Thursday, October 30, 2008

Actor Jealous

So this is funny.

Today I had a callback (yay!) for another student project with the same director as last time. So that's cool. But that's not what is funny.

What is funny is that there was a guy at this audition and at the callback that had been at the previous audition and callback. We read together and chatted the first time and he was great to play off of, so I was excited to see him yesterday at the audition and then today at the callback.

He and I were paired up when he got there, and then after we read for the director we were each paired with other folks to read again. I was rehearsing with a guy who...well, to euphemize, he probably isn't the best choice for the role. And he was ad-libbing, which I hate. But anyway. While I was rehearsing with this guy, the actor I liked was reading with another girl outside of the audition room. And I discovered, to my horror and then amusement, that I had actor jealousy! He was doing his best with her, just as he had with me, but I realized that my silly actor self wanted him to only do his best with me, not this other chick. I felt cheated on or something. And then I laughed at myself for being ridiculous. Of course I wanted him to do his best all the time. And then I turned back to the guy who still hadn't made it all the way through the monologue he was ad-libbing and continued rehearsing with him.

Unfortunately, my last time in the room was with Mr. Euphemism. I was "released" after that. It's so hard to read when that happens, your actor mind taffy (Thanks Bonnie Gillespie!) starts spinning and you can't figure out if he just saw what he needed or if he hated you or you're good and he was just letting you go or or or...silly. Silly actors.

But yeah. It was fun. I think he should cast me and that guy and that other guy.

Audition: USC Grad film 10/29 callback 10/30

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kicking myself

Yesterday I didn't go to an audition, and now I'm mad at myself.

I really didn't want to go. It was for a student pilot series and the writing wasn't bad and I would have gotten a fair amount of footage and I was pretty right for the part. But I really didn't want to go.

I justified it to myself by thinking that if I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't do my best work. I almost turned around twice, but talked myself into going, and then the last time I turned and drove home.

I knew at the time that I really should go and it's my job and this is what I want to be doing and I'm only hurting myself and it's stupid not to go and blah blah blah...

I let the fact that I lost my weekend to my sustenance job impact the few hours of free time I had, and by doing so, I didn't do what was best for my real job. I should feel bad. I got in my own way and let myself do it.

Blah. I feel whiny. And blah. Happy Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tear Pricks on the Bus

I was reading an article on immigration reform in The Sun magazine, which I absolutely love to read when I have time. It's always timely, thought provoking, interesting, and very human to the point of sometimes being very sad. But it's great. I highly recommend it.

Anyway - the immigration article was actually an interview with Pramila Jayapal, an author and immigration activist. Towards the end of the interview she talked about a note she received from one of the people she had helped - he wrote "If we had never met, I would have dreamed you into being." Tear prick one. What an awesome thing to say.

And then she finished the interview saying this - "I think we have to dream what we want to see happen. And then we have to work for it."

New mantra. Tears prickle happily.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain Parody

Here is our John McCain parody song from "P.S. You're A Mess."

It was taped during a show, so the quality isn't that great, but it's still fun.

You can also see it at home on YouTube.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Theatre in LA makes me say GAH!!!!

I should clarify.

"Directors" in Los Angeles who think they can just put up a show without having any expertise in or knowledge of directing make me SCREAM.

Saw yet another show that was in desperate need of a director. The "director," to his credit, had some idea of how to cast the show, as I thought 60% of the cast was actually pretty good. But that was where it ended. My friend in the cast said that he never gave them any blocking or direction, they just ran through it. She became the ersatz production coordinator because she made a schedule for rehearsals because she felt bad for the people sitting around every night. Oh, also, this "director" was in the show as well.

I learned some things last night. (Ha! I'm talking about learning again!) This may seem like a conceited statement, and I don't mean it that way - it's more of a confidence thing - but here it is: I no longer doubt that I'm good enough to be an Equity actor. I have oodles of stuff to learn about acting and life and everything else, but I realized that darn it, I am actually good enough. Now I just have to polish myself enough to convince other people of that.

I also realized why I get so upset by unprofessional productions. I love theatre so much that it's physically difficult for me to watch when I feel like it's being bastardized. I am incredibly judgmental and opinionated and stubborn and none of those are necessarily good qualities, but I yam what I yam, and to compound it all, I have pretty high theatrical standards. That isn't to say that I can't pick out the good in a production, but it gave me a little insight into why I walk away feeling bad and then feel incredibly bitchy later when discussing the show with other people who saw it. Bitchy is sort of harsh - let's say nit-picky.

I'm also not a director. It's not my passion nor my area of expertise, and I get frustrated when I see a show that I know I could have directed better. My Directing I class in college wasn't fantastic, but I did learn something.

So there's my rant for today. I know there is good theatre in Los Angeles. I keep reading about good shows and I keep hearing people say how much the theatre here has improved in the last few years. At this point, not only is it a matter of knowing where to go, but having the funds to do so...but hey, it's a tax write off. For me, anyway.

And I'm friends with a lot of good actors. But even good actors need direction. Myself included.

Also, I'm going to steal an idea I saw on another blog - I'm going to post every audition I go on. Should be interesting. Here is today's:

Non-Union Feature - Stephanie in "Skyler"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Warning: Horribly Depressing Story Follows

This is a real downer and you might not want to read it.

On the way to work this morning, I heard this story reported. A few blocks from where I live, a homeless man was doused in gasoline and lit on fire.

The multitude of disturbing things about this are obvious, and I was affected by those just as anyone would be. But my level of disturbed-ness multiplied when they said where this had occurred, and I realized it was eight blocks away. And then I realized that I had walked past this man.

We have two grocery stores in walking distance from our apartment, and last fall I would walk to the one at Vermont and Western. That walk is a fascinating trip into a land of Korean storefronts and El Salvadorean restaraunts nestled between dark and cave-like dive bars. It's not an area I would walk in alone at night, but during the day the trip is always interesting.

I would walk past this homeless man, whose name I now know because of the gruesome way in which he was killed. He was large and always sat on the sidewalk. He did not look good. It was clear to me that he needed medical attention, as seems to be the case with more of the homeless population in this city than in any other I've visited or lived in.

He never asked me for anything and didn't seem to be begging, but I never gave him the chance. I treated him as I usually do in this situation - quickly, head down, avoiding eye contact, giving him as wide a berth as the sidewalk would allow, all the while feeling horrible about myself and society and wondering what would happen if I called him an ambulance.

In Atlanta, I knew where the shelters were. There were at least five places I knew I could direct people, one being the homeless shelter at the church I grew up in. I spent a good number of mornings in high school getting up early to serve breakfast at The Open Door Community and another church that did a pancake breakfast for downtown Atlanta's homeless population. My family's Christmas tradition still includes a sunrise breakfast on Christmas morning with the guests at our church's Night Shelter. I vividly remember a family friend of ours talking about how he always gives money when he can, because you just don't know what they need, and he was willing to take the gamble on what they might spend the money on. I respected that mindset, and even though I didn't usually give money, I could at least give information.

In Los Angeles, I have no idea where the homeless shelters are. I don't know what kinds of services are available. A quick Google search confirms what I already thought was true - Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the United States.

I am embarrassed that my response to these people who are obviously in need of some assistance is to duck my head and walk faster. There are a few occasions when that decision has to do with being a woman and getting some sort of "danger" feeling, but that is just a small percentage of the time. Usually I just scoot on by, plagued by guilt and shame for about 45 seconds until I move on. The guilt lasts longer if I happen to be carrying a Starbucks cup or lunch from Baja Fresh.

I'm not currently in a position to give money to people - I'm no longer in the position to buy coffee at Starbucks or eat lunch out. But I was involved in Atlanta in ways that required no monetary commitment, and though I knew that my actions were a small drop in a giant bucket, it at least felt good to be a drop.

I'm touched that people who live around me and are probably raising families on salaries lower than mine reached out to John McGraham, the homeless man that I never knew had piercing blue eyes because I never made eye contact with him. What happened to him is unspeakably horrible, but is just another of the horrific inhumanities unleashed on the outcasts of our society as we drive our cars and drink our coffees and scuttle past with our heads down.

I will do my part. The least I can do is make eye contact and acknowledge a fellow human being sharing our world.

I'm sorry, John. May the next life be kinder to you than this one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Watching Yourself On Film Is Weird

So this is a new experience for me, but something I will have to (hopefully) get used to as an actor. I got a copy of the film I shot last week, and I am full of thoughts.

1) Watching yourself on film is weird.

2) The camera really does add weight.

3) Wearing flannel pajama pants that are already too big does not help with number 2.

4) I have dimples!? I mean, I knew I did sometimes, but really?? That much?

5) I have some moles I should probably get removed.

6) I need to stop dropping my chin.

7) My nerves still manifest in "actor voice." (Thankfully, this went away, but I was cringing in the beginning.)(And I can still hear my mom and my sister telling me "Ugh! You were using that voice!!!")

8) I'm sort of scary.

Those are the trivial things that I was noticing watching myself for the first extended amount of time on film. All in all, it turned out pretty well and I'm excited to have something to start a reel. I'm anxious to get the raw footage and see what some of the other takes were.

And, since this wouldn't be a Living the Dream Blog Post if I didn't talk about what I learned, here is what I learned: I have no problem investing and committing when the stakes are high. The more intense the situation, the better I am at being convincing and being "in it." Which is sort of obvious, I suppose. I've heard "raise the stakes" about fifty-nine thousand times, but that really is what I have to do. I struggle in comedy and sketch scenes because the characters often aren't fleshed out, and I struggle to find what's important in whatever they're doing. I'm just going through the motions, and I do enough to get by. That's bad. Now that I've figured this out and finally had a personal epiphany about what every acting teacher and director will tell you, I really have no excuse.

So it's good. Good learning experience. Fun to see. Good to know about my moles. And dimples.

Speed reel coming soon. (!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shooting fun

Shooting on Friday was a total blast and a complete affirmation that this is what I want to be doing with my life.

We shot sequentially, which I appreciated, since there is a pretty strong dramatic build for my character. But I realized that in order to be able to drop in and out of the performance as required for a shoot, you really have to know your character. The only time I've ever been prepared enough was when I was Dessa in Tongue of a Bird for my senior project - I ended up with a stuffed 4-inch binder full of character work and research, and I loved it.

This time around I definitely hadn't done enough of my actor homework, but I think it will still be good. It looked great on the monitor. I can't wait to see it. I got home late and scribbled "This is what I was born to do!!!" in the bottom of my acting journal. Sigh. More, please. And paid would be nice. But that will come. Right now I just want to do it again!!!

Also, it's pretty fun to see actor friends in commercials - showcase friend in a movie thing for Dove Canada, another one is in a TMZ spot right now (which aired during my episode of Trivial Pursuit, which I found amusing), and my friend Rick is the young dad at the beach on the new Cranium commercial. Success of others is good for all!