Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bad Actor

I think if an objective observer were to tally the number of posts I've written under the headline "Bad Actor" they could easily draw the wrong conclusion.

It's not that I'm difficult or a diva or just one of those terrible, bitchy actors you hear about (and may know). I mean, I'm not like that in rehearsal or on the set. In my mind, though, I'm the biggest complainer.

I had a booking today that could have been a disaster. And as I retrace the steps I hearken back to an old saying a colleague and I had at Ogilvy whenever things went awry: "Now is not the time to point fingers; it's the time to thoughtfully apportion the blame among the various parties in percentage terms."

So going by that standard, I'm going to assign blame in almost equal parts between me, the client and my agent.

The heart of the problem is it was a low paying job. Straight hourly session rate (for only 1 or 2 hours max) with no buyout. That's not the kind of money that gets everyone's attention and makes them dot the i's three times just to be sure.

So we had three little problems when I showed up. First, the stylist said she thought I was supposed to shave. When I'm cast straight from my headshot I show up looking like the headshot unless specifically instructed.

Okay, the written instructions said "clean shaven," but believe it or not, that's ambiguous. I've asked about that before and they've said, "Oh, that's standard language -- we just want you to look neat and nice, with the well-trimmed growth like in your headshot." When they want me to shave it off, the client makes a point of telling my agent to tell me.

They didn't, so I didn't. Luckily, the head guy checked me out and said the look I had was perfect.

The second thing was makeup. Apparently I was supposed to do my own, which I have never, ever done for a shoot. They either make me up or we go without. Hell, I did a SAG commercial in a principal role with no makeup. And they had a makeup artist there. I was just that naturally handsome, I suppose.

Now I should say that the phrase "arrive made up" was indeed in the written instructions but, again, that's often just generic language left over from other projects.

Could I have been more curious about it? Enough to inquire and clarify? Probably, yes. Could my agent have done likewise? Probably, yes.

The final glitch was wardrobe. I was to show up with "clean white gym shoes." I brought my cleanest, whitest pair. Were they hospital clean? (I was playing a doctor in scrubs.) No. Am I supposed to keep a pair of pristine white tennis shoes around for the once-every-eight-years role like this? I say no.

If they were that concerned with how white they should be, should they have provided wardrobe? I say yes. But again, we're talking about a basic low-budget production.

Anyway, the stylist gave them a light wash with some Joy and they were plenty clean enough. Which I suppose I could have done, had I known just how clean they needed to be.

So at this point we haven't even started the job and at least three people probably hate my guts.

But then I get into wardrobe, go over to my mark and start doing my thing. Bing-bang-boom. I knocked it out and got the usual plentiful number of "perfects" and "beautifuls" and "greats." I gave them a ton of great shots in a short amount of time, took direction like a trained seal, and offered up some creative options of my own.

They loved the work, they loved me, I was nice, they were grateful, and we all lived happily ever after.

But I am going to insist on better communication in the future. And I'm going to do a little work on my positivity ...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Snake Eyes

I had two callbacks last week and didn't book either of them.

The first wasn't a surprise. I knew I wouldn't get the job, for a variety of reasons. I was surprised I even got the callback. And when I did, it was totally perfunctory. Two quick takes and a "thank you."

The second one I didn't think I'd get either. At first. It was a commercial for a casual restaurant chain. These are the kinds of jobs I don't usually get. Food companies and major consumer product brands usually want people who are a little more traditional/conventional/all-American -- whatever you want to call it.

But the breakdown said they were looking for a couple who were a little hip. Not too hip. Not tattoo and skinny jeans hip. Just a little. So I figured that was somewhat up my alley -- moreso than a cop or lumberjack, at least.

So they called me back. I had the last slot of the day and I was the last male actor so they paired me up with the three remaining women. So I basically got to audition three times. And one of them at least was really good because I knew my "wife" pretty well. We've done some work together and we had good rapport.

Of course, if you're a decent actor you're supposed to have or create good rapport with anyone you get paired with, but that just doesn't always happen.

So then they put both of us on first refusal, so I thought that was a pretty good sign. I've been released from many holds and check avails and first refusals, but I got the idea this one would come through.

Then on Friday they released us both.

Grrr. But as I've said, I'm still pretty visible. According to a friend, I'm in this month's Golf Digest in a Scottrade print ad (they are REALLY getting their money's worth from us) and my alter ego, "Frank the Pharmacist" keeps popping up on various websites, according to friends.

Still, it would be great to get more work in the pipeline.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

From the Archives

The College Years

It's been painstaking and difficult, but I'm just about finished with my digital conversion project.

I got the 1400 photos back on a disc -- but, of course, some of the albums were out of order, so I had to re-order them in iPhoto. And before I could really rest I had to caption them all, using the notes scrawled on the backs of the photos. And while I was at it, why not geotag them?

I'm very bad at doing tasks like this in pieces. Common sense would tell you to spend an hour here, an hour there, maybe do one album at a time. But I can't do that. So I spent about 12 or 15 hours over a weekend getting them all done.

I wonder about those people who do it the other way. Doing things bit by bit and taking leisurely breaks to "stretch their legs" or "eat a meal" or "sleep."

Then I scanned a small stack of miscellaneous stuff on my own. Like one of my first paychecks from high school, a ticket to the World Trade Center observation deck, my college acceptance letters and other things.

Here are three favorites. A Bulls playoff ticket:

 The first (and last) time I went to see Bruce Springsteen:

$11! Though I'm guessing the ticketmaster service charge was still $7.50.

And here's an old golf scorecard from a round I played with my Dad during high school:

Pretty sure I had several dozen mulligans.

Final final final thing: going through digital copies of old videos -- like a couple of my sketch shows -- and cutting them down to size. And by that I mean cutting out the scenes that don't feature me ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Projects Colliding

Work, work, work the past couple of weeks.

Proposals will sit on clients' desks for weeks or months, then they'll all choose the exact same time to get started. Publications in their inboxes waiting for approval will get marked up all at once. Then random projects will come in over the transom.

It's been a little dizzying the past couple of weeks. I've worked on a couple of speeches for different companies while simultaneously developing message platforms for two different law firms, which hasn't been easy to keep straight.

Add in a little of this and a little of that, a few final housecleaning/settling in-related items and a sudden upshot in auditions and, well, that's mostly it.

Amid all that I've trying to to do three things a day to market myself. Writing articles, pitching media, researching speaking venues, and plugging away at the other blog.

I read that somewhere, among the scores of things I read online every day. Some entrepreneur building some side project who refused to go to sleep at night until he had accomplished at least three things that day to grow it.

I don't always get my three in, though today I got to five.

Some exciting things popping, so it'll be worth it, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

On the bright side

Pursuant to yesterday's complaint, at least the projects I have been booked on are pretty high visibility.

I get Facebook messages and emails every week from people telling me they saw the Scottrade spot somewhere. Usually during a sporting contest of some sort.

There are a couple of versions floating around.

And, of course, I'm looking forward to spotting myself in a Walgreens soon. The ones in my neighborhood feature other actor/pharmacists.

So at least I give the appearance of being in a lot of things.

Oh, and here I am doing some of my best background work, extraing for the Illinois Lottery. Don't blink at the :17 and :27 marks.

I think my character is supposed to be a stalker, since I appear in two different places during the course of her day.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

No traction

Auditions continue to run ridiculously hot and cold lately. I'll go from several auditions in a week to none for a week. Or more.

That callback I got a few weeks ago did not pan out. And the spokesman role I actually really thought I had a shot at? I was on first refusal, but then let go at the last minute.

It's just very hard to get momentum going when you're not out there on a consistent basis. I don't do well coming off the bench cold -- I need to be in the game.

On the other hand, work-work got super-busy. After much foot dragging, two clients suddenly decided to start up projects at exactly the same time, then a couple of other came in that week.

So it all seems to be a big yin/yang thang.

On the third leg of the stool -- book-related stuff -- now that the move is over I am focusing on another big marketing push. Just sent out a big press kit to a Speaker's Bureau, reaching out to more venues and media, sitting down and talking with people.

The best part of it is, I am working outside right now. I have an actual back deck,  with sunshine, plants, a decent view. I think this is going to be an awesome summer.