Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Off the Hook

It seems like my phone has been ringing off the hook since my last blog posting. I've been called in to audition for three casting directors we invited to Torrid Affaire that didn't show. Not sure if it's at all related, but I won't complain.

I got a call from my agent Friday that I had an audition on Monday for some broadband cable commercial. I hit the audition yesterday morning, and I rocked. It was a lot of fun. They shoot later this week and I haven't heard from them yet, so I doubt I got it. But the director was the one who auditioned me, and I made him laugh. And I emptied out my headshot holder in the casting directors' mailboxes before I left.

I got another call Friday for an audition today for this pole dancing/stripper workout infomercial. Sounded fun, only girls in the classes, free dance classes. I went in today and they told me I might be too young and in shape. Oh well. These are the same folks who told me my complexion was perfect.

Last night my agent called me again to tell me I had an audition today. This one was for young mom. That was fun. I think I looked like the youngest young mom there. But hey, it was an audition at an office I haven't been to before.

Then I got a call for an audition for a play Thursday night. It's being produced by one of my Diary of a Catholic School Dropout sisters -- one from the earlier cast. I read the play last night. Sounds fun and very physical.

Then I got a call from someone else for another audition for a play Thursday night. I've auditioned at this theatre before but wasn't cast. We'll see what happens this time for a completely different play.

Then I got a call from someone to do some work on a short film tonight. I couldn't do it because I had a client scheduled, and I still have to pay my bills.

Wow. Busy times.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Little Filmmaker Lessons

I watched Timmy again today. There were some things I learned when I was behind the camera, but I couldn't remember them so I had to watch it again. Here's what I got from this guerilla- (and sometimes gorilla-) style short:

1. Lingering. Andrew and I both process things to quickly. Visually, this gives the viewer little more than a flash of some images. Our establishment shots are usually long enough for us to think the viewer will know where we are, but when we view them they aren't. We can linger with the camera a lot longer and it would probably be just enough.

2. Lighting. When we shot Timmy, we had no plan of action. We grabbed the sock puppet and the camera and headed for Touristville. There were too many people right in front of Grauman's for us to shoot our Grauman's intro there. Andrew wanted to get a shot of the roof so you'd know it was Grauman's. The only problem was that the lighting was terrible -- nothing but shadows. What I learned was that if the lighting is bad, go to a different spot. That's the solution in this kind of filmmaking, because I'm not hauling lighting equipment through the crowds in Los Angeles.

3. Framing. Some of the shots are wiggly. I know, it's all handheld except the credits. When we hit Chinatown, I think I'll drag the tripod along. It will make some shots easier. I also need to work on my handheld shots as a cameraPam. I know how to frame a shot, but with a hyped-up tubesock it can be tough to track him handheld. This is something that I'll just have to drill. At least my camera work is better than when I was twelve.

4. Flexibility. When you go out into a crowd with no film permit and no cops roping off the area, you've really got to be flexible. How many people were blocking the cement impressions at Grauman's as we were about to film? People walked past us and laughed. I'm surprised no one really walked through our shots (probably because they were so tight). But we couldn't get pissed at the people because they had the same rights to be there. We had to finish shooting before we lost the daylight, but we had no other pressures. That allowed us to patiently wait while people snapped their photographs together, stared at Harrison Ford's handprints, and stopped to ponder the moon and stars in the middle of the sidewalk.

I'm sure there will be more lessons to come.

A Doer Does

Sometimes things just can be obvious enough.

Andrew and I went to the Getty on Friday, and we took some art supplies so we could art. As I sat on the grass trying to capture this craggy tree with my watercolor brush, I realized that a painter paints. (Duh.) I can't expect every painting to be perfect, especially when I don't produce them in the volume necessary to really improve my skills. I don't need to have a scarcity of my paintings. If I would just paint and not obsess over every mistake in the handful of paintings I've completed, then I'd be an awesome painter. A painter paints.

I read this great article about John Mayer in a special issue guitar magazine. I really admire him as a songwriter, musician and performer (in that order). He's amazing, and he's now expanding into blues. How many songs do you think John Mayer has written? A songwriter writes songs. He's probably written some real stinkers that we'll never hear. Last night I sat down on my couch and wrote a song. Maybe I'll view it as a real stinker in a few years, but for now I'm pleased I jumped that first hurdle of writing my own lyrics and music. (I've only collaborated before.)

It seems that I'll have to live through some stinkers and imperfections if I want to be a painter, be a songwriter, be anything. Heck, I've survived some embarassing times as an actor. Some of the videos I shot as a twelve year-old were stinkers. But the only way to have the fantastic final products as an artists is to really do the doingess. Maybe I'll scratch out another song or slap down another painting today just to get my stinkers out of the way.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hot Dogs

Growing up, I went to a lot of keg parties at people's houses where we were fed hot dogs. Of course all kids love hot dogs, even if they're made with red dye #5 and the unmentionables of barnyard animals. When I learned the truth about hot dogs, I stopped eating them. Grilling and putting mustard on a cow's bunghole does not make me want to put it in my mouth.

Then I discovered the wonder of Kosher hot dogs. Same convenience with none of the yuck. I read about how Kosher meats are prepared and I saw there was hope. I've been a Kosher dog eater since.

In L.A., there are a lot of hot dog stands. I've been to a number of them, and they don't all carry Kosher dogs. (Andrew will eat the un-Kosher dogs at these places, and I'll get a cheeseburger.) I know Pink's is supposed to be amazing (and they have great cheese sauce), but there's a better place that you must visit when you're in Los Angeles. It's called The Stand.

I always feel great after eating there. The Kosher dogs are one and a half times the size of the regular beef or turkey dogs they offer, so I can usually get two meals out of one hot dog. At The Stand, they manage to turn the hot dog into a gourmet food. The menu is amazing -- who knew there were so many ways to prepare a hot dog? I usually get a Kosher BBQ dog (cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce & bacon) sans onions, and sometimes I get baked beans thrown on top. They give you some fresh potato chips with your dog. The prices are comparable to sandwich shops, and it's an appropriate place to do an informal business meeting or gather with the family after church. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wrapping Up

Okay. I said I'd write up my wins and gains from the show. (Maybe if I do this with every project, I won't get stuck in a past win and I'll have something to go back to when I hit rough spots in this insane industry.)

* Andrew Moore is an amazing writer. It's an honor to speak his words. I told him once upon a time not to write some play for me. He said he didn't but later confessed that he did, and that play won an award. I turned down a golden opportunity then, and I won't do it again.

* I have great comedic timing. Most of my wisecracks in life go unnoticed. (Maybe I just process things too fast.) I had some great punchlines to deliver in this show, and I got a lot of laughs. I received a lot of acknowledgment from the audience members on how funny I was. I always knew I was funny. It's about time some other people agreed with me. ;)

* A roller coaster ride is the best kind of ride to give the audience. Most of it was in the writing. My proudest moment during Sunday's show was really having their attention for my character's reveal. I told this great story about a boyfriend who is on smack. When I defended him ("oh he's not all bad" and "he's sensitive", like "I can change him"), they laughed. When I broke down a minute later, Andrew saw at least one person in the audience crying. Then I return to being funny. It's like a roller coaster. Fun.

* It takes a lot of responsibility to produce a show. Anyone can try it, but you have to really care about what you're doing and know that you're the one who will make it happen. How many actors have I met in L.A., and how many have made it go right to produce their own opportunities? It's nice to know that I'm capable of so much. And I really care about my fellow group members.

* If at all possible, incorporate your special skills in your work. I've been learning guitar for a couple years. I wanted to do a piece where I could pick on my guitar. I was able to do that in this show. Didn't have any big singing pieces or huge musical moments, but I strummed quietly when I wanted and it did contribute to the piece. (And I got in extra guitar time.)

* End on a win and move on. I can't afford to get stuck on this project. I loved the cast, I loved the piece. It was an incredible experience, but it's over. I had one audition today and another tomorrow. I'm submitting my headshots for other plays (along with films and commercials). I'm still going to do the future projects I mentioned in my earlier blog, but I'm not going to stop acting in the meantime.

More on the Affaire

I'm still stuck in a maybe on this Torrid Affaire thing. Andrew and I talked about it over lunch yesterday. What to do? Do we want to try to bring it back to the theatre to adapt it for film? Or do we just want to acknowledge the win and move on?

Andrew talks about theatre here. He has a whole discourse on why theatre instead of film. He's got valid points, which is why he wrote this show as a play instead of a film. It offered people an experience that you have to get in the theatre. And no matter how much fun we had it and how easy it would be to shoot it in someone's living room, it's still a theatrical piece. It's a bit too presentational in its current form to translate easily to film. If we did bring it back to the theatre (if all the other factors were in place), we have no guarantee of an audience, and it's pretty miserable performing for the three people who showed up because they feel too singled out to laugh.

As I think more about it, it may just be best to end off on this cycle. "Thanks that was fun" and all. It's no good to get stuck in a win. I think I'll write up everything that went right on this show and all of my gains and end cycle. It's not like I have a shortage of projects. Sonny's being written, we have "The Felties" to shoot, we have some other short film ideas brewing, and I keep going out on auditions for other peoples' projects. Sure, there are people who couldn't make it to see this show and want us to extend, but there's no guarantee that they'll show up if we do extend. There's also no guarantee that we'll ever get an audience for a film version, and that would cost a helluva lot more. Maybe if our cast would like some last piece of this show then we could shoot some scenes for their demo reels and give them the raw footage. That way they can end cycle as well.

Timmy Timmy!

Timmy Tubesock is now available on the internet! (Okay, Timmy was actually available late last week but I've been tied up doing stuff for the play until now.) It's a .wmv file, so that may not be compatible with everyone's machine. The link is right here. Check it out.

Timmy was an experiment. We wanted to shoot something short and sweet, guerilla-style. Timmy is my creative property -- my idea. Andrew made the sock puppet. See, he showed me some of the open-source puppetry posts on Muppet Central and I thought the ideas were good but you can have so many cooks in the kitchen that nothing actually gets made. My solution was Timmy Tubesock. He's like a Flat Stanley but he's a puppet. I'm willing to share Timmy with any puppeteers or filmmakers who want to participate.

Here are the rules for Timmy:

1) His name is Timmy Tubesock, not Timmy the Tubesock. Andrew screwed it up on the opening scene and I yelled at him after. Since we were trying to shoot continuous footage (no edits), we didn't fix it in post.

2) The puppet and name belong exclusively to Dal Motion. This must be acknowledged in the end credits. The content you provide is your own, but he's my puppet.

3) Timmy can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. I'll send him out to you with a postage-paid envelope to ship him back. I know he may get some wear and tear on the road, but don't abuse him.

4) You can upload your content to the web or you can contact us and we'll help you. Andrew's studying video hosting services, so he knows this area pretty well.

5) Don't care about the quality of the video. Hell, you can shoot a series of photographs if you don't have a video camera. I think Timmy makes a great tour guide. We're taking him to Chinatown before we ship him out for his first out-of-state adventure. The video can be awesome or crappy. Doesn't matter. We had awful lighting, passers-by, outside noises that we didn't edit out because not everyone who participates in the Timmy project will be able to filter out these things.

6) Don't get nasty with Timmy. He can interact with any other characters you create, but no nastiness.

7) Timmy can be performed by a man or a woman. You can hear the voice we chose. It's easy to duplicate so do your best. His theme song is a C chord. We did it with me playing a low G on my chanter (because I didn't have the fingers available to play a C) and a C on my guitar while Andrew played a C on his mandolin and his harmonica. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. You can use a kazoo if you want. I don't care.

If you have an interest in participating in the Timmy project, send an email to dalmotion@sbcglobal.net. Give us your name, address and phone number. We'll put you on the list to get Timmy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Morning After

Last night was our last show of Torrid Affaire. We may extend the run if the theatre owner wants to cut us the right break. We'll see. On one hand, I'd love to have more people come to see it. On the other hand, last night we only had six seats empty. It's nice to end on a win. My friend Pete Nicholls (www.ThePete.com) recommended we video it in someone's living room and submit it to Sundance. Good idea. That appeals to me more right now than remounting the show, even though we already have everything mocked up for the stage version. Last night I was leaning more towards remounting the stage play. Andrew's the one who has to make the final decision after we talk to the theatre owner.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty. The theatre rental for two nights and free rehearsal space was $600. Our postcards cost $79, postage was $81. I can't roll off what we spent on props right off the top of my head, but it was probably around $100. Dinner, flowers and cigars for closing night cost about $90. Our total box office take was $696 for two nights -- half a house the first night and an almost-full house the second. Sure, we got some donations to pay for the first night of the theatre, but we didn't turn a profit. At least we didn't get too far in debt on this project.

Last night was a huge win. Andrew and I brought in most of the crowd for this show. Everyone in the cast had someone there last night. People laughed where they were supposed to, which was nice. We got lots of admiration, everyone did a great job, and I think it will open up new opportunities where we didn't have them before. Even though we didn't make rent money, the show was totally worth it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fat

Now that the holidays are over, I've started confronting what I've been eating. I can still fit my pants, but I know if I keep up the holiday eating trend stuff will start squeezing out the top of my pants.

Why would I feel bad? I've been munching on lots of cookies and pastries, having a soda here and there, scarfing down chips and dips, sucking back larger portions, snacking between meals instead of waiting or having some veggies or a salad. I'm supposed to have 70% of my daily food intake as low starch vegetables. That would keep me slim and trim, and it would supply my body with the nutrients I need to improve my health.

Oh, and I've been less active. With the show going and a short film in December, I've missed kung fu class for about two months. Most of my work at my day job keeps me stuck in a chair in front of a computer. When I get home, I want to sit on the couch or take a nap. I get narcoleptic with too many carbs in my system, which is even worse. I wind up scarfing down two pieces of cake and some pizza, then I pass out on the couch for two hours right after eating.

I saw some report on MSN that was supposed to help chocoholics fight addiction, but it was actually a five minute commercial for chocolate that explained the benefits of eating it and how you shouldn't give it up. The same report said that if you ate one candy bar a day and didn't work it off, you could gain a pound or two a week. That was a bit of a wake up call. It's hard to get work in this business if you're fat unless you're really fat.

So I had a salad for breakfast and a salad for lunch. I'm back to drinking my Trader Joe's Organic Carrots & Greens until I can get a quality juicer for my house. And I'm replacing the leftover birthday cake with sliced apples. I'm not fat yet, but I'd feel a lot better if I lost five pounds, maybe ten. I wouldn't look like one of those girls on some billboards who need a sandwich, but my boobs would look even bigger because my waist would be smaller.

Get Wild Wild Wild

We had a pickup rehearsal/surprise birthday party for Andrew Thursday night. The theatre was available earlier in the evening, so I planned a little surprise shindig with the cast to celebrate his birthday. We wound up with more food than I expected, so we kicked back for about an hour and ate and whooped it up.

The goal of this rehearsal was just to let the cast run the lines and blocking so no one felt lost for Sunday's show. I knew it was just supposed to be lines and blocking, but it also became playtime. My former acting teacher used to tell me I did a number of scenes technically perfect, but I didn't have fun with the work or play. She'd have me bring back those scenes again after playing with them, and the work was so much better and more freeing. When I made my entrance Thursday night, I made it playtime. I threw in comments I couldn't make during the actual show, played my guitar loud and sang "She's Like the Wind," and changed up some of my lines so the intention was the same but the words were way off. Granted, it's hard to know when your entrances are when it turns into such a wild party. But it was fantastic. I think Sunday's show will be richer than our opening show. We've all settled into the characters even more.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Little Producer Lessons

I've had a couple days for things to set in since we did the show. I have a new viewpoint on some things, and I've gained a better appreciation for what they've done in some past shows I've done.

1. Limit the number of complimentary tickets. I would love to do this for free and have all of the people I've ever met come to my show for free. The problem is that art costs money. We have to cover theatre rental costs, promotion, props and a cast party. If I were independently wealthy, I'd just throw money from my coffers to handle all of those things. But I'm not. And it's unfair to give someone something for nothing because it devalues the thing that you gave, and it makes the receiver feel like they can't contribute back to you. (Ever get a groovy Christmas present from someone that you got nothing for? Feels kinda crappy.) In the last show I did, everyone was limited to one comp ticket each. Makes sense since there were 15? people in the cast and the producers had to be able to cover their costs. I'm pretty sure they didn't make money off that show, even by limiting comps. Every night in the theatre costs money. I have friends who do an improv show locally. Even though I'm friends with them, I still have to pay when I come to see the show. I may get a little discount, but I still pay to see it, and I don't feel bad about it. We gave each cast member the option of getting in three people at half-price in lieu of handing out comps for friends and family. With two nights and 48 seats available per night, we have to be able to cover the cost of the show. Tons of comps won't contribute to that.

2. If you really want to offer comps, make them for the first weekend of the show. This is something I've come to appreciate. The play I did where I met most of these ladies, Diary of a Catholic School Dropout, had a cast of ten girls per show. Layon Gray, prolific writer and director of Diary (www.layonentertainment.com), has had this show running for a couple years. He recasts every six weeks and remounts the show. I don't think a week passes when Diary isn't running with some cast or another. In a 45? seat house, that would be a lot of comps, especially if he let all the old cast members come to a future show for free. He offered all of the girls in my cast the opportunity to come to see the opening night of the following cast's show for free. Very smart. I couldn't make it because I was in another show, but I see how brilliant that was. We had half the house full on our opening night of Torrid Affaire. We had maybe twelve people on our opening night of Diary. Filling out the house with people from the last show gives a warmer opening. When we do Sonny, I think we'll offer the cast of Torrid Affaire free admission on opening night. It will help fill the house and generate goodwill.

3. You should get something in exchange for industry comps. I want people to see the show and give me a job. That's half the reason I'm busting my butt on this show. But if I'm letting them in for free, I should at least have a business card or an address so I can follow up with a postcard and say, "Hey, how'd you like the show?" There are probably industry people out there who don't want to be bothered by ever actor they ever see in a play. I understand that. If they don't want to be bothered, then paying for a ticket would be worth the hassle. If they want to play the "I want an industry comp" card, I'm down with that so long as I can promote my future work to them. Layon wanted industry people to show their business card. He said that industry people are the ones who can give you paid work, not your friend who might shoot a short film in his basement over the weekend. Makes perfect sense to me, especially now that I'm a producer. I want my actors to be able to follow up so their careers can boom.

4. Don't hold the show for more than ten minutes past the scheduled show time. I know it's Los Angeles and there's traffic and all kinds of reasons for being late, all of which can be very valid. But let's face it, people will show up on time for the movies even if they miss the previews. Not everyone on our reservations list arrived by 7:10 PM, but we started anyway. Audiences need to be trained to give as much respect to theatre with LIVE performances as they would give to a PRE-RECORDED film.

I'll share more lessons as I learn them. I know Sonny will be a much saner experience for me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Progress

I sent my agent two Evites, an invitation card and a personal postcard for my show. I had Andrew drop by some new lithos last week. He called me Monday with a commercial audition scheduled for today. He hasn't seen the show yet.

I had a little chunk of copy to learn for today's piece, a really cute spec commercial for a financial management website. I spent a good amount of time working on it because they wanted it memorized. One of my acting teachers advised us to memorize our sides so we wouldn't worry about the words but would have room to play. Great advice. I planned out my wardrobe very carefully so I'd look old enough to do the spot. I also reviewed my commercial actor hatting from Boise Thomas (www.bookin.biz) and the great Jim Meskimen (www.appliedsilliness.com).

I felt really well prepared. I was an hour early and got in thirty minutes before my scheduled time. I went for broke and followed my training but had fun with it. I treated the piece with as much respect as I would something that would pay 20 times as much. I felt like a pro.

As you probably already read, the show went well. Andrew's been scouring the newspapers and the internet in search of the mysterious review that may have been written by the guy in the front row Sunday. We've discussed extending the show for one more night if we sell out this Sunday. It makes sense to spend money on what makes money. One of our goals for this show was to have someone offer to produce it.

Andrew spoke with the theatre owner today. He's a really nice guy, seems a bit atypical for a theatre owner/manager. Anyway, he asked if we wanted to extend the run because he has Friday and Saturday nights available in March. The problem is that it costs money to rent the theatre and do the promotion (the theatre is the biggest expense). Well, the theatre owner said that we can work something out if the money is a problem. I'm hoping that means we split the house with him. He's coming to the show Sunday, so we'll see what happens.

Andrew's excited about writing Sonny. I'm excited about that too. I love observing his process and participating in his work, even if it's just reading it and correcting the punctuation. I'll be the love interest in Sonny. We already decided that when he came up with the idea. It's nice to have someone write some incredible stuff for me to act.

Anyway, it feels like I'm getting somewhere, even if it's not as fast as I originally intended. I'm doing things I feel good about, and I'm laying a strong foundation for my continued career in Los Angeles. My acting teacher used to say, "A career is a body of work." I truly believe that.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Morning After

(I'm so worn out that I'm not getting my blogging done until afternoon.)

We opened last night. The show went incredibly well. We really created an ensemble piece and everyone had an opportunity to shine. We had the house half-full (about 24 people), and we made almost enough money to cover our second night in the theatre. I think we even had a reviewer there.

Andrew was nervous. That was cute. I was more harried as a producer, but I knew my hat as a performer so there were no surprises there. I take that back. I was surprised at how cold the stage was. I wore a tank top and boxer briefs for most of the show. My hands were so cold that I had trouble farting around on my guitar.

The show was well-received. We got lots of compliments on the casting. It has a happy ending, everyone experiences change over the course of the piece, it sounds like people actually talk. We didn't have the industry turn-out that we promoted to get, but we had a great audience who will promote the show.

After the gladhanding was over, I went back into the theatre and the entire cast was helping Andrew return the set to the proper condition for the show that runs on Fridays & Saturdays. We even had some friends helping out. The clean-up didn't take too long. At the end of the night, I sat on the floor with Jackie and Cassandra eating cake while we reviewed the evening. I'm so glad I participated in this project, and I think the others are as well.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Why I Go My Own Way

There's a very good reason for me producing this show. Actually, there are several. I think it's important to learn from your experiences. You really have to step back after everything hits the fan and settles and draw a lesson from it. Otherwise, bad experiences will weigh you down so you never try anything adventurous again.

Over a year ago, Andrew and I were part of a showcase with our acting class. We spent a lot of money (about $1000 total) and a lot of time (about 20 hours on technical/building/rigging stuff, who knows how much on the performance end) trying to make something happen in our careers. The plan was to get agents from the show since we invited so many industry people. We were supposed to get a list of the industry people who attended, but I think it got lost in the shuffle of folks before it made its way to distribution. We busted our butts for seven minutes of stage time. While we did learn valuable lessons from the showcase, neither of us made the industry contacts we had expected. I got my agent off a lead on a casting website about eight months after I left acting class. It was a chance to perform, but we had to pay for it. The lesson: invest in something I really believe in and will give me something in exchange.

So I've done a few plays over the past few months and that was fun. Met some great people, performed original works. My financial investment in each piece was under $200 (costumes, promo for the show, personal promo like I blogged about before), the time spent on outside stuff was under ten hours. (I tend not to count rehearsal time in my investment, even though I guess I could.) I've looked into pay-for-play theatre groups which cost a lot less than that showcase, but I don't know that I'll get to call all the shots I want and get the juicy roles to play until I "paid my dues," and I got sick of the phrase "pay your dues" in college. I don't mind playing nice with the other kids, but I prefer to play at my house when I can.

So Andrew and I collaborated on this story. (He's the best person for me to collaborate with, by the way. Two peas in a pod.) We talked about what I wanted in a role (chance to fart around on my guitar, swearing, wearing boxer shorts, a sensitive scene and not too many lines), and we talked about what we wanted in a show. What would showcase some of what I do, what would showcase his fantastic writing style. We also considered what would showcase the talents of the other people we involved so they could really shine. We knew we wouldn't pay them and we knew they'd have to make some investment in costumes and props.

We came up with what we thought would be the best piece to showcase the talents of everyone involved. We've even got demos for three bands for pre-show and post-show music. We've borrowed a lot of stuff and recycled crap we had at home. Andrew had his dad making calls to get us some donations for the cost of the first night of the theatre. The total expense for us will be about what we spent on the showcase, but we feel better about the investment, and we'll at least get enough back from the second night's admission to pay for the first night of Andrew's next project, Sonny. I'd gladly go my own way for another experience like this.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Book Vs. Movie

I'm sure you're familiar with the old argument of book versus movie. You read the book and have a certain idea of how the whole thing will play out and what everyone looks like. You really get to contribute back to the author with your imagination. When you see the movie, it's not always the same as you imagined. Some parts may be similar. Some things may be way off from what you thought, some things may be way better than you could've hoped.

I just got my DVD yesterday for the sorority short film. When I watched it, I got to reminisce about how fun it was to be in a sorority without all the hassle. Heck, I was in an ass-kickin' sorority for a couple days! It was a fun shoot. I met some neat folks. It was nice to see the finished piece.

I remember reading the script and having my own idea of how the thing would play out. It was really interesting to see what shots she decided to keep and how they decided to edit the piece. The film didn't quite match up with what I imagined. (Of course, it wasn't MY directing project, so what I conceived doesn't really matter.) But it made me think of book versus movie.

I guess the deciding factor in the argument is what communicates best to the audience. Which one really gets the writer's intention to the end user?


Counting Down

We're in the countdown phase. It's Friday. Show opens Sunday. EEK!

True confession time. We haven't done a run-thru of the show since sometime last week. I don't remember the day because my days are running together with the really late night rehearsals and the early morning preparation for my day job. We still have to build a sink unit and do some other prop stuff, like painting the "toys" that are used in the show.

At least people are coming. We got a couple calls for reservations yesterday. I've gotten some people coming from my Evites. Cassandra was naming off some people she had coming yesterday. I'm glad at least some folks are coming (so we can pay for the second night of the theatre).

I really have learned a lot on this show. With all of my present time anxiety, I can see the lessons and the value of those lessons. And I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to learn those lessons with this project. It's not NEARLY as painful as I may blog it to be at times.

Yin and Yang

There's an interesting dynamic that I've observed in the theatre. In a pair of people, say producer and director or artistic director and technical director, one is sane and rational while the other is a bit more emotional. After having studied kung fu, I've learned about yin and yang. It's totally applicable here.

You can't have one without the other. The yin is the soft, the yang is the hard. Yin is feminine, yang is masculine. But you can't observe something as yin or yang unless you have its counterpart.

Andrew and I operate like yin and yang when we do a project together. It's funny that I just now observed it. But it's not like one of us possesses the traits of yin and the other the traits of yang all the time. It just depends on what's happening. Three nights ago, I was the co-producer who was starting to get anxious about the show going off well while he was the director saying it would all be fine and don't worry about it. He was yin and I was yang. Then two nights ago I was the co-producer who felt like the show was really close to being ready to be seen while he was worried and angry about the rehearsal. That night I got to be yin. Then last night I was a bit concerned and he was confident and sanguine. Tonight I was comfortable with how things were going and he was on edge. It's just gone back and forth, both of us switching off as yin or yang.

What's funny is that we'll colide in the middle when the first show is done and we've collected the box office. Neither of us will be yin or yang anymore. We'll just be the line in between the two.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Little Producer Lessons

I'm producing my first play. Andrew wrote it, I'm in it, and I'm producing it. There were things I expected, like the theatre costing money and having to do promotion and trying to coordinate rehearsals for six actors and a director. But I'm learning things as I go through this process that, I believe, can save others some trouble and I know will save me stress when I go into production on films and webisodes.

1. Always always always hold auditions. I love the cast, but if we had held auditions in the beginning we wouldn't have had to replace two very dear friends when the rehearsal and performance schedules didn't match up. If we had seen at least two people for every role in the beginning, I think the rehearsal process would've gone smoother.

2. It always costs more than you plan. We knew we'd have some expense for the theatre, promo, and a few props. We didn't realize we'd have to pay for light trees for our photo shoot or rehearsal props and little things for the process. We lucked out in that we had rehearsal space available and we got a great deal on the theatre. We still haven't picked up a couple of costumes that are used as props in the show, and we've borrowed and used our own stuff as much as possible to keep the costs down. The biggest expense is the promotion. I used Evite for friends and family. I printed up and mailed color postcards. Now we have to do a few posters.

3. Never expect anyone to promote your project besides you. Andrew and I have strong interest in getting this show seen and making back some of the money it cost. While I'm sure the actors want to be seen, I've been in shows where the actors didn't start promoting until the second or third week because they didn't think the show was ready to be seen. Hell, I've been the actor who took my allotted amount of promo and left it in my trunk so only one or two fliers were posted. I've also been in shows where the actors didn't promote at all. In low budget theatre, you have to promote the hell out of your project any way you can. I have appearances to make where I hand out promo, and I'm hitting local coffee shops where industry people hang out so I can poster those places. Andrew sent out press releases. But relying on other people to promote the show doesn't work.

(As an actor, I've followed the same datum. I never expect anyone to promote my project besides me, even if I'm just an actor in it. I want to play to a good audience, so I have to take responsibility for filling the house. I send out postcards, pass out fliers, and send out Evites when I'm just an actor in a show. If I've got a great role, I want people to see me. I can't expect the director and producers to promote my work and get people to come to just see me. That's my job as an actor.)

4. If you're involved in the creation of the project, make sure there are no unnecessary characters. I was fortunate enough to work on the story and the editing for Torrid Affaire with Andrew. We went with the absolute minimum number of actors we could have and tell the story, which is six. There are a lot of problems with having too many people. If you're operating on a shoestring budget, your people aren't getting paid for their work. You have to give them enough to showcase their talent in the time they're onstage to make it worth their time. If you're shoestringing it, you're not going to have the moolah to pay for lots of assistants, so you'll probably wind up doing most of the coordinating and chase-up. With six actors, it's been a little crazy trying to get everyone in one place ready to start on time, especially with a rash of winter illnesses working their way through the cast. If we had twelve actors, I would vomit with rage daily because of all of the "I'm gonna be late" calls. (As an actor, I've done this myself. It's true.) I think our next piece is going to be whittled down to four actors. Smaller groups are easier to coordinate and control. These guys are great, but it's a bit more randomity than I expected with this show.

This show has been very fun to do. The script is amazing, and I've got a lot to play with as an actor. It's a little different being on the other side and producing. I can see what problems I've given to directors and producers in the past, and I can see why they maybe seemed a little dispersed. I'm SO glad I'm cutting my teeth on a play instead of some big budget thing.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another Year Gone By


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Originally uploaded by scrapsflippy.
It's a new year again. My body doesn't feel old. I don't usually feel old unless there's societal pressure about age.

What does age matter anyway? Spiritually, I'm the same age as the rest of you blokes. I'm just as rascally as I was in this photo. And I try to dress the same when I don't have to go to work.