Freddy Giorlando, actor, producer, filmmaker

Freddy Giorlando: from anxiety at film school to his own production company

I’m going to be more honest than I probably should be about my initial impression of actor and producer Freddy Giorlando when I first laid eyes on his IMDb profile. Given his glossy and professional appearance, the conventional good looks and confident showreel, I hope he’d forgive me for suspecting he could be overly confident or perhaps even a little arrogant. I could see the world was at his feet, superficially.

He is handsome and charming, yes. Having now met him – on Zoom – I would describe him as the kind of guy you’d be happy for your daughter to bring back to the family home for dinner. Freddy Giorlando is one of the most pleasant, articulate, warm and friendly filmmakers that I have ever had the pleasure of discussing the art of acting, producing and filmmaking with. In fact, the more you get to know Freddy, the more layers of goodness you uncover, given how many projects he has on the go to help other people, too.

Considered in every answer he gave, candid and generous, it’s my distinct and absolute pleasure to bring you this insightful interview from one of the nicest filmmakers you could wish to meet.

HB Studio in New York changed my life

FF: Looking back, do you think your time at the HB Studio in New York was a necessary transformative experience for you as an actor or do you think you would have made it to where you are now regardless?

FG: HB Studio was very, very transformative. I like that question a lot, because HB [Studio] taught me not only a great foundation as an actor but really made me appreciate the craft and learn the craft, as well as the art form. But it allowed me to transform myself as an individual.

I studied with a great teacher who still teaches now to this day, his name is Michael Beckett, HB studio. He doesn’t know how much he really means to me to this day, because I started going there, man, probably like a decade ago.

I started on this like technique class, then we got into scene study. I remember during that time as an individual I wasn’t aware I had a lot of learning to do, as myself as a human being and obviously as the craft of an actor.

I believe that, you know, to grow as an artist, you have to grow as an individual, and vice versa. That experience studying under him for a good amount of years, HB [Studio] really taught me how to deal with myself as a human being.

I was going through a lot of anxiety issues at the time, getting into acting, you know, for the first time taking classes and making it a career and giving it a go.

At the time, I had my son who was maybe two or three years old, my son, Anthony – I had him when I was 19-years-old. I was going through this stage in life, accepting fatherhood and taking responsibility at a young age. I really didn’t know how to compute and comprehend it. So there was a lot of pressure going on around me and it was, you know, causing that anxiety at first. That was the first time I experienced those symptoms.

I remember being able to throw myself in that class while going through panic attacks or anxiety. Learning to deal with it through the craft and also outside of school, doing research on handling myself and controlling or managing my anxiety that allowed me to perform in class.

Acting is osmosis

I remember my teacher at the time would start off class with these stories. He was like an old guru, you know, and he would tell these stories and he would mention these philosopher’s names – I had no idea who they were.

He was talking about, you know, acting is osmosis and when you’re in a scene and when you’re watching people you could absorb and learn through that. I had no idea what osmosis was! I had no idea who these philosophers were that he was mentioning, but I had a great desire to learn.

As I looked up these philosophers and I read some of their books I researched just like keywords of osmosis and all this stuff that was very foreign to me. He would talk about quantum physics and metaphysics. I had no idea what this was, but I started researching. I just looked up all this stuff, because I wanted to understand what he was talking about. By doing that, I was able to start that path into just mastering myself and just working on myself as a human being. That allowed me to be a better actor.

So definitely to answer your question – HB studio was very, very transformative to this day, Mr. Michael Beckett means a lot to me. The experience itself means a great deal to me.

FF: What do you wish you’d known about acting when you first started out?

FG: Well, I’ll tell you what, when I first started out I used to do a lot of school plays in middle school. I was a class clown in class all throughout my years growing up. I remember just a side note, I was on the phone with my grandma and she’s seen an article that was originally published and it’s talking about being a class clown. Then she made a joke saying: “Oh, if they only knew Freddy, if they only knew how much you were.” So I always enjoy performing.

Getting into acting I knew I wanted to do something that I would just love doing in general. I tried a bunch of odd jobs because I really didn’t go to college at all. So I was just taking job after job.

Act upon what you love doing

I was trying to figure out my life and just figure out what would work. I just made this decision that I’m not going to do something that’s not going to make me happy. I’m not going to do something that I’m not going to love doing. Because it’s not going to be healthy for me nor my son and just the people around me.

I was like let me give acting a shot. Because I knew I loved performing growing up. I knew that I’d be able to do it to some extent. At the time, it wouldn’t have made me hesitant to do it, but I needed someone to have told me: “Hey, it might take a little time for you to get going, like, be prepared for that.”

I didn’t really have any mentors when I first started out and I knew no one around me was an actor. So I couldn’t even plug away and ask “hey how does this work?” – I just had to do some research and like tag people as I met them. So, I wish people would have said: “Hey, it’s going to take some time. Relax, you’ll get this, you’ll understand.”

I said, I wouldn’t have been hesitant to still take part in this journey and it was my journey – and still is. At the time not to have that guidance [was important], so I could learn for myself.

FF: You are involved in an incredible amount of projects in relation to both filmmaking and humanitarian. What drives you to take on so much?

FG: It’s a great question, it’s an important question too. I really just want to help people. I love people, I really do. One of my side hustles for some time was in the service industry. What made it really great to be in a service industry was to really connect and communicate with all different types of people, all different, types in all different walks of life.

Loving life as a filmmaker in LA

Moving out to Los Angeles four years ago, you know, I was, I was in the service industry, I was working in restaurants. So we’d see all these different people, from not even just around the country but around the world coming into the restaurant and the shop. It was a small shop so I was able to communicate with them and connect with them.

I’ve always been fascinated and curious about other people. I don’t know what it is. I used to get made fun of when I was younger, because when me and my friends would go out I would make friends with people around me and I’d spend the night with them and hang out with them.

I remember being able to throw myself in that class while going through panic attacks or anxiety. Learning to deal with it through the craft and also outside of school, doing research on handling myself and controlling or managing my anxiety that allowed me to perform in class.

I would tell my friends “listen, y’all, I’ll see you tomorrow” and I’d be hearing people’s stories and seeing how people are doing in life. I just feel really compelled to just help people.

I really feel in this world, especially with what we’re going through right now, every day, we could do a little bit better personally. I work on myself every day to do better personally, so I can help people around me.

I feel as a collective we can do better every day to make this world better for our children, our children’s children and so on and so forth. It’s an innate responsibility that I feel like I have not that I’m anyone special at all, I just love people in general.

I just want to see people do good. That’s really what drives me every day and if I can help somebody I’m always down to help people, man.

Filmmaker Freddy Giorlando, actor and producer.
Filmmaker Freddy Giorlando, actor and producer.

FF: Speaking of one of those projects, tell us about Engage The Vision: what it is and why you’re involved?

FG: So ‘Engage The Vision’ is a non-profit organisation. We’re a mentorship programme and prior to the pandemic we’ve been schooling fourth and fifth graders at elementary school – Martin Luther King Elementary.

It’s just an organisation where a bunch of really good people and really good individuals want to give back by nurturing the kids and provide them with tools that they can use to function optimally every single day of their lives.

Also, to just give them advice, as well as just being there and being present with them. It’s about just sharing love with them and just connecting with them, it definitely goes a long way.

It’s been really great to see kids from fourth [grade] going into fifth grade and seeing how they’ve changed in just that summer. In just four months you could really see a difference. It just goes back to being there and helping one another out and for us to be able to help the next generation out, which is very important, means a lot to me.

So I’ve been very fortunate to be, you know, involved in the organisation with really, really good people. We’re there consistently throughout the school year we’re there throughout the school year. Every Friday we’re there consistently and we have that time to be there for the kids, you know, with the programme.

The Creatives Mixer & The Actors Fund

FF: Can you also tell us about The Creatives Mixer and why half of the donations received for that project go to The Actors Fund?

FG: So the ‘Creatives Mixer’ I started originally, two years ago in Los Angeles at a lounge called Breakroom 86. It was a space for people to come together and network with one another that we’re coming up in the industry, all different walks of life. This includes: creatives, actors, musicians, you know, honestly, I tell people like us, you don’t even have to be creative, you’ve just got to be a good person. You want to have a night out, you know, just come out and just like, you know, network with people and just communicate and connect with people.

Every single Thursday night I’m at Breakroom 86. Within a few months we had agents coming, managers coming, casting directors coming, you know, just by word of mouth, people telling people.

For me, when a buddy of mine called Gregory, who runs the evening as well, asked me to come on board with them and promote. I had the idea of like, you know, could I make it a mixer? Could I invite creatives out and can it be you know; we do it this way.

Instead of bringing in people and selling tables and all that I thought if I can make this a space where people can connect and communicate to one another, then I’m all for that because that fulfils me. Seeing people network I love being plugged in, you know, a place that people can build with one another.

After a few months, it got some steam. People started hearing about it. Agents came in, managers came in, cash and earnings came in. It became a great night and now shifting once the pandemic hit we brought the ‘Creators Mixer’ online.

The Creators Writing Room: Jason Kyle, Sony & CBS

So since the pandemic hit, we’ve been having a bi-weekly show every other Thursday. We have my buddy Jason Kyle, who’s over at Sony, CBS and TV development, and he’s a co-founder of the creators writing room. That’s something that I’m a part of as well working on with him.

The ‘Actors Fund’ recently agreed to partner up with us because they heard we were giving 50% of any donation we get to the ‘Actors Fund’. Simply because you know, I’m an actor, I started out as an actor, I’m just looking for any way to give back to help other actors during this time. That was the whole intention. There’s really nothing more about that but just wanting to help out other actors.

Kazy Taugina and Isaiah Frizzelle in Standing Eight (2016)
Kazy Taugina and Isaiah Frizzelle [behind Kazy, far right] in Standing Eight (2016)
Standing Eight (2016) for Lupus Awareness
Standing Eight (2016) stars Kazy Tauginas and features Freddy Giorlando. Created for Lupus Awareness.

FF: I spoke recently with Kazy Tauginas who co-wrote and starred in Standing Eight (2016), a short film about lupus that I noticed you also feature in. Can you tell us about the film and how you came to be involved?

FG: Honestly, that name really doesn’t… no I’m just kidding! He’s actually like a big brother to me to be honest. Kazy is one of my closest and dearest friends – I’m very grateful for his friendship.

Lupus awareness: Standing Eight (2016) and Kazy Tauginas

He’s just a really good dude who’s making really awesome strides and, you know, it’s I’m very fortunate again just to know him. He’s kind of taken me under his wing and been a big brother to me, because he’s definitely helped me out these past few years in the industry and gave me advice. We really just support one another wholeheartedly.

So he actually asked me to be in the film when we shot it years ago. Of course, I’m going to say yes, because he’s just my good friend, but also what the film represents in raising awareness for Lupus.

For me personally, before he asked me to be a part of the film, I wasn’t aware of what Lupus was. I didn’t, I wasn’t too educated on Lupus. I didn’t know many people that had it around my circle, but many people do have it.

So for him to make a film to raise awareness for Lupus, and even in film and TV right now you really don’t see a lot of characters [with Lupus]. Maybe there have been some, but you don’t see a lot of characters that struggle with Lupus or deal with Lupus. And what that does is, if there were more people or more characters, you would create awareness for Lupus, which would conjure up the energy of creating awareness, people can educate themselves, people can understand and want to maybe give more of their love and time by donating whatever they can to help Lupus.

So for him, just asking me to be a part of it I was like “hey, dude, what’s wrong with it? You know, you know, whatever, whatever you want, man, I got you, of course.” Then knowing what the film represents when a boxer gets diagnosed with Lupus and he’s figuring it out for himself as well how to deal with it.

I’ve seen it at his premiere that he had for Standing Eight (2016), it really impacted the Lupus wards around the country, really bigging them up, and you know, giving them some inspiration and motivation. It’s really, really, really great to see. It was just a really good pleasure to be a part of it.

Auditions and the struggles of being an actor

FF: What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome to make it to the stage you have as a filmmaker?

FG: It goes back to just internal challenges and struggles. There’s a lot of things you have to deal with, in the business externally, that comes to you that’s kind of part of the journey and the road for the first few years. And as it was coming to me externally, like, auditions and waiting to hear from that booking after you get that call-back, and not really hearing it and you’re kind of like “man, I wish I would have booked that, you know, my life would be a little bit different, if I would have booked that my career would have took off”, you know, all this stuff. Just navigating throughout the industry, and even throughout life.

There’s things that are necessary, you know, struggles are necessary for you to grow as an individual, I had to learn that, you know, so I think overall, where I’m at now is yeah there’s a lot of obstacles and life throws stuff at you that’s unexpected and you have to deal with it, that’s for sure.

I think right now just the real struggle is internally, like, whatever I have thrown at me I have the choice of how I’m going to react to it. I’ve grown to understand that and take responsibility in that. Like I said, some things are going to be thrown your way that you can’t control. All I can do right now is put the importance in the focus on what I can control.

Shicken Productions & ‘Adulthood’

FF: What are working on next in relation to filmmaking and acting?

So I just launched my production company, Shicken Productions, which I’m very excited about. It’s a film and television company, that also you know, we’re also working in events and even company branding.

I’m on the film and TV side of that. A buddy of mine, James Cevallos, he’s got a short form anthology series that he wants to get made. I’m working with him producing and I’m going to be acting alongside him as well. For that we’re supposed to shoot at the end of the year, given the circumstances of everything we want to make sure everyone’s safe to shoot and all that.

‘Adulthood’ is another show that I produced and acted in, and a few of my buddies are producing partners. We’re shooting a short form season that came about from a pilot episode of Adulthood that we shot years ago, like four years ago.

I think it was a little bit of time that actually got it some steam after the premiere at the festivals a couple years back. Then that led us into pitching to a few production companies and networks and platforms, which led us into the deciding “hey, we’re gonna shoot this ourselves for the first season.” Because we do have those connections which circle back to, we’re gonna take creative control and show how we see and create our project.

I’ve also got my short film, Oh, Johnny (TBD) that I’ll be directing. I already have the script for it. I wrote that and I’ll also be acting and producing in that as well. I’m very excited about that!