Q & A INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR CUYLE CARVIN
Film Courage: Were you involved with acting growing up or was this a field which became an interest as you became older?
Cuyle: Not until I was about 21 or 22. Growing up I was a jock and only cared how fast I could run and trying to dunk a basketball. The whole theater world didn't really exist in my mind. The entire student plays our school did I had no interest in. I only did them because I had to. The turning point was the movie Braveheart. I didn't know it at the time but I think that was the initial inspiration. It was my tipping point which moved me to start thinking the whole movie world was something I might be interested in. I remember going through a gamut of emotions when I watched the movie. I had the same feeling with Titanic a couple of years later. It was the first time I saw a movie and became so emotionally invested. I just wanted to change the world. While attending college I had to take a couple of theater courses as part of the curriculum. I actually had a good time. I didn't have a major course of study and out of all the curriculum classes I took theater was the most fun.
Film Courage: Was your family supportive when you announced the intention to become a professional actor?
Cuyle: Yes. I have the best family in terms of their spirit and support. I honestly can do anything, and believe me, I've tried some doozies, and they'd support me. They think some of the things I've done are dumb, but they've always supported me.
Film Courage: Did moving from New York to Los Angeles increase your exposure? What have been both the low and high points of making this transition? Has the move expanded your visibility?
Cuyle: I thought I was doing a lot of work in NYC. Maybe I was but it's nothing compared to what's been happening since I've been in LA. The work opportunities are easily tenfold here in LA. I cut my teeth in NYC, made a ton of mistakes, met a lot of great people and built a solid resume there, but LA is the mecca for the industry.
There's definitely been a lot of struggle in the transition. I worked almost at will on the East Coast. I could be on an indie film set everyday if I chose to, but the problem was, it didn't always pay and sometimes the projects were not very professional. But I could've stayed at home and been working nonstop. What's the point of spending so much of my resources, time, talent, money and having to sacrifice family and personal time and not benefitting at all. I'm not talking about just getting paid for everything. I mean not advancing in my career either. You can do low/no budget films for eternity, but depending what you want out of your career, they won't really move you forward. That's why I had to make the move to LA. The toughest part is that I pretty much had to start over in LA. I still had my NY agent, which was/is a complete blessing, but I didn't know anyone. None of the casting directors or offices knew me, any production companies, other actors, directors, etc. – I was brand new, alongside of a million other actors in LA. The competition level in LA is killer. There's literally thousands of 'Cuyle Carvins' here in LA, meaning guys of my type, look and ability. I have to show them there is only one Cuyle Carvin!
The good news is that things can happen a lot faster here in LA. Careers can happen, or at least seem to happen, overnight. You see it all the time, an actor you've never heard of is suddenly in five summer blockbuster movies and becomes a big star, and it seems like it just happened out of the blue. What you don't know is the actor fought hard for many years, building a resume, making contacts, and even getting denied and told they'll never work in this town. We all go through it as part of the experience. Two great examples of this are Steve Carell – he's a big star now and when he got a part in the Jim Carrey movie, Bruce Almighty, no one really knew who he was. Carell got a ton of recognition from the movie and his career really started to take off. When he was interviewed and asked how it felt to be an overnight success he replied it was a “fifteen year overnight success.”' It’s the same situation with Jeremy Renner. He's blowing up! In an Entertainment Weekly article a few months ago, when Mission Impossible 4 was coming out, Renner said at 30, ten years prior to this interview; he was sitting in his Hollywood studio. The actor was eating Ramen noodles by candlelight because he couldn't even afford electricity.
But yeah, back on topic now. I have made good strides in getting my name out here in Hollywood. It seems to be a never ending struggle, but that's part of the fun and will make success much sweeter. Plus, I have a friend, Fred Grandinetti, who helps me a lot in the PR department. He helps to submit my name and anything somewhat 'newsworthy' about my career to news sites, interview sites and more. He's really helped me out in so many ways.
Film Courage: You mentioned in a prior interview the power of saying “yes.” Could you elaborate on this and how it has benefited your career in front of and behind the camera?
Cuyle: I'll start by saying that about three out of every four projects I get are through contacts I’ve made on another project, or networking. The sound guy on one film is the director of another and they ask me to be in their film. I'm certain this kind of situation happens daily.
I've met a lot of actors that have said they'll never do extra work, or they'll never work for free or they'll never pay for this or that. I think there are certain times when there's power in saying 'no' too and there's definitely time an actor should say 'no' to the things mentioned above. This should happen much later in your career, not while learning, building a resume and certainly not at the beginning of one’s career. If you never work for free, I can almost guarantee you'll never work, period. You can get away with making a career without ever doing background work, but it’s easy money and a great learning tool; sometimes it can be a great networking tool. Then there are actors who won't pay for certain things like Casting Director workshops, or agent workshops. It's part of the game. It's a business. You have to spend money to make it. Of course there are always exceptions to the things above, but it's one in a million. Saying 'yes' means doing what you have to do in order to do what you want to do.
Film Courage: What led you to form By the C productions? What are the differences you have discovered working behind the camera rather than in front of it?
Cuyle: Working more and more, I found I had more and more ideas on how a scene should go, or how a story should be told, or what angle to shoot the next scene. But I was an actor on set, not the director. As an actor, you certainly have the freedom to create your character and try new ideas out, but it always has to be in the confines of what the director wants from you. It's his film, not yours.
The more I worked the more creative control I wanted on the aspects of making a film. The only way to do this was to start directing them. Between that and watching so many horribly produced indie films, I knew if they could do it, I certainly could. So I did. I started By the C Productions and I plan on making films for the rest of my life. I think directing other actors and writing screenplays have also in turn helped my acting. I see how actors work, what I like about it, what I don't, what works, what doesn't and also, probably most importantly, how it's the story which matters, not the actors. I've learned how important it is for the actor to serve the story and not the other way around.
Film Courage: Why did you start Awesome Hour Fitness? Has your interest in educating individuals in exercise and nutrition been a benefit towards your performing career?
Cuyle: Like I said I was a jock growing up. Then in college I played a little bit of football. I learned a good workout regimen and even after I left the football team, I continued with the workouts. I made some really good fitness gains and my friends wanted to do whatever I was doing so they started joining me in the gym. Many friends and years later, when I moved to LA, I needed money and since I was already training friends, I figured I should start getting paid for it. I made a website and did some local advertising and thankfully there's a park right around the corner from my apartment, and wahlah – Awesome Hour Fitness was born.
I have to admit that my reasons for working out and staying fit were of vanity when I was younger. I wanted to look good, I wanted muscles on top of muscles and I wanted other people to notice too. Haha! Now, it's much different. I'm getting older and I can definitely feel my body changing. My body reacts differently to exercise, to what I eat and my daily habits. Above all else, I'm so glad I was active as a kid and throughout my life. I honestly feel that if I wasn't growing up, if I didn't instill this kind of healthy living and active lifestyle early, it would be much harder to make it happen now. When the responsibilities of being an adult hit you in the face one day, if you don't have healthy habits or education, it's easy to fall into a sedentary life. Not always because you want to but because time becomes a limited resource.
It's important to make it a habit of learning how to eat healthy and be active when you're young. Later it won't require much of an effort as you get older.
A little off topic but I have to say this also. I have a lot of friends and even family who like to say things like,” You only live once, and I want to enjoy my food” or something of that nature. It's a valid and agreeable argument. After all, we all know people or have heard of health freaks, which only eat vegetables and run 10 miles a day only to die of a heart attack when they're 42. On the flip side we know people who eat five donuts for breakfast and three cheese steaks a day for dinner. They’re drinking eight bottles of beer plus smoke a pack a day and live until 90. It happens. But these are exceptions. Even more so, it's not about eating healthy and being active so you can live to see 100 years old. Anyone has the potential to live that long. What matters is how you spend your old age. Do you want to take 10 pills a day for 5 different diseases or ailments, or visit the hospital regularly, or have to cut out salt or some other item from your diet forever? I want to grow old, God willing, healthy, without seeing my doctor, not taking any pills and continuing to eat the foods I've always eaten. For those who argue that a healthy diet is more expensive. You can pay the farmer a few extra dollars now or pay the doctor thousands and thousands later.
Film Courage: In addition to teaching adults the importance of staying in shape you also share your passion with children. Did you have any personal experiences which led you to include children in your teachings?
Cuyle: Nothing in particular other than how thankful I am now for all of the opportunities that my parents and community offered me to even have the privilege of being active and healthy. I think it's important for people to know that genetics do not have to determine your health. Some adults don't believe this because they've tried to make a difference for themselves and they see how hard it is, how slow the progress is, how bad eating healthy tastes (not true at all!!), etc...Like I said before, if kids can grasp the concept and practice it early, it's no effort to continue for their whole lives.
Film Courage: What led to the publication of The Cuyle Carvin Coloring Book? Where has it been distributed and what personal satisfaction have you received from its publication?
Cuyle: My friend and PR guy, Fred Grandinetti presented the idea to me and I thought it was awesome. We went through a couple revisions before the final coloring book was created but I think it's a cool little story and it definitely puts a 'healthy' spin on the impressionable crowd that it's geared for. It's been distributed to children's hospitals, youth groups, and youth focused charity groups. It's also available per request.
Film Courage: What other charitable activities have you been involved with?
Cuyle: In the past I've worked with Team for Kids which is a NYC based charity group which helps to raise money to provide both active events and educational opportunities on fitness and nutrition to families which live in underprivileged communities. Right now I'm working with Connections for Children out of Santa Monica, CA which is similar in scope. They help fund educational opportunities to children combating obesity.
Film Courage: A recent role was that of a superhero called Captain Battle. As this character is of a patriotic nature did you feel any additional pressure especially wearing a heroic costume?
Cuyle: I didn't feel any added pressure, no. I actually was most excited to play a character with such a good moral and ethical appeal. I personally think it's important that if you “can” you should help the people who “can’t” I think this is the concept behind all superheroes.
Film Courage: Any particular genres in film which you have a fondness in being involved with?
Cuyle: I just like being a part of stories that make an audience feel something. I don't necessarily care what feeling that is, but if a person can get emotionally involved in a film – that's what I care about. That said I love doing horror films.
Cuyle Carvin is an American Actor known for his leading man looks, heartthrob physique and his versatility which has helped him land over 35 indie films.
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