Thursday, February 28, 2008

Roger That!

I got called in today to audition as a photo double for Roger Federer for an upcoming Nike commercial. I guess I'm roughly the same size as good ol' Rog, though rumor has it that he is slightly more proficient with a tennis racket... I got to simulate some ground strokes on film, and they took a few pictures. At any rate, it is a very cool spot, also starring a guy from the TV show "Flight of the Conchords" and -- I know I sound like a broken record by now -- it would be wonderful to get!

Had a meeting with another potential commercial agency yesterday, though it is stretching the definition of the word "meeting" to call it one. I was in front of the agent for literally 20 seconds; she took my picture, asked where I was from, told me she "liked my look" and said they were having callbacks in a couple weeks and she'd see me then. I was shuttled out the door before I even knew what hit me. Ahh, you can say a lot of L.A., but it is nothing if not always interesting!

I also was called yesterday by the casting director of the baseball project I worked on Tuesday and they need to shoot some more, so I'm likely working Sunday. More work, Yes!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Play Ball!

Fun stuff today working on Amazing Sports Stories. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Ontario - downright hot in those wool duds. I got to run the bases, throw the ball around, sit in the dugout, and best of all, was one of two guys who got to hit a little bit. It has been years since I've had to hit live pitching (not counting sweet 16-in softball hurling ;). And even though it was hardly major league pitching, it was still a bit intimidating having to hit on cue and without any warm-up. But, the worst part was that they set up the camera mere feet behind the plate, so I was constantly worried about fouling a ball back and breaking the $10,000 camera and/or one of the faces on the 10 people standing directly behind me.

The show will air on Fox Sports Network starting in April, though I don't know if it will just be on the FSN California stations, but I will let you know if I hear. Anyway, who knows what of me they will choose to use - if anything - but it was a lot of fun getting to wear Yankee pinstripes, even if just for a day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yankee For a Day

Tomorrow I get to work on Amazing Sports Stories out in Ontario, which is about an hour away. The role I'm playing is that of the Yankees' 1931 left fielder, Ben Chapman. (I had a pretty good season that year, too, batting .315 with 17 HR 122 RBI 120 R while leading the league with 61 SB ;) The weather is supposed to be warm and sunny, so it should be a lot of fun!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Audition

Had an audition for an independent (but paid, actually) short film today. The script is a lot of fun - It is a morality tale, kind of a cross between the visually interesting future-world of Brazil and the conformist future of The Matrix. In fact, the character I auditioned for was similar to the "Agent Smith" type in The Matrix. I wore a dark suit with slicked back hair. I auditioned with several other guys and I know they are trying to match a few of the characters to look alike. The audition was a lot of fun, and I'd really like to get the movie. They make casting decisions next week, so we'll see!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Busy Thursday

Before class last night, I had two auditions yesterday:

Sony - There were all types/ages/races of people there, so it is hard to know exactly what they were looking for. They took us in four at a time and asked each of us to tell something unique about ourselves (I talked about teaching college English for the past few years). Again, similar to Wednesday's audition, it seemed like they wanted to find out about personalities of the actors, which is interesting because these were non-speaking roles. Though, as I said before, I don't blame them, I'd like to know the people I'm working with are interesting and not a bunch of crazy folk, too ;)

Print Audition - This one was for a stock photo shoot, which just means that a photographer wants to get some images that they then might sell to one or more clients sometime down the road. They are fun gigs (often just a couple hours), since you usually get paid by the hour and you get to add some cool pics to your portfolio/website.

The final meeting of my 6-week class was last night. Paul, our teacher, ran it like an audition - we each did a scene that we have been working on, on camera to an off-camera partner. After doing the scene, he gave some notes, and we got to do the scene again. It was a nice culmination of all we have been working on. I feel that I have already been able to incorporate some of the skills and techniques I have learned in class, and I look forward to continuing my work with Paul in an on-going capacity.

I have an audition tomorrow for a short film which sounds like a neat project, so keep those fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today's print audition was for a bridal shoot - I think for something (a store? resort? in Southern California). So, there were a bunch of potential brides, grooms, fathers-of-the-bride, flower girls, etc. auditioning. The session was at On the Mark Casting Studios, another one of the huge casting places here in L.A. There were at least 5 other commercials/print jobs having auditions there at the same time. Mine consisted of several pictures and then a few questions. I suspect the short conversation was so they could gauge my personality, and if I would be good to work with. I think they have callbacks next week before the March shoot.

In addition to the print audition tomorrow, I have one for a Sony commercial which would be an awesome job to get!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pretty Super Tuesday

Tuesday was a pretty productive day for me:

I had my second meeting with Brass Artists regarding commercial representation and it went really well. They want to represent me, and it seems like a pretty good fit, which is great! But, I do want to keep the other meetings I have scheduled before deciding for sure.

In other news, I got a call from the casting director of that Amazing Sports Stories baseball project I auditioned for awhile back. While it wasn't for the part I auditioned for, she offered me a part of one of the 1931 Yankees. So, I get to be teammate of Gehrig and Ruth for the shoot next week Tuesday which sounds like fun!

Also, I got called for two print auditions, one each tomorrow and Thursday, so that should keep me busy.

Now, if every day this week can be so full of industry-related happenings, I'll be very happy! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Dog Named Jack

The Civil War film I worked on a couple years ago, Dog Jack, is still in post-production, but the word is that it may actually be getting closer to being completed. Like many independent films that don't have unlimited financing, Dog Jack was and is a real labor of love for all involved including Chicago writer/director/producer Ed McDougal. The true story revolves around a young slave boy named Jed (and his dog named Jack) who escapes to the North and joins the Union Army.

My friend, Eddie Huchro, who has a major role in the film has managed to get some footage, and he sent me the above production still. It was from one of the battle scenes we shot in Pennsylvania. Other locations we shot included Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. It was a tough shoot -- very hot in those uniforms! -- but a lot of fun, and I met some great folks.

I can't wait to see how it all turned out!

For more information about the film, please check out the following links:

Dog Jack Official Website
Dog Jack Preview Trailer (Rough Cut)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weather or Not You Want to Hear About It...

I know that some of you who read this must be tired of me talking about the weather here - it is sunny and in the 70's again today. So, sorry about that. But, it is unceasingly amazing how different everything is when the sun is out. People on the street have a better attitude, drivers are better, store clerks are more pleasant, and as for me, I am much more productive with the sunny, warm weather. It is hard enough to get motivated to get up early and go to work or an audition or a meeting, but it would be so much harder if I knew I had to bundle up and dig my car out of the snow.

(The picture above is the view from the end of my driveway looking south towards downtown.)

So, I feel for all you folks who are going through one of the snowiest winters in recent memory. Hope you get some lovin' from the warm sun sometime soon.

This morning I met my headshot photographer in West Hollywood to get a couple shots that we didn't get last time. It was a fun, quick shoot, and I look forward to seeing what we got!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bus Ride Has Me Seeing Stars

Today I had to take the bus for the first time since I've moved to L.A. Not because I needed to get anywhere, but because it was part of an assignment for my acting class. I won't get into all the specifics, but it was a way of exercising my imagination, which as I've talked about before, my teacher Paul believes strongly in. And I have really started to see that these 'mental exercises' stretch my imagination in the same way that regular exercises stretch the muscles of the body.

So, I walked down to Hollywood Blvd., and caught the 217 bus which goes straight west through the heart of Hollywood - past the Ripley Museum, the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars will be held in a week or so, the many tourists, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre with all of its celebrity foot and handprints. A dollar and a quarter well-spent, it was a nice way to see the city and after I got off the bus, I got a chance to walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Some pictures of today's journey:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strike OUT!

As many of you may have heard, the WGA strike is over! Yesterday, the resolution to lift the strike was passed by over 92% of the guild members, and now all that's left is for the guild to ratify the new contract which sounds like it should be just a formality. Now, let's hope SAG gets negotiating with the Producers before that contract expires at the end of June...

Two auditions today. One, was a non-union commercial for Royal Purple Motor Oil, and I had to pretend I was fixing an engine. Engines are not my specialty, but it was fun, so we'll see.

The second was actually for the commercial department at Brass Artists Agency. They had me read 3 pieces of commercial copy on camera, and said they would call if they were interested. They already called earlier tonight wanting to schedule a meeting with one of the agents for next week, so I guess they liked it.

Oh, and thanks to those of you who checked out my brief appearance on General Hospital on Monday. I appreciate all the e-mails of support!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Waiting Game

Yesterday I had the privilege of working background on that same big movie I worked on before Christmas. The location was a brewery outside of town which was cool - in more ways than one. Though it was 80 degrees outside, on set -- inside the giant beercooler -- it was 42 degrees.

At any rate, I realized just how spoiled I've been on this project - in the 10 days or so I've worked, I've been on the set for all but maybe 3 hours, which is great, because you get to spend the day watching the filmmakers work. Most times when you do extra work though, you sit in "extras holding" for most of the day and spend little time on set. That was what yesterday was, about 10 hours in holding. But, that's just part of the business. And, once on set, it was a very slick scene to be a part of...

On a side note, there may be a group that gobbles up self-help books more than Background/Extra Actors, but I sure don't know what it is. Titles I noticed yesterday ranged from Excuse Me, You're Life is Waiting, to Start Late, Finish Rich. Now, if those books really work, I should never see their readers doing extra work again...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Break it Down

"Breakdowns" are what casting directors send out to agents detailing what type of actors they are looking for for specific roles in a project. So, every day (less so now because of the strike) there are tons of new breakdowns that are circulating through the agencies in town. There are some anyone can get a hold of (some of the websites I use, L.A. Casting and Actors Access, have breakdowns that anyone can self-submit for), but most of the real plum ones, that is for Film and TV parts, only go to agents, who then submit their appropriate talents' headshot/resumes. From all of these submissions, the Casting Director will select some to come in and audition.

I've been getting these breakdowns for the last week or so. This has been great, as I've been able to see exactly what C.D.s are currently looking for. Every day, I have submitted myself for a couple. I just write a cover letter and send it along with a headshot/resume. A very long shot to get called in, but you never know.

Of course, as you move along in the industry, the likelihood of getting called increases (or at least it should if you are putting in the work!), so it is a good habit to get in now. Surely, I will be more likely to get called in if and when I have 1) recognizable credits and/or 2) a recognizable (and well-respected) agent. Since these things are not exactly within the realm of my control now, I need to focus on the things I can control. And one of them is reading the breakdowns every day and knowing what's out there -- and then submitting, even for long shots. It gets my name/face in front of the CD for a second, even if it gets tossed right after, and that can only help down the road. Or at least, that's the hope ;)

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thursday at Disney

Thursday was indeed a huge march. Writers from all over town congregated around the Mickey Mouse house, carrying signs and high spirits. The WGA negotiating committee is scheduled to meet with the writers on Saturday to presumably go over the fine points of the deal that has been (rumored to be) negotiated. They will get a sense of the writer populace at large thinks and then go forward -- either with a Guild-wide vote, or a return to the negotiating table. It promises to be a very interesting weekend either way...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Strike 1 and Strike 2

Tuesday morning meant another few hours on the picket lines at Disney. Gina went with me, and we met JD and a few of the writers I've gotten to know there. Since it was Mardi Gras, one of the writers, Michael Tabb brought a HUGE bag of beads/hats/crowns other New Orleans themed things, which actually made it quite fun. The overall mood is still one of cautious optimism, though with so many rumors of an impending deal, that is swinging more and more towards full-on optimism. There is talk that the picketing may end by next week and that a final deal will be in place by the end of the month. In fact, Thursday all the writers in town are expected to picket at Disney/ABC (where I have walking the line) which should be really cool -- and it might be the last day for picketing anywhere. A resolution soon would mean that production on all TV shows and movies would likely be back in full swing by early March which would be a tremendous boost to the lagging city economy.

After picketing, Gina, JD and I joined a few of the writers at Bob's Big Boy, an authentic 50's diner which has the same logo and mascot as the Mark's Big Boy restaurants that were pervasive in SE Wisconsin a decade or two ago. Apparently, the Burbank eatery is comedian/host Drew Carey's favorite restaurant and he agreed to pay for all WGA members picketing anywhere to eat lunch there any day of the strike. So, these guys, along with many others, have been going for a free lunch pretty much everyday for the last 3 months, and the rumored tab for Mr. Carey is right around $80,000 so far.

Not being members of the writer's guild, of course we were expected to pay for our own meals. But, something interesting, and inspiring, happened yesterday. While we waited for a table, several in our group struck up a conversation with some older ladies who were also waiting. They just said how much they supported the writers, and told them to hang in there. Very nice, but not unusual, as many people come by all the time to say "we support you!" However, after we ate, we asked the waitress for the check (the writers have to put their WGA ID numbers on the check to get it paid for), she said that a lady had paid for the entire table. After some bewildered looks and discussion, we realized it was one of the ladies from the waiting area. This was especially good news for me, as it meant I got a lunch for just a couple dollar tip! But, the best part about the situation, ok the two best parts about it, 1) the lady did not know the writers already had their meals covered, so she was willing to foot the entire bill ($80 or so) for some guys she had just met - and only spoke to for two minutes! and 2) she didn't stop by to tell us about what she was doing, she didn't need to be praised for her gesture, she knew we would appreciate it, and it just shows how much she truly believed in what the writers are doing.


Tuesday afternoon brought another audition. This one was for a non-union (and low-paying) but potentially fun gig working on a local sports station's (Fox Sports West, I think) production of Amazing Sports Stories. The part I auditioned for was Joe Engel, a journeyman pitcher in the early part of the century who went on to greater acclaim as a manager and leader of a minor-league baseball team that challenged the conventions of the sport and the experience of going to a baseball game. The particular story they are doing involves Engel putting a girl on his team for an exhibition and she proceeded to strike out Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. As the story goes, then-commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw this as a disgrace and forbade any women from participating at any level of the sport. So, it would be a fun project, even if the role was small, and surely I would get to wear a period baseball uniform which would be pretty cool.

Oh, and though it may not feel like it in the snow-shrouded Midwest, today's beautiful, sunny 70 degree L.A. weather sure feels like baseball season is right around the corner. Play Ball!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Like a Good Neighbor...

Audition this morning for a State Farm commercial. Actually more of a pre-screen look-see as I found out. They are looking for one guy and one girl - in their mid 30's. So, I bumped my age up a few years and maybe the many random gray hairs I have will help me out ;) By the time I got there near noon, they had seen over 200 girls and I was guy number 129. So, who knows how many people they ended up seeing by the end of the day. They just took a few pictures, and then I guess based on look, they will call a few guys and girls in to actually read.

On another note, anybody like the Super Bowl commercials yesterday?! They seemed terrible. I can't believe Bud Light spent $2.7 million for each of so many stupid 30-second spots. Made me long for the days of " Wazzzzzupppp?!!?"


Friday, February 1, 2008

You Gotta Have Class, Man!

I've been taking a class with Paul Kampf, a playwright/director turned screenwriter/director, for the last three Thursday nights from 7 - 10:30. It has been really insightful - he focuses on using your instincts and your imagination in your acting, which is unlike any acting teacher I've had before. He also stresses the importance of developing your own process for preparing - for auditions, for scenes, etc. This preparation process will be very helpful for me as I (hopefully!) get to audition for TV/Film roles. The class runs for 6 weeks (and there are just 6 of us in it!), but following the 6 weeks, he will be turning it into a regular class. That is, one that meets every week in perpetuity, and you pay monthly as you go.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to get in a regular class, and I think I lucked into finding the perfect place for me right off the bat. I was actually given Paul's name by a woman in Chicago who I had auditioned for some time ago. She is the Artistic Director of a theatre company there and contacted me a couple months ago offering me a role in an upcoming production. I told her that I appreciated the call, but I had moved out here, at which time she recommended Paul who she had worked with several times in the past. Though my L.A. career is still in its infancy, I have already seen the impact of networking and relationship building.