Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Love Movies!

It probably comes as no surprise that I love movies.  I live and breath them.  I get goosebumps at the 20th Century Fox fanfare at the beginning of a movie and a lump in my throat when the Paramount stars soar through the sky.  I go so far as to view memories and moments in my life as if they were scenes from a movie.  My friends (particularly the non-actor ones) always laugh at me for saying such things as, "if this were a movie, this would be the scene where..." and then I calculate my next move based on how this imaginary film would play out.  I know, I'm a nerd.

But I've come to terms with my high level of nerd-ness and just embrace it as part of my charm.  Yesterday was a day devoted to movies and my undying love for them.  I dragged a friend to three screenings.  Starting with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the morning and The Avengers 3D that afternoon (both at the state-of-the-art theater at the Director's Guild in Los Angeles).  We ended the day by having a picnic and wine at the outdoor screening of  Sabrina at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  (Which is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do in this city.) 

The spread...

I just kept thinking all day yesterday... you know, life ain't so bad.  In fact, it's been pretty darn good to me.  


Friday, May 25, 2012

And the Pendulum Swings Back Up

Boy, this life is about as far from emotionally stable as one can get.  Last week, I was wallowing in frustration at my lack of bookings.  I was angry that I had what I knew in my bones to be great auditions, and yet my phone wasn't exactly ringing off the hook with offers. 

But you can't let it get to you.  There's no point.  Because all that time I spent throwing my own little pitty party, I was about to get a callback for one of the features.  Went in this morning for five producers and guess what?  I nailed it again. 

Still not a booking, but that's okay.  No more pity parties (well, until my next one).  It's nothing that I didn't know before, but sometimes it is more of a challenge to remember.  You never know what is just around the corner.  It could be a callback, a booking or that elusive "big break."  It's out there somewhere.  It's just a matter of hanging on long enough to find it.

Go out there and have fun this holiday weekend.  Stop stressing about work and career and allow yourself the freedom to just live your life for a few days.  (This is me talking to me, but you'll probably benefit from taking the advice as well.)  Welcome that summer through the door like you would an old friend you haven't seen in years.  Sit her down with a nice cocktail and plan out all the fun things you'll do together in the next few months. 

I love summer just about as much as I love callbacks.  Here's to having lots of both in the coming months...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shhh, Little Girl, We're Doing Just Fine

I'll admit it... I let it get to me.  I got frustrated and angry and disappointed.  In the last few weeks I've had auditions for three major indie films,  two commercials,  and was called in for three different roles on a television show.  Aside from one absolutely bombed commercial audition (worthy of it's own post), I nailed them all.  That has been my pattern.  Lately I have felt my craft and audition execution transcend to a new level truly worthy of being noticed.  My discipline, unfaltering.  My preparation, thorough.  My dedication, immovable.  My passion, ignited.  All the pieces were in place.  Everything was solid.  It was feeling like my time.  All I needed was a booking.

And I NEEDED a booking.  I wanted one so bad, I could feel it in my gut.  I was hungry for the satisfying effects of carving a notch in my belt.  The "yeah, that's right" that accompanies getting one in the bag.  I desperately longed for the phone call that could keep that nervous little girl inside me, who sometimes worries if I'm really any good at this, quiet for just a little while longer.

But no bookings came this month.  And when no bookings come, that little girl likes to start rattling off all sorts of theories and opinions.  She's not doing it to sabotage or hurt me, she's just trying to help and to protect my heart.  She doesn't know it does more harm than good.  Normally I'm able to give her a pep talk and coax her into calming down and relaxing back into this hustle of a career.  A house divided against itself will fall, so I need her on my side if we're gonna do this.  Normally, she doesn't need much reassurance, but in the last week she decided to be particularly vocal.

She so badly wanted to triumphantly declare to all my Facebook followers that one of the auditions mentioned in my many posts had paid off.  She wanted to make my mother (who's been so unwaveringly supportive) proud by giving her the chance to finally be able to brag about her successful daughter.  That girl inside of me wanted to write to the hundreds of you who so faithfully return to share in my victories.  She wanted me to be able to tell you that I'd done it, I'd finally booked my first recognizable credit.  She wanted to be able to give that to you, because she knows you're reading not just to see what happens for me... but also to be reassured yourself.  Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

But mistakenly, while trying to shut her up, I shut myself up and left you for a week without word.  I'm sorry I was gone.  I should have sorted through my head noise right here with you.  It is, after all, part of the journey.  So while I don't have any booking news to share at the moment, know that if you're feeling like you have a worried inner little girl (or little boy) of your own, you're not alone.  And if you haven't heard from your inner child, trust me, you will.  This business is hard. While sharing some of this with a non-actor friend of mine, he said, "Auditioning sounds like my exact definition of hell."  Yeah, maybe on a bad day.  But on a good day... it's greater than you can possibly imagine.

So as they say across the pond, let's just..

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Making the Short List

There are lots of lists in the world.  Some are good lists, some are bad lists.  But as an actor in Los Angeles, there is one list that getting on is priority number one.  I'm not talking about no VIP list for a Hollywood club.  I'm talking about the short list.  (Pause for the echo... the short list... the short list... the short list...)

What is the short list?  That's the list in any given casting director's head which holds names and faces of actors they like.  When you're on that short list, the casting director thinks of your name while reading scripts, planning to call you in even before they've released a breakdown for the role.  They've called you in for other characters before that haven't been quite right, didn't quite fit... but they like you and want to find one that does.  They call you back in again and again until you land the role that's right for you.

Right now, I'm so grateful.  I've made the short list in  a couple offices in town.  Yesterday, one called me in for the third time in the last few weeks.  They keep bringing me in, and I keep nailing it.  The session was incredibly relaxed and at ease because I've already been in three times.  I felt comfortable and free to have fun.  Yesterday's audition was great, but even if I don't book it, I'm confident the office will call me in for role number four... and if necessary, then five... then six....   

I don't care if it takes ten tries, I'm booking a role on this show!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Big TV Audition Today

I had intended to put down a nice shiny new post for you last night... but my agent called at 5pm with an audition appointment for this morning so I had to spend the time with the words of a script instead of words to you.  But don't worry, I'll share as soon as I get the chance.

For now, know that it went well.  Very well.  I can't wait to tell you more about it.

In the meantime... cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

She Devil

I have to admit that one of the things I love about acting is that it can take you to places most normal people try to avoid.  Pain, suffering, insanity, heartbreak, Armageddon, worldwide invasion by little green men... it doesn't matter.  It's all fair game in Hollywood. I have yet to officially decide if working on characters is living something that is outside of yourself... or just finding whatever it is within you.  (Hmmm?)  One of the most interesting ways to explore this question is to audition for a character who is possessed by a demon... which I did today.

Allow me to set the stage.

This very reputable indie film casting office had been on my radar since last fall and I'd been laying some marketing groundwork trying to get their attention.  All this time, I wondered if it would ever pay off.  I found out it did this week when they called me in for a lead in a SAG modified low budget feature.  Getting that email felt like finding the one friend who calls you back after you've gone through your phone book looking for someone to drive you to the airport.  "Oh, thank GOD you called.  I was starting to worry that I didn't have any real friends."

Anyway, they sent me the sides... holy shit.  This is the most technically difficult scene I have ever had to prepare.  It required seduction, screaming (or more precisely, an "inhuman howl") sobbing, hurricane force winds and murder.  After I read through it the first time, I just stared at the pages for probably fives straight minutes.  How the hell am I going to pull this off in an office without props (besides my paper and a chair), no scene partner (aside from the reader, who I can't touch) and pages of ridiculous physical action like attacking multiple people, a room basically being torn apart around me by the wind and oh yeah... in parts I'm possessed with a fucking devil spirit.  My coach always says, "Judgement kills creativity," so I decide to just go for it.  (I've mentioned to you before how important commitment is.)

So I did.  I worked on it with my coach this morning (and after we laughed about the absurdity of it) we got down to business and made a very real audition that was grounded and honest.  (Well, as honest as you can be when you're pretending to bite the flesh off of someone else's body.)

So I'm in the room, giving it everything I have.  Howling "inhumanly", basically tearing the chair apart, sobbing with fear.  I'm not quite sure if I was actually acting or just being insane.  (Is there any difference?)  When it was over, I couldn't help but laugh and the casting director said, "No, that's great. Thanks!"

I really have no idea what the hell I did in that room.   And by the looks on the faces of the other actors in the waiting room on my way out... neither did they.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's Raining Auditions!

Holy smokes, kids.  I've been hit hard with some really amazing auditions.  A major TV show today and a big big feature and two juicy shorts in the next two days.  I'll fill you in on more details later, but right now... I've got twenty-three pages of script to prepare.  I'll come up for air soon, I promise!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Snail Rebel

My mind was racing a bit late last night, so I went for a nice long walk around the neighborhood to clear my head before I went to bed.  Sunday was a beautiful day that had slowly dissolved into a warm Southern California evening.  It's so calm and peaceful after dark, sometimes it's hard to believe I'm in the middle of a major metropolitan area.  (And that's coming from a girl who grew up walking out her back door to disappear into miles of farmland and riverbanks.)  My flip flops barely made any sound on the sidewalk and all the beautiful condominium and apartment buildings looked sleepy and warm in the glow of their exterior accent lighting.  Soft vocal jazz flowed from my ear buds and I felt the tension in my neck and shoulders release it's hold.  My mind started to let go of all the endless nonsense about acting/finances/love/life/what-have-you and just admired the beauty in the details of what was around me.  I noticed the wide range of architectural styles and the unique artistry in each of them.  I felt the swish of the palm trees as they moved above my head.  I saw fountains and statues I had never seen before, and felt the velvet texture of flowers in impeccably landscaped beds.

Then, I came across a snail who was booking it across the sidewalk.  I knelt down to take a closer look and became utterly fascinated by this little creature.  He was working so hard, but moving so slowly across what must have seemed like an endless stretch of cold, harsh cement.  I watched his little gooey body as it stretched out and hauled that beautiful shell along.  After a moment I stood to continue walking, but after a few steps I had to turn back. I wanted to see that little guy make it to the soft grass at the edge of the sidewalk.  I wanted to see him finally get to where he was working so hard to go.  I suppose, in part I wanted to protect him from anything that would stop him in the final stretch, but mostly I just wanted to share the in his victory when he finally made it.

"Do you need help looking for something?"  A voice startled me a little and I looked up to see a man walking his dog along the sidewalk across the street.

I laughed and said, "Oh, no, thank you. I was just, um... watching this snail cross the sidewalk... wondering why he was doing it."

The man smiled and said, "I thought you lost a key or something.  Did you figure out why?"

"Uh... to get to the other side, I guess."  We both laughed.  (Me at myself for being crazy girl watching snails cross the sidewalk at 11:30 at night and him... probably because he'd just encountered crazy girl watching snails cross the sidewalk who couldn't resist a bad chicken-crossed-the-road joke.)

Still, I walked away thinking that little snail was awfully brave.  The world may not have noticed him chance the death and danger of the sidewalk, but I did.  And you know me... I couldn't help but think of my own journey as an actor...  There were probably lots of snails who stayed behind in the flower bed.  They probably called my little guy crazy for wanting to chase that dream, that he'd never make it.  They probably questioned why he would even want to try it when there were many other perfectly sensible and practical adventures to be had within the safety of the garden.  Perhaps they even reiterated cautionary tales of the countless others who had attempted the feat and failed, returning to the flower bed defeated... or perhaps never returned at all.

But that little guy was a bona-fide snail rebel.  He didn't listen to those well-meaning nay-sayers.  Staying in the garden just wasn't good enough for him.  He knew he'd never be satisfied without at least trying to get to the other side of the sidewalk.  Somehow, it was his destiny to go.

And thank goodness he did.  His little act of rebellion reminded this little girl rebel to keep on truckin' on.  That the journey may be slow and the sidewalk may seem immeasurably wide and full of danger -- if not physical, at least emotional -- but that it can be traversed.  Reaching that other side is possible.  I watched him do it. 

I only wish he could be around someday to see me make it across my "sidewalk" to reach the red carpet beyond.  If he could, I bet he'd have one question for me... "Why did you do it?"

I'd smile and answer with a shrug, "To get to the other side."

(While not the exact hero of our story, the photo above is from the slow moving street art project called "Inner City Snail" by Slinkachu in London, England. So great.  I bet that little badass wouldn't settle for staying in the flower bed either.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

That's a Benjamin!

Today marks the one hundredth time I’ve written to you.  We’ve shared one hundred posts and seven months of our lives together.  By now, you and I have started to get to know each other.  Well… more that you’ve gotten to know me and I imagine who all you are based on the comments and emails you leave for me.  Seems like only yesterday I posted my first note and excitedly watched the two or three hits I had each day.  Now?  There are… well… a LOT more of you.  And I’m glad you’re here.  So unbelievably grateful.

Being crazy enough to find pleasure in playing pretend as an adult is one thing.  Being certifiably insane enough to actually pursue it as a career is probably legitimate grounds for a 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold).  Not only does it take constant study to learn to act and do it well… it takes endless hustle to even get a shot at auditioning for the smallest of roles.  It's signing in, waiting your turn, knocking on doors, dropping off headshots, taking chances, bending the rules, calling in favors, running your ass all over town only to be rewarded with, “Thanks for coming in,” most of the time.  Sometimes you don’t even get to drag your ass out there.  Today I emailed a casting director about a role in a feature that I’m pretty sure I could nail.  The response?

“Thanks.  Nothing you’re right for.  Sorry.”

Okay, I disagree, but fair enough.  Some might react to that as a strike out.  But me?  It’s a little win.  I’ve never met that casting director.  I’ve never been called into that office.  (It’s good office: lots of pilots, lots of features.)  Disguised in that superficial rejection, there’s the beginnings of a professional relationship.  It’s a chink in the armor of this industry, a crack in the impenetrable walls of the fortress that is Hollywood.  The fact that the CD took the time to actually consider me (rare), and then respond (unheard of) with what is (at least in the world of this town) a somewhat pleasant email offering condolences… say no more.  I’m on their radar.  If gingerly nurtured and properly cultivated, you never know where this opportunity could lead.  Maybe nowhere, but wouldn’t it be grand if I kept them updated on my bookings, found them in a workshop to meet them in person and they ended up calling me in on another feature?  And then what if I booked it??

I’m glad you’re here, whether you joined us at post 1 or today’s 100th.  I love writing it all down for you and sharing the many, many (MANY) things I’ve tried and am still trying in order to chase this little dream of mine.  Perhaps some of it will inspire you in the pursuit of your own dream, be it of Hollywood or otherwise.  All you have to do is keep coming back.  I’ll be here.  And trust me, there’s lots more to come.

Lots more.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Wish They Would Leave it Alone

Breakdowns for "Baby" and "Johnny" in the remake were released last week.  When I saw them, I couldn't figure out if I was sad or just plain angry.  I guess it will bring in money, if only from the saps who go see the film's inevitable flop, but there's something sacrilegious about trying to reboot this film.  Even the AFI ranked this as one of the greatest romantic films of all time.  Maybe it's because Patrick Swayze was one of my first crushes growing up, but I think it's just a no-win situation for those of us who truly loved this film.  If the new actors perform it exactly like Patrick and Jennifer... we'll complain that they were just copying them.  But then again, if they try to make it their own... we'll be angry that they went and changed what is a wonderful piece of cinema.  This is one I definitely wish they'd leave alone.