October 28, 2011

Alum Update - Kendal Tuttle

Kendal Tuttle, MFA 2006
 Former Regent student Kendal Tuttle recently completed shooting a film with Zac Efron, called The Lucky One.  Read more about what Kendal has been doing since graduation!

After graduating Regent in 1997 with an MA in Communication/Performing Arts and teaching at  Emmanuel College in Georgia for 6 years, I decided it was time to step out, get more training and pursue a professional career in the Industry. In what aspect I wasn't sure, but I felt the Lord once again leading me back to my ol' stompin ground. In 2002, I met with Gillette Elvgren who told me about the new MFA program in the works at Regent. I returned to Regent as a member of the first MFA cohort, graduating in 2006 with an MFA in Theatre Directing. During those 3 years, however, I acted in a few films and absolutely fell in love with the film process. Though I was still planning a move to N.Y. upon graduation, Mark Paladini (a new artist-in-residence at Regent and casting director in Hollywood) encouraged me to consider pursuing film. I listened to him, and headed west in August of 2006.

My season in L.A. was exactly what it needed to be, though I still consider it to be my very own "best of times, worst of times." I survived by working background acting gigs on Grey's Anatomy, Boston Legal, Medium and a few others. I also had a great experience playing Norman Bates at Universal Studios (Hollywood) shortly after I arrived in 2006. My "rent" however came from doing P.A. gigs for various commercials, as well as working part-time at U.S. Airways and a charter school called Options For Youth. Six months after arriving in L.A., I got called to come back to Virginia for 7 months to play Captain John Smith in a new outdoor production called 1607: First Landing, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement. I collaborated on this production with former Cohort A graduate Chris Nelson, who directed the production while asking me to also be the Fight Choreographer. We finished First Landing in September of that year, and I immediately headed out to San Diego to co-direct a feature-length film called Escrow, the Musical, a fun and quirky project I had been co-writing with two other Regent alumns, Joshua Tucker and Joseph Frost. But then the writer's strike happened and as a new member of SAG, I showed my solidarity and hit the street corner. But then SAG began talking about their own strike, so things weren't looking so good.

Once 2008 rolled around, I was praying about direction and provision. Eric Harrell gave me a call to see if I'd consider coming back to Regent on a one-year appointment to help lay a foundation for their new B.A. program. So for the 2008-2009 school year, I had the privilege of returning to Regent to teach, thinking I'd just head back out to L.A. once the year was finished. By that time, however, the economy had tanked, affecting everything, including the Industry. So I stayed in Virginia, reconnected with my agent, Sylvia Hutson, and began doing some local and regional film work.

The Lucky One

In October 2010, I learned that I had a call-back for a Warner Brothers film, the latest Nicolas Sparks adaptation called The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron as Logan Thibault. I flew out to New Orleans and auditioned for director Scott Hicks. Three weeks later I learned that I had booked the role I auditioned for, "Aces" (Drake Green), brother to the heroine with whom Logan falls in love. The role is small in screen time, but significant in story-line. I die while fighting in Iraq, and my family (namely, my sister Beth Clayton) is left to deal with my death, causing serious crises in the love story.
Though my character will be seen in pictures and flashbacks throughout the film, my only scene is at the very beginning of the movie (so don't be late to the theatre!...haha), as Aces and Logan come face-to-face nearly firing on one another while clearing a building.

Training Sessions for The Lucky One

Because the scene is short, they had only scheduled me for one day of shooting. But I learned later that they were bringing me in for military training. Director Scott Hicks wanted everything as authentic as possible, so I came a week early to get a crash course boot camp. Our training unit had us learning all the guns, how to hold them, shoot them, even how to walk and stand. The training culminated in learning what we were to be doing in our scene -- "taking" or clearing an enemy-combatant building. Zac joined us in training on most days, which is where we all gained some cohesiveness. We were all very professional, but it was nice when we got to relax and be a little crazy. I was relieved to find Zac as nice and approachable and professional as he was. Also, some days were lighter than others, giving us all plenty of time to tour New Orleans.

Kendal with Director Scott Hicks

Working with Scott Hicks was a pleasure. I had always loved the movie Shine (1996), which he directed. I also loved knowing his history as a photographer. During meals, he always invited me to take a seat at his table, introducing me as "my Aces." His wife Kerry is a sweetheart, too. He directed our scene with precision, even re-working our lines to flow better and consulting our "military experts" on the tiniest detail. I also loved that when he had a personal note, he always came to you, up close and personal. Though being "my Aces" during the shoot, it was nice to hear him refer to me as Kendal when I went to L.A. for my ADR sessions.

Kendal with Zac Efron

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While on the set of The Lucky One, I got to hang with a good many of the tech crew, all having traveled in from L.A. and N.Y. for this movie. But they were talking about all the work moving out of the larger markets and into the Southeast and that they were thinking seriously about changing zip codes. I flew back to Georgia from New Orleans with a clear vision of giving the Southeast and more specifically the Atlanta market my full attention. I grew up in a small town in N.E. Georgia, so my decision to move back to the Peach state made my family very happy. Besides a two month trip out to L.A., I have been back in Georgia getting things established. I auditioned for all the big agencies in Atlanta, and was blessed to get offers from all of them. I ultimately went with People Store and they have been great. Just recently, I shot a regional commercial for O'Charley's and co-starred in a episode of Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Upon moving back to Georgia, I also met my soon-to-be wife, Bree Dawn Shannon. We will wed on November 13, 2011. God is so very good!

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