This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

That's a Wrap!

What an eventful and fun summer Ellery and Dylan experienced here in beautiful Southern California. Trips to the beach, family visiting from Texas, Disneyland, fishing, bowling and more!

Ellery enjoyed an extended break from filming which ended last week when she booked an episode on “The Mentalist.” So it's back to work for my little princess. Ellery is elated to get started as we gear up for Episodic Season; she loves the set, and meeting new friends is her favorite part of filming.

Dylan had an amazing summer shooting three films and a few commercials; he was a busy boy from March through August and now he is taking a short break. He had the pleasure to work with incredible scripts, directors, crew, cast and producers - all fun and rewarding.

As we wrap up summer and steady ourselves for school we will always remember the perfect summer of 2009. So many new friends were made with heart warming memories to reflect on; it just doesn’t get better.

Until we BLOG again keep it fun and stay focused little thespians.


Monday, July 27, 2009

I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends

It’s week three, day two of shooting and we get to set. Dylan has his lines down and ready to go. He and his two buddies in this ensemble cast of three orphan boys are ready for another fun and adventurous day at their third location site.

But wait!!! One of the boys worked late the night before and didn’t notice that today he has monologue scenes and more than a few of them! He has not read any of his lines and is frustrated as is the mother who unintentionally upsets the boy causing him to tear up.

Dylan’s Grandmother who happens to be sitting there seeing this say’s to Dylan, "can you please go over and ask to help your friend get his lines down?" Dylan, being the wonderfully giving kid he is, jumps at the opportunity to help his friend out!

Long story short, Dylan and Grandma saved the day for Dylan’s friend; everything worked out nicely. The production for the day was not interrupted and no one knew what happened. The mother of the boy was so grateful for the caring support.

When I heard this last night it made me so proud of how Dylan and Grandma took note of a fellow thespian in a tight spot and did something about it.

Dylan went over all the monologues with his friend throughout the day and worked with him in-between all scenes as they worked through their nine-hour day.

This is what its all about, giving.

We all need a little help from our friends.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shuffle - My Time as a Parent in the Casting Room

I was walking down Sunset Blvd. on a Saturday afternoon in April 2009 discussing the character for the audition that Dylan was heading to, when a rare thing happened...

Upon entering the audition, a nice young man asked me if I cared to sit-in on the audition.

In the three years we've lived here, never have we, the parents, been invited in on a theatrical audition, or any other type of audition for that matter.

As I thought about that, I respectfully returned with a thank you, but no thank you. As I'm sure you can appreciate, I do not like to be a distraction on set or otherwise (you know what I mean parents?).

I hesitated, then looked at Dylan to make sure that he was okay with my decision.

He wasn't. His reply was that he wanted me to join him on the audition, so I'm like, "OK then, let's roll!"

As we headed into the room, I imagined that there would be just a camera person and reader, and that that's the reason they had invited me in. WRONG again, Dads!

As we entered the room there were six or seven people huddled behind the reader and a lonely blue chair, dead center in the room in front of the casting team.

At that moment it occurred to me what strength, confidence and concentration it truly takes to be an actor. I didn't become nervous or fearful for Dylan, but instead, decided to enjoy this rare opportunity. I quickly concealed myself off to the side, behind Dylan's view.

The reader asked Dylan if he was ready, and Dylan politely asked her if he could have a minute. The reader told him to let her know whenever he was ready, and Dylan took 30 seconds or so, then nodded for her to start.

I watched this process full of pride and excitement as he delivered a flawless and beautiful two- scene audition, both intense and emotional. I still get goosebumps when I think back on how well he played this supporting lead character... Wow!

When he finished, the comments from the team were all extremely complimentary. Dylan very politely asked if they wanted him to adjust anything or redo either of the scenes. The response was that he had made excellent character choices and had done a great job! They thanked him, and we made sure to thank them back before taking off.

As we passed through the main exit door my little boy looked up at me and said, "Dad, how did I do?" I stopped, looked at his sweet face and said, "You knocked it way out of the park, son." I couldn't find the words to articulate his exceptional performance, so I used the word "strong" and followed up with, "very strong work Son."

As we walked and talked, I shared with him that I had not yet realized how talented he had become and how very proud he should be of himself. I gave him a hug and held his hand as we celebrated his well deserved moment of glory. I could tell how happy he was that I saw how certain he was of what he was doing.

My final comment to Dylan was that one of three things was going to happen:

1. They book you immediately.

2. They go with someone with the same strong read but with a better character match.

3. They call you back, and then you book it.

He ended up with number 3.

As I watched Dylan that afternoon I thought to myself how I would have immediately cast him without question. I told this to Dylan that day, and have done so a few times since.

Today I'm on set with Dylan, watching him shoot the film. I'm entilting this BLOG, "SHUFFLE".

Three life-shuffling years of relentlessness, commitment and experience, and my son is now a relaxed actor, and an actor who continues to improve and learn his craft. We are so very proud of his beginning accomplishments and growth. Dylan is such a wonderful and giving person, and we admire him so very much.

As of today, he is scheduled to shoot a few more Burger King commercials this year, as well as being on avail for a Disney project, and up for another supporting lead role in a feature film. He is consistently receiving positive feedback, and is enjoying himself, all from just having fun at a craft he continues to love, learn and improve upon.

Hard work and commitment yields the priceless opportunity to be on set, which is where Dylan & Ellery love to be.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Interview with Dylan Sprayberry

In light of the fact that the Children In Film Speaker Series will soon be hosting Carl Sprayberry and his two children, Dylan and Ellery, CIF and Carl sat down with the kids for a brief "update interview." We wanted to give readers the opportunity to find out what is going on with the kids.

The following is Dylan's Interview:

Q: How and why did you get started in acting?

DS: When I got started at [age] five, I was too young to really know what acting was. Now I understand and acting is one of my favorite things to do!

Q: What current child actor/actress inspires you?

DS: Not really kid actors so much; I like Hugh Jackman and Bruce Willis because they get so much into their characters.

Q: So do you hope to maybe have a similar career path as one of these adult actors?

DS: Hugh Jackman, maybe, because he plays characters in Superhero and action movies. How cool is it that he booked Wolverine that lead to 3 Xmen Films and the latest "Origin of Wolverine" That would be so much fun to do all of those films!

Q: And he just did the Oscars! That is cool!! So do you see acting as a hobby or a career?

DS: I see acting as a career because it is what I want to do; it's the best! ... and a great way to make friends.

Q:What about school? Do you think it helps with your acting or makes it more difficult?

DS: It helps. In school you learn things about history that can help me when I'm thinking about or getting into a character.

Q: That's a good point; how else do you work on your craft?

DS: When I'm reading a script I vision in my mind who my character is, what he looks like, where I am and what the setting looks like. I also take classes and get coached; this helps me connect with the character.

Q: So you take classes with a professional?

DS: Yes, most Saturdays. And I have for three years now.

Q: Is there something neat you've learned from your parents, in a class, or on the set that you use as a trick or tool while you work? For example, a special way to memorize lines?

DS: Subtexting.

Q: Wow, that sounds complicated. What is that?

DS: I think of one word that best describes the character, like if I were playing a football kid I would think of being a jock and work on building the character from that word.

Q: How do you think your parents help you as an actor?

DS: My parents help me with the script breakdowns and understanding the character. My parents take me to auditions and coaching sessions. They buy me drawing materials and different things that help me as an actor.

Q: Is there something you think they could do better or that you wish they would do?

DS: No; my parents do everything they should be doing.

Q: What would you tell all the kids out there that want to be working regularly as an actor like you?

DS: Be prepared and have fun, you don't have to book to be good, just do your best work.

Q: What would you tell their parents?

DS: I would tell the parents to watch for the other kids telling their kids that they can't act or they're not good, because some kids aren't nice.

Q: Like bullying you mean? One actor tries to tell another one that they aren't good?

DS: Yes

Q: How's life now? Any new news or something you want to share with us? It can be anything.

DS: Life is amazing because my parents make my life great and they steer me the right way with a great home and I have great friends and I love drawing superheros and faces. Ellery and I just completed a film as brother and sister; it was awesome and awesome to work with my sister!

An Interview with Ellery Sprayberry

The following is an interview conducted with Ellery Sprayberry:

Q: Why and how did you get started in acting?

ES: I got starting in acting because my parents made it happen. Today I really love acting; it's my life, I love acting!

Q: What current child actors or actresses inspire you?

ES: I like Macaulay Culkin. He makes his movies seem so real.

Q: Macaulay is all grown up now. Do you admire any adult actors?

ES: Lesley Ann Warren. She makes me feel inspired and she makes it fun. That's what I really look up to.

Q: Is acting your hobby or your career?

ES: I think it's a career for me because I really, really love acting. I know it will be in my life forever.

Q: What about school? Do you think it helps with your acting or makes it more difficult?

ES: I think it helps. School is what makes you smart. If you want to be an actor or actress you always have to be smart and think because thats part of acting.

Q: How do you work on your craft?

ES: I focus on my scripts and take them seriously. Every time I go to my coach he teaches me and this is how you learn to be better. Little things that help me are learning the beats. I go to a weekly class along with the auditions and filming and that helps me get better.

Q: Do you take classes?

ES: Yes with Janet Alhanti

Q: Is there something neat you've learned from your parents, in a class, or on the set that you use as a trick or tool while you something that makes you memorize lines?

ES: If I am playing a sad character or a scene I think of something really really sad and I don't talk when I'm getting into character. I taught myself how to cry; a scene that is sad will help me get into character and make it easier to cry.

Congrats on teaching yourself to cry! That's tough!
ES: Thanks

Q: How do you think your parents help you as an actor?

ES: Well they always inspire me and tell me things like "you can do it" and "You're the best" and that really helps me get into character.

Q: Is there something you think they could do better or that you wish they would do?

ES: They are the best parents ever. They could buy me an iPhone. (smiles) Just kidding!

Q: What would you tell other kids that want to be actors?

ES: To always do your best on auditions and you'll start making fans. Trust me. After you make fans you get more auditions and even if you book a small part its special to book anything so always think that way.

Q: Would you tell their parents anything?

ES: I would probably say that [they should] always inspire [their] kids and never let them down. I mean, always tell them they are the best.

Q: How is life right now? Anything you want to share with us? It can be about anything.

ES: Well I think life is fantastic, but part of it, on the other side is that my grandfather is in the hospital which makes me feel sad.

We're sorry to hear that, El

ES: My family is worried about my Grandma and it makes me sad when my mom is sad. We try to make the best out of it. I like LA because its so outgoing and fun! I have a new "Movie of the Week" coming out March 7th staring Lesley Ann Warren and Meredith Baxter called "Bound By A Secret"

Congrats Ellery! Keep us posted!!