Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

It struck me the other day just how dependent I am on people I've never met, or am trying to meet, or have met but don't really know. It's not up to me to get an actual line on a TV show. It's up to an agent to submit me, the casting director to decide to see me, and the producers and director to decide to hire me.


I've somewhat developed the talent of auditioning and then letting it go, and I'm also casually into Zen, which focuses a great deal on letting go in general. Despite that, it's incredibly difficult to keep from tying my own happiness to whether or not my phone's ringing. So there I am, down in the dumps because I'm not working or auditioning. One phone call later I'm skipping through midtown totally prepared to knock out an audition.

Which didn't go anywhere.

But I'm not sure I wanted to spend a month in Florida anyway.


I practically willed said call into existence. I spent most of an afternoon staring blankly at my computer, trying to figure out what I could do to remind these people I exist. I couldn't come up with much beyond a simple check-in email, which I think can eventually be overdone. Luckily the guy who called me must be psychic, because I didn't email him. So it looks like I have another exciting afternoon of obsessive thought in front of me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What are you working on?

Getting ready yesterday to meet an actor friend I hadn't seen in a while, I found myself running through the list of things I've accomplished or am trying to accomplish, so that I could answer that inevitable question: what are you working on? Like I was going to a job interview or something.

Do any other professions do this? When two accountants run into each other on the street, do they ask what the other has done recently at work? Probably not, because the answer is probably the same every time.

I think actors do this almost as a self-defense mechanism. First, you must understand that you ask the question simply so that you can answer it yourself when the other person is done. In a profession where work falls into your lap by byzantine Rube Goldberg methods, every little thing you do is a huge accomplishment. So we're happy to share these things with other actors.

There's also a predatorial starving-cheetah-on-the-savannah aspect to it. "You got what show? Who casts that? How did you find it? What are they looking for?" It stands to reason that if one of your peers landed something, you probably could too. In an industry with such heavily fortified walls around the good stuff, we're always looking for weak spots.

Wow, that all sounds pretty negative.

There are positives to this as well. In the very least, having to come up with an answer to "what are you working on" keeps you busy, on your toes. I don't want the only answer to that question to be "well I'm about 20 hours into Mass Effect 2, getting ready to go through the Omega 4 relay." While true, and awesome, it neither pays the bills nor satisfies me creatively.

And I guess, maybe, somewhere deep down, we enjoy it when our friends do well. We need a good support system behind us to get anywhere in this business. We're all pulling for each other, right?

Well, as long as we're not the same type.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Honestly, that could be the title of any post ever related to acting. But in this case it applies to the period of time after a great audition for something you're really hoping to get. This time it was a sort of industrial/commercial hybrid (for those not in the business, industrial refers to internal-use stuff; at the lowest end of the spectrum, think training videos). The pay would have been pretty decent, but it would also have entailed a several-day trip to LA to film it.

At times like this, Amy is under orders not to call me. I've gotten pretty good at letting go after an audition and not dwelling on it, for good or bad, but sometimes I'm just too optimistic. I hate the feeling of my heart jumping when the phone rings and it's just my wife. I mean, I love talking to her, but, uh...

Love you Amy!

Anyway, after a couple days you can be pretty sure the call will never come. You can always be pleasantly surprised, but the reality of it is commercial casting moves pretty fast.

I had a couple of reasons to feel pretty good about this one, and not getting cast actually doesn't affect those reasons too much. I actually got the audition copy the night before, so I had time to get ready. Rare. So I actually knew what I was doing when I got in the room. When I got there, they were just finishing up the morning session before a quick lunch break. The guy before me came out in a full suit, way overdressed for the character and he didn't look like a suit guy in the first place. Then he started talking to the audition monitor. "Does she tell everyone 'nice job?' I mean, she said 'nice job,' but does she just say that, or does it mean I did a good job?" Whoa dude. Stop talking. "I don't know what happened. I mean I'm a naturally confident guy and I just didn't know how to get rid of that for the audition [the character is not confident]." Holy crap man, stop talking. I don't care if you threw down some Daniel Day Lewis stuff in there, you are talking yourself right out of this part now. Ah well. Everyone has to start getting out there some time. It just made me feel better that I've been doing it for a while.

And so, a few days out, I think it's safe for Amy to call my phone again. No worries. I have a beer commercial audition tomorrow, wherein I will once again have to pretend to like sports.