Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm not a starving artist. I have a high metabolism.

Do not assume that if someone is thin they are starving themselves.  Some of us have what is know as a high metabolism.  We can eat whatever we want and do not gain weight.  I eat A lot, big fan of it actually.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Confessions of a G-list Actress:I can't...I have rehearsal!

As of Friday, April 13th, my life is not my own.  Today, I slept through my alarm and had the girl who is sleeping on my floor not said anything I would have easily slept the entire day away.  But as of the 13th, my life is going to be madness.  Abandon all Sanity, Ye who enter here.
As always we start with the film shoot.  Is this it.  Great show!  Fun Cast!  Can't wait until we are done and the series is up online on May 5th.
To save some cash, Allen and I spend the night camping on the beach.  We get there late on the 13th and rather than just staying with the director we decide to rough it and drive to Carolina Beach.  At the very north end is a state park where you can drive your 4 wheel drive vehicle for a fee or put up a tent.  Allen hefts a massive tent down the beach and we manage to get it up in the dark, thanks to a couple who was right next to us offering us a lantern.  We walk to the bar and have a drink, walk to the end of the pier and it is already 11:00pm.  Close out the tab and walk back to the tent to climb under some blankets and spend and entire night trying to get warm.  You wouldn't think it would get REALLY COLD at the beach, but it was freezing and I barely slept while I tried to huddle in a mass of blanket and sleeping bag under a beautiful night sky.
We get up, dust the sand off, drive to Director Dan's house and shower before I climb into my clothes and we go through yet another weekend of filming.  This finishes season 2 in record time.
Also I have to drive down to South Carolina and film Distraction, a TV pilot.  I have almost no lines and drive 4 hours for no money.  On the positive side I do have the hope that a specific production group, who shall remain nameless, will pick up the series and I will have a major role as well as a permanent job.  Actoring.  Being paid well.  Two of my favorite things.    The atmosphere of a pilot episode set can be very stressful, mostly because it is so strictly scheduled.  You have to do a great job in hopes that the show is picked up, and even more important, you get to maintain your role.  Lets be honest, if they do pick it up they could replace you with a bigger name.  You don't want that to happen.
I am playing a police officer in a small town.  I get there 30 minutes early, well over the mandatory 15.  (When working on films you are always at least 15 minutes early)  When I get there it is around ninety degrees and I am sweating.  Then it really gets hot when the crew get there.  I am given my costume and I run upstairs to pull on black pants, bullet proof vest, shirt and under-belt.  I then go downstairs where they put on my badge, gun (yes it was real), pepper spray, taser, handcuffs, nightstick, and radio.  I am now in an extra fifteen pounds of armor and weaponry.  I feel awesome.  We quickly step outside and are given lines and the guy playing our leads runs by.  We say them quickly.  Cut, do it again.  The second time he trips.  We try not to laugh.  Oh it's hard.  One more time.  Cut, switch angles, film again.  This goes on for about two hours in the heat.  Then we get to step in, rehydrate, and eat while the lead is being "beaten" by a large man.
You can't help but sit back and watch in excitement, until the break is over and we have to tear the big man off the poor kid...several times...for the camera.
On top of my filming schedule I am also rehearsing for a great Tennesee Williams piece, A Street Car Named Desire.  I know what you're thinking.  No I am not Blanche.  I am STELLA!  Yes, in my mind, every time someone says it I hear Brando.  So every day after work I am driving from Greensboro, NC to Raleigh, NC to work in a freezing cold room.
Theater people are from a very different planet from film people.  It's quite refreshing.  I am giddy with excitement.  We sit and talk about all the little character choices, read through three acts of dialogue, block.  You don't get to see what the set is like because at the start it is just tape on the floor.  Here is your dresser.  Here is your bed.  This chair is going to be your refrigerator for right now.  You don't question, you just go with it.
The last scene we rehearsed is the one everyone remembers.  I love rehearsing the famous scene where Stanley is standing at the bottom of the steps crying for Stella.  Howling at the moon as it were.  I can't contain a huge grin because I only have action, and I love just moving.   I don't entirely know what's going to happen.  I watch Jason, who is playing Stanley, walk past the taped area marked "bathroom" and into the area designated bedroom.  He looks frantic.  I cover my mouth to hide the fact I am theater geeking out here.  It's amazing to watch.  He has a few words with Mary (Eunice) and she throws a binder on a table to signal she just slammed the door.  He starts calling out, Stella. Time to go.
Everything goes soft focus and totally clear at the same time.  Stell-.  That's my name.  I step onto the "landing" and Stanley stares at me from the bottom of the stairs.  I know those blue eyes.  I have seen them a million times.  First step down and I am wondering if he has really calmed down.  By the third step that feeling is gone and I don't know if I should run to him or stand, so I just saunter to the bottom step.  He stares at me a moment and falls to his knees, grabbing my waist and burying his face into my stomach.  It's alright Stan.  I'll neer leave you baby.  I almost cry myself, but I hold it back and just hold him.  He stands, kisses me.  Wow he's strong.  He picks me up, twirls me around, takes a deep breath...
...And holds up his script to read the lines he hasn't memorized yet.  I nearly laugh at the jolt back to reality, because going from totally in the moment to even a little out of it can be REALLY jarring, and I take him through the "door" into the "house" and the director stops us.  I shake it off and we read through it again.
Welcome to my world.  It's crazy, mixed up, and I love it.  Catch you when I can breath again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confessions of a G-List Actress:Day 2 Indie Webseries

After a nearly sleepless night between Allen (my co-star), and Leigh (the friend I brought with me) and Nikita (my dog) we get up at 6 am for another day of shooting.  Oddly enough, sleeping in a bed with strangers is not a new thing to me.  You get used to it after a while and end up loving the odd sleepovers and having the chance to get to know the people you are working with.  For only having about 4 hours of sleep I feel like I have slept more than enough and am ready to face the day.  But I am not on the shooting dock until 10 am.  Hmm, what could I possibly do with my time?
I am at the beach, after all.
Is This It? Poster
I drive with Leigh to grab a bite and we go to the beach.  I was sixteen the last time I went to Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Twelve years later it hasn't changed much, except for one thing: every public access parking area is now paid, and it's $2 per hour to park.  Seriously Wrightsville?  $2 an hour?  So we drive up and down to both ends of the beach in search of free parking, which does not exist.  I guess from now on I will park in a shopping area and walk the mile to the beach, because the extra mile is still cheaper than $2 an hour.  We park and spend $2 to park and go to the beach.  Leigh is going to use her new boogie board and I am going to enjoy a little reading in the sun for the hour I have left.  Nikita is leashed and barking at seagulls, dogs, and people.  She has no desire to walk along the sand.  Honestly, I don't either.  The sun feels grand.
45 minutes later I pack up my things and leave Leigh on the beach.  She says the 5 hours in the sun will do her good.  Nikita is packed into the car and I drive to the location, a coffee shop.  They are finishing up a scene and Allen is trying to keep his eyes open in the sun.  For an added bit of fun we place Nikita on a table and she is Allen's date, and we film it.  I meet Joanne, my sister for the shoot.  Funny enough I am actually 28 and she is 24 and I am the younger sister in this scenario.  How did this happen?  I won't complain too long.  YES! I CAN PASS FOR EARLY TWENTIES!  I also meet Angela, who plays Sam, my "new boyfriends" ex.
We pack up and all drive downtown to the boardwalk.  On the way, I admit, I am trying to put on my make-up and read lines and drive.  I pull on my clothes in the middle of the street and walk to the location, thinking I am going to have to remember five more pages of lines.  I was wrong.
We get there and now the sun is overhead.  We take a few promo shots, my favorite of which is a picture of me holding Allen's leg and Joanne (who is playing my older sister) holding his arm.  He is the rope in this crazy tug of war.  It's fun.  We shoot a quick shot of Allen and I seeing one another for the first time and then we split into teams.
Since this is an independent gig we don't have the budget to close down the downtown district of Wilmington and shoot with no sound.  That is probably my favorite way to shoot.  But hey, you have to do what you have to do.  There are ways to cut out certain noises.  The problem with those certain noises is they have to be consistent.  For example, if there is a low consistent hum, they can get rid of the low hum.  If a motorcycle drives by or a car honks or a dog barks, that is a noise that is very difficult to get rid of on post.  So there we are, downtown, me walking my dog who is barking at every dog she thinks she can take on, motorcycles driving by, and cars honking at the two pretty girls walking down the street towards a camera on a dolly.
City streets were not made for camera dollies and, without an expensive or home-made rig, you have to take things really slowly so the camera doesn't jostle over the bumps.  Not that we aren't walking slowly enough.  I swear we are nearly standing still.  You can't walk quickly on camera.  It just doesn't work.  You won't catch any of the action and it will look like you are running towards the camera.
I notice this one gentleman starts repeatedly walking his dog around the block to get into the shot.  A group of frat boys waits until we start filming to start hooting at Joanne and me as we walk down the street.  Every time Nikita barks at another person I start screaming, "Kill, KUJO!"
Lines are altered and switched and added.  The guys come and observe since they finish first.  And after a few hours I find myself driving back to the beach to pick Leigh up and head back to the Director's house to get some food.  I lay on the back of my car for some sun in my bathing suit.  I hate tanning beds and tend to get very red when in them, but it's getting to be summer and I need some sun on my bleached skin.  I eat a sandwich on the back of my car while Leigh holds onto Nikita and reads a script.   Allen, Joanne and I chat until the director gets back to the house.
We had missed a scene before and shot that quickly.  Two rehearsals, one shot, and we're done.  I find the clothes I was wearing the day before trying to get ready to shoot the rest of the scene we shot.  They smell terrible.  I had been sweating in them for three hours the day before.  Joanne enters in a lovely outfit and we get through the shot quickly.
Now I must make a point that I was trained in the theater.  No!  Acting for screen and for the stage are not the same.  They are totally different.  If I were to perform for a camera like I would onstage, it would look absolutely ridiculous; on the reverse if I were onstage performing as I would on film, you wouldn't know what was going on.  They are separate animals.  I have been a character actor for years and so I am very physical with my performances on stage.  This means I am willing to perform to an extreme most people are very embarrassed to consider on stage and on film, so a director can always tell me to take it down a notch and I will be happy to do it.
That being said when I am given the direction to be that drunk girl at the party my first response is to say, "please specify which drunk girl?"  So I am now supposed to be the goofy and friendly drunk girl at the party.  I am on the couch with my "sister", chatting, and being as "drunk" as I possibly can be.  I start chatting and James walks over and sits between us, offering Joanne a beer first.  As a response, I start to whimper. When he hands me a beer I lean comfortably against him.  There is a giggle and the shot is ruined.  Blooper reel!  Set up again.  Cut to three hours later and it has become so ridiculous that people can't get through their lines and we still haven't gotten a shot.  I have been putting my feet over my head, holding bottles in my feet, rubbing James face with both feet and hands.  I climb over top of James who is sitting in between Joanne and I, laying across the both of them picking up a beer bottle in my teeth and start drinking the contents.  Joanne laughs and finally Dan calls out, "We have got to get through this."
Figuring I would save us some time I toned it down a little and we are able to get through scene a few times.  And I am wrapped.  Not quite wanting to leave I figured I would stay and watch the last scene or two after I manage to get everything packed up.  I say goodbye to everyone.  We are wrapped for season 1.
I drive home through a terrible storm, get home and crash on my bed.  Exhausted.  I can't wait til the next weekend of shooting.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Confessions of a G-List Actor:Day 1 Indie Series

I am an actor.  I am well versed in the art of actoring.  I must be okay at it, otherwise I suppose people wouldn't pay me to do it.  Two weekends ago I started work on a project in Wilmington, NC.  Is This It?  I won't ruin it for you but it should be a blast.Actress Lilly Nelson
Don't get me wrong, acting is all I ever wanted to do, and now I get paid to do it professionally.  Not always a lot but every little bit helps.  It is HARD WORK though.  Hundreds of dollars in head shots, thousands of e-mails, and you only might get the part.  Looked like a fun project and any time I hear a friend laugh when I read dialogue for a filmed audition, it's great.  I was excited for this gig.  Most have no idea about the early mornings, late nights, food-less days, scraping money together, rejection, and embarrassment that go with this gig.
People forget that NC was and occasionally is a favorable place to film. Hollywood types spend fortunes to send actors from California to NC all the time.  It's got the mountains and the beach all at a relatively close distance.  I do wish the Hollywood types would cast locally more often but no matter how much they scream NC person is a star, it is so rare to happen.  Why pay a local when we can hire Hollywood?
I packed up my things and drove to Wilmington early on a Saturday Morning and took a friend with me.  I always take a friend on the first day of a shoot when I know no one, safety and all that jazz.  So we (self, friend, and dog) drove to Wilmington.  On the way I got a call from the Assistant Director.  "Can you be here early?"  Now I had planned to go to the beach for a bit.  Well, there went that idea.  So in a little under three hours I found myself in the sandy inland of Wilmington, NC looking through a script trying to throw make-up on my face while my companion drove.  We found the location, the directors house, pretty quickly.  I climb out of my car.   Friend and dog in tow I ran up to the front door and knocked politely.
Let me remind you once again I had never met any of these people.  They had no idea what to expect from me, and I had no idea what to expect from them.  Heat flew from inside the house, cameras were set up, lights were being adjusted and my poor co-star looked absolutely somber.  He doesn't look like his head shot, I thought, oh well.  I walked in. "Hi, I'm Lilly!"  After a few quick hellos I smiled and said, "Nice to meet you all.  I am going to get in my underwear.  Any color preference?"  There was a pause, followed by raucous laughter and everyone continued about their business.  Apparently no one had been quite so nonchalant about it all day.
Now I will tell you at tShodan Productionshis moment, our set looks a bit like something out of Boogie Nights.  Bed, camera, lights.  I laughed a bit as we read through the dialogue and then we ran through the action.  No matter how many times you tell yourself that underwear is like a bathing suit, when five people are staring at you making out with someone you just met, you feel more exposed than if you were totally naked.   What makes it worse is the director is doing what they do best, directing.  "Keep your head there.  If you go too far left you're out of frame.  You can't let your arm do that!  Okay, try it again."  Quite possibly the least sexy thing you will ever do and you have to look like you are REALLY into it.
It was at this point, before the camera was even recording, I realized exactly how hot it was in this room.  I knew it was 80° outside but this room was worse than an oven.  Why?  When on a film set everything that makes a noise must be turned off.  EVERYTHING!  No halogen lights, no phones, no iPods, no A/C or fans, no refrigerator; nothing that the mic can pick up.  There is a light that makes it feel like 110° F shining on one side of my face and about 180 lbs of sweating human laying on top of me; I am dying here.  I am coated in a substance and forced to spray myself with water between takes to make it look like I am sweating.  Why, because it is so hot in this room the sweat pouring off me is evaporating.
Lilly's Dog
 Finally, 30 minutes after I arrive, the cameras start rolling.  Take one, and action.  Five minutes of making out and dialogue.  Cut, reset the camera.  Start again.  In between takes while I am trying to breathe. I chat with the total stranger who has had his tongue in my mouth and hands in places most guys have to buy me dinner and a few drinks to "accidentally" brush.  The microphone is still on so the director, Daniel (I call him Dan)  hears everything we are saying.  Dan laughs,"I love this cast!"  Back to filming, camera rolling, action.  Now stop laughing, make out, say your lines, wonder why Allen wrinkles his nose every time he delivers that line, laugh, try to do this, say your line, roll over.  CUT!  I wrap a towel around myself and walk outside on break.  The crew smokes, the actors don't.  Cool down.  Back inside the heat for more making out and lines.
At 6pm, four hours of filming later we are done with scene one.  There is a small abrasion just under my nose where Allen's five o'clock shadow is growing out and it has rubbed my face repeatedly.  At least while they are setting back up and waiting for the other actor to arrive, I can get dressed again.
We shoot another scene and I am thankfully clothed and not having to do anything but sit and talk.  We joke, A LOT!  It's great to work with them. Wrap the day and the director graciously allows us to stay at his place since we drove so far and it's going to storm all night.  We go for a drink and find a bar with $1 PBR and chat.  Walk the streets of the city.  Come back to the house, laugh, joke.  I wash the make-up off my face.  People spread everywhere over the living room and sleep comes slowly while snuggling with dog.

End of day 1.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grey skies making me smile
White flies stinging m eyes
 Stitch me into your heart
And there I'll remain

Better with you but fine by myself
No tears and wordless to say
On hour one moment more
Just til you fill each pore
any excuse not to stray

Lost my way in this place
Had no heart to speak of
You filled the void just enough
Gave me just enough hope
And then I could breathe

Better with you but fine by myself
Nothing but you for a day
One hour one moment more
Til I can face the world
Any excuse just to stay

One more breath
I'll crawl to your door
And for intimacy sake
Be free with you

Just a few hours more
Then I'll crawl to your feet
Once more I'll lay there with you
And there I'll remind

Better with you but fine by myself
Quietly losing the day
One hour one fraction more
Knowing there won't be more
Loving you, running away