Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I'm staring at a framed photo in my office. It's of my wife Brianne, she's sitting on a window ledge in Istanbul, looking out over the city. When I blew up the picture to print, I noticed for the first time a worker on the roof across the way, I really love the photo and up on the wall, it feels like I'm looking out a window. However, when I framed the photo, I trimmed the photo imperfectly, in fact the left corner wings out. It's subtle, you'd have to really study the photo to see it, but of course my eyes goes right to it every time. I want to pull the frame down and fix it. But today, something hit me as I was thinking of writing this post; it's okay that it's not perfect, it doesn't have to be... and neither do I.

Perfection can motivate me and drive me to going to the 'nth degree to do my best at whatever I am doing.  But, perfection can also paralyze me and honestly quite often does. It stops me from finishing that script, working out, eating right, killing at an audition and the list goes on. Even writing a blog post can seem overwhelming and easily become a 'to do' that never gets done.

It's been way too long since I've posted and not because nothing has been going on that would inspire a post, just the opposite. My wife Brianne and I produced our third movie together and was her second, she directed. Our first two features we produced together have found distribution through Anchor Bay Entertainment. Then we got married, went on a mini-honeymoon and moved into a house.  It's been an incredible ride.

And yet I would never have thought that I would then be HIRED to DIRECT MY FIRST FEATURE!
Directing my lead actor COLIN EGGLESFIELD
I wrote down that I wanted to be directing by April of 2015. I assumed when I wrote it, that it would be a film we optioned called A PLACE APART. I had no idea that in February, I would get a call from Nancy Leopardi who I worked with on THE BANNEN WAY asking if I had a director's reel.

I recently heard a great analogy for success that's compared to the Fire Triangle which is Heat, Oxygen and Fuel. They said that it success is Preparation, Skill and Luck. You can control two, the preparation and skill, the third luck you can't. But when luck strikes, if you've got the other two, then you've got fire! I guess that's what happened. I made a decision last year to update my site and make sure it was clear that I was an Actor/Director. As I said, I wanted to direct a movie in April and I wanted people that I'd be connecting with, to see that I was taking it seriously. I had no idea what it could come to.

Making this movie was one of the most incredible experiences of my life (besides our incredible wedding of course!). From cast, producers, department heads to production assistants, every person that worked on the film brought their A-Game and I was so lucky to have them. Obviously I had to bring mine, I had to lead, I had to be the one that was the most prepared, brought the best attitude and always remembered the big picture. I believe I did the best job I could and am very proud of it. I can't wait to share it with the world!

Table Read of my first feature.
Everything in my life, the successes and my perceived failures all influenced my actions throughout this process. Actually, more so the ones where I had screwed up, where my fear of failure and of success had taken me down a path that caused me to sabotage the situation, even in the smallest way. All of these little things helped me to prepare for this opportunity and to NOT screw it up. 

Since the launch of The Bannen Way, I've pitched ten different TV shows, digital series and movies. I've created sizzle reels, pilot presentations and even a music video for six of them. And NOT ONE OF THEM has been sold. Some were so close I could taste it, others have had been well received but for what ever reason didn't take. I still have three that are in active development and I am still very much optimistic!

With all of those projects I gave everything I had, I worked my ass off to make them happen.  But each one, I took away a valuable lesson, a better understanding of myself, my limitations and my strengths. Even my experience on The Bannen Way shaped and informed the way that I would handle myself during prep, shooting and post. Working with Sony and Crackle, was a new experience for us at the time, we had people that had given us a lot of money and had expectations. It was important to know how to play well with others and to remember we all wanted to make the best project.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I remember doing that monologue from Hamlet for my teacher Milton Katselas, he stopped me at the first "BE". He asked what was the scene about, what was going on. I talked about the idea of life and death and suicide and, and... he cut me off again; "It's about BEING! Life, love, your dreams... everything. Do you do it or NOT do it!"

Let's face it, the life of an artist can be brutal. For every YES there's hundreds, no thousands of NOs. But when the yes comes, there's no guarantee that happiness and joy will follow. Because you've wanted it so bad for so long, had so many opportunities that went from a possibility to a NO, that you've now set up the expectations so high that "THIS JOB" could be the job that's "MY BIG BREAK". Instead of it just being what it is; an opportunity to do what I love doing, with people who love what they're doing.

There's the time where SOMEONE gives you the YES and there's the times where you say YES TO YOURSELF.  As much as I like to think I create a lot of my opportunities, I've also been very blessed to have many people say yes to me over the years.

But there was this little part of me that believed that certain jobs just weren't going to happen for me. For example, booking TV Guest Star roles seemed to pass me by. I couldn't land one for the life of me. I realized that I had made up my mind that those roles just weren't my thing, I had to make my own shows if I wanted to do TV. Once I had that realization, I made a conscious effort to let that belief go. Within a few weeks of this A HA MOMENT, I booked a top of show guest star role on TNT's Major CrimesA month later I booked a National/Network Cadillac Commercial and had a pin in me three times for three Network TV series. 

There are these different phases of the acting process; the hunt for the opportunity/audition, the audition, the callback, the booking, the shooting and then the time when it AIRS/SCREENS/RELEASED. All phases have it's challenges and rewards but there's always that anxious feeling when your work is going to be OUT there for the world to see... to JUDGE! At least that's the fear that comes up and there's a bit of truth to the fear as people seem to have no problem critiquing your work safely sitting behind their computers.  But who gives a FUCK? What do these people mean to me? Nothing, really but I can give them so much time in my head. The challenge for the artist is putting your work out there and knowing not everyone is going to love IT or YOU.

So I guess this post came about for several reasons, one because I've got four films that have just completed post production that I've acted in, two of them I also produced.  They're all going to be at AFM (American Film Market) in November where sales agents will be trying to get distribution for them. I've been fortunate to see all of them and am proud of my work. So the idea of more of my work getting out their can be a bit nerve wracking.

I'm also less than two days away from doing a PLAY for the first time in almost ten years.  It's one thing to do all the phases as stated earlier and then have someone watch you in the safety of their own home, it's another to ask them to trek through LA traffic, sit in a theater for 90 minutes and watch you PERFORM it LIVE. 

Our hope is that it's somewhat entertaining and people leave having gone on a ride. I've been pushed completely out of my comfort zone and see my own sabotage creeping up from time to time. But in the end, it's not about what results will come from the ten performances, but instead this journey thus far and what we're still to gain. 

I'm sure there will be those that love what we've created and others that won't. I guess at the end of the day I can't concern myself with either and just do the work.

I'm saying YES TO MYSELF and that's got to be enough. 

In case you're in LA here's the info:


Beverly Hills Playhouse

254 S. Robertson Blvd

Beverly Hills, CA 90210



November 3rd,4th,5th,6th at 7:30pm (these are for the acting classes, so might be better on other nights, but welcome to come to these.)

November 7th,8th, at 8pm

November 9th at 7pm

November 14,15 at 8pm

and FINAL PERFORMANCE November 16th at 7pm




Monday, December 30, 2013


Originally posted on FILM COURAGE  (Was just voted runner up for Top 10 Most Viewed Articles)

It’s true; I hate waiting for shit to happen. I’ve sort of made a name for myself for being the guy that doesn’t wait for things to happen and creating my own career. I was fortunate enough to have some success with a unique (at the time) web series/feature film called The Bannen Way, which I co-created and starred in for Sony’s I developed the project with Jesse Warren, writing every day for six months and producing two five-minute episodes. Three years later we had produced and launched the show on Crackle and it was distributed worldwide via VOD, Amazon, iTunes and DVD. So far… so good right?

THE BANNEN WAY: (Center) Mark Gantt as Neal Bannen

But the journey has only just begun really. That project took up three years of my life, we worked tirelessly, 24/7 and put our hearts and souls into it. When we were finished, the age-old question kept popping up from everyone, “What’s next?” – What’s next??? We just finished this insane project, under budget, on time and with pretty good success. Wasn’t that enough? I was really thinking that, I was taking it so personal that people wanted to know what I was doing next. I was burnt out and excited at the same time.
What happened – What happened is I slipped back into the old thinking. The idea that someday, someone with some clout in Tinsel Town would ‘discover me.’ I really thought that with the success of Bannen I’d have no problem getting that lead role in a TV series or great role in an indie feature that goes to Sundance or Tribeca. I completely forgot why I was creating the show in the first place – I HATE WAITING.

Luckily my friend and producer on Bannen, Bailey Williams was there to wake me up. We went back to the grind, developing our own ideas, optioning others, putting together pitch documents and began the pitching process. We were so close on several projects but,  for one reason or another just didn’t happen. During that time, amazing collaborations came my way.  I hooked up with web series creators like Wilson Cleveland (LEAP YEAR, THE TEMP LIFE), Yuri Baranovsky (BREAK A LEG, LEAP YEAR) and Taryn O’Neill (AFTER JUDGEMENT, BLACK BOX TV). I also hooked up with indie feature team of Steve Peros (FOOTPRINTS, THE UNDYING) and Sybil Temtchine (AUDREY, THE CAVERN) on a comedy series called ANNIE TAKES OFF and Scott Richter on another called WHOA! – we’re in post on sizzle reels for both of these projects.

I currently have  eight projects “at Various Stages of Development,” as Dov S-S Simens would say, yes I’ve taken his two day course and he’s a character. I’ve got projects in all phases from idea stage, script, pre-production and three in post-production. I’m currently pitching a TV series, THE PROGRAM, created by Matt Lutz. We shot a ten minute pilot presentation and now we’re producing it with Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner (GRIMM, HOT IN CLEVELAND) and showrunner David Simkins (WAREHOUSE 13, GRIMM) It’s been a huge learning experience and I love all the guys on this project.

So here I am, hustling to get one of these projects made, when yet another opportunity to collaborate has come my way. On March 25th, my girlfriend, actress Brianne Davis (JARHEAD, PROM NIGHT), got a call from a friend of ours, actress/producer Jennifer Blanc-Biehn (DARK ANGEL, THE VICTIM). Jennifer was excited to tell her that she had an amazing opportunity; a chance to direct her first feature, a sci-fi/horror film, THE NIGHT VISITOR. She had a little money, a great story, six-day window to shoot and wanted Brianne to play the lead. Jen also said, “There’s a part for Mark too, hey maybe he’d want to produce it?” Oh and she wanted to start shooting April 4th, which was in thirteen days.

Now most people, most sane people, would find a million reasons not to do this project, the sheer idea of shooting a feature in six days, with less than two weeks to prep and not one role cast or one crew person hired, is cause for pause. But the thing about Jen is, she’s a force of nature. She has an amazing heart and a passion to take a film from production to distribution like nobody I’ve ever met. 

Within two weeks of that initial call, we were shooting. We assembled an incredibly talented crew who were willing to work for very little upfront and deferred payment on the back-end. Brianne jumped on as a Co-Executive Producer with Jen and they superbly cast the most awesome actors; Gary Cairns (BLACK BUTTERFLIES, JUSTIFIED, HERO WANTED), Vedette Lim (TRUE BLOOD, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, HALO 4), and Tara Buck (TRUE BLOOD, JUSTIFIED, TOMORROW YOU’RE GONE). The script, was written by The Marcus Brothers (HIDDEN IN THE WOODS – Remake, THE FARM), with the story by Executive Producer, Lony Ruhmann.
We completed shooting a day early and we’re so proud of this project. One of the challenges was going to be post-production costs. We had the money to get the film in the can, but knew we’d have to raise the rest. We’ve turned towards Kickstarter to do so. I love to support other projects and have probably backed more than twenty campaigns. The main factor always seems to come down to a couple of things for me, does the project excite me, are the capable of executing it and are they passionate and thorough with their campaign. There have been several projects that I was only an actor in that have tried the crowdsourcing route, some have faired better than others.. Last year I launched my own campaign to raise money to produce a sizzle reel for the comedy, ANNIE TAKES OFF. We were so fortunate to have reached our goal, even exceeding it by almost $3500.

I definitely don’t feel that I’ve figure out the Kickstarter game. This time around on The Night Visitor, we’re going for $12,500, which isn’t anything to sneeze about. There’s definitely some trepidation on my part. I’ve never liked waiting but what I’ve hated more… ASKING FOR HELP. I know from experience though, that people, who ask for help, get it. We’ve worked hard to create a campaign that is compelling and full of cool perks and rewards as well as a game plan to get eyeballs and ultimately backers to help us reach our goal.

On set of THE NIGHT VISITOR: Gary Cairns and Brianne Davis

I personally think it’s a great tool for filmmakers and actually excited for projects like VERONICA MARS and recently Zack Braff’s WISH I WAS HERE campaign. Eventually, when the FCC allows ‘backers’ to become actual ‘investors’ in the films, I think we’ll be in a very interesting time. If you’d like to check it out the campaign: Beware The Night Visitor.

As always I love hearing thoughts and feedback. Thank you for taking the time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walking The Talk

It's one thing to write something as your bio on Twitter and another to actually do it. I've spent the last two and half years after The Bannen Way release, developing projects for me to star in or direct. The journey at times has felt like I was going to the same well only to find no water. I've pitched shows, shot sizzle reels, spent umpteen hours taking meetings around town and developing and reworking projects. And yet during that time, I've worked like crazy as an actor and director on projects that include web series, shorts, features, commercials and even a guest spot on Showtime's Dexter. So things have definitely changed since Bannen. I've also been fortunate to work with some of the most talented, prolific and successful actor/filmmakers in the New Media space including Felicia Day, Mystery Guitar Man, Jon Lajoie, Taryn Southern, Yuri Baranovsky and Wilson Cleveland.  This group of actor/filmmakers inspire me to keep creating, keep shooting and not to give up.

I was recently asked by a friend of mine, Marvin Acuna to create a twelve week online course to help screenwriters break into Hollywood through New Media for his awesome screenwriters site The Business of Show Institute. The idea was that it would be a version of my web series workshop broken up into twelve 7 to 10 minute videos that dovetailed with each other, so by the end you'd be able to go out and shoot your own project. I was to come up with the videos and assign a homework assignment for each week. At first I thought this should be pretty straight forward. I'd just take the workshop syllabus and break it up into twelve sections. Easier said than done. So many things came up as I was working on this, the first was my own bullshit that I didn't actually know what I was doing and that I was a fraud. The aforementioned struggles selling another project were looming in my mind. Did I just get lucky with Bannen? Was I a one hit wonder? If I knew what I was talking about, I should have hit it again. All of these things you can imagine were keeping me from actually being productive and doing me a disservice.

I turned my attention to why I did the workshops in the first place. I like helping people. I love inspiring people, sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. After Bannen was released I had over 40 'coffee meetings' with aspiring filmmakers and actors who wanted to create their own web series. I realized that after even a two hour chat, most people left with more questions and felt overwhelmed. I thought if I did like a six hour course where I walked through our process of Bannen and shared about all the things I learned with others, I could save people from the mistakes we made as well as all the stuff we learned along the way. I hooked back into that purpose and started from the beginning of the process.

The interesting thing is, I do know what I'm talking about. At least I know what worked for us and what's worked for the many web series creators I've met along the way.  There are the practical things you have to do to create any film, TV or web series, but more importantly you have to have a project that you totally believe in and HAVE to make no matter what. When we first started to work on Bannen, we both believed in it and I could already visualize what it would turn out to be. Even though I had no idea what steps I had to take to get there or how many challenges we would come up against. There was this sense of being in the wild wild west, there were no rules, no restrictions and ultimately no guarantees. I mean what was our other option? Because continuing down the trajectory of the traditional  path was not working in our favor.  It was a two year process from idea to selling it to Sony. Two years of Jesse and I meeting or talking (practically every day), writing, creating a pitch website, shooting episodes, cutting together a trailer and telling every person we met what we were doing. So as I began this online video course I went back through what worked for us and others, I tried to be as specific as possible and in the process, realized where I stopped doing things on current projects and how my 'experience' actually worked against me. I started to see the very thing that got Bannen made, our passion and belief in the project is not something that is a given, it's ephemeral. It takes a decision, a pact with yourself, that you will not listen to all naysayers, the rejections and most importantly the voices in your head.

So I pushed forward, confronting the voices and shifted my attitude to my current projects, to potential new projects and started to infuse what I truly believed in and things started to shift. In the process of doing these cool videos, I, in effect, started to get recharged and excited again about creating and failing. I'm very excited about the online course. Part of the deal was that I could use the course for my own purposes and offer it on my own site. I plan on launching it towards the end of the summer.

So what about my projects? Well, many projects are still there, in various forms, different ones have taken their place and yet still others are coming out of left field. The next four months, I'm embarking on an incredibly challenging journey as I am gearing up to shoot four different projects while developing and pitching two others. But none of them would be in my life if I hadn't first done Bannen with Jesse. Having a partner to keep us up when we were down was the key to our success and to keep us out of our own way. I'm fortunate to have been teaming up with several great filmmakers on these projects and feel very optimistic about the future... well today that is. I couldn't, and can't do it by myself and will be looking to build my team as I go along. Feel free to shoot me a note if you're interested in working together or have someone you think I should meet.

THE PROJECTS (the ones I can talk about):

The Program (pilot presentation for tv & digital)
Shooting pilot and teaser July 13-15
Written & Produced by Matt Lutz
Starring & Produced by Mark Gantt
Directed by Dylan Mulick
Director of Photography Kyle Klutz
Editor Phil Davis

Annie Takes Off (digital series)
Shooting sizzle reel August 11-12
Executive Produced by Mark Gantt
Starring Sybil Temtchine

(a mock up for our presentation deck)
Love & Betrayal (short film based on feature)
Written, Produced & Directed by Mark Gantt
Starring Brianne Davis

(a mock up of the feature version of the script - nobody actually attached from these names)

Sevven (digital series/feature film)
Executive Produced by Taryn O'Neill &  Mark Gantt
Written by Taryn O'Neill
Directed by Mark Gantt
Starring Taryn O'Neill and Mark Gantt

 (not actual poster - just a birthday card to Taryn when we were first developing - pre 'double v')

LoveMakers (digital series/TV series)
Created by Yuri & Vlad Baranovsky
Executive Produced by Yuri Baranovsky & Mark Gantt
Produced by HLG Films
Directed by Yuri Baranovsky
Starring Yuri Baranovsky, Alexis Boozer & Mark Gantt

I'm really proud of LoveMakers and we are not giving up on this project. Now that Yuri and the boys at HLG Films have finished the very impressive second season of Leap Year (10-22 min episodes) we're regrouping and gonna get this made.