Monday, February 28, 2005

I finally saw Napoleon Dynamite last night (after renting it for the 3rd time).

This flippin' show is so, danged funny! Gosh!!

It helps a ton that I went to college a few minutes south of Preston, Idaho (at Utah State University), so I've been to pretty much every place in the film.

And I know people like those in the film.

And ... I may have been a bit like a few of the folks in the film in high school ...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Interesting class last night.

Our mandate was to bring our own scripts -- for our look and type -- in to workshop and shoot. So, of course, I brought a scene I adapted from Marvel's current Ultimates series.

It was a meaty scene, where Steve Rogers is confronting fellow teammate Henry (Hank) Pym, a wife beater who beat his wife (and another fellow teammate) Jan into unconsciousness. In this particular scene, Steve is going to beat Hank to a bloody pulp for what he did.

We did the cold read-through of the script, and my fellow actors ... laughed ...


Was it because my scene partner is funny man Rob Nash? Nope.

It's because there's no foul language in the script. Steve wants to take Hank apart, and he's calling him things like "piece of trash" and "meatball", while being called a "stupid little runt".

And I learned a sobering lesson about folks. That we can choose to miss the emotional import of a film if it lacks foul language. Which I guess, conversely, means we can give too much weight to a scene just because it has language.

At least Rob gets it. He said, "No, you might get cast in this kind of role, and you need to be able to sell it authentically."

But I was bummed by the response that folks gave a very intense, very important scene (at least to me).

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I had a great VO audition today with Joel Block at the Production Block Studios.

The audition was for Harcourt Education (I'm assuming Harcourt Trade Publishers, but it could be one of the other sub-brands), for reading children's books.

Why was it a good audition? Frankly, Joel rocks. He's a consumate professional, classy guy, and I feel really comfortable auditioning for him (now; I choked the first time I read for him).

I felt really good about my first read, but asked for another so I could just play. 2nd one turned out great.

Besides, reading kiddos books is right up my alley -- have you seen how immature I am?

Anyway, here's hoping Harcourt likes me ...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I had a great class last night my "Working Professional Actor" class with Van Brooks.

I hadn't been in class for a few weeks because of toy job travel and the flu ('tis the season), so it'd been a month out from direct coaching. Monday served as a somewhat rough reminder that acting, auditioning, getting a callback, and class are all very different activities. If I get out of practice at any of them, I pretty much suck for everyone to see.

I did a scene from Beyond Therapy, the play by Christopher Durang that probably launched Sigourney Weaver's career.

It's a great piece, and I did a cold read, and stayed absolutely stuck the first two rehearsals. I made a very uninteresting choice, and the scene felt flat (and a wee bit pathetic).

Van got us ramped up, and the third take (which we filmed), got us where we needed to be.

And even though I was beating up on myself for doing so poorly through the evening (especially in front of my visiting agent), Van generously encouraged me by saying a did fantastic on the third take, and "there's nothing wrong with being stuck. You just don't want to stay stuck. And you didn't stay stuck."

Wise words, indeed ...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I had a great opportunity Wednesday to do a workshop for a director for his next pre-production feature.

I'll tell you, this actor/director is absolutely incredible. It was a great night watching him react to the actors he had invited to the workshop, watching his directing process, and see his "ah ha" moments when actors brought something he hadn't considered for the roles.

I learned some concrete stuff in the workshop too -- like how to maintain control of a two- (or more) person audition, when you partner accidentally (or unintentionally) upstages you.

The director did a quick drill down into the class to find out who was working on projects of their own. He encouraged us to get a hand cam, a bunch of colleagues, and fully cast and produce our projects in a low-fidelity sort of way. That was pretty much my "ah ha" moment -- with 5 projects of my own, it totally makes sense to take the next step and make them more real.

Y'know, it's a industry truism that "there are no small parts; only small actors." And this guy gave a very cool, specific anecdote from his own career that made that a little more real.

Some of my favorite actors were with me last night -- Adam Langley, Chel Simon, Christine Wolf, Nicole Graf, and Sarah Paige -- professionals who are a joy to watch, and incredibly humbling for me to see them working their craft.

I also found a new person of whom I think I'm going to be a very big fan -- Tammy Holland. She jetted before I had a chance to tell her, but she was a lot of fun to watch perform, and is incredibly talented.

The only downside of the night was a brief tangent by the director, where he said if you have a particular stumbling block in your acting, you don't belong in the Biz. I've got that hurdle, and it was tough to hear his read on the whole thing.

Hey, I'm nothing if not a survivor, and I'm fairly innovative, too ... ;-)

Great night all around, though.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I did a paid VO gig for Castleview Productions today, for their client the Texas Association of Builders.

Ted and company at Castleview are this nice mix of casual attitude and professionalism, and the whole thing was a great experience.

Castleview rocks, my agent rocks, and I'm not feeling too shabby about myself, either ... ;-P

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

California Trip (Here's a whirwind summary of my recent Cali trip):

  • Day One:

    • Flew from Austin to Burbank (the "Media Capital of the World") in the a.m., and hung out at a college buddy's sisters place for the afternoon. Mimi is an incredible woman, mom, and hostess, and she was so gracious and generous to take care of her brother's friend and fam (who she'd never met).

      Then it was off for quick afternoon tour of Burbank and the studio lots (OK, just the studio lots' front gates), before heading to Hollywood Blvd. to see the Mann, Empresario, adult shops ...

      Sure, most of the street is kind of scuzz, but being an actor in Hollywood, looking at the huge namesake sign ... Rocked ...

      Then it was off to Alhambra to meet my college buddy for a few pre-weddind day errands before the rehearsal, which was ... a rehearsal ... Not much to say on that front ... Kind of status quo, that one.

      Dinner was at MVP Seafood -- great (really) authentic family style Chinese fair. Not ducking out of dinner until 11 p.m., we decided to forego some Redonda Beach friends' offer to stay at their place for the night, opting instead for staying at the cheap-n-sleazy Alhambra Ambassador Inn. Adam's world tour guide rates this hole in negative stars, and recommends passing.

  • Day Two:

    • OK, after waking up and showering in our hotel hovel (and still not quite feeling clean), I changed into my tux to meet my buddy at his apartment for what turned out to be a 14-hour adventure.

      We started out with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, which was a fascinating thing to a be a part of.

      Upon arriving at the bride's parents place, the best man and I had to carry in a 75+ pound pig, the groom had to answer challenges from the bridesmaids (and if he screwed up, the groomsmen in tuxes had to do pushups, dance with each other etc.), he had to barter for permission to even see her, and I was asked to serve the tea at one point (which raise more than a few eyebrows throughout the event).

      I was the only Anglo guy involved in any part of this, and folks were alternately confused or offended that I was participating.

      Pictures were loooong, I was asked to hold "a part of the bride" during a few shots (let's just say the other groomsmen had head, back, and legs, and I was told to hold whatever was left. Awkward, that).

      The ceremony was fantastic, and afterwards we jetted out to the Empress Paviolion Restaurant in LA's China Town, for a 37-course meal (fine, I don't know how long it was; it was just long). I ended up being the A/V guy to get the projector and bride/groom slideshow running, which ended up being way more painful and near disaster than it should have been (but was well worth the resolution at the end).

      We ducked out late in the evening to stay at the other college buddy's (and his wife's) place in Redonda Beach.

  • Day Three:

    • Sam and Caroline are probably two of the most generous, considerate single-folks-without-kids I've ever met. We had a great time hanging out, getting caught up, watching an expose on a Utah cult, and then it was off to Manhattan Beach to play at the free aquarium, not too close to the sewage-suspect surf, then dinner at Mama D's and desert kitty (catty) corner afterwards.

  • Day Four:

    • Disneyland -- another magic place. Haven't been ther for a few years, and still felt like an ecstatic little kid (in a good way).

  • Day Five:

    • Disneyland, again, rocks. California Adventure? Not so much ...

      Then it was off on a six-hour drive to San Francisco for the toy job, getting in after 2 a.m. Pacific Time (4 a.m. CST). That hurt.

  • Day Six:

    • Work. Meetings. Self-talk about how the job is a gift, I work to live (not live to work). A company dinner and far, far too many drinks.

      Followed by far, far too many drinks somewhere else. A joke about my crappy cell phone (made jest). A grab. A scuffle. Ending with the piece meal cell phone ending up in a zip log bag (and me draining a 32-ounce beer (or two) to find the battery), and everyone calling it a night. And then explanations later. Many explanations ...

  • Day Seven:

    • After too much to drink the night before, I spent the day in the hotel with what I suspect was my first hangover (yeah, I'm so proud), complemented by a sinus infection and a touch of the flu.

      We capped off the day with food poisoning and totaling the rental car (we're all fine, thanks), and curled up in our rooms for the evening with over-priced room service and vegging in front of a Disney flick that will likely show up on the hotel bill (and expense report) as "in-room entertainment".

      Yeah, Thursday pretty much didn't rock ...

  • Day Eight:

    • After waaay too much time in the morning replacing the rental, we were off to SF proper to hit the highlights.

      After a great breakfast at hotspot Cafe Mason (where I'm embarrassed to say I ordered huevos rancheros), we walked briskly down Stockton to China Town (where we spent a ton of time and wonderfully little cash), with stops at Union Square both ways.

      Then it was off to crisscross the Golden Gate Bridge, with a stop at Vista Point to look at the bridge, Alcatraz, and the Lone Sailor Memorial.

      Then we made another stop back in China Town to pick up some cheap fleeces before heading to North Beach for Italian dinner at Viva Restaurant, then a local bakery for cappuccino, pazelli, biscotti, and assorted cookies.

      Then we zipped by the national shrine to St. Francis of Assisi on our way to Washington Square, and several laps around the park before calling it a night.

  • Day Nine:

    • Breakfast at the hotel, off to Fisherman's Wharf, saying "heya" to the sea lions (and a few interloping seals), a visit to the over-rated (and over-priced aquarium), a swing through all of the shops, and a ride on the double-decker carousel. Yes, I rode the carousel. No, I didn't spew. Yes, that was a legitimate concern.

      Then is was off to the San Jose airport, way too much time (again) at the rental place explaining why I was returning a different car than they expected, and why the old one may or may not have been filled with gas at the time of the wreck. (They're called computers, People. They keep records that can be shared across locations. Hire someone to look into it, to see if it's something you can use.)

      Finally, back on a plane for a brief stop in Las Vegas, then home to Austin.