Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Week of Work

Last week was a very tiring one in terms of hours worked. I spent six hours every day working at the office, I came home and had an early dinner/late lunch, I drove for an hour, rehearsed for three hours, and then drove an hour home. By Wednesday or Thursday, I was starting to suffer on that last trip home, and I definitely had to take a little nap in the back row of the theatre on Wednesday night. We don't have rehearsals on the weekends, which is both a bad thing and a good thing. It's a bad thing because it really does interrupt the flow of our process, and it makes each week almost seem like a separate event rather than just pieces of a larger whole. But it is a good thing in the sense that we're not worn out, and I have weekends free for either other projects (last weekend) or complete and utter relaxation (this weekend.) Plus, I could sit back and watch the Phillies win their division on Saturday afternoon, clinching with a great game at home. I had hoped to do some writing and work on a script or two, but instead I spent a lot of time sleeping, a little time cleaning, a little time shopping, and a lot of time watching sports on TV.

I've been feeling restless lately, partly because I haven't been going on many auditions, and partly because this is the first fall in two years that I'm not about to leave on a national tour. So it's a strange sensation that I'm not really used to, and I'm looking at other "real" non-acting jobs, and I'm thinking about going back to full-time at the desk job, making as much relatively easy money as I can for the rest of the year, maybe sneak in some dentist and doctor visits under the company's heathcare plan, and then head out to seek my fortune in the new calendar year. I've always been told that I'd have a good career if I stuck with the profession into my thirties, and that's an assessment that I've agreed with in the past. I'm not really one to play the conflicted young men, but I'll do really well when I'm finally old enough to play their fathers. It's just a matter of sticking around in the profession long enough to get those roles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rough Cut

Sunday night I met with Rob and we cobbled together the first rough cut of “No Reason.” It didn’t take as long as I thought it might, and it came together pretty easily. There were only two or three spots throughout the film where there were problems with either continuity or missing camera angles, but no problems that we couldn’t solve. We also figured out a couple of really cool transition shots that Rob has to work on some more, but even the rough versions of them work really well. We still need to edit the opening dream sequence of the film and put in the credits and titles, but everything looks great so far. There is still more work to do, but we’re now working from a strong foundation. The final shot has an amazing effect in it, one that we’re both proud is done with the lowest-tech trick in the book. Most of this movie was done with low-tech tricks, including halogen work lamps, makeshift lighting stands, and lots of gaff tape holding things in place.

But with all that technical craziness behind the camera, this project has turned out very well. Even better than I may have hoped, if I can actually write that out loud on my own blog. This film is very different in subject and tone from “Changing Lane,” and I was never fully convinced while filming that we were really finding that tone. But watching the rough cut of the film, it’s clear that we did in fact hit the tone beautifully. Some of the lighting setups are very effective, and the performances are simple, sweet, and actually rather touching. It’s going to be a good project.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy - UPDATED

On Saturday night, I went to see a preview performance of "Driving Miss Daisy" down at Hedgerow Theatre in Media. I had never seen the play onstage before, and it was quite wonderful. The story is a very touching one, and the actors and the artistic staff handled the material very well. The actors worked the material with such a light and deft touch that they really did create fully realized characters. The set was simple and yet effective, and everything about the production was very good. I went out for a beer with the crew afterwards, trading stories and swapping memories until about midnight. It was a good night, and a good show. And for someone who doesn't always enjoy theatre, that's a big thing to say. "Daisy" really does everything right when it comes to a show onstage, with strong actors bringing a strong script to life under strong direction. The kind of show that makes me proud to be an actor.


Last Tuesday night was my callback for Arms and the Man, and it was a very bizarre one. They asked me to read for the soldier, a role that I'm not really appropriate for. But as I was going over the scene for the callback, I decided that I would have fun with it. I'd approach the show not as I thought the role would be played, but the way in which I would play the role. As I was excited to go in and play this idea, they told us all that we'd actually be reading a different side, reading for the older and crafty servant. And Nick, you'll be first. A little put off by this, I was reading over the new pages frantically before I decided that this didn't at all change the direction that I was heading. I knew that I wasn't appropriate for this role at all, but decided that I'd go in and play the audition with all the honesty and intensity that I could find. And as I was in the room reading with my scene partner, I really felt things sparkle and crackle. Even if I wasn't right for the role, it was a great audition. The director said that I did good work, and that he had seen what he needed. I felt very good about the audition, as strange is this one was. And for someone who often doesn't like the way he auditions, I was proud of this one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Extra" work and extra "work"

On Monday night, I spent the evening working as an extra on a short film called "Sketches." It was produced by a Russian filmmaker who had worked at Drexel University, and we were filming the "sexy party scene" at a mansion in a Philly suburb. We were told to bring some "sexy" outfits and maybe a bathing suit, and we were promised gas money, alcohol, and entertainment. And while the alcohol was greatly watered down, and the entertainment was primarily of our own making, the gas money was handed out as promised. Having spent most of the summer being a leading actor in a movie, it was kinda refreshing and fun to just be an extra. I had no lines, no blocking, no nothing, and I was just sitting around a pool until the crew told me where to stand in the background of shots. I liked taking the filmmaking process from another point of view. A lead, a featured player, or a member of the ensemble, it really doesn't matter what sort of acting I do as a career. As long as I do it as a career, cause I know that I'm not really qualified to or interested in doing anytihng else.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Excitements and Challenges

Since this blog also needs some lists as well as paragraphs, I've compiled a list of some things I'm looking forward to about Eurydice. I might add to these as I go through the process, but this is what comes to mind immediately.

- working with Tim again, one of the best directors I’ve had in recent years
- doing a relatively “new” play
- a dual-role, getting to play two elements of the same character
- an ensemble based cast,
- working with younger actors, teaching and leading by example


- making an energetic and larger than life character both funny and frightening
- doing the above without playing him like the Joker from Batman
- taking the risks to push my performance away from the familiar and comfortable

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Earlier this week I started rehearsals for Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” with Cedar Crest College outside of Allentown. I was in “Big Love” and “The Spitfire Grill” with them last year, and it’s very exciting and familiar to head back up north and work with a lot of my friends again. I’m jazzed to work with Tim again, our director, especially on another show that is somewhat “out-there.” I’m playing the dual role of the Nasty Interesting Man and Lord of the Underworld, and Tim and I have already started chatting about all the fun and weird places that this role can take me. I scouted out all those places in “Big Love,” and then walked a much more reserved and narrow line in “The Spitfire Grill.” But this time around I have a more central role that I did in “Big Love,” so it’s not going to be enough to just find those places. I'm going to have to go to all those places. But working with Tim and the rest of this cast, I know it's going to be a worthwhile trip.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

No Reason

This past weekend, I took a film cast and crew up to my parents’ house in Hazleton, and we spent most of the weekend filming a short called “No Reason.” The movie is a supernatural romance, and we spent a lot of time moving from room to room in the house. One of the fun parts of the weekend was trying to fit all of our equipment into the cars, and we actually had to use two cars instead of the one we had originally planned to use. But it was really a blessing in disguise, because it let us bring the camera dolly up to the shoot. We picked up two pieces of dolly track (aka PVC pipe) at the Lowe’s off the highway, and then we were all set to make the movie.

We didn’t have the same equipment this time around as we did for “Changing Lane,” which meant that the shoot had to be handled somewhat differently. We were using halogen work lamps to light the scenes, which meant that we had to improvise different ways to get them to the right height, and different ways to point them to get the right effect. There was also at least once that Rob had to block the light with his own body because we didn’t have shutters on the lights. We were also without the correct microphone this weekend, so we would record all the dialogue separately after the takes. We were using the mic in the camera as we filmed, hoping that it will of good enough quality to use. But I imagine that I’ll also be doing a lot of ADR on the lines I have to loop in this film. And as strange as it sounds, neither Rob nor I own a good quality tripod of our own. I borrowed one from Jeff Paris, a friend at Pella and a frequent commenter on this blog. It worked perfectly with Rob’s camera, except we found that we couldn’t really do any camera moves with it, so we split our shots between the tripod and hand-held shots.

And that’s where both Rob and I were excited that we brought the dolly. This film has a lot of dolly shots, including one where the dolly is coming down the stairs, and they all look incredible. The tripod was a godsend when it came to the dolly, because it made all of those shots possible. So without all the professional rented equipment, we had to come up with creative ways to get the shots that we wanted for the film. We actually had the chance on both shooting days to watch the dailies, which is an opportunity that I’ve never had before. The movie looks great, and some of the lighting effects are fantastic. We haven’t yet gotten together to go over the footage or a rough cut, but Rob has another project he needs to finish first. So I’m tentatively expecting this film to be finished in about 6-8 weeks, so a late-October premiere is probably in the works.

Then it’s time for the next one….