We had the good fortune of connecting with Seth Allyn Austin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seth, how do you define success?
I believe the majority of people have an idea of Success that puts far too much of a burden and anxiety on their shoulders. We are a society that is judged by our ability to complete things and as an artist that is unrealistic in my opinion. Most people see success as a finish line. They set a long term goal(I will be a series regular on a network show!), they set a time line(5 YEARS!), they give themselves small goals to work toward that larger goal,(If I do A, B, and C… then success WILL happen!), then they go for the ride and they are either “Successful” or not. The mental endurance, stamina, and thick skin required for this journey can be soul crushing… If they never see any signs of getting closer to the finish line, it is all to often that they throw in the towel.. I saved my soul by changing my view on that finish line. Instead of a perpendicular line I needed to cross to deem myself worthy as “Successful” I looked at it as a tight rope right under my feet. My balance sways from side to side, caused by failures and victories, but as long as I’m able to keep a foot on the rope, I AM Successful; and I am always moving forward. As long as I am able to keep moving forward, no matter how fast, by doing the thing that fulfills me… Weather it pays my bills or I need to find something that supplements me so I can still do that thing I love, I am still Successful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There’s a lot to unpack in this question… So, I think I am very fortunate compared to a lot of people because I always knew generally what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be. Or at least I had a good Idea of what direction I wanted to aim in. When I was young, like four years old and on, my parents would take me to the movies and I would be totally engrossed in them. So much so that even at that age I wanted to be in them immediately. Literally, as soon as each movie was finished, when the credits rolled and people were leaving I would run up to the area in between the first row of seats and the screen and just start dancing. When I was nine I started martial arts. This would really open doors for me in the entertainment world in unexpected ways. In high school, when other kids were concerned about school sports or relationships, all I really cared about was karate. I competed on an international level and would have been considered a pro athlete. But unlike what you may see on T.V. With the UFC I competed in forms. Imagine Olympic Gymnastics floor routines with kicks, punches, and sometimes swords. There was a showmanship to these routines which unbeknownst to me, was prepping me for the rest of my like. Through this competing and training I was mentored by Sensei John Sharkey in Chicago, IL. I lived in Arizona at the time but every three day weekend or school break I would fly myself out to Chicago to train. There I met Matt Mullins, creator and leader of Team Sideswipe. Sideswipe in an extreme martial arts performance team that travels all over the world doing live show. I became a member of the team and had opportunities through them to perform on a global scale for the Navy Exchange(Entertaining our service men and women and their families over seas), Americas Got Talent, Britney Spears Circus Tours, our own residency show at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, and many many other venues. Matt knew I was a decent speaker and allowed me to MC the shows as well. It was my official theater training. Sideswipe also opened the door for me to break into the industry through stunts. I have been on countless shows getting my ass kicked and made great money doing it but was faced with an age old conflict… am I a stunt man or an actor? The main problem with this is it puts you in between a rock and a hard place. If you try and do both acting and stunts, you have the potential of being shunned by both communities. The actors think you are a knuckle dragging stunt man and can’t live up to what it takes to truly be an actor and the stunt community thinks you’re a pansy actor and you wont take a real hit and do your job when the time arises. Some people say pick one or the other and some say do what you want to do… So I picked acting. I gave up on stunts and got a normal job and declared myself an actor… I got real broke, real quick; and the energy I was expelling to keep up with bills was draining me of any focus for my acting training. My bank accounts were in the red and I was crushed. Then a very smart lady(She’ll come back into the story later) spoke to me. She said, “Shit, don’t be stupid!”(Basically) She made me realize that I didn’t have to pick one or the other, when in fact one hand could help the other. Stunts gave me more on set experience than most beginning actors could ever dream of. It made me learn more sides of the industry and in fact stunts and acting aren’t that different at all. The same things that make someone a bad actor can make someone a bad stunt performer and vise versa. In fact, It was through stunts that I started to really get most of my acting opportunities. One of those opportunities, again with Matt Mullins’s help and recommendation, was a motion capture job for the hit video game by Insomniac, “Spider-Man” for the PS4. I could not be any more eternally grateful for this opportunity. Motion capture and performance capture is where I get to take all of my tools in my tool box and set them loose. All of my physicality, acting, and imagination come together in this adult playground and I truly get to live as an absolute artist. I have also met some of my closest friends and colleagues through this one job and It paved the way for me to do more motion capture in other games and for me to step through another door with Voice Over. I would not even know this was a thing I could do or would love doing without this one job and the amazing people involved. But just like stunts require training, so does acting. I have been to a lot of acting classes in Phoenix, Chicago, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles I’ve taken Strasberg, Meisner, long form improv, short form improv, trained with teacher who “have their own technique” and I grabbed a lot of useful information from them all. But something really didn’t feel right to me. I would go into class and the teacher would direct me through something and I would leave having done good work, but I never knew how to recreate that on my own. Agents, managers, other acting teachers will sell you on if you have a big audition coming up you must go in for an acting private. But it doesn’t end there! That’s just the beginning; if and when you book the job you need more private coaching, even to the extent where some actors bring their coaches onto set with them. This just seemed to me like a never ending cycle of unearned performances. A necessity in yet another result oriented world. Then I met Arthur Mendoza. The lady from before that called me stupid for not doing both stunts and acting introduced us. And he was the first acting teacher I had anywhere that reminded me of Sensei Sharkey in Chicago. A teacher who cared about me the artist and not me the paycheck. Arthur is a direct protege of Stella Adler and teachers her technique to the tee. One of the many stories he tells over and over again is of a young actor who asked Arthur to come with him on set after he booked a job. Arthur replied… Well, the PG version of his reply was, “You want me to hold your hand too? Do you know what you’re doing or not? Then go do you job.” He trains actors to be independent artists and not revolving door customers. The lady who introduced me to him, and told me to quit being stupid, is also my girlfriend and business partner. Jenni Nicole is my best friend, source of inspiration, and greatest ally. We have both struggled out here as actors and took it upon ourselves to change that. We both came to the conclusion that waiting for that next audition that you may or may not book is a waist of time. Some people it totally works for and all the power to them, but we weren’t that fortunate. So we thought we can either wait for the bus, or we can start hitchhiking. We started our own Production Company, “Shots with Jeth Films”. We are small and still learning, but anything we want to learn or do we go for it. We have Produced our own content on our YouTube Channel for a few years now and it is so rewarding. Not only are we creating content and keeping our instruments sharp, but we are also learning as many of the other production job as we can that are involved in making a film. We have learned that there are other jobs we love on set… and other jobs we would rather never do again. Even this past year in quarantine, we are still producing content from our one bedroom apartment in Burbank. One of our latest films, “Call to Inaction”, was even selected for the Burbank International Film Festival. It is our first film to be selected and we are very excited. All of the lessons I’ve learned and training I have had has lent a hand to Shots with Jeth, and we are only just beginning. I often wonder how what I learn from this will lend its hand in what I do in the future.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Personally I really bad at this and kinda boring in my own opinion. I love Burbank. I would drive them up and down the neighborhood streets north of San Fernando and look at the homes. (I grew up in Arizona, where every house is a cookie cutter home. So seeing houses with personality is fun to me.) Santa Monica Pier is cool if its not too crowded. And if someone like nature I would recommend the Cliff Jumping spot in Malibu Canyon.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A lot of great role models in my life: First and foremost my parents(Dr.James Austin and Dr.Barbara Austin), my sister(Dr. Marne Austin), my acting teacher Arthur Mendoza, Sensei Sharkey at Sharkey’s Karate, my Sideswipe family, my Motion Capture family, and my love and business partner Jenni Nicole Anich… And Ari Leob for recommending me for this article.
Instagram: @Shotswithjeth @SethAllynAustin
Other: YouTube Channel Name is “Shots With Jeth Films” If that looks cleaner
Shots with Jeth Films, Carmen Ferrera, Jenni Nicole