Monday, April 30, 2007

Networking tools for Biz folks ...

OK, so here's the post I was going to do when I stepped back and wrote this philosophical post instead.

If you haven't, read that post, first.

There are a couple of tools that serve me well on the contact / relationship / opportunity front, and I leverage those tools for my Biz work, too:

The first is a contact synchronization service, and the second is a resume / profile / contact management service. Both have free versions that are pretty robust and useful.

By way of caveats (besides telling you to read the original post first):

  1. I'm not associated with either of these companies.
  2. These are only a couple of the tools I use. I cover my bases pretty liberally with intelligent, safe, proven software, services, and social networking sites.


Plaxo, again, is a contact synchronization tool that makes it wicked easy to have the latest version of your contact's information, and make sure they have the latest of yours.

Ever change your Email address? Switch from using your home address to a P.O. Box for your Biz work? Want to stay "on the radar"? If you use Plaxo, and your contacts use Plaxo, you'll both have each other's most current info. And you'll be notified of any changes.

If you're a Plaxo user, you enter your contact information -- professional and personal -- and decide what you want to share with whom. For example, I share just my business information, and I choose to share it with all Plaxo users (whether I know them or not); my personal (home) contact info only goes to family and close friends.

Then, any time I change anything (like when I switched my business address to a P.O. Box for anonymity), I updated that info, and my Plaxo contacts got it right away.

The beauty of Plaxo is if you (and your contacts) are using it -- and have it integrated with your mail clients. As you add Biz contacts to your Email's address (contact) book, you'll be notified if they're a Plaxo user.

As far as "staying on folks' radar" , if you update your Plaxo contact info (like your "personal message"), and your contacts have elected to receive notifications, they'll get updates about you, too.

It's not perfect, and you have to remember to update your Plaxo info. But it's a good, pretty simple tool.

Oh, and don't be that person who updates they're personal message every day / week / month. I remove those people.


LinkedIn is a professional relationship management site. Sounds wonky, but think of it as a social networking site for professionals, with the tagline, "This isn't networking—it’s what networking should be."

Think an entire site based (loosely) on the Kevin Bacon / six-degrees of separation idea. You use the service to stay in contact with people you know, create and participate in opportunities with each other, and extend your networks to create more opportunities for each other.

With LinkedIn, you can build a profile for yourself, a resume, and a "personal network" of folks you know. You can see folks in their network, and request invitations to them. You can endorse folks. You can get endorsements. You can recommend people for jobs. You can job hunt.

And when you update your profile or other LinkedIn information, if folks in your network have elected to receive notifications, they'll get 'em (think ("co-star, 'Friday Night Lights'").

People use LinkedIn in different ways. Many people use it just to create opportunities for themselves. Others are trying to get as many people in their network as possible, gotta-catch-'em-all Pokemon style.

Not me.

I use LinkedIn to create mutual opportunities. I made all but a handful of contacts in my network personally.

And I try to diligently write applicable, meaningful recommendations for people, and never request or expect an endorsement in response. (As an aside, two folks who previously worked for me were hired -- at least in part -- due to my LinkedIn endorsements, as the hiring companies used my LinkedIn recommendations in lieu of reference checks.)

LinkedIn's not perfect. It only let's you have one profile, though I'd much rather have separate "Corporate Professional" and "Actor" profiles -- right now, my profile is a mix of the two.

If you know me and want to connect, check out my LinkedIn profile. If you don't know me but would like to connect, you can do so via LinkedIn, or you can drop me a note, and we can go from there. Remember, I like to know people as part of networking.

Oh, and check out Guy Kawasaki's blog for details on specific ways to leverage LinkedIn:

  1. Increase your visibility.
  2. Improve your connectability.
  3. Improve your Google PageRank.
  4. Enhance your search engine results.
  5. Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.
  6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.
  7. Make your interview go smoother.
  8. Gauge the health of a company.
  9. Gauge the health of an industry.
  10. Track startups.
  11. Ask for advice.
  12. Integrate into a new job.
  13. Scope out the competition, customers, partners, etc.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

It is a good moment ...

I was just struck by what a good moment right now is.

I'm sitting here at my desk. To my left is my MXL-990 microphone, because I just finished and sent off a voice audition for a 1940s style voice over sci-fi piece.

To my right is a stack of comic books from which I'm pulling monologues. To the right of that is a light box and kit, set up to finish some stop-motion animation work through which I'm about two thirds complete.

I'm surrounded by amazing toy sculptures, and inspired by my recent brown-costumed Wolverine winning (and since I've finished the VO audition), I'm being "bad" and having a brewskie (funny, in college, the origin of Bane from Batman inspired me to get into a practice of doing a thousand sit-ups and a thousand push-ups; Wolverine makes me drink; this says something about the positive influence of villains versus heroes).

On the couch is a 10 page script I'm memorizing. Next to that is binder of dozens of pages of character descriptions, ideas, and scripts for 28 episodes of "Project X", the trailer for which I'm editing right now on the computer in front of me.

I've been chatting off an on all night with guys about video game stuff.

I'm about to send a resume and cover letter off to a video game company.

I'm looking at a note from Neil Gaiman sitting in my in-mail.

The dog that's still with me is asleep in the hallway, breathing deeply.

The house is totally quiet.

It's not huge. It's not earth shattering. And it's probably more than a bit selfish.

But right now feels like a really, really good moment ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tonight's class was going to be a hefty night, and we all knew that going in.

We all survived it.

And I get my notes.

Notes are, for me, way more than about just that moment -- they're for all of my acting. Heck, they're for all of my life.

So, broadly, here's how I interpret my two notes from tonight:
"Where am I playing it safe? How can I make it harder?"
Two questions I will now ask myself for every creative project. God willing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Into the Abyss": My monologue ...

Sunday, the third day of last weekend's "Into the Abyss" acting / emotional deconstruction (I say, only half kidding) weekend, was the day we did monologues.

I had goals for doing my monologue. I had a lot of goals. I had intellectual and business and process things I wanted to do with the monologue, and then once I started, I wanted to forget all of it.

I feel fantastic about how it went, and here's a walk through of my process on this particular item.

I've decided I don't care about being careful or doing a good job or getting it right in class anymore. Class is where I can try things I've never tried before, and see if they work, or if they don't. Nothing that happens in class can take away from who I am, so I want to be daring and stretch myself and not give a damn if I fall on my face. I want to stretch, and I want to see what to hold onto and of what to let go.

  1. Make choices
  2. Rehearse monologue
  3. Stand up when ready
  4. Pick my focus
  5. Introduce myself
  6. Give my monologue
  7. Get feedback
  8. Give my monologue again
  9. Get feedback again

1. Make choices:

I'd done my homework, had it memorized, and knew my choices. I was going to do a relatively new monologue in a scary way. It's a dark piece ("Harold", from Glenn Altermann's 2 Minutes and Under: Character Monologues for Actors Volume 2). I was going to have two separate goals, and two ways of getting them at two different points during the monologues. At first, I wanted to sleep with the girl, and I was penitent and forgiving until I snapped on a phrase. Then I was going to attack her.

2. Rehearse monologue:

Dan Fauci broke us into groups of 3 and we practice our monologues together. I was resistant to this, because I haven't had great "actor-teaching-actor" experiences.

But because of the way Dan had structured the weekend (and without wanting to sound too hokey for folks who haven't experienced either "Leadership & Creativity" or "Into the Abyss"), we were in a whole new place of being able to see stuff in each other, give germane feedback, and be open to take it.

Because of how I do my process, I was the odd man out. I don't rehearse monologues or scenes now in the traditional sense. I bullet through text flat, with no inflection, or I do it slowly (still with no inflection). This is something I learned in voice over, and my current Meisner training has really enforced it.

I also paraphrased my monologue, and had a conversation with my fellow actors. I tried a "whisper exercise" from my Meisner coach.

But I never rehearsed the monologue the way I intended to do it. I didn't want to get a way of doing it stuck in my head.

And my "practice mates" (Corina Calderon and Stacey Glazer) were so supportive of and patient with my practicing my way. I'm grateful.

3. Stand up when ready:

I'm a "go first" kind of guy. So, throughout this weekend, I chose not to go first. I wanted to shove my preparation out of my head and just enjoy the amazing things being done by folks at the front of the room.

So I was nearly last. But when we got to the last handful of actors and no one was standing right away I launched myself over the first row and to the front of the room. I was so ready.

4. Pick my focus:

If I'm allowed, I like to give my monologue to a person, not the one-legged cyclops vying for my attention. I mean, she's hot and all, but ...

So I picked a fellow actor I met this weekend, Irish Petree, and asked, "My I talk with you?"

The language of the request --for me -- is really important. I was asking a favor, and acknowledging the favor she was hopefully going to do for me. And I was initiating a conversation I wanted to have with her. Which is different than trying to orate myself into greatness.

And Irish was a great listener. I've talked to vapid readers before. Not her. Again. Me. Grateful.

5. Introduce myself:

Van Brooks was running the camera. When he asked if I was ready, I said, "Yes", then looked at the feet of the tripod. From my top peripheral vision, I could see him give the "go" sign, and I looked up and, with smile and power, said,
"I am Adam Creighton. This is 'Harold', by Glenn Altermann."
No "Hi, my name is ...". No "I'm doing a piece from ...". Just an acknowledgement of who I am and what this is.

And the looking up keeps the look and smile new and fresh for the slate. I have no idea how any of this looks on camera. Seems to work for me as a person, though.

6. Give my monologue:

I'm a head up, shoulders back, chest out kind of guy. So I started the monologue head down, let all of the air out of my body, slumped my shoulders, and became that guy who desperately wants the girl, and is unsure if he even knows how.

And in my head I heard her words that pull me out of my self loathing and lead me into my first line:
"So, are you bitter?"
And confused, scared, sick, I started:

"Bitter? No. Resentful? Why should I be? I'm free ..."
I don't remember much after that. I remember the rage welling up as I hit the phrase I'd loaded it with ("No doubt about it, I'm definitely different."), and my intention change as I wanted to lunge across the tape line and grab this girl. And me not crossing that tape line. And not even knowing it was a tape line in the moment.

7. Get feedback:

And then applause. Long, generous, surprised, supportive applause from my coaches and fellow actors. And I stood there and took it, and was OK with it. It's hard for me to take acknowledgement, so that's a big deal.

And I knew Dan was going to give me feedback. But rather than turn directly to him after my monologue, I acknowledged my fellow actor's acknowledgement. How rude would it be for me to disregard their kindness?

And Dan gave feedback. And it was spot on. It was encouraging, and I took the notes. There are no negative notes. There are things that are working and things that aren't and how to fix them.

And he asked me to do it again. He asked me to use the rage and purpose from the end of my first run as the start of the second.

8. Give my monologue again:

So I started again, and I took notes from Dan and made corrections while doing the monologue. I never broke the monologue, I never acknowledged the notes outside of the monologue. But I acknowledged them through it.

9. Get feedback again:

Again, generous, generous feedback from my fellow actors and friends. And humbling acknowledgement from my film coach Van.

And additional feedback from Dan. It wasn't about being louder or angrier. It was about me not holding myself back.

Anything I did well is also about something else. A phrase my Meisner coach keeps using:
"You see how great they were? That's because of everyone that went before them."
True, dat ...

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Into the Abyss" thoughts ...

I want to talk about the "Into the Abyss" workshop, and about what I tried for my monologue, but I keep getting interrupted by other things.

Like remembering two monologues in particular.

And this is not to detract from the other 30 people in the class, and I'm sure this will change depending on my mood, time of day, and further introspection, but I'm currently hit by two people.

Jessica Robertson and Melissa Rentrop. They are just two stunning, authentic, professional, organic people, and that's what comes out in conversations and performances. I'm blessed to have experienced their monologues.

An Ode to the 80s ...

I am a child of the 80s. Sometimes that comes out it in … unique ways.

Below is an Email conversation a comic book buddy and I had, after I overheard two girls playing with My Little Pony’s in an … unexpected way:

ME: Since everything old is new again -- and 80s stuff is pretty hot right now – I thought I’d share this.

I overhead two girls playing with a wealth of My Little Ponies, and the residents of "Unicornia" were evidently (in the girls' created world) at odds with the residents of "Ponyville." More specifically, the unicorn MLP's were in the midst of a raid on Ponyville.

A raid that was (apparently) not going well. That is, until the unicorns had had enough, and one of the girls belted out:
"Unicorns! Transform!"
And I now have an idea for an MMO ...

HIM: Awesome!

As for the MMO, I claim leadership of the Shetland Janissaries.

ME: Yeah, well watch out for my cross-bred, multi-colored Smurf / MLP centaur folk.

They will seriously rip you a new smurf.

I was at Toys "R" Us the other day, looking at stuff for me, and saw something a little odd:

"My Little Pony Wysteria as the Crystal Bride."

Bride of whom, may I ask?

Seriously, I think all of the MLPs are mares, right? So who's she mare-y-ing? Or is this a My Little Progressive Pony kind of thing?

Which got me to thinking about another gender lopsided franchise.

The Smurfs.

Which is all dudes (I try not to think about Smurfette; that whole thing creeps me out).

So, should the Ponies and three-apple-high blue men hook up?

How would Papa Smurf serenade Madame Wysteria?

"I'm down with MLP (yeah, you know me)."

What kind of freaky, multi-colored centaurish things would that make? And would Hasbro license them? (Probably.)

I'm spending way too much time thinking about this...

And Jem sings their rock anthem ...

HIM: Jem I can handle. It's those blasted Holograms that I fear.

Did I fail to mention that The Shetland Janissaries are led into battle by none other than Teddy Ruxpin? My Buddy wasn't available and those accursed Monchichis have turned pacifist.
=( They shall rue the day...

Remind me again why we don't have our own development company?

ME: Excellent question. We would so own the world. Or destroy it.

Speaking of which, I'm off to have Smurftaurs trample the Cabbage Patches, and I've got a Garbage Pail Kids mutiny to quell -- they're threatening to ditch their pooper scoopers, and I need someone to clean up after those narcoleptic Pound Puppies since I fired Strawberry Shortcake and her tart friends for taking on-the-job joyrides in KIIT -- Hasslehoff knows no boundaries...

Why don’t we have our own development company, indeed ...

"Into the Abyss": Day 3

There's a lot to be said about today, and this weekend, but way too much to say easily briefly (or in a way that would do justice).

For now, I'm just enjoying being connected to such amazing, giving, talented human beings.

The other commentary can wait, and it's far secondary, anyway.

Oh, except for this. This is from my "Twitter badge o' the moment", but since the moment changes, I want to give this important thought some more time in the sun:

Twitter Badge from April 22, 2007: Jessica Roberson is one of the bravest actors I know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Into the Abyss": Day 2

Today was Day #2 for the "Into the Abyss" workshop.

The day started with a brief, amazingly encouraging and generous conversation with Dan Fauci.

Today was about listening and seeing. And I got to apply leadership skills and new and important ways.

There are still way too many people in a single workshop for me, but one of the small group breakouts was rewarding and surprising and inspiring.

Tomorrow, we do "the work" ...

Friday, April 20, 2007

"Into the Abyss": Day 1

Just finished day one of the "Into the Abyss" weekend workshop. This is kind of the third in a series of workshops I've done over 4 years (first, "The Mastery"; then, "Leadership and Creativity"; now this).

Yeah, something called "Into the Abyss" isn't going to be dabbling. I feel pretty prepped because I'm knocking my teeth every week with Meisner training, but I am bound and determined to get observations and tools out of this weekend.

And I'm class with people I know and care about, and a bunch of folks who are new to me. Nice.

Video game blog heartburn ...

For those who follow my video game blog, I haven't been able to post, and don't know when I will be able to again. (Google) forced an upgrade to their new version last night, and though I can't log into my old account, that's where my video game blog is. Not here. Where I'm typing.

I've opened a trouble ticket, but given how alive the Blogger/Google help boards are, it looks I am one of many, many screwed over people.

I'll give it until shortly after this weekend, and if it's not resolved, I'll look at moving to TypePad / Moveable Type / Habari / whatever isn't Blogger.

Comments to "Networking for actors ..."

I received a number of comments on my "Networking for actors ..." post.

Evidently, I struck a chord with folks, and I've received a bunch of positive (and not negative) Emails. That never happens.

Like this nugget from Peter K. O'Connell, President of audio'connell Voice Over Talent, and a top-notch professional voice actor (Peter gave me permission to reprint his note in its entirety):

Usually, those folks who assume someone "giving" to another business person has an "angle" express such behavior because that indeed is how they think. THEY approach a networking opportunity with their angle and assume that's how everyone does it; that of course, is not true.

These "anglers" are also lousy listeners; networking is about receiving and transmitting in equal parts for both parties. Anglers don't get that. Networking is also about forming lasting relationships (the business kind, not lovey-dovey, mushy-mushy).

Years ago I belonged to a networking/lead generation group called BNI whose premise was "givers gain". While it seemed to fall on deaf ears to many in the group making the chapter I was in not as successful as it might have been (hence the term “premise”), the concept was spot on. Those giving leads, those supporting others in the network would receive leads because people want to do business with and refer business to people they like and trust. To a point, a giver is both likeable and trustworthy.

Finally, supporting again what you've said, asking about the other person a lot in a networking conversation and talking about your business not as much will have a more positive impact on the budding relationship. This is because of your demonstrated selflessness AND the fact that when you DO speak, chances are the other person is more interested in what you have to say and also in actually helping you. By listening, you've formed an early trust, appeared likeable and become someone they want to do business with or refer business to.

The best news is even if an “angler” reads this, it won’t ring true to them. Its not how they’re wired. More leads and better business relationships, then, for the rest of us.

Nice post.

Best always,

As an aside, the reason I don't allow automatic comments on my blogs is because it can be such a can of worms (same reason I don't currently do MySpace). I'm rethinking that, based on recent feedback and dialog I've been getting from folks I like a respect.

Maybe I'll turn comments on and approve or moderate them? We'll see.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tonight (last night?) was a wicked good class, continuing to apply the stuff we've been working on for months to scenes. Finally to scenes.

I don't know if it's because Steve's such a good coach (he is), or I'm so desperate to learn and grow (I am), or the fact he's fully committed to teaching and I'm fully committed to absorbing, but this stuff's been clicking for me over the last few weeks.

Tonight was about a bunch of things. About me learning to separate what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Separating people and situations. Giving weight and focus to people and objects in the room.

And there's a goal we're starting to see, that I don't think would have had weight or input or import 9 months ago -- We're not just doing what we're told, we're making sense of what we're told, and we're doing something with it.

That's all from Steve, as is the encouragement that because we're doing something with what we're given, we're eminently direct able.

That's not hubris, and I'm still learning. Nine months of immersion and I'm having moments that work. And they get longer with fewer actor interruptions.

And the technique stuff he's showing us for scenes, besides being ridiculously useful (and nicely for me, on the work side are an extension of my personal process), are fun. The techniques alternate really hard work with play, and they feed off each other and create great preparation before and great moments during.

Feeling good about this class. Despite next week's impending suckage ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More ways to share blog posts

I've updated the "Sharing" footer that shows up at the base of each blog post.

I iconified (iconized?) the Digg / / Reddit links, left TinyUrl alone, and added a one-click way for you to add me to Twitter.

This last one is "in theory", as Twitter is a victim of its own success, and is struggling mightily to keep up with ever exploding demand and usage. So, if you get an error page, just refresh, and see if that fixes it.

I am a tech geek actor dude ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Networking for actors ...

I was going to post another "Acting Tools" type post about tech networking tools I use on the toy job front and how they can be used for acting, when I realized I should probably back up and talk about networking in general, first.

So, this is also a soapbox post. You've been warned.

Networking is a pretty harped-on skill set for any vertical market; acting is no exception. Networking helps me figure out what opportunities are out there. Networking creates opportunities for other people.

I used to be really good at networking. I mean, really good. A few years ago, on both the high tech and acting fronts, you would have been hard pressed to not find me everywhere. Sometimes, I was at different places at the same time. Seriously, I was that good.

But then I stopped doing it.


Because I honestly didn't like how good I was at networking. I got into situations and saw people doing the networking thing, and they weren't sincere. They were looking at opportunities for themselves, and didn't give a damn about the people they were meeting. They were superficial. They were exploiters. They were users.

I so didn't want to be them.

So I did sort of an over-correction. Scaled back. Took some time for me. Worked on the relationships I'd built, and the relationships I wanted to build. Met people through people I knew, and met some wicked cool folks. It nicely coincided with some life stuff and me being just generally tired.

It's not like I was working any less as an actor. On the contrary, I was working harder as I was still busting my tail (yes, I have a tail) on the marketing, training, craft, performance, and business side of the Biz.

And then, some time after my "over correction", I came to a realization that I wasn't "that guy", and I got back to focusing on networking that makes sense for me. Contrary to how that sounds, that's not selfish networking. I call it "mutually beneficial relationship building" (which should be redundant, but unfortunately isn't") -- networking that fits in with my personality and style and values.

Here's how it works for me.

I meet someone, and we talk. I find out what they do, what they'd like to do, and what makes their day worthwhile. And I talk about what I do, what I'd like to do, and what makes my day worthwhile. And we figure out if we've got stuff we want to do together that makes our days worthwhile together.

That's right, kids, we have a conversation.

And then, independent of whether we can do something together, I try to keep that person in mind when opportunities come up for them, even if there's no benefit to me.

And here's where it gets a little ... weird.

Just like I'm good at networking, I'm also good at recognizing opportunities. I was at a networking gig a couple of weeks ago, and as a room full of people talked about what they wanted professionally, little light bulbs were going off left and right (up and down?) in my brain, and I saw opportunities for them with relationships I'd built, and I got that information to those people, made introductions with other people, and so on.

Oddly, lately, people have been complaining about this.

Why? Because they're sure I have an "angle".

It got back to me recently that a group of folks had made me the topic of conversation as they were trying to figure out how I benefited from the things I'd tried to facilitate for them individually.

How sad.

I mean, I guess it is a little weird.

I had a company approach me recently for a job. I then met someone who was looking for the same kind of job for which I'd been sought out, and I pointed him to the company, told him to research them, and if he was interested, I'd get him in touch with my contact. In essence, I was bringing a competitor in for a job I had a shot at.

But you need to understand where my heads at. I genuinely like helping people. I like solving problems, and seeing opportunities and synergies and acting on those is solving a problem, with better bennies (helping people). And I don't care about competition, because my competition (professionally or acting or running or whatever) is me. No one else.

And I feel convicted that knowingly keeping someone from a gig of any kind is tantamount to fixing a game or throwing a fight -- it's not a legitimate win.

Now I'm rambling.

The net-net is I think networking -- really effective networking -- shouldn't be exploitative "what can you do for me" usury. It should be relationship building. It should be mutually beneficial. And when it's not mutually beneficial, it should be beneficial for the other person.

If everyone had that mentality, what kind of cool world would this be?

Hmph. Time for me to go hug a seal.

I warned you this would be a soapbox.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do the tools post ...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Good class tonight ...

I'm at the stage in my Meisner training where we're starting to apply the tools and techniques we've been honing over several months to scene work.

And it really opens things up for me.

There's the work, and there's the fun. And if I do the work, the fun is more so, because I'm not worrying about the work I didn't do.

Those who know me know it's not like I'm lazy as an actor. But acting takes a ton of hard work. Constantly.

And I figured some stuff out for me tonight as far as identifying exercises that are exercises, and being done with those, and exercises that are useful tools for my craft, that I need to hold onto, hone, and use to explode my craft and myself.

And I had an epiphany about me tonight -- my need to be right, and my need to get it right.

Both are seriously overrated.

Getting it done is where it's at. And in the past where I did pages and pages of work for every page of script, I'm going to winnow that down, use what helps, and toss the cumbersome stuff.

And that's for more than just me as an actor; that's about me.

Good night ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

HB 1634 passed ...

Update from this morning:

HB 1634, part of the Texas incentives legislation, passed unanimously today.

Good news, and now there's work to be done on the companion senate bill (SB 782), and some additional work for interactive entertainment. But I think I'll write about the latter on my video game blog.

Status of Texas incentives legislation

I'm trying to find out the status of HB 1634, the current incarnation of the Texas incentives legislation.

The bill was supposed to be rescheduled for yesterday (4/10), but the current bill status reads, "Placed on General State Calendar".

More info as I get it, but you can also check the Website for the Texas Motion Picture Alliance for updates.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Thoughts on my acting process ...

I've been thinking about class last week, and figuring some stuff out about my process.

When it was my time up, I got stopped twice, so I had to start getting emotionally ramped three separate times (initially, and two restarts).

I'd prepared a new emotional catalyst for class, and starting out the gate, I had to get ramped up differently than I'd intended for that night. Midway through prep, I was feeling seriously dry with the particular scenario I'd worked up, so I switched to a preparation I know works for me (but which I hate using).

Due to switching, I wasn't fully ramped up within my "ready window", but I didn't want to make my scene partner wait, so I started the scene.

I got lucky, because my coach stopped us, saying he could see my partner wasn't ready.

Like I said, this emotional prep works really well for me, and I felt myself starting to get out of control on the emotional side. So I throttled it down, and started the scene for the second time.

My coach stopped me on that second run, because he could see I was being a bit too intellectual (not totally authentic). He gave me some heavy notes, which I took, and got ready again.

Third time, I let the emotion be what it was, started the scene, and just focused on my partner.

Much better the third time around.

I mentioned last week it wasn't perfect, because "I left things undone" (mainly on the consequence and holding my partner accountable sides of things). It was still a good run, and I survived using a brutal emotional prep that's draining to me -- three freaking times.

And my coach gave me some additional encouragement in his being pleased with my being able to start three times with the notes he gave, and not shut down

"That shows me your directable."

That's a very encouraging thing for me as an actor to hear.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Great animation ...

No voice over, but this "Animator vs Animation" short turned in by Tom Chapin (and hosted on is entertaining and slick.

Wonder who did it originally?

Google or Twitter should buy

If you haven't discovered TinyUrl, the awesome online utility from the mind of Kevin "Gilby" Gilbertson, you should check it out.

Hate long, cumbersome URLs (those "Web site addresses" that probably should never have been exposed in the first place)? Enter them in TinyUrl, and get back a 24 character URL.

So this:
Turns into this:
Much nicer! Especially for things like mobile and Twitter usage.

Since blog PermaLinks, links to forum posts, links with lots of parameters, etc. are wicked long, think about someone like Google integrating TinyUrl into their services, and automatically converting URLs before display.

I'm not talking just for (I think I'm getting done with them for a variety of reasons), but for all of the other multitudinous efforts Google's got in constant beta -- Google mobile, Google Maps, etc. -- shortened URLs would rock.

And in the Web 2.0 mashup world, I see other opportunities for TinyUrl -- like Twitter. I would so like Twitter to automatically take a posted URL and turn it into a TinyUrl. Makes sense, since TinyUrl is getting so much freaking usage from Twitter users. And it could be configurable, so Twitter users can choose whether they want to convert URLs or not.

In the meanwhile, I've created a "TinyUrl" link at the bottom of each blog post, so folks can more easily create TinyUrls from my posts.

I've found it hard to take my Product Management hat off this week.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Voice acting, mocap, and video games ...

The April issue of Game Informer Magazine has a feature story on the upcoming game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, for the Sony PlayStation 3.

There's a sidebar in the article of interest to actors. It's brief, but shows a pretty cool mapping of the motion capture (mocap), voice over, and animation pieces coming together, using snapshots from actors Nolan North and Emily Rose, and screenshots from the game.

Cool stuff. Uncharted could become a console seller for Naughty Dog (those folks have an awesome track record).

Tools for actors: Reversible belts

I'm fashion slow, so I just assumed I was the last actor to figure this out.

Being on a few gigs, I realized I may not be.

I often have to bring a bunch of my own wardrobe choices to auditions (obviously) or sets, so I try to make things easy for me.

For along time, a reversible belt has been one of those things. It's a black dress belt -- but wait! Swivel the buckle, flip the belt, and now it's a brown dress belt!


I'm being a bit flippant, but I do find stuff like this useful. It's one more thing I don't have to worry about, so I can focus on the bigger craft stuff.

And it goes along with shoes that work with jeans or slacks, etc. (and for things like industrials, I'll check to see if my shoes will even be seen, because I find bringing a bunch of shoe options is a pain for me).

I got advice early on in my career that part of the start-up cost of acting is investing in appropriate wardrobe. I run into actors who haven't received the same advice (or have chosen not to make the same investment, which may be valid for them), and they tend to stress a lot more than I do about the "bring some wardrobe options to the set" request.

Twitter, Twittervision, and life as I know it is over ...

The world moves quickly.

I recently got into Twitter on a lark, and I'm pretty hooked -- even replaced my mini headshot on my acting blog with a Twitter badge.

Just found Twittervision, a real Web 2.0 mashup of Google Maps and Twitter.

Check them out, but prepared to lose a bucketload of time (if you're into this one facet of the future).

I'm not saying Twitter is taking over my life -- just that technology is pretty cool, moving ridiculously fast, and I'm good at it.

Think I'm going to focus on some of my own mashup ideas...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tiring night tonight. Not a bad night for me, I guess, but I definitely left stuff undone, which is a bummer.

But, I get my notes, know what I didn't act on, and what to do next time.

I also have an emotional catalyst worked out for me that that is a "fast on" and raws me up quickly. And I'm really motivated to find a replacement, because I so hate using it. And it's not a "fast off" ...

Then it was down for a quick pint with a few folks from class, meeting up with an acting buddy (it's his birthday, whoot!), and now home to make some copies of scripts and write them out in prep for memorizing for next week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Acting is hard ...

Wicked hard. The emotional cost of doing it right is unexpectedly high.

I'm glad I'm doing this whole Meisner thing with such great, loving, supportive, talented people...

Texas incentives legislation rescheduled ...

House Bill 1634, which I mentioned yesterday, will likley be rescheduled for vote for next week.

Nothing wrong with the substance or content of the bill. According to information forwarded by the TXMPA, this is "just a garden variety snag or bump".

Looking at the history of the bill, it looks like the bill hasn't yet been rescheduled for consideration, but here's a blow-by-blow of legislation's day today:
  1. H Placed on General State Calendar 04/03/2007
  2. H Read 2nd time 04/03/2007
  3. H Point of order sustained 04/03/2007
  4. H Returned to committee 04/03/2007
  5. H Posting rule suspended 04/03/2007

Thank you to all the folks who acted yesterday, and for those folks who talk time by mail and phone to get a hold of me and chat about this effort.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Act TODAY for Texas film and interactive media ...

Don't let the flippancy of my previous post invalidate the importance of this one.

There's legislation up for vote tomorrow (Tuesday, April 3) at 10 a.m. (House Bill 1634), which is a bill to create a state film incentive program for Texas. Texas vitally needs this legislation to maintain its competitive edge as a viable commercial haven for the creation of film, interactive, and other creative endeavors.

Here's why I think it's important, and how you can make a difference in 10 minutes if you act today (if you feel so led).

If you're up to speed on the incentives effort, skip to the bottom of this post for action steps.

When I was at the Austin Convention Center for SXSW last month, I picked up very nice fliers for film and interactive (PC and video game) incentive programs for Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Louisiana. But nothing from Texas.

Texas is horribly behind on the incentives effort when compared to other states. This is because it has relied too heavily on the "Texas is a cool place in which to work" mantra. That's true, but if you're a studio looking at multimillion dollar projects, that doesn't translate into bottom-line savings.

In addition, Texas, in my mind, has long leaned on the excuse Texas can not compete on the incentives front because it does not have a state income tax. While this can make things challenging, there are several other available incentives (sales tax, hospitality taxes, and so on), and legislation can provide further incentive opportunities.

Legislation like House Bill 1634.

There are two things I try not to do on the political front.

The first is to push something I believe in in opposition to something else -- this legislation is important for Texas, not because I'm trying to hurt other states' economic efforts. (Besides, it's better to stand for something, rather than in opposition to something; it creates more personal convictional stability, IMHO).

Secondly, other than my high-level summary above, I'm not going to tell you what the bill is about. If you're responding to this particular post, you're likely sharp enough to understand the bill. You can read the full text here to see if you have any concerns.

The bill is not perfect, and there are things I would change (largely the bill's exclusion of eligibility for interactive media projects given an ESRB rating of "Mature" -- in essence, a 1980s "R" rating), but it's a solid start, and (as I said above), well past due.

Please read the bill. If you have questions, you can contact Hector Garcia (TXMPA president) at hectorg576["at" symbol]aol[dot]com or Todd Sims (TXMPA board member and Legislative Chair) ntsims["at" symbol]newworldpictures[dot]com. You can also get information from the Texas Motion Picture Alliance Website.

Here's how you can do something today. It will take you 5-10 minutes, tops.

  1. Read the bill.
  2. Call you State Representative (not Senator) and ask them to consider voting "yes" on HB 1634.
  3. Do not call State Representative Dawnna Dukes (who authored the legislation) or official joint and co-authors of the bill Reps. Strama, Giddings, Isett, Hilderbran, Anchia, Anderson, Bailey, Berman, Castro, Farrar, Howard, Donna, Hughes, Naishtat, Ortiz, Jr., and Zerwas (they are all on record in support of the bill).
  4. Find your State Representative at
    a. Enter your home address.
    b. Change the "District Type" drop-down box to "House".
    Click the "Submit" button.
    c. Call the 512-463-xxxx number.

Here are the TXMPA's suggestions for your call:

  • "Hello, my name is __________ . I’m a constituent of Rep. __________ and I’m calling to ask him/her to please consider voting YES for HB 1634 by Representative Dawnna Dukes."
  • "HB 1634 is on the House Calendar for Tuesday (the 3rd) and I wanted to let him/her know that a constituent of theirs is very supportive of HB 1634."
  • "Is there a staffer in the office I should speak to about the issue or may I ask you to please let Rep. __________ know that one of their constituents called to respectfully request he/she vote YES for HB 1634?"
  • "Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate your help. Please let the Representative know they can call me at (give your phone number) if they want to talk about the bill or ask how it affects their district."
Here's to bringing more work to Texas ...

80s cartoon bestiality ...

Everything old is new again, and I'm freaking glad. 1980s old is 2000 new, and I want to get cast -- voice and on camera -- for all of it.

The Transformers movie, I suspect, is going to rock. The G.I.Joe live-action movie may see the light of day (please make Snake Eyes super badass, and cast me in the film; seriously, Michael Bay never hooked me up for my Transformers plea).

Even Cabbage Patch Kids are back.

So is My Little Pony. I was at Toys "R" Us the other day, looking at stuff for me, and saw something a little odd:
"My Little Pony Wysteria as the Crystal Bride."
Bride of whom, may I ask?

Seriously, I think all of the MLPs are mares, right? So who's she mare-y-ing? Or is this a My Little Progressive Pony kind of thing?

Which got me to thinking about another gender lopsided franchise.

The Smurfs.

Which is all dudes (I try not to think about Smurfette; that whole thing creeps me out).

So, should the Ponies and three-apple-high blue men hook up?

How would Papa Smurf serenade Madame Wysteria?
"I'm down with MLP (yeah, you know me)."
What kind of freaky, multi-colored centaurish things would that make? And would Hasbro license them?

I'm spending way too much time thinking about this...