Atlanta's Movers and Shakers: Maria Liatis of Cart Reel Films, LLC.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Maria Liatis and I am the owner of Cart Reel Films, a demo reel creation company. I am a working actress, writer, producer, and director. I have a pet ferret named Master Pot Roast, I love dense chocolate cake, and tend to relate real-life situations with scenes from movies.
How did you get your start in the Entertainment Industry?
I started to work in the entertainment industry when I was in middle school. At the time, I was living in the Philippines, and an agent ‘discovered’ me at volleyball practice. I started going out to auditions and go-sees, but as soon as things got going, I had to move back to the United States.
From 10th to 12th grade, I stopped acting and focused on my schoolwork. Honestly, I became an introvert and was too scared to participate in the acting programs at my high school. Thankfully, once I got to college, I decided to major in Theatre. I graduated with a BA in Theatre from the University of Georgia. During my last year, I signed with People Store Agency, which launched my professional acting career.
Tell us a little about Cart Reel Films and what services do you offer?
Cart Reel Films is dedicated to creating original footage for actors to use for their demo reels. A lot of times, it is difficult for actors to build their reels because they either haven’t booked the right gig or they can’t get a copy of their footage. We like to cut out the middleman. We want actors to have more control and can showcase their talent.
We create original monologues and scenes that are custom-made for our clients. As the writer of the pieces, I draw inspiration from the talent by asking them a series of questions, getting to know their personality, and using images and video clips to determine their type. My partner Michael Gorgoglione handles the filming and editing, while I write and direct. By keeping our crew small, we are able to offer economical packages for the working actor.
Can you share with our readers the importance of an aspiring actor to have a demo reel?
A demo reel is a definite must-have for the working actor and even the aspiring actor. We’ve worked with several clients who were shopping around for agents, and a demo reel is what helped them land that agent. Through online casting services, casting directors will view entries with demo reels first and may not even consider talent without reels. Being able to showcase what you can do will open doors; a headshot and resume alone can only get you so far. Having a demo reel, and a good one I should say can be the determining factor for getting an audition or booking a role.
What differentiates Cart Reel Films from other production companies that may offer the same services?
As I had mentioned before, we purposely keep our operation small to offer affordable packages to the working actor, without skimping on quality. Also, we take pride in our work as it represents our own skills. Our success directly correlates with our client’s success. Michael is a cinematographer, so he wants to make sure that every project he shares reflects who he is as an artist. For me, I have been an acting coach for 10 years, and I love working with talent and directing them on set. I work alongside the actor to make sure we are capturing their best performance. And as a writer, I enjoy the opportunity of developing a variety of stories and the challenge of capturing different styles.
What is one piece of advice you would offer an aspiring actor?
Do the work and don’t take any shortcuts! Before taking your headshots, hunting for an agent, or shooting your demo reel, please, please, please sign up for acting classes! And if you’ve already taken classes, take more! Actors should always be honing their craft! Plus, you can learn so much from different acting coaches. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take classes and how surprised I am that aspiring actors are trying to skip this step. If you were learning to be a surgeon, you wouldn’t skip med school, right?! Don’t cut me open with those novice hands!
I can promise you that if you do not train first, it will hurt your career. Agents, casting directors, and other industry professionals will know if you have not done your homework. They will talk. You will get a bad reputation. And doors will then close on you that will be very difficult to open back up. If you are serious about taking on this challenging career, then please take classes. End of rant.
Where do you see the Atlanta Film and TV industry within the next five years?
Ay-ay-ay... Good question. Well, if tax cuts and financial incentives remain in place, then I see it continuing to boom as it has been. There has been so much growth in the industry since I began 15 years ago (don’t do the math!). Projects are being shot all over the place – just look for the yellow film signs! And how about that enormous studio Tyler Perry just built?! (insert slow clap to uproarious applause*) I think one of the biggest changes we will see, and one that I am hoping to see soon, is that local Atlanta actors will start to book more lead roles. Dear producers and directors, Atlanta actors are just as good as LA and NY-based actors, we can handle lead roles too. Hire us. Thank you, and goodnight.
For more information, be sure to check out the Cart Reel Films, LLC., website!