentimes we simply give each face a number ranking of one through five, and then ask the software to eliminate anything that isn't a one or a two, before diving any deeper into the quest for the right actor. In most cases, an actor has already had to survive at least one or two rounds of digital elimination before anyone actually opens their profile to see their resume or other photos.

   The importance of the headshot has changed. The specifications for a good headshot that does its job, have also changed. My headshot is 10 years old. That's the first thing terribly wrong with it. Your headshot MUST be current. At this point in my life, I almost always have a beard. The only exceptions to that are when I am playing a role that requires me to be clean shaven, which isn't very often. However my age and my facial hair are not the worst parts of my old headshot. The style is completely wrong as well. There was a time in the past when headshots taken from slightly above the subject were the in thing – especially when you have a prominent Roman nose such as mine. Head shots today must be straight on. One of the important reasons for straight on photography is the ability to capture and fill the frame with your face. It is ALL ABOUT your face! If your face isn't filling the frame of your headshot, you are wasting very valuable thumbnail space with content that does not help you get past the first elimination. Here's the good news: you don't have to spend so much time trying to choose which clothes to wear in your headshot, because if there is that much of your clothing showing in your headshot, it ISN'T A HEADSHOT! Here is a good rule of thumb. Pull up a thumb nail of your headshot. Put your thumb up to the picture. If you thumb covers your entire face, then you need a new headshot.

Full bodyshots can be important to have, and you should have at least one or two in the photo gallery of your casting site profile, but never… Let me repeat, NEVER submit a full bodyshot unless you are specifically asked to. Submit a headshot, and make sure your head is the most prominent thing in the picture. Show them your face. Don't show them your fancy shirt, your favorite blouse, that cool sweater, your broad shoulders, your pronounced cleavage, or any other of your “assets.” If that's what they are looking for, they will tell you. If that's what they're looking for, and they didn't tell you, then that's probably not what you're looking for.

   I'm the first person to tell you that this is an aesthetic art. Yes, it is about how you look, and yes, your body is part of how you look. That is definitely something you need to consider when you are submitting for roles. You know if you are truly an ingénue type, hunky guy, or sexy vixen – if that's what they are looking for. If that's what they're looking for, have that available to show them in your gallery, but get their attention with your face. Ultimately it's the close-ups that will matter in the end, and any true casting director knows that the face has to come first. Show them as much of your face as you can possible fit into a thumbnail.

The days of agents, managers, producers, casting directors, and personal trainers telling actors to stay in shape are never going to end. As I said, it is an aesthetic art, but I hope the days of agents and managers telling actresses to show their cleavage or their bust line in their headshots has come to an end. That isn't how any actress wants any job to begin. “He picked out of the digital pack because he liked my bosom,” shouldn't be a thing. If they can see your bosom in the thumb nail, then your head looks like a pinky nail.

   The casting site profile gallery is the modern comp card. That's where actors need to have their “sexy” look, their business look, thug look, sporty look, serious shot, comedic shot, full bodyshot, etc. If they are interested in your face, they'll find the other photos, and hopefully your resume as well. If you're lucky, they will spend a few minutes to look at your reel.

It takes a lot to get ahead in this trade. A good headshot can give you a leg up. A poor headshot can keep you in the fringe. Just like anything else in this industry, if you want a really good headshot, you have to do the work to get the work.

Research good photographers. Actually research, as in visit their websites, look at samples of their work. A Facebook post asking friends for recommendations is something you do when you want good Chinese food, not when you are selecting something as important as this is to your future career. Have friend take some sample shots of you – even on their phone – in the type of looks you are considering, in different types of light, with different make up. Yes, I'm saying REHEARSE you photoshoot. What a novel idea. Look at the “dailies” from your practice shoot, and learn from them before you go for your actual session. Be well rested the night before your shoot. Drink tons of water – its good for your skin. East something light – it's good for your color (a little sugar in the blood). Most importantly – have fun at your shoot. Be an actor there. Do what you do. It will show through in the photos, and make the work of choosing the best shots an easier task to accomplish. When you choose the best shot, use your head.