Friday, May 29, 2009

Commercial Shoot

Yesterday morning, I headed out into North Jersey to shoot a commercial for a toothpaste company. I had auditioned for the production company earlier, and I was one of the faces that they chose for this particular commercial. So I let a few days go by without shaving, then I was down there yesterday morning ready for some '8os hair and clothing, and that was all I knew. When I arrived, I was super-impressed with everything. We were filming in a production studio, rigged up with lights and dollies and sound and monitors. After they gave me my rock star '80s hairstyle and put me in a lavender linen shirt and a tan jacket with the sleeves rolled up, they had me sit at a desk and pretend to work on an old boxy computer. Ken, the director, gave me some direction and they clients/producers had me try a few more things when it came to really selling the idea of the commercial. After I did the shot for what felt like twenty times, they released me and I could hit the road. All in all, I was there about four hours, and I had a lot of fun.

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

Really doing this...

This past Tuesday, I was part of the team holding auditions for the next project from Digital Reality Films. Mason, Rob, and I are writing and producing this short film project for an online contest, and we raced from TLA into Philly in order to make our scheduled audition. We saw about a dozen women for two roles, and we were left with a tough choice to make for the film. It took a while for us all to get comfortable with what we were doing, but we had turned it into a nice routine by the end of the night. The next time we have to hold a call for our films, we'll need to sit down beforehand and figure out the best way to talk to the actors. We stumbled now and then over describing what the movie was about, and I think we talked a little too much to the actors when we tried to give them notes and adjustments. But we came through, we've got our cast, both of them are signed up, and I'll post the photos online with the next blog posting. The auditions went really well, and it was fun to be on the other side of the table.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A busy day

For my fourth and final entry of the day, I'm back at home writing from my desk. After the callbacks, I spent some time going over the email submissions for the short film we have coming up. After arranging everything and catching up on all that correspondence, I'm now kicked back with a beer watching the my tape that has the final two episodes of this season of "Smallville." There is a big surprise in the finale, and I'm getting excited to see what it is.

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.

Rockin' the Callback

I'm writing this entry from a Panera Bread Company, having finished the callbacks for the Philly Fringe show that I'm a part of. They called me in to read with some other potential cast members, and it was pretty fun. It's always good to see Cara, the director, again, and I even ran into a friend I made on the set of Airbender. And since we were trying to get in touch with her anyway, it was a lucky strike in everyone's book. I was really grateful to get the chance to do a callback and read for the show, since it gave me the chance to work on a brief little scene with Cara before I show up for the readthrough. This way, I've gotten a little taste of what she's working on with the show, and I'm going to be in a similar boat to all the other members of the cast.

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 write this entry from the student center at Drexel University, where I just finished rehearsal for a project I'm doing up in Trenton. Passage Theatre runs a program that encourages and mentors young kids to write short plays, which are then produced by professional actors and directors and performed for one weekend in their theatre. I was a part of the project last year when I played a Globe who wanted to be a singing sensation. This year, I'm playing Superbot, out to save the robots of the world. The show is a lot of fun, and I'm having a much better time than I thought I would. We met last Thursday to block out the show, and now we just worked on it for an hour or so. We ran it through, got notes, ran again, got notes, ran again, talked costumes, ran again, went home. The script is only four pages long, so it's a really easy one to fly through.

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.

Putting myself out there

As I write this, I'm sitting in the lobby of the Philadelphia Airport Hilton, having just finished an audition for a short film called "White Chip." The director sent me a side from the film "The Truman Show" to prepare, which I did, and then he had me read a scene from his own short film script. He complimented me both on my performance and my diction. He could tell I had a Shakespearean/classical background because of how well I spoke, which he said was a benefit because I could bring a believable nature to a lot of different roles. We spoke about the project and about which roles I felt that I was the closest to, and whether or not I had any life experience that would let me play one of the roles. After a brief discussion about the schedule (which I am very busy for), he thanked me for coming in and I left.

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

Mirroring the Mirror

I spent most of Friday working over at Rob's office, working on the newly restored and remastered version of an old short film I made in college. The film was produced over the course of a single night, with the entire small cast and crew moving all over the college campus to get all the shots we needed. We then cut the movie together at the Villanova TV station, and the movie played on the campus cable channel for a short time. I've always liked the general idea behind the movie, which was based on one of my classes. We were discussing early British romantic-era poetry, and the idea about separate identities and personalities interested me. So I called up some friends, we discussed the idea over dinner, and then spent the Friday night until 2am filming the movie, which you can see at the link.

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

Finding a Jewel

I've recently been criticized for only seeing movies that are based on comic book characters. But I have some movies sitting on my shelf that I picked up cheaply in DVD sales and that I still haven't seen. So this morning I pulled one of them out, popped it into the DVD player, made some coffee, and sat down to watch Breckin Meyer and Anna Paquin in Blue State. I expected it to be a light-hearted comedy like Garden State, but I was instead rewarded with a much more complex story. Meyer really brought the goods as the leading man; I was expecting a high-energy comic turn from him, but he really found depth and soul to his character. I usually think that Anna Paquin plays things a little too... juvenile... but I was impressed by her work in this film. Again, she finds subtle and complex shades to what could have been a straightforward role. The film is only laugh-out-loud funny in a few spots, but the whole project walks a great line between comedy and drama.

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

Two... At once!

No sooner did I publish that previous post about hoping I get some more work from LAB, than I get a call from Veronica over at the casting office. They've scheduled me to work this coming Friday, and they hope that I'm free. Uh... YES! I'm seeing a show in Philly on Thursday night, so I won't be able to come into the set as-fully-rested as I was last week when my body forced me to go to sleep around 9pm due to exhaustion, but hopefully I won't have as killer a busy day on Friday either. A rumor has us working next Monday, too, and I will welcome the work.


I have no excuse. No excuse for not writing anything for two weeks, and I'll be up front about that. It is rather hard to say anything about LAB, though, since I signed multiple confidentiality agreements saying that I wouldn't say anything about LAB. To speak broadly, however, it was a lot of fun and a lot of work. I had to wake up around 4:30 every morning, and I wouldn't get home until 7 at night or so. And that was the early days. Most of my full days on the project are now over, although there are rumors and reports that we might have a little additional work here and there on it. Additional work means additional money, so I'm all theirs.

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.

I promise.