Archive for July, 2018

Why Everything You Used to Know About Colombia is Wrong

July 26, 2018

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“What kind of idiot goes to Colombia?” was a common question I heard from friends when I told them I was planning a trip to Colombia.
My pre-meditated response was always the same, “Mel Gibson, for one.” I would then continue naming a few more, “Madonna, Marc Anthony, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Cypress Hill and The Cure.”
Not convinced, I would explain about Colombia’s year-round temperate climate, the beaches, the ability for men to wear clear nail polish on their nails without fear of being ridiculed in public, the lack of tipping in restaurants, the affordable plastic surgery, and, how most of the money changers in the cities are now starting to run a cleaner business model.
“A white guy like you will fit in just fine down there. You might want to spray paint your Nike shoes black before going down there,” is their follow-up response.
Oh, well.
Choice titles for my non-fiction Colombian dating book ranged all over the board. At the more desperate hours, I brainstormed titles that people might most easily recognize – “The Lion, The Witch and Pablo.” Then, while suffering from lack of financial security, I would choose more sinister titles like, “The Sometimes Legal Things We Do For Money in South America,” or “Colombia’s Creepy Book of The Month,” or “The Art of Identity-Crafting In An Attempt To Impress Colombian Women” and finally, “A Lawsuit Waiting To Happen In Colombia.” When in more jovial times, I would brainstorm more giddy, off-the-wall titles – “How To Be Famous in Colombia Without Going to Prison,” or “What Doesn’t Work in Other Countries Is Colombia’s Bread and Butter,” or “Mobilizing Staggering Talent in the Andean Highlands of Colombia,” or “Don’t Tell My Mom I’m An English Teacher In Colombia (She Thinks I Work In An Albanian Toothpaste Factory)” or “Chocolate Binges And Mood Swings South of Tijuana,” or “The Motorcycle Diaries of an Internet Romeo,” and finally, “Just Because I’m In Colombia…Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Dress Like a Puerto Rican!”

Then my girlfriend told me to stop being a moron and just pick a title …

Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

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7 Habits of a Highly Effective Gringo in Colombia

July 15, 2018

In the last decade, many foreign companies have started to augment their filming operations here in Colombia. The reason for this increased presence of film projects in Colombia are numerous:

#1) Colombia has many different shooting locations to offer in one country (jungle, the ocean, historic architecture and modern cities).

#2) Colombia’s weather allows for film companies to shoot during the whole year.

#3) The exchange rate to the US dollar makes filming in Colombia very accessible.

#4) Security in Colombia has increased dramatically in the past decade (the US State Department has lifted warnings on Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena). The filmed productions in Colombia range from syndicated TV shows, to car commercials, to movies, such as the comedy El Paseo (The Stroll).

If a foreign person is seriously thinking about making a career working as an extra/actor in Colombia, then the first step this person should take is to register with as many casting agencies as possible. Once a foreigner registers with a few agencies, they will likely be sent on casting calls for movies and commercials as well as have semi-consistent work as an extra.

The advantages of working in Colombia as a foreign extra are numerous:

#1) It is a job that is easily done (and probably preferably done) while drunk.

#2) The foreign extra needs nothing in the way of work visas, a Colombian bank account, nor proof of health insurance to work in Colombia.

#3) Speaking Spanish is not necessary either and it is to the extra’s advantage the less Spanish he or she knows (the costume designer’s assistant won’t insist that you try on the same size of pants that are two sizes too small fifty times, if you can’t understand what he is saying).

Which foreigners will have the most success in movies and TV in Colombia?

“Foreign white guys who look like cops or ex-marines will always have a solid future in the movie and TV business in Colombia,” replied Irish actor Pádraig Victor Ciarán Sweeney.

Are there any foreigners who shouldn’t work as actors/extras in Colombia?

“Gringos with glasses, a concave chest and unable to grow a mustache have no business working as extras in Colombia,” replied the always candid Mr. Sweeney.

For those of you without a concave chest, once registered with a casting agency, you will receive calls that will be for anything from:

Extra roles in TV programs – the pay is $90,000 – $120,000 pesos ($45-$60USD) a day

Appearing in movies – anywhere from $300,000 – $600,000 pesos ($150-$300USD) a day

Recording commercials – $700,000 – $1,600,000 pesos ($350-$800USD) a day

Modeling jobs – The pay can go up to $3,000,000 pesos ($1,500USD) a day

 

After registering with a few casting agencies, I got my first call to go to an audition for a movie. The only thing I knew about the audition was that I needed to report to 70th Street with 9th Avenue at 10 am in the morning. I, of course, got there at 9.30am, introduced myself to a few people who were either on their computers or cleaning the floors and sat until they needed me. After, I sat down, a woman named Lucy approached me and asked where I was from and if I spoke English. I confirmed that I was from California and yes, I could speak English. She asked for my “escenas.”

She realized by my expression that I was lost, which probably was the highlight of her day. There is nothing more likely to make a Colombian grin than watching a gringo stumble through life in a foreign country. She then switched to English.

“Do you have your scenes?”

It still didn’t register. After a few more seconds of uncertainty, I guessed that she thought someone may have sent me some kind of instructions or a reason why I was in her office on a Tuesday morning.

“Did someone tell you why you are here?” she asked.

“No, I was just told to come here at 10 a.m.”

She smiled at me for a short second and then told me she would be back in a few minutes. I opened my book about wilderness survival and waited. At least I was indoors and in a comfortable chair. A few other people introduced themselves to me as I was waiting. I even opened the door for a few people coming in that morning.

Finally, it was time to go upstairs and chat with the people who would decide … To read more, check out and share, “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward.IMG_9201