Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
That led to the party afterwards. We bowled two games as we got progressively drunker and drunker, although some of our bowling games actually improved. Mine did, even if the cheap beer started wearing off around the sixth frame. All the time we're bowling, it didn't really hit us that this was the last time this group would be together. So we kept bowling and drinking until it was time for the drunken cheese steak run, which we ate with glee. Then it was time for the goodbyes and the see-you-laters and the promises to all hook up when we are in NYC. And I will miss this group of people very much. I don't think I will miss the constant physical abuse, but I will have to wait to see how I feel about that in a few days. It's entirely possible that by Thursday I will be jonesing for some wrestling, and I'll have to ask all of my friends if they can powerbomb me.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Normally I'm never a fan of added Saturday matinee shows, especially when there is an already-scheduled Saturday evening show. More often than not, the added show just fragments the audience in half, so the actors end up doing two shows to small crowds instead of one show to a sold-out house. But the crowd this afternoon was pretty big, all things considered, and it included some friends of mine who would not have otherwise been able to see the show. And it was a really good show, the powerbomb served up as an almost perfect example of the move. I'm starting to feel a knot developing in my lower back and my shoulder is acting up again, but I'm ready to go. Put me in, coach, we have two more to go.
Powerbombs remaining: 3
Thursday, November 19, 2009
But that question got us into a more interesting discussion of the sacrifices that we are willing to make for our job (our art.) Both he and I like this element of physical dedication to the job, working out, eating right, treating our bodies to a whole lot of stretching every day. And we both agreed that the physical is a little easier to do every night than a whole lot of emotional dedication. Going to scary places on a night-by-night basis is a little more intimidating than just throwing out bodies around.
As I was stretching yesterday, I compared my work in this show to an athletic event. I stretch and prepare as if I'm getting ready to run a race or play a baseball game. Most of my normal "actor" preparation isn't as useful in this show since the performance itself is so physical. I'm essentially a stuntman in the play, so the preparation is all to keep my body safe and healthy for the rest of the performance run. In my next show I'll get to talk, but not this one.
Powerbombs remaining: 9
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Then she came to see EECD, and over a few beers and a mad dash for the last train home, she told me a little bit more about the show and the role, and asked me if I would reconsider. She really liked the script and wanted to do a good job with this up-and-coming playwright; I was flattered that casting me was a part of her doing a good job. She sent me the script to entice me into accepting the part as well as sparing her the hassle of having to audition a whole bunch of white guys for a single role. That really is how things are done in this industry.
So she sent me the script, and I sat down with a cup of coffee to read the play and see what her excitement was all about. After reading no more than ten pages, I immediately sent her a text message that read “Not even done the script yet, but I’m in. No one else is playing this role but me.” The story and the characters made such an instant impression on me that I was willing to rearrange my schedules to be a part of this show.
It is a great role, and it has everything that an actor could want. It feels, paradoxically, that the role is both written for me and unlike everything I normally play. The character is going to sound like me and look like me, but there will be such a change in energy that he is not going to feel like me. Wonderful depth and complexity fill the script, and now I am super-ready to be a part of the show. And all of this from an opportunity that I almost passed on. I know that Cara (the director) and I are going to rock out on this, too! Just goes to show that sometimes it takes a little bit of stubbornness (on Cara’s part) and a little bit of luck (on my part.) I’m glad this all worked out, however, and I’m looking forward to working on this piece.
And on the best side, I don’t have to get powerbombed.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
When I came out to do the complicated, intense match at the top of the second act, they were cheering up a storm. But I forced my mind to tune them out, knowing that it would take all of my concentration on the physical moves I was about to do. Knowing that if I let my attention wander, there was a very real chance that I could seriously injure myself. So I went through the first few moves, but a small part of my brain was aware of them cheering on every one. So when I had a little lull in my part, I let my ears focus on them, and I let their cheers and their support give me a little smile inside. Then I got powerbombed.
I shared this story with one of the actors in the dressing room after the scene was over. I explained to him how I tuned them out at first in order to focus on what I was doing. But when I tuned them back in, I understood exactly why I was out there. Sure, I’m probably not going to have a career in professional wrestling. (Replace “probably” with “definitely.”) Nor will I ever get the chance to be a major sports star standing at home plate with 50,000+ cheering my name. But for this little moment onstage, I was a rock star. And I let that seep into every part of my mind and me being, and I grinned under my mask because those cheers reminded me just a little bit why I was out on that stage in the first place.
And then I got powerbombed.
Monday, November 9, 2009
But one of the best parts of the whole process is hearing how the audiences are reacting to the show. And I don't mean the laughs, cheers, applause, and/or standing ovations that we receive. But rather the comments that we get from people who come to see it. A friend of mine asked me how I felt being in the "most important show in Philly right now." For an actor who is used to doing summer stock, children's tours, and classic mystery/thrillers, I wasn't entirely sure how to answer that question at all. Aside from humbly smiling and saying that we just try to focus on the work, I'm not sure how I feel. I am very proud to be a part of this show. Kris wrote an amazing play for us with great words to say, and the cast and the crew have done an amazing job.
I'm very proud to be in this show, to know that my name is going to be connected with this show as it develops. Sure I'm not one of the big stars nor am I one of the movers-and-shakers in the play. But everyone in the play needs someone to beat up on...
Sunday, November 8, 2009
It also occurred to me that we were getting back into a groove with our major match in the show. We were spot-on for our first week of performances, and then it seemed like we got off our game a little bit. Our timing got a little bit off, and we were taking our bumps a little wrong. But this week we got back on the right track, and by the matinee today, everything was feeling just like it used to. Two more weeks to go, and then we get massages provided by the theatre. Best job ever. (Aside from all the hurting.)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I'm not saying that I'm not enjoying myself. But the show is kicking my ass, and, frankly, I think I'm getting a little bit too old for this kind of work. Where's my stunt double?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
We also had our first casual "coffee conversation" talkback after the show, led by our director Seth. Some of the patrons were calling him by his name; they clearly have long-standing relationships with him. It was wonderful to be involved in a theatre with such a devoted subscriber base. They asked very good questions about the wrestling moves and about the larger issues of the play. I like that we have so many post-show discussions during this run. I love answering questions from the audience, and I also really like hearing what the audiences think of this show. It's a show that confronts people, and it is fun to hear the reactions that people have.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
One thing I really enjoy about working in this company, with this group of professionals, is the chance to sit and listen to what they talk about and how they work together. When I'm trying to be a smart actor, I always try to listen to what everyone around me is saying. Being around so much talent is a great opportunity to pick up tricks and little hints and things that will help me in future projects and future auditions. I can help other auditions in the future, as well as impress my current director/co-artists with my talent, energy, spirit, and general awesomeness. So much of this business is making connections and fostering those sorts of friendships, so that the next time this director needs someone, he will think of me.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I had a little bit of fun tonight during our initial fight call, though. When we were working on the powerbomb, my partner and I started to go up into the lift, we lost our timing and our grip, and I ended up falling back onto the canvas. I landed on my head, clocked myself good, and then rolled down onto my back. I'm not going to lie, it hurt. The stage manager was down to take care of things in a heartbeat. I took a minute or so to just lie there on the canvas before I was ready to get up, and then I spent the rest of the day trying to work it off. I kept stretching, took some medicine, and just took care of myself. Now, sitting at my desk, it feels much better even if I'm not all the way back to 100%. But even with that little injury, we could still do the match sequence and make it look great. It only gets better from here.
The brutal one is the beginning of the second act, which ends with me getting powerbombed. We worked on that last night, and I learned how to do the move in isolation. We did it perfectly twice all by itself. But then when it came time to actually run the whole match with the move at the end, but it didn't quite work. That's the biggest thing I now need to focus on. Sure I have style points to earn with the rest of the fight, and acting points to earn with my other characters. But the powerbomb is the only move that I still need to practice to get to the point where I can make it perfect every time.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tonight is our second round of training and fight choreography. I still have to learn how to do the powerbomb since the wear-and-tear on my body was standing in my way last week. I'm not gonna lie, it's a scary thing that I'm not sure I am capable of doing. But the alternatives scare me even more, so I'm really determined to get myself into shape to do it. I worry that this is my last chance tonight, since we'd have to find an alternative if it doesn't work. Time to use all my energy and power. I'll let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
The Saturday matinee was a little off, maybe either because of a lack of focus, an abundance of drinking, or the sunlight streaming through the windows backstage. We had a little meeting before the evening show to talk about focus and intention and actor-things like that, and then we nailed the second show. We have a line-through scheduled before our next show on Thursday, and then another double show on Saturday that we should be better prepared for. And that's the run. Ah, Fringe.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
When I do talkbacks with student audiences, one of the questions that always comes up is "how do you learn all those lines?" Every actor has a different answer as to how they memorize. But the more interesting problem to me is - how do you make those lines feel like realistic speech and not just the words that you're saying? Personally, that is always a step that comes very late in the process for me. I will usually always focus on the blocking first and then the text second. Once the lines and the moves are firmly in my body, it is a lot easier for me to engage my imagination and let the words live as natural reactions in my body. It's usually then, once I've mastered all those technical details, that I can really let myself live in the moment. Lucky for me, that usually happens in the week before we open, and I'm able to play in those moments for the run of the show.
Monday, September 7, 2009
After we got started, though, it went pretty smoothly. The hardest parts were toward the top of the show, and once we passed them it all handled much more easily. It took until just before 11, but we're in good shape to go into our last two rehearsals before people actually come to see this show on Thursday for the first time. We got that little reality check this evening, too, but I do feel really good about the work I'm doing in this show. I will need to find the best way to focus myself before the performances, but I'm excited to play the role.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Most of my Fringe festival this year is occupied with either performances/rehearsals for D&S, or with rehearsals for my upcoming J&H. I do have a few nights in there off, and I am going to be able to see the shows that some friends are putting up. One of the most amazing parts of the Philly theatre scene is the overall support and feeling of community, so I'm going to go out and encourage that spirit.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
But the next two scenes felt a little out of place and a little wonky. I came out with a slightly different focus and tried a whole bunch of different stuff, and some of it didn’t work so well. It’s always a crucial thing to know that, though, since it is only through finding those choices that don’t work that you know the right ones. Sometimes I make the best choice right off the bat in the process, and so rehearsals are a chance to explore around and find different colors for that choice. I like that my instincts can be right on sometimes when it comes to those such choices, but it often makes the process a little anti-climactic for me.
Catching up will be done piece by piece, as I have to fill readers in on the details of this rehearsal, as well as the production of CDD which I just directed in New York City. We are also two weeks away from starting rehearsals for J&H for Fringe Wilmington, which is a journey that I will chronicle very closely. For the memoirs, you know…
Friday, August 14, 2009
This month, I am again directing "CDD," an original musical for the NYC Fringe Festival. The link to the show is on the right, which has all the info about performance times and performance locations. We go into the rehearsal process for it next week. The cast has spent some time in June working on the show before we lost one of our actors to another summer theatre season. So now that we get her back, the rest of the rehearsal process is about remembering what they did in June and just sharpening and polishing all of the work. It should be a smooth process, and it's just about working things through.
Also, I've recently launched the website for Radio Hound Productions. Fittingly, the web address is www.radiohoundproductions.org and it has information about the company and about all our projects. I've included some of the past films that I've produced under the banner of Radio Hound, and I'm going to post all of the upcoming "Jekyll and Hyde" production on that site. The design is still a little basic, but it is something that is up and running so that everyone can find our online presence. Which is important for any business to have.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
These rehearsals, of course, are just one of the things that I'm working on at the moment. I'm about to start directing CDD for the NYC Fringe Festival again, and I've just completed the second draft of my audio drama of Jekyll and Hyde. And like all good little actors, I've been keeping up the audition rounds, and I've had a few exciting things happen lately, which I will post about in the next few days. I promise.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I told you this was quick.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
The company that I just worked for has spent the last five summers building their relationships with the communities around the parks where they perform, and we were like small rock stars in those places where the company has been going for years. It's a great feeling to know that you're a part of such a great cultural event for a community that is looking forward to your visit. It's a great thing to be a part of.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Then I checked another off my AFI100 list with "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." It's been on my to-watch list for years, and I've even checked it out of libraries before, but this is the first time I actually got to sit down and watch the whole thing. Another great movie with some terrific performances, including a little clip of Walter Huston doing the "happy prospector" dance that is so often copied. But this is the film it's actually from. Not to mention the line "We don't need to show you no stinkin' badges." There is something wonderful about all those old films, films that are made fast and relatively cheaply, and then they stand the test of time as "classics." I hope to someday be a part of a movie like that, although it's so hard to identify those movies before they have the 50-year history to be a part of.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Her article looks at the various natural and man-made disturbances that occur in some outdoor venues. The raccoon incident apparently happened while Anne Hathaway was playing Viola in Twelfth Night with NYC's Shakespeare in the Park. With CCTC, we haven't had to handle a whole lot of that this summer. The company has moved upward in the last five years since their creation, and our use of lighting instuments and microphones has helped us out lately. For example tonight, at Love Park, we'll be able to use the microphones to help the sound so we won't have to blow our voices before we hit the bar to celebrate afterwards. Then we can blow our voices because we don't have to do anymore outdoor Shakespeare.
It's going to be bittersweet to see this show go. I have a lot of other projects coming up, and I'm excited that I will be able to dedicate time exclusively to them. But this has been a really great cast to work with, and I will be disappointed to say goodbye to them. Casts aren't always as wonderful and supportive as this one is, and it will be a shame when all of us have to go our separate ways.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Overall, the performance went very well. There were a few times when we did some business on the stage, and as soon as I exited I thought to myself, "Now, I could have done that differently..." But on the whole, we as a cast did a great job of making some on-the-fly adjustments to the situation in which we found ourselves. Tonight is a much different space, in the sense that we are now going to be playing on a large grassy lawn. The amphitheater is lovely (we were there last year), but it does take some serious vocal heft to get your voice past the first thirty feet of incline. Only three shows left.
Monday, July 20, 2009
In any case, the judging happened over the weekend and the results of the contest were posted today on the website of the sponsor. We ranked fifth overall, but we were in the top three for almost all of the individual categories. We were the number one ranked film in terms of production design, which is a major feather in the cap. The webseries on which the contest was based has a strong comedic flair to it, and our piece was lacking that sense of humor. We were always convinced that we weren't going to win the contest, but we were rather using the contest as a way of forcing ourselves to have a finished product of this vampire movie we had in our heads. So there will be no money coming into our wallets as a result of this project, but it is a really strong short film on its own. Now it's a matter of finding some more contests where we can get our investment moneys back.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
And now we have two days off before we come back for our final week of shows. We have a show Tuesday night (a make-up performance from one that was rained out), and then Wed, Thurs, and Saturday shows as regularly scheduled. We are also heading off into a venue that we've never been to before, as well as some of our largest and most challenging spaces. Saturday at Love Park in Philly, we'll have to compete with street noise and traffic noises. But then after that, we've got two different cast parties planned on the same night, and then we all go our separate ways. It will be sad when it happens, but for now we still have four shows left where we get to play together.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
We lifted a whole lot of heavy things into the van, and by this time all of us are soaking wet from head to toe. I was coiling up some extension cords and XLR cable when the pouring got even more intense. I have never seen rain that was falling so thick that I could barely see through it. We grabbed everything and pulled it all over to the truck just as the rain stopped falling. We paused for a moment to do a photo shoot while we were soaking, fulfilling all of our 'wet dream' jokes, and then took a little breather and re-packed the truck more correctly than we had before. Heading out to bar to start all of our drinking early, I hung around for a quick pass at the free chips & salsa, and then ran back to the office to finish up the final edit on "E.D.E.N."
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Last night, we went out to a lovely park in West Chester, and we did a full run of the show outside for the first time: costumes, sound, lights, set, the works. Everything went very smoothly for the most part, even if we had some "rust on the works" as the director put it. We've got another run-through tonight, and then we open the show on Thursday night before running for three weeks. I'm excited to get on our feet and get this show going. I've had fun working with this cast through the process, but I really think that we need to have an audience soon to get all the best next step forward.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The puppets require two hands to operate - one hand works its mouth just like a sock puppet and two rods control the hands of the puppet. The first challenge was to decide which of my hands would operate which part of the puppet. Once that was figured out, I had to figure out how long I wanted his puppet rods to be. We trimmed one of them down, then installed the handles on the end of the wire rods, and Mustardseed was good to go. I'll try to get one of the pictures we took so I can post it on the blog.
After we figured out how the puppets worked, then we had to figure out the best way to make them act. I had a leg-up based on my previous work with Enchantment, and I could figure out how to make him run and act. We took some photos outside for publicity, and all the puppets posed with their designer as well. I'm really excited working with this puppet in the show; it's almost as if any other work I do onstage will be outdone by a three and a half foot, floppy-haired puppet.
I love my job.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
After we came back from lunch, we tried a couple of other setups for the flying rig, but we never really got it to work the way we wanted it to. Something was always a little off with the stunt, and the action in the stunt didn't really look natural. We tried a couple more ways of doing it, moving the pulleys and re-rigging some of the rope, but we couldn't ever make it work. So while the last rehearsal day was productive and satisfying, this second day wasn't quite as satisfying. It was just as productive, however. We spent a lot of hours figuring out that our idea would not work, and those were important hours. It was much better to learn that on a rehearsal day as opposed to the day when we had Karina there waiting for us. We also spent the last hour of the working day looking for another tree to use for a stunt for her. After rigging something up on a larger tree, we spent the time deciding that we liked our first tree better. Overall, the day was very useful for our purposes. It wasn't as cool as the first day, but it was very important to us to figure out that our ideas would not work, so we could use the time to come up with other ideas. Filming is next.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Overall, it was a very good first reading. The last reading we did with Josh was an absolute laugh-riot, with each of us trying to find the funniest moments and lots and lots of trying to one-up each other with punchlines. This time, however, it was more about a group of actors exploring their characters and testing their relationship with one another. It was a calmer, less hilarious reading, but one that showed some of the potential for the summer. It was an interesting dynamic to be aware of as I read through the script, and I'm very happy to be a part of such a talented ensemble.
We headed out to the local hardware store to pick up some chains and wires and the other stuff we'd need, as well as the burgers and dogs for our BBQ dinner, and then we headed back to do some work on the actual rigging. It took some work to figure out how to rig up some stunts, and on the first day we got two of our rigs fully operational. Here is a photo of Mason, stunt coordinator, rigged up in a harness with his fall mat beneath him. If you look really carefully, and I mean really carefully, you can see the two wires coming off his hips and stretching into the rope over him (out of camera.)
Each rig that we set up is for a specific action sequence. And not only that, but each sequence requires a different harness on the stunt man, and different padding to keep him safe. Unlike theatre, where everything has to be designed to be strung together, film stunt work relies on different setups for each individual stunt or camera angle. That's going to take up some time on the day, but that kind of time is not something that can be avoided. We also set up two cameras while we were out this day, both to check some camera angles for the actual shoot, as well as to record some behind-the-scenes footage for any bonus features that may be on the disc.
This first work day was productive and satisfying. We managed to set up two different rigs that we are going to use for several different stunts, and we got some test footage that looks great. The schedule gives us another rehearsal day before we go to the filming days, and I have more stories and photos from that too. Stay tuned.
Monday, June 8, 2009
To play the calculating executive, we cast Jensen Bucher:
The schedule had two days of rehearsal and practice for the stunt crew, so we could figure out how to rig the wires and ropes without using up any of our filming time. I have behind-the-scenes photos from all of our work days, and I'll be posting them online as I go through them and release the press kit. Reports on the rehearsals and shooting days will soon follow.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I knew a lot of the people involved from last year, and the new additions to our group fit in perfectly. Everyone was there to perform for the kids and work for the young playwrights, who obviously took such delight in the show they had written. These kind of shows are not the ones we do for our own glory or the amazing scripts, but rather for the joy of working with kids. They got such a kick out of seeing their words come to life, and our playwright actually told us that it was "exactly" how he pictured it in his head. Now, I'm not sure that I believe him exactly, but I certainly believe that he now imagines it exactly as we appear. And then after the kids really enjoyed their shows, the actors really enjoyed themselves out at the local saloon. So everybody wins.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Also, in confession time, it was my first commercial shoot. Spending time on LAB has given me a sense of what it's like to be on a working professional set, but on this one I was one of the stars. The crew set everything up and did the lighting with a stand-in, so I was only called into the set when they were ready to tape. Until then, I ate some fruit at craft services and hung out with the on-set photographer. Ken gave me some great direction on how to convey the idea of the commercial. It was about the computer, so I had to make acting choices in order to show off the computer. The unique challenge was exciting, and I'm glad that I now have some on-camera commercial experience to bring to any future auditions and projects.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Tomorrow, Rob, Mason and I are heading out toward the Harrisburg area to scout locations for our upcoming short film. We had hoped to get an early start, but it turns out that our location won't be available until closer to 1pm. It means that we'll have a shorter day than we wanted, but if we plan correctly, we still think that we can finish up everything we wanted to finish. We'll be racing both the clock and the weather, but we still think that we can do some good work. I'll have my camera and I'll try to post some pictures, but tomorrow is finally going to give us the best idea of what this movie is going to be.
I expected to read with several different actresses for the role, but I only read with one who they had seen a few weeks before. She was really nice and very sweet, and I'm curious to see which way Cara goes with the casting. I also knew a bunch of people who were there before me, and I was trying my best to put in good words for them. I'm always exited to meet new and talented people, but I'm even more excited to work on new projects with old friends.
I had a good time doing it last year, because a lot of the people that I know from summer Shakespeare are also involved. The kids get a huge amount of joy to see their words come alive on the stage, and it really is a great thing to be a part of what might be their first creative experience. They really do a good job writing the plays, and part of the challenge as an actor is to really honor their words and find the honesty behind what they've written. I always love being a part of new work, and this is new work that is done in a educational setting. It's a great thing to be a part of this project, because everyone involved is really doing it for the love they get from it. I know that sounds a little geeky and overly-romantic, but it's true. This is not a project to do for the money (believe me!), but it's one to do out of generosity. Actors only have so many ways they can make the world better, and performing with young writers and for young audiences is one of them.
I felt really good about the audition, even if my schedule conflicts mean that I won't get a role. It's always good to get out there and put yourself up for something, because then the odds will be much better when the chance comes around to audition for something that you really want. And I saw three friends from Airbender at the audition, and I know of at least two more who will be there this afternoon, so it's really quite a small community here in Philly. I'm writing this before I head off to my next rehearsal of the day. For a Saturday, I'm keeping myself pretty busy with work-related tasks....
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I've always wanted to get the footage out again and go through it with Rob, giving it that digital upgrade that makes it look so much better. Plus, we had a little problem with the tape losing quality, so now the film won't degrade any further over time. Plus, we found some great new music and created some great new title cards for the movie. The title cards make me rather giddy, actually, especially the little detail that we added the "RHP" in the lower portion of the card. Silent movies used to have the studio logo on the cards, and I love that we found that little details and put it on our own cards.
It was fun going back into the archives to work on this film. I was very happy with the original work that I did eight years ago, and I think that we've added nice new touches to that work with our new digital toolbox. We made some effort to edit the clips like the old version, taking the same takes and shots, but we trimmed some scenes down to make the movie shorter and better. The film isn't too much different, but it's much better.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
For me, the film is even better because of the sense of finding that diamond in the rough. I picked it up at a local comic book store(!) that sells used DVDs, and I only got it to take advantage of the "But-One-Get-One-Free" nature of the sale that was going on. The movie sat on my shelf for almost a year before I got to watch it, and now I know that I'll be pulling it out more often. It's a beautiful, almost perfect indie film, and I would consider my filmmaking career a success if I could make just one movie like it.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
But more exciting stuff has also happened in the last few weeks, not related to LAB. I attended the performance of "*" up in Allentown, which was the show I helped write and create. I auditioned for a won a role in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with an outdoor Shakespeare company I've worked with before. Rob and I have been working hard on his horror film Preservation, our upcoming feature version of The Chrononauts, and even going deep into the vault to pull up some projects from my college days so we can take a look at making some special editions of them. All in all, it's been very busy, and I will try to go back and catch up on some storytelling from the last few weeks as we go forward.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I've had some of this week off from work on the film, but I'm heading back for more work starting tomorrow. I've liked having some time off, but I'm ready to start working and making some money again. The constant need to find work is one of the worst aspects of this business. It's a challenge to line things up always looking 3-4 months in advance, trying to line up theatre gig after theatre gig and just string them together. Easily the worst part of acting.
Friday, April 10, 2009
When I first started working on this show, I was excited to perform in a play that I would help write. But now that I'm not going to be onstage due to my other work, I'm finding a much different excitement in writing a show that others will perform. Much like directing in NYC in January, it's a strange thing. I'm not going to be onstage, but the actors will be speaking my words. It's something new for me, as I've never really written a play before. Sure, I've written movies that I've produced, but it's different to know they are working on this without me there. I have a hand in a film at all stages of work, but this project I'm writing scenes and then turning them over to the director and the actors. I'm very excited to see what they come up with.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
We based lot of the ideas on the short film as well. We're not trying to copy scenes or replicate plot points, but we're taking the moments and beats of the short film and just expanding the world that we created. We've got some exciting sequences planned and a nice entrance into the creation of a web-series based on the feature. The film stands alone as an exciting adventure, and yet it also links into a planned larger project. Stay tuned for updates.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The first time I got such an elaborate contract, it was a very well-balanced deal, with protection provided for both company and actor in case of a difference between them. By signing it, I promised that I would behave in certain ways and perform certain tasks, but it also guaranteed that the theatre would behave in certain ways and be held to certain standards. It accounted for everything, and I signed it without further negotiation.
The second time I got an elaborate contract, it was much more heavily weighted in favor of the theatre company. I too balked at some of the provisions I was being asked to agree to, and I wanted to change some of the wording in the document as well as negotiate some of its points. I called the company office with a very specific request to discuss the contract. After trying for three days to speak to the correct people, I was eventually told that the changes I wanted were impossible, as they were not company policy. I didn't know if it was company policy to not change the contract, but I was forced to sign it with those less-than-favorable clauses intact. I enventually had a much larger debate with this company over contract matters, but that's an entirely different topic.
How much power do we actors have in these contract negotiations? In reality, the answer is not very much. There are a hundred other actors out there who are more than willing to play the roles that we give up because of contract reasons, and the theatres out there know this. That is one of the chief reasons to have an agent/manager, in my opinion. They can negotiate and discuss the specifics of employment without running the risk of alienating the theatre while they do so. The agent is simply looking out for the best interests of their client, which is something that all actors should be given the freedom to do. We need to learn how to ask for changes, negotiate, and not take "no" for an answer when we think the theatre company manager is just trying to sweep the problems under the rug. By and large, theatre companies do not take advantage of the actors that work for them. But if we run across that rare exception, we should have taken the time and had the courage to re-negotiate a contract that protects us.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
It's always the thing that's the most strange about editing a feature is that the editor can really craft the performance of the actors. The actors give strong performance that fit into the overall scenes. But some actors can not only give performances that fit into the moment of each scene, but also fit into the continuity of the entire film. Otherwise each scene takes on a full life but the overall film lacks flow. That is one of the real marks of a good film actor. Well, that, and an avoidance of something that I'm now calling "actor-time." In real life, we connect each action and movement into a single organic flow, but film actors sometimes give a performance that is a little too disconnected to feel truly "real." Working on this side of the editing deck has given me a secret as to what casting directors see, so I think of it as good on-the-job training.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Last Friday night marked the second performance of the Mmmm....Brains.... new play festival downtown. All zombie themed plays. What's not to like? My last entry was about the fun I had with the cast, and that spirit of playfulness lasted for the process. We had a performance two Fridays ago, which went very well. After that first showing, the playwrights were given the chance to make changes and re-writes to their work. Alex decided not to do another draft, so we worked on making the second performance more of a fully realized event. The first one didn't have costumes, and we only mimed the food props called for in the script. For the second show, we wanted to give a fuller look to the play by using costumes, makeup, and, yes, real food.
The script says that my character puts out a tray with two different kinds of crackers and a bowl of dip. Though the course of the show, I feed it to the other characters with my bare hands, and then the other couple roll around on the ground, covering themselves affectionately in dip and crackers. It took us a few tries to find the right prop to use as the edible dip - hummus was rejected when one of our company didn't like it at all. French onion dip made half of us sick - it tastes great combined with potato chips and veggies, but not on its own. At the show, our director brought a container of tapioca pudding, which worked perfectly. And it got everywhere. Nice.
The entire project was a blast from beginning to end. I always love working on new plays and new scripts, especially short plays about zombies. I also felt really lucky to meet all the folk who were in the company with me. Very cool people all, and people that I want to work with again in the future if I get the opportunity. One of them is involved in film festivals (the subject of a-still-upcoming blog entry), and so they are good people to know for my career.
But above all, it was a blast. Working in theatre is supposed to be fun, and this whole process was a very fun one. I hope to do something like it again soon.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Also, this is my 300th post to this blog according to Blogger. Happy Anniversary to me. I guess this means that I'll have to start printing out the earlier pages from my time at Bristol Valley or my various shows with TNT over the years, and I'll be collecting them into a book copy of the blog. Some comments will be presented just as they are online, with bonus pictures and perhaps footnotes. Or endnotes. No, footnotes. Endnotes piss me off with the constant turning of pages. I'll call it the 300th post special edition, signed copies will be available. Look for it on Amazon!