Saturday, February 28, 2009

I/He/She Photo Gallery - UPDATED

This is a photo gallery pulled off the Facebook website for this project. These photos cover both days of filming. Since I didn't take these, you can see what I look like in the film.

A view through the camera's viewfinder: Lesley and I listening to direction, note the camera and tripod on the left:
Rehearsing a scene at my desk. Kelvin watches, and Nick looks through the camera:
Me and Lesley as Adam and Eva in I/He/She
The full film effect - Lights, sound, camera, action!

Another day of I/He/She

This past week I was down in Philly again filming for I/He/She. Instead of those "alone scenes," this time I actually got on camera with Lesley, filming the longest scene between us. Naturally, both of us were feeling under the weather, so I'm sure the performances have a bit of a "husky" feel to them in that scene. This first pictures is a flash-less shot of me on the set, and you can see Kelvin (director) and Nick (director of photography) working behind me. Kelvin set up a screen and he was projecting images onto us as we sat in front of it. It not only produces a really cool effect, but it gave Lesley and I the opportunity to make cool shadow puppets while the crew was working on setting up the shots. We were under a time crunch to get the scene shot before the professor needed to get into the room to teach class in the evening, so we were working pretty quickly. But that still meant we had a little bit of time between setups so we could relax, and then we'd dial it down and take our time with the actual scenes. Kelvin kept telling us that he wanted the pace of the cues to be very slow, with lots of time in there. It's such a strange thing for a stage actor, though, since he is ultimately the one who has control over our pauses when he edits the film together. As long as Lesley and I leave a little bit of space in there, he can theoretically use lots of different angles to make those pauses as long (or as short) as he wants them to be.

The original plan was to use Nick's homemade dolly track again, but they abandoned that plan once they couldn't figure out a fast enough way to keep their shadows off the screen. But, to get those fun camera angles, we did two takes the entire scene where they filmed nothing but our silhouettes, moving and talking shadows. I snapped a really great picture of Lesley's shadow on the screen, and that shot also gives a sense of the background that was being projected on top of us. The scene is set on a pier in Hong Kong, and Kelvin is using the projected background to mirror the drama and the dynamic tension in the scene. Playing it live, it seemed like it was going to be pretty cool to see. This is two shooting days in a row where I turned down the opportunity to see the dailies from the day; I don't have a desire to see my on-camera work until the film is done as a whole. I don't want to see any of the pieces until the puzzle is complete. Apparently, they watch some of the footage in their classes, and everone said that this film was one of the best-received screenings. I think I'm working on something exciting. And that is always exciting.

A very cool audition

Last weekend I had an audition for the young apprentice company at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Within the theatre world, Actors Theatre is a pretty big deal. The company hosts the Humana Festival every year, which is a national event that all the major artists come to see. The theatre is also dedicated to the production of new plays, and it is one of the largest and most prestigious places commissioning and producing new work. Due to this focus on new work, they wanted two contemporary monologues for the audition, followed by a short Shakespeare one. I had to dig deep to find two contrasting pieces, but I came through and found two short pieces that I really liked. And I delivered on them. It could have been some of the finest work I'd ever done on those two pieces. I put a lot of layers into my dramatic monologue, and I got some laughs from my comedic monologue. When I turned to a Shakespeare monologue as Iago, I felt that I was really in the moment, coining the words and developing the ideas for the first time as I was going through the thoughts. I was very proud of the work that I did for the audition, and the auditors thanked me for sharing the work.

In addition to the audition process, I also had an interview with the two directors of the program, and I think I accurately represented myself. I was going to say that I impressed them, but even more satisfying than that, I feel that they really got the chance to know what sort of person I am. I now have to complete an online application and get some letters of recommendation to finish applying for the program, and I'm trying to put as much positive energy out into the universe as I possibly can.

Keep fingers crossed for me...

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Chrononauts - Extended Cut Release - UPDATED

Rob recently uploaded the extended cut of "The Chrononauts," the short film that we produced as a part of the five day film competition. Rob has been working on this cut of the film for a few months, and we were trying to present a much fuller and more realized picture of the world that we created for our heroes to play in. This is a new scene or two, as well as an all new sound mix. Add in a new kick-ass closing credit sequence, some new special effects, and it's an all new film. Check out the link below, leave comments or feedback, and please donate for the feature.

UPDATED - If the link is not working for you (it wasn't working for me earlier today), you can watch it at the DRF myspace page at

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I/He/She film shoot

I spent most of yesterday afternoon filming scenes for a short film for a buddy of mine at UArts in Philly. He's working on his senior thesis film, and he's hired me to play the writer struggling to finish the scene he needs to finish. The film involves my character trying to write a play about his ex-girlfriend, and then he finds himself entering and exiting the scenes himself. Yesterday was our scheduled day to shoot all the scenes of me by myself, sitting at my desk and struggling to write. It was a new experience for me, as I was required to act all by myself. In every film I've done up until this point, it was always about scenes between characters, but these scenes were all just me. I had to find the line to walk between effective and over-the-top, when I had nothing else to play off of. Fortunately, I'm good friends with Lesley, who is playing my ex-girlfriend, so it wasn't too much work to create a relationship and a history between us. I didn't have her on the set, but I had two pictures of her on my prop desk. I had to make the connection with those pictures, which was at first a little challenging, but got easier as we kept working.

The director, director of photography, and the art director were all on the set making it all go smoothly, and this third picture is a shot of them all crowded around the computer in the room reviewing the footage from the work before lunch. Nick, the DP, had a very fancy camera just like the one that Rob uses, and he also had a homemade dolly and track of a different design. Instead of using PVC pipes, as ours does, Nick's uses pieces of rolled up tubing, which makes the whole contraption much more portable. The whole shoot went though about 8 scenes, some of which were complicated and some of which we rather simple. But we were all focused and on-task with our work, and the whole thing went very smoothly. I don't think we finished quite as quickly as the director was hoping, but it was a pretty solid day of work overall. We finished it up by recording all of my voice-overs in the film. After spending the first several hours of the day acting with my fingers and my eyes, I finished out the day by acting with just my voice. It was a pretty varied day for me, and I certainly took a little bit of time to warm up into the work. That's actually something that I should work on in the future, since professionals need to do their own warm-ups on their own time so they are ready to start work right away when they get to the set. There is at least another day of shooting for me on this project, and I think it might actually be two days of work. Having seen what the shots look like, I'm very excited to see how it all comes together.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The best that I could be

I received word tonight that I did not get the part that I was hoping for in the MBC play. The director sent me a very complimentary email, saying that he had greatly enjoyed the work I did during the audition process, but that he was just unable to offer me a role in this show. Sinc.e the callbacks were two days ago and I had yet to hear anything, I had actually assumed that I had not gotten the role. But it was considerate of the director to email to confirm that, just so that I knew for sure. It's a little heartbreaking, but again, not all that much of a surprise.

What is nice to think, however, is that there was literally nothing I could have done better when it came to that audition. I gave a good cold reading at the audition; I did solid, well-prepared work at the callback. That's the job of every actor when it comes to trying to book work, just going out and doing the best that they can. I could have not gotten this part for a million reasons that had nothing to do with my talent - too tall, too short, not thin enough, too thin, looked like another actor, looked too different... and all of those reasons are things that I have no control over. The challenge of being a happy actor is to realize those things that you can control, and to make them all work in your favor. The solid work that I did will be remembered the next time that director needs someone, and I'll be near the top of his list for that show.

It's a hard thing to accept sometimes, but once you can really understand something like that and let it work in and through your soul, that's when the best actors can figure out what it takes to be happy and successful in this business.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calling back

I headed into Philly again tonight for my callback, and I was very excited for it. I prepped the side I was given, including finding specific intentions for every line and two beat changes for my character. I was both nervous and relaxed, which gave a nice mix to the balance of energy and excitement to the audition. And I was dedicated and focused on the role and on the show, which I think gave me pretty clear intentions when I walked into the room. I met my scene partners and we had a chance to read through about half the scene before we were called into read for the director, Bill. We went through it once the way we had all prepared it at home, and then Bill gave us some notes and direction and had us do it again. He had us stop and rewind at one point, just so he could give another piece of encouragement, and then we worked through to the end.

I did a good job of bring Bill's new note into the portrayal of my character, but I also feel like in so doing, I sacrificed a little bit of that spark on the character that I was so proud of two nights ago. I came in with a fully realized and thought-out scene interpretation, which I performed pretty well. I then showed that I could take direction and notes, driving the character in a new way. Just a word about my scene partners, because they were awesome. We had really great chemistry together, and we were working very well on the comedy as an ensemble. We weren't afraid to "go there" from the very beginning, which made the work very satisfying. No matter what happens in terms of the cast, it was a great experience. I got to act with some great other actors, and I did everything that I could to do to get this part. Now it rests with the decision of the director, and whether or not he liked what my audition team did tonight.

Deep breath.... deep breath....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Got the callback

I guess sometimes it's good to know that I have this blog for motivating myself. I got the email this afternoon calling me back tomorrow night for the role I was reading for in "The Meatpacker's Book Club." The director sent me the new side for the callback tomorrow night, and I've spent some time tonight prepping and rehearsing for the next round of auditions. I checked out my blog, though, to remind myself of what I did last night that I liked so much. Lucky for me I wrote it all down!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Getting back on the horse

I haven't been on an audition in a while. Time spent directing in New York and time spent working in Allentown have gotten in the way somewhat and distracted me from my job as a professional work-seeker. But tonight I went into Philly for an audition for a new show called "The Meatpacker's Book Club." I've known the director for a few years now, but I've never had the chance to work with him. So when I showed up tonight to do the cold readings from the script, I hoped that the sides and scenes would give me the chance to show him what I could do. I read first for the part of the "tough as nails" member of the group. Because I'm not that kind of guy, I played up some of the other aspects that I saw in him, including his competative nature and his desire to be liked. Instead of playing him as the unintelligent low-class brusier, I gave him a little more subtlety and shading than if I'd just played the stereotype. I was really pleased with the attention I brought to some of the smaller moments in the scene.

After thanking the director and walking out of the room, I ran into a friend of mine from my first national tour. I stayed to talk with her, and then I got rounded up into reading a scene with her. We played ex-lovers, and it was a lot of fun to work with her. We were able to connect with each other and make real onstage magic moments, especially since we actually have an actual past history to draw on. I think that I gave a very solid audition overall, and I hope to hear about the callbacks soon. It was a wonderful night of acting and exploration, even if it was done in small pieces of audition materials. But, acting is acting, and it was a joy to do some good stuff tonight.

Imagine how exciting it will be if I get the role.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Screening of Old Feature Film

Last night, I was over Rob's house and we watched a screener copy of the film he made two summers ago - "Preservation." There was a trailer for the movie attached to the grand premiere of
"Changing Lane," and now that Rob has missed a few release dates for this feature, which still needs work on some effects shots, some sound edits, as well as a few missing scenes that still need to be shot and inserted into the movie. But he wants to have the whole thing completed by May, so we dusted off the DVD copy of the film, and sat down to watch the whole film. Rob knows some of the fixes that he wants to make to the cut, and my notes ran very much in line with what he was already thinking about the film. Overall, we just think that it needs to be much shorter, and much more focused. The scenes have a tendency right now to "sprawl," and we need to dial them in so we get the point of each scene across quicker and more directly. I suggested that it's not the fact that we need to trim time out of the cut, but just that the scenes needed to dial in sharper. I think that trimming the fat will occur rather naturally as it all focuses a little clearer on what exactly the movie is about.