Friday, August 31, 2007


I have a new commercial agent! I left the theater in June with the intention of booking commercials, TV shows and films. I've had a few successes in the past couple of months, and this week I feel like things have moved a big step forward. I had already done a mass mailing to casting directors with a cover letter and four brand new headshots in each envelope and was preparing to do the same for agencies when I got a call from my friend Dino, who is an assistant of this particular agent. He had recommended that she take me on as well to help out, and I jumped at the chance. Not only would it be an opportunity to learn about the business from a different perspective, but there was the possibility of making a little money at it. But when I met her, she immediately had me audition and ended up taking me on as a client. Now, I know having a great agent doesn't mean I get to stop working. Well, the whole point is for me to work more now, right? At least now I feel like I have more people on my side, and that's a very good thing. I don't know what I'm going to do with all those agency mailing labels I printed, though.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why I Am a Bruins Fan

This morning I went to work on a student film in which I played a college teacher named Mr. Robertson. Two of my “students,” Rebecca and Jonathan, were exchanging glances throughout the class. Rebecca was supposed to arrive late and make an excuse, prompting me to say, “That's OK, Rebecca, just have a seat,” but someone in the crew pointed out that Mr. Robertson shouldn't know her name at that moment. I responded that I just assumed that we had a past. “Rebecca“ laughed and said she thought so too, and new darned well why she was late, which made a lot of people laugh. I'm glad she played along rather than reacting with shock and horror. Later on, when we were shooting Mr. Robertson introducing himself, I goofed and said “Robinson,” so I apologized and said I was thinking of The Graduate. I said it more for my own amusement than anything else; I’ve heard "I was born in XXXX" as an excuse so often I no longer expect anyone more than 10 years younger than me to get any of my pop-culture reference, but several people laughed. Of course there were a lot of film students in the room, but it was still encouraging. The rest of the shoot went very smoothly. Director Clint Chang was calm and collected and seemed to know exactly what he wanted. The crew was very welcoming and respectful. I left the set feeling pretty good, but unfortunately I had to deal with some personal stuff afterward that brought me down a little. Then, tonight, I got this e-mail:

“Thanks so much for coming and participating in my film. You really did an amazing job - I got several complements on your performance in particular. Multiple people asked me if you were a real teacher because they all felt you nailed the act. I look forward to doing the edit to see all your great work come together.”

Now, he didn't have to say any of that at all, but the fact that he did helped bring me back up. Go, UCLA!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Living on Video

So I'm having dinner with my wife, talking about my day at work and the dog and this funny noise the car's making, when all of sudden we're interrupted by.... well, you'll just have to see for yourself. It's what I worked on today and it's coming soon from the Coheed and Cambria, a hard-rock band whose records all have something to do with some kind of cosmic battle between good and evil in which we're all just hapless pawns, I think. It was a fun shoot. Director Ben Barnes always seemed to be cool and laid back and ready with a joke but somehow kept everything running smoothly, the crew as a whole seemed very genial yet professional, and they really treated the actors well. Last but not least, the food was good -- both the “prop” lasagna for the dinner scene and the catered Cuban lunch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Feelin' Groovy

Today I went to a fitting for a movie set in the ’70s. After getting tricked out in blue/gray pinstriped three-piece suit, I went to the hair and make-up trailer. "Look at those sideburns!" the stylist exclaimed. "I love them! Did you grow those just for us?" Uhh.... yeeesss... yes I did.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Two Shoes

I had two auditions yesterday: one for the part of a college professor, another for the part of a priest. To suit the roles, I decided to dress a little more formally than usual: a gray wool suit, dress shirt, and black leather shoes. It wasn't until five minutes before the second audition that I noticed my left shoe was obviously from a different pair than my right. What did I learn from this? (a) Don't stay out to late the night before an audition. (b) Lay out your clothes, including footwear, ahead of time. (c) Don't get dressed in the dark. (d) Just don't be an idiot.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Location, Location, Location

I've learned a lot in the last few days, but this may be the most important lesson: If you decide to pick up a few extra bucks (and I do mean a few) by doing background work, make sure you find out where the shoot takes place before booking it. Otherwise, you might find yourself driving to freakin&slquo; Valencia like I did. Actually, it turned out not to be such a bad thing. The cast and crew were very nice, it was a fun scene, and a day in front of the camera beats a day in cubicle any day. But Valencia? That's a long, expensive drive. I also had my second commercial acting class with Daphne Kirby, and I'm amazed at how much ground we can cover in a couple of hours. The best part is that we each get to ”audition“ two or three times on camera with actual commercial copy and watch the results. It's enlightening to see what a difference a few adjustments can make.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why I'm Not a Bruins Fan

Knowing that this is a public forum, even if only three people in the world actually read the damn thing, I've always tried to keep it positive, or at least neutral. But something's been bugging me lately and I've decided to break that self-imposed rule at the risk of alienating the students, faculty, and alumni of one of Southern California's largest and most prestigious film schools. I have had great experiences on projects at USC, Loyola-Marymount, Chapman, Cal Sate Long Beach, the Los Angeles Film School, and the New York Film Academy. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with talented, earnest young filmmakers. Even on auditions where I didn't get the role, I was treated with courtesy, respect, and even gratitude. ("Hey," you may be thinking, "I was promised negativity!" Hold your horses.) So when I submitted for a role in a project at another university film school and was invited to audition, I had every reason to expect the same. The character I submitted for had a name, an interesting back story, and a pivotal role in the plot. The role I submitted for was a named character who was described as a professor. When I met with one of the filmmakers, he had me read dialogue that was written for other characters which kind of surprised me, but it wasn't the first time. Sometimes a filmmaker may see you in a different role when they meet you in person; sometimes a screenplay is unfinished and your part may not even be fully written. The director responded enthusiastically to my reading, gave me some adjustments, thanked me profusely for coming in, and sent me on my way. The next day I was offered the role and I accepted. Then he sent me a script. I searched for my character's name, couldn't find it. No dialogue, no entrance, no action, nothing. I contacted the director and he told me I was going to be part of a crowd scene. Now, I've done nonspeaking roles, I've done crowd scenes, and I will do them again. But everything from the initial character description in the breakdown to the multiple readings during the audition seemed calculated to give the impression I was being considered for a principal role, a role which didn't really exist. That was some time ago. So why bring it up now? Because I recently responded to this notice: "Seven short films are being cast and shot this week, including '[title deleted]'! [name deleted] graduate directing students and TFT faculty will be involved! Come to the audition and you will have the chance to audition for several of the films, not just ours!" Do you see in there where it says these films will be directed by high school students, because I sure don't. I have actually recently worked with a director who was a high-school student at the time of filming. It was a great experience and I'd do it again, but let me know up front. Please don't make me think I'll be working with film school graduates when that's not the case. And please don't then usher me into a room full of high-school males and give me the task of finding one who is interested in talking to me and not the beautiful young women in the room. One student was openly derisive and rude. Another was obviously not going to cast me but seemed to want to try out his impression of a slick Hollywood mover a la Entourage.Despite the less than ideal circumstances, I did strike up a rapport with a young director, who called the next morning to offer me a leading role. I called back and accepted, and he called back and very apologetically retracted the offer, saying his writer and director of photography wanted someone else and outvoted him. At first I laughed it off, chalking it up to youthful indiscretion and poor impulse control. But then I stopped laughing, realizing that it fit into a pattern of behaving as if promises made, explicitly and implicitly, don't really matter where actors are concerned. This high-school students should have been taught that actors, like anybody, deserve respect and honesty. But who is there to teach them?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Surviving Being Shot

When I saw the results of my recent photo session, my first instinct was to crawl into a cave and live out the remainder of my life in solitude and darkness. But once I stopped focusing on the very worst images, I found some I didn't hate and a few I... dare I say it?... liked. So I posted a selection of them online and asked my friends to comment. Responses range from “Those are
some great headshots!” to “I’m going to be honest because I’m your friend.” (In a completely unrelated development, I have an immediate opening for the position of “friend.” Some diplomatic skills required.) Photos are available for public viewing on Facebook. You have to be registered to comment there, but you can always come back here and (tactfully) express yourself. Or, if you're with MySpace, you can view and comment there.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm Selling Out! (Who's Buying?)

After focusing a great deal of time and energy on live performance, which has been greatly rewarding in many nonfinancial ways, I've decided to go commercial. Following closely on the heels of an intensive soap opera class, I've started Daphne Kirby's commercial acting course. The first night was a lot of fun. I got a lot of good general information and some personalized pointers for on-camera auditioning. I plan to start submitting my resume to commercial agents as soon as my new headshots are ready. I haven't given up live theater -- nothing beats that thrill, except maybe the thrill of a monthly residuals check.