Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Frustrations Encapsulated

In discussing my frustration with my career progress, or lack thereof, with Amy, I managed to explain it better than I ever had before. I said it's like I'm walking down a narrow road, and there's a large stone wall in front of me. All I have is a hammer, and I've been chipping away at the wall with absolutely no results, and I've got nothing else on me that will help. I just have to sit here and wait for someone else to hopefully come along and knock the wall down for me.

Basically, every piece of advice I've heard has been counteracted by someone else. You can try sending your headshot/resume to agents and casting directors, but most of them don't bother opening them. CDs don't usually call people in based on a headshot anyway; they'd prefer someone with representation. The best you can do on your own is off-off-Broadway; no industry people really come to stuff like that because there's so much of it and so much of it is so bad. You can spend money (from $35 to $500) to meet with or work with industry pros, but that gets very expensive very quickly and in my experience (the $35 experience), you have very little time with them. Where does that leave you? Sitting in your apartment writing a blog about how frustrated you are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Audition Postmortem

I had my aforementioned audition for a student film at House Productions yesterday, and I felt pretty good about it. It was a tricky character, because he'd been in a car accident five years ago and just got out of a clinic for young victims of brain trauma. So there were things in the breakdown like "a little off" or "mildly impaired." Since his dialogue was pretty straightforward and there weren''t a lot of references to his impairment in the script, and he was pretty bright before the accident, I was wary of overdoing it but still needed to show some sort of problem. Also, in the words of Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, I didn't want to go "full retard." So I'd been working on a childishness and innocence. There weren't many layers of subtext to his lines, so any irony or subtle humor would have been out of place. Luckily my thoughts coincided with the director, because that was basically her note before the audition.

While working on it at home beforehand, I realized I'd been focusing a lot on the character stuff but not at all on what I felt about what was happening in the scene, or what I thought about what I was saying, which is unfortunately a habit of mine I'm trying to get out of. At least I realized it before I got to the office. So I incorporated that with the character work and did my best to really listen to my partner, and that's about all you can do.

They had a few other casting sessions going on, and one was for some little kids for a commercial. I've been to a few casting offices while that was happening, and good god is it depressing. I looked over and saw a stage mom taking a picture of her five-year old son with a sideways ballcap, short sleeve-over-long sleeve tshirts, and sunglasses making two peace signs. He looked like the kind of character a struggling sitcom adds in its sixth season that completely alienates the rest of its diminishing audience. Does that qualify as child abuse?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rehearsal, update

Had my first real rehearsal for the off-off show today. Turns out that while the script is indeed bizarre when read, it's pretty fun to perform. Still not sure what the audience will think of it, but Amy pointed out that if we're enjoying ourselves they most likely will as well.

So pretty much every play I've ever done has had a "first" in it, like, "first time I got to kill someone" (Bent) or "first time I got to use an accent" (Lonestar). Looks like the first for this one is "first time I take off another man's shirt." Yeah. It's that kind of show.

I submitted to work background on Nurse Jackie Monday, because it's AFTRA, which is the only union I belong to so far (which means the pay makes the crappy long day worthwhile), and because they were looking for actors with rollerblades. Of course, this means it's an exterior shot, and the high for Monday is supposed to be 24. Only slightly problematic if you get to dress for the actual weather, but the last time I worked on that show we were dressed for fall when it was about 30 outside.

Naturally about 30 minutes after I submitted that, I got a response to another submission for a student film which would have me audition Monday at 12:34, which pretty much rules out any sort of background. If they were to actually call me to work on Nurse Jackie, I'd probably take them up on it, except for the fact that this student film actually pays. Rare beast we have here, and one I was fortunate enough to be a part of the last time I did a student film, before Christmas. Considering I need both the money and the footage for my reel, I think it's worth forgoing a day of background on the off-chance that I'd actually get cast in the film. Not to mention that House Productions is casting this particular film, and they do a ton of casting so it's sort of like I'm auditioning for them as well. We'll see.

Speaking of footage for my reel, the current tally of projects I did from which I have yet to receive anything stands at four. Two of those I think I'll eventually get. The other two were a while ago (one was almost four years ago--Jesus). I suppose this is one of those dues we're all supposed to pay.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Talk

Demographically I guess I'm not supposed to watch or care about the Oscars, aka "The Women's Superbowl," but my supposed profession kinda obligates me to it. But thanks to the impossibility of making a living on my supposed profession, I'm tragically behind on this year's nominees. I haven't seen any of the Best Picture hopefuls. I was pretty psyched to see Downey Jr. nominated for Tropic Thunder though. He doesn't stand a chance, but the fact that a performance like that could get nominated gives me a little more faith in the Academy. Having The Dark Knight up for Best Picture would have given me even more, but I've never been accused of optimism.

I can't imagine anyone taking the statue over Mickey Rourke, but like I said I'm way behind. Based on impressions, perhaps Sean Penn could win it, but come on. Rourke's performance was one of those rare things where not only does it seem like the part was created just for him, he went above and beyond his already-perfect type and delivered physically and emotionally. It would have been easy for a lot of actors to overdo it in the daughter scenes (ahem, Evan Rachel Wood), but he always kept it honest. I don't know much about Rourke, so I could be wrong about this, but it seemed to me that he also added all the wheezes and internal rumblings we heard in the silence as we followed The Ram down hallways and in his trailer. And apparently he gained like 20 pounds of muscle for the part, which is another one of those things where I think "sure, I could do that too if I had the time and money for a trainer for months before production." But you've gotta have the heart and dedication in addition to time and money. At least he didn't almost kill himself trying to lose weight. That's a trend I could do without.

And we have Heath Ledger. I was absolutely riveted by his Joker from the get-go, and I've had a hard time figuring out how much of that was his performance (undeniably good) and how much was the tragedy of both his passing and the fact that we'll never know where he could have taken the character in future installments. Every scene he was in left me with a feeling of "what the fuck is he going to do next," a real anxiety and fear for anyone standing too close to him. That part of it was all Heath and no buzz. He's a great example of an actor that doesn't care at all what he looks like in front of the audience, or what they think of him. It's all character. That's a valuable piece I could take away for myself.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to the Stage

It's been about ten months since the last time I did a play, and even that was a little nontraditional since it was a play about people doing a radio show. This means we were onstage with scripts and stands, so it wasn't quite what one pictures when one hears "play." It was a lot of fun and (I think) entertaining though.

So naturally I jumped at the chance to audition for a short play in a group of one-acts Sunday morning. I'd submitted online for the casting a few weeks ago, and assumed I wouldn't be hearing from them. The person calling said they were doing a "second round" of auditions and if cast, my first rehearsal would be about thirty minutes after the audition. The subtext behind this is "We just had someone drop out of a show and if you're not a complete moron or the Elephant Man, you will get his part Sunday morning." Turns out I was mostly correct. Two people had dropped out Saturday, so the two people that showed up for the audition Sunday got parts. Coincidentally the show and rehearsals will be in the same basement theatre in which I did the radio play ten months ago.

I'd forgotten some of the risks you run when auditioning for off-off-(off?)Broadway shows. You have no idea what you're getting into in terms of the script itself and the people with whom you'll be spending quite a bit of time over the next few weeks. This one seems like it'll go well enough thus far. The director/playwright is respectful of people's time, so we won't be rehearsing our dozen or so pages worth of scenes for thirty hours a week til the show. It also looks like he's pretty relaxed in terms of letting actors bring their stuff to the table without dictating too much beforehand what he expects. And the one other actor that was present seems like a nice guy. The script is bizarre, to be sure (the off-off scene isn't too interested in boy-meets-girl scenarios), but in the right hands I think it will entertain and have something relevant to say to the audience.

So now I've got something real to work on this week, instead of sitting around in my underwear watching Mythbusters on DVR. Well, I'll probably still be in my underwear.