Monday, July 31, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
I’m so fortunate that my transition to LA was as smooth as it was. I didn’t even have time to get settled before I started getting appointments. The research I did for 3+ years in New York on the LA market paid off for me. I got the exact representation that I wanted - immediately. That, along with postcards, mailings, classes, CD workshops, attending almost every event I could and lots of really late nights greatly helped me get in the game. I left my job at The Hollywood Standard 5+ years ago; which means I’ve supported myself solely as an actor for the majority of the time I’ve been here. That is so surreal to me even to this day.
Los Angeles is the Superbowl of our business - the biggest of the big leagues. I knew from the first day of acting class that I was planning to play in the Superbowl. I also knew that I was going to give an honest effort to move forward. I think I’ve done that; if I left the business now I’d be very happy with my accomplishments. Make no mistake; I have a long way to go, but I feel I’m moving forward everyday. The really cool thing is that I’m enjoying the present time and not waiting for the “big whatever”. 8 years in the can, I’m growing up.
Audition: Cadillac” @ Francene Selkirk Casting. This one came through in a different way. I got an email from LA Casting saying I had been requested. I never got an audition like that before; I guess I better start looking closer at those e-mail messages that look like SPAM. The audition goes really, really well and I think I’m perfect for it. I always seem to say that don’t I? Callbacks are Wednesday, hopefully I’ll be there.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Ironically, I dropped off @ Fox Studios just yesterday to the many drop boxes that are there, but the audition is @ Sony Studios which is cool because now I can do drops there. I don’t get on this lot too often.
Props? What to do, what to do. Sometimes it's okay to use them and other times it's a big no, no. It depends on the CD/office and/or situation. I decided to take the risk and run with it – this photographer is going to have a camera.
So I find my way to the Capra Building on the Sony lot and sign in. After a short wait it's my turn. Funny enough, the first thing Megan said was, "Alright, nice camera!" Cool…I guess. The read went well. I flubbed a line a little, but the character was in tact. I felt great about it no matter what happens, but I would love to book.
Alright, so now it’s time to pull out my PDA and see who else is on the Sony Pictures Studio lot. I plot out a route on the studio map I got from security when I came in so I can figure out where I’m going. I don’t want to walk around cooking like some low-fat turkey bacon. It wasn’t as hot as it’s been lately, but still hot enough. I hit about 4 offices. It’s funny how I go about plotting and planning when I’m doing my thing. I love it. I absolutely love business – any kind of business. I think I would have been great in the business world. Who am I kidding I AM in the business world. This is, without a doubt, a business.
My last drop was at Francine Maisler Casting; I’ve auditioned here before, but haven’t booked – yet. So I enter the Jimmy Stewart building with a purpose in my step so I looked like I belonged. The two security guards gave me a look, but I kept it moving. So I get up on the second floor and I’m walking down the long hallway lined with stills from movies that I assume where shot on the lot. In the distance I see a woman walking in my direction. As we get closer I see that I recognize her, it’s Kathy Driscoll-Mohler. Kathy is Francine’s casting associate; I read for her for “Spiderman 3. Kathy greets me warmly and asked how I’ve been. I tell her things are really great and I also booked a role in “Oceans’ Thirteen”. She said she’s been good as well and that their office has been quiet as of late, but I’m sure they will be back in business very soon.
On the way back I didn’t want to run into Kathy again at the elevators so I just hung for a second on the second floor. I know she has “actor stories” and I don’t want to be a weird one – so I gave her some space. The two security guards that were eyeing me on the way in stopped me on the way out. Nothing bad, they thought they recognized me from television or something. I said “probably not, but maybe”.
I’m still shocked that anyone ever sees me in anything and really remembers it, but I guess they do. Ironically, a couple of hours later my friend Jewel Christian informed me that I was on “Frasier” just last night. I guess that, coupled with “Love, Inc.” last week, “Monk” next week and the past shows that I’ve been on that are running in syndication all adds up to getting my face on the map.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I’m kidding, actually this heat is kicking my a** for real. So if you see me in the street I might be asleep on a manhole in an intersection with redlight cameras wearing nothing but a motorcycle helmet and black socks. Yeah, I’ve been getting headaches while I’m out in the field and having to cut it short sometimes. I’m not Superman, so I have to be careful. I’ve been drinking more water, but I have to work on eating more.
Get this, I was driving on the 101 North this morning and I saw a woman next to me driving while rolling a joint. What? Yeah, it was just odd. I mean I think I’ve seen that before, but she was going like 60mph and the flow of traffic was like 75. Just weird. But I gotta tell you, you know what else I think is just as stupid? People who ride in the front passenger seat with their feet up on the dash – on top of the airbag. Do they realize the airbag is basically a bomb that is designed to explode? I wonder if paramedics see evidence of that at accident scenes. That doesn’t sound too good – a knee in the face. Ugh!
My agent calls with a potential “straight to callbacks” audition for me for “Honda”. The kicker was that I had to have my motorcycle and my gear with me. Huh? Yeah, my agents didn’t think I had a bike here in LA, but they wanted to be sure so they called. I have a jersey, pants, gloves and goggles here in LA with me, but my bike, boots and helmet are back in Virginia. It was a last minute role they added, but it didn’t work out for me. I’m glad my agent tried to get me in though. A great example of it paying off that my agents know what some of my interests are outside of the business. I REALLY wanted to get seen for this…oh well.
No news about the avail for “McDonald’s”; so I guess no news is good news.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Anyway, so we go in and slate..no problem I can handle that part. Take one: In the spot me and my girl are finding out that it’s not working and we should go our separate ways. We play it really heavy and take our time..like really take our time. We were given the choice to use very little of the scripted dialogue. I ran with that and didn’t say hardly anything at the top…until I stepped on my partners line. Sh*t!! I was out to lunch and messed up. I think it was okay because it kinda shook them out of what was going on in the scene. At least I hope it did.
Take two: BOOM! We nail it…I think. The director gives us a couple of notes and but left the interpretation up to us. Take three: Yeah, right on point. We sit for a second to make sure they saw what they wanted and out the door we were. But wait!!! As I was gathering my personal belongings the session runner says, “Stephon can you hang out for a moment? We want you to go in again if you don’t mind”. Of course I obliged.
This is a good sign right? Well, it’s a sign I’ve seen before and I am not sure what it means, if anything. At the very least, I would speculate that the creative team saw something in me they were interested in. So after a little while I go back with another actress who had a totally different spin on it. We did one take and it was……different. So that was that. I left it all in the room with no regrets. That is a great feeling. It’s funny, because as much I’d like to book this I am prepared for the familiar “Stephon you’ve been released from….” call. I’ve been saying I’m gonna book for a minute and I haven’t, actually much longer than a minute, but I still believe it's gonna happen…I truly believe it.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Back to the audition. Since I hadn’t been to the first call I didn’t know what was really going on in the spot. I finally got an explanation from the session runner and it seemed pretty clear. Sometimes when people explain something that they’ve been repeating over and over they kind of gloss over the finer points; what they don’t really understand is that you’re hearing it for the first time. So my big question was “Do I have any dialogue?” the answer was “no, you’re just concentrating on the bottle of shampoo”. OK, I can do that.
Thirty minutes later we get another explanation from someone else and she also says “no dialogue, you’re just dealing with 2 bottles of shampoo”. Ok, a little while later I am finally paired up with a nice woman and we go into the audition room. We slate and do the usual stuff, I check the board, no dialogue for my character. We finish the first take and the director says, “you gotta say ‘Black’ when the groomer ask what color”. I’m think, dag, I didn’t even know he was talking to me. I couldn’t clearly see who was talking to me because of the lights in my eyes. We do it a second take which went better and he gives me more direction. Then I recognize the director, Brian Aldrich. He’s definitely one of the top commercial directors working today and he's hired me twice before through Cathi Carlton Casting. The first time was for a “California Lottery” spot. The callback for that was the worst callback I think I have ever had……but somehow I got the job. The second time he hired me was for “Wrigley’s” 6 months later…that spot ran really well and they split it into another spot.
The third take went pretty well. So maybe since I had no clue what was going on it will come off as really real. I don’t know, gotta think positive. So after an hour and 15 minutes I was on my way…to get a good look at the parking ticket on my car. Ugh! So I get in my hot car and pull off, then I remember that I didn’t sign out on the audition sheet. Since I was over an hour I should be paid…that could offset getting the parking ticket so I made a U-turn and went back to sign out. I don’t expect to get paid for the audition running over and I don’t expect to book the spot either, but you never know.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
OMG!!! If I see one of the 4 commercials (2 Sprint, KFC, and Comcast) I was on avail for or had callbacks for again I'm gonna..........be even happier for the actors that booked them over me. I mean that too; of course I do. They are running constantly. Make dat money fellas!!
I surely hope that when I went to Japan and Spain that others were genuinely happy for me. It comes and goes.....and hopefully more stuff will come soon.
Okay I was really hoping to get a callback for the "FedEx" spot that shoots in New York. Why? Several reasons.
I would love to book a commercial.
I would love to go to New York to work on a project.
If I went to New York for a project I'd go back to Virginia Beach on the way home and see my family and of course wax my little brothers a** on the dirt bike again!!
IT'S MY FREAKIN' TURN to book a commercial!!!!!
I finally paid my SAG dues of $469.
Those are good reasons, right? I felt it went really well and I thought I was very right for it, but that doesn't usually tell the whole story. I know that callbacks are today and tomorrow and it's 5:20pm and I haven't heard anything. Oh well, I'll get 'em next time. I know I say that all the time, but I truly believe it. I will book again! I'll be back!!!
CUT TO: INT. - STEPHON'S CAR - DAY - 6:18pm.
SFX: Cell phone ringing. It's KSA, my commercial agency. Could it be? A callback for "FedEx"? Maybe...
I call to check the voicemail and it's the familiar voice of Tracy saying....
"Stephon, it's Tracy @ KSA calling to tell you that you have a......."
At this point I'm thinking "YES! I'm one step closer to going to New York for the "FedEx" spot"!
.....the message continues..."callback for the "ESPN Promo" at Skirts Casting" you're going back to 1641....."
What? I didn’t go in on an “ESPN Promo”…hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about. Either it’s a mistake and someone else at the agency has a callback for it or I am going straight to callbacks.
I call Tracy back to get the skinny on what’s going on. Indeed I am going straight to callbacks. Cool! I haven’t given up on “FedEx” though maybe they’ll call tomorrow for a same-day callback.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
This morning I went to a bunch of places to try to hustle up some opportunities. Usually at Valko/Miller I just drop my photo or postcard in the bin outside the door and get on my way. Today, for some reason I felt different. I decided to walk pass the submission bin and give my photo directly to the receptionist. I’ve auditioned at this office many times so maybe that’s why I felt that it was okay to go in, normally I keep it on the downlow and they don’t even know I was there. It’s not that I thought I would get in trouble by going in, especially at this office; it’s just not usually my style.
So I open the door and the first thing I see is two unbelievably beautiful actresses waiting to audition….I don’t why I mentioned that, but these girls were freaking beautiful. So I sat down beside one of them to write some stuff on my resume and she smelled like a beautiful woman should…like all women should - the scent of a woman is a powerful thing – IF I like whatever she’s wearing. Well, I like a lot of women’s fragrances – as long as it’s not Malboro #5 I’m pretty easy to please.
Anyway, a split second later casting associate Peter Pappas walks out of his office into the waiting area. Peter has called me in a lot and I think I’ve gone to producers every time, but haven’t booked. The last and only time I booked at this office was “Ally McBeal” in 2001 when Kara Lipson called me in from a postcard.
Peter greets me warmly, takes my photo and said it’s going straight into his file. I can’t ask for much more than that. Thanks Peter! I’m glad I decided to go in – that time. Who knows what I’ll do next time.
So I take out my trusty PDA, enter Valko/Miller’s zip code (91505) and see who else is in this area of town. Usually I know who is where, but the season is young and things change. Lo and behold, Vicki Huff Casting is literally right next door to Valko/Miller – at least the suite number said so. The thing is there was no sign on the door, no drop box – nothing. What to do, what to do. It’s a new spot so I had no idea if I had the correct address or not. I stood there and looked at the huge, expensive looking black door. Should I stay or should I go now? I decided to not take the risk of walking in on a board meeting or someone getting fired and headed for the elevators.
Then, I did what I do so often. I said to myself, “that’s what most people would do, and if you do what most people do, you will get the results that most people get”. Of course that begs the question, “Do you want the results that most people get?” If there’s a business where you don’t want “most people results” it’s the entertainment business. THAT fueled me to take the chance.
I used to know someone who I’d give that analogy to and they would NEVER believe ANYTHING I said about the business. Not even consider it. Now I don’t know everything about the business by any means, but I have learned a thing or two in my day. The funny thing was that if someone who just got off the boat and had been in Hollywood for 20 days that person would believe EVERYTHING the 20-day veteran said. After a while it was just interesting to watch. By contrast I have seen a tip or two that I have given work out for people in the past.
Alright, back to the huge, expensive looking black door. I make sure all my stuff is ready for whatever I might encounter and put my hand on the knob….but I don’t turn it. Sissy!! I’m being a sissy. I regroup and ask myself “what do I have to lose?” “Nothing”. “What do I have to gain?” “Everything”. BOOM! I twist the knob and open up. ANOTHER hot-a** girl!! Los Angeles is crazy this morning! She’s sitting at a desk with no lights on. I ask in my “best Denzel”; “Good morning…hmmm, is this Vicki Huff’s office?” It didn’t seem like it was; it just didn’t have that casting office feel. She smiled and said “Yes it is”. “Great! Could I leave this photo for her?” “Sure, I’ll take it.” She said. “Thank you so much and have a great day.” With that, I was on my way.
As I walked back to my car I thought about how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing. I REALLY like what I do and I feel so much like I have a say in my future – it’s a powerful feeling. A crazy feeling at times, but powerful.
On to the next spot. It’s starting to get really hot out and I’m sitting in the car on the phone. As I’m talking, I see a ton of actors coming and going from the building; there must be a lot going on in there today. I don’t know what they were casting, but the Breakdown must have read “female, 23-28, stunning, all ethnicities”. The funniest part was watching the guy who was running the lobby area before the actresses went up the elevator. He was like a kid in a candy store; he even offered them a bottle of water when they came in. WHAT??? I NEVER got a bottle of water when I arrived to an audition – well, I ain’t all that sexy so I guess it makes sense. My man took care of me though, he took my photos upstairs and hand delivered them. No drop boxes for me – at least not yet.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Driving around so much is exhausting at times, but I carry on through thick and thin. I have no choice. Well, of course I have a choice, but this is what I signed up for. Nobody is forcing me to stay here or in the business. So I have to do what it takes for me to move forward.
While out in the field today I ran into my friend Denice Sealy; she was doing drops too. I was heading in one direction and she was heading in another so we gave each other some of our own photos and got even more accomplished. It seems like a never ending thing, but I think that is the advantage for me because no sane person would do it for days, weeks, months, and years. I have to say I am really glad to have some of the foundation building behind me because it’s a lot of work – a lot.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
As I’ve said before, I have great frustrations with some elements of dealing with SAG. Actually it’s probably more about the specific individuals I deal with on some of the claims I’ve had. But there is good news. Drum roll please…we have a new Basic Cable Live Action contract! This is for shows like “The Shield” and “Monk”; live action shows that are produced for basic cable. This is really important news for several reasons.
· the residuals for the first re-run increases from 12 to 17 percent of the performer's minimum.
· the bottom end increasing from 1 to 1.5 percent of the minimum for the 13th and each subsequent run.
· payments for the first, second, third and fourth re-runs will be paid in one lump sum when the first re-run airs-meaning a larger check for actors; even if they never air.
· retroactive to January 1, 2006.
Again, this is great news mainly because it’s a “term deal” that will expire on June 30th 2008 at which point it will be up for renegotiation. Before, there was no deal to expire so us actors kept getting…………you know what I mean. It’s especially timely for me since I recently worked on “Monk”. Even though the contract was finalized just 10 days ago and I worked on “Monk” 6 weeks ago I will get the benefits of the new contract because it’s retroactive to January 1, 2006. So there are a lot of performers, like myself, who will see the benefits immediately. Thank you Alan, Anne-Marie and so many other volunteers at the Guild that work so hard for us. It is appreciated.
Friday, July 14, 2006
So I get there about 10:15, sign in, read the specs of the spot and fill out my size card. After a while “Adam”, the session runner, (I later found out his name is Adam Kaiz) appears and explains what’s going on. They haven’t started yet because they are still figuring out exactly “how” they are going to set up the scenerios in the audition room – we are the first group of the morning. In the meantime Adam would take our Poloroids pictures.
Now I haven’t had an audition in since June 8th because I was on vacation so I was just getting back into the grove of the routine. Plus, when I go on vacation I truly disengage from my “Hollywood Hustle”; so I was little off the pace and still in “Middle America”.
When Adam was gettting ready to take my photo he asked my name.
Adam: What’s your name?
Adam: Stephon what?
Me: Fuller, Stephon Fuller.
Adam: You’re doing “Ocean’s Thirteen” aren’t you?
Me: Uh, Yeah.
Adam: Me too. I saw your name on the IMDB page.
Me: Cool. Congratulations!
He later told me that he checked out my website. It just totally caught me off guard, but the internet is a far reaching tool. I know that and I’m constantly checking up on the people, but I don’t “expect” anyone to be checking up on me.
Anyway, as it turns out, Adam is a really cool guy and we are actually in the same scene in “O13”, so we’ll get to hang out in October on set – with Al Pacino. That makes 5 people I know that booked roles in the film: James Martin Kelly and Michael Miranda; we are with the same theatrical agency. Brian Tee who stars in the lastest “Fast and Furious” installment and Angel Oquendo. Angel is still new to LA and making very, very quick strides up the ladder. I’m proud to be part of this group of performers.
When we finally get in to audition it goes really well, but by the time I leave I am over and hour late for my other audition. So I get in the car, hop back on I-10 to make the trip from Santa Monica to the Casting Studios in Hollywood. I call my agent to let them know I was on my way and I am informed that they need me to go back to Santa Monica to audition again for “FedEx” because the tape got messed up. Really? Yeah really. I decide to go to my other audition first and comeback to this one later. Audition: "McDonald's" @ Ross Lacy Casting. The Casting Studios was a madhouse, but I was in and out in a flash. The audition went really well and I had a great time with my auditioning partner.
So, back to Santa Monica to give “FedEx” another shot. It goes really well again and I think this time the tape was good – at least I hope it was. This spot shoots in New York. Of course, I’m already thinking that if I book this I’m going back to Virginia for another quick visit with my family – and some dirt bike riding too.
I wasn’t in the least bit irritated about having to back a second time. I’m glad they thought I was important enough to have on the tape. They could have just said “let’s just keep moving” we have enough other people coming for the rest of the day. I’m thankful for these opportunites I get.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
There might be something to this; I stopped at a lemonade stand a couple of months ago in Culver City while scoping out condos. Culver City is somewhere I think I’d like to live and definitely Hancock Park is high on my list. I think maybe, subconsciously, I’m telling these people to get used to this face – I might be your neighbor one day. I love Hancock Park; it seems nice and quiet with wide streets yet you are still really close to everything.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I chatted with all 3 of them about my trip and they said it’s definitely picking up so my timing is perfect. Caleigh and I talked about the “Ocean’s Thirteen” gig. She asked me how I got know Casting directors Debra Zane and Tannis Vallely so well. I told her the whole story going back to meeting Tannis on March 25th 2000 at a workshop to “The Terminal” booking and brought her up to date to now.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
After riding for a couple of hours I was actually growing as a rider, riding better than ever. Todd, thinking he was the man, dared me to say I wanted to race him. There was no way I was gonna back down from that challenge. We were both really tired, but agreed to do two quick two-lap races.
In the first race I screamed out into the lead and didn’t look back. I was riding my own race and feeling good. About half-way through I saw that Todd had fallen and I cruised to victory.
In the second race we both came out of the gate about equal with him having a slight lead into the first turn. There were many places on the track where I thought I could make the pass so I wasn’t too worried, but coming around this muddy right hand sweeper turn one of my contact lenses came out. WHAT!? I was trying to “blink it” back into place on my eye – while still trying to make the pass. It wasn’t to be; I eventually slid out and went down while Todd cruised to victory making it one win a piece.
Of course we had to race once more to make it the best of three. Todd won the blast to the first turn with me right on his back tire. Before too long I put a nice move on him for the lead. Then on the second lap I slipped up in the whoops and he got around me. At this point I was licking my chops because I knew I was going own him in this particular left hand turn. BOOM! I put it on him! Money didn’t know what to do! I’m telling ya! I did my thing and represented! Yeah! I was smiling all the way back to the truck. The ride home was nice AND I didn’t have to drive.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Funny, I mention that day on Skipper Drive when most of the school knew I was attempting the car-jumping feat. My father wasn’t usually home at the time I’d planned on doing it, but as it turned out it/he was a real blessing in disguise. About 30 people showed up waiting for me to perform the stunt. I was kinda stalling because my dad was home and I thought if he knew I was going to do it he would stop me. Not so much because he thought it was so dangerous (or stupid), but just because….
Anyway, after a while there he was at the front door looking for me to explain why so many people were in front of the house. I reluctantly told him what the deal was and he thought about for a second…………then told me to put on helmet and to be careful. WHAT?! Cool!
I went into the garage and got this old helmet that was about 29 sizes too large for me and strapped it on. I was ready – or so I thought. My public was eagerly waiting. Now this makeshift ramp that was supposed to lift me over this ’74 VW beetle was made of two kitchen chairs and some plywood. High tech huh?
I went to the end of the street, thought about what was about to happen and started pedaling my hardest. I approached the ramp at a high rate of speed and at the last possible moment veered off to the side on a dry run. My heart was racing a mile a minute and I was ready for the real thing.
I went back to the end of the block and approached again – this time for real. I hit the ramp perfectly and everything went into slow motions. I cleared the vehicle with no problem, but my front end started dropping and dropping. It dropped so much that I landed right on my head or rather that old ass helmet my father made me wear.
Ya know, I never had a great relationship with my dad, but he did me a huge favor by making me wear a helmet that day. I could have ended up getting hurt really bad. I know, I know, I should have had a helmet on in the first place. It was back in the day when seat belts weren’t required. Thanks dad. Actually, believe it or not, there is a slim that we may end up seeing each other while I’m home – it’s been 3 years since we’ve spoken.
Back to the reunion; I grew up in the greatest neighborhood ever around some really fantastic people. I’m proud to say that we are all doing well for ourselves and are well adjusted adults. It’s really trip to think about it. We went to school together and had our first jobs together. Wow, time does fly.