Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Little Hat Can Go a Long Way

I had an audition last night for a European print ad. They were looking for zombies, and I love zombies. I washed my hair right before I went, and I threw on my new Oscar the Grouch touc that my sister-in-law sent me. (I didn't want to have cold ears.)

They were doing two shots of every person who came in - one with a big smile and one making zombie faces. Because they loved my hat so much, I got three shots - two with the hat and one without.

Even if I don't book it, I got one additional chance because of my hat. And they'll remember me as The Girl in the Fun Hat.

Where to Look!

I emailed Boise to find out what to do in the situations where the session director asks me to look somewhere other than the lens. Here's what he had to say:

"[Y]ou only deliver your slate to the camera. Deliver your copy to the eye line they give you. The slate is the time to connect to the cd/whomever is casting the gig. When they give you lines, you always ask for the eye line. So yes, they are giving you direction to go out of the lens. Unless it is a testimonial like those pain relief medications, you always look away from lens but cheat to camera so we don't get a profile. Thanks for clearing this up. We look green when we do that and you are so not green. [T]ake the direction and when you have a question, ask where your eyes are to go. I never look to lens unless they say so. It is the cardinal no no. just for the slate and the tail slate. Now, if you are doing a personality interview, then yes... look to lens. But in character, never. Unless they ask for it. Learning... don't sweat it. They will bring you back if you are right for the part. It's all good."

So there's the answer I needed on Monday. Look at the lens for the slate then deliver the copy to the eye line they want. It's nice to have friends who know more than you so you have people who can and will answer your questions. Aaaahhhh . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Me & My Mimey

In addition to all of my other squirrely little projects, I'm doing puppetry for a webseries called The Felties that I co-created with Andrew. We've done a nice chunk of comic strips and written a few episodes. We're just waiting for the puppets to be complete so we can round up our talent and shoot some episodes.

The puppets are almost finished. Today I saw most of the main characters in an email from our puppet builder, the Amazingly Talented Russ Walko. He really improved on the original puppet design and incorporated the style from the comics to create some fantastic-looking puppets. My puppet is Mimey, which is perfect because I'm not great with the lip synch. He looks fantastic!

For updates on The Felties (as Andrew posts them), go to www.thefelties.com.

Monday, November 28, 2005

You Want Me to Look Where?

I had an audition today for a public service announcement. The training I got from my commercial workshop with Boise Thomas was to look in the camera because I have to make a connection with my viewer. When they replay the tape at the end of the day, they've got to feel that you made a connection with the viewer. Most of the commercial auditions I've attended have been with the casting folks watching me on a monitor, so the camera was the communication line to my audience. Everything was delivered to camera or with the camera in mind.

I slated to the camera, then the session director asked me a question. I answered to camera, even though his face was about a foot above camera. He then asked me to deliver the copy to a gal who was right of the camera. Her face was at least two feet away from the lens, which really cuts the connection to the viewer through the monitor. The casting director was out of the room for most of my audition, so I really needed to make that connection that would be viewable in playback. But I also didn't want to violate the session director's request and make it seem like I couldn't take direction. Crappola. This is the second time this has happened in an audition for me in the past two weeks (session director asking me to look somewhere other than the lens). And the copy was on the opposite side of the camera. I heard from the casting assistant out front that I didn't need to know the copy. Yeah, I should've gotten it down cold anyway.

So what did I decide to do? I looked at the gal, looked at the lens, glanced at the copy, looked at the lens, looked at the gal, and so on. My first shot, the story, will be totally connected to the viewer. But in the scripted shot I'll look like I have shifty eyes.

What's the right answer in a situation like this? Follow the session director's instructions or look into the lens? I'll have to ask Boise.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Great Theatre in the Valley

Andrew and I saw The Music Man at the Granada Theatre today. What a charming space! It's set up like a dinner theatre with rows of tables. The show was very cute. They had a neat set and very talented performers.

Part of what I found so charming was the table service. It isn't a full blown dinner theatre, but they do serve drinks and snacks for DIRT CHEAP. I had a $3 Shirley Temple, and for a dollar I got a huge bowl of white cheddar popcorn to eat during the show. They tout that the popcorn is legendary. I'd like to further that legend in my blog - incredible stuff.

Another part of the charm was that it really felt like a community of people. We had never been there before. After the show, all of the cast members lined the hall leading out. They shook hands, made eye contact and thanked us for coming. How many people do that these days and mean it?

I try to thank people after my shows, but I think I could learn from this community theatre and really acknowledge people who showed up to the theatre to receive my communication as an actor and gave me a reason the be there.

You can check out their theatre at www.granadatheatre.com.


What's the Deal?

Andrew loaded some photos from my documentary, My First Trip to the Nude Beach, to a photo album online. The whole idea is to get the images on the web so we can access them easily for blogs and promo. There's nothing smutty or porny, but it's obvious that I'm naked in some of the stills. He uploaded them last night while I was asleep on the couch. He left them available for public viewing. Why not? The documentary is still in the editing phase so not a lot of folks know about it and wouldn't be looking for the images, right?

The photo of me on my stomach where you can see the top of my crack and the side of my boob was viewed 334 times by noon today. 334 times! Now, I don't think all of those folks had an interest in my documentary.

I guess the best way to view this overnight popularity is from a marketing aspect. If I could get each one of these people to buy my documentary on DVD, then I could make a little bit of money. (And again, there's nothing smutty or porny about it.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Los Angeles T'giving

Since my family is nowhere near the West Coast, Andrew and I had to come up with something interesting to do for Thanksgiving. We usually go to a buffet or cook something at home, but not this year. Today we went to Medieval Times.

That place is so AWESOME! If you ever find yourself near one, go. For about $50 you get a huge plate of food (half a chicken, a meaty rib, garlic bread, soup and a pastry) and you get to see an amazing equestrian show and great stage fighting. It was well worth it.

The whole cycle takes about four hours. We showed up around 3:15 PM and picked up our tickets. They usher everyone in at 3:30 PM. We did photos with the princess then wandered the torture museum. We spent the next hour wandering the gift shop and getting a Shirley Temple in a horse cup from the bar. (It's a lot of time to spend wandering around, especially if you don't have kids to yell at or wads of cash to blow on souvenirs or a great passion for alcohol in collectible glasses.) At 4:45 PM we took our seats and waited for food. The food is served throughout the show. It was over at about 7 PM.

Great way to spend Thanksgiving. Quality food, quality show. Check out their website at www.medievaltimes.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hollywood Types

I went to a different place to get my brows done today since I have a big audition Monday and my eyebrows looked like my little brother's. The place I normally go is really low key - not a lot of Hollywood blah blah, normal folks (it seems) as clientele, real down-to-earth. The place I went today was just up the street from my office. They were able to squeeze me in, and the cost of the brow job was less than my regular place.

It wasn't as down-to-earth. Very frou frou, very nice, strawberries and cookies to snack on at the door. Still, I liked it. They did a great job with my brows. There were some young Hollywood types talking about their agents and auditions and bikini waxes. I usually hate these types - very self-centered, everything is dramatic. No one really wants to hear everything about them, broadcasted by them louder than necessary.

They should just blog, like me. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back in the Saddle

I took about a month and a half off from my kung fu class because I was so busy with plays and the short film and the commercial and blah blah blah. I came back for the first time last week, and my muscles weren't too achy since I did practice my sets during "warm up" time before my last play (in leather pants).

Tonight kicked my ass. We worked athletically for an hour and fifteen minutes with a short water break. Then we did some work with a weapon. It was fun, but I felt like I swallowed a hummingbird because my heart was beating so fast.

I think I lost enough water weight tonight that I won't have to worry about fitting my tight pants after Thanksgiving.

For an ass-kicking kung fu class in Los Angeles, check out www.harmoniousfist.com.

Monday, November 21, 2005

If They Could See Me Now

Other people have seen my commercial. (Again, I know you don't see my face in it, but I did work on it and I got paid.) I was so excited when I booked it and so excited when I worked on it that I had to call everyone and my dogs to tell them about it. I think I called my small sister five times from set that Friday to report all the goings on.

My sister-in-law Chelley called last night to say she saw the commercial. Today Dave at my office said that he watched it. My brother Bart called me this afternoon to report that he saw it. Just imagine how many phone calls I'll get when I get face time!

What a fun industry. It's nice that people can see what I worked on, even if they don't get to see me. When they see how well lit Martina McBride is in the commercial that's edited for the South and the Midwest, they'll know that I was the one who made sure the lights would look great on her.

And I got my second check Friday. Woo-hoo! I got paid nicely for dinner being late (SAG penalties). Awesome!

Quiet Down, Pamela!

I auditioned for this short film about sorority girls who work for the CIA tonight. The script was pretty good. It sounded like a fun project.

Something I learned in my commercial workshop was to decrease my intensity in my on-camera work. In life I am so LOUD and BOLD. I totally pulled it back for this audition. It felt funny, but I did it anyway. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Creative Genius Has a Name

Andrew wrote a play. It's called Torrid Affaire. It's a funny and touching story about five girls at a lingerie party, and the men they love.

It's a brilliant piece. Since we practically grew up together, I've had the pleasure of reading all of his plays and screenplays as he's worked on them. I've paged through them with a red pencil (or purple pen) and corrected spelling and grammar. I've had the joy of being the sounding board when he was trying to work through tough spots. The monologues I use for auditions came from his works, and people tend to love them.

He really is amazing. This piece is written like women actually talk. There is something of a scarcity of great material for chicks, and this helps fill that void. We're putting up the show in early 2006. I'm so excited about this project.

You should check out his blog at www.thefelties.blogspot.com. Tell me if he says anything good about me. :)

Harry Potter Review

I love Ralph Fiennes! We saw the new Harry Potter movie today. Ralph Fiennes is in such a pivotal role, and he is PHENOMENAL!

I first noticed him in Schindler's List. I went to see Strange Days in the theatre because he was in it. I hunted down the only theatre that was playing The English Patient in my hometown to watch him. I sat through The End of the Affair and The Constant Gardener for him. He's an amazing actor. He plays dark roles, sinister roles, and really pitiful roles. That man knows how to bring it. Even if I don't love the movie, I'm always arrested by his performance. He can really communicate different human conditions to an audience. I want to be that kind of actor.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Toning It Down

Today was the last day of the horror short shoot. I didn't wear leather pants today, but I wore so much eyeliner I'd make my small sister proud.

I was trying to play the role as subdued as I could but still keep the character interesting. It's a bit of a challenge since I'm usually off the charts with volume and personality in daily life. But this chick is an introverted, gothy kind of girl who wears a friendship bracelet with no counterpart. I was afraid of being too apathetic because that might not be very interesting to watch. In the end, it has to communicate to the audience and keep them entertained.

I think I got it nailed. The proof is in the pudding.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wimp

I grew up in Arkansas. We had muggy summers and ice storms in the winter. We wore shorts and tank tops in the summer, and we wore sweaters and coats in the winter. One summer I threw wet t-shirts in the freezer since I didn't have air conditioning and I needed to stay cool. One winter we had such a terrible ice storm that we slept in our living room for three days with no power and one kerosene heater.

I spent some time in Wisconsin as a small child. There were two seasons - mosquito and winter. I remember spending 15 minutes getting dressed warmly to trek out into the yard, find my brothers in their snow forts, and come in ten minutes later to warm up.

I lived in St. Louis for a little while. Summers were just as muggy as Arkansas. Winter involved snow shovelling and driving the car on the icy roads like it was a boat. I wore long underwear from the end of October through mid-March. (I get cold easy.) I wore coats, hats, gloves and scarves two-thirds of the year.

It's November. It was 80 degrees this afternoon at my house in the city, which means it was close to 85 or 90 in the valley where I work. I woke up cold in my t-shirt and sweatpants at 7 AM. It was 61 degrees.

The weather out here is psychotic. You really have to dress in layers. The temperature can vary so much from morning to afternoon to night, or from one part of the city to the next. What's even more psychotic is my threshhold for cold has changed drastically. I was cold and it was 61 degrees. No snow, no ice, no freezing wind. When I was in fifth grade, 61 degrees meant wearing shorts to school. Now I'm a total weather wuss.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Actor Pay!

Got my first check for the commercial today. I thought I'd be paid for both days on the same check, but this check is just for the Thursday I worked. Not too shabby for an afternoon.

It seems like this check is prettier than all the other checks I've ever gotten for anything. I've gotten checks with more figures, but this check is so pretty and colorful. Oh, and it's actor pay.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Seeing My Commercial Ghost

I saw my commercial for the first time today! It's pretty cute.

I know. I'm not actually IN the commercial, but I worked on it and I was paid for it. It's exciting to see something air of which I was a part. Very cool.

It'll be even more exciting when I get face time in a commercial.

But for now I'll celebrate the paid work!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Actor Relationship Tool

I did my first living scene in the horror short today. It was a really short scene. I showed up in my leather pants and a lot of eyeliner, hung out for an hour, did my scene and left.

It was funny working with these actors that I barely knew but acting like we were good friends. I met most of them two weeks before and shared few words with them the day we shot my dead scene. The thing I keep coming back to in situations like this is finding something I like about the other actors or something we have in common. That's kept me out of so many arguments and helped my scene work SO much.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Soul Food

As an artist, it's necessary to enrich one's understanding of the world with diverse stimuli. As an actor, it's important to step out of the psychosis which seems to be Los Angeles from time to time. My recommendation for killing these two birds: the Getty Center.

The Getty Center is free. It helps to find really cool things to do for free in this expensive city. Parking is $7. It sits on a mountain in Westwood. It has a view of the city, the mountains and the ocean. It has beautiful architectural gardens, and rooms and rooms of paintings and sculptures and photos to explore.

I went for about four hours, which includes the hour I spent scarfing down an awesome cheeseburger in the cafe there. I was exhausted when I left, but I felt like I got an aesthetic refill. I also felt like I wasn't in L.A. at all for those four hours but somewhere that was a cross between Florence, Italy, and West Mountain back in Hot Springs.

Check this place out at www.getty.edu.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shiver Me Timbers!

Argh! I auditioned for the role of a female pirate today. How fun!

I got the call yesterday right before I got rejected for the infomercial. They were looking for a redhead to play a historical figure on a television series. Her name was Anne Bonny - a real firecracker of a pirate. They needed to hear an Irish accent.

I'm from the South. I can "ya'll" and drawl with the best of 'em, but Irish? (People assume that I'm of Irish descent because I have red hair; it's actually the German and the viking genes that cause it.) So I pulled out my Arthur Lessac book on the human voice and another book on accents and began a careful study of the specifics of Irish and the colloquialisms of this character's home. I spent an hour at the computer working through the sounds, then I cooked dinner while reading aloud using the accent. I figured I had it well enough for a first audition.

I went in today and gave it my all. I don't know what the outcome of the audition will be. I think I'd make a great pirate because I grew up around bikers and drinkers. But I had a great win doing an intensive study of this accent and nailing it in the audition. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was. Isn't that the way with most things?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rejected!

I was turned down today, but rejection never felt so good.

I went in for this mineral makeup infomercial. When I submitted for it, I told them I have blemishes and dark circles under my eyes. I spend most of my time under fluorescent lights, so I usually have one or two blemishes at a time ALL THE TIME since I started working in an office. And I've been waking up insanely early so I could feng shui my home office, so I have some bags under my eyes.

I do take care of my skin. I use Susan Lucci's Youthful Essence microdermabrasion stuff. I wash my face with Burt's Bees Lemon Poppyseed Scrub. I use i.d. Bare Escentuals mineral makeup so I treat my pores right. My doctor has me on a regimen of vitamins and vegetables so I can be thin with good skin. But my skin is far from perfect. With all the preventative steps I take, I still have breakouts and bags.

When I met with the casting directors, they told me I had perfect skin. They were looking for someone with really damaged skin I guess. I was rejected, but for all the right reasons. I missed out on this particular infomercial, but I feel good about it.

And my friend Boise said that it's good to be told "No" when auditioning because it gets you closer to your next yes.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gladhanding

Oh what a night! I finished another play last night. In L.A., there are a lot of theatre opportunities if you don't mind working for free. I just got back into the theatre scene about four months ago, so I'm willing to do it for the purpose.

It's really funny that over the course of a play, you can really get to know a lot of different people. I didn't make the kind of acquaintances in this show that I'd invite everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner, but I'd hang out and get coffee with some of these cats. I keep kicking myself that I don't have actor business cards (instead of day job business cards) to hand out to people. UGH!

A really great thing about finishing a show is closing night. The audience is packed. Everyone in the cast and crew is so happy that so many people are there to see them, and they're excited that their nights will be freed up. Everyone loves everyone else and differences are put aside. (I did so much glad-handing that I felt like a politician, so much hugging that I felt like my grandma.) And people really come to life in the last show. I guess it's because they're now really comfortable in their roles, like an old pair of gray sweatpants.

On to the next project!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dead Again

I worked on a thesis film for a grad student today. This was my big moment as a dead high school senior. It was a lot of fun.

I was hanged from a tree with a death message painted in blood on my stomach. Okay, the blood was corn syrup and red food coloring, but still. That was fun. I spent longer driving to the location than I did getting painted and strung up and shot, but we shot at Lake Casitas which is more like Arkansas than Southern California.

I love the girl whose project I'm doing - Polly White. She's very fun. The film is a horror short called PsychoRomantics. It's in the vein of those campy 80s films with the bright red blood. It's being cleverly shot in that style. One of the things I really dig about her is that we can talk cheesy horror films and remember the joy of watching them without her saying I have bad taste in movies. Oh, and she's read all the Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton. :)

Next weekend we shoot a living room scene where I'm alive, then the next weekend we shoot the scene at school. I'm so excited!

Intolerance (or How I Want to Beat Up Jackasses)

I'm going to take a moment on the soap box.

I'm a Scientologist. One person in each of two recent projects I did had negative expressions about my religion. Now, I've taken a lot of crap. I had two older brothers that I fought with as a kid, I was at least a year younger than everyone else in my class in school, and I've gotten the invalidative rejections as an actor. But janking on a religion -- mine or anyone else's -- is just NOT COOL.

In this town, you really have to be a professional. It doesn't matter what religion you think is odd or outdated or stupid, KEEP YOUR FOOL MOUTH SHUT! You never know who's standing next to you as you tell that "witty" joke. Maybe I'm sensitive, when someone janks on another religion, I'm just as pissed.

Ideally, you'll find something to admire about different religions. I love that Mormons spend two years just helping people so they can turn the tide of the world. I love that Jewish people are so devout with their rituals and I love asking them about the significance of their holidays. I love that Buddhists love mankind and are really trying to reach an ultimate truth. And Christians have been some of the most gracious and caring people I've ever known (like my father-in-law, the best Methodist minister I've heard yet).

There are so many beautiful things about every person. It's more fun to admire those differences and find something to like about each being. It also creates more genuine friendships.

And it protects you from being labeled "JACKASS" on my blog.