Thursday, July 25, 2013

And Now We Wait

However you feel right now, you know like... "Sheesh, I wish Anony would update us on how the audition went."  Yeah, that feeling?  Multiply it.  Times a million. That's how I feel right now. 

It went well.  Really really really well.  It was a pre-read, so we have more rounds to go, but I'm feeling good.  After I read with the associate, he gave me a redirect.  Which I did.  Well.

Then he said, "Um... just hang on a second." 

Then he left the room.

And then I kinda went, "wtf?!" inside my head.  But I sorta knew it was good, so I sat to wait patiently.

Then he returned.  With the head casting director.  Who shook my hand.  (Which rarely happens in a casting office).  

Then he said, "Okay.  Do it again using that redirect."

And I did.  And they loved it.

Soooo that feeling you've been having, wanting to know the outcome?  That's me right now times a bajillion.  My cell phone is practically glued to my palm and I'm trying to will my agent's name to pop up on the screen.

Ok Anony.  Just breath and try to enjoy your dinner plans tonight.  Breath.... 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Have Always Loved a Good Suit

Oh. My. God.  I have a big, whopping fat lady of an audition tomorrow.

My agent is an absolute God in a blue suit.  I heard about a major recurring role on a show I straight-up love that just might be right for me.  I told him I'd shower him with ridiculous gifts if he could get me in the room. 

He did.  

(Which is extra huge considering I just jumped on a soapbox to rant to you about how it's still -- incredulously -- a challenge to get me through doors for lame one-line roles.  This is a major recurring character for a season.)

Then I got the sides... and then I started getting giddy.  Like stupid-silly giddy.  It's me.  This role is sooo goddamn me but in black in white ink on the page.  On a hit show.  That I love. 

Okay.  I have to stop thinking about all this mumbo-jumbo actor-head-garbage and just go in and have fun.  

Dear God, I hope I can get to sleep tonight.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Begin Rant

Ugh! I am more than a little frustrated.

You would think that having a credit on a major show would be enough to be seen for other small co-star roles. I keep seeing breakdowns released for characters like:

[Flight Attendant], 1 scene 2 lines. I'm sure she says something like, "Sir, can you please take your seat." Or "Would you like some pretzels?"

[Waitress], 2 scene, 1 line. "Would you like cream and sugar with that?"

I mean, we're not exactly talking about big fat juicy stuff here. There is no reason why I shouldn't have co-star auditions 3 or 4 times a week. I fit into one of the most common categories for these little itty bitty roles. They come up all the time. And god knows I can do them. I just had a scene opposite a major show's lead character. My scene was with an Emmy-winning superstar, and while it was still small, I did a heck of a lot more than, "Mr. Jones, you have a call on line two."

I was chatting with my agent about getting in for more of them, expressing my frustration. I asked what kind of resistance he was getting while pitching me and if I could give him anything that would remedy it. He said the casting offices were very open to his pitch and submission, but were just shying away after looking at my resume and seeing only one network credit.

Excuse my language... but fuck them. One credit is a hell of a lot better than none and how the hell am I supposed to get another one if they never bring me in? Jesus. Do I have to spend another year fighting tooth and nail for one goddamn co-star audition a month? With so few, it will take at least another 12 months to land one or two that are actually right for me. And then will the freaking CDs finally start seeing me as legitimate talent? Probably not. After a couple co-stars I'll be ready to make the jump, but then they'll probably refuse to bring me in for a guest star so I'll have to fight the same fucking battle all over again.

SUUUUUCH a waste of time and my prime leading lady years. My agent reassured me that we'll pick up more credits, he knows I'm about to hit some. He can feel it. But god it is just so frustrating to see so many piddly roles pass by and to not even get a shot at them.

Sometimes this whole thing fucking sucks.

Sorry. End rant. I'll stop dropping f-bombs now.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Today's To Do: Get One New Fan. Status? Done.

I've come to accept that I'm a weird blend of opposing elements.  I am reasonably aware of and generally on board with fashion trends and the American Top 40, yet I love anything vintage and most of my favorite tunes are in my vinyl collection.  I have a flat screen, a GPS watch for running and more ipods than I should admit to, but most of the novels I read are considered "classics" and many of my dishes are farmhouse antiques.  I am quite modern and tech savvy, yet deep down I kind of loathe social media.

But loathe it or not, we live in a world and industry where social media reigns king and I have (reluctantly) come to realize that it would be downright stupid of me to ignore the potential for generating buzz online.  Especially because it is totally free.  There are so few tools available to us actors to push our career forward which require no cash upfront.  So like a good little hustler, I've started to make moves into getting my face and name into the Facebook/Twitterverse.  

I have my little profiles set up, handles secured, pictures uploaded, tweets tweeting.  It's all up and running, though I'm admittedly still getting the hang of the whole thing and my follower count is fairly modest.  Then I wanted to add the hip "follow me on [insert major online hub here]" buttons to my official website.  It requires adding custom script into your html code.  (God, I'm probably saying that all wrong.)   But whatever.  I'm savvy enough, I know what I have to do and basically how to do it.  I just occasionally run into snags... like why does it actually say "script embedded into html code" above the nifty little button I just added.  I don't want that there.  Get off.  I just want the stinking button.  

After a few minutes of fumbling around, I finally just called the support line for my website builder.  The girl was wonderful and instantly fixed it for me.  Then as she's checking links on my site, she saw my "recent news" page and all of a sudden freaked out...

"Wait!!  You were on that tv show?!?  Oh my god!  That is my favorite tv show, I've been watching it since day one.  That was you?!?  Oh my god, oh my god!  I'm in Iowa, nothing like this ever happens!  Oh my god, I can't wait to tell my friends that I helped you!"

Yep, yep.  That was me.  

"Oh my god, I'm totally following you on Twitter."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You Ask, I Answer

Today's post is a collaboration!  A fair amount of you email me with specific questions that relate to your personal hustle.  I try to respond to every message, but I've started thinking why not let everyone benefit from the answers.  So here goes...

Hey Anony,
I just want to start off by letting you know that your blogs are inspiring and have motivated me as an actor. I've recently been in that place of being overwhelmed and wondering if I should give up, but your inspirational writing has really picked me back up.  I'm not sure if you'd be willing to share such information, but would you be able to tip me on where or how you find the workshops you attend? 

Hope to see you out there some day.


First of all, as I told D.C. individually, it is always so wonderful to hear that the nonsense I scribble down here actually helps you out there.  It is incredibly fulfilling to know that you're reading what I'm writing and that it's actually inspiring you to keep chasing your own dreams. What an incredible honor.

Okay, gush sesh over.  So let's talk about workshops.  

CD workshops are kind of a polarizing topic here in ol' tinsel town.  For those of you who don't already know, there are a number of different studios around Los Angeles that offer actors a chance to "workshop" a 2-minute audition scene with real, working casting directors and their associates... for a nominal fee, of course.  At $30-$60 bucks a pop, you can bring in your scene and run it once, maybe twice, for the head casting director of a major television show or film while she looks at her very own copy of your headshot and resume.  There is no way around it, this is my blog and I am calling a spade a spade.... it is paying to audition.  (Which, technically is illegal.)  To skirt around the law, these studios market this practice as "strictly for the purposes of learning" and "is in no way a guarantee of work or auditions."  The CDs are in on the charade because they get financially compensated for the evening -- quite well, I might add.  

There are some actors who poo-poo on these workshops for exploiting the newer/non-working actor's difficulty in getting inside a decent casting office.  (Which is about 80% of this town's population of those claiming to be actors, myself included.)  And it is.  There is no way I can sugar-coat it.  Sorry if I'm crushing your little fantasy, but I kid no one... I ain't going there to ask about anyone's pet peeves.  I am, in fact, paying to see and be seen by someone who has legitimate casting power.  Some actors have an ethical problem with this and choose to abstain.  Good.  Stay home.  While you keep your little moral high ground, I'm out there networking and getting a leg up any way money can buy.  Obviously there are definitely things I wouldn't do to get a role, but shelling out $45 to guarantee ten minutes to perform a strong guest star scene in front the head-honcho who cast this year's pilot?  Yeah.  I'll drop the cash every time.  

So, to answer D.C.'s question specifically, there are a lot of resources that will list some of the better workshop houses in town.  Google it, check out the Backstage Message Board, ask other actors you know.  I don't want to pimp any individual one specifically, that's not really why I'm here.  I'm more going to share how you can use workshops to push your career forward.  Here are a few key do's and don'ts:

Don't go to ask silly newbie questions.  If you are planning to ask the CD "what they look for in an actor" don't start doing workshops yet.  Take more classes, read more books, work on more student films.  When you're ready to walk into that room as if it were just a normal audition -- because that is what it is, legal or not -- only then should you slap down last week's tips and sign up.

Don't go to a workshop just because it's Thursday night, you're free and the CD works on your favorite show.  Know who they are, what they cast and if they will likely need your type in the near future.  This takes a bit of research and forethought on your part.  Don't waste your money going to see the CD for Mad Men if you're more Sons of Anarchy.

Do come fully prepared with a scene that highlights you, your type and your talent but that is somehow similar to the type of projects the CD casts.  Is their show a comedy?  A drama?  Muli-cam?  A procedural?  Know the differences and select a scene that is relevant to their work.  Show them how easy it would be to cast you in their next episode.

Do keep in touch.  It doesn't end with the audition.  Send thank yous, booking notices, updates.  Even if you don't hear from them right away, keep trying to build a relationship.  Remember, this is a long-term game.  CDs see a huge volume of actors each and every day, and out of sight truly is out of mind.  The harder you work to keep your face in their brain, the better your money will be spent.  Also, if you get really strong feedback from a CD, make a special point to retake their "workshop" every few months.  Bonus points if each time you see them, you have a new story to tell about the amazing project you just shot.

And trust me, it does work.  Last week, after a workshop I mentioned to you in passing, I was called in for a co-star on a prime-time show.  I didn't end up getting it, but I went straight to producers in an office I'd never been in before.  That was $50 well spent.

Thanks for the question, D.C.  I hope to see all of you out there someday!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Please Don't Join This List

Please get help if you need it.  Even if you think you've got it under control.  You don't.  
It will eventually catch up with you. Get help now.

Your talent is beautiful and a gift to the world.  
It would be a tragedy to lose all that you have yet to give.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Inner Ditz - Part 2

Previously on the Anonymous Actress Blog.... If you're just joining us, start here.

And now for the (admittedly delayed) conclusion...

So what do you do when you're staring at a call sheet with your name next to a character you're totally clueless on how to play? You sack up, trust your ability as an artist and just go for it.

Two weeks before my first day on set I instilled some rules on myself, a little character prep discipline. I wasn't allowed to trash talk my character (we'll call her "B") or verbalize any sort of judgment when describing my upcoming project. More importantly, should those thoughts even enter my brain, I would immediately dismiss them. I also would not allow myself to judge (i.e. question and resist) anything in the script. Instead of complaining about how stupid my dialog sounded or unrealistically silly my actions were, I had to take them exactly as written and accept them as real. Any fraction of a second I felt myself resist one of the above, I said out loud, "No Anony, you are B and you do say this." Once I learned to let go of judging a particular line or scene action, I surprised myself with totally legitimate ways to justify every last one of them.

Instead of thinking of B as "ditzy", "dumb" or "idiotic", I started to see the behavior as childlike and playful. I was also asked to speak with an accent for the character, so what used to be "stupid questions" and "dumb comments" became understandable mistakes from language and cultural barriers. Whhhaaattt??? My creative mind exploded. I could totally get behind that! I would be a bona-fide idiot if dropped in a foreign city across the globe. The gap between B and me totally disappeared.

Then all of a sudden it was the morning of my first day on set and I encountered another problem. I started thinking about how my entire purpose in the film was to provide comedy. My role was small enough I didn't have an "arc" to speak of. Just come in, deliver the joke and duck out. Repeat for 16 scenes. Roll credits.

That first morning I started thinking, "Um, what if I'm not funny?" I'm primarily a dramatic actress, or at least that's my comfort zone and where I totally shine. Comedy had always terrified me a little, and in class it never seemed to be my strength. But this wasn't class now. I had to be funny. I had been hired to be funny. My entire function in this film was to bring a laugh... oh dear god...

Fortunately, I'm trained well enough to know that you cannot under any circumstances try to be funny. Pushing for the laugh is basically a guarantee that you won't get one. So instead, I had to just shake off the fear and trust the work I'd done to prepare. Just go out there and... have fun. Play. Be fascinated. Live in the moment. There is no "ditz." There is no "joke." There is just me and the (mis)adventures in my life visiting another country. 

A few times on set, cast/crew members said, "You're so perfect for this role!" At first, part of me wanted to groan and deny it... no I'm so not a ditz!! But as the shoot went on, I realized that they were right. I had an inner Elle Woods inside me and had from the beginning. And you know what? I didn't care. I loved it. And the girl playing the witty-sarcastic friend I origninally thought was the role for me? She was brilliant and so perfect as well. She brought a certain something I knew I wouldn't have, had it been me. I realized that, had I been the one making casting decisions for this movie, I would have cast it exactly the same. That realization made me deeply cherish the certain je ne sais quoi that I brought to my role and to the film as a whole. The special touch I added as one unique artist in a collaboration of many.

So how did it ultimately go?

Halfway through the shoot, the hairstylist said to me, "You know how in some movies, there are supporting characters you just remember forever? I think that will be you in this. You're killing it."

After the final take in one of my larger scenes, the director walked over to me grinning, shaking his head. He said nothing, but mimed a "hats off to you" before returning to his post behind the monitor.

At an industry mixer during a film festival a couple weeks ago, I ran into one of the film's producers. The abrasive, whip-cracking boss I remembered from set (and who I was convinced didn't like me) turned into this incredibly complimentary buddy. He described a recent post-production discussion he had with the director and editor that ended with the director saying, "Well the one thing we know for certain, B is hilarious."

I think I can take that as a job well done. Sooo... I guess I'm no longer terrified of comedy or "above" being a ditz.

Now that is funny.