Archive for the Art Category

Dec 18 – One audition. One part.

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2009 by actingchick

It’s been a while since the last post.  There hasn’t been too much to report…until now.  A month and a half ago I did an audition for an independent short.  It was down in Olympia, which is an hour and a half away, but I figured beggars can’t be choosers, and I’ll take whatever part I can get.  And if nothing else it will be audition practice.

So I drive down to Olympia, show up at the Evergreen College campus, where the director, and fresh-faced intrepid young man, is a student.  My girlfriend used to go there, so I’m not totally unfamiliar with the campus.  I find the audition room easily.  I enter, and no one is there.  There is a bottle of water and some printed sides on the floor next to a chair.  That’s all that is in the room.  I head back out into the hall and look around.  No one is around.

I was surprised that no one else was there. I sort of expected a cattle call audition with people out in the hall waiting for their few moments to shine.  He gave me a time range of 2 – 4 o’clock, so I assumed there were other people scheduled as well, but if they were they weren’t there, and either was he.  A few minutes later though, he came down the hall.  Potty break.

We chatted a bit.  He asked my experience, and I said not much, just got done with acting school, and I’m looking to work, etc, etc.  This is his first film.  He seems with it, and somewhat conservatively dressed for Evergreen, which is known for its hordes of, um, free thinking, tree-hugger types, who sort of float around campus doing whatever it is they do.

He did indicate that he had gotten a lot of responses from TPS, which is where I saw the audition notice.  We chatted a bit about Aikido, since he saw that on my resume.  Then we chatted a bit about the movie.  A mockumentary short on the subject of religious cults and how people are easily enticed to believe some things that others find ridiculous, and how this sort of thing can spread like wildfire under the right conditions.

My role was to be the Woman, a believer in the cult, and enthusiastic supporter.  It’s pretty simple scene.  I’m being interviewed by the documentary film maker and narrator.  All in one room, all in one take sort of thing.

He explains what he is looking for, and then I read it through cold.  I give it my best shot.  I try to keep as much eye contact as I can with him while I’m reading, but of course you have to look at the paper when you read.  I run through, he gives me a few notes, I do it again.  I feel weird, since I am in this huge room, with just him and me.  Luckily I’ve had plenty of practice feeling weird, uncomfortable, and winging it in acting class, so I just ride the wave.

He likes what I’m doing, gives me a few more notes, and then video tapes me.  After that he offers me the part.  I’m excited of course, but part of me is like, did anyone else show up?  Is it just me?  Still, he was laughing when I rad a few lines, so I must have been doing something right.  I leave happy, and excited to do my first film role.

I went down about a week and half later for a read through with a few other cast members.  Another rehearsal was to be scheduled, but I heard nothing for two weeks, then an email from the director saying he is still trying to get things together, apparently the camera he was planning on using fell through, and of course he is a student, poor, and also has a day job, so I get it.  I write back, just let me know when you are ready, and I’ll be there.  I’m not holding my breath.

This is the second role in an independent, mockumentary style short that I have been cast in that hasn’t gone anywhere.  The other film was written by a guy I went to acting school with.  He was having trouble working with his D.P., so it got put on hold, while he finds someone else.  Again, I’m not holding my breath.  Call me when you are ready for my close-up. Until then, I fish the audition waters.

So on the good news, I submitted my headshot to be a featured extra in a real film.  One where they like pay you, and has famous people in it.  Well, at least they are famous in Asia.  I don’t know the details yet, but I’m going to be a woman in prison.  How cool is that?  And we actually get to go to a real prison and film.  Sounds fun.  It will be sometime in February, and they will actually pay me.  Not hardly anything, but I’ll take it.  And since it is a film with a budget, I think it will actually get made.  This time I am holding my breath.

Sep 18 – Just Shoot Me.

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , on September 18, 2009 by actingchick

p_photographer

So I had my first casting call today.  Not for a film, not for a play, but for a photo shoot for print and web media for an unnamed pharmaceutical company.

I saw the audition notice and saw that I fit one of the categories of people they were looking for.  Now that I actually have my headshots, I could easily email the JPGs over, which is what I did.  They were looking for the following types:

People with physical disabilities, Native Americans, and LBGT youth and middle aged couples.    They were looking for people to be doctors, nurses, etc, of any race and gender.

So I thought I had two chances.  I could be a doctor.  I mean I work in a hospital, even if my job consists entirely of putting numbers into spreadsheets.  And I also qualified under the LBGT, and since they were looking for couples, I noted in my email, that I have a girlfriend and I’d be happy to bring her along.

I was happy when the next day I got an email, saying come on down to the casting, and bring your squeeze.  How exciting.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured I’d at least had one photoshoot experience, my headshots, and how different could it be.

The day of, I picked out what I thought were hip middle-aged lesbian clothes to wear.  And told my girlie to attire herself similarly.  Now I should mention neither of us are fashion mavens, in fact the opposite, but I think we did OK.  I was a little worried, because my girlfriend looked cuter than me.  What if they want her to be the doctor?

Anyway we get there, feeling a little unsure what to do, but the company doing the photography runs like a well-oiled machine.  We are waved in and told to sit down in some rows of chairs they have set up on one side of the room.  The other side of the room is blocked by dividers, but the flashing lights coming through the cracks indicate where the photographs are being snapped.

I scope the competition.  So far no other obvious lesbian couples.  That’s good, maybe there won’t be to many to compete against.  We get waved up to the table to check in.

It turns out to be the guy who I emailed in the first place, and who said to come on down.  He was gay.  In fact it seemed like almost everyone working there was gay.  I try to be friendly and charming to cover up my nervousness. We give our names, addresses, and the like, and then sit back down.

A fashionable young man with cool glasses waves me up.  He has a white board and has me write my name on it. We wait a bit until the previous person is done with the photographer.  Then he escorts me and my girlfriend into the back to meet the photographer.

The photographer is also a fashionably dressed man, who warmly introduces himself to me, and shakes my hand.  He then asks me to stand back.  I look down and see an “x” taped on the floor.  I say, do you want me on the x? and he says, oh you can see that? It was small and put on with clear tape.

The white board is put into my hands and a picture is snapped.  Then he takes a closeup of my face, then he has me turn to the side. Glasses on. Click. Glasses off.  Click.  Then he says 3/4 turn. Click.

Then he asks me to move my head back.  I move it what I think is back, but that’s apparently not the right way, so I try another way.  What he meant was to rotate my head towards him, but his description, and my comprehension of that movement weren’t synching up.  I felt like a little bit of a dork, when I figured it out, but oh well.  Click. Body shot. Click.

Then it was my girlfriends turn.  Same routine, but they had her put her hand on her hip in a few shots.  I thought, hey, I didn’t have to put my hand on my hip, what does that mean? Do they like her better?

Then we got to do a few shots together. That was fun.  i would like to have seen them, but the monitor was facing away from us.  Click, click, click.  It was over.

I made sure to thank everyone, the photographer, and the person who checked us in.   And out the door we headed.

If we are going to hear anything it should be by the end of next week.  I think we have an OK chance.  I’ll think it is funny, if my girlfriend got a spot and I didn’t.  Ha ha. Sigh.

Did I mention that this pays really well? I guess that’s because they are paying us not just for the actual shoot, but for the right to use our images on the company pamphlets, website and advertisements.

Anyway, I guess we just have to wait and see now.

Sep 7 – Heads up.

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , , on September 7, 2009 by actingchick

So things are warming up a little in the acting world.  Revving back up after taking some downtime after the Meisner class at Freehold.  I’ve gotten my headshots, I’ve gotten a part in a short film that a fellow Meisnerite is doing, and I’m working on a project with another fellow Meisner classmate.  So there are irons in the fire.

The big thing I wanted to do was get my headshots. I felt like I was off the hook until then.  I didn’t have to go out into the big scary world and audition, and get rejected, since you need headshots (or should have them so you don’t look unprofessional) to audition.

I had been searching the web looking for people, and I ended up picking Mark Brennan.  He is up in Vancouver, BC, and I was willing to drive up, but then I found out that he comes down to Seattle once a month to take people’s pictures, so that made it even easier.  Although I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a reason to visit Vancouver.

Why Mark Brennan, and not someone local?  I don’t know.  I just like the way his photos captured people, especially the eyes.  Check out his website and see what you think.

To get ready for the photos, I had to get some new clothes.  I’m am a, um, how shall we say, fashion failure, and I’m a butch dyke at heart.  But I figured that I needed some girly clothes, since there are more regular girl parts out there than butch lesbian trucker parts.  I took one of my friends who actually has a sense of fashion and taste, and she helped me pick out clothes, most of which didn’t make it in the photo shoot, but I have them for auditions now.

I kept saying to myself as she would hand me something, I wouldn’t wear that.  But then I thought that is like an actor saying, but my character wouldn’t do that.   If the part (and the director) calls for it, you have to make it work. So I tried them on and apparently I looked good even though I felt uncomfortable and dorky.  Fish out of water.

The shoot day arrived.  Mark Brennan and his make-up person, whose name I have sadly forgotten, were really great.  I was tired that day because I had just finished the Danskin triathlon about two hours before.  He would have me stand different ways, and then give me cues, such as, I’ve just walked in the room, and you are really happy to see me, or, you are a bitch, and you don’t care if firing me ruins my life, in fact you enjoy it.

There was the technical part of being in the right position.  He would have me lean forward or tilt my head a certain way, and then add in the emotions as he cued me.  He also just talked to me, trying to get me relaxed.  I was actually feeling pretty relaxed at the beginning since I was still zoned out from the triathlon.  After awhile of standing there my shoulders and neck tightened up (from the swim I think), and he’d be like ok, relax your shoulders.  And I’m thinking, I can’t, they won’t go down.

We finished up the shoot, and I waited for him to send me the photos, so I could pick which ones I wanted to use.   He took about 100 photos, picked out his favorites, his seconds favorites, and then sent the rest.  Now my job was to pick the two I liked and he would color correct and touch them up for me.

I have to say, I was hoping for miracles.  I’m not bad looking, I think I’m nicely average, but I was hoping to look like a movie star, but instead I just looked like myself, with makeup and some fancier clothes on than I normally wear.  They always say your headshot should look like you, and not someone else, so in that respect they succeed rather well.  I was just hoping for more, but I guess that’s my baggage.

I narrowed down the choices to about eight, which was hard.  Then I posted those up on my facebook page and let people vote.  I’ve posted the results below.

I must say that putting my pictures up on my blog makes me feel a little exposed, since it is nice to hang out and write anonymously to the three or four people who actually stumble across this blog and read it.  But I figured I have to get used to putting myself out there.  I’m an actor after all.  People are supposed to see me.

July 31 – Where it’s at.

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , on July 31, 2009 by actingchick

Been on a bit of a hiatus.  Finished the Meisner program at Freehold Theatre, and boy did I need a break.  That was a tough run, but good.  That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger sort of thing.

This will be a short post since there isn’t much going on at the moment.  I have an appointment to get my headshots in a couple a weeks, from a guy whose work I really like.  Mark Brennan.  Check out his website.

After that I’ll be ready to audition.  That’s frightening.  I’m nervous about that, but what actor isn’t I suppose.  I’m looking to do maybe some short film type work for now, get some stuff together for a reel.

There is also a class at Freehold this fall that looks promising.  Advanced Rehearsal and Performance.  It’s being taught by Annette Toutonghi, who is a great teacher.  I’ve taken Rehearsal and Performance before (twice), but this is Advanced, you have to have completed Meisner or equivalent to be in the class.

Part of me is like, do I want to take this class because it will be a good learning experience, and I’ll get more performance practice under my belt, or is it just an excuse for me to keep taking classes, and not get out into the real world.

I like to procrastinate, and this would be a way to procrastinate while seemingly not procrastinating.  I keep going back and forth with it.  I think I will end up taking the class though.  It seems to good of an opportunity to waste.

And finally, I’m working on a script with my friend Bill.  Our goal is to do a web series, get a following, and somehow make money.  It’s a great concept (Bill’s idea), and I think we can work it into something.

Of course I can’t talk about it now, not because we are being all secretive, but because we haven’t worked out the details of the story line yet.  Of course when we do, then we won’t be able to talk about it, because we don’t want anyone stealing our cool idea.

April 10 – A little imagination

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , on April 10, 2009 by actingchick

Hmmm…sorry?  What was that?  Oh.  I’m sorry, I was daydreaming, and I didn’t hear a word of that.

So day dreaming, you say, Why?  Basically it’s like running.  It’s exercise, but instead of building up your body, it builds up your creative faculties.  Like any sort of exercise, unless you are magically gifted, it’s hard at first and gets easier as you go along.

We had to do some more exercises where we set up a space to be a room in our house.  We brought meaningful props in and used some Freehold furniture to make a representation of our room.  Then we again sat in there daydreaming, people watched us.

The next round we had to bring an activity and a circumstance, similar to what we had done in our repetition exercises in the previous quarter, and then we had to sit in our space and daydream.

My activity was to learn Amazing Grace on the banjo, and my circumstance was that my mom had died, and was to learn to play this for her funeral service. This is the song she wants played.

At first nothing was happening; I was too busy trying to play the song, which I didn’t know how to play. So I decided to stop and just sit there, and in that quiet spot not doing anything,  I managed to imagine what playing Amazing Grace at my mom’s funeral really meant, and I started crying.  Oh, a good amount too, more than the last time I cried.

It was interesting that I had to do nothing to get in touch with the emotions.  At other times I’ve relied on physical activity to get me into a scene.  I guess the lesson there is what you need depends on the situation.  This time it was daydreaming.

Apr 9 – Imagine that.

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , on April 9, 2009 by actingchick

daydreaming1

Boy it’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  In fact a whole quarter of Meisner went by.  So now I feel forced to sum it up, so we can move on to the third quarter, and I can start talking about that. It might take a few posts, but I’ll get there.

The focus of the second quarter of the Meisner track at Freehold is developing the “instrument.”  That’s the actor’s body and mind to put it into layman’s terms. The point (as I see it anyway) is to disassemble our cultural programming enough to act/react spontaneously to the imaginary circumstances in which we find ourselves during a play or film.

Sounds kind of high-falutin, but really it’s about teaching adults to play make believe after such frivolous time-wasting abilites were crushed out of us by the monolithic weight of our western European, Protestant, technology riddled 21st century adult responsibilities.

Things that came naturally to us as children do not come naturally as an adult.  We may be able to drive and shop online, but kids have us beat in the imagination department.

I can remember spending hours playing on the jungle gym, that was really a rocket ship, trying not to touch the hot lava playground sand.  Or running through our neighborhood playing Charlie’s Angles (the original 70’s show – I’m old), fighting over who got to play which Angel.  For the record I didn’t fight; I was always Sabrina; she was the smart one, but my friends fought like cats and dogs over who got to be Jill (Farah). The loser had to be Kelly.

So what did we do in the first part of the second quarter of Meisner?  We imagined things. We daydreamed.  Sounds easy?  It’s not.  It’s easy to daydream when you are just drifting through your day, trying to escape from your tedious job by having some fun in your head.

Maybe you are rescuing kittens from a burning building and become the town hero, or maybe it’s imagining what you are going to say to someone in some confrontational conversation you are planning having.  We slip in and out all day, but suddenly someone says, you need to imagine and you need to do it now.  Then the clamps clamp down and the gears screech to a halt.

Daydreaming is controlled by our subconscious, and because of that we don’t tend to have much control over it, which is actually what makes daydreaming useful.  Our subconscious minds, if given free reign, will take us to interesting places, that our conscious mind, so worried about trying to not make a fool out of itself, won’t. Perhaps because it is afraid, or mostly because it doesn’t even occur to it to go there in the first place.

So one of the first exercises that we did in class was to daydream.  You had to get up in front of the class, lie on one of the questionable Freehold mattresses, and daydream, while the rest of the class watched.  Yes, that’s what we did.  Imagine a room of adults sitting in rows of folding metal chairs, watching someone lying on mattress with their eyes closed daydreaming.

The funny thing was it was interesting.  In my experience, I was too aware in the beginning to really day dream, but as I laid there long enough, things started percolating.  When you’d watch other people you could see emotions flit across their faces.  That was interesting.  They probably didn’t even know it was happening, but it was happening, and it was interesting.

So the first step was taken, lying down.

Nov 19 – Consciously Incompetent

Posted in Acting, actor, Art, Theatre with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by actingchick

incompetence

I was talking to one of my classmates last night.  I mentioned that I had a blog about my acting school experience, but that I hadn’t been blogging much of late.  I explained that felt like I should blog, but my brain just felt like mush when it came to trying to process the information and experiences of class.

He told me about something he had read that Spalding Gray had said or written.  I’m paraphrasing his paraphrase, but I think you will get the idea.  He said the Spalding Gray was walking through the forest on a beautiful day, and the trees and sky were so exquisite and moving that he felt he should write about it, but didn’t want to, or couldn’t, or something like that, I’m not sure now. Did I mention my brain was mushy?

It’s like it is to hard to explain what’s happening, because I’m not really sure what’s going on myself. My paltry attempts at splicing words into a narrative are likely to fall short of what’s really going on.

Last night at the end of class, Robin asked us if we had noticed anything particular about that night’s performance bits.  People responded with various things such as the activities seemed more meaningful, the background stories richer, the interactions more complex, the connection deeper, the framework of the repetition exercise was looser, and on and on.

Basically what she was trying to point out was that we are improving. That by jumping through the Meisner-shaped hoops we are becoming better at our acting just by the act of doing.  It seems Zen.  Become what you are, become what you do, a no-matter-where-you-go-there-you-are sort of thing.

Robin made us all read Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel at the beginning of the quarter.  Basically it describes the process of repeatedly trying to master something and even though you keep doing it badly, the process of doing it despite all ones errors and misdirections, will lead to improvement and eventually mastery if you stick with it long enough.

The idea is to get to the point of Unconscious Competence, the fourth stage of competency.  The four stages of competency being:

  1. Unconscious Incompetency, you don’t know what you don’t know how to do.
  2. Conscious Incompetency, you know what you don’t know how to do.
  3. Conscious Competency, you know how to do what you do, but you have to concentrate on it.  And lastly,
  4. Unconscious Competence, you don’t have to think about what you are doing.  This is the realm of mastery.

Right now I’m in the land of Conscious Incompetence.  I know that I don’t know a whole lot.