Oct 7 – Smile please. And a little to the left.

Posted in Acting, actor with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by actingchick

So I got the pharmaceutical photo shoot gig, or I should say my girlfriend and I got it.  I think they liked her best, and I got picked up since we were a couple, but I will take whatever I can get.  The job pays, and pays well.

We got and email from Michael Bini, the producer at On Request Images, saying they would like to use us, and that the wardrobe person would be contacting us soon about what to wear.  Colette called a few days later, and gave us a list, some of which I didn’t have, so it was an excuse to go shopping.  The things I was mainly looking for were some dressier shoes, a lightweight jacket that wasn’t black, and some pants that were khaki colored.  After two shopping trips I managed to find things that a) were cheap and b) were actually things I would wear after this was over, if we ended up using them.

Shoot day came and the call was at 7:30 am.  We both have to get up early for work, so it wasn’t that much of a hardship.  The shoot is at a nice Victorian house up on Queen Anne Hill.  Now if you are not familiar with Seattle, let’s just say that this neighborhood has money.  The houses are beautiful, and the yards are immaculate.  The house we were at could have been in the pages of Architectural Digest, or the finished product of This Old House.

They production company had a RV trailer out front which is where we were to check in.  We got there a little early, so we spent most of the time just sitting in the RV’s living room watching the crew run back and forth getting ready.  The caterer showed up with some food.  Bacon, quiche with asparagus, red pepper and goat cheese, and cinnamon rolls.  I was in heaven.  I have to say, one of the reason’s I have gotten into this business is for the food.  People ask do you want to do film or theatre, and I’m answer film…they at least feed you, even if they don’t pay you.  Here I was getting both.

We sat and chatted with people as we waited.  Turns out Michael the producer and my girlfriend are from the same neck of the woods and went to rival high schools.  I chatted with one of the guys we were going to be  doing our shoot with, and he owns a small women’s clothing boutique downtown.

We got our makeup put on, and then we went through a few clothing changes.  I ended up using the pants I bought and a pair of shoes.  The rest they had bought for the shoot or had on hand.  We went through a few choices because we had to have the right colors that didn’t blend in with the house we were in front of, or the patio furniture that we were sitting on.  Plus, we had to blend nicely, but not too much, with each other.

The scenario was the my girlfriend and I are having a nice casual front porch get together with our nice gay male friends.  We got to sit outside, acting as if it was a nice summer day, even though it was about 50 degrees out and overcast.  At first it wasn’t so bad, but after a while it got to be pretty darn cold sitting there.  The crew would bring us jackets to wear while they were setting up different scenarios, but then we would have to take them off for stretches of time.  We also had to hold glasses of ice water, and cold ceramic plates with appetizers  on them.  That didn’t help.

We’d get directions, like lean a little forward, ok, hold up your glass like you are going to take a drink, tilt your head a little, smile, ok try shifting your one leg forward, and then put your weight on your other leg, smile, good, now everyone look at Trent, ok smile…

One person from each couple was picked to be the “caretaker/hero” for each couple.  That person who is always making sure that everyone has what they need, or make sure that you take your medicine, or don’t eat the donut, etc.  The guy caretaker went first.  He compassionately offered us hors d’oeuver, and we all smiled and looked up at him thankfully.  We tried different positions, my girlfriend with her hand on my shoulder, the guys holding hands, us looking like we were having a toast and clinking glasses.

Then my girlfriend got to be the chosen one (see, I knew they liked her better).  We repeated the process, although by this time we were freezing to death, so it was harder to keep the smiling going realistically.  Luckily the guys who we were with (who weren’t a real couple) were both very friendly and charming.

We joked a lot.  Lots of gay inside jokes, that we gay people can always fall back on in a pinch.  Stuff about butts and sex, and how obviously this house was so neat it must belong to the guys, but we lesbians built the porch for them in trade for getting my hair highlighted. I sort of wonder if the other groups have their standard repertoire.  Anyway, it helped break the ice and gave us something to laugh at so we didn’t have fake smiles.  I do not have a good fake smile.

After some more shots, we got to wrap up, give the clothes that weren’t ours back, and then get our clothes packed up.  Had a few more snacks at the craft table, said thank you to everyone, and then headed out the door.

One job done.  I hope there are more.  With food.

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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.

June 26 – The end and the beginning.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2009 by actingchick

2009-0220-new_beginning

So it’s over.  Last night was the final class of the Meisner progression that I have been taking for the last nine months at Freehold.  I have spent the last three years taking acting classes at Freehold Theater.  It has been a wonderful, terrifying, exciting, hard, frustrating, magical, roller-coaster of a ride.

The last class was a performance where we presented the scenes we have been working on for the past few weeks to our friends, family, and other students.  My scene partner Bill and I did a scene from The Marriage Play by Edward Albee.  We have been working hard on it, and it paid off last night.

The process wasn’t without its turmoil though.  Our last two rehearsals with our teacher, the incomparable Robin Lynn Smith, were hell.  When she starts of her notes with, “Well, the nicest thing I can say is that you don’t have any stakes,” then you know you are in trouble. She sliced and diced our performances until we were left thinking, why are we here?  What have I been doing for the past three years?  I have to say this was justified ginsu-ing.  We were lackluster, but we didn’t realize it, until we really turned up the heat.

My scene partner Bill had a hard time with his part of the scene.  He has a rather long monolog in the middle of it.  He would get contradictory notes from Robin each time we had a rehearsal.  He tried to do them all and ended up in a mush.  My problem was getting my stakes.  I had trouble connecting emotionally with the scene, because I don’t behave the way my character does, and I didn’t know how to be that way.  I got a lot of notes, that I had to go further, be bigger, be more of this, or more of that. I’m timid by nature, so this was really hard for me.

The last few days I was so desperate to break through my inhibitions I started to try self-hypnosis.  I stared at a hypnotic swirl on my computer screen and repeated phrases like, when I perform I am fearless and confidant.  When I perform my emotions flow freely.  When I perform I am relaxed and creative.  Anyway, I think it actually worked.  I was nervous, but not as much as I normally am, and I was really able to amp it up during our final performance.  I did things we hadn’t rehearsed, and I dealt spontaneously with the fact that my shoe fell apart in the middle of the scene.  I also was able to respond to Bill when he tried new things in the scene.

He too really shone in the final performance.  He managed to overcome what had been giving him so much trouble, by deciding that instead of trying to do the notes Robin gave him, he should do what worked for him.  It totally worked.  It wasn’t that he didn’t do what Robin suggested, because he did, but not all of it.  He worked out for himself what worked, and then allowed that to happen.

Before the scenes started Robin reminded us that we are here to learn how to use all the tools we have been shown, and that though this was a performance, we should approach it with astonishment as if it was happening for the first time.  I think this really helped us all.  We both tried new things in the scene. We played.  It was fun. everyone’s scenes in class were wonderful.  It was amazing to see how everyone grew, even in the last few weeks.  We all shone up there, basking in the glow of the support of our families, friends, and fellow students.  It was a wonderful experience, that filled me with hope, and a sense that I have arrived, not at the final destination, but at the top of the long hill I’ve been climbing, and now I can look back and see where I have been, while getting ready to descend into the forest, the unknown future.  Not with a sense of dread, but a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of adventure.

I’m an actor.  Now I have to act.

June 12 – Kick em when they’re down.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , on June 12, 2009 by actingchick

So we are less than two weeks away from the big final performance of our scene.  I feel as if we are doing as much work as we would for a whole play as we are doing for this ten minute scene.  We are doing a scene from Edward Albee’s The Marriage Play.  In the section we picked to do there is a knockdown fight.  My scene partner Bill and I really wanted to be able to do a good fight, since it really makes the scene, so we hired one of the teachers at our school to help us choreograph the fight, and make sure we didn’t kill each other, while trying to kill each other.

The first night we got together with the wonderful Brynna Jourden to help us, she ran us through some basic moves and concepts.  I’ve had three quarters of stage combat, but that was a year ago so I was a bit rusty, and Bill hadn’t had any experience with stage fighting.  We started warming up with trying to touch the other person’s stomach while trying to keep the other person from touching our stomach.  Our hands and forearms had to maintain some contact with each other.  It’s a fun thing to do.

Then we moved on to doing some basic unarmed combat techniques.  Mostly review for me, but new for Bill. He did really good on picking things up.  We did some slaps, some strangling, elbows to the stomach, arms twisting, groin kicking, basic falling, and rolling around on top of each other. A good start, and we didn’t get injured, so that was good, although I’m feeling a little tenderized from rolling on the hardwood floor.

We got together a few days later and then started crafting the actual choreography.  Brynna had some ideas, but took our input and modified things to our abilities as well.  At the end of our two hour session we had the basics of a good fight.  We are supposed to be exhausted at the end of this fight, our characters laying on the floor, and there won’t be any problem with playing that.  No actual acting necessary.  We were properly winded and we weren’t even going that fast yet.

I think it is a good fight, it has some slaps, some wrestling, a groin kick (scripted), some choking, rolling, hair-pulling, grasping, biting, crawling, and elbows and strangleholds.  What more could you ask for.  Now we have to work this into the part where we are doing the “acting”.  It’s almost like working on two scenes that we now have to put together.  We only have four classes left, and we are going to cram as many rehearsals in as we can.

This Sunday, we have our first full run through in front of our teacher, Robin, and this is the first time she will see the fight, and we will  see how much we can actually pull off.  It will be interesting to hear what she has to say.  I will report back with an update .

June 1 – Wrestlemania

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , on June 1, 2009 by actingchick

mexican-wrestling-9

Last night in Meisner class we got to do our physical metaphors.  What is a physical metaphor?  Well, we are supposed to take the essential conflict of our scene, and then translate that into something physical that we can do.  In our scene, from Edward Albee’s The Marriage Play, I want to keep my husband of 30 years from leaving me, and he wants to get understanding from me as to why he needs to leave.

So my challenge was to tie him up with a sheet, thereby keeping him from leaving.  His goal was to get an item (a sock) that I had hidden on my body somewhere (not on my foot that would be too obvious), and then get out of the door.  To add to the difficulty, I had to stay sitting on a mattress while doing this.

We had to do this while saying our lines.  To help us out, we each had “shadows”,  people who would feed us our lines, in little phrase bits.  We both were pretty much off book, so this was something  just to help us out, because in the struggling you can forget where you are in the text.  We also had a selection of spotters that were around us to make sure we didn’t run into poles, or furniture, or other people.

I don’t know how long it actually was, but it felt like an eternity.  Guessing on how long it was for the other people I’d say it was about 10 minutes.  Try wrestling with someone for ten minutes, it’s exhausting.  I was wearing a pair of cargo capris with lots of pockets.  I stashed the sock in the lowest pocket on my right leg, right about knee level.  I folded it flat as possible, so it wouldn’t be noticeable.

We started out energetically.  I tried slinging the shet over him and getting it wrapped around his arms.  He kept searching me.  He didn’t go for the lower pockets, tried sticking his hands in my upper pockets and back pockets.  I kept trying to wrap his arms up, or get the sheet around him, and of course do his task, he kept having to break free of my attempts.  This worked in my favor, at least for a while, because he couldn’t search while he was trying to free himself.

Eventually though, he found out where the sock was.  Then my game plan changed from trying to wrap him up, to keep him from getting the sock.  I twisted and turned so he couldn’t reach the pocket, rolling one way and another, but eventually he got it.  Then he tried to leave, so now my job became to hold on to him and not let him go.  I’m supposed to stay sitting on the mattress, but he is stronger than me, so eventually he pulled me off, but I wouldn’t let go.

He was on his butt, dragging himself across the floor, pushing with his legs.  I was holding on with a death grip to his pants (each hand located dangerously close to either side of his crotch), on my stomach, as he dragged me along with him.  I wanted to let go, and get a better grip, but I knew if I did that he would spring away, and the way I was laying I wouldn’t be able to get him fast enough before he got out the door.

So we inched along across the floor, with our entourage of shadows and spotters.  Frantically saying our lines, until finally… finally, Robin came over and told us to stop, when we were about five feet from the door.  We lay there in an exhausted heap, sweaty and out of breath.

Fun you ask?  Yes,  but it also had the desperation of the scene, especially at the end.  I couldn’t do much but hang on and hope that he wouldn’t leave.  He interestingly said, that at that point he was hoping I would do more to keep him from leaving.  Interesting when you think about it.  A husband who wants to leave, and wants his wife’s blessing as it were, but also wants her to fight to keep him more than she is.

I also got in touch with the desperation that my character has.  That was important for me, because I hadn’t been able to get in touch with that much, just on an intellectual level.  Also, interesting was that the fighting was fun.  In the play, the husband and wife snipe and verbally jab at each other.  I think this, in better times for them, is how they have fun and connect, how they challenge and stimulate each other.  That came out in the wrestling

So very productive, if exhausting.  I burned a lot of calories.  I was saying, who needs aerobics, and Tae Bo, and ab machines.  Find someone and wrestle them for ten to fifteen minutes.  You’ll get a great workout, and you might learn some interesting things about your relationship.