I went to an agency party last night ("Kick the Holiday Blues") for folks represented by Collier Talent Agency, their family, and friends in the Biz.
The thing was a great networking opportunity. I'm great at networking, but I work hard not to network. Don't get me wrong -- networking is extremely important, and you’ve gotta do it to make it in the Biz. What I try not to do at things like this is be a user of people or be disingenuous (“I’ll call you” (when I don’t intend to call); or “I’m writing a part for you in my screenplay”; or whatever).
What I do like is connecting with people – getting back together with people I know and like, seeing what’s big in their world, hearing about their successes and being able to encourage them in their challenges. I enjoy meeting new people, and learning about them and what makes them tick.
I wasn’t really looking forward to last night, and was understandably distracted, but I ended up having a great time.
At risk of leaving some people out (and misspelling names of folks for whom I don’t have business cards), here’s a quick spin through who I met and with whom I reconnected.
I drove down to new bar and scene of the event The Peacock with acting buddy Aaron Hallaway (check him out in the play Irene is a Cactus starting January 18). And after letting our agent Heather Collier know we’d arrived, I first hooked up with a friend I’d invited, Melissa Holmes (probably one of the most talented people you don’t know) before she had to duck out for the rest of her super packed night on the town. I then bumped into Deana Ricks, who I’d met at a marketing and branding session I taught, and though somewhat new to the Biz, is doing a great job on the business and networking side of things.
I then I said hi to Mona Lee, the acting coach with whom I did some of my first film training. (If you’re an actor in Texas and don’t own The Biz Directory, stop reading, go here, and order it. Then in your thank you note to Mona, you can ask her forgiveness for not having bought it earlier.) Mona also introduced me to Lee Peterson, who I understand is a talent manager/coach.
I hugged Richard Ricks, long-time acting pal (since The Mastery days), who I really like, and not just because he bought my beers last night.
Aaron then introduced me to Chris Kreager and his wife Julie, friends he’s been wanting me to meet for some time. Chris is involved in the production side of the biz and Julie’s over at Dell. They seemed like a neat couple, and it was fun to talk to them about marriage and relationship stuff.
I then chatted for a while with Leigh Green, who I hadn’t seen much since she moved on from CastingWorks LA to pursue production stuff.
Then my current film coach (and The Mastery mentor), Van Brooks showed up, and I made sure to get caught up on him. I also spent a bunch of time with the wonderful Emma Little, a mainstay in the Austin music scene. We had a great, long chat about everything from ZZ Top and Jimmy Vaughan to the Austin Independent School District and the Foster Home system. Emma’s a neat, gracious woman, and I really enjoyed the chat.
I got to talk with former classmate Tom Procida (check him out in the local Shades of Life soap opera starting tonight – probably Cable Access 10).
I also got to chat with Doran Ingrham, who’s look I just love, and has done a ton (with a few other folks) to meet the film networking/social need in this town with the now bi-weekly Film Social Mixer. Plus, the guy’s just a pleasant conversation, and I’d love the chance to see some of his work, and work with him. I think I could learn a ton.
I saw Devin Moss (also in Irene is a Cactus starting January 18), who wrote and directed the second film I was in, SAK-600.
I hung out for a few with one-time classmates Rommel Sulit and Elizabeth Mason. Rommel is joy to watch work (and the dude works hard, and recently came back from Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago), and Elizabeth brings new meaning to the word “commitment” in her performances.
I got to hug on Erin Fallon (who is so sweet and gorgeous) and Charissa Allen (who was in the first film I ever did), classmates Chris Osborn, Anika Kunik (look for her next film hopefully at SxSW and other festivals), and audition partner Katherine Willis (“chiffon wrapped around a crowbar”).
I also finally got meet fellow Collier talents Andrew Ruth and Jett Garner.
And I met Michelle Taylor and Bryan Rice, a couple of folks (along with Doran) who are working to expand the Film Social Mixer into something even more cool and useful.
I even touched base with Gary Chason, who I’d really like to do a bunch more with.
And casting director Beth Sepko said she liked my Christmas gift.
So, overall, the evening was really enjoyable, with a few setbacks. There are definitely a superficial folks in this world, but I did a good job of avoiding the wonderfully few of them in attendance last night. Also, I try to keep my Biz and private life very separate, but there were some details of the latter that came out with a few folks last night, and were evidently startling enough to work through several conversational circles like a little wildfire. Ah, well, it is what it is.
Overall, a good night.