Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Audition: "NBA Promo" @ Deborah Kurtz Casting. This was a voiceover and it went great! The session director seemed very happy with my work. I went in and used my strategy of "stealing a rehearsal" and I felt I delivered the goods perfectly. I don't know if I'll go any further in the process, but I felt great about what I left in the room.

I attended another SAG meeting tonight and I’m happy to report that many more actors were in attendance than normal. I’m not sure why, but whatever the reason it was great to see. The display of solidarity with the WGA that I witnessed on the strike lines is of vital importance for the future of our guild. Hopefully, in the years to come SAG and the WGA can nurture a better relationship with the DGA and other labor organizations. I can tell you that I feel much more kinship with writers than I ever have in the past. Even though I’m not thrilled with the WGA deal I don’t think they would have gotten what they did without the support of SAG. I’m proud to have been part of the united front in the fight.

I don’t know how these upcoming negotiations are going to play out, but I do feel that it’s going to become even more difficult to make a living as a performer. For some it will be the difference between a career and a hobby. Others will leave the business altogether and another segment will continue to move forward and build their careers. I’m going to fight to stay in the latter group – at least for the time being.

I’m really thankful that I have as many years as I do in the game and that I’ve remained faithful to my quest of building my foundation, but I cannot rest on it. I have to stay out in the field on the grind, but also develop new strategies. I have to learn how to network and “work the room”. Don’t get me wrong I know how to handle my business with the best of them, but the whole being out “rubbing shoulders” thing is completely foreign to me; it just doesn’t feel real. I don’t have that gift of being able to be smooth about it. I’ve seen others do it and do it well, but it’s just not one of my gifts. Fortunately, I’ve known from day one that that was a weak point for me so I’ve always made up for it in other ways.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Audition: “Ad Council PSA” @ ASG Casting. This one was interesting. I often hear actors complain about “having a partner that sucked!” in a CD workshop or audition. I think this notion is overrated. Why? Because casting directors are professionals. It isn’t hard for them to tell who is doing what in the scene. My partner in the audition today refused to listen to the session director in any way, shape or form. I resisted the temptation to compete with him/her on the long road to prove him that he/she had no intention of taking any direction whatsoever. None, nope, nada – zilch. It was pretty funny because just when I thought he/she would get the hint that it was time to listen he/she would put his/her foot in his/her AGAIN.

Before the first take the session director told us that we had to do it 8 times. I think he/she thought we had 8 chances to get it right. In reality, the session director meant that all of the characters needed coverage on camera from different angles so we needed to get it right 8 times. It was a great lesson in what happens when actors don’t listen. The funny thing is that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he/she gets a callback and/or books and I don’t hear a thing. But I nailed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so thankful that the WaMu commercial is actually airing. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been on television. I told myself I would wear the prop wedding band I wore while shooting until it started running – as a good luck charm. Last week I retired the wedding band prop. Wearing a wedding band for 2 months prompted some interesting questions…who knows, I may put it back on.

In the past I was used to having 2, 3 or 4 commercial conflicts at once. I guess those were the good ole days! I haven’t seen the spot on TV myself, but I’ve seen it on the internet. My man Jay was kind enough to send me a copy of it. Personally, it’s okay if I don’t ever see it on TV; it’s much MUCH more important that it continues to run though – gotapaythebillsson! Knowwhatimsayin?!

These days I don't have to actually see any commercials I’m in running, but it sure is nice to hear confirmation that they are running. Last week I was eating lunch at Panera Bread and this young woman kept staring at me. I couldn’t figure out why – I thought, just maybe, she thought I was hot piece of ass. I was going to walk up to her and say “excuse me; you’re staring at me like you think I’m a hot piece of ass. Do you think I’m a hot piece of ass?” But then I figured maybe that wasn’t the smartest thing to do, plus her mom was there and she might not have thought it was too cool. Truth be told, there hasn’t been a day in my entire life that I thought I was a hot piece of ass and I don’t think that day last week was going to be the first…oh well.

Anyway, about an hour later it dawned on me that she may have seen the commercial and that might have been why she was staring so intently. I really appreciate all of the text messages, emails, phone calls, etc. from all over the country with news of seeing the spot. The link to it is here – funky dance man spot – click on “let’s hear it” or “we got your back”.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I attended another SAG Meeting tonight concerning New Media and the upcoming TV/Theatrical contract negotiations. This stuff, the other side of being a professional performer, is of vital importance to our future of making a living in this business. I really hope I’ll be able to continue to be successful, but sometimes it feels like we are fighting a losing battle. Thankfully, there are key members of the guild that are willing to fight for the rights of the rest of us.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The WGA strike is over and TV production is gearing back up in LA so I’m on the trail of dropping off photos to hopefully drum up some activity. There’s no time to waste because there’s a chance that another work stoppage could be on the horizon – this time by the Screen Actor’s Guild. I hope the SAG leaders are able to negotiate a better deal without having to strike, but you never know. I’m not a big a fan of the new WGA deal and I don’t think the SAG leadership is either. Plus, the SAG commercial contract expires at the end of October so I have to keep it moving.

I remember the days when I loved doing drop-offs. That time has changed. I don’t particularly love doing them anymore; especially in certain areas of town, namely Century City and Beverly Hills. The parking situation is enough to drive me crazy. It would be much easier if I had someone to sit in the car while I did the drops or vice-versa, but I’m not convinced that easier would be better. Even though it’s more work I much prefer to be the lone wolf and do my drops alone. I think I get more done that way and I don’t have to explain my rationale and trust me, my rationale runs in circles and can be quite confusing – even to me.

This afternoon I found myself trying to find a particular film casting office. I had to make a couple of U-turns, but I finally tracked it down. Then I couldn’t find anywhere to park. I was so close to just saying “forget it” and crossing it off of my list, but I couldn’t justify it. I was just being a sissy. I ended up having to park 4 blocks away. So I put on my iPod with an interesting podcast playing and made the trek to the office building.

I walked in the parking garage and saw the security guard; he asked if he could help me. I told him I wanted to drop a photo to the casting office. He hesitated and asked if I had an appointment. I told him no. I like to keep it on the up and up and not say I have an appointment if I don’t, in fact, have one. He reluctantly had me sign the log book and there was an uncomfortable moment. I wasn’t sure exactly why he was reluctant, but I remained respectful. We had a few words and told him it was no big deal and that I didn’t want to get him in trouble or anything like that. So he began to explain how to get to the office and then another employee appeared and the security guard asked him to take me up there.

While I was walking towards the elevators I saw the drop-off boxes for two projects they are currently casting and told them I preferred to just leave them there. The other employee said, “no, it’s cool, I’ll walk you up there”. I hesitated and then said “okay”. The young employee asked me which project I was dropping a photo for while waiting for the elevator to arrive. To be honest, I didn’t really know, I just wanted to get my photo in a box and bounce. He told me what type of actors had been coming in and out earlier in the day. The actors described were very different than me. At that moment another person needed his assistance right away and he sent me up the elevator alone and told me where to go. I went up, exited on the proper floor and then stopped in my tracks. It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t let those guys get me off of my game. They were just being nice and I appreciated it, but the set-up wasn’t right. I didn’t want to walk through the door to casting office for some reason…and I didn’t. I went back down the elevator and put them in the box. I thanked the two guys and briefly explained my decision and was on my way.

My next stop was at an office that I have been dropping off at for years and have never gotten an appointment. They are a very busy office too; I’ve even discussed with my agent. What she explained made sense, but I’ll keep trying.

Anyway, I went up the elevator and paused outside the door to make sure I “had all my ducks in a row”. I never know exactly what I’m going to walk into so I have to be prepared for a multitude of scenarios. The assistant asked what project I was dropping for, but I didn’t know, so she suggested one and told me the role. I thought that was really nice of her. So I’ll let my agent know and maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally get to read for something at that office.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whew! I made it through the SAG Foundation LifeRaft panel titled “When Actors Decide to Quit Their Day Jobs!” I was on the panel with friend/fellow actor Nicole J. Butler. I think it went well. I was pretty nervous in the beginning, but after a while I got settled and had fun. It felt great to share some of my experiences…I say “some”, because, in reality, I have a tremendous amount of interesting things to share about my journey as a performer. It would take hours to share all of the details of my experiences.

I was asked some specific questions about certain things I do and have done over the years. I answered them the best I could, but some of those questions things forced me to actually think about how I do them. My methods are so deeply engrained that I rarely have to think about what to do. Honestly, it’s pretty simple; I usually just follow what makes sense. But “what makes sense” is a very relative thing to different people. I haven’t met anyone on my journey that I had an identical agreement as to “what makes sense” in a given situations. I’m a thinker and I probably over think a lot of things, but I also know how to get out the muck of over thinking and get the job done. That’s one of the great things about being in this business is that I can do things my way for the most part.

So it was a great evening and I think I was able to share a few alternative viewpoints as to how this entertainment thing can be tackled.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For years I’ve had this thing where I try to keep my schedule as full as possible. Just always into something productive; it could be a movie, a workshop, a class, a panel, virtually anything. Lately, I’ve been shifting that a little; still staying busy, but doing different things. One of them is learning to network better. I don’t know if I will ever learn that but I’m giving it an honest shot. Other things are reading, writing, riding my mountain bike and the biggest thing is taking ownership of what I have to offer this world…however much or little that is.

I’ve been attending some of the union meetings at SAG to become a more informed actor. So last week I was checking the schedule for this week’s union meetings and there was a conflict with a SAG LifeRaft event that I had already RSVP’d to attend. So I had to make a decision on which one I was going to attend – I hate that. I’m an information junkie and I need my fix – I didn’t want to choose. At that point, for the first time, I took a closer look at exactly what the topic of the seminar was. Usually, I’ll just attend them all because there is always something I can learn. Well, the title of the conflicting one was a SAG Foundation LifeRaft event titled - “When Actors Decide to Quit Their Day Jobs!”. I literally asked myself out loud, “Why aren’t I on that panel?” I mean seriously, I’m an actor that decided to quit my day job; I prefer to say “resign” for some reason.

So I thought about it for a moment and got really nervous. Yes, I have spoken before to groups of actors, but it’s always been at events I was asked to participate in. This would be the first time I asked to be on a panel. My heart was beating a mile a minute. I don’t know why, but I get insanely nervous about things like this. In the end, I’m usually able to handle it well because I’m pretty good at putting on my game face and handling things when the time comes.

So I decided that “Yes!” in ’08 I’m going to go forward with it and take ownership of what I have to share. My story is as valid as anyone else’s and everyone else’s story is as valid as mine. I feel as though I’ll be telling every actors story of deciding to quit their day job make a go of it.

It’s incredible how nervous I am right now just writing about the possibility of being on the panel. What would they say about me? How would I be introduced? I mean, it’s easy for me to sit behind the keyboard post stuff on my blog, but this is different. I don’t know. I’ve been interviewed for the newspaper in my hometown a few times and that hasn’t been the greatest experience. They just get the story wrong; not anything malicious, but wrong nonetheless.

After sitting on it for a bit I decided to go forward and try to find who is organizing the event to see if I’m a good fit for the topic being discussed. I left a message for the organizer and a few days later I was contacted and asked to submit a few things about how I left my day job so they could get an idea of who the heck I was. The next day I got the news that I would be perfect for the panel. I guess I’m committed now! I feel good about it; I think I’m doing the right thing. Hopefully, I’ll be much less nervous by Wednesday night. It’s just the very beginning and the time before the very beginning – like now. Once it’s starts and I warm up I’m fine.

Audition: “Breyer’s” @ Ross Lacy Casting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Meeting: "The Quest" @ Cricket Feet Casting. This was my first "meeting" as opposed to an audition. It was intended to be "a chat" between myself, the director and two of the producers.

Again, this was my first meeting as an actor, but since I've worked as a reader for films I’ve sat in on a few meetings with actors that don’t always read for a part, but they’ll “take a meeting” so I kinda knew what to expect.

This particular CD makes available an unbelievable amount of information for the actor to fully prepare and research the project. I had the full script, biography of the director, writers and producers, storyboard, location scouting photos, etc. Remember, I wasn’t even auditioning – just meeting, but of course, I read the entire script and went through the additional material to give me a strong perspective.

The entire meeting lasted about 11 minutes and it went very well…I think. It’s always hard to tell so you can only go on what you feel. Since I was so informed I really had a strong position so the meeting was a real two-way street. I had questions, they had questions, I had answers and they answers. They seemed interested in my services; I guess time will tell.

It felt great when the producer asked for my resume because I have a nice collection of credits and directors. The director, being Italian from Italy, wasn’t as up on who the TV directors on my resume are, but he knows who Steven Spielberg is. The producer is from Hollywood and has been in the business for years and has worked on many of the shows that are on my resume. I think that moment was a strong positive as kind of a pedigree to legitimize me.

At the meeting I was just trying to get to the next step which, I assume, would be actually reading for the part. Did I mention that it shoots in Rome and Bulgaria? Yeah, and I’m really overdue for a stamp on my freshly renewed passport. I’ve gone to Tokyo, Madrid, Washington, DC and Miami for jobs; back to Europe in the summer would be nice.

The director explained that they need to get the names set before they can move forward with supporting cast. So that was it; my first meeting, but I handled it like I take meetings on the regular. Not anything weird; I just handled myself as a pro that wasn’t at the rodeo for the first time. I mean, more often than not you don’t hear anything, but who knows. I filled my agents in on how it went and that’s about all I can do for now.

Today’s online issue of Adweek describes me as the “much-skinnier male counterpart” in the “WaMu” commercial. I’m not skinny, I’m fit; fit like a mofo. Actually, I’m a little pudgy these days even though someone on the Disney strike said I looked like I “lost a lot of weight”. What? I’ve gained 4-5 pounds over the last 6 weeks or so.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Okay, as I’ve mentioned before I’m trying to get out on the town more often; both professionally and personally. This past weekend my friend Angel invited me out two nights in a row, both in Hollywood. I think I did okay…I guess…I hope. I absolutely suck at the networking thing, but the second night I actually gave out my card a few times.

I don’t know exactly what it is that I’m uncomfortable about, but it’s been this way since the very beginning of my career. I have a fear of rejection. Since I was fully aware of it back then I’ve been able to over compensate for it in other ways. Funny enough, none of the fear has anything to do with acting or auditioning; I don’t take any of that stuff personally. I don’t get rejected for acting jobs; the powers that be just hire someone else…frequently. I wonder if I’d further along if I was really good at “working a room”.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It’s pretty much official that the WGA-AMPTP strike is over. Finally! Showrunners are scheduled back to work today with writers reporting on Wednesday of this week. With the timing of it all things could get really busy, really fast.

I stopped by my theatrical agents’ office this morning to bring them a fresh supply of headshots and resumes. It’s great to be able to stop by and have a quick chat with my team about what is happening.

When I first moved here to Los Angeles I specifically concentrated on commercials and television – not so much in the way of film. My rationale was that there was just more television being cast and commercials always came very natural to me. So I came up with my list of “Blue-Chip” shows and went after them.

The plan has worked out pretty well, thus far, but since the strike affected TV much more than film I felt it tremendously; and as a result I only had two auditions since the strike started. One was for a TV show and one was for a film. It revealed that my relationships with film CD’s aren’t as strong as they are in TV world. No worries, just something that I’ll have to make a decision about whether I want to really work on changing…or attempting to change.

I didn’t stress about the lack of film auditions during the work stoppage because I’ve kept myself super-busy since it started on November 5th. Between training to be a camera operator, picketing, commercial auditions, working on my screenplay, etc. I’ve kept it moving. I think ’08 is going to be special for me and many others. I like working in TV and commercials – a lot, but more film opportunities would be cool too.

First thing this morning I got the great news that the “WaMu” commercial I shot just before Christmas starting running. This was a great way to start off the week. I hear it looks pretty good; I hope it runs long and hard.

custom-made, one of a kind, V-neck top with rhinestone
accent and crotch-snap (also custon-made), hand-made
tight-ass fitting pant with rhinestone accent - WHAT!!!!

Later this morning I went to a SAG Wages & Working conditions meeting and on my way out I passed a guy who was on his way in the building and he had seen the commercial this morning and recognized me. I felt so odd, I’m not sure why, maybe because he really caught me off guard. It’s like I don’t know what to say. After 30+ national, regional and international commercials you’d think I’d have a clue by now…just another thing I’m working on in ’08.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Audition: “Progressive Insurance” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This was the same one I auditioned for yesterday. I was called back in because there was a problem with the sound yesterday. I don’t think it went as well today as it did yesterday. Oh well, hopefully I’m wrong.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Picketing: @ Disney Studios. It would be nice if today was the last 3-hour shift for me on the picket lines. I’m tired, the city is tired and we all need to start making money and moving forward again. Rumor has it that there is positive movement in the negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP so maybe my hope will become a reality.

It was a lively day today; I actually talked to several people while circling the Disney Studios lot. I spoke to an actor and a writer I worked with on “Bones” and had a conversation about the relationship between SAG and AFTRA with another actor. I feel really good about my contributions to my profession. Not just during the strike, but throughout my career; I think it’s important to not be just being a taker, but also being a giver. I learned the art of giving from my mother. I’ve gotten a lot out of being a professional actor and I’ve given a lot back. Sometimes, all I have to give is a smile and an encouraging word; others times I’ve given a bit more.

Audition: "Progressive Insurance" @ Ross Lacy Casting. The audition went well. I felt that I did enough, but not too much. That’s a very important balance I’m trying to find in my auditions. I don’t want to be boring and flat, but I also don’t want to try too hard and just come as…well, as someone that’s trying to hard.

This was kinda funny. Last night I went to a screening of Michael Moore’sSicko” and while waiting for the film to start I was writing in my PDA and then reading the book I had with me. The book is entitled “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. So there I am being my normal self; which is sitting all they way to the right, hat pulled low, minding my own business. This attractive, relatively tall, shapely African-American woman comes in looking for the “perfect seat” where she would be able to see without anyone blocking her view. So she sits in front of me. No problem, I could still see fine. She glanced back at her new surroundings, still wondering if she made the right decision. She looked at me and I smiled back, which is normal for me as I’m usually very friendly if approached.

A moment later she turned around again and asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I said “no” and she made her way back. As she squeezed her way in through the very tight seats in this particular theatre she put both of her hands firmly on my shoulders. This woman was about an inch taller than me – I felt her electricity. No! I really did. Touch! Is a very important way of connecting!

So she’s sitting beside me and we’re making small talk, very small talk. I don’t think she wanted to disturb me too much because I was reading and I already had to get up so she could get in the row to sit beside me. After another couple of moments I could feel her looking around again to see if she could find an even better seat. There was one behind me so she got up to move to that one and again I had to move so she could get to it – YES!!!! More electricity and physical contact – you know, the hands on the shoulder thing.

Before the movie started I put the book down, slipped out to the mens room and returned to read a little more. At that point she leaned in and asked if I was reading the book on my own or if my wife requested that I read it. At first I paused, because the question caught me off guard. Then, a second later it made sense – I still have the wedding band on from the “WaMu” commercial. LOL!!!! I told her “No my wife didn’t request I read it because I’m not married and I don’t have a girlfriend”. I explained to her that it was a long story, but in short, I had shot a commercial in which I was married and the prop ring from the shoot was a “good omen”. She didn’t know what to say to that. I couldn’t stop laughing. After seven weeks I usually forget that I have it on, but I guess it makes quite a statement. Why am I still wearing the ring? Because I can and it’s the beauty of being me – I don’t have to have a reason.
All that “electricity” and I didn’t even ask for her number…I don’t think she had a ring on so maybe she was available.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Picketing: @ Warner Bros. Studios. I'm getting better! I'm a freakin' networking king! Not really, but I spoke to three different people on the lines today - two were writers and one asked for my card so she could get in touch with me when her current script is finished. It felt natural and not “networky” which works well for me. First, she really appreciated me, being actor, supporting the WGA and that I am totally invested in the outcome.

I went to another SAG Wages & Working Condition Meeting at SAG last night. I can’t really disclose what went on because of confidentiality, but I have to say we are in the fight for our careers – no two ways about it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Picketing: Paramount Studios. We received a briefing on the strike lines this morning and it seemed to be encouraging news. I sure hope so; this thing needs to end and soon. I sure hope there is great news on the horizon.

Print go-see: "Viread" @ Brigid McBride Casting. Three digital still photos and I was finished.

Something weird has been happening to me lately.

While at the print go-see today I ran into the other actor who was in the running for the same role in the "WaMu" commercial that I shot in December.

Last week I ran into an actress who was in the running for "the wife" in the "WaMu" commercial. She commented that the last time we'd seen each other was at the first callback. At that moment, for some reason, I just froze - completely. Why? You may or may not ask. I faced the "dilemma" of revealing to her that I actually booked that job. Or not saying anything about the booking and then her eventually seeing the spot and thinking I'm an a**hole for not stating the obvious. I didn’t want to be that person who says “look at me and what I’ve done”. I know it may sound really weird, but I usually detest drawing any type of attention to myself. Sometimes; not always. Stage fright? I don’t think so. Odd? Certainly.

So, after about 10 seconds of silence from me I had this confused look on my face.

I told her the news and, of course, she was very happy for me. It was almost like I felt guilty because I booked the job. That is so crazy! What the heck is wrong with me? It's not like it's the first job I've booked. Another thing I'm trying to get the hang of in '08. I better get the hang of it because I will book more than I did in ’07 – regardless of the strike.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Picketing: CBS Television City. Funny enough this is the first time I had gone to this particular strike location even though it's the closest to where I live. I might not go back to this one because it seemed a little dangerous at times with the way the cars were trying to get into the gate.

I actually spoke to someone this time instead of listening to podcast on my PDA. He was a screenwriter from New Jersey; we had a good conversation. Also, a very nice woman gave everyone that was picketing the hottest, thickest hot chocolate I've had in my life. Nice lady.

Afterwards I went to a Wages & Working Conditions Meeting @ the Screen Actors Guild Headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to get ideas from the membership in preparation for the upcoming negotiations of the SAG TV/Theatrical contract. Interesting stuff to say the least.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Audition: “Roundup” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This went okay. The second take was better than the first; hopefully they will see that one. I'm not sure what my problem was; the session runner explained it to me well enough. Oh well.