Saturday, December 30, 2006

Send thank-you cards for auditions ...

Thank you cards are key in the Biz. They're a way to acknowledge people who spent time with you on your audition or reading, and keep you on their radar in a non-artificial way.

There's a relatively easy, inexpensive way to make your thank you cards stand out from off-the-shelf thank-you cards.

Here's some secret sauce recipe:

  1. Get a box of thank you cards you like at a grocery or drug store (generally cheaper than a greeting card store) -- you can generally get a box of 12-20.
  2. Get reduced copies of your headshot -- like at a grocery/drug store, Sam's Club/Coscos, etc. You can scan your headshot (or better, print from the CD/DVD from your session), and get a sheet of 16, 2"x2.5" photos. Use a paper cutter (not scissors; better lines) to cut them out.
  3. Get a 2-in-1 glue (like Aleene’s 2 in 1 Glue).
  4. Put glue on the left side of the card (for Horizontal cards) or top of the card (for vertical cards) where you'll put your mini headshot and your business card (you do have business cards, right? ;-).
  5. Let the glue dry first, then put your headshot and business card on the spots glue. They'll stay secure, but are easily removable if your recipient wants to. The reason you put the glue on the card, and not on the headshot/business card, is this is less likely to leave residue on your business card.

    You can also ask you agent if you can have some of their cards, and you can place them below your cards.

Voila -- you have 16, ready-to-go, custom Biz thank-you cards, probably for around $10 and a little effort. Buy a book of stamps and save them just for thank you cards, and you're always ready to say, "thank you".

Is it ever too late to give a thank you card?

Probably, but opinions vary.

Send it as soon as you can -- the day after being best, but at least within a week. Two weeks is pushing it. Besides, you should have at least a couple more auditions by them right?

And if I don't genuinely want to send a card?

Ask yourself why you don't' want to send a card. Do you want to work with the person again?

All good questions, but realize the professional courtesy is to send a thank-you card. If you had a particularly bad, abusive, or otherwise negative audition experience, and (justifiably) don't want to work with the person(s) again, don't send a card. Those should be rare cases.

I've heard people say, "I didn't send a card, because I sucked at the audition."

Get over yourself! Send a thank you card, and acknowledge the person for taking out of their day to spend with you. You're sucking didn't make their sacrifice any less.

I've had other people tell me they don't send cards because "that's not me", or "I don't want to come across as kissing up."

How about coming across as lazy? Because I'd argue that's what's at the root of those excuses.

As an aside, thank-you cards should be rigor de jour for toy job interviews (unfortunately, they're not). Auditions are job interviews.

And I send thank-you cards constantly, and not just for auditions. I am so freaking thankful for all of the amazing stuff that happens to me as an actor, I have a lot of opportunity to say thanks -- "Thanks for the encouraging words the other day!"; "Thanks for offering to do storyboards for my project!"; "Thanks for being willing to trade screen printing services for Web site help!"; etc.

Oh, and is this what I do for cards? Not anymore. But my way takes more work, computer savvy, and patience. And I need to save something about which to write later.

UPDATED: A kind reference to this post from voice actor Bob Souer.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Friday Night Lights" air date (Jan. 17)

UPDATED: Guide listings have been updated, and it looks like my FNL episode is now January 24th -- tonight's episode is a repeat of "Homecoming".

According to imdB.com, the "Friday Night Lights Episode" I did -- "Little Girl I Wanna Marry You" -- airs January 17.

This is NBC's new Wednesday night slot for the series.

Please watch the show. Even if they cut out all of my menschy driver-ness, watch the series, hype it, and support this important Central Texas project.

(I'll update this post if NBC and the networks release their broadcast schedule, and it changes the date. imdB.com is wrong on a couple of the other original air dates for the series, so I'll wait until the date is set "from the horse's mouth".)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Turnabout is fair play ...

A couple of my recent posts about self-promotion have spawned a bunch of conversation locally and via Email, and I've been thinking quite a bit about the topics included in the two posts.

The latter post (about the rough time I've had with holiday cards and gifts this year) was picked up in a post by voice talent Bob Souer, and I noticed Bob's linked to my posts a few times. I've been Emailing about with him and another voice talent, Karen Commins, who noticed Bob's reference to my post, and has also linked to my blog in the past.

And I've been talking with some local actors, after a conversation with one guy about how he doesn't do birthday or holiday cards for professional contacts, because he's concerned about coming across as ingenuous.

Me too.

I admit the whole self-promotion thing is pretty touchy, and I go back and forth as to how much to do, and still remain authentic and true to relationships -- which is important to me.

Even tougher is balancing strong confidence so that it doesn't come off as arrogant. I know who I am. I know I am a worthwhile human being. I know what I do (or what I don't do) does not define my value as a person. That can be very intimidating to some people, and come across as arrogant.

Largely as a result of my conversation with Karen, I thought I'd talk about self promotion and my struggle with it. Maybe this will give you ideas and prompt you to think about it, too.

As a series of caveats, though, understand that while I'm asked regularly to speak to acting and entertainment groups about business and marketing, I start and end with at least three tenets:
  1. The stuff I'm talking about is not a replacement for networking and building relationships.
  2. Don't hide behind business and marketing and neglect your craft and relationships.
  3. Business and marketing should be an extension of your authentic self, not selling something you're not. What good would it do for you to nail a job interview for a position for which you are in no way qualified? That will likely end badly for everyone involved.
Why I struggle...

To be brutally honest, I struggle with my personal promotion because I'm trying to avoid the three extremes in self-promotion toward which I see most actors tend:

  1. Self-aggrandizement (arguably the smallest group, especially among the genuinely "good" actors)
  2. Hiding behind marketing and promotion, and not networking, connecting, and building personal craft (a larger group)
  3. Laziness (honestly, the biggest group; seriously, if you've auditioned for BigNameCastingDirector once, and haven't for 1.5 years, your excuse for not sending her an occasional postcard, birthday or holiday card is what, exactly?)

For the first group, read Karen's "5 Thoughts About Self-Promotion in Social Settings" -- speaking for myself, I don't want to be "that guy".

In the interest of full disclosure, Group 2 is where I struggle.

Right now, there are a whole bunch of people in Group 3 that are probably upset with me, while at the same time convinced I'm not talking about them.

I'm glad I had so much trouble this year...

This year's card/gift troubles were good for me. I'm thankful for them, because they helped
me prioritize my contacts list into "important", "less important", and "drop" categories (obviously I'm not categorizing the people, just the amount of effort I spend to stay in touch with them). And, as Bob mentions, it shows me I'm "gaining some needed health in this [being too careful] area."

Who I hit up...

I have two general groups of industry contacts related to acting:

  1. "Acting" -- This bucket includes Directors, agents, fellow actors, select crew, Casting Directors, writers, producers, studios, and other Biz folks.
  2. "Video Game" -- This bucket includes folks related to this more specific voice acting opportunity. At the same time, these contacts are of a more general interest for me, because I enjoy playing games recereationally (and like to say "thanks"). I also have my "arcmchair industry analyst" video game blog). Finally, because my toy job is in managing technical development folks, I have a broader interest in the gaming industry that spans the creative, technical, and leadership areas of that idustry, in case I ever choose to jump vertical markets.

I send postcards to my contacts every couple of months throughout the year, largely for "non-standard" reasons (think "Groundhog Day"; "4,000 people read my blog last month. Were you one of them?"; retro-esque "Be my Valentine" cards; etc.). I do birthday or other gifts for appropriate Biz folks (long-term relationships, not just "I took a class"), but not for people I haven't met but solely just want to stay on their radar; that seems gratuitous to me.

What am I trying to do?

I believe I was made for acting, and I've reached a point where I don't know what to do, other than pursue it with my all, damn the cost or outcome (within reason). This plays out in how much work I put into marketing. And it's a lot of work.

Make no mistake, a big part of what I do is because I do want to "stay on people's radar". I'm an actor, and I want to be acting all the time. I am trying to create opportunities all of the time.

But I try to make the communications/gifts/contact effort fun for me too, and I'm learning to more quickly change my course and do something simple if it gets too onerous.

I've got one Casting Director who loves my custom-made thank you cards for auditions. I have sometimes made myself nuts trying to come up with something creative, sometimes at the expense of genuinely more important things. I'm getting better about sending "regular" thank you cards to her (still with my headshot and contact info), and balancing that with not becoming lazy (Group 3), which would cause me to always send vanilla cards. And it makes my creative cards more special, more appreciated.

Holiday gifts, in particular, are a chance to do something creative and show industry folks a little about me, and show them I'm listening to them, too. And have fun all the while.

Here are my general criteria for industry gifts:

  1. Unique
  2. Useful
  3. "Adam-branded"

So my gifts can contain something that seems a little kitschy or schlocky, but is totally usable, very memorable, playfully self-promoting, and a pain in the ass to regift. I take twisted pleasure in that last one.

A marketing example...

Some might argue against the judgement of my sharing this, but here's a specific example.

My last year Christmas gift for select Biz folks (many of whom I knew were coincidently all going to cold-weather climes for the holidays) was a sweatshirt with a bunch of caricatured pictures of my face across the back, my Website address, and the words, "The many faces of Adam Creighton". The note (unique to each recipient) that came with the sweatshirt was a version of, "Yeah, pretty narcissistic of me, huh? Glad I'm not like this in real life. Good luck re-gifting this one."

I designed and printed the shirts, which minimized costs and increased personal investment (and therefore object worth), taught myself some new stuff, and had fun.

And the shirts were topics of conversations during December and January industry mixers and parties.

Set yourself apart...

I make all of my own stuff. That way, if anyone sees two of the same thing, it's because it came from me; not Hallmark. But I'm a perfectionist, so my stuff generally looks like it's professional -- which is an extension of me.

Think you're not creative? You're wrong. And if you're stuck thinking you can't do the kinds of stuff I'm talking about, I'm pretty sure you know someone who hasn't fooled themselves into thinking they can't do this stuff. Barter with them. Trade something you can do for something they can do.

Or you can take advantage of professional services (I've had good luck in other contexts with Branders.com and cafepress.com).

And figure out what works for you. What does being hungry for the Biz look like for you? How does hustling for gigs play out for you?

Turnabout is fair play...

You'll notice I've added links to Bob Souer's and Karen Commins's blogs in my blogroll. This isn't one of those "they reference me, so I'll reference them" listings that seems to plague a lot of blogrolls.

I think these two voice actors have great stuff that I can benefit from, and you may be able to, also. Like with any of my blogs, I've asked their permission to add them to my listing. Check out there sites. They've got good stuff.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Foiled, every step of the way ...

I'm sitting her, the day before Christmas Eve, and realizing how frustrating the last week has been on the holiday front.

Not in any holiday-familial-angst (or, really, any important) kind of way, but in a foiled-at-every-step-of-the-professionalism-side-of-the-Biz kind of way.

Seriously, hear me out, because this was bizarre.

First, understand I'm a really professional person. Part of how that plays out during the holidays is me getting holiday cards out to a select list of business contacts (past and potential clients and industry friends and associates), and business gifts out to an even more select group.

Cards were beast this year. We're talking constant miss-prints, not being able to print on the cards I'd bought, boxes of cards I bought being shorted (packs of 20 were packs of 14, etc.), ink not drying, blah blah blah blah. A project started two weeks before Christmas took until today. Literally.

Which made half of my cards on time, and half ... belated. The perfectionist side of me hates that. You have no idea.

Then there were the professional gifts. Clever gift baskets with a bunch of stuff I won't detail here, because people probably haven't freaking received them yet.

I had the concept and the stuff done for the baskets early. There was just one signature "Adam item" I needed to add, and it kept getting delayed, kept getting delayed, kept getting delayed, until the whole basket effort was delayed. The effort finally got done, and the baskets were put together on the road as I drove to deliver them yesterday, and ... everyone had left town. Everyone.

So I went to ship them at UPS, which -- though there was no line -- took me an hour, as the person at the counter moved like chilled molasses to put the label on each package (I'd even already done all the work on the "customer station").

And then, they told me they couldn't ship one of the packages, because it was going to a PO Box, and I'd have to do it at a post office. So I drove to a post office that was closed and used the automated station to get postage and went to drop it in the box and ... it was a half an inch too big.

And even though I know the box is 12 inches square, I still tried to rotate it 6 ways to see if, by some small chance, it would fit. I yelled at the package drop box, bounced my head against the package, and lay there drumming my fingers on the wall, then realized since it was a post office, there were probably a lot of cameras watching my petite turrets moment, and I so want to see how I came off. Always an actor.

And it was at this moment I wondered if I had inadvertently pissed off the holiday shipping gods, and all of this is some sort of righteous punishment.

Anyway, despite all of this frustration (which seems petty, I know, but it didn't happen to you), I'm doing way better with this than I would have in the past.

See, I struggle with getting it right. And being right. And other trappings of perfectionism.

But lately... not so much.

For example, I didn't redo cards or envelopes or labels that weren't Absolutely. Perfect. I didn't go nuts trying to get stuff delivered by today. And if I was working on a card and had a "well-if-they-don't-like-this-then-f***-them" moment, I removed them from my address list. Seriously, I'm not going to give myself an ulcer for some folks. And it makes it more important for the folks I keep on the list.

And I turned the whole "fiasco" into an opportunity.

For example, my headshot wouldn't print on most of the cards, but created a wet, surrealist kind of version of me. So, for my more artsy friends and contacts, I bought Monet holiday cards, printed the picture, then pressed and pulled paper off of the headshot multiple times to create a unique, "original Adam", with every card. I hope they get it.

And for the late professional gifts, I put a sticker on the box that reads, "This isn't 'late' -- it's 'extending your holidays'." It's fun, memorable, acknowledges I'm late, and that it's not that big of a deal.

Anyway, this is probably my longest post about almost nothing. But I feel good ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photoshoot ...

I had a photoshoot this week for the upcoming new monthly mag, Caught in the Act Magazine.

The shoot was for my recent role in "Friday Night Lights" (FNL). The magazine is running a feature on local folks who've done Day Player gigs on the series. So, in first issue I've got an interview, and at least one pict. And maybe an ad. Look, the Biz is 90% business ...

I got to shoot with a new photog (which I enjoy) Courtney, who was pleasant and quietly professional.

Since FNL Costuming loved the clothes I brought for my "Menschy Driver" role (I've got mixed feelings on that), I wore those some clothes for the shoot, and we took menschy photos -- me looking insecure, sweet but clueless, nice guy pushover who still lives with his parents and was on his way to get milk when he stopped to help the crazy ladies change their tire -- anything but regular ol' sexy Adam.

Stop laughing. I'm damn sexy.

Anyway, I'm excited to see the premiere issue the first part of January.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm inspired by James Kyson Lee ...

I'm a fan of NBC's TV series "Heroes", and one of my favorite relationships (most entertaining and feels most organic to me) is that between Hiro Nakamura (actor Masi Oka) and Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee).

I met James on the set of Bunny & Clydo. Turns out, that was one of nine projects he did for 2005.

And he's done 26 for 2006. Um, twenty-freaking-six.

How amazing is that?

So I'm encouraged and inspired by how hard working this guy is. I don't have a relationship with him, but I'm seriously grateful to him for giving me another example of a successful work ethic that motivates me to keep my backside in gear.

Check out his official site, and just read through his "News" section -- it's full of "James will be shooting ...", "James is the new voice of ...", "James will be featured ...", "James will be shooting a commercial for ...", and so on, over and over again.

Fantastic, and good for him ...

Send out your holiday cards!

Acting is a business, and I'm amazed at how amazed people are by the business side of my craft.

Like me sending out holiday cards to my past and potential clients and co-creative folks.

"That sounds like a lot of work," someone told me. Yes, but The Biz is 90% business. In any other vertical market, it's pretty typical to send cards to your professional contacts, and it's an opportunity to connect with people, refresh contact info, and stay on people's radar.

So if it's not something you normally do ... get over yourself ;-)

Send at least a handful of cards -- to the professional Casting Directors for which you've auditioned, your agent(s), and your coach(es). For most folks, that's under a dozen cards. That's doable. And it's another chance to say, "Thank you."

And for the most part, send holiday cards -- not Christmas cards. We live in a diverse world, and some folks aren't comfy with what they may perceive as a judeo-Christian holiday being shoved at them. You're not necessarily shelving your values, but you're being sensitive to other folks' sensitivities.

There are exceptions, of course, I'm sending out a diverse mix of cards this year, and chunk of them actually are Christmas -- violating a rule I've followed for the years. But they're classic scenes from The Grinch, Peanuts, and Loony Toons, and (I'm sure) palatable to Biz folks.

Anyway, send your cards -- you have a day or two left.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I set up my audio equipment ...

OK, I'm stoked.

Since I finally got my office walled in, I set up part of my studio audio equipment and laid down some tracks tonight.

The cored of the setup is an M-Audio USB preamp and a couple of MXL-990s with shockmounts.

I'm surprised at how good and clean and warm the sound is, without me having dampened the room yet.

And laying down tracks on a professional grade mic, pop-filter and all?

That feels good ...

How weird is this?

I'm struck by how natural all of this unnatural stuff is.

I received notice over the weekend for a Monday a.m. print audition.

So, I printed commercial headshots and resumes yesterday. Early this morning, after shaving off my Albanian mob boss beard (for a film audition) I stopped off to get a hair trim (gotta look crisp for print), and went without coffee (the smile is so important in print). In the Casting Works LA parking lot, I put on makeup while sending some Biz-related Emails. on the way inside, I said hello to Gabe Folse (perhaps one of the nicest people alive) who was there casting for his film.

Once inside, I had a conversational hello with Donise Hardy (CSA), looked at the "Fridge o' Adam" to which she pointed me (she is beyond generous), talked to Gabe again (he wished me well on my print audition), hung out comfortably with model types (of which I am not), got a few pictures of me quickly snapped for the audition, said good-bye to Donise, stopped off to wash the makeup off my face, and sent a couple more Biz-related Emails from the parking lot.

It wasn't until I was driving back to my BigHugeCorp toy job that it struck me how weird all of this is.

I get paid to be creative?

I hang out with film makers models?

I wear makeup?

How weird is that?

I'm having such a blast ...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Resume updates

I made changes to my resume, updating it based on "Friday Night Lights", commercial stuff, and the fact that since I'm freaking always in class, I need to consolidate my "Training" section and "Special Skills" awesomeness.

The biggest changes are reflected in the PDF version, but the HTML version has reflective changes as well. And the HTML part will be changing quite a bit soon, too.

But all the content in both is up to date.

I saw "Nightlife" tonight

Tonight I got finally see a test screening of Damfino Productions Nightlife, a vampire mockumentary I've been trying to catch for some time.

The project has been a long effort, and I actually auditioned for it two-plus years ago.

I'm not in the film, but my buddy Adam Langley is (and he's good), and I was stunned by how good Avi Hartman is (a guy I'd never seen act before). Avi has a natural presentation that didn't feel too far from some of James Gandolfini's subtle efforts -- and Avi is a key part to humanizing the cast within the whole mockumentary framework.

And the Harpo vampire character was a lot of fun -- and not overplaced within the film.

We hung out for quite a while afterwards giving feedback on the film, which they really want and seem to be willing to something with.

And I was remembered for my audition. That was nice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I love this town

Man, I love this town.

Tonight was a holiday party co-sponsored by Reel Women and The Alliance.

Great time. The venue (Hi-Lo on 6th and Lavaca) was par for the course for that part of town -- which means long, narrow shoebox bars with a lot of noise and a slim corridor between the bar and seating.

But there were so many great folks there, and the layout actually forced me to see everyone on the way to the back to drop off some raffle tickets (I never made it).

So many great people were there tonight, and way too many to give individual shout outs to.

But my Samurai class was there en masse; my current coaches (Van Brooks and Steve Prince) made appearances; I connected with past class mates I haven't seen for a while (I miss mixers anymore, with training and gigs appropriately taking precedence); Mastery alum I haven't seen in ages; the best casting directors (these particular ones socialize with the people; scandalous!).

Just a good all-around night, with great conversation with sweet and talented and sexy and supportive and accountable people.

Then it was home to send a few dozen Email telling individuals what I appreciated about them tonight, and now I've got some thoughts to jot down on my other blogs, and I've got a monolog to write out and workshop.

I wouldn't pick a different career.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Want to study Meisner?

I've talked off and on about my current Meisner class, and how much it's doing for me as a person and my acting.

My coach is starting a new introductory (four-month) Meisner session in January, so if you're interested, contact me, and I'll get you his mobile number.

Just make sure the subject line has something to do with Meisner, 'K?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dear CBS ...

I saw from my Web traffic logs that I had CBS.com visitors to my Website this week.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my resume, viewing my video clips, listening to my audio demos, and perusing my blogs.

I'm sure you saw from my recent postings that I just wrapped a day player gig for "Friday Night Lights" -- that will be reflected in my resume shortly. Surely you don't want that network to enjoy me exclusively?

I enjoy a bunch of the CBS programming (How I Met Your Mother and Two and a half Men in particular), and could really do work on all of the shows in your programming stable.

Thank you so much for considering me, and I look forward to hearing from you.

-- Adam Creighton

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fall in Texas ...

It's finally fall in Central Texas.

I woke up to weather hovering around freezing, wet, breezy and brisk -- a fantastic morning.

There are probably a lot of small-lunged, thin-blooded natives that will call today a "winter day", but this Idaho Boy is finally comfortable. That statement will probably get me nastygrams.

Wearing jeans and a waffle henley, I hung out for a while in the parking lot at BigHugeCorp this morning, enjoying the crisp air, sipping coffee, being calm and at peace.

Great way for me to start the day.

Good night ...

Tonight was the first of the last two Meisner classes (this session), and it was an important night.

Part of it was class. When I was up first with an activity, my partner was amazing. I did not let her get away with safe stuff, which was probably academic because she stood up for herself in a way I haven't seen her do before, and she was inspiring.

I volunteered to work twice, because I'm in a place where I feel desperate to be working all the time. The second time left a lot of room for improvement, which is totally fine with me. I know what to do next time, totally get my notes, and got to work twice.

The other reason tonight was so good is the people. I'm loving these folks, and I'm surprised how I miss them when they're even late to class, or tell me they're moving on.

That's the important stuff.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Free class with Van Brooks this Saturday

Van Brooks is my film coach.

Under him, I've done The Mastery, Leadership & Creativity (with Dan Fauci), a couple of "Audition Intensive" weekends, a ton of advanced film acting classes, and, now, Samurai.

Want to see what he's all about? For free?

Van is doing one of his free classes this Saturday (Dec. 2) in Austin, from 12-3 p.m.

Check him out -- it's free. And he's good.

Need his contact information? Let me know.

Yesterday was a good acting day

I am so blessed as an actor.

Take yesterday, for example.

I filmed scene 32 for episode 13 of "Friday Night Lights" (first network television gig). I had a "good" Meisner workout (she kicked me out of her life, and, yeah, I wanted to leave for good). And on the way home, I checked my Biz PO box and picked up a check for a previous gig.

How blessed am I?

Now, I've got to head off to head off to Samurai, then Meisner class tonight until late. Both of which I hate until I get there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Friday Night Lights (just wrapped)

We just wrapped my part of Friday Night Lights.

Deliver dialog? Check.

Get to improv? Check.

Car scene? Check.

Get balled out and chased across field by phenomenal actress acting truly scary while her scene partner laughs at me off camera? Check.

What a wonderful, chaotic, fun thing of which to be a part.

And the crew that I worked with was nice, and very professional.

And I like Jeff's directing style.

Man, what a good day.

Friday Night Lights (on location)

I made my first goal for today -- make my call time (seriously; uber important).

I've got a room in a trailer -- "Menschy driver - Adam". The 2nd AD is nice, professional, and on the ball. Costuming picked my shirt, props got me some geeky sunglasses, I did my paperwork, then a quick spin through makeup, then hair ("looks perfect", so no work), and now I'm hanging out until called.

Yay!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Friday Night Lights script

I just picked up the script for episode 13 of "Friday Night Lights" for tomorrow's shoot.

I am so unexpectedly jazzed by every step of this process. Watch me squeal like a girl when wardrobe calls.

And, no, you can't see the script. These folks work hard on this stuff -- I'm not going to ruin it for them.

Giddy!

I'm being watched ...

I'm on a list at BigHugeCorp. Or, rather, my blogs are on a list at BigHugeCorp.

Not that this was surprising -- the world we live in and past irresponsible bloggers have forced companies to watch out for themselves -- but it was interesting to get semi-confirmation that my blogs are regularly monitored in an at least somewhat official manner.

Not that it changes anything I do or how I post. I spend a lot of time staying abreast of policy and legal issues around blogs and related content and postings, and know full well where I am within my legal rights.

Besides, I'm a very responsible blogger, and I'm very careful to gripe or propose solutions to integrity or other BigHugeCorp issues, but I'm careful to protect the company and (more importantly) the people.

Honesty, but not transparency. My General Manager gets that.

And, hey, I've increased my readership in new and exciting ways ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Arkansas is a dry state ...

I left Tennessee early this morning, and I'm glad I had coffee at the house beforehand. There isn't a Starbucks (or even a local coffee shop) in any of the small towns at which I stopped.

So I've turned it into a mini game, asking locals at each stop where their coffee shop is.

The most common answers to "Do you have a coffee shop?" (other than, "No") have been "McDonalds" and "Hardees".

Looking on the Starbucks Website, there's basically no representation in the eastern half of the state on IH-40, prior to the 9 that are in Little Rock.

Looks like an opportunity for the addiction franchise ...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Toy Job resume lies ...

Wow. This hasn't happened to me before.

At BigHugeCorp, I just got a resume from a guy who wants me to consider him for work.

The problem is the latest entry on his resume is for a project that I own, and the entry is ... ah ... less than accurate.

Understand, a expect a certain amount of upselling on resumes I'm considering. As a matter of fact, I prefer it, because when I tear into it during an interview, I'm able to plumb the experience depths of the candidate pretty quickly, and see how confident in (or arrogant of) their abilities s/he is.

This was ... different. We're talking so overblown and inaccurate and taking credit for stuff he couldn't have done ...

It was sad.

I can't be specific without risking outing the guy, but it's seriously something analogous to this:
"Created and influenced detergent particles to work synergistically against refuse particles non-conducive to automotive cleanliness."
Translation: "I cleaned cars."

Except he's taking credit for creating soap, too.

Not good.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kind words and great insight from another voice actor

I got a note about a post referencing my recent post about how to stay busy as an actor from fellow voice talent Karen Commins.

Karen (unsolicited) says some incredibly generous things, and I'm astounded at how good she is at reading between the lines. Plus, her blog is well written, insightful, and has the same cooperative vein I try to live in my acting.

Check out her blog -- I'm going to be spending some time there, too.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Friday Night Lights" audition

I just finished an audition for "Friday Night Lights".

This is my first audition for a network television show, which is exciting enough by itself. But the series is also important to the Central Texas creative community and economy, and I want to do whatever I can to help it be successful. The icing in the cake is I watch and genuinely enjoy this
show, anyway.

I auditioned for director/producer Jeffery Reiner, casting director Beth Sepko, and her partner in crime Sheila Steele.

Beth and Sheila, as always, are so pleasant and professional and made for an efficient, non-stressful experience.

Jeffery Reiner was laid back, and his direction was subtle and very effective at the same time. He and I traded lines he fed me, then he said, "Go. Do the scene. Just like that."

Easy.

Though I may have messed up the mechanics of the read slightly. The audition was basically "Line; Reader; Reaction." I think there was subtle direction from Beth for me to deliver to the camera, but when I reacted it was to her as the reader (not the camera). I think this is due to a couple of problems: Beth was a good reader, and because of my recent Steve Prince
/ Dan Fauci / Van Brooks acting triage, I took what Beth said really personally.

Those are two good problems to have. I'm encouraged, and I know what to adjust next time.

Did I mention this was my first audition for network TV?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today was a good day for my craft ...

Despite waking up freakishly ill this morning, I made it to week 3 of Samurai (which, oddly, is still too early in the morning).

Today was validating for me.

Our homework was to share how much time we spent doing what things for our craft. And even though last week was an "off" week for me, I still tagged about 40 hours to my craft (not including related travel or inspiration stuff).

Even more importantly, I opened myself up to the group for some specific help, and asked people who know me well to call me on what I do well, and tell me where I need to grow. Feeling a bit vulnerable.

Then, I got to help a talented artist work through some computer heartburn. Technology is enabling and infuriating at the same time.

And a blog posting I did yesterday about staying "Biz busy" has filled my inbox with comments from fellow actors, and there's been a lot of back and forth. And I like talking to people about important stuff.

Good day ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Acting is a lot of work

I was writing an encouragement / what-I-do-when-audition-opportunities-are-lagging note to some voice acting colleagues, and it struck me just how much work there is to do as an actor, and how little excuse there is to be "bored" or not honing my craft 24x7.

For background, here's the example list I gave them:

  1. Focus on the business part of the Biz - Send postcards to past actual and potential clients, call sound studios and ask to whom I can send my demo, etc. There's a truism that says "The Biz is 90% business and 10% art".
  2. Training -- Brief hour sessions with my voice coach in a studio setting, doing quick reads so I can be on mic, she can let me know what I'm doing right, and what still needs work. I re-read James Alburger's book, The Art of Voice Acting, and do all the book and CD exercises, etc.
  3. Create my own project -- Currently, I'm writing/editing/producing my own animated project, where I'll do the voices. One of my film coaches told me, "If you don't have work, make work." It doesn't have to be full-blown animation, if I don't have the time. Get a digital camera and take picts of comic or comic book frames, and do the VO for each character in each panel.
  4. Exercise other parts of my craft -- I've been memorizing new (tough) monologs, writing a stand-up comedy routine for an open mic night (no, I'm sooo not a stand-up comic), etc.
  5. Remind myself of why I do this -- I got into voice work for cartoons and video games, so I spend a lot of time watching and playing to see what works. Seriously, things like Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block is a cash cow for Turner, and MTV Networks is looking for their answer to it.
And then I had a ton of other things I do rattle through my head:
Writing -- I try to write for a minum of an hour a day.
Research -- This is everything from watching episode after episode of Inside the Actors Studio (those folks got there, yo?) to watching shows filming in Texas (Prison Break, Friday Night Lights) or shows with roles I could so do (How I met your Mother, Two and a Half Men) to reading comic books with great dialog (stuff written by Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, and on and on) to watching the special features on DVDs where directors talk about how they made things work, actors talk about their technique, whatever.
Inspiration -- This follows closely with research, but I'm constantly stopping when my attention is arrested -- TV, movies, comic books, toys, music, people (known and total strangers). I really try to evaluate and hold onto whatever gave me joy or pause or whatever.
Audtion for everything -- This is a harder one, because I've gotten to the point where people are calling me for small gigs, which is keeping me busy. Don't get me wrong, the cash flow isn't there, but I am in this good place of "relationship project making". When that slows, I audition for stuff from the Austin Film Casting user group, student films (which I'm choosy about, since I had like three severely unprofessional experiences in a row, and swore them off for a while).
Read scripts -- There are so many ways to get scripts (for films made and unmade), it's not even funny. I read scripts to figure out my breakdown techniques, practice cold reads, etc.
Memorization -- There are a lot of ways to memorize. I'm trying several to see what works for me. I've gotten into some situations lately where I needed to memorize stuff quickly, and there wasn't enough time to "brute force" memorize (which I want to get past anyway), so I've been trying other memorization techniques (3-5-7 chunking, etc.).
Voice workouts -- This is pretty much endless. Create and lock in new characters (which creates new voices; don't go the other way), breath strength and control exercises, work on my internal clock (so I know when a 58-second commercial has run out), etc.
Look for opportunities -- If I see an announcement of a new game studio being formed, I write to them and send my demo. I do a lot of stuff like this, but I don't limit it to stuff that benefits me. For example, I saw an announcement from a toy company, and an unrelated licensing announcement from one of the big comic book publishers, and I wrote to the licensing departments of both and said, "Hey you two should ..." They're interested, and this kind of thing is always interesting, because they're sure I've got some "angle". Nope. I saw an opportunity, and I couldn't do anything with it, so they might as well to make the world a better, more creative place. OK, actually seeing that in print does seem a little wonky.
Create "something else" -- I'm a voice and film actor. I'm creating an animated series, but I've also written a video game proposal, comic book script, built models, tiled a floor, roofed a back porch, remodeled a corporation's Austin offices, and other stuff that lets me create in new ways.
Getting uncomfortable -- I'm not sure humanity was meant for routine, so I'm trying to get out of mine, which has really freed me up to create. I drive different routes, which sometimes get me stuck in a dead-end street. I'm growing a beard. I spike the hell out of my hair. I wear stuff "I wouldn't normally wear". (I'm hoping the role for "Looks-like-hell-guy" comes up as an opportunity soon.) I listen to country music (I am so not a fan) or Austin Catholic talk radio (I'm neither Catholic nor like talk radio).
Connect -- It's already been a wild, full acting ride in a short time. I'm trying to get back with people who have been part of it, or people that I know see in my acting prehistory who got me here. I use Email, phone, and quick lunches to be inspired by the most inspiring thing around me -- you folks.
For me, I've chosen my craft (or it's chosen me), because it's a representation of who I am -- so I should be doing it all the time.

If I love something, I stay with it; if not, why do it?
Freaking busy and exhausting and never done. It doesn't get much better, and it helps me see the bigger purpose above the mundane, and it helps me diligently work through the mundane.
Reality keeps happening. God willing I can make the most of it.

There is evil in the world ...

I know this. And it's not in a paranoid delusion kind of way, or a defeatist kind of way. Just in a matter-of-fact kind of way.

But there are times when evil exhibits itself in subtle, damaging, personal ways, and I'm reminded evil is in the world.

And if "a sin is a sin", then lack of integrity in the workplace is tantamount to lying or "more grievous" sins.

How's that for corporate accountability?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Updates on commitments

I mentioned in that part of my new Samurai acting "thing" is to make and complete more commitements in a 6-week period than I've made or kept in a six-week period.

So, I'm going to use this post as a running update. We'll see how amazing or how much of a slacker I am.

For the original list, go here.

What I'm going to get done in the next 5 weeks:

  1. Be less careful
    • OK, this'll never be done, but I'm so freaking sloppy lately, I'm going to say I'm making traction
  2. Wall in my home office / studio (DONE 12/03/2006)
  3. Set up my audio studio equipment
  4. Set up "Project X" Website (main)
  5. Set up "Project X" Website (process/fan)
  6. Complete the trailer and 3 episodes of "Project X" (write, storyboard, VO, shoot, post-production, and distribution)
    • 12/04/2006 -- Got the audio down and mastered for the trailer); I may have overcommitted a wee bit on this particular goal.
  7. Do something new and exciting in my toy job career
  8. Write formal treatments for all of my projects (12)
  9. Write treatment for an idea I’ve been avoiding
  10. Write and perform stand-up during an open mic night
  11. Finish another run of demo CD business cards (DONE 121/27/2006)
    • Small run of 10, but enough for now.
  12. Add "Tools" section for my Website
  13. Redo my Website
  14. Read the Game Producers Handbook
    • 12/22/2006 -- I'm actually reading Get in the Game first, because I know several of the contributors, and I'll read the Game Producers Handbook after I've got the Big Picture concept.
  15. Write more features analyzing the game industry
  16. Write letters of recommendation for everyone that’s worked for me, I’ve worked for, and worked with
    • 12/15/2006 -- I've done several of these via LinkedIn.com, which is a good way for to stay focused on this effort.
    • 12/27/2006 -- I did bunch more for some specific folks via LinkedIn, and have some fodder for letters of recommendation for a smaller subset of those folks.
  17. Write a video game proposal
  18. Write a business plan for a new endeavor about which I'm thinking
  19. Install and compile sample games with XNA game studio
    • 11/11/2006 -- Installed, and running, and did a bunch of research
  20. Spend more time with family
    • Holidays are good for this, and the last few weeks have been great for it
  21. Run three times a week
  22. Go fishing (fly fishing)
  23. Install ceiling fans throughout my house
  24. Do some rewiring in my house
    • 12/19/2006 -- Some of this was done as part of walling in the office, and some was fixed by finding the right (unintuitively placed) GFI reset switch. All that's left is to replace a thermostat, and I think I'll live with the other stuff.
  25. Clean out my garage and organize my office and utility room
    • 11/12/2006 -- Making traction (Craigslisted some crap, got rid of a bunch of empty boxes, built 3 sets of shelves)
  26. Get a new dishwasher, since the built in blows chunks (literally) (DONE 11/14/2006)
    • 11/11/2006 -- Dishwasher was delivered, now to install it; I've giving myself until Wednesday
  27. Clean out my truck (ADDED 11/10/2006)
    • 11/15/2007 -- Um, I moved stuff from the front of the truck to behind the driver's seat, so it looks cleaner ...
  28. Get a new microwave, since the old one died (COMPLETED 12/22/2006)
    • Ended up getting the old one repaired, which (though expensive), was cheaper than buying a new one.
  29. Contact a company about doing a video game with their property (ADDED 11/11/2006)
    • 11/13/2006 -- That was quick; initial interest is good, now I owe them a proposal
    • 11/23/2006 -- More specifics from them, and what they want, and I sent some clarifying questions
    • 12/22/2006 -- Completed a draft proposal, that's currently under internal review.
    • 12/28/2006 -- Microsoft got back with me today, and I'll probably be under NDA soon, so my updates to this one may go away, or become incredibly vague.
  30. Add tags to my blogs (ADDED 11/14/2006)
    • 12/20/2006 -- Now that blogger.com has migrated to it's new "not-beta" mode, tags are part of the functionality. So I've started this effort, but have like 500 posts to go through and update. Add to this when they say "not beta", they're ... uh ... lying, and this will take a little more time. I'm debating which is less painful -- using Blogger's tag implementation, or moving everything over to my Moveable Type implementation.
    • 12/28/2006 -- I've now got about 80 of my 480 past "Ramblings" posts tagged. There are some deficiencies with the new Blogger.com, so I'm working around those. It's like they're trying to move me to MoveableType.
  31. Re-read script writing book (ADDED 11/14/2006)

    Patterns in which I'm stuck:

    1. My need to be right
    2. My need to get it right
    3. My need to be careful
    4. Doing things on my own, and not asking for help
    5. Being cut off from my heart
    6. Toy job commitments
      • This one could be taking care of itself
    7. Laziness/Procrastination
    8. Multi-tasking is costing my focus on things that may require focus
    9. Lack of sleep
    10. Am I doing too much?
    11. Am I giving up the right things?
    12. Caffeine?
      • 11/13/2006 -- For last several days I've gone from roughly 4 cups of coffee and 1-2 Diet Coke / iced teas to a couple of cups of coffee; I'm not being legalistic about it, but I think I was a wee bit excessive before
    13. Guilt about what I’m not getting done
      • 11/14/2006 -- Y'know what, screw it. It already wasn't getting done before I started not doing it.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    I am the Pumpkin King

    Jack Skellington antenna ball
    I never fancied myself an antenna ball kind of guy. But I am a Tim Burton/Nightmare Before Christmas kind of guy, and I'd seen these things for like $5 at a Disney Store. I wasn't going to pay $5 for a bunch of foam.

    Then I was back there for something else, and they had one left for 99 cents.

    I figured I could do that.

    Now, I am the Pumpkin King. Or at least have his head on my truck. Which works, too...

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Voice over gig tonight

    Tonight I did a voice over gig for a SxSW contender for documentary short.

    It's a tough piece on the last moments of Joseph Goebbels and his family. Goebbels was Adolph Hitler's spin master (Prapoganda Minister), but the documentary is less about Goebbels himself, than a warning to letting versions of the same thing happen again.

    I'd worked on a Austin Film Festival trailer contender for Chris a while back, and he graciously remember my mad skillz on the VO front, and asked if I'd be interested in the project.

    Good, easy going multiple reads, with good, very clear direction from Chris. Good guy.

    And I do like being on-mic ...

    Samurai homework, last week and next

    Yesterday was week #2 of my new Samurai acting "thing" (at freaking 7 a.m. each Wednesday morning).

    Each week, we have "homework" (like any acting class, but different).

    Here was last week's homework:

    1. Pull together all my notes from the last several months for my "Project X", put those into episodes (ooh, another clue!) so that every one is outlined (if not written), and I know where the gaps are.
    2. Raise my standards for the next 5 weeks. I need to come up with what I will do to explicitly accomplish a list of things that are more and bigger accomplishments than I have ever done creatively in a 5 week period.
    3. Write down a list of patterns I have that stop me from getting stuff done.

    Here's how I did on stuff:

    "Project X":

    I so exceeded this, and I am re-energized about the project. I pulled stuff together, and found I had around 27 episodes, and they're all now outlined, and some are fully written. In addition, I wrote treatments for three new episodes, and created a framework for the entire project, and got a lot of that filled in (budget, resources, marketing/distribution needs, etc.). I am stoked to get booking on this again.

    What I'm going to get done in the next 5 weeks:

    Here's my list; clearly, I'm insane.

    1. Be less careful
    2. Wall in my home office / studio
    3. Set up my audio studio equipment
    4. Set up "Project X" Website (main)
    5. Set up "Project X" Website (process/fan)
    6. Complete the trailer and 3 episodes of "Project X" (write, storyboard, VO, shoot, post-production, and distribution)
    7. Do something new and exciting in my toy job career
    8. Write formal treatments for all of my projects (12)
    9. Write treatment for an idea I’ve been avoiding
    10. Write and perform stand-up during an open mic night
    11. Finish another run of demo CD business cards
    12. Add "Tools" section for my Website
    13. Redo my Website
    14. Read the Game Producers Handbook
    15. Write more features analyzing the game industry
    16. Write letters of recommendation for everyone that’s worked for me, I’ve worked for, and worked with
    17. Write my video game proposal
    18. Write a business plan for a new endeavor about which I'm thinking
    19. Install and compile sample games with XNA game studio
    20. Spend more time with family
    21. Run three times a week
    22. Go fishing (fly fishing)
    23. Install ceiling fans throughout my house
    24. Do some rewiring in my house
    25. Clean out my garage and organize my office and utility room
    26. Get a new dishwasher, since the built in blows chunks (literally)

    Patterns in which I'm stuck:

    1. My need to be right
    2. My need to get it right
    3. My need to be careful
    4. Doing things on my own, and not asking for help
    5. Being cut off from my heart
    6. Toy job commitments
    7. Laziness/Procrastination
    8. Multi-tasking is costing my focus on things that may require focus
    9. Lack of sleep
    10. Am I doing too much?
    11. Am I giving up the right things?
    12. Caffeine?
    13. Guilt about what I’m not getting done

    For this week's homework, I'm supposed to do a couple of things:

    1. Keep adding to our "Things to get done list"
    2. Spend more time on my craft than I spent last week, and document it to share next week.

    #2 is hard for me, because I try to spend 40 hours a week on acting and related stuff, in addition to my full-time toy job. This is already a struggle, and with other recent life happenings, I think my showing next week is really going to suck.

    But whatever -- it is what it is.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    If I knew I was going to die in a few months ...

    I keep learning stuff about myself.

    I think I had this idea that if I were in some sad twist of fate be told I was going to die in 3-9 months, I'd want to live life to the fullest, which would mean doing things I hadn't done before, but always wanted to (maybe even some things I don't want to -- I mean, if I'm going to die ...).

    Recently, I think I've learned that I wouldn't live that few months flamboyantly and, well ... selfishly.

    I think I would spend that few months doing things I said I would do, taking care of people the way I'd been taking care of them -- but maybe with a little more urgency -- and possibly doing a handful of achievable things "I want to do before I die."

    Relax, I'm not dying. Just being introspective about the important stuff. Being inspired by "normal" people. Realizing everyone has a story. Seeing things suffered by other people that show me I have no right to complain. Seeing things I haven't seen before. Recognizing opportunities in change.

    Little stuff like that.

    Again, not dying -- just working on killing the dullish side of me.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Take care of people ...

    People need to take care of people.

    I need to look out for each one of these human beings with whom I get to share my life. I need to treat them with decency and respect, stand up for myself, and hold me and them to an incredibly high standard. I need to fly in the face of people who don't do that.

    People need to do this for people. Culture can't. Processes can't. BigHugeCorps can't. Those are soul-less things that are symptoms of things people do in concert. Intentionally or unintentionally. Positive or Negative.

    But I can be 100% accountable -- for my own thoughts, emotions, and actions. I can treat people with real respect and decency. I can call bullshit on the superficial actions, because I'm adhering to a higher standard.

    Life is a bumpy ride.

    Life is a bumpy, exhausting, important ride....

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    I am a samurai ...

    I think I may be masochistic.

    I have been working so hard for so long to not be comfortable, that I really feel out of my head at times. Which makes me feel alternatively snappy and euphoric. Sometimes bitchy, sometimes loopy.

    The latest in this "make-myself-better-by-making-myself-uncomfortable" is Samurai -- a ... thing ... geared toward making me a more creative person.

    Started by Dan Fauci in New York, Samurai is a weekly, early morning, actor get together, that's not an acting workshop. It's geared toward (minimally) alumns of the The Mastery, and most of us are Leadership and Creativity grads as well. Explicitly, it's purpose is to
    "Find, clarify, and operate out of my purpose in life."
    Lofty yes. Ostensibly this means a weekly meeting and constant touchpoints with all participants to drive our creativity, support our goals, and hold each other accountable to get more things done as artists than we've done previously.

    Lofty? Yes. Scary? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Exciting? Hell yes.

    We meet from 7 to 9 a.m. in downtown Austin. so getting up at 5:30 a.m. to fight IH-35 traffic from Round Rock is definitely out of my sleep and patience comfort zone. (There are so many people on the road at that hour -- and they all have a story, they all have a purpose. How cool is that?)

    This Samurai session is led by Van Brooks, my film coach and Dan Fauci protege, and he's called this the kind of "mini sissy version of Samurai" -- because the NY version is twice a week, and getting there in New York is likely more cumbersome than even Round Rock to 6th street (not to minimize my sacrifice at all).

    Each week, I'm going to have make creativity commitments to the group. And I will commit to specific people that I will ask their help to hold me accountable -- not passively wait for their holding me accountable.

    I'm going to learn to operate not out of my head (how I currently operate), and not operate out of how I feel (how most people operate), but operate out of what I see. Which implies I need to learn how to see better.

    Speaking of which, between Dan Fauci, Van Brooks, and Steve Prince, I am seeing so freaking much lately that it's kind of overwhelming. More on that some other time.

    I am supposed to break patterns, because "patterns are justification for the now" -- a way I keep myself in a loop not necessarily all that conducive to growing, creating, and being authentic.
    So my "homework" for this week from the session:
    1. Pull together all my notes from the last several months for my "Project X", put those into episodes (ooh, another clue!) so that every one is outlined (if not written), and I know where the gaps are.
    2. Raise my standards for the next 5 weeks. I need to come up with what I will do to explicitly accomplish a list of things that are more and bigger accomplishments than I have ever done creatively in a 5 week period.
    3. Write down a list of patterns I have that stop me from getting stuff done.
    Awesome stuff. Maybe I'll share that homework. Maybe I'll leave you in the dark.

    Though, I think I'm waaay more tired than I would expect a Samurai to be. And I'm jittery from sucking down waaay too much coffee.

    Between this and Meisner happening at the same time (and the same day), I'm either going to become a much better creative person, or a much bitchier creative person. Maybe both. I'm that diverse.

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Updates to my resume

    It's been a busy month, but I shouldn't let things like this slide.

    I've updated my online resume with film credits for Thanksgiving and The Torture Room (that's either an odd or apropos juxtaposition); the Centex Destination Properties industrial; and the Dan Fauci workshop.

    Good month ...

    "Thanksgiving" film shoot ...

    I spent yesterday doing a film shoot and voice over recording for a super-short piece, Thanksgiving, for eleven72 Productions.

    The piece is cool, sentimental, and gave me a lot of opportunity to emote without the crutch of my voice.

    OK, that may be funny for a voice actor to say, but the piece is all on-camera sans audio, with me doing the voice over the top of it. I got to put into practice a lot of recent stuff I've been getting out of Meisner, and last weekend's workshop with Dan Fauci. Emotional prep, just being, etc.

    I've been suffering from a terrible head cold this week, so the shoot was a challenge (and the voice over really kicked my butt, as my voice kept dropping or sounding "mushy" in longer takes), but writer/director/producer Storme Wood (Don't Know Why) is a phenomenally great and easy going guy with whom to work. I also re-met sound guy Jason Young, and got to record in a new home studio (I really enjoy that). Jason's one of those amazing guys who can see things in the sound envelope, and hear stuff that I can't (and fix it).

    I also learned that I'm really hard on myself in my voice acting (just my voice acting?), but found I sounded much better on playback than over the headset.

    I also hung out during the audio post prod effort, so I could get insight into what I was doing well, and what I could do to save the engineers' time later.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Dear Diary...

    Someone last weekend said something to me. It was amazing and beautiful and unexpected.

    And it's stayed with me all week.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Young Frankenstein goodness

    Circuit City has a bunch of movies on sale for $4.99 -- and they don't all suck.

    For example, I picked up perennial classic Young Frankenstein, and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (which has like 4-5 of the past specials).

    In my mind, this is a better way to spend the Halloween(ish) time than shock-n-chop dribble that's out there.

    But that's just me ...

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Commercial audition today

    I had a commercial audition today for Luby's 60th anniversary regional campaign.

    There was so much good stuff with this day.

    The audition was in San Antonio, and I decided to take a different route than my regular IH-35/1604 route. Instead, I jetted down MoPac (Loop 1), then 290 West to 281 South. About the same amount of time, but far less traffic, and prettier.

    The audition was for Brenda Ambrize, for whom I haven't auditioned before. She and her crew were professional, courteous, and all around on the ball -- a very nice experience.

    I was auditioning as a guy who was a "warrior" in the boardroom, and a sensitive husband and dad with his family. I got to be in a suit. I tied one of my best tie knots ever.

    Good audition overall. There are things I'd do different in retrospect, but I'm not beating myself up over those -- just carrying them forward for the next one.

    And lots of time on the road to think about my weekend, and all of those awesome people with whom I spent it.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Third day of the Dan Fauci workshop

    I'm going to have to write a bunch more about this whole weekend later.

    It was weekend that took me to a new place, and I'm realizing some new things about me. Or at least things I thought weren't true, but are. Or some things that I thought were true, but aren't.

    Yeah, that kind of weekend.

    But, briefly, I was reminded of the #1 thing I learned from The Mastery a year and a half ago:
    Everyone has a story. Everyone.
    And if I don't think about that while talking to people and trying to connect and see what they want, I'm missing a big chunk of who they are.

    I learned a provocative conversation I thought would be "weird" was totally comfortable, fun, and really educational. (But what happens in the workshop, stays in the workshop.)

    I was reminded that words are powerful, especially when totally devoid of a judgement or opinion. I learned we are all amazing writers.

    I learned though I don't define my worth by what I do or what's said about me, I've got some pretty deep needs as far as words of affirmation.

    I learned people I arrogantly thought I'd "figured out" (that "reductionism of the individual" I try to avoid), will surprise me in big, shockingly beautiful ways.

    And I learned this weekend that my heart is still down there, and I'm not totally disconnected with it.

    I think I'm finally starting to be OK with hugging again, too. What is that, 13 years? Yeesh.

    Enough for now. Hopefully more later.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Second day of the Dan Fauci workshop

    Today (Saturday) was rough.

    First, I'm freaking exhausted, because I was working on toy job stuff until 3 a.m., then got up at 6 a.m. to fulfill my commitment to Dan that I would wake up early. I went running. There was a lot of Doors music on the radio, which was good.

    Second, I'm still doing the "get-out-of-my-confort-zone" thing of not taking control or voicing opinions (which is really against my nature). While yesterday this made me want to climb out of my skin, today it was like an internal sandpaper irritation. Probably because I was freaking exhausted.

    Finally, the "mini-Mastery" portion of the day was intense for me. My "In-the-chair" time was very interesting to me. I was struck with my responsibility side of this, and my desire to get awesome actress Tiffany to stop acting and get more "real" was really heartfelt, but maybe mis-implemented. Dan, thankfully, stepped in. And Tiffany was a great sport.

    Waaaay later in the evening, it was my turn on the floor.

    I did a piece from William Shatner ("What Have You Done"), which I'd personalized for me. My first read was rough; it didn't feel rough, but the response told me it was off. But this is why I picked it: The wording is tough, and the subject matter is tough.

    I was playing prep for the second round too safe, and Dan opened my eyes. I had not wanted to mime much of the piece (so as not to devalue it), but he showed me my responsibility to create the space and get specific things visualized for the audience. And though I knew I had to take accountability for the events in the piece, Dan crystalized it for me. So simple.

    Why is it lately my biggest moments wind up with me hyperventilating or needing to through up (but not throwing up).

    Oh, and "In-the-chair" (and Meisner) cohort Lyn Burnor was so supportive. She said she started to panic when she saw me emotionally derail and need help, but I couldn't tell. Her voice was calm, clear, and got me centered again. She's another Biz Chica I'm blessed to know.

    Now, more toy job stuff, then up early to do the same before class.

    And, yes, 28 people is still too many to have in this workshop ....

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    First night of the Dan Fauci workshop

    I started a 3-day workshop tonight on "Creativity and Leadership", led my Dan Fauci, the guy who created The Mastery Weekend Intensive, and Van Brooks, my Mastery (and film) coach.

    I was told to have no expectations for the class, but I do, and that kind of screwed me tonight.

    Given where I am my Meisner training, tonight had few to no "Ah ha!" kind of moments.

    I feel like I should be starting with Day 2.

    Not that tonight was in any way a waste. There are 28 beautiful attendees, and they all have so much to offer and share and work through -- and I really dig getting to know people, and weekends like this force me (and them) to work through relationships at more than a superficial level.

    Not that that's easy. We're all supposed to do something that's outside of our comfort zone. I'm really comfortable being a leader and stepping in and driving forward.

    Which I didn't tonight. I put all of my attention on other people and other things and nearly climbed out of my skin 5 or 6 times as mob rule derailed what the evening was about, or people got on powertrips, or whatever. But those are probably "just my judgements talking".

    My Meisner coach, Steve Prince, has great advice for me taking any class: "Drink the Kool-Aid."

    So I'm drinking it. And smiling.

    And now I need to do homework from the workshop and go to bed, because I mentioned to Dan one of my hangups is I'm not a morning person, which led to a commitment from me to Dan to get up at 6 a.m. and go running. I'm sure I'll have uncharitable thoughts about him. And not so much smiling.

    Oh, but there are too many people in this class. 28. I was told no more than 20, and 28 is too unwieldy. Another judgement, with which I'm sticking, because that expectation was set for me.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Bittersweet ...

    Tonight was a "good tough" kind of Meisner night. Really intense, really emotional, really important.

    Afterwards, it was a brief spin through The Gingerman's draft offerings in the first social get together (most of) the class has had. Has it really taken this long for our Meisner group to do something social together? Was it really every week at The Gingerman while I worked at FailedTechStartup?

    My Meisner fellows so rock. Just talented and beautiful and engaging. I have never been in a class where I've felt everyone is so together on the acting front, so interesting on the personal front, the guys are so "bro", and the girls are so amazingly different and uniquely gorgeous. Take it for what it is.

    But then it was a long ride home alone in the rain, which tends to make introspective.

    Yes, tonight in class was tough, and it was good tough. But why do I feel last week and this that everything in the world won't be OK until I throw up, and I don't throw up so everthing in the world isn't OK?

    I don't know why I freaking keep trying to figure this stuff out. It's not dissectable, and I just need to move on after the tough -- good or bad.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Another story/project idea ...

    I've been writing a lot on my "super-secret episodic project", and I think I've got 13-18 episodes written, storyboarded a few, and am pretty excited about that project.

    And it's comedy.

    But I've been rattling something around my head for the last 3 weeks that I've kind of pushed down, and tonight it wanted out.
    tS
    Because all I give you is the camel-cased codename.

    I've been struck by a trend in dramatic television -- the locked-down locale.

    Lost. Prison Break. The Nine.

    Constrained locales.

    So I blurted out 3 heavy pages of notes, setups and dialog snippets for a different kind of restrained. Some tough stuff. Some uplifting and meaningful stuff. Maybe it'll be an episodic drama. Maybe it'll be a constrained flick like Mad City. Dunno.

    This brings my current slate of in-process projects to 12.

    I just went through and reviewed a bunch of my projects. There's some big stuff going on here.

    I've got to get off my ass and make this happen.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Hard Meisner night

    My Meisner class is always tough. Good tough or bad tough, but always tough.

    Tonight was good tough.

    There is an amazing actress, and she and I were at each other. It was real. It was raw.

    And it's really messed me up.

    I feel like James Gandolfini, and how he said "that stuff really messes with you," and talked about how that generally throws him off for days. I was encouraged by that at the time. I think I am now, too.

    I really don't like yelling at women. And it's not a pansy-ass kind of thing. There's just ... something that really knocks me back and takes me off my feet. I don't know if it's because I know physically guys are generally stronger than women, or I don't trust myself to not lose control, or what it is.

    Huh, I just re-read that Gandolfini thing I wrote, and realize I commented on Meisner stuff in it, months before I knew I was going to do Meisner with Steve.

    "The Torture Room"

    I did a cool little piece tonight for a film called The Torture Room, by now-local film auteur Robert Hebert.

    It's an Outer Limits-esque short, which had a lot of voice work from me, and was a low-pressure, fun project of which to be a part.

    In acting, I want to do the projects I want to do, with the people with whom I want to work. It was cool to meet someone new who fits the bill.

    And getting the gig was one of those "semi-Hollywood-esque" kind of things. But the version I like.

    I met talented actress and singer Julia LaShae (also in the film) while taking Will Wallace's acting workshop (twice). She had my demo CD laying out, and Rob saw it, and asked about me.

    Julia said some very kind things about my being one of like 3 people that stayed to support remaining actors when Will's workshop went late and he gave folks the option to bail. (Hey, I'm sure folks had good reasons to leave; and I might next time.)

    Rob said he thought I might be the kind of the guy with whom he'd like to work.

    The "kind of guy" he'd like to work with. On top of my voice demo and resume.

    How cool is that?

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    I'm tired of sucking ...

    Meisner was tough tonight.

    It's always tough -- good tough, or bad tough. Tonight was bad tough.

    Why the hell can't I get reconnected to my heart?

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Acting made me a better manager today

    Today, I was doing training at BigHugeCorp for our new performance review system, and my acting came in really, really handy.

    No, I'm not being sarcastic (even though I think our new rating system is a crock and the corporate sell job is embarrassing).

    Today, at work, I was handed a script. A real, honest-to-goodness script.

    It was a role playing scenario, the instructor asked if there were any real actors in the group, and I nearly dislocated my shoulder answering before the question sank in.

    I and another manager (who happens to be a sometime actor) got a moment to read our couple of pages, then go.

    Today, I did a cold read at BigHugeCorp. Didn't see that coming, and it was a nice surprise.

    But it got better, because I had an epiphany today -- my acting makes me a better manager.

    Specifically, I realized I could apply the rules of improv ("Yes, And ...") and Meisner ("Observation of behavior", rather than "Opinion of observation") to have better, more open conversations with the folks who work for me, and those with whom I otherwise work in different ways.

    This shouldn't have surprised me (really, an epiphany isn't new information; it's just an "aha" moment where things I already know click in a new and meaningful way).

    But the reason I do stuff (The Mastery, Meisner, running) is to be a better person -- and that should improve all the stuff I do. Including being an actor and being a manager. It just became obvious in a real-world way for me today.

    Not that it was all rosy. I also got to see what it looks like when managers buy into basically the same performance rating process change Enron did. Nice.

    But even with that, the glass for today is still looking pretty half full to me today ...

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    Breakfast for a working actor

    Today, it's coffee and Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries.

    Earlier last week at the grocery store, I had a weird sentimental urge to pick up a box of this stuff.

    Y'know, last time I ate this, the berries were only red. Now they're red, blue, purple, and green. Not that they taste any different.

    I wonder if Samuel L. Jackson ever eats Crunch Berries?
    "I am tired, of these motherf***ing green berries, on my
    motherf***ing spoon!"

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    It's almost like not working ...

    Things like this every once in a while are really nice.

    Tonight I shot an industrial for Centex Destination Properties out at Horseshoe Bay, a resort built against constant-level Lake LBJ.

    This place was gorgeous (probably still is, but I'm not there now). I got paid to tool around a golf cart on the Slick Rock Course, trying not to dump my super-sexy co-star Angela Rawna and our cart off of a water fall.

    Got paid ... to not ... jump a cart off a waterfall ... at a resort.

    Kinda surreal. Good surreal, not bad surreal (bad surreal is that dream where I'm "accidently" getting kissed by a sexy nurse who turns into a guy cousin of mine I haven't seen for 15 years).

    Sure, I had to schlepp an hour and a half each way, and there's probably political capital burned at work for my leaving early at the end of BigHugeCorp's fiscal year, but like I'm going to complain?

    Anyhoo, good gig, and the production crew (including amazing makeup maven Pamela) was tight -- super professional and talented and an incredible blast. I'm seriously bummed they're located in North Carolina, because I will travel to work with people like that.

    And the amazing Katherine Willis was there, too, but her gig was after ours. On a 24-foot boat. I'd say she's a jerk but she earned it; I am seriously impressed with that chica.

    Feeling good tonight. Kinda takes the bad taste of last night's Meisner class out of my mouth ...

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    When "Idealism" means something else ...

    "Adam, you're very idealistic."
    Lately, I'm much more aware of people and what they mean -- as opposed to what they say.

    My epiphany today is people usually aren't being positive when they say this. It's kind of like saying "thank you", but not meaning "thank you" (watch the edited-for-television version of Goodfellas, if you need help with that concept).

    At best, they mean,
    "Adam, you're being naive."
    Or the slightly more derogatory,
    "Adam, I think that's very Pollyanna."
    The wake up I had, though, is it's usually a bigger deal than this. When someone uses this phrase with me (particularly at BigHugeCorp), it's when I'm taking an ethical stand.

    For example, OneWhoHasPower at BigHugeCorp once sat me down to say, "Your doing the right thing is much admired. However, 'Doing the right' thing can be a little subjective." (Note: It wasn't at this little sit-down.)

    So, assuming I am in the right, they're not praising me for my idealism -- they're marginalizing my stance to justify their lack of one (or to justify their stance on the "wrong" side).

    Put bluntly, if I'm doing right, and they don't want to invest the effort or burn the political capital, they minimize my stance as being "idealistic" -- and implicitly unrealistic, and therefore not valid.

    Well, thank you ...

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Voice over today

    A director with whom I've done a few gigs called me today and asked if I could come down and do some voice over for him today.

    He's talented, a good guy, and knows his stuff. So I said yes.

    The piece is an on-spec political advertisement for a state representative race. All positive, no mud, and short and to the point.

    I haven't done any political ads previously, but this was basically a "it's OK, this guy'll take care of you" kind of industrial vibe (which I have done), and pretty easy going.

    Outside of that, I can't articulate how jazzed I am a director with whom I've worked called me for a gig, I was able to jet down and do the work, and then get back to the toy job with no hiccup or interruption o' those important things. Almost surreal, as I think about it.

    And the turnaround was so fast, the dialog hadn't been written, so the director was feeding me lines over the headset, I'd tweak, we'd agree, then roll. We got into a pretty good groove.

    That's a good way to spend 1.5 hours (end-to-end)...

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    I know you're looking at my site ...

    I've noticed some traffic this week that appears to be from some of the companies/domains I target, which is exciting and frustrating at the same time.

    I work really hard to build opportunities for my acting, so when I see folks on my Website apparently from some of the companies I have hit recently (like at the Austin Game Conference) or over the course of the last 3-4 years, I'm bummed that they're not calling my agent, offering me vast sums of money to emote brilliantly on camera or on mic.

    Anyway, as part of my weekly Web traffic review today, I noticed I apparently had visitors from Disney, Harvard, Best Buy, Microsoft, and Turner, (among others).

    So, if you're visiting my site, do let me know (and hire me and pay me vast sums of money to be brilliant, if you're so inclined).

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day

    Evidently, today is "International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day".

    One of my fellow managers sent this Email out to our entire, 300-person staff in the local Austin office:
    Avast ye, mateys!

    Yes, it's September 19th and, just in case it may have slipped your mind, it's International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day!

    So, stop by Adam Creighton's office to hear just what kind of pirate a suburban software development manager can be when he really tries. You'll be glad you did!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Talk_Like_a_Pirate_Day

    Yarrrr!
    Which has led to a flurry of phone calls and walk-ins as people ask me to "talk pirate to them".

    Well done, my friend. Well done ...

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    The day I took the low road ...

    I know someday will by my last day at BigHugeCorp.

    Maybe I'll get to choose it; maybe I won't. Maybe I'll work there until I die. Maybe I'll die prematurely.

    Usually, I have delusions of grandeur about may last day, where I'll do something big and important and elevated that means something and changes that soulless entity to a bastion of employee kindness.

    And, sometimes, like this week, I have a really, really bad series of days where I lose faith that there are thinking individuals worthy of trust in the world, and I think, "Maybe I'll just wear one of these shirts on what will become my last day of work" (Not safe for work; or those easily offended):
    Maybe the hoodie. And the thong (so I feel pretty). And I'd drink coffee from the mug. And if I still had Loki, I'd bring her to the office and have her wear the doggie tee (even though I'm opposed to dogs being dressed up). That's a picture.

    Damn, I miss that dog ...