Monday, April 28, 2008

L.A. Odds & Ends

1) Because of the various productions I've worked on, I haven't had to pay for a haircut since January. That being said, I think I might have to bite the bullet this week...

2) Any money I save on haircuts goes directly into my gas tank and then out into the smoggy L.A. air. With gas around $4 a gallon ($4.15-4.20 in Beverly Hills), it cost over $50 to fill my car up this week. No, I am not driving a Hummer H3, it is my little Kia Spectra 5.

3) I took my first yoga class over the weekend. I guess that makes me a true Californian. I've heard it helps with relaxation, and I also wanted to get some kinks out of the ol' back. It was actually a pretty physically demanding workout!

Audition: Print audition today for a "Great Eats" project. Nope, I'm not sure what that means either...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

SAG Negotiations Update - Ugh

Hollywood insider, Nikki Finke, is keeping a close eye on the closed-door SAG/AMPTP meetings. In a recent posting, she gave an ominous sounding status update:

EXCLUSIVE (Keep refreshing for latest updates): I can now report that the negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP are not making any progress with both sides very far apart and very frustrated. Negotiators for the Hollywood CEOs are privately making it clear they plan to make a deal first with AFTRA in order to use that as a wedge to soften up SAG. And, get this -- my sources tell me that the AMPTP is now prepared to wait out SAG for a deal until as late as mid-July. Which means the Big Media moguls are virtually daring SAG to strike when its contract expires the end of June.

For further info, visit Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To SAG Or Not To SAG

So, as you may recall from a couple weeks back, I am now SAG eligible. After briefly celebrating that fact, I've been anxiously weighing my options as far as joining. So, here are some of the pros and cons of becoming a member of that hallowed fraternity known as the Screen Actors Guild.

Pros: 1) Potential to work on tv shows and movies - this is a biggie, because, although you can technically get cast as a non-union actor, it is very difficult to even get auditions unless you are SAG. 2) Get to make some money working as a SAG extra - the day rates are equal to about 2 1/2 time those of non-union extras. 3) Potential to work as a commercial SAG extra - rates are about 5-6 times those of non-union extras (as far as TV/Film day rates) 4) vote for the SAG awards! ;) 5) Try to get a TV/Film agent - they typically won't take anyone over 25 who isn't SAG (and most people over 25 who are SAG for that matter!) so my odds would certainly be better. 6) Make my way towards health insurance - I understand you need to make a certain amount to qualify, but I can't start to make that SAG money unless I join...

Cons: 1) No more non-union work - There is more non-union work here, though it pays less in general. But being SAG means no commercials, tv stuff or films that aren't sanctioned by the union. Which is an especially big concern now because of... 2) Possible SAG strike? - the union contract is up in June and there is still a possibility that the actors will strike. That means no work -- not even extra work -- for however long the strike goes. 3) $2400 - Joining fee, which is of course an investment, so that is the least of the cons.

I WILL definitely join the actors union, since that's why I'm here in the first place, and it will likely be sooner rather than later. But, the possible strike, and the idea that I can no longer do non-union stuff (basically everything I've ever done) gives me pause.

In other news, I got a call today from the Daniel Hoff Agency, one of the more well-known commercial agencies in town, and the first one I auditioned for after I came out here. Though that audition was in January, apparently there was some mix-up with the tape so they were just finally able to view it, and they wanted me to come in to talk to the agent herself. Strange, but true L.A. industry... I politely told them that I had signed with another agent in the interim and they wished me luck. While it is certainly nice to know that they wanted me to come in, I am very excited to be with my current commercial agency, so maybe things just work out for the best.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Midwest Shakes?

So, I woke up this morning to hear reports of an 5.2 magnitude earthquake in Illinois whose effects could be felt as far as Wisconsin. Irony of ironies, I move to the capital of American earthquakes and all my friends and family back home experience one before me! Even though it was pretty powerful, especially by Midwest standards, I trust you are all okay.

My day wasn't as exciting though I did have a commercial audition for - a ticket selling website (and ever-present radio advertiser in Chicago). I had to be one-half of an "upscale couple enjoying the theatre." Lucky I know how to stare intently and clap.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lunch with David

Had lunch today with one of the friends I met walking the Writers' Guild picket lines during the strike, David Dean Bottrell. Those of you who watch Boston Legal may remember him as eccentric, murderous, scene-stealing neighbor, Lincoln Meyer, from a couple seasons back. He is also a varied and talented writer, and his recently begun blog "Parts and Labor" is a wonderful weekly read. It is a sometimes poignant, sometimes biting, always insightful look at what it means to be living in Hollywood and working in the industry. I urge you to check it out, and it's easy to sign up if you want the latest post to be sent via e-mail each Monday:

(kids: ask your parents first, as there may be a touch of adult language from time to time ;)

Anyway, it was fun catching up at lunch, finding out the latest and greatest in David's life. He is busily involved in a number of different projects, and talking with him motivates me even more to keep moving forward. I was reminded again why the writer's strike might have been in fact a blessing for me, as it allowed me to meet inspiring, cool folks like David.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mexican for a Day

So, no doubt my Mexican accent didn't impress anyone at my Telcel audition Friday, but they still called and wanted me to be part of the "family" that gets together at a picnic in the commercial. So, it really was like extra work, but that was okay with me because I wasn't doing anything else yesterday and the day rate was pretty good.

It was also a great opportunity for me to continue to explore Southern California. The shoot was up in Ojai (pronounced O-hi) which is about 80 miles from L.A. It was a nice drive and the Ojai valley itself was absolutely beautiful. The day was a typical extra day: sit around for 5-6 hours then shoot for an hour or so. But, as I said the scenery was really something to see, so it was definitely worth it.

Audition: On Sunday, which was unusual, had an audition for Polaris ATV. I think it's a series of print ads they are doing over the course of the next few months, so we'll see...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Last Couple Days...

Thursday I met with my commercial agent to talk about which pictures of mine he wanted up on the casting website out here. He wanted very specific "looks" i.e. blue collar, businessman, trendy, sporty, etc. After he told me the pics which he felt could sell me best, I went to L.A. Casting and had them uploaded. So, hopefully they will indeed help him help me.

I had an audition yesterday for Telcel, a Mexican cell phone company, and I had to say a line of dialogue in Spanish -- which I don't speak. So, it was funny, but the casting director said not to worry, that the company was probably going to dub the line in later anyway. Ahh, every audition is proving to be a new and interesting experience...

Gina is writing a film noir-esque private dick character in one of her screenplays, so she's been trying to catch up on some of the classics. And, further proving that you can find just about anything movie-wise in this town, it just so happens that this month is the 10th annual Film Noir festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, so I took her there last night. The Egyptian is just down the road from the Chinese Theatre (also built by Sid Grauman in the 1920's) and the Kodak on Hollywood Blvd. A stately throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood, (built in 1922 and recently renovated) they show all kinds of old films there, usually running in monthly series'. For their Noir fest, they managed to obtain many films from the studio vaults that haven't been screened in decades and aren't on DVD, including last night's Hell's Five Hours. Starring Vic Morrow and Coleen Gray (who spoke after the film), Hell's is about a hostage/'terrorist' scare at an energy plant. It was a lot of fun, and the story (if not some of the dialogue and acting) held up pretty well after 50 years. Before the movie, noted crime novelist and screenwriter (and wildman!), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia) talked a little about why film noir is still so captivating, and indeed he was skipping his own movie's premiere release (Street Kings) to catch Hell's Five Hours! Incidentally, right before the movie started, I saw a familiar face walk in with a huge popcorn and soda to sit by himself in the third row -- huge movie buff, Quentin Tarantino.

Only in this town.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Expectations and Disappointments

L.A. is a big place. And it is filled with many, many actors. Some of whom are just like me -- only more connected, more talented, funnier, better looking, etc. Add to that the fact that 95% (or more) of the time you audition for a job, you get rejected. It could be for any or all of those reasons above, or something entirely different -- maybe you look to much like the director's hated ex-boyfriend. Because of this, it can be a tough place to remain positive. That is, expectations must be tempered, so all those rejections don't bring you down. Being in a creative industry, just like music or art, rejection and/or apathetic response to your talents is part of the life we choose. And we know that going in, but that still doesn't make it easier. Inevitably, with every audition you don't hear back from, there is some disappointment -- rejection never feels good -- but it is important to keep things in perspective.

That's why little victories, baby steps must be celebrated and savored. After all, every experience, every audition, every rejection even is laying the groundwork for future successes. And that is why I also feel blessed to have such supportive family and friends who applaud my incremental moves along this long, long road and who lend encouragement when I'm down. In the 5 months or so I've been out here, I've also met some really great people who show me that there is a lot of goodness in this industry that often gets a bad rap.

It's not that I have to give up expectations of success. I still feel that I have the drive and determination to succeed, I just realize that is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. So, there will be some steep hills to climb, and hopefully some nice downhill stretches. Whew, I'm getting winded just thinking of it, I better go get jogging...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weekly Wrap-up

To finish a pretty busy week of auditions and mailings, the past couple days I had two print auditions (AJ Morgan Eyeglasses and Suntory Japanese Beer), which were quick and easy. Just a couple pictures and out - I got to try some pretty interesting sunglasses on...

I also had a commercial audition for Deutsche Telecom which was a pretty intriguing concept. Similar to I Am Legend, it takes place in an eerily empty large city. Actually a series of commercials, the campaign supposedly details the importance of interpersonal communication. The best part of getting that gig would be that it shoots in Beunos Aires which would be pretty cool.

All week I've been working on a couple of mailings. The first being an update postcard to many of the commercial casting directors in town to let them know that 1) I signed with an agent and 2) I am now SAG eligible. Again, this is just to keep my name and face on their radar. Also, since I am now SAG eligible, I've been mailing my headshot/resume to more theatrical casting directors (TV and film). I figure that if I send my stuff in to 100 CD's, maybe I'll hear back from 1 who is willing to let me come in and read -- and I would count that as success ;)

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wisconsin Sports

Spring is a time of new beginnings -- and a time for baseball. The Brewers battled the rain and the Cubs to win their season opener in 10 innings on Monday. Since it was a nationally televised game, I got to see every pitch. Good stuff. Another win today and the Crew is off to a good start...

It was surprising to hear that Marquette coach Tom Crean is leaving for Indiana. Not surprising that he would take the job, after all it's one of the most coveted jobs in college basketball, but just another reminder that college coaches' contracts are an absolute joke. I know that the argument goes that you can't recruit good players without your coach having a long-term contract, but does that really matter? Coaches get fired all the time with years remaining on their deals, leaving players in a pickle. And what about this instance? The MU players and recruits thought Crean would be around for awhile because of his long-term deal, but not so. Can you think of any other profession where contracts mean so little? I would just once like to see a college coach actually fulfill his contract. Now THAT would be something.

Auditions: Yesterday, Mike's Hard Lemonade commercial. Today, a print job.