Monday, April 24, 2017

Pay It Forward

At any audition, it's not about booking the role. You know that, I've told you before. 

(I have told you before, right? I've been writing this for a while. I forget. Well, if I haven't told you, undoubtedly someone in LA has. And if they haven't yet, they will.)

It's never about booking the role. It's about doing great work, meeting casting and filmmakers and winning them over. It's about getting fans. That's how you get more auditions.  More auditions will inevitably lead to more bookings. It's just math, kids.

I didn't land the lead in that movie last week. I received such great feedback on my initial submission, I figured it was worth the risk and emailed casting to follow up. Casting graciously responded that she "LOVED my tape and shared it with the team." Unfortunately, they decided to just go ahead and make an offer to a "name."

Ugh. Is my blog getting repetitive?? Yeah. It is for me too. 

Still, it's not about this role, it's about winning the room. I thanked her and offered my assistance as a resource. The film was slated to shoot in my home state, after all. She was ecstatic to have the help and I spent the following afternoon getting in touch with some folks to find her local talent to fill a couple bit parts. 

It wasn't too much effort -- just a few emails -- and she was incredibly appreciative. Most importantly, it never hurts to have a casting director in the position of owing you a favor... you can bet your britches I'll call that in at some point.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

She's a Natural!

You studied Stanislavski. Strasberg. Meisner. Adler. Maybe you earned an MFA. You read Shakespeare on the daily. Your shelves are lined with worn copies of Chekhov, Chubbuck, Hagen and even Sedita.  You spend endless hours and thousands upon thousands of dollars in class struggling to increase your capacity as an artist.

Your Cmail pings. New Audition! Yay, let's put all that study into practice!!

You read the breakdown...

Cute young coed with big breasts.

I guess the body truly is your instrument. It's just that some things they can't really teach in class....

Welcome to Hollywood kids!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

An Update

I sent in my self tape last week for the lead in a film. I couldn't attend the session because I was traveling all week, yet I made sure to steal away from the group for half a morning so I could put the audition together.

I got her done, sent in and I kid you not, the casting director emailed back within fifteen minutes.

"You are really good, Anony, and lovely and interesting to watch."

We then proceed to email back and forth for the next half hour on availability, height and all sorts of other details that are usually only asked once you're close to booking. I start to get excited...

That was nearly a week ago.  You usually only hear this much radio silence once you're close to... well... not booking it.  

I find this so annoying.  

Welcome to the hustle.

Monday, April 10, 2017

When Everything Must Stop

I had a mega day last week. It was jam-packed from dawn until well after dusk. It was a day when I had to literally write out my appointments to make sure they were in the most optimal order for location and travel time. There was no room for deviation or wasted driving in this schedule. 

Then it happened (and it always does on days like this). 

I heard about casting for a film. This film is shooting in May in my home state. This film had a lead role appropriate for me. These are the shots you wait for, coiled like a puma ready to pounce. 

So everything -- the day, the whole schedule -- it has to stop. A giant pause. A record scratch. That meeting on the Warner Brother's lot? It has to wait. My film festival after parties with contacts I only see a couple times a year? They're gonna have to sip their first drink without me.  

It all must wait for me to track down the casting director, contact information and anyone who may know anything about the film so that I can make a special pitch. 

"Hi - I'm Anony, I'm from this state and have worked there many times. Would love to read for this role. I am traveling tomorrow, but would it be possible to submit a selt-tape?"

Sure enough, that casting director responded with the script and sides. 

My day continued on. Maybe I was a little late for the rest of the day, but I got everything done. I have an audition for the lead in a film. It's all worth it.

And now I sit on a plane -- my eyes barely open from exhaustion -- reading the script for my next audition. But trust me... this is the good kind of tired.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Make Your Own Break

Okay Mom. I'm here, see?!

Yeah, you read that correctly. My mother has been not-so-subtly hinting that I've neglected my blog. She is completely right, of course (as mothers often are.) I have neglected you, readers. And the truth is I've cheated on you. A lot.

But please, let me explain. This is a weird instance where cheating is actually a good thing!

You see, I've been writing elsewhere. In recent years, I too have come to realize what many other actors fighting for a place in this business already have. Being a good actor isn't enough. Being attractive isn't enough. It won't get you through the door. It won't get you ahead of the pack. You have to be more. You have to give more. You have to make your own break.

I cheated on you by writing my own feature. It took months; years actually. Guys, it's great. It has gotten competition attention. It landed me an Oscar nominated mentor. It has given me a profound sense of control over my career. It has transformed me from desperate to audition actor into a creator.

But guess, what? It's still not enough. I still don't have offers flooding through my door. It has to get made before it really starts turning heads. That is my next challenge.

There's also another feature and three shorts coming down my writing pipeline... So unfortunately that means I've written for you less. But I'd like to come home to you, because I've missed you.

It has been a long road in the past few years --  as I am sure it has been for you -- but we don't have to do it alone. We can do it together. And we should.

Ahhhh. It feels good to be home.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Guys, It's Working...

A couple years ago, I decided to change my approach. I'm a little bit out of touch with what the newbs are doing these days, but when I started it was all about postcards and hitting the streets with a headshot in hand. Okay, I admit I was never one to do the whole physical drop off thing, it just seemed like wasted effort to me. But I did send headshots out with cover letters. In fact, one had a CD raving so much, he called in for a co-star on a major television show. When I didn't get that role, he called me in again for another. And another. Flash forward five years later... that CD has now graduated to one of the fanciest offices in the city is still calling me in for other shows. He's my favorite. Doesn't matter how big I get, I will take that man's phone call whenever he wants me to consider a project.

Then we all quickly transitioned into a workshop culture, and I did those too. I was even called in from them a number of times. But honestly, I didn't get called in enough to spend forty bucks a pop. So I stopped. (Well, more or less. I am flirting with the idea of taking a choice few here and there again though. Are people still doing it?)

All this was working-ish, but at a pace that just about drove me bonkers. So a couple years ago I decided to make a shift. I decided that I was going to devote most of my energy to going directly to the source, meeting talented filmmakers who were out there doing it on the independent scene. It's all who you know, right? Well I needed to "know" a hell of a lot more poeple than I did at that time.

I started going to festivals and getting involved in industry organizations. I started to write a feature so that I had something to contribute. I started spending a huge amount of time organizing coffee/drinks/hikes with contacts and attending events to get out and support their projects.

Has it worked? Well... I'm currently developing 3 short films and a feature with people I "know". Last week was the Sundance Next Fest in Los Angeles and sadly, I was out of town. Yet a programmer from a major film festival emailed me this week asking why I didn't attend.

"It was a blast, of course. But if it means anything, your absence did not go unnoticed."

Wow, blush! Though it's a bit silly because I consider this big shot to be a friend, it still made me feel like Molly Ringwald at the end of Sixteen Candles when Jake Ryan waves at her: Meeee??

Then this week I was scheduled to grab a coffee with a CD I met during an event for women in the industry. She read my screenplay is so supportive, she has agreed to jump on board pre-financing in order to help me attach a star and get the thing made. My phone chimed yesterday with a new audition notification; that casting director was bringing me in for a national commercial. I immediately confirmed and fired off an email.** 

"Was going to ask if we were still on for tomorrow, but I guess you're in a session! Should we reschedule to next week?"

Her response...
"I was just going to email you to tell you! Ha! I saw you were submitted so thought at least if I have to cancel on you I can bring you in."

Uhhh.... Abso-fucking-lutely. You can do that to me any time you want. 

I don't know guys... I think the new approach is working.

**Holy smokes! I'm in this crazy position where I can just, you know... casually email the CD after getting a big audition notice. What?!? Who am I right now?? What a different universe from 5 years ago.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

This Crazy Train Life

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had a certain picture in my head for what life would be like as an actor. I imagined that working the actor hustle would consist of printing fancy headshots, auditioning for all my favorite television shows, taking general meetings with studio casting departments and occasionally getting to work on a few projects that would play on every screen-- big or small-- across the country. An exciting life to be sure, but I never imagined how odd it really is.

The #actorslife hashtag can't even begin to capture the real grind of this job. I have filmed on locations that required a half mile hike in order to use the restroom. I have changed my clothes in my car around LA so many times I don't even care who sees a flash of my bra anymore. I have cut the extra inch and a half from my 8.5X11 resume to fit my 8X10 headshot so many times, I now believe it's actually a big psychological experiment designed to test an actor's sanity. I worked hard on screen only to become the victim of bad lighting, bad hair or bad makeup rendering footage totally unusable.

Sure, there are fancy trailers and celebrities and film festivals and people seeing me on TV. But mostly it's crying/screaming/stripping down to a bathing suit in front of strangers in random rooms all around Los Angeles. It's feeling the pang of shelling out $175 for one hour with an audition coach before you walk into one of those rooms... but then walk out without booking the job. It's long email strings with your reps about exactly how long you should keep your hair. It's last minute canceling on evening plans with friends because it's 6pm and the next day's audition requests are rolling in. It's my roommate laughing from the other side of the apartment because I'm endlessly muttering dialog to myself when I'm getting ready. This life, it's crazy.

But folks, ain't it grand??