Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Episode Online! - "Please Hold the Line"

The newest episode of "The Stray Dogs Project" is now online! "Please Hold the Line" is the twelfth episode of our series, and it marks the first time we've tried something a little crazy - there is only one speaking character in this episode. We were kinda behind the gun on this episode, and I had one actor available, so I wrote the script specifically for her. It was a fun experiment, and I have another idea to try something like this again, but I am very interested to hear what the fans think. You can post a comment on the blog, or you can email me directly at to share your thoughts on this show, or any other. Thanks, folks, and enjoy!

Check it out at the usual link to our homepage, either, or you can look on the sidebar to the right of the post. On the website, go to the Projects Tab, and then The Stray Dogs Project.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Henry V Begins....

No, it's not the latest summer blockbuster attempt to reboot a sagging franchise. But rather it's my current theatrical project. In downtown Philly, I just started rehearsing a production of Shakespeare's Henry V in which I play the Chorus. Generally, Shakespeare uses the character of the chorus to communicate a lot of history and backstory. But the Chorus also interacts directly with the audience, asking them to use their imagination to help tell the story that the "flat unraised spirits" of the actors will perform on-stage. It's Shakespeare way of literally telling the audience to imagine the horses, the armies, the tents, the battles, because the stage will not do justice to the real-life history of King Henry V.

As of right now, we are a week into the process, and we've blocked out most of the show. There are sections that we know better than others, and some of our scene transitions are so rocky that they are comical, but the director Aaron has assured us that there is a lot to like in the show, and now we just need to go about finding a way to bring it all out. But we have a few weeks left before our preview performance, and so the journey is now about trimming, tucking, and expanding.

Aaron presented us all with a clever and compelling setting/conception for the show, and now we're all taking turns to throw our ideas into the pot to see how it can all come together. I won't spoil the idea so far before the opening night, but it's a neat concept that lets the show work on several levels. We had a discussion the other day about finding ways to make the concept service the themes of the play, and not just have our concept be a little trick we just play on the audience. We want our theme/modern interpretation to be clear.

And although I don't use this blog to pimp out my own projects anymore, this one I'll pimp a little bit by saying that it is FREE. You have to reserve your tickets in person the day of the show (the theatre wants to think it's NYC Shakespeare in the Park), but it's possible to pick those tickets up and see this show for literally nothing. Air-conditioned theatre, Shakespeare, drinks afterwards.... why say no?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For the kids

Last week, I started performing in a touring children's show. I'm the substitute actor for the other performer who has a lot of conflicts with the schedule, so I take over for her for a few shows here and there throughout the summer. I had a few rehearsals, memorized the script, and then was thrown into the first performance so I could find my "show legs" as I went. The first show was a little rocky as I tried to remember all the lines and make all the jokes, but the next two have gone progressively more smoothly, especially the most recent one for a roomful of entertained five-year-olds. I've got another month of the show to run, and my co-actor and I still need to work out some of the comedy bits, but it's going to come together over the course of time. In this case, the performing is the rehearsing, so it's a constantly evolving process as we work our way through the summer.

I've never really been an understudy-slash-replacement before in any significant way, so this is a mostly new experience for me. The lack of rehearsal time was a strange thing to deal with; I'm used to the more expansive timeframe where I get the chance to work out all the bits in the rehearsal process. But instead of "working on scenes," I really only did "full run-throughs," where I had to process all the notes, props, and costumes as I raced through the show. So this idea of working elements out through the production is a little difficult to digest at first, but it's a good thing that I'm up for challenges.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Episode Online! - "Countdown"

The newest episode of The Stray Dogs Project is now online. "Countdown" by Justin Muschong is the eleventh episode of my series, and it is the first one that was recorded on a field trip to another city. When I spend last weekend up in NYC, I brought the recording equipment and we spent a hot night squeezed into a hot apartment recording the show. Check it out at the usual link to our homepage, either here on along the bar on the right. Go to the Projects Tab, then The Stray Dogs Project.

As usual, here are some photos from the recording session.
Andrea (Voice), Chris (Baker), Kelly (director), and Tara (Able) have their first readthrough of the script.

Tara and Chris perform a scene in front of the microphones.

Writer Justin Muschong gives us his opinion on the recording session.

The Hard Boiled Production boys go for a walk with Radio Hound.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, July 2, 2010

More inspiration (and a little more theft)

Recently, I wrote a post in which I discussed seeing a show that inspired me, and I talked about the things that I was planning to steal from it. Thanks to a buddy of mine, I've also recently discovered "The Guild," a web-series that you can find on youtube and on the web at their homepage. In fact, I've embedded the first episode in the post below. So take four minutes and watch it. I'll wait.

Once I found it, I tore through the first season in less than a day. The episodes average out to be about six minutes a piece, and I would watch them as I took breaks from writing or searching for auditions. The show is produced so simply and so elegantly, that I really admire the work that Felicia Day does. She writes and produces the show herself, and certainly a success story in the ranks of how-to-make-youtube-work-for-you producers. The entire series is online, but you can also buy the official DVDs at and through their own website. It's a great business model that seems to be serving them well.

As Rob and I sit down to produce an original web-series, I'm trying to borrow (steal) a lot of the ideas of things that I like from this series. From the length of each segment to the overall construction of the series arc, "The Guild" is setting a great example of how to produce entertaining and quality internet programming. They aren't just producing a television series, but they did a fantastic job of tailoring their project to suit the medium through which they would distribute it - The Internet. The show is clever, well-made, funny, exciting, and everything else entertainment should be. I recommend it highly.

And so after gushing about the web-series and, essentially, giving them free product placement (if you're reading, you owe me a check!), I will end this post by saying that I plan to steal a lot of their ideas from them. If not all of them.

Opening day (....and after)

I have literally just gotten home from seeing a Thursday night screening of The Last Airbender, in which I was a featured extra.


Just Wow. But not in the good way.

There is nothing for me to say about the movie that hasn't been said by the Associated Press, The New York Times, or, so instead I will talk about my own personal connections with the movie. At first, I found it a little difficult to get into the movie, only because I was a part of it. I saw actors that I had met, I saw props I had used, and it was a good ten minutes before I could relax back into the seat to try to enjoy the film. I have never had that problem with a movie before, so it was a really interesting problem to have for the first time.

There were at least three major sequences that I was involved in the filming of, and, needless to say, I was looking forward to seeing those sequences. And generally, I had the same reaction every time. At first, it was amazing to see what the "sets" looked like as actual "places" in the movie. The digital set extensions on the Water Tribe city were beautiful to see, and for the most part all the designs of the film really lived up to what I was imagining on the set.

However, the second step was one of disappointment. I remember seeing actors work, watching extras fight, and seeing stunt men do amazing things as they flew through the air. Seeing it all live was really exciting, but the actual film tended to flatten things out and make everything much less "intense" than it was on the actual shooting set. Not that there aren't cool things in the movie; I just think that some of it looked even better live.

It was also fun to sit through the closing credits and see a whole lot of names that I recognized, from production assistants to the first assistant director. We cheered whenever someone from Philly came onto the screen. I will spend the month of July sharing some stories and pictures from the Airbender set along with the normal entries, since I can talk about the film now that it is out.

If only it were better.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Opening day (before...)

Today, July 1, is the opening day for the feature film release of "The Last Airbender." While I normally don't write about movie premieres, or even about movies a lot in general, this one is an important one because I was a featured background performer in the movie. (For those of you not in the biz, that means a glorified extra.) I spent four days in North Philly doing military and combat training, and then I spent almost a solid month last spring shooting large scenes for the film. I had a kick-ass costume, got to wear a helmet that almost killed me more than once, played with a sword, and pretended to fight my friends for money.

The shoot lasted a lot of long days, where I had to get up around 4:30 in order to make it to the set by 6:00 for my costume/makeup call. Then we'd usually sit around for a few hours while the crew arrived to set up the equipment and get ready for the first shot. Then we'd work until 5 or 6 at night, and maybe even until 9pm if we were really lucky. Most of our days were sitting around and waiting to be put into shots, and then we'd work for about half an hour doing different takes, before sitting around again.

I was also lucky enough to be working with some good friends on the film shoot, so I was spending all this time with people I liked hanging out with. We played cards, talked, discussed our careers, and even created and wrote a short film. It was a good experience, and we're gong out tonight as a gang to see the movie. I'll write more about it when I get home from seeing it, and I'll also try to post some entries this month about what it was like working on the set.

Go see the movie!