Saturday, April 27, 2013

Victory Dancing

Bag packed? Check.  Boarding pass? Check.  Script? Check.  

Guess what peeps... this actress is ready to jet off to film a movie on location!

It has been a whirlwind of phone calls with the production crew who are already there and shooting, none of whom have I actually met in person.  Though it is a very, very small feature with a micro-budget and no distribution to speak of at the moment, it is the biggest movie I've worked on, and the biggest film role I've had to date.  It is also the farthest I have traveled to shoot.  I once did a non-union commercially shoot in central California for a couple days a few years ago, but otherwise my professional career has pretty much been isolated to Los Angeles county.  So when I arrive on location tomorrow and the local barista asks me what brings me to town as she makes my morning coffee, I get to say, "I'm here shooting a movie." 

I don't care who you are, admit it.  Getting to say that is fun.  Anyone who says otherwise is trying to pretend that they're not excited to be doing what they've dreamed of doing for so long.  Call me pretentious, I don't care, this is Anony uncensored.  I believe we have a right to take pride in our accomplishments (so long as we're not doing so to feel superior to anyone).  I'm one of the few cast members they have hired out of Los Angeles and flown to location, and I'm unapologetically proud of it because I've worked really really hard to get to this point.  I'm no super hero and I have a looooong way to go before I'm an established name, but I am proud of everything I have achieved so far.  There are so few moments in this grind when we get to do a little mental victory dance, I'll take every opportunity I can get.  Even if it's at some random coffee counter in middle America.

Friday, April 26, 2013

First-Class Talent Friday : Part 1

I love creative genius and the gifts it gives to the world.  I love when artists don't wait around for someone to hand feed them opportunities to create incredible, beautiful, hilarious works of art.  I love it when they grab the bull by the horns and make it themselves, for themselves, of themselves and for the world.  I've decided to pass on things I find inspiring to you with the hopes you will too.  Today's is a video I came across while looking to relive Anne Hathaway's spectacular Les Mis scene.  The video below is just brilliant.  Hilarious, talented and genius.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Plie, Jete, Releve!

I just finished watching First Position, a documentary on young ballet dancers on the road to the Grand Prix competition, which is apparently the event of all events for young dancers.  It is the best place to be seen, and consequently judged, by the leading ballet schools and companies of the world.  Most of these kids are there with ambitions of professional ballet and are desperately trying to secure scholarships and job offers.  It was a wonderful peek into the lives of young people consumed with the dream of making a successful career in the hugely competitive and ever-shrinking job market of professional ballet.  (*Side note: ballet is one of my favorite things to watch.  So... sorry, future husband.  Tutus and tights will be part of the deal.*)

The docu film highlighted many of the obstacles these young dancers face: intense training, fatigue, injury, huge financial costs, pressure, and the incredible stress of knowing the fate of your career could hang on the next sixty seconds you spend on the stage.  And what you do with those sixty seconds.

It's not too unlike what we do as actors.  We train incredibly hard, pour barrel-loads of cash into ourselves and our careers.  We study and practice, with coaches and on our own, to be ready to walk into that room for three minutes and lay it all on the line.  Sometimes we fall flat on our face.  Sometimes we float into a beautiful grand jete.

But the dancers in this film made me feel like a slacker.  The devotion and sacrifice they poured into their art was incredible and seemed to dwarf my own.  I will have to remember these dancers sometime when I don't "feel" like going to another workshop or writing another post card, or studying another scene.  Next time I hear another actor complaining about how expensive the annual fee is to join Actors Access or that they don't want to spend another thirty bucks on a workshop, I will direct them to this documentary.  A single costume can cost nearly $2,000 and one of the girls uses $80 toe shoes... and she wears them out in a day and a half.  We have it good, actors.  So quit your complaining and invest in your career like you believe it will succeed.

Get out there and plie like the American Ballet Theatre is watching.

P.S.  Also if you somehow managed to miss it while you were living under that rock, go rent Black Swan.  Trust me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Next Adventure

I don't like to play favorites.  By choosing a favorite, it somehow feels like I'm implying a lack of affection for the unchosen, when that certainly isn't the case.   Every chance to act is a gift.  A bless-ed opportunity to just play and call it a job.  Be it on a television show, a stage or the random off-beat web series that no one will ever see, I cherish every last little moment I get to do this crazy thing that most people only dream about.

But if I were to pick a favorite -- a best of the best -- there is one that juuuust edges out all the others.   In my most humble opinion... it would be film.  Movies.  They are my deepest, most passionate, most unending love.  For all of my life I have adored everything movies.  I've loved watching them, quoting them, rewatching them, laughing and crying to them, imagining being in them, and finally actually being in them.  I love the precision, the fantasy, the intimacy, the spectacle... all of which you can achieve on film to a level other mediums can only dream.  You may say, "But but but.. television can achieve some of those things!"  But I say, unless you're a series regular (and even then, perhaps not) TV production is so fast, there is very little time to "prepare" a character.  You are mostly hired to be you, just in someone else's outfit, language and situation.  While I believe that to some extent you're always hired to be you (a notion that deserves it's own post entirely), the extended schedules of film production allow for a little deeper exploration of self and story. 

And so, my dear readers, I have been in heaven this last week for I am preparing a role in a movie.  I have haunted my usual spots -- a certain public park, a certain cafe -- drinking coffee and endlessly pouring through the script looking for deeper and deeper layers.  I love how there are little things that shift in me when I'm prepping for a role.  I reach for a different gum or tune to a different Pandora station, something inspired by my new self.  The self I will be twelve hours a day in front of a camera starting next week.  I love all the discovery and the ever so subtle way that every role changes me.  Sometimes it's temporary, others more lasting, but it's always an adventure... which is the entire reason I do what I do.  A chance to act (in any medium) is a chance to live the adventure of another life. 

And that is my favorite thing of all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Audience Awaits...

Is there anything more beautiful than that view?  The view from the stage looking up into a wall of countless faces just waiting for you to do something amazing?  Not for me.

I sang with the rest of the crew from my play at the benefit on Monday.  The above picture isn't actually our theater (ours was a little smaller) but it was a packed house with a full band behind us.  Strings too.  We sang with strings behind us. *Anony shakes her head.*  Unreal. 

I don't know why, but it is just so wonderful to be out there.  There are few places where I feel so alive and so acutely aware of the vibration of every molecule in my body as on the stage, be it live or for a camera.  Waiting in the wings before our set, I had a moment when I felt as if my heart would explode... and yet perfect calmness and ease.  Then that sensation when you step into the light, how it warms your face and the mic stands ready to catch your every breath. 

This is it.  This is what I live for.  This is why I do this.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anonymous Ms. Sniffles

No one likes being sick.  No one likes feeling like their head is going to explode or like they'll never be able to leave the couch again.  I'm no different.  Not only is it uncomfortable to feel like breathing through your nose is as impossible as breathing through gills, I hate long hours of forcing myself to do nothing.  To just sit there and heal.  I feel guilty, I feel helpless, I feel like I'm wasting so much time, like I'm just babying myself.  There is also something about being sick that reminds you that you're still dealing with a broken heart.  

I haven't really told you much about Him since our rapid rise and even more rapid fall happened during my blogging hiatus.  Perhaps there's not really much to tell anymore since it turned out he ultimately became a figure in my past instead of the permanent figure in my future that I thought he would be.  Let's just leave it at he was wonderful, he was intelligent, he was funny, he was handsome, he was caring and affectionate and we were so unbelievably happy to have found each other... until god-knows-what happened and he freaked and left.  Through the tears in his eyes he gave me some cop-out excuse that he had to put every ounce of focus into his many ambitions and couldn't make any promises that there would be room for me.  Ever.  And that, as it was clear that we would only get closer and continue to develop deeper feelings, he knew he wouldn't be able to handle it if we didn't work out.  So he decided to end it in order to avoid the risk. 

I was left standing there with my heart on the table and my jaw on the floor.  Through my own tears, I managed to mumble something about if this is what he believed was best for him, I had no choice but to support his decision.  I am not sure I have ever been as stunned in my life, particularly because a mere three days before the big drop, his best friends told me they had never seen him so happy.  

Still, I have been through enough relationships to know that no matter what you originally thought, if it were meant to be... it would have been.  And though my heart broke like it has never broken before, I know that everything happens just as it should and life moves on.  (And oh it has in the last couple of months!)

But there is something about being sick on the couch, sniffling and sneezing like a buffoon that opens the floodgate of memories of a past love taking care of you.  During the middle of the run of my play I had lost my voice one weekend.  It was completely gone on Monday and I was terrified that it wouldn't be back by the time I had to be on stage to sing Friday night.  He took care of me.  Breakfast in bed, movies and chicken soup.  He kissed me sweetly, told me stories and shushed me every time I tried to speak, reminding me to let my voice heal.  And it did.  

God, I loved that man.  I still do.  I miss him every day.  But I also love myself enough to know that I deserve a man who would never ever dream of letting me go.  I know that, with or without a leading man, I'm strong enough to carry myself through this epic adventure of a career and life.  If Hollywood can't stop me, this cold (or a broken heart) certainly can't either.  

Looking forward to getting off the couch tomorrow, and back at the hustle.  See you out there, troops.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Say It With Me, "Sleep Is Good For You."

Want to know one of my vices?  Work.  Momentum.  I get going and there's always one more email I can send.  One more informative article I can read.  One more shift I can work.  One more script I can prepare.  One more blog post I can write...

I end up finally clicking the light off at one in the morning, then spend the next hour shushing my brain that's jumping up and down like a mad scientist on crack.  Eventually I finally do fall asleep, but not for long.  My internal clock turns on all the lights in my head at about 5:30 am, all revved up to get going on the agenda for the day ahead.  It's a wonderful gift to be so motivated and full of momentum and enthusiasm for the hustle, but you can't cheat biology.  Going at that pace for extended periods of time is unsustainable.

And my body must be very tired, because I've just developed a little bit of a cold or something.  I set an intention or mantra for every yoga practice, and for the last few days, I have been thanking my body for being strong and carrying me through a crazy couple of weeks.  Literally out loud saying to myself, "Thank you, body, for being so strong for me."  Still, as strong as my body is, it does need to rest.  So I called out of work sick tonight and am already nestled under the covers.  Naturally, I had to write one more blog post about it... but this is a short one.  Just a reminder to all of you to take care of yourself.  Your body needs rest.  I'm going to try to get at least 8 hours of it tonight.  Maybe even more if I can stand it.

Plus, I have to sing on Monday.  The cast of the play has been asked to perform a number from our show at a benefit, so I have rehearsal this weekend and a performance in front of god knows how many people.  I need to kick this bug pronto.

Good night.  Sleep well and rest easy, my friends.

Anony Grows Up

I seem to have graduated into the important client category at my agency.  

I have been with my commercial agent for about a year, and they are wonderful.  I think I've gushed to you before about how much I love them.  Granted, they have only gotten me a few auditions and I didn't book any of them, but the commercial drought I'm in seems to be more of an industry trend away from my type than any lack of effort from my agents.  They have always known who I was when I called or emailed, they never gave me that holier-than-thou attitude that many nearly all douchey starter agents give their prospective and lower level clients.  And though they're exclusively a commercial house, they have always been supportive of my theatrical pursuits and submitted me on every project I asked them to.  They even negotiated my recent TV contract for me.  In the last year, I've never felt like anything but a respected client.

But now something has shifted.  All of a sudden, I'm getting calls apologizing profusely for missing me when I just popped in and out of the office to take care of a bit of routine paperwork.  I'm hearing laments that they don't see me nearly enough and requests to join them for dinner.  I'm not complaining, I just find it entertaining because I remember the days when I was terrified to email whatever loser agent I was with because I didn't want to be even slightly annoying.  When I felt like I was begging for scraps at the doorstep of whatever agency would take a meeting with a lowly, non-union wannabe without a credit in sight.  

Now my agents want to wine and dine me.  Wow.  Just wow.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Ways We Torture Ourselves

I consider myself to be a normal person.  Well... mostly normal.  I mean, I did pack my every belonging into my car, leave everyone and everything I knew in order to move to one of the largest cities in the world to pursue one of the most competitive careers in its biggest market where the odds were definitively stacked against me and my chances of success were less than slim to none.  So yeah, aside from questionable reasoning and a general disregard for practicality, I'm a pretty typical twenty-something American girl.

Except, I am an actor.  No getting around it, sometimes my actor-y brain takes over.  (Hence the decision to take up permanent residence in La La Land... both literally and figuratively.)

Still, I operate with a relatively normal brain most of the time.  I heard about a film that was shooting in my home state -- something that doesn't happen very often.  I have always wanted to be involved in projects that combine multiple loves, so a chance to basically shoot in the back yard of my childhood would be an absolute treat.  I immediately researched the production office, found their casting list and submitted for the second lead.  It was an incredibly low budget indie film and I knew they wouldn't have a lot of cash to spare on Los Angeles-based talent, so I was sure to mention that having grown up in the region, I could potentially work as a local hire.  They immediately responded with the sides and an invitation to submit a video audition for two of the roles in the film.

Not a problem.  Somehow between work, a casting workshop and an award show, I found the time to put my scenes on tape the following day.  I felt that one was a very strong role for me and that I might actually have a shot.  I even sent the link to my new agent to give him another opportunity to see exactly what his new client can do.

Then I made a mistake.  Dammit, I watched it again.  Most auditions are in person.  You walk out of the casting room and that's it.  Sure, you play it back in your head a few times, noting what you liked... what you wish you had done differently.  But the beauty is that it's in the room and you don't really have to face it any more.  You can just let it go. 

But when it's on tape, it's there.  You can go back and look at it again if you would like to torture yourself a little.  My actor brain took over and after a few more views, I started to over-analyze my own audition.  I started thinking it sucked.  Crap, I dropped the last words on that line.  Oh. My. God.  Kill me now.  I added that stupid little thing that seemed cute and "me" at the time, but now I feel vulnerable and silly and oh my god, I'm never going to work again.  Shit, and I sent this to my new agent.  Oh god, he's going to start to question why he signed me.  Jeez, one week.  That will be the fastest pick-up then dropped-by an agent in the history of Hollywood.  Crap.  Where's the ice cream?

Then I got a phone call...

It's the producer of the film.  He just watched my tape with the producer/writer/director team.  They loved it and want to book me for one of the roles.  Don't even need to see more or audition me in person, so ecstatic to have me join the film.  They'll put the offer paperwork together immediately.  The travel team will be in touch shortly to book my flight up to set for the first week in May.  Welcome to the cast!  My agent congratulated me and my great read. 

Sheesh.  Sometimes I wish there was an OFF switch on this brain. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Hump Day!

12:49 am.  So that means it's Wednesday already?  Sheesh!  Where do they go?

The last few days have flown by in a flash.  It was a pretty big day for me, I ended up signing with the new agent!  Remember I told you he was working on the larger partners at the agency all weekend?  They still wouldn't really budge yet because I didn't have enough credits on my resume.  Well, this agent decided to take me anyway!  He believes in me me so much that he's willing to go against the recommendation of his more senior partners and add me to his client list.  It may still be a battle getting me in some doors, but at least I have another warrior on my team.  He's passionate and willing to take risks because he's looking to build a name for himself in Los Angeles, as he was a New York agent until last year.  I couldn't be more excited!  The last couple days has been filled with linking submission accounts, revising resumes, adding logos and discussing casting relationships.  I am looking forward to seeing what this new partnership will bring in the months ahead!

This Wednesday is still young, yet I already have a callback scheduled and I just sent a link to a fresh video submission to the casting team for an indie feature that shoots out of state at the end of the month.  All in a day's work.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

TV Billing 101

After waiting all day Friday for a phone call that didn't come, I shot a follow-up email to the agent.  He responded back almost immediately to give him the weekend.  He was trying to get the other agents at the office on board, but they were hesitating because of my lack of guest star credits.  (Ugh!)

Here's a little lesson in television billing:

First up, co-star roles.  They're very small, usually a single scene or two and very few lines.  The character is not pivotal to the plot of the episode and therefore they are the least important of the principal roles.  They usually add a little color or move the scene along -- as in, "Mr. Jones, you have a phone call on line 2."  However, it is a credited role and you get to see your name scroll by in the end credits.  They are most people's first step into the great big world of acting in television, including me, as I shot my first this week.

Next is guest star.  Hey, now we're talking.  Your character plays an important part in the plot line for the episode.  Perhaps you're the brother of the victim, who turns out to be the killer.  Maybe you're lucky enough to get a recurring guest star with a three episode arc!  Maybe you're the lead's new girlfriend or work nemesis.  Your name now appears in the title credits at the top of the show.  Get a few and you now have some serious street cred as a working actor and casting directors will start to take notice of your resume.  Get a few more and next pilot season your agents will likely start pitching you for...

Series regulars.  You're now at the top of the show, probably number ten or lower on the call sheet.  Your character is prominent in the entire series and if it gets picked up, you're looking at long hours of shooting, press junkits, award shows and hopefully eventually getting to that wonderful, exciting place in your career where you've officially become a "name".  What a place to be.

Agents work on commission only.  It's illegal for them to charge a monthly retainer for their work getting you auditions.  So agents pay their mortages, feed their families and buy their four dollar lattes with the 10% cut they take from anything you book.  But that's just it.... you have to book for them to make a single dime.  If they get you 20 auditions and you don't land any of them, you don't make any money and neither do they.  That's why good agents only want talent with credits.  
I get it, it's already such a crapshoot, why would they be interested in wasting any time and energy to see if you even can book?  Until you walk in with a proven track record of roles you've already nailed (i.e. Benjamins you've brought home) you're just a long shot.  A financial risk.  A new product that hasn't been proven to have any real selling power.  Sure, I have a co-star.  That's certainly a start, but there are thousands of people in this town who land one co-star and disappear off the face of the Earth.  There are far less with the bigger guest star credits, where the real money is.

Okay fine, I'll go get my own credits.  Well... as an unrepresented actor at my level, you're presented with that classic double-edged sword... decent agents ask you to come back when you've picked up some more credits, but very few casting directors will call you in for a co-star without a rep.  (And even fewer will bring you in for a guest star.)  It happens, but it takes serious time and energy to land even one audition (and remember, audition does not necessarily equal one booking).  I can do it, and I will get there regardless of whether I sign with this agency or not.  It will take longer to generate the same amount of auditions on my own, and there will be some offices that remain closed to me until I have a decent rep, but I can do it.  Still, I'd rather be spending that time getting through as many doors as possible, and more auditions means more bookings and a resume that builds faster.  I want to shake the shoulders of these other agents!!  Instead of waiting for me for the entire year who-knows-how-long it would take me to claw my way into a guest star on my own, why not get me into all those rooms in the next few months and watch me book away!!  I can do it on my own, but I could do it faster with their help.  That adds up to more money for us all.

Oh well, I still have to wait and see what happens next.  The silver lining is that at least I clearly have one rep in that office who is excited about me.  At the very least, I will keep him updated on all things Anony and build a relationship with him over the long haul.  When I finally do pick up those credits... and I will... I should have a guaranteed meeting.  That's definitely a plus. 

I'll take it.  So long as you promise I get to say "I told you so" when I walk in with a couple guest stars to my name.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Obnoxiously Silent Phone

I think I've mentioned already that it's been a busy week.  I've been all over this town.  Shooting for the show, delivering my custom cupcake thank you gift to the casting office, working my regular job, starting a new job, dinner meeting for a potential other side job, meeting for a potential new agent, casting workshop, childrens book reading.  I've missed yoga three times this week because my to-do list has been a mile long and there are only so many hours in the day.

My dining room table is a catastrophe of headshots and post cards, and demo reel label test prints.  My bedroom is... is... well, it's as if hurricane Anony has just passed through and there's no sign of survivors.  I'm pretty sure the crazy tv makeup I washed off after the shoot is the culprit for the grimy layer in my bathroom sink, but it could be that I have just been too exhausted to clean it.

I'm so tired today I almost forgot that I'm waiting to hear back from the potential new agent that I'd really really really like to sign with.  I almost forgot.  But as the clock starts to rapidly approach the end of the work day, my mind has suddenly become very fixated on the fact that I my phone has been unusually silent today.  Walking out of that office, I felt pretty confident I'd hear back on this one, and frankly it's kinda weird that I haven't.

Oh well... only time will tell.

**P.S.  I wouldn't mind if Ry Ry popped up on my caller ID either.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Forward Momentum

We're only halfway through and it's been an incredible, whirlwind week.  There just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. 

But there are a lot of hours, and there is a whole lot of accomplishing going on up in here...

I filmed my scenes for the show.  It was the single most incredible day of my life.  (Well, thus far.  There are many more to come.  And though it doesn't quite seem possible, there will be even greater moments in my life.)  I'll tell you more about the shoot later... about the makeup, my trailer, the crew, the gobs of people who fussed over every inch of me all day long and the wonderful, amazing moments when those big ol' cameras were rolling and my kisser was in the frame.  The moments when I was overwhelmed by the incredible set and truly lived in the skin of another person during the space between "action" and "cut."  Sitting in my trailer on my lunch break while texting a close friend I wrote:

"I am in absolute heaven on Earth.  I've never been so happy in my life.  There will never be an obstacle big enough to keep me from making a career out of this."

She wrote back, "That is so great to hear.  You can and ARE doing it!!"

That's right.  I am.  Holy shit, I'm doing it.  

Yep.  It's been a great week.  I got a nice new side job that should thicken up my wallet a little more.  I gave a solid read at a casting workshop and I'm looking forward to building a stronger relationship with that casting office.  I even landed a meeting with a respected theatrical agent.  With any luck, by Friday I'll have a new rep added to my team and together we'll be able to line up more and more days in which I get to live my dream.

It's coming.  It's building, I can feel it.  This hustle, this grind... it's long, but it's working.  This train is moving and there is not a thing in the world that can stop it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy 21,428 page views!!!!!

I've been meaning to write that since I was ecstatic to see the ticker pass 10,000 hits.  And now it's over 20,000. Wow, that's so insane.

Thank you so much for reading and coming with me on this crazy journey.

Here's to all the adventures ahead.... Giddy up.