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Surviving as an actor in Hollywood

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Surviving as an actor in Hollywood

Scott Bender prepares for a four minute fight scene for the short film, “The Eagles are a Country Music Band,” in which he starred. The film made its premiere at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood in August and the fight scene took 12 hours to film with the help of a stunt choreographer, a fight choreographer, a props team and a special effects team. “Me and the actress who plays my wife [get into a huge fight] and it is a little over the top, but it is part of the film. She breaks a wine bottle and throws it at me and it gets stuck in my back and I pull it out. We just have this crazy fight and she ends up killing me. The prop team attached a harness that goes around my chest and back and they cut a hole out of the shirt and put the shirt over the hardness and lodged the bottle into a suction cup in the harness so it looks like it went through my shirt and my back,” Bender said. “It is a really cool action movie and I have never done something to that effect before so it was really cool to learn how they do that so I can look at all these movies that have all these special effects and fights in them and break them down.”

Scott Bender prepares for a four minute fight scene for the short film, “The Eagles are a Country Music Band,” in which he starred. The film made its premiere at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood in August and the fight scene took 12 hours to film with the help of a stunt choreographer, a fight choreographer, a props team and a special effects team. “Me and the actress who plays my wife [get into a huge fight] and it is a little over the top, but it is part of the film. She breaks a wine bottle and throws it at me and it gets stuck in my back and I pull it out. We just have this crazy fight and she ends up killing me. The prop team attached a harness that goes around my chest and back and they cut a hole out of the shirt and put the shirt over the hardness and lodged the bottle into a suction cup in the harness so it looks like it went through my shirt and my back,” Bender said. “It is a really cool action movie and I have never done something to that effect before so it was really cool to learn how they do that so I can look at all these movies that have all these special effects and fights in them and break them down.”

Courtesy of Scott Bender

Scott Bender prepares for a four minute fight scene for the short film, “The Eagles are a Country Music Band,” in which he starred. The film made its premiere at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood in August and the fight scene took 12 hours to film with the help of a stunt choreographer, a fight choreographer, a props team and a special effects team. “Me and the actress who plays my wife [get into a huge fight] and it is a little over the top, but it is part of the film. She breaks a wine bottle and throws it at me and it gets stuck in my back and I pull it out. We just have this crazy fight and she ends up killing me. The prop team attached a harness that goes around my chest and back and they cut a hole out of the shirt and put the shirt over the hardness and lodged the bottle into a suction cup in the harness so it looks like it went through my shirt and my back,” Bender said. “It is a really cool action movie and I have never done something to that effect before so it was really cool to learn how they do that so I can look at all these movies that have all these special effects and fights in them and break them down.”

Courtesy of Scott Bender

Courtesy of Scott Bender

Scott Bender prepares for a four minute fight scene for the short film, “The Eagles are a Country Music Band,” in which he starred. The film made its premiere at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood in August and the fight scene took 12 hours to film with the help of a stunt choreographer, a fight choreographer, a props team and a special effects team. “Me and the actress who plays my wife [get into a huge fight] and it is a little over the top, but it is part of the film. She breaks a wine bottle and throws it at me and it gets stuck in my back and I pull it out. We just have this crazy fight and she ends up killing me. The prop team attached a harness that goes around my chest and back and they cut a hole out of the shirt and put the shirt over the hardness and lodged the bottle into a suction cup in the harness so it looks like it went through my shirt and my back,” Bender said. “It is a really cool action movie and I have never done something to that effect before so it was really cool to learn how they do that so I can look at all these movies that have all these special effects and fights in them and break them down.”

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From taking on lead roles in short films to participating in Buzzfeed and Google Home commercials, 2005 alumnus Scott Bender has pursued his passion as an actor in Hollywood. This dream first surfaced at North Star Camp for Boys when Bender was 12 years old.

“My best friends that I went to camp with would do this video for the camp [without me]. I was jealous and wanted to be in the video too, so the counselor who was arranging it sent me the script and had me study all the lines for the video,” Bender said. “The video never actually happened, but I loved the idea of reading the script and the lines. Me and my counselor ended up having this conversation about film and it opened up my eyes to this world. I have always loved movies and actors so it kind of just clicked.”

Bender participated in plays throughout his childhood which elevated his interest in performing.

“[The first time I was in a play at camp], once the spotlight turned on, it all just clicked and I [knew that] this was the moment [where] my life shifted directions and I will never forget it. It [was] the first I had ever spoken in front of people before and it just kickstarted me,” Bender said. “Sure I was a 12-year-old kid in St. Louis who knew nothing about real-life acting, but [I wanted to] give it a go. My mom took me to get headshots, and we found an agent and I took acting classes. I was probably one of the only 12-year-olds in St. Louis who had headshots and acting classes and was going on auditions after middle school.”

While pursuing acting in high school, Bender often looked up to Leonardo DiCaprio as an inspiration.

“I was obsessed with [him]. From freshman to junior year I had the long Leo-like hair from Titanic that I would just put behind my ears. I totally idolized him because he was doing these unbelievable roles as a young kid; [he was] so diverse and so captivating on screen,” Bender said.

Something clicks in you and your brain believes what you are saying as well…. It is this weird connection that you feel to this [character] and this material that you won’t feel with anything else in the world.

— alumnus Scott Bender

For Bender, the best part about acting is the feeling of transforming into a character.

“When the director calls action and you start speaking, something just takes over you and you literally get lost in the moment. I know that is such an overused expression, but even in a rehearsal, you can feel these emotions. Something clicks in you and your brain believes what you are saying as well,” Bender said. “You have this out-of-body experience and it is the most incredible high you could imagine. It is this weird connection that you feel to this other person and this material that you won’t feel with anything else in the world.”

Bender’s biggest accomplishment so far in his career is a movie he did over the summer, “32 Weeks.” It is a feature film that is currently in post-production, and Bender plays the lead role.

“It opens with [me and another actress] in a relationship she ends up leaving a party and gets in an accident and goes into a coma. When she comes out, she has short-term memory loss and does not know who I am or how she got into the accident. It seems like it is a romantic comedy, but it [has] a major twist that [turns] it into a psychological thriller,” Bender said. “In the movie, there are moments that are very emotional and scary and high energy. You get to bring these people to life, it’s very neat.”

Courtesy of Scott Bender
Scott Bender lays on the ground while fake blood is applied to his face for the fight scene in the short film, “The Eagles are a Country Music Band.”

Bender is currently at the point in his career where he is beginning to audition for roles in major productions.  

“This summer I auditioned for ‘S.W.A.T.’ and ‘This is Us’ and the new season of True Detective. I’m slowly getting into those things. I’ve done [an episode of] ‘My Crazy Ex’ and ‘You Can Do Better’, and those are on TruTV,” Bender said.

While Bender has been involved in many short films and productions, he has struggled with being able to pay bills.

“I went from having a corporate job at Disney where I was in an office every day and wore business clothes and was there from 9 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. and had a salary and insurance, so to go from that to basically going gig to gig, there are days when I won’t have anything,” Bender said. “[There is also] boredom. As an actor you want to work all the time and sometimes you cannot, and there is only [small percentage of people] who work everyday. It’s a constant grind, and that’s the hardest thing: wanting to work so much and not being able to.

Bender has set a goal with his agent and manager to have a co-starring role in a television show this year.

“Overall, the goal would be to have this be a real life profession where I get to work every day being an actor, where if people ask what I do, I can say I am an actor who makes a real-life living off of it. I wake up every single day and the first thing I do is go to my computer and submit to all these projects that are filming,” Bender said. “It is so hard not to get kind of down on yourself. All these actors who are so successful, they have had this breaking point where they just wanted to pack it all and leave it, but they stuck it out and one little thing led to another. I would rather be struggling in the pursuit of happiness than not struggling and not even think about being happy.”

Teachers at Parkway West helped Bender find his own voice and become independent which has benefited him throughout his acting career.

“If you were to talk to Mrs. Fryeman, [Mrs. Klevens] or the English teacher Mrs. Townsend, I think they both agree that I was a hard-headed student, but the thing is I never did not try. I was always passionate and wanted to learn, but I wanted to do things my way,” Bender said. “I always found an alternative route, and they never ever scolded me for that. As long as I got the job done, they let me do it my own way. That really helped me feel comfortable with myself at a young age. If you want to be an actor and you are not comfortable in your own skin, it is going to be difficult to be comfortable in another’s.”

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About the Writer
Sarah Lashly, COPY COACH

Grade:  11

Years on Staff:  3

If you were a fictional character, who would you be?  Garfield

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1 Comment

One Response to “Surviving as an actor in Hollywood”

  1. Jim on January 3rd, 2019 9:54 am

    “lies” on the ground, not “lays” on the ground

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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