K en Feinberg started his acting career in Hollywood years before the film industry took off in Georgia. An Alpharetta native, Feinberg moved to Hollywood to pursue acting,
producing and writing and has appeared in “Charmed,” “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
But after years of finding himself mostly playing the same type of “tough guy” role, Feinberg decided to move back to Atlanta and shift his focus to teaching young people the craft of acting. In 2005, he founded Creative Studios of Atlanta, which
offers classes, master workshops, coaching and audition taping. Students of Feinberg’s nine-month intensive Film Academy for Young Actors program have appeared on
Broadway, starred in feature films like “The Hunger Games” and in television shows like “The Walking Dead.”
Through Creative Studios of Atlanta, Feinberg also produces his own features, including “Santa’s Boot Camp,” which starred 70 local child actors who are students of the school. Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts made a cameo as a naughty mall Santa in the film, billed as “Willy Wonka” meets “The Breakfast Club.”
Creative Studios of Atlanta has two sequels to the holiday movie in the works as well as another feature film.
Read more about its founder Feinberg below:
What led you to your career? I started college pre-med, and then my sophomore year I realized I was really attracted to film, so I switched my major to filmmaking and minored in drama and art. After college, I kept booking lead acting roles and local theater and thought maybe I could do this, so I decided to pursue acting full-time. My journey led me to Orlando, New York and then Los Angeles.
Who was your biggest influence in your career (mentor, teacher, relative)? What did he/she do? I’ve had several mentors in my career, but I have to say my biggest influence would be my father, Randy Feinberg, who constantly encouraged me. He was a local actor with the stage name of Randi Randolph and I got to direct him in the original musical of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at the 14th Street Playhouse, which was quite a thrill. I also got to act with him in a few theater shows over the years. He acted in the movie “Santa’s Boot Camp,” and I also got to direct him in a
pilot television comedy called “Retreads.”
What is the biggest challenge in your career or job? There’s nothing I enjoy more than directing actors, whether it’s on set or in the classroom. My biggest challenge is getting actors to the classroom because I’m not really a sales person who is good at convincing people that they need to be in my class. Most of my students are referred by someone else who has taken my class. I ran a studio near Atlantic Station for nine years, and I had some of the top teachers in the business working at that studio, and it exhausted me to be a seller of classes when all I really wanted to do was be in the room working with the actors.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of my job is when my acting students book jobs or create careers and when the films I direct screen for audiences. There are a number of adult and young actors who have come through my classes and started booking. Some are now starring in feature films. Some are series regulars on TV. Some are teaching classes. When an actor “gets it” and then uses it, that’s rewarding.
What’s the hardest business lesson you’ve learned? The hardest business lesson I have learned is I have to speak clearly about what I want to happen and then follow through with it. I have put my blind faith in a few people over the years, and sometimes I got burned. I’ve had to learn to put things in writing ahead of time so that there is a clear understanding of what everyone is agreeing to.
What other jobs in the film industry did you have before opening CSA? Before opening CSA, I worked as an actor in LA, New York and Atlanta. I directed theater in Atlanta and LA. I was a casting assistant/camera operator in LA. I was also a script reader for a short time. And I “spent the night” with Britney Spears playing her bodyguard in the “Lucky” video on an all night shoot.
What were some of your favorite productions to be a part of and why? “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a tremendous experience, and the people I worked with were super fun and friendly. “Star Trek”…well, because it was “Star Trek!” Jennifer Garner was one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. And the director from the CBS series “The District” was fabulous to work with. He assistant-directed three Woody Allen movies in the 1980s, and he had a lot of cool stories to share.
Where do you get the ideas for the plotlines for your productions, like “Santa’s Boot Camp?” I’m inspired a lot by the young people I work with. A lot of the characters and plotlines in “Santa’s Boot Camp” came from the interactions in the personalities of the kids I teach acting to. In my heart, I’ve always been attracted to inspirational and heartfelt stories. We’ve got a really good story to tell in “Santa’s Boot Camp 2!”
In your opinion, what are some of the keys to teaching young people to act? Not all young people learn the same way, so I present the material in a variety of ways. The key thing I want young people to learn is how to be a self-directed actor, meaning there’s more work to be done than just reading the lines and there’s a technique to effective film acting. I teach the method I call “the buffet,” meaning I put a lot of different things in front of young people and let them try them. I encourage them to be creative because at the end of the day, acting is very creative and very personal.
What’s next for CSA? This past week we screened 25 family-friendly short films in a local film festival. We are currently holding auditions for this year’s CSA Film Academy and we will be working on some original productions in the CSA pro company of actors. We are in the funding stages on two incredible feature films, including the sequel to “Santa’s Boot Camp,” as well as a powerful, dramatic escape story by a group of Holocaust survivors from Soviet Hungary in 1946 based on true events.
Born in: Atlanta
Lives in: Alpharetta, Ga.
Current job: CEO, Creative Studios of Atlanta
Former job: Hollywood actor from “Star Trek: Enterprise,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” etc.
Education: A.B.J. in filmmaking from the University of Georgia
Hobbies : Watching The University of Georgia football, playing with his children
Family : Married with two children
Atlanta Business Chronicle