Today we’d like to introduce you to Brent Harvey.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Brent. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was a Marine Corps Combat Photographer from 1999 – 2003. My last six months in the service was spent documenting the invasion of Iraq. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, I wanted to be an actor. However, in the Midwest there wasn’t much support of the arts let alone someone to show me how to become a Hollywood actor and I couldn’t afford college. So, I joined the Marines to get out into the world.
During my time in the Marines I learned how to write, shoot and edit film. There was also another Marine who had been making films for years as a kid and studied film. He took me under his wing and started teaching me film theory and we would discuss films we watched. In the military there is a lot of downtime in the field, so we would take that time to shoot short films, which got me deeper into the production side of things.
After my Honorary Discharge I moved to Los Angeles and started studying acting for a year, but it was very difficult for me. I didn’t understand the Meisner Method and because of that I felt I wasn’t ready so I left Los Angeles for the East Coast. I traveled around studying at various acting studios in Washington, D.C. and St. Petersburg, Florida. I also started writing and directing more projects, including two spec commercials for the Doritos Crash the Superbowl competition, which both made it into the top 25. One of them was actually taken from me by Doritos and remade for the following year’s Super Bowl.
I returned to Los Angeles to continue my studies as an actor and director. Using my GI Bill, I studied film at New York Film Academy and UCLA and after about a year studying acting at my acting studio, I was asked to join the staff and begin teaching. When I moved to Los Angeles, I found that many of the people already established in the industry were unsupportive and unwilling to share their knowledge on how to succeed and navigate Hollywood. This was very upsetting and frustrating to me, because I spent the first three years in Los Angeles just trying to figure out what to do and at that point I promised myself that when I got to a place of success I would do everything I could to pass the information along so hopefully no one else would have to go through what I went through.
Becoming a teacher gave me that opportunity, and I ran with it. I took all my years of knowledge and experience as an actor, writer, director and producer and helped hundreds of my students take their dreams of being a Hollywood actor and making them come true. I found tools and processes that were traditionally used for writers and directors and applied them with tools for actors and began getting massive results for my students. As time passed, I found myself limited by classroom sizes and time and I couldn’t help as many students as I wanted to. So, I started A Whole Productions.
Most of our projects are created along with our students. Our structure is when an actor works as a crew member on one project, they are then able to act in another project. We found that this not only cut down on cost of production, which allowed us to create more without constantly having to find money for production, but more importantly we were giving actors knowledge of how to create their own projects or at least they would get the understanding of what crew members go through so that when they go onto set they understand the process more and they have more empathy and respect for what the production crew does in order to make them look and sound good. Therefore, our slogan for Actors Whole is “For Actors, By Actors”.
We currently have online courses designed to help actors at all levels take their craft and confidence to the next level using the tools that I have applied for eight years as a teacher. Our goal is to not only help those actors locally in Los Angeles, but any aspiring actor who might be in the Midwest or even the Middle East who might be much like I was, in an environment that doesn’t have the resources or encouragement to pursue their dreams, because they seem so far away. We want to make the journey for anyone willing to learn much easier and enjoyable than ours was. Because we believe that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Lol, no. But as I have learned, a smooth road isn’t exciting and we don’t grow from it. Much like a video game that is easy to beat you no longer play it, because there is no challenge. One of the biggest challenges was the fact that when I came to Los Angeles, most of the individuals established in the industry wouldn’t share information. The gist of it was, “I had to learn the hard way, so I’m not going to make it easier for you.” At one point I had a late 50 year old man tell me if he shared information with me, then I would be his competition. I was 27 at the time. Not a risk to him at all. It was heartbreaking because it ended up taking me close to four years to figure out the basics and by then I had spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours just asking what the steps were.
The challenges that stick out to me would be when Doritos had the competition for filmmakers to submit spec commercials in hopes of getting it played at the Super Bowl and a chance to win $1 million. I filmed two that year and both made it into the top 25 based on the rules they gave us. We ran a hard international campaign getting thousands of people to support us and we had top numbers and at when the day came to announce the top ten winners we weren’t included even though we were in the top four based off votes, turned out they had another set of secret rules they didn’t tell us about and a secret committee decided, not the voters. Then I found that the winners in an interview said that Doritos had personally called them and asked them to submit a video, because they had submitted one the previous year. Then the nail in the coffin was the following year’s Super Bowl, Doritos had taken my spec commercial, reshot it and played it during the game. In reality the $1 million dollars wasn’t even theirs it was USA Today’s. What they were really doing was getting filmmakers to submit and therefore getting millions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property for free and therefore they could take the content and ideas and claim ownership. Heartbreaking.
Another major challenge for me was at the studio I was teaching at; I began to realize that it didn’t stand for what they were preaching. Because I was an actor, I always wanted to make sure the actors’ interest came first and foremost. I didn’t feel that that was the studio’s main priority, and therefore I had to step away because I no longer wanted to be associated with those kinds of practices. It was one of the toughest times of my life, because I walked away from a lot of money and all my students who I cared about very much, but my soul wouldn’t let me continue to justify generating income for something I no longer believed in. But because of that I knew what kind of teacher and mentor I wanted to be and I have set those standards for myself and my classes since then and I can tell by the way my students respond that they feel like they are heard, that they aren’t lost in the numbers or just put placed in the position of becoming a full time student instead of being pushed to become a full time actor. Most of them have become very close friends.
The most recent challenge was when we had created the web series “Struggle-ing” which was written as a love / hate letter to the industry about the ups and down of being an actor in Hollywood. It seemed to me that when stories were told about actors in Hollywood, they were either so lucky they just became movie stars or they were perceived as winey and untalented damaged people and I wanted to represent the other 80% of actors. So, it was written in a few weeks, we had eight episodes, which we pulled students and friends together and had forty seven actors playing characters and we shot it all on an iPhone 7 spending a total of $360. We submitted it for the PrimeTime Emmy Awards in 2018 in the short form category and got selected. We got in towards the end of submission and only had about a month to raise money and campaign simultaneously. It was hard, grueling 20 hour days for weeks, and since we couldn’t afford billboards or the sides of buses, we even printed 20 foot vinyl banners and every day of the week stood outside studios and production offices to get Academy members to vote for us. By the end of it we missed the nomination slightly, but everyone else who beat us out had studios supporting them. Though it was heartbreaking, we did something amazing in such a short period of time people from all over remembered who we were.
Lastly when we when to get our email address for the company, someone already had Awholeproductions@gmail.com so we ended up with AWholeProds@gmail.com, which just made our name even more memorable. We laugh at that all the time.
A WHOLE PRODUCTIONS – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We educate other actors through in person classes, online courses and on set mentorship. As educators we have been focused on helping actors find and develop their own method that works for them and not a one size fits all method. And that is what we are most proud of and what sets us apart from others.
Unfortunately, there are too many studios whose main focus is to “dangle the carrot” in front of actors with the promise that “one day” they will be ready for the secret to success in this industry. And through the idea that they “aren’t ready” they end up creating full time students and not working actors, which is good for the studio as a business, but not the actor.
What sets us apart is we not only teach the craft of acting, but we teach them how to create their own opportunities through content creation. Actors become what we like to call Self-Sustaining Actors, which is why we are called A Whole meaning A Whole Actor, by giving them tools that allow them to be able to push themselves to their highest potential, in their craft and in their life, and not lean on a teacher or the hopes of an amazing director or put their dreams in the basket of “luck”, and therefore they build their self-confidence and learn to trust themselves so they take charge of their career and their craft. One way we do this is through the one for one system we set up where any actor who wants to work on one of our productions has to work as a crew member on a project and then they are able to act in another. Therefore teaching them both sides of the camera, which makes them a very valuable actor more people desire to work with because they are able to do simple little things on set that make the jobs of the crew easier because they understand what they need from them to do their best job.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My definition of success has changed over the years of course, but at this point in my life to me success consists of a balance between, health, financial wealth, spiritual wealth, creative wealth, intimate and romantic wealth, family and mental wealth.
We have been brought up in this capitalistic society that says success is fame and fortune and therefore all those who don’t have it live unhappy lives because they think they don’t have any value in the world, yet I have met billionaires and movie stars and 99% of them are unhappy and miserable. Why? Because they are breaking in all other areas of their lives. I know people who don’t have a dollar to their name, but they are the happiest people in the world, yet they don’t have the resources to spread their happiness and show others how to live life. So, they don’t have it balanced either.
Therefore, it’s a balance in all these areas. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to achieve certain levels of success in my life and career, but I’ve learned that no matter if I have them or not, they don’t define my happiness and therefore I remind myself that to, “Be grateful, but don’t settle.” And the realization of the Law of Attraction, which states if you aren’t grateful for what you currently have, you won’t be happy with what you think will.
Or another way to look at it is, learn to enjoy the journey to success and not the end result. So, I would say my markers would be, are your happy no matter what? Because as Abraham Hicks says, “You can’t have a happy ending to an unhappy journey.”
- Online Courses start at $375 (lifetime access)
- In Person Classes $275
- One on One Coaching starts at $175
- Address: 1049 Havenhurst Drive
#422 West Hollywood, CA 90046
- Website: awholeproductions.com
- Phone: 3173661738
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @awholeproductions
- Facebook: @awholeprods
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChoBVDrrPe79wF_bU72gWCA