Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Something different

Recently, I was approached by Stage Magazine Online to become one of their theatre reviewers. I gave my contact a link to this blog as well as a few reviews I've written in the past few years, and she signed me up right away. I'm excited now to be a professional writer and add to my ever-growing online profile. I'm also looking forward to the chance to expand my portfolio of writing projects, which I'd like to use to secure more work as a freelance writer. I'll be seeing my first show tomorrow night, and I will be sure to include a link to the review when it gets posted online. In the meantime, I'm scheduled to start the edit on "Changing Lane" tonight, and I am very excited by that idea. It's been way too long since we shot it, so I'm excited to go back to the footage and see (for the first time) what it all looks like. I saw a lot of Rob's setups, so I know generally what the film is going to look like, but I havent watched any of the actual takes of the scenes yet. It's going to be a good night, and I promise to post pictures and the official still photos from the film when I get them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Search for Superman

There is a small town in Illinois named Metropolis, and they are the Official Home of Superman. Every summer, the town holds a week-long Superman celebration, with film festivals, costume contests, special guests, and more. There is also an "official" town Superman, a man in the costume who makes public appearances, signs autographs, and embodies the Man of Steel for the Celebration. The town's current Superman has retired after seven years with the role, and they have just started a campaign to find the next Superman of the celebration. On the heels of my movie shoot of playing Clark Kent, I took some photos and put together an audition tape for the part of the official Superman. I post here on the blog, asking anyone who has not yet done so to follow these instructions and vote for me. The first part of the competition is determined by online voting, so I'm calling upon all my friends and readers to help me live out a dream.

Please take ten seconds and visit the following link:

Click on the Contestant Gallery/VOTE link on the page, scroll down to me (#11) and then click on VOTE and vote for me. It will only take a minute or so, and I would really appreciate your help in the pursuit of a dream of mine. Thank you so very much, and I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of this audition.

My last Paper Cuts ever

This morning, around 9:30am, I officially wrapped my time on the first (and so-far only) season of "Paper Cuts" with UArts. I filmed my last scene for the series finale today, and I was lucky that it was a large group scene that featured just about every actor in the show. The scene was a large and complicated one, featuring a lot of business happening and a whole lot of acting going on. So while it was frustrating to see the shoot going over schedule, it wasn't exactly surprising either. Basically we only had two hours to do the shoot, but our director spent an hour of the time on a blocking rehearsal and some run-throughs of the scene before we started filming the actual takes. A lot of time was then spent working actor by actor, running through all their different setups for the scene. Perhaps it would have been faster to separate the setups, and then film out of order but grouped by shot. It's the way the pros do it, and it makes for much shorter shoots, but it's also the kind of thoughts that can easily get mixed up when you're working quickly on your own at 7am. Without the proper storyboards and shot lists, I think it would be easy to forget important shots or provided too much coverage. One of the things that often strikes me about professional work is how calmly and cleanly they can move between different camera positions, acting moments, and sometimes even entire movies. But I'm also not the production manager for this TV show, and I learned long ago to sit back and relax as an actor. I had nowhere else to be this morning, so I had the time to devote to the shoot. I also have patience, and I don't mind waiting around to work on the sets. I'm never annoyed by honest hard work on a project that goes a little over schedule; my own shoot for "Changing Lane" went three hours over schedule, so I can't exactly point fingers. It feels nice to be done the show, but it's strange that I'm not going to have these shoots to look forward to. We still have a grand premiere coming up in a few weeks, so I'll get to see everyone and have a grand red carpet affair. The cast and crew still have another day of shooting tomorrow, and then that should finish out the production for the series. The student crew will still have post-production work to do, but the whole series should be complete soon. Episode Five is online now, and so is that CW-esque promo that we shot a few months ago. Episode Six should follow soon after, and then Thursday May 15th will mark the big screen premiere of Episode Seven. We will be screening the entire series on that night, and it is open admission. I'll post information about the screening, since it is open to the public and all are invited. And so we'll say goodbye to the on-set antics of "Paper Cuts," and we'll move on to the next project.

Finishing out the first weekend

Last night we had our third performance of "TMS," and it went very well. A garden club had bought out the entire house for a private event, so we performed to a single group of over a hundred people. The wine had clearly been flowing early in the day, and there was a small group of people who whispered to each other constantly through the show. I could hear them talking, often hear what they were saying. While it was a little strange now and then, I at least knew that they were talking about the show. While it was sometimes a little strange to hear whispers through tender and quiet onstage moments, it was nevertheless very gratifying to hear the crowd quiet completely when we came to one of those moments that wanted that sort of complete quiet. They may not have been the most responsive crowd from the beginning; it did take a while for them to start laughing at lines that are supposed to be funny. But they turned into one of our best audiences, and certainly one of the audiences so far that was the most "with" the show. We've got a few days off (thankfully) before we move onto the next weekend of our show, so that gives me enough mental focus to move onto other projects until our next meeting.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Like I said...

Okay, so today's performance was far from ordinary. While it went more or less very well, there were still several sections that got juggled. From small line flubs to dropped lines and awkward pauses, we even managed to cut a few pages off the end of the show due to a dropped line. I can completely understand the idea of getting tangled around a line or two if you are caught in the heat of the moment. But to be in the second night of performance and to literally go blank on several sections of the script does not carry echoes of professionalism no matter how much slack can be given. And when we talked about it after the show, she didn't realize that it had happened. So we briefly talked through the script to make sure that it won't happen tomorrow, and I hope the stage manager tells the director how the show went tonight. But even without that little glitch, it was a good show. Our light board operator enjoyed the show today, saying that it was "hot." He thought that something tonight was really singing along with the performance, so it was nice to hear from someone who has been watching our show for the last week or so. My aunt was in the audience tonight, and she saw me after the show and said that she really enjoyed the performance. It's a thing that's always nice to hear, and she seemed very moved by the show and the story. It's nice to know that we have such a good show.

Opening night!

Last night we opened "TMS" with great success. I felt really strong about the performance, and the people who were in the audience responded very well to the show. But in true keeping with a professional, I am much more excited by my own assessment of my performance than the reactions of the crowd. As I was finishing the show, I knew that I had risen to the challenge of Neil LaBute. Now that I've navigated this morass of a show, I have three more weekends to explore the character and play around in the world of the performance. I promise to keep readers up to date about anything that happens during the run of the show, but I doubt that multiple postings of "The show went well" will be very interesting. So I'll try to confine myself to the exciting things that happen, and might even start to spill my ideas out to start talking about my show for the summer - "The Taming of the Shrew" with Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company. It's free Shakespeare in the Park, it's family friendly, so I hope thay everyone will be able to make it. Check out their website at:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The next level

Last night at rehearsal, we hit a nice turning point for TMS. It was the first time we really ran the show from top to bottom, and the first time we were forced to do so without either calling for our forgotten lines or getting the line prompts from our stage manager. The result was a somewhat stuttering show as we hit rocky patchs for the lines, and we managed to cut about 9 1/2 pages from the script thanks to forgotten cues. There were also a couple times when I had to feed my costar her next line, because she gave me that blank look that meant she didn't know the line. Even with those skipped passages, however, it was fantastic to run the show as a whole. I also got very complimentary notes from the director, as I think I've finally managed to bring the dimensions to the character that she has been wanting and asking me for. I realize that she had been giving me notes that I found confusing and contradictory, so I refined my performance to basically take out all those notes she had given me. I've ended up with a performance that is delivering exactly what she wants, but I'm doing it with tools and skills that I know. It's perhaps not as much of a learning and growing experience as I may have hoped it would be, but the character and the show are at least turning out well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pictures from Paper Cuts - UPDATED AGAIN

Yesterday at 6:00 am again, I was on set for more shooting on "Paper Cuts." Brief scenes this time, but I also brought my camera.
Here are some simple, yet normal, shots of us on the set. First picture is me rehearsing the scene with Alli (who plays Amanda). Second picture is me hitting my mark, Dan setting up the camera, and Guin laughing by the window. And I'll also post this picture of me and Sue from filming on Monday, in which she played a character with some strong connections to Jack's past. She has her own blog through, which is It is also a link included in the right hand side of my blogspot, and you can follow her career as well as mine.

The scene with her promises to be a good one, and it has been one of my favorite scenes to shoot for the series. But more details like that will be available on the "Paper Cuts" DVD release. Even if that release is only in my mind.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Paper Cuts and Mercy Seats

Early, early, early this morning, I was driving into Philly to report to the set of Paper Cuts. I had some more big scenes to shoot this morning, and I got to drive into Philly way before rush hour, watching the sun come up over I-76. It was a bizarre and beautiful moment, although by the time I got home around 10am, I was exhausted. Well, you would be too if you had already been awake for six hours at that point in the day. So I changed back into my pjs, climbed back under the blanket, and I went back to sleep. I woke up in time to watch the afternoon episodes of "Law & Order," run half my lines before rehearsal, grab my costume, and hit the road. Although taking a nap in the afternoon never goes out of fashion (and is sometimes incredibly vital), it was a godsend today. There is no doubt that I would not have made it this long in the day without that litttle pick me up.

Tonight at TMS, we attempted our first honest runthrough, but still found ourselves stopping for tech issues, line issues, and some acting notes here and there. Some of the notes were "that's the best the scene has ever been" and one of my favorites of "in that speech, I didn't see any Nick. It was all Ben." So things are going very well in the show, although I do think tonight that I literally brought so much focus to the show that I gave myself a headache. Perhaps not the best thing for performance... or I just need to have some Excedrin backstage. I don't know what sorts of things I'll have in the future, but here is a posted photo of the set from our show. Look carefully at the window in the left side of the picture. And the fantastic prop lamp on the right side of the photo is one of the director's favorite pieces that she rented from the furniture company. The lights are not set in this photo, but this is going to be our home for the next three weeks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Technical hell

The entire day today was spent in technical rehearsal for "The Mercy Seat." I have previously gone on record as saying that I enjoy the different kinds of artistry that go into tech, and I like seeing all those elements brought together. We did, however, have a long and tedious day today. Since we were the only two actors in the show, we were forced to be onstage the entire day, so we didn't have the down time that I really enjoy for reading or working on other projects. After working through our sound cues, we built all of our lighting cues. After a pizza dinner, we ran through the show uninterrupted (more or less) for the first time. We had to stop for a few technical issues, and we rewrote a light cue or two as we went along. But all in all, it was really great to run the show and get the feeling of the play as a whole. I'll be down there every night until we open on Friday, going over my lines every single day, and, as always, looking forward to my next night off.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Filming Day

Today was the first day of filming on the last episode of Paper Cuts, and we shot a scene I was looking forward to working on. I can't say what it was about. But I can say that before we shot the scene, we watched a similar scene from an earlier episode, and then we tried to bring elements and echos of that early scene into our new one. It was a good afternoon, more relaxed than the early AM shoots usually are. We finished our scheduled dialogue scenes, and then we worked some other shots in, since it was such a nice day outside.

Then I picked up a wedding ring for "Mercy Seat" and saw my friends from Tony n Tina. It was a little strange to be hanging out with them before a show, but before a show that I wasn't going to do with them. I could hang out with them for a bit, but I had to disappear before they all had to get dressed and ready. Almost makes me wish that I could be down there with them right now, literally at this moment, but I'll confess that the idea of running lines in my hammock while drinking a beer sounds oh so much more appealing than running around in a tuxedo, pretending to be someone else.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Paying the bills

Actors are notorious for holding multiple jobs, so we take all those oddjobs along the way that add up to make some sort of living. And if an actor is really lucky, his friends can refer work to him. Such was the case this afternoon as I went down to Swarthmore college to teach an acting 101 class as a substitute for a summer stock friend. I got to play acting games and teach stage combat for three hours this afternoon, and I got paid well to do it. While working with the students on the campus lawn at the end of the day, I met the soon-to-be head of the drama club there, and we talked about me coming down to the college to teach some workshops next semester on various topics. Once she learned I knew Shakespeare, movement, and puppetry as well as stage combat, she was even more interested in having me teach a little. Sure, it's not until after the summer. And sure, I may not be around. And sure, it may not pay that much. But it's still something to get excited about, since it's good to get excited about every good thing that happens to you.

In other news, I start filming Paper Cuts #7 tomorrow, and I'm very excited to go back for one last turn as Jack. I have my first scene and my last scene tomorrow, so that's an unusual twist of movie-making....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Season finale time!

Last week in the mail, I received the script for the final episode of "Paper Cuts." It makes a serious attempt to round out all our plot lines for the series, but I have actually signed a non-disclosure agreement with the producers which prohibits me from disclosing any details about the episode. So if you were hoping to read this blog, looking for spoilers... keep reading. To my loyal readers, I can now offer a sneak peak of Episode Seven of "Paper Cuts."









Episode seven begins with Jack being very XXXX over what happened with XXXXX. As he tries to XXXX XXXXX XXXXX XX X XXXX, his phone keeps ringing, which he XXXXXXX. Meanwhile a budding relationship between XXXXXX and XXX is XXXXXXX because of XXXXXXXX's love of XXXXXXX. Jack comes face-to-XXXX with his XXXXXX, who is really his XXXXX! (Shocker!) XXXXX and XXXXXX make special cameos, and even XXXXXX has been written into a XXXXX call. XXXXX and XXXXXX really bring the XXXXXXX, when XXXXXXXX gets thrown in XXXXXX, and then eventually, the monkey XXXXX in everyone's XXXXXX, and the campus is rocked by the death of XXXXX. Fade to black.

Okay, obviously this entry has been edited for content. And some of it is downright incorrect. But the episode does feature an exciting guest star. My girlfriend's best friend is coming down from New York on Monday to shoot a scene with me. I obviously can't say what character she is playing, but it is a very rich scene that I'm looking forward to. I've never worked with Susan before, and I'm excited to get the opportunity. You can find her Backstage Unscripted blog listed on mine under the "Blogs" link on the right column, and I know she just posted an entry about her casting and her approach to the job. I think it will be a lot of fun to read two different blog entries about the same day of filming from two different points of view.

back to school

I've finally come to realize one of the things that I find so frustrating about this rehearsal process for "TMS" Our director is working us through the material at a very calm and careful rate, but it seems more suited to an acting class or a directing project. She will occasionally talk about the pressures over tech weekend and opening night, but with just about a week until we open (scary!), we have not yet run the show all the way through. With each pass on the show, we get a little deeper and deeper into the world of our characters, but we still haven't been able to string all those moments together into a show. I think that approach makes it feel like a scene study class instead of a production.

In addition, our director has a particular way of working, in which she will stop the actors when a moment doesn't feel "real" or plays rather falsely. While it calls our attention very quickly and effectively to all those moments that feel "false" while we're performing, it's also one hell of a confidence trap. Her habit of asking "Where did that come from?" after such moments also gives me the idea that there are "right" and "wrong" ways to play certain lines. And by commenting on it immediately after the moment, it prevents the exploration of unusual impulses and the discoveries that might result from them. It's often a frustratingly "exact" way to work, as if there is actually pressure on us to be "correct" with our choices. We hit tech work on Sunday, at which point we should start running the show. I'll feel better when we do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gallery of super-images

Here is a gallery of Superman pictures that were created for "Changing Lane" this past weekend. The figure in question is a Superman action figure from DC Direct, and all photoshop compositing work was done by the director Rob Coccagna. These were used in the various newspaper articles placed around Lois' apartment, as well as printed as 4x6 glossy photos on her desk.

As I mentioned in the last post, we also took "live" pictures to print, and here are some of the others, both of Clark and Superman.

But in the middle of this photo shoot, Rob grabbed a candid shot that makes me laugh - Superman casually strolling through someone's backyard. Maybe he just saved a cat from a tree, but the picture is very amusing. Look closely in the window....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shooting day

The day for "Changing Lane" started at about 11 in the morning, when I started cleaning upmy living room and getting some of the props organized for the shoot. I was expecting Rob over at any point in the morning, and most of Lois' newspaper articles and set dressing were in place when I left around noon to go pick Heather up from the train. Once we got back to my place, we talked character until Rob showed up, and then the first order of business was to do our photo shoot to create the props we needed. First up were a few pictures of Lois and Clark, the one we used was posted in a previous entry. Then both Heather and I changed costumes, and we took some pictures as Lois and Superman, photos by James Olsen, that were used as photos around Lois' computer and workdesk. One of the best is posted below. Note the section of pipe in my hands in the upper right corner, standing in for either a building or a helicopter. Our attempt to recreate the classic Chris Reeve/Margot Kidder "You've got me? Who's got you?" sequence from Superman: The Movie.

I really think we hit it out of the park with these photos, all of which appeared completely convincing on set. Rob went off to get the photos developed at Walgreens, and when he and the other actress Nikiya arrived, we moved into the beginning of our shooting day. The actors ran lines while Rob and I set up the lights, camera, mic, etc. There was a tense moment as we realized that the mic wasn't working, but the problem was solved and we could start shooting. Nikiya waited patiently in the kitchen while we shot the first few moments of Lois Lane just around 4pm. The filming then went slowly but efficiently, finishing all of the shots in the apartment around 11pm or so. Then we bundled up the equipment, packed the actors in my car, and went over to Rob's apartment building to shoot the final sequences we needed, using his front door and hallway. We got the last shot a little after midnight, and then we took one more publicity still for use as the film's poster, and then I took both of the girls home for the night. Ultimately, I got home at about 2:30 in the morning, after a very long day.

The shoot was a complete success. I was blessed with very talented and very patient actors for this project, and they were fantastic all day. Many producers have said that casting a project well is the first step toward making it a success. Some will say that accurate casting can make up as much as 90% of the work for a director. Heather and Nikiya were on top of their characters, on top of their lines, on top of everything that we threw at them all day. Nikiya brought a wonderful maturity to Lucy Lane, fulling bringing her to life. Heather gave Lois Lane a sense of reality that wasn't in my script, making the material even better than it reads on the page.

I'm now, as readers know, knee-deep in learning lines for "The Mercy Seat," and I also received my schedule today for the season finale of "Paper Cuts." Lots of things always seem to be due at once, as always, and now I just have to make sure that I'm getting paid for all this work. I've got a nice bit of experience now both as a film actor, a producer, and a stage actor, so I really am looking to use this experience and background to start getting higher profile or higher paying jobs. My schedule looks like it clears up in about a month, so I'll be looking forward to time of my own again.

More stories and pictures from Changing Lane will follow, particularly as I sit down with Rob in front of the computer to cut together the final version of the film. I'm also a huge fan of bonus features on DVDs, and I already have a list of things that I'd like to do after we complete the film for the DVD release. Those things include additional scenes, multiple commentary tracks (featuring both producers and actors), a trailer, and a gallery of images from those photo shoots and the props that were used in the film. More on the bonus features as they develop...

Monday, April 14, 2008

"How do you learn all those lines?" - UPDATED

Yesterday and today, after completing the filming on "Changing Lane," I have my full script to learn for "TMS" Not that learning a sixty page, two-character script isn't a daunting task, but it has me rather terrified. I know this is an artificial "deadline" to know the lines, but it's still the kind of deadline that makes me nervous like a schoolboy. There are days when this job totally sucks.

UPDATED at 10:37pm: At rehearsal tonight, we did a "line-to-line," which I'll confess is something rather new to me. I've done linethroughs before, often once a show has already been running and there is a break in the performance schedule. But tonight, we sat and relaxed on the set, and went line by line through the show, striving to be word perfect, and being corrected by our stage manager when we weren't. Ultimately it was a shaky ride, and our director said that we were the "worst [she] had ever seen." I was proud to make it most of the way through the show having the general idea of the lines always right, the progression of the thoughts right. I was only missing the exact wording the script. Now, I will be one of the first to agree that the exact wording of the script is important, but I was still proud of the self-estimated 60-70% of the script that I knew. And even after the stumbles, the mistakes, and the lines called for tonight won't make me bring that number down, but rather it makes me stand firm at my assessment. Our next rehearsal is going to be on Thursday, so it's my goal to be at 95-100% by then. Totally do-able.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pictures of shooting

A more detailed entry about the actual filming day will follow, I promise, but it went very well. I'm now posting a few images from the behind the scenes of the day, since they say a picture is worth a thousand words. (Don't worry, the thousand words will follow.
The director Rob, setting up a shot:The actors Heather (l) and Nikiya rehearsing a scene while waiting to film: Prop photo of Lois and Clark created for the film: There are many more pictures of us as Clark/Superman and Lois, and a few more still images showing Rob and work and the actors at rest. Rob has even more on his camera, so I hope to continue posting images from the shoot. It's about noon the day after, the set has all been cleaned up, everything put away, and all the footage has been logged and put into the computer. We're going to try to get the edit done on this as soon as we can so we can get it into the contest, and then it's just time to move on to the next project. Probably not Superman-related, but we learned some great lessons on this film that I hope we can use next time out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Calm before a storm - UPDATED

Knowing that we will be filming at this time tomorrow is exciting. Almost too exciting for words. We've even got a couple producers on board, my mom sponsored lunch, and my director is on his way over here with the equipment. We're going to look at the staging of the film this afternoon, when we're still pretty free on time without the actors. When they arrive tomorrow, then we'll get to really focus on the actual shooting of the film. But planning it out ahead of time will give us some structure when we go to do it for real tomorrow. Props and costumes are set, house has been cleaned, things are all planned out, so all that we are missing is the actors.

Update at 10:02. I just finished meeting with my director, and we talked our way through some of the effects shots, as well as the opening and the closing shots of the film. The discussion came up about how much the Star Wars prequels sucked, and then we took photos of a Superman action figure for compositing purposes into still frames and background images. We also put together a loose schedule so we could better plan our day, and now we're all set. I still wish we had at least one crew person there onset with us, but sometimes not even a producer can get everything he wants. I have one more prop newspaper story to write tonight while I have Chris Reeve's first film playing in the background, and then it's more or less out of my hands. I redesigned my logo for The Daily Planet, and that's about it for me. I have a short list of chores for the morning, starting with making coffee, and concluding with picking my actress up at the train station. I'm really looking forward to this project.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Producer-y Headaches

So just when it looked as if everything was going to work out perfectly, it all seems to come to a head at once. Really, nothing all that different except for the fact that we lost our crew member. Guin, who had helped us out on Monday night as the reader at the auditions, was all set to come spend the day with us on Saturday, filming. She called me tonight to tell me that her professor had changed the due date of an upcoming paper, and so she would have to work on that paper in the library all weekend. And I understand the choice for school over work, unlike some other producers that Guin and I have recently worked with. But it does leave me heading up that proverbial creek, since now I have to cast around desperately to find someone else who could come lend us a hand where we need it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Announcing the cast...

I'd like to announce the cast of our upcoming Superman-related independent film.

Lois Lane - Heather

Lucy Lane - Nikiya

Clark Kent/Superman - Nick

We will be filming on Saturday afternoon, so expect more photos and posts about this project as it develops. Maybe even a few set photos or entries from the cast and crew during filming breaks. Welcome aboard to Heather and Nikiya, and up, up, and away we go.

another rehearsal night

We had another night at Mercy Seat tonight, and after hammering out some details of schedules, we started with an acting exercise in which I am not a huge believer - improvisation. We put on scripts on the table, and we improvised our way through the beginning of the show. The director said that she wanted us to find the tone of two people talking "for real" instead of two actors being "theatrical" with each other. I'm never sure if improv is a useful technique, and when we started working on the script, I wasn't so sure of the value of that exercise. We worked slowly through the first twenty pages or so of the script, with our director trying to find and pull out the honesty of each specific moment of the show. The work is getting a little exhausting, constantly going to those same dark emotional places over and over. The rehearsal process is very much like a film shoot, replaying moments several times before moving on completely. It's a long-ass script, and it's a long show to be doing that, but it's an effective way to mine everything that can be gotten out of every moment in the play. We're still about two weeks away from tech, so we have the time to play around and explore. I'm still trying to apply what I've learned at Cedar Crest with Tim Brown, but it's a little more challenging in a more "realistic" play where I am onstage the entire time. Not an excuse, by any stretch, but a realization.


Last night was an amazing adventure in casting my film. Rob and I got there pretty early, relatively, but that also gave us plenty of time to chat and settle in before the actresses started showing up. I had set a pattern for myself when it came to what the actresses would do. I'd have them read the scene the way they had prepared it, I would be sure to give them an adjustment, and then they would do the side again. There were a few actresses that I would then give another side to, have them look it over, and then have them do that one with a scene partner. Ultimately, we saw seven women for the roles, and at the end of the night, we had the best and worst opportunity there was. We had many actresses capable of playing the roles, but we could only cast two of them. In the end, the two we cast were the two who had very "real" moments in the auditions. Nikiya, our Lucy Lane, understood the sophistication and mindset of the character, and Heather, our Lois Lane, delivered one specific line in such a clear and honest way that we cast her as soon as that happened. I had expected to review the tapes, talk about choices, but in reality, the choices were ultimately obvious to us by the end of the day. We saw many talented actresses, valuable finds for future projects, but in the end there was only one Lois Lane and one Lucy Lane. Now added just for fun is the first comic book panel featuring the meeting of Lois and Superman. Notice Superman's original costume, Lois' original design, and the fact that for perhaps the first and only time in comic book history, Lois Lane is speechless.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Love them fries

This weekend, I went back to do another performance of Tony n Tina's Wedding in Philly. It's been about nine months since I last performed with the company, dating back to last summer before I went off to perform up in Naples, NY. But a lot of my old buddies were returning for this performance, so I was looking forward to it. It was just about like old times, both the goods and the bads of the show, and then we had a great time drinking afterwards. Since the show made me so tired, I was really starting to believe that I'm getting too old for the play. I felt foolish saying I was playing the 22-year-old younger brother, when I'm five full years older than that. It's time to graduate up to the older roles, or just start declining some of the parts. The show doesn't always support the inclusion of words like "honesty" and "artistic," so maybe it has to be up to me to move away from some roles and into some others.

The next morning (yesterday, Sunday), I shot my third and final scene for the UArts senior projects. In this one, I was only in the first page and a half of the scene, and I played the "bad cop" who harrasses the suspect before the "good cop" comes into the room and interrupts me.
Here is a picture of me being that bad cop. This is a scene where we are rehearsing the moment when I slam his head into the table. That is Gabrielle, our writer and director, standing in the left of the shot. And look carefully at the desk and you can see all our different copies of the script as we reference it while working. One of the best parts about the shoot was meeting Brandon (in photo, slammed into table) and Britta (not pictured), the other two actors. Britta is actually coming to audition for Lucy Lane in my film project tonight, and I'm excited for this process.

I'll try to post something either tonight when I get home or early tomorrow morning, but I'm very excited to start this process of auditioning for my film. To find that moment when lots of different kinds of artists can come together, and I can hear women giving life and breath to the words that, up until now, have just been black letters on the page. I'm still working out the details of the shoot, but tonight we'll be able to add another element - the actors.

Friday, April 4, 2008

another film shoot

I spent most of this afternoon working on another film scene for the students over at UArts. This one was a little more linear than my last, and this scene basically consisted of a long conversation between two characters. I played an FBI agent who questions a woman suspected of having ties to terrorists. The scene was simple and clear, although I did spend the day noticing the difference between "stage" and "film" acting. My scene partner was not only one who believed in directing fellow actors, but she was also one who believed in acting on every take. In film acting, it usually doesn't matter what the actors do who are not on camera at any moment. Sometimes, they will only "read" the lines, and sometimes they won't even be there at all. But this afternoon, I was present in the "acting" of the scene even when the camera wasn't on me. And as I explore different ways to film, I'll confess that I found the constant-acting to be exhausting. Either approach to acting can be "right," but it was a clear instance in which I did not have the same working style as my leading lady.

(Not) Paid to Make the Tough Choices

Yesterday I received word from Bristol Valley Theatre that they wanted to cast me in their show "Rough Crossing" this summer. I would have enjoyed doing the show up there, and I love the atmosphere and the area. It was a nice vacation, drinking wine, living on the lake, working on two great shows last year. This year, however, they only offered me one show (which amounts to about three weeks worth of work), and it conflicts heavily with the offer I've already had to play Lucentio in "Taming of the Shrew." And so there I was, faced with the enviable but not enjoyable choice between two different theatres. Two groups of friends. Two different artistic and financial offers. Some actors would love to have that choice, but it's a tough thing for an actor to face.

Ultimately, I called Bristol to turn their offer down so I could stay in town and do "Shrew." The money isn't quite as good, but I realize I'm looking forward to working on a Shakespeare play with a cast/director that I'm looking forward to working with again. I'll regret the chance not to work with Dom again at BVT on "Rough Crossing," but with the new work on finding an agent, I think it's important to stay around Philadelphia. I've also locked myself into work in the area through the month of August, so it's totally time to find a "real" job. Don't know what that is, yet... Anyone hiring?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A new project

I have recently been working on another project that I'd now like to talk about. There is a superhero fan film contest this summer, and I'm in the midst of producing a short film set in the Superman world. I've spent the last week writing the script, the last two days designing and working on the costumes, and I've been arranging auditions and shooting schedules via email. I'm really excited to work on this project. All this planning and preparation plays into my strong suits, and I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing on this film. It doesn't have a title yet, nor does it have a principle cast, but I am holding auditions on Monday night in Philadelphia. Shooting is scheduled for next weekend, so it's important to get a cast as soon as I can. The deadline for the contest is in early May, so we have a little bit of time to work on the film, but not all that much time. But this producing job isn't something that I've done before, and I'm starting to think that I'm actually pretty qualified for it. I need to find some sort of real job, since I've been working some nice long hours without getting paid for them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Feeling good

This evening was our third night of "scene work" on The Mercy Seat, and it was the first time that I really felt... capable... of taking on this role. Up until now, a lot of the material has felt out of the realm of my experience, and I was doubting my ability to play a character that I didn't really feel. But today as I was working, I found a moment where the character just clicked, and I started rolling with it. By the time the director stopped us to go back and look at something, I had realized that I was onto something with the character. The director liked the discovery as well, and so now I finally think that I'm onto something here. It was just the confidence boost that I really needed to go forward on the play with that reckless enthusiasm and freedom that I harnessed during "Big Love." I'm really jazzed about the opportunity to keep working on this show.