Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bummer

So I was waiting to hear on a potential job that would have taken me out of town for three weeks -- to Orlando, Cannes (!), and Sydney (!!). A sort of combo of acting and my regular work-work, it would have been really sweet, and included a few days' R&R in Thailand.

But I learned today it's not happening. I knew it was a big maybe, but was still getting excited for it. It would have been fun -- and lucrative (I'd be billing at my day-job rate, which is about double my acting rate). But I'd have had to pull out of this holiday show, which would have been unfortunate.

Oh, well. Now to focus back on being here for now. Today I dropped off my new one-act for a local competition, so that's my sixth festival submission this year, and I'm three-fifths of the way to having a new show of my own to put up. And it may be time to dust off that screenplay ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

*Tap-tap* Is this thing on?

Seriously. I just checked my resume to see if I've got an old, defunct phone number on it. Next step is to test my phone. I mean, I totally underperformed in the British accent audition, so I wasn't expecting to hear from them. But these other projects? They were like, "Great job ... now your schedule is clear for this, right? ... and this is the best number to reach you? ... cool, we'll talk to you tomorrow ... etc."

Then nothin.' Zip. I mean, I didn't have my heart set on these parts or anything, but, again ... wtf? Maybe I was trying to cram in too much. I don't know. Another one tonight. We'll see what happens with that.

I'm not super-bummed or anything. More like ... mystified. This is where you start doing dangerous things like analyzing your audition wardrobe and trying to determine if you've got an "unlucky shirt" or something ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wtf?

By my rough calculations I have auditioned for about 14 one-act festivals in the past few years. I was cast in 10. I'm used to getting these things. As I've said before, you're often auditioning for 5-10 directors, so the odds are much more favorable than usual.

So when I went to this callback earlier this week and did what I thought was a pretty good job, I figured I got it. But I guess I didn't. Damn it.

Not sure I even have time to do all these projects I'm auditioning for now anyway. I'm trying to squeeze in a quick film or show before rehearsals begin in mid-October for A Christmas Twist, but the timing is tight. I went to a film callback yesterday and they seemed pretty interested. The role is a bit weird. The film opens with my character hanging from a noose, then he gets hit by a car, beaten and pistol whipped. I don't know about that one. I've got another one this afternoon -- we'll see if it's a little less ... pulpy.

The industrial scheduled for yesterday was postponed. My agent said they're talking about expanding the role. It would be really sweet money, but I'm not holding my breath. Then I got a call yesterday -- well, I don't want to jinx it. It would be pretty amazing if it happens, but I'd say it's a big maybe at this point ...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How the other tenth lives

So I shot this small commercial today (and it was small -- something this company is providing to its dealers/franchisees to air in their local markets if they want) and it was all pretty straightforward. Drive there, stop here, look proud, look happy, look confident, check your mirrors, push the button, etc. Six hours later and it's a wrap.

What was interesting was the venue. It was about an hour northwest of Chicago, and it was like some magical foreign land. Rolling hills, horses grazing in meadows, deer drinking from streams. I never knew such beauty existed within an hour of the city.

Anyway, it's at this person's house. We're told to pull into the service driveway. I park the car and, is that the house? No, that's some kind of maintenance shed (the size of your basic ranch house). So I walk across the gravel lot and up on the rise, okay, that's the house. No, that's the gym with the climbing wall and sauna and guest quarters upstairs. Alright then, past the gym, that one's the house, right? Well, not really. It's where the daughter stays. I mean, it's 5 or 6,000 square feet and there's a pool in back that overlooks the polo field, but it's not really THE house. Which I never got over to see. It was behind another fence and hidden behind the hundred-year old oaks. But I imagine it was something.

So I was like, um, why do these people need the $500 or whatever for shooting on their estate? Turns out the family owns the company (among many other entities) that the commercial is for.

It sure was beautiful out there. It just makes you think, you know? Maybe I should have been a Forbes 400 CEO instead of an actor/writer/consultant. Oh well. Next life.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pulling back a bit

I did something I almost never do. I canceled an audition. It was the Irish accent one.

I feel kind of bad, but I've got a major work deadline Wednesday morning that's taking up a lot of my time and I just didn't have the time necessary to sit down and work the monologues. Part of it is the accent -- I need a good chunk of time reading, thinking and speaking it to capture it. But also the monologues are very complex. They're very conversational, with lots of asides and tangents and obscure Irish colloqualisms that I'd have to dissect. So I canceled.

Besides work I'm feeling a little overwhelmed anyway. I've got all these callbacks I need to prepare for and it wasn't until I sat down and looked at it that I realized that I was called back to all three places I auditioned for on Friday and Saturday -- one film and two theatre. Including the one where I did the British accent, surprisingly. So I figure I'm batting a thousand with the accents and I'm going to retire a winner.

I took the Nancy Grace stuff off the prior post. I can't have that heinous blowpig's visage on my site. But the experiment was funny -- some googlers did find their way there because of it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guidance

The British accent went well. I actually had an actor friend of mine who's good with dialects read my monologue into my voicemail, which I recorded and used for reference. It was really, really helpful and I felt good about my delivery. For whatever reason, I'm less concerned about the Irish one on Monday. Maybe it's because the play is by an Irish playwright, so you can really hear the rhythms and inflections in the words.

Last week was a busy week -- shot two scenes for a film, did two commercial auditions, one film audition, two theatrical auditions and attended three shows. Also got another booking for next week. Still, there's plenty to be dissatisfied about, I suppose ...

Actually, one of the shows was at the theatre where I recently took an acting course. I talked to my instructor there afterwards and asked if we could have a beer or something at some point to talk about things. I just really want some direct, personalized feedback on where I stand, what I should be doing, and what my potential might be.

It's like this -- since I started doing this, nobody's pulled me aside and said, "Hey, you've got the gift, you're going to go really far." Which is fine. On the other hand, nobody's said, "Look, if you're expecting to be 'successful' at this, you might want to hang it up now." I feel like I'm stuck somewhere in between, at a level of mediocrity that neither excites great attention nor is worthy of an intervention.

Maybe my expectations for feedback are unrealistic. In the corporate world, I always knew where I stood. If I wasn't told specifically, I went looking for it. Wherever I worked I always wanted to know that I was bringing value to the organization and I had a future there. This experience, though, is more dispersed. I don't have one "boss" to report to. It's itinerant. I'm a gypsy. People are invested in you only for the duration of the project they hired you to do.

So we'll see how that goes. And if it happens ...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ephemerality

The film shoot went fine the other day -- the most notable thing about it was how uneventful it was. Very strange. It's almost like it never happened.

We had one rehearsal, just a table-read, really. Then we shot the scenes in just a few hours. (I guess it wasn't that huge of a challenge. Or they cast it well. Or, perhaps, I'm just that good.) Granted, mine was a supporting role in what was, overall, a very short film. Eight or nine lines total. But the scenes were kinda critical -- actually, in a short film, hell any film, every scene is critical.


Anyway, I was the lead character's romantic interest, and we had to gin up all this chemistry out of virtually nowhere. I don't even know her last name (the actress, that is). Quite a contrast to the many hours and hours we spent on Differentials getting to know each other. Of course, it was just the two of us in that film, but still.

Usually you come off a project with a lingering kind of feeling -- like it's still with you and a piece of you was left with it, etc. But this was so quick and cut and dry it feels like, I don't know, last week's auditions. Ephemeral. At least I'll have the DVD to remember it by.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An accent waiting to happen

My embarrassment threshold has gone up considerably since I started acting. I've had to do all kinds of ridiculous stuff in auditions and performances. I've played a cheerleader, a solid gold dancer and a female cat. I've worn a dress, multiple wigs and nothing but boxers. I've forgotten lines, tripped over scenery and kissed a man.

But for some reason, I'm really shy about doing accents. If I'm asked on the spot to do a British accent I have the hardest time with it. I can eventually get it if I've got the script to work with and can practice on my own for a few days, but anything spontaneous and I'm a total mess.
So I've got two auditions coming up that require British and Irish accents and I'm a little concerned. I've got text to work with in advance but still ... this is something I need to get over. I know I can do it, but it feels like singing did before I started having to do that in front of people.

The other thing is, most of the accents I've done on stage -- British, French, German -- were purposely over-the-top, done for broad, slapstick comedy-type stuff. When the point is to make people laugh, it's not a problem. My fear is being unintentionally ludicrous.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Decrepitude

I've got a pretty decent draft of this new one-act I'm working on, the third new play I've written in the past several months. It's about a young man, disturbed and suicidal, and his father who, naturally, is dying of cancer.

It's been brought to my attention that a lot of my work lately is about death and decay. I guess it's been on my mind some. I've always felt young (read: immature) for my age but at a certain point there's no denying the inevitable things that start happening to your body, no matter how fit you are or how much you resist the things that age you most -- kids and mortgages. Weird aches, niggling ailments, lingering injuries.

Nothing debilitating (though, I suppose, checking in with a doctor might help confirm that), but insidious nonetheless. It starts to work on your brain, your mental state, your outlook. I'm not so afraid of death -- I'm more afraid of disability. And the fact that I don't do certain things I used to do without thinking (like vaulting off four or five foot ledges in rollerblades), concerns me some. Like right now I can't believe I used to do that without a helmet. Am I getting complacent, or is fear of possible injury a healthy, mature thing? (And I've had some very, very painful rollerblading wrecks in the past, giving up at least a pound of flesh to the asphalt.) So yeah, the only thing worse than death is acting dead.

Anyway, I guess that's where my head is now. But I do love this play. It's got some real poetry to it. I'm going to get it in shape for a competition coming up later this month.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Spoke too soon

I'm on hold now for one of those jobs I said in my previous post that I didn't get. Crossing my toes ...

In other news, I've overhauled my performance resume. For the past couple of years I just kept cramming more and more onto the page (because I've been doing more and more). In fact, it was only this year that I'd accumulated enough credits to actually have to start taking something off for every new thing I added. Even so, I'd reduced the font size all the way down to 7.5 and the line spacing to zero.

So when Erica Daniels called my resume a "disaster" in my acting class, I felt it was finally time to take a step I'd been resisting -- creating separate resumes for stage and on-camera work. As she said, the theatre people don't care about my on-camera work, which is likely true. On the other hand, the commercial casters do like to see that you've done stage work, especially improv, which I think lends you some extra credibility. I'm still thinking of having one comprehensive web-only version, but updating three resumes (and I update at least once or twice a month) could become a real chore. Especially for the poor girl who actually makes all these changes on my website ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Scrooged

So I guess I'll be playing Scrooge for the upcoming holiday season. Not something I ever pictured myself doing, but this is a different kind of Christmas Carol. It's a Dickens parody, involving multiple characters from several of his works.

My reading was a little odd -- the first thought that jumped in my head from the script was "Dick Cheney." After all, who's a bigger scrooge than dead-eye Dick? So that's how I did it, as Cheney. Actually, I don't do impressions, I do impressions of impressions. So this was my impression of Darrell Hammond doing Dick Cheney. It hurt my throat. Anyway, I guess it worked. More details to come.


So to be cast again in theatre is good. August was a huge month for auditions -- 18 in all (a lot for me) -- and I was figuring something would pan out. In fact, I was feeling less than great about it all until I tallied things.

I had 5 theatre auditions, resulting in 2 callback auditions and 2 offers of roles (one of which I didn't take). And two of those were general season auditions, so sometimes you might hear from them months later. Then I had 7 auditions for commercial/industrial jobs, resulting in 1 callback and 1 job (the Miller industrial). For film, I had 3 auditions resulting in 1 gig, which we're shooting next week.

That all sounds really good, and I'm happy to be doing the things I'm doing. But if, say, the multi-part national commercial for Dell worked out or if the Goodman wanted to cast me, I suppose it would be possible to be even happier. Or the film that's shooting in Northern Michigan at the height of fall. That would have been like a vacation.

So. Scrooge. I see bad wigs in my future.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sweet Shoot

Just got back from 24 hours in scenic Milwaukee for a video shoot. (Note: though it may look like an appealing idea to dine by the river there, it actually smells. Quite bad. Maybe I just caught it on a bad fish-kill day.)

Anyway, it's just SO nice to work with a crew that's efficient (no sitting around wasting time, no cooling your heels for 2-3 hours after your call time), a client that's reasonable (able to make quick decisions, not micromanaging and second-guessing and not doing it by committee) and a cast that's fun and easygoing (sometimes on these one-day things you don't get to know people very well and everyone's got their "game face" on -- "I'm a pro, and here are all my marvelously impressive credentials to prove it").

It was fun being back at Miller Brewing in a different capacity, after years of them being a client for my jobby-job. The people there are great. And it's doubly fun drinking actual beer during a shoot, once I learned taking actual drinks (as opposed to the "stage kiss" style fake sips I was doing) was not only encouraged but required. I was a customer in a bar who was by turns loquacious, combative and inquisitive. In the sole casting miscue, someone else played the drunk. (It was a training video for servers.)