Saturday, January 15, 2011

The bitter and the sweet.

I've learned that I can't have any highs without lows to balance them out. I had a good day with the casting director I assisted and she invited me back (sweet). I enjoyed seeing the different talent that came through and really have a brand new appreciation for what casting directors do. Her callbacks were at the end of the week, which directly conflicted with callbacks for an audition I had earlier in the week ... had I made the callbacks (bitter). So, no callbacks and no work assisting for callbacks (really bitter). But after handing out some postcards at the big-huge-mixer Wednesday and getting some serious endorsement from a local casting director for taped auditions, I feel better (sweet).

It's frustrating to feel that I've let myself down. The audition would have been a great job to book. I fumbled through several takes, but I didn't let it defeat me. In fact, my last take of the audition was really solid, I felt, “great” according to the casting director. It wasn't enough, though. That's really what I'm struggling with – feeling like I'm not (good) enough and letting go of envy. I'm happy for folks who book the big jobs. Many of them are friends. I just want to be able to turn the fortune I had this past summer into more work and it hasn't really happened (darn you, Neil Diamond, no matter how much I like your songs. BITTERBITTERBITTER).

Sometimes, however, getting a fresh perspective can make all the difference. I tried one last avenue in hopes of getting footage with my new dialogue and in the course of the conversation found that hell, the offensive dialogue can be edited around and still keep most everything in tact (d'oh! Duh!)! So, while I'll lose TWO WHOLE seconds of dialogue on what'll be posted on the Interwebs, the point is that IT WILL be up and I'll be able to market myself. Seriously, why don't I think of these things on my own? My ability to self-sabotage is so eerily well-honed, I really don't need enemies. All you people considering the position: don't. I've got you covered. I can shoot myself in the foot blindfolded and with far more efficacy and less effort than you.

Until then, I'm going to keep myself busy. I did get cast in a new play written by one of my actor friends and I'm looking forward to having some fun in theater again. I have an audition this week, though I'm not fulfilling my resolution to audition once a week, every week, on my own; and I've managed to barter my time for classes for the next few weeks (sweet). Patience is a virtue I don't possess, but I'm working on it, Lord, I'm working on it. Mostly to be patient and forgiving with myself.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Being less unemployed this week.

A big part of the industry is being able to create work for oneself. It's survival during lean times. I've been dipping into the production side of things here and there getting to know more about how everything works behind the camera. It's just as exciting and draining in a different way than being in front of the camera.

I coach, I tape auditions, I PA (Production Assist(ant)), I'm even a Junior Agent for the VO (Voice Over) talent for my agency, and now I'll freelance a little on the casting side as an assistant. I'll get to see first-hand what casting directors see. I'm excited for the opportunity.

It's all about taking chances. Not that taking chances is a New Year resolution for me. I think I've proven I'm willing to take chances: Quitting my day job (Do I listen? What's the first thing actors get told? DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!), buying a home (big, huge, crapping mistake), starting over. The worst that could happen with me dipping into the production pool is that I'm not cut out for it. Like I haven't been there before.

This year, however, I have resolved to return to a more academic studying of acting. That means reading the acting books I've half-read and reading the acting books I haven't even looked into getting, but are in my notes of must-reads from various classes. I hope that I can find just as much instruction and inspiration as I do when I work with other actors. I could use the inspiration.

No one else is charge of my career. It's just me. However, I do have to be prepared that “IT” may never happen for me. It's a scary possibility, but not one I should dismiss. This isn't an industry where if you work a certain amount of time and learn certain things, you can expect to rise “the ladder” to a certain a level. It doesn't work that way. The demands are great on heart, body and soul and the return may be … nothing.

I give without expecting anything back. It's what I tell myself, classmates and students. It's not a safe way to go about life and career, but it's what I have to do. It's what I'm willing to do. Safety isn't an option in acting. Safe = dead. All I can hope is that I don't lose myself or anyone I love in either regret or desperation. It's really scary. I'm scared. I really am, but I can't give into it. What have I given for, and taken from others (namely, my husband) as sacrifices, if I'm just going to give up on myself, and let him down, too?

I have a deadline looming and even though I'll have to make adjustments, necessary ones at that, I'm not quitting. It's what is in my heart. The joy, the high, the elation … I joke that my only two vices are chocolate, exercise, and (OK, three vices) television (damn you cable). But, really, it's this. Little in my life has felt so right. I guess I'm just not as practical as I'd like to think I am or portray myself to be.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The show must go on.

Two actors, two shows, two outcomes.

Christopher Tierney, who was injured during a preview performance of “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” returned to the theater two weeks after his accident to watch the show. He has some rehab to get through, but once he's well enough, he'll be able to take back the job three other actors were required in order to fill his shoes in the show.

That's a feel good story. Actor takes an ugly tumble, but LIVES and will be able to continue working on the same production he's committed to. It's amazing, it could have been so much worse all things considered. It was an ugly head-first fall. I have warm and fuzzies for this one.

Not so much for “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” lead Andy Whitfield. My heart goes out to this actor. It's amazing as an actor to watch another actor on a show with as much balls (no pun, well maybe a small pun, intended) as this one. Really one of the bloodiest and most naked shows I've encountered. But, skin and gore aside, it really does have some great story-telling. And so much of it falls on the commitment and heart of Whitfield.

(Warning: Spoiler Alert!) I watched the episode where Whitfield's Spartacus kills his gladiator brother in blood, Varro. I missed this episode when it originally aired and what not prepared for the outcome. The whole scene had me agog. Literally, hand over mouth agape in shock. I really didn't think Spartacus would go through with it. So, when Varro (played for every last tear by Jai Courtney) sacrifices himself at the hands of Spartacus, my stomach turned – from both the graphic depiction of the death and from the well-played and believable anguish of Andy Whitfield.

My husband and I really root for this show and for Whitfield. He's just that likeable, believable. It's crushing to see someone, who's basically unknown, earn a juicy lead role, carry it, and then have it all taken away. “The show must go on” isn't a cliché. It's a very real aspect of this business. Even a namesake lead of the show – the heart and soul – can't stop production to tend to his disease. I wish Mr. Whitfield a speedy recovery from his cancer. I hope he kicks it's ass. Then after he's done kicking cancer's ass, I hope I see him back kicking ass on another show.

I totally understand the decision to continue the show. It really is good and postponing production would mean losing their cast and crew to other projects, but it doesn't mean that I'm not disappointed for Mr. Whitfield. I also don't envy the actor chosen to fill Mr. Whitfield's spot. It can't be a great feeling knowing that the role earned is only because the original actor is fighting a real life-or-death battle. Ugh.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Neil Diamond might hate me. Like, on a personal level.

So, I flippantly mentioned in my intro post that I don't want Neil Diamond to sue me. It's not a joke or a euphemism. I really don't and it's making my marketing efforts a bit challenging.

I also mentioned in my intro post that I was on a major network show this past year. Here's how the two are correlated:

In said show, I witness two murders. The murderer (An awesome Robert Knepper. Seriously, if you ever have the chance to meet him, do it!) is whistling "Sweet Caroline" while shooting a couple of mechanics. He finds me hiding and I beg for my life. He smiles and lets me live. How amusing. Cut to a few scenes later and the leads of the show, a pair of Texas marshals, interview me about the killings; walking and talking, stop, talking. I'm then asked, "Did he say anything to you?" I respond, "No, he was just whistling." "Whistling?" "Yeah, 'Sweet Caroline'. I hate that song. Now, I can't get it out of my head. Excuse me." I exit. I'm done! Woo hoo! Yay me!

So, I'm done and feeling really good. The episode airs and all is well, except for my name being miscredited in the closing titles. Gah! A few days later, I get a call from my agent letting me know I'm on hold for ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) for my dialogue on the show. I came to find out, through my agent and the exec supervising my ADR session, that Neil Diamond took issue with my line about hating "Sweet Caroline." Not Neil Diamond's people or his camp, NEIL DIAMOND. The lines had evidently not been cleared by him. The whistling of the song during the murder scene? Yes. Me hating the song? No. And for the record, I LIKE "Sweet Caroline"!

So, a couple of weeks after the original airing of the episode, I'm in a studio rerecording the lines and all traces of "Sweet Caroline" are gone, except of course, on every TV web site that plays TV shows online. Sure, the original "Sweet Caroline" dialogue is there for all to see, but that's their deal. I just want to be able to use the footage for my reel and not worry that Neil Diamond will end me.

So, the new line went from "Sweet Caroline. I hate that song," to "Dirty Water. That old Standells' song." Please, God, don't let the Standells come after me next. So, I'll put it out there again -- if anyone knows of a site that has re-dubbed/re-looped episodes after their original airing and won't put a virus on my computer, just leave me a comment.


New Year. New Kick in the Ass.

I probably should've done this last year. Leave it to me to have a delayed idea. Lord, help me -- story of my life. So here I am -- a 34-year-old, "self-employed" actor/housewife/flailing (failing?) entrepeneur, college graduate, possibly having a quarter-to-midlife crisis.

Where to begin? I moved to Austin in 1997 after falling in love with the city (OK, the UT campus. Hook 'Em 'Horns!) during a state high school competition in 1994 and 1995. I was an orchestra geek. Emphasis on the geek. I've only realized in the last few years that all college campuses must seem cool to high schoolers. So much academia, independence and sex in the air. It was the only school I applied to and I got in. Not bad for a timid El Paso girl.

Fast forward a decade after a promising career in online journalism (Not really. Turns out I don't have the stomach for it and I value my soul and not becoming numb to the horrors of humanity and whatnot), a move to and from Las Vegas and Los Angeles (Not acting related. Regarding here-to-fore-mentioned journalism career), jumping into the film and theater scene in Austin (which is plentiful and fun, but often lacking quality), and a-mostly-on-again-but-sometimes-off-again-relationship-turned-solid-marriage and I'm in my home office contemplating my next move.

I happily left the journalism industry in 2008 to more fully pursue acting, since I was booking quite a bit of commercial work and was excited at the prospect of what more devoted time would bring. I got a part-time receptionist gig through a friend who was totally cool with me taking time off, if and when needed, to audition  and work any booked jobs. Pretty sweet, I know.  It's all anyone in my position could ask for.

But, of course, it couldn't last. The company wasn't able to make payroll and I finally resigned when the county constables came by to seize equipment (including my office computer) to settle an unpaid debt. I wasn't being paid and I couldn't do the simplest of my assigned tasks. Thanks for your support! I gotta go!

That was back in April 2010. My husband said I should take my time finding new steady work and I should concentrate on my acting. So, I've taken my time, but the concentration has been sporadic at best. Something I'm trying to change as a deadline I wasn't previously aware of looms. I've been selfishly thinking that my time not steadily contributing financially to my partner in marriage and our shared bank account was limitless. Stupid, I know. I'm easily lulled into a false sense of security. Good news for our politicians! Anyway, the unfairness of making my husband the sole breadwinner is taking it's toll and I have until April this year "to make something happen with acting."

After which, we'll decide what "needs to be done". It doesn't give me much hope. I've never really been the most self-motivated person. The fact that I quit a steady career for something as fleeting as acting is more a testament to my insanity rather than my tenacity I've concluded. I must be a glutton for punishment if I've chosen a life where I'll be rejected more times than the smelly kid in the Kindergarten class. Though the punishment I received working in news should've told me that. Again, slow on the uptake.

So, I've taken up the day-job search in earnest and feeling further discouraged by lack of enthusiasm and possible un-hirability for the most menial of tasks. Truly a big ol' slice of humble pie for me. I'm still in there chasing the dream, however. I've set myself up as a private coach (one client so far!), and teamed up with a fellow actor from my agency to tape auditions (so far mostly folks from my agency, who get a discount, but I'm at the mixers drumming up business), and trying the Every Girl Friday for actors thing (again, one client so far!).

I'm going to work at picking up the momentum I lost after experiencing my first co-star role on a major network show. It was a high and the low following has been really low. I've booked a couple of commercial jobs since, but being able to turn that into more work has eluded me. The idea probably won't come to me until six months from now...... Lord, help me.

BTW, if anyone knows where to locate shows that have been re-dubbed/re-looped since their original airings, please let me know. I'd like to have the footage for my marketing purposes and not get sued by Neil Diamond in the process. Thanks.