Sunday, March 30, 2008


Last night I went to see 21, which is a very mediocre film based on a very good non-fiction book. It chronicles the card-counting journey of an MIT student named Ben. Some interesting visuals and a good soundtrack were the high points, though they could have went without the 37 slow-motion shots... A couple things struck me: 1) The last third makes such jumps in believability, it is clear to see why they did not market this movie as "based on a true story." Why the need to embellish an already thrilling story? and 2) the lead actors had such a lack of chemistry, it looked like they were siblings being forced to kiss. They were both good on their own, but together they were lukewarm at best. You think on a big budget movie like this, they'd be able to cast for that chemistry a little better...

Oh, and by the way, my favorite part of last night was the trailer before 21. It was promoting a little film coming out in May, one Indiana Jones and the Kingdon of the Crystal Skull.

Friday, March 28, 2008

In My Industry Related News...

Besides Jen's visit, I also had a good week since I became SAG eligible! Yay! I got that elusive 3rd union voucher working as an extra on that same big project I've worked on before. As I've said, that is one of the big hurdles out here. So, now when the paperwork eventually comes through and I cough up my $2500, I'll officially be a member of the Union. And then I'll be hoping SAG doesn't go on strike in June...

I also had a couple of auditions - one for the new hotel/casino MGM Grand is opening, and the audition required dancing, so let's just say that I doubt I will be hearing back from them... The other audition was for a Honda commercial - and now I'm really getting good at this walking to the pretend car and driving down the pretend road bit!

Hope everyone is doing well in their NCAA pools - big weekend ahead!

Edit: A couple other notes about this week's filming - it was green screen stuff. It involved sitting and walking and even using various tools upon a green platform surrounded by green walls. I wore different wardrobes/costumes each day and did different things. The filmmakers use these for special effects shots; they are able to take out the green on computers and put in whatever background/floor they want. It will be really interesting to see if they use any of my shots in the finished film.

Sister Act

Sorry I have been lax in updating the blog this week. It has been quite hectic -- though in a good way. Best of all, my sister Jen came to visit. She was only able to stay a few days, but we managed to get quite a lot in! The weather was beautiful and I know she appreciated being in the sun, having just come from a 15 in. snowfall. We spent a lot of time outdoors, and it really made me appreciate the opportunities I have out here amongst this craziness to drive for 30 minutes or so and be completely immersed in nature. We went to Santa Monica pier (where Jen recognized 'Super Nanny' being filmed) and walked along the beach for awhile. The ocean water was cold on the feet and my shorts got wet when I was hit by a rogue wave ;)

Tuesday we went hiking in La Canada park with some friends. It was a pretty rigorous 5 mile hike filled with absolutely gorgeous views. Though there were a couple close calls, like when I decided to take a "shortcut," but we all made it through unscathed! (though Jen said her calves were barking the next day ;)

In the three days of Jen's visit, we also managed to hit some great neighborhood restaurants, and watch a bunch of (mostly bad) movies. It was very nice - come back soon, Jen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Let the (March) Madness Begin!

NCAA Tourney Time - several upsets and many great games marked the tourney's first couple days. My home state of Wisconsin was represented pretty well. A big weekend lies ahead!

Audition: Thursday, I had an audition for another foreign (and dialogue free!) commercial. It was for a Swedish company called Telenor and I played the role of a 'confident stockbroker,' which given the current state of this country's financial markets is really acting ;)

I also stopped by my new commercial agent and filled out the requisite paperwork, so now I'm officially represented and hopefully soon will be officially working...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sunny Monday

Yesterday I got to work as an extra on that same big-budget film I worked on in Dec., Jan. and Feb. It was a pretty long (15+) hour day, and getting up at 2:15 a.m. is no picnic, but it was a perfect day to be outside. And outside we were, for the vast majority of the day. Got some running in, got to enjoy the sunshine, was well-fed, and made a few bucks. I can think of a lot worse ways to spend a Monday...

In other industry news as it pertains to me, I decided to sign commercially with Brass Artists & Associates. They seemed to be the best fit of all the agents I met with (or more accurately, all the agents I mailed to that would take a meeting with me ;) I will go in there either tomorrow or Thursday to sign the paperwork, and hopefully work will come flooding in. Likely not, but it doesn't hurt to dream!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

City of Industry, CA

Yes, there is actually a place called "City of Industry" out here. And I just had a print audition there. It was for an International Media catalog -- so just a few pictures. My agent said it's a good gig to get though because they tend to use the same people over and over. So, if fate smiles on me, I could be very industrious in that City of Industry...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nissan Redux

I got a call late this afternoon from the casting agent who was running yesterday's Nissan audition. Apparently all the digital photos they took of me had disappeared. They still had the video, but the client also wanted digital stills. So, I had to get dressed up again and get over there -- a task that is easier said than done with rush hour approaching and it did indeed take over an hour each way even though it was just about 10 miles.

But, I actually look at it as an opportunity. I got more face time with the casting director, and even though it was just a few brief moments, this time there weren't a dozen other auditionees around. So, even if it doesn't pay off this time by booking the job (though I hope it does!), maybe she'll remember me for other projects down the road.


The Madness is Beginning!

Almost time for the NCAA tourney, the time when office pools make working in an office worthwhile. From my most recent poll, sounds like the Carolina Tar Heels are the overwhelming (70%!) favorite to win. On paper they are likely the deepest team (provided they stay healthy), but as they say, "that's why they play the game."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Turning Japanese?

Today I had an audition for a Nissan commercial -- the catch is that the spot was only going to be used in Japan. (It is shooting in Vegas, but that's neither here nor there...) So, of course there was no copy (commercial speak for "dialogue"), and the audition consisted of a complex series of mimed actions: strolling confidently to the imaginary car, walking around said car, letting the invisible lovely lady out of the passenger side door, watching her imaginary self walking away, coming back around to the driver's side, opening the unseen door, sitting down in my (not imaginary) chair/seat, gripping the invisible steering wheel and driving away down the unseen road.

This was all great fun, though there were many like me doing the same walk and dance, so we'll see. On a side note, I'm not exactly certain why the Japanese car buying public would be more likely to buy a car after seeing a white dude like me on a commercial for the brand, but I guess that's why I'm not in business of marketing.

Luckily though, I am in the business of imagining...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Final Agent Meeting

So, this afternoon I have my final commercial agent meeting (the last one from this round of submissions, at least). It will be good experience for me to get in front of another agent, and I'll be able to compare her with those I've already met. Then it will be decision time - of course, that's contingent on them wanting to represent me. If they aren't interested, or if I don't feel a good vibe with them, I will sign with one of the other agencies I've already met with. And that, the actual signing, I am very excited for. That will (hopefully!) mean more, and more substantial, commercial auditions.

Speaking of auditions, I had one yesterday for a non-union commercial for Scott's Turf Builder -- one of those where two guys are outside admiring each other's lawn. It was kind of a funny spot and we got to play around with a bit of improv. Good stuff.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."

So goes one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Office Space. Gina took me to a screening of the film at USC last night. The film was introduced by Diedrich Bader who played mullet-haired neighbor, Lawrence, in the film and who is also known for his roles on the Drew Carey Show and as the crazy karate master in Napoleon Dynamite. I got to meet him and he is a really nice -- and funny -- guy.

For a film that is now nearly a decade old, Office Space holds up very well. For anyone that has spent time in a cubicle or an office environment, you may recognize Lumbergh, and Milton and the Bobs from your own life. The script is really clever and the ensemble of actors does a wonderful job of capturing the ethos of living a life that is not the most fulfilling. It had been a while since I had seen the whole movie and it was a lot of fun to see with an audience. If you haven't watched it for awhile, I recommend revisiting it. And if you've never seen it, you're likely too busy filling out your TPS reports...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pinstripe Redux

Here are a couple more pics of me as 1931 Yankee leftfielder, Ben Chapman. Day 2 of the Fox Sports Net Amazing Sports Stories Yankee shoot was a lot of fun on Sunday. We reshot the hitting scenes and they asked me to hit again. It felt good to hit live pitching and after a couple good strokes, upon the director's instruction to "get a hit to the outfield," I lined a solid base hit to left with my period wood toothpick/bat. Hopefully, they'll use that shot! Then I got to run the bases -- or at least run from 1st to 2nd quite often and then lead off 2nd base about a hundred times while they got all the shots of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig striking out. It was a beautiful sunny day and a beautiful ballpark with lush green grass, and even though it was something of an artificial situation, it reminded me why I love this game so much...

Audition: Adobe is producing a short film to package with its Creative Suite software that emphasizes all that the software can do. It is a Film Noir style short, and I auditioned of the role of the private eye. So, I got to channel my inner Humphrey Bogart, wear a suit, and read some lines 40's style. Of course that made the audition fun, and they had me read each scene a couple times which is usually a good sign. I think the producers weren't even really sure what they were looking for though since there were about 20 other guys in the waiting room also reading for the role and our ages ranged from about 30 to about 55. So it will be interesting to see who they decide to go with.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"What Do You Do?": A Tribute To Ben H.

I write with a heavy heart tonight; I found out that Ben, a friend of mine from home, passed away suddenly yesterday. This is one of those times when it is hard to be so far away...

Since leaving Marquette, I had only seen Ben occasionally, but when I did, he was never without an encouraging word of support or a positive vibe, and that's what I'll remember most. My mind drifts back to the last time I spent hanging out with him: New Year's Eve at my buddy Nick's place. In the first wee hours of 2008, Ben and I had a lengthy discussion about work, careers, and passion -- about what is meant when people ask "What do you do?" and how one should answer that question.

Eventually I think I convinced Ben that rightly or wrongly the asker of such a question wants to know what you do for a living - not necessarily what you yearn to be. Finally agreeing that my supposition may be true about what people want when they ask, Ben simply said that was dumb, that people shouldn't be defined -- or define themselves -- by what they do to earn money. And I agreed with him. But the hard part is that anytime you answer the question, "what do you do?", you are immediately judged (consciously or subconsciously) by the asker.

And since being judged "successful" is something that usually feels better than being judged "a loser" or even "a dreamer," it would likely be easier to tell someone that you are a Bank President rather than a gardener, even if that small flower garden in your backyard is your pride and joy and you spend every weekend and holiday making it even more lovely and wonderful and you cannot wait until you can retire from that stupid bank and spend every waking moment with your hands in the dirt. But, imagine how much more we would know about that person and his true self if he answered the second way! And that's what Ben was getting at.

In my case, he said that I shouldn't say I was a teacher or standardized patient or tradeshow spokesperson, or promotions guy, or whatever I happen to be doing to support myself financially at any given time. I should say "I'm an actor" -- not even "an aspiring actor" since that cheapens it by already having a built-in excuse why I haven't been seen on NBC or in Will Ferrell's last movie. If people judge me or roll their eyes, that's their problem, he said. I should be proud that I am following my dream. According to Ben, we all are what we long to be inside, and if someone is in sales, but her real passion lies in painting, she should tell anyone that asks what they do, "I am an artist!" And not care what that person thinks.

I know there are a lucky few who happen to be making a living doing exactly what they love. And those people are certainly lucky, I hope to someday join their ranks. But, for the rest of us, think about it for a moment next time someone asks what you do. If you don't happen to make the big bucks doing what you're most passionate about, consider telling them your passion instead.

No doubt in some way hued by our early morning discussion two months ago, I have indeed told everyone who has asked since, "I am an actor." So, thank you Ben.