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.
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 ...