Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: BETTY'S PAGE

When we last heard from Lilly she was working 40 hours...

So, as I was saying a few days ago, after a 40 hour work week I found myself in Raleigh around 1:30 am.  Went to the boyfriend's house.  And arrived just in time to shower and go completely unconscious.  I literally hugged my boyfriend, showered, and slept.

This kinda made me sad, been needing some actual human interaction and students at an art college are only so good at that.  Ever driven almost two hours and been excited to see someone and maybe talk?  Yeah, soon as I washed the day off that was not going to happen.

Every actor knows this level of exhaustion.  You are still perfectly functioning, but you know it won't last.  You think you might be smelling yourself so you climb into the shower and that water feels so nice.  I mean it, so nice you sit in the bottom of your shower, a la lifetime, and just let the water run over you.  You don't have the energy to scrub.  You just need a minute and the energy will come back.  But it doesn't and you actually fall asleep for a second in the shower, just sitting there.  You wake up and figure, oh a little sleep and you will be fine.  So you step out of the shower, put on your pajamas and...HOLY CRAP!!!  IT'S 8AM!!!!  When did I go to sleep?!

The older I get, the more of a narcoleptic I am.  I can sleep anywhere.
ANYWHERE!

**Side Note:  Now that I think of it I do seem to pass out more easily when the boyfriend is around.  He must be bathing in chloroform.  That would explain the sudden need to pass out in his presence.  Either that or he has created some sort of airborne rohypnol.  This would make him a maniacal genius.  I'm OK with this.  Martian Sandcastle, World Domination, Sandwich!**

So somewhere in my comatose like sleep I wake up to the annoying  sound of alarm and drag myself out of bed and into "action."  Actually, to be honest I laid there and eventually pulled myself out of bed by sheer force of will and the promise of a chai tea latte, and screen time.  I always have time to awaken for a line and screen time.

About 45 minutes, and a bumbling, half asleep, attempt to put my makeup on in the car later, we arrive.  I was not driving.  Arrival is just in time to feast upon doughnuts and coffee and get ready for what might be the fastest day of filming we have had on Fix It In Post.

Today we get to eat on set, what do I mean by that?  We get to eat the food put before us and enjoy while someone video tapes us.  The kid on City Island would be having a field day.  And Betty gets to be compassionate and content.  Kinda alien, but I can dig it.  She got what she wanted.  
I got to eat out of a skull.  BBQ out of a skull is kinda fun actually, until you realize every single time you pick it up BBQ is wasted on a table you really don't want to lick.  You might lick it anyways when no one is looking.  It's BBQ for crying out loud!  You can't help but think of Hamlet while eating pork out of a plastic replica skull.  Alas poor Yorick.  His brains were from Lexington.  Somehow Alan got the best picture of my profile I have seen in a long time.  WOW.  Seriously.  Mad props.
Lines were said.  Laughs were had.  Food was eaten at great speed.  Few more cannibal jokes and we are done with the scene.  Time flies on set, except when it doesn't.

At least it wasn't cold that day.  It was freezing the following day when they had to shoot all that summer stuff.  But that is another story.

As the sun sets we tape the window closed so it will appear to be nighttime.  Yeah.  The Magic of Film making.
We close all the doors and lock ourselves into a stable.  Back to rage.  Time for William and Betty to gently threaten Lexy, who is too stupid to defend herself.  We practice some shoves and the first time Lexy bangs her head on a bar.  Ooops.  Well, now she's scared.

Putting Miles and I in a scene together opposite one another is a dangerous enough thing.  It can get quite volatile.  Putting other people in it can make it even more dangerous.   

The first take I saw some genuine fear in Lexy's eye and I really don't want to hurt another human being.  Betty shoves her against a wall and claps a hand over her face.  William rips her off and they fight a bit.  He suddenly is confronted with exactly how stupid Lexy is and that's his breaking point.

After a few fumbled takes , as everyone is trying to rush to pry William off Lexy, the chair Bill is sitting on breaks and in a very Matrix Style, he forces himself to stand up as the chair crumbles underneath him.  It was really impressive.  Wish I had video of it.
Now that we are in the swing of the scene I cry for help as Lexy explains how Scott is going to fix everything.  When William pulls me off of Lexy I fight him.  People gasp the first few times.  I cuss him out.  Call him names.  Climb up the bars of the cell.  Threaten to kill.  Grab William and try to console him and calm him.  It's great to be gasping for breath after a scene.

Since Betty has now been pleading for help in the background they decide to film a little of me going nuts.

"Hey!  Help!  Hey we got a fat one in here!  I'll snap her neck for you!"  I can hear Lexy gasp in faux annoyance.  Do it the other way.  OK.  We are done.  

Food.  Bed.  Was going to watch DOCTOR WHO but the day wore me out.  Besides, I spent a few dollars and watched it later and was very angry with the MOFF!  Stop changing rules.  The Doctor can't be perfect.

I fade in and out of sleep, while Highlander, the TV show, plays on Netflix.  I slept through most of it.  Ehh, Richie wasn't in the episode anyways.

7:30 am and my car won't start.  A sweet landlord jumps my car and I am on my way to Charlotte for Partners!  

I get to Charlotte a little before 11 and climb from my car into Darren's car.  Nice Mercedes with heated seats.  Good thing too.  It is freezing outside!

We talk on the way over.  On location they are setting up our scene...OUTSIDE.  We pull a large white blanket out and walk over to the edge of a lake.  Thankfully the sun is straight above us, causing enough heat to make the cold bearable, but now the light is right in my face and I am lying on my back trying not to squint into the sun that is right in my line of sight.

They move way too quickly into close ups.  Now Darren is trying to shield my eyes while I act.  I am trying to not look into the sunlight.  We kiss.  They cut.  We start over.  Dialogue.  Kiss.  Cut.
  
The scene is over so quick it makes your head spin.  Back into the warm.  Change and get mentally prepped to emote.

As a rule, if you think you might hit someone it is a good idea to ask.  Especially if the person you are about to hit is a highway patrolman.  Didn't know if I would.  But an emotional woman will do anything so I figured I would ask.  He said OK.  First take he sits down on the floor next to me and I am bawling.  I am crying so hard Darren starts to cry and then BAM!  Couldn't help it.  Slapped the fire out of a state trooper.  Got up and ran out of the room.

Director says cut.  Umm?  Do we need a safety?  Nine takes from different angles later and I am on the verge of an asthma attack.  Thankfully we are done with my filming and I can go downstairs and take a nap until dinner.  We eat and fill out paperwork. Before I know it, hey hey hey, I am on my way home.

Work tomorrow and for the next few hours I will be living on cloud nine.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bitter Bloggings from an Optomistic Actress: The importance of being an EXTRA

I was going to write about actors and talent, but this got to me. Please forgive my candor, but this drove me INSANE!  


A news station in NC interviewed an extra from the newest blockbuster to hit the theaters and put it on television, treating him like he starred in the film.  It's a bit like last year when they interviewed the NC native who was in a similar film as a featured extra: no lines, less than 30 seconds of screen time, and died in the first ten minutes of the film.  I honestly don't think the reporters who called them to schedule an interview know how acting works.


I got snubbed by someone who does background work on a network TV show as a regular extra.  Seriously, they are paid extras and acted superior due to the fact they are a regular extra on network TV.  I watched some of the show.  I saw their back turned as they stood behind the star.  The star talked while they mimed a motion. They likely filmed several times because the background guy was being too conspicuous.


Recently, did you know, on the HUNGER GAMES CATCHING FIRE IMDb site, they removed 200 extras who didn't mention uncredited when they applied?  It just said Capital Citizen or Tribute.  Are they in the credits at the end of the film?  Heck no!  The IMDb folks were MAD!


I have to say this.  Background work, no matter how you want to slice it, is not acting work.  Let me repeat this, EXTRA WORK IS NOT ACTING WORK!  I have a cousin with a recurring role on TV and when I was young he told me, "If you want to be an actor, be an actor.  If you want to be an extra, be an extra."  Truer words have never been spoken.


Notice I didn't say background wasn't work.  I am not saying you can't make a great living as an extra in a union state, or any other state for that matter.  In places like New York they still pay over $100 for an 8 hour day to extras.  $100 a day, five days a week, four weeks a month.  You could almost survive that way in a bigger city.  In fact, I know a lot of people who make money as extras in major cities getting paid well over $500 a week to just sit in a room for 8 hours a day.  Do they have dreams of hitting it big?  No, they just like being in the background.  There is an art to blending in with the background, and that is the job of an extra, to not stick out, to meld with the scene.  It is an honorable profession, because without extras there would be no movies.  And to those who make their livings in the Background and show up every time on time to do that, I salute you.  



You do this for no thanks and a piddling amount of money...and I would give you a big hug if I was on set right now.  Directors yell at you to move your head and get out of the shot.  The stars eat better than you.  You may or may not get to talk to the celebrities.  The one time I agreed to do extra work I was not allowed to talk to the talent.  Someone who was star struck was removed from the set and not paid for talking to the star after the director said no.  An extra is not there to network with the director or schmooze with the stars, no matter what Ricky Gervais may imply.  So thanks for your dedication and willingness to not be seen.

The above and below also goes for you folks who are Professional Stand-Ins.  Not acting work.  Integral to the filming process.  We love you.


Hey!  You remember when Robert Downy Jr hurt himself on Iron Man?  The director pointed to the extra, Jack Flap, and said, "You.  Yes you!  I recognize your talent.  I have loved your work since you ate that sandwich in the diner.  You don't belong with the extras.  Robbie is out!  Please, oh please be my Iron Man.  Will you?!  And then when this is over, you will be a star!  Bigger than anyone!"  Yeah I had that dream too, but it involved Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.  This will never happen!  While on set you might get a line if the part is small enough and the person they hired didn't show, but being bumped from featured extra to day player on a big studio film is highly unlikely, and by that I mean if it happens you have a horseshoe shoved where the sun don't shine.


So all you extras who dream of acting, stop taking the extra roles.  It is not making your resume any more appealing.  And all you folks who see your friends in extra roles and tell them "congratulations, you're going to be famous"; stop encouraging mediocrity in your acting friends.  


In a way you are treating them like children and not encouraging them to get better.  You know when a kid comes up to you with paint all over their faces, staining hair, in their mouths, and shows you the picture they just spat onto that piece of cardboard.  Do you tell them the truth?  "Oh that is horrible."  No, you tell them "Great job, you are going to be the next Picasso."  Except in the case of your actor friends you sort of mean it.  "You will be the next Brando."  Oh my gosh you were brilliant.  You were so good at not staring at Charlize Theron while she stripped naked.  Congratulations for being on screen behind the person getting paid the equivalent of all the extras on set for the entire production.  Stop treating your five seconds on a studio production like your big break.  It's not.  It's another job that you don't even get credit for.  A single line in an indie film is worth more on paper than any number of studio extra credits, featured or not.


Stop thanking the academy when you get home after standing for three hours behind Morgan Freeman or Kevin Klein, who likely said very little to you.  The only people you are famous to are your friends.  This is not the time to drop everything and move to LA.


"Wow, they recognized your talent."  No they didn't, they asked for a certain number of people and they filled their quota as quickly as possible.  Weather it is you, or your friend, standing next to the star may give you screen time.  But as far any casting director is concerned, you might as well be the park bench if you don't have any lines.


And I know you will bring up this little article here.  I think this article was written by an extra who wants to be an actor.  Maybe the famous guy or girl in question did do extra work because at the time they were broke and needed money.  Here is the same list of actors with the information they left out.



1. SYLVESTER STALLONE
The Year before Woody Allen's Film, Bananas, Stallone was the star in two films, one of which was a soft core pornographic film and the other was a studio film called No Place to Hide.  By the time he was doing that extra role in Bananas, Stallone was already trying to sell Rocky to major investors and they knew who he was.

2. BRAD PITT

Months before before the extra work in Less than Zero, he was already a regular, named Chris, on a soap opera, Another World.
3. CLINT EASTWOOD
Yes, Mr. Eastwood's first few films were as background/extra roles.  But did you know the studio was actually grooming him to be an actor?  He already had a contract with Universal and the studio was paying for him to attend acting classes as well as $100 a week.  His contract began April 1954, 11 months before his first extra role.  At that time if the studio took you on, you were going to star one day.  So, no, the extra work didn't lead to fame.  His screen test for the head of the studio led to fame.


4. PHIL COLLINS

So the famous musician Phil Collins was in a movie when he was 13.  This particular posting is a real stretch.  Phil Collins was an established musician before he started doing speaking roles in movies.  So he, or some chick he knew, was a fan of the Beatles and they went to an open call for extra roles.  Big deal.  That didn't lead to his future screen time.  It was his music.
5. PATTI BOYD
Sure, George Harrison's first wife was an extra in Hard Days Night.  But she already was a successful model/photographer before then.  It didn't hurt she married a Beatle and Eric Clapton, but her start really wasn't as an extra.  Her modeling started in 1962, a full 2 years before she was an extra on A Hard Days Night.

6. RUDOLPH VALENTINO
Rudolph Valentino was an extra in several silent films before he became a leading man?  He was a dancer in his first film.  Technically an extra, but this went only for 2 films before he got a leading role.  And before then, he was doing theater.

7.NOEL COWARD
Noel Coward was a lead in a children's play when he was 12 and worked in the theater touring as well as being the protege of a famous painter.  He was well renowned as a stage actor for almost a decade before he got his first extra credit.

8. AYN RAND
Now is probably the best time to mention that she was not an actress.  Ayn Rand is a screenwriter and her meeting with Cecil B Demille didn't really catapult anything forward.  Sure she became a junior screenwriter, but she didn't even sell her first play to Paramount, whom she and Demille worked for.  She sold her first script to Universal Studios and it wasn't even produced.  Her part as an extra did almost nothing for her writing career.
9. RENÉE ZELLWEGER
Before Dazed and Confused in 1993, there was made for TV movie, A Taste For Killing, in 1992.  It was a small role, but she had lines.
10. JOHN WAYNE
"In the 1920s, John Wayne was an extra in several silent films before his first starring role in 1930's The Big Trail."  Actually the year before that he had a speaking role in Words and Music.  You want to know what really got John Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison, into film?  Football.  He was Pre-law at USC and was on a full football scholarship.  A bodysurfing accident broke his collar bone and he lost is scholarship.  Tom Mix, a western film star and fan of Wayne's football skill, helped Wayne get a job in a studio props department in exchange for football tickets and introduced him to John Ford, who gave Wayne his big break.  No, the extra work didn't give John Wayne his start.  A fan of USC and Wayne's football career did.


11. CLARK GABLE

Clark Gable was a stage actor before he began extra work.  His stage career was not improved by the extra work and, in fact, it wasn't until he almost quit film altogether that an MGM film producer saw him on stage in LA and offered him a contract with MGM.  No the director didn't see him in a film in the background and exclaim, "I'm going to make him a star!"
12. MEGAN FOX
Just gonna put this out there verbatim from the source.  At 15, Fox made her acting debut in the 2001 film Holiday in the Sun, as spoiled heiress Brianna Wallace and rival of Alex Stewart (Ashley Olsen), which was released direct-to-DVD on November 20, 2001.  Bad Boys wasn't until 2003.  
13. JAMES DEAN
In the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy Sailor Beware Dean had one line: "The guy's a professional."  So he was a day player.  Not an extra.  And besides, he was in a Pepsi commercial first and had two other walk on roles where he had lines.
14. BEN AFFLECK & 15. MATT DAMON
Ben Affleck was a child actor and Matt Damon made his film debut in Mystic Pizza with one line.  Extras, I think not.
















16. Jackie Chan
As a teenager, Jackie Chan was an extra in two Bruce Lee films: Fists of Fury (1971) and Enter the Dragon (1973).  This is incorrect!  Jackie was a stuntman.  Not an extra.  And before then he had been on TV, yup he had lines and everything.

17. JEAN HARLOW
Jean Harlow was an extra first, it's true.  But she had turned down lead roles before her mother kinda made her take the work since Harlow was 17, divorced, and penniless.
18. BRUCE WILLIS
Look carefully and you'll spot Bruce Willis as an extra in the courtroom scene of Paul Newman's 1981 film, The Verdict.  Yes, look carefully.  Bruce Willis knew Sam Shepard and had been working off Broadway for nearly 4 years in lead roles in Sam Shepard plays.  But yeah, it was the verdict that made him the man he is today.
19. MARILYN MONROE
Marilyn Monroe was on the cover of dozens of magazines before a 20th Century Fox executive saw her and signed her to become the studios new star in training.  That's how she got the extra work in the first place and also how she got her first lines.  Once again, the extra work didn't make her famous, she was a cover girl already.

Notice I don't say don't be an extra.  If you have no film credits, be an extra.  If you have no resume.  Be an extra.  But, if you want to act, work the right way towards getting out of the extra role.  Talking to the director on a big budget set is not likely to get you big work.  Talking to the actor might, but they're at work.  This is not the time to ask Demi Moore if she's ever heard of you and pass her your portfolio.  If you get acquainted then, maybe later on at a coffee shop, you can talk about acting, but plenty of extras get on set to talk to camera guys, actors, and directors to no longer be extras.  Be careful and try not to be that guy.

Also, as far as LA goes.  Hard town man.  You won't be able to go to LA with only extra credits and make a name for yourself as working actor.  

I would really love for everyone to get their big break and have all those hours as extras pay off with a big leading role.  But lets be realistic.  More than anything, I think it's important to know that LA is a hard sell and people with names who live in the area fight tooth and nail to stay employed.  They will eat you alive if you try to get in their way.  I really just don't want anyone to end up homeless or broke in LA with no way to get back to a safe place.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: ABSOTIVELY POSOLUTE!

Last night a few folks told me a needed to write more.  Now that I am in my office eating dinner  I figured I might do that.

So on my way to the regular nine to five, or in my cast the two to twelve, I found myself thinking just how busy this year has been, and I smiled a big smile.

It got off to a rough start but this year has actually been pretty awesome as far as acting goes.  Until I can act and never have another job. life won't be perfect, but it's been pretty amazing.

Last year was awesome with Zombie Fried Chicken...


A Street Car Named Desire...

Is This It?...

Bryan...


Dancing in the Endzone...

Boeing Boeing...

My Face...

Vandroid...

And a trip to LA with a great travel buddy.

And that's really just what I can come up with off the top of my head.  I am sure there are things I am forgetting.  Sorry if I did.

While there has been plenty of film this year, lets talk about this coming weekend and what is going on.

Tomorrow, gotta drive to Charlotte.  Normally I would arrange a meeting with a friend, but not this time.  Got to get there and get back to work.   I was hoping to make a pumpkin roll or two, not likely.  Just too busy to do it.  

Things I am not too busy to do this time of year?  I have taken on making three of my Christmas gifts to family this year, instead of buying them.  I am teaching my mother to sew corsets.  Making bottle tab chain mail.  Decoupaging my bedside table.  Planning on painting my room in chalkboard.  Doing a cross stitch.  Sewing a pillow.  Knitting a scarf.  Prepping for a wedding next year.  Editing three scripts for filming.  Prepping to produce and act in a play next year.  Prepping for three major auditions for theater companies out of state.  
Thank goodness I don't have any more CPR classes this year as of now or I might not get any sleep.
I am currently 8.5 hours shy of a full 40.  And before I leave the late shift tomorrow, I will reach it.  It's fine.  The acting kids are always too busy to just talk, but the design and production students love to hear my crazy stories.  And I will tell them to any ear who wants to hear.

Once I am done with that I get to drive 2 hours to Raleigh to pass out.  For you math folks that's around five hours of my day gone just driving.  Friday I literally only have 10.5 hours to get everything done.  Why?  Because Saturday morning, I get to go be Betty, the angry goth chick.  Or as I like to think of her, the sensible one.  I will be waking up around 7:30 or 8 am to drive 45 minutes to get on set for...drum roll please!!!

Fix It In Post.  A feature length film about a bunch of filmmakers stuck in the middle of nowhere after a massive EMP wipes out all power.  No zombies, but there are rednecks and cannibals and redneck cannibals.

Oddly enough, side note, this is the year of the angry Lilly.  A lot of the parts I get are very rage driven.  Why?  I dunno, generally I try to stay happy and get less angry than disappointed.  Where do people get rage wrong?  They assume its just anger.  Anger has so many layers.  In Betty's case she's also in love.  But enough of acting 101.
Betty attacks Lexy...AKA Captain Cold Lick
Most people know me as the actress willing to go the extra crazy mile.  As long as it's safe.  Quick, jump out this fake glass window.  OK.  Hey can you take a hit with a breakaway bottle?  Awesome!  Whose ready to get slapped and thrown into a pool.  ME!

Please read this line in either a soap opera narrator voice or as William Shatner:
Last time on Fix It In Post we found Lexy had accidentally betrayed her fellow team members for fame and the love of Scott.

The way the scene was written we get upset, but everyone kinda stands around.  What did Betty want to do?  Kill Lexy.  Bring on the physical violence.  Lexy was uncomfortable with actually being tackled or even pretending that she was getting tackled.  I get it.  I was really bummed, but I get it.  The possibility of getting hurt sometimes really scares folks.   Step number one of stage combat is to protect your head shot.  Imagine a girl twice your height making a full run at you and clothes lining you.  Safe or not, you gotta know what you're doing or at least be willing to not seize up when it happens, that's where you get hurt.

I worked at a wild west theme park in 2005 and one of the girls I was practicing stunts with broke her clavicle, collar bone, because she panicked half way through a stunt.  Once both of your feet have left the ground, it is not a good time to second guess yourself.  A simple stunt, but that moment of panic resulted in three months of physical therapy and pins in her shoulder.

Since I am the daredevil, we went on to plan B.  We grabbed a step stool and Betty took a flying leap and was, thankfully, caught where she fought and scratched to get at Lexy, making things up as she went along. A lot of expletives and flailing.  Thank goodness the boys who caught me could take a beating.  

It reminded me of the first day on set when, oh what a surprise, Betty gets mad.  I couldn't resist goofing off and in one take didn't swear once, which is what Betty is known for.  Such colorful language.  In one take I stood straight up and started screaming these exact words.  "Expletive, expletive, colon, hash tag, exclamation point, asterisk!!!!I SWEAR TO BOB!  HULK SMASH!"  The extras on set were rolling.  Some days, when you are playing that much anger and hate, you just need to make folks laugh, since you are playing someone so unlikable.

So this Saturday is a day of feasting and rage.  Basically we shoot our lunch and then we do a scene where I get violent.  Yay!  Violence!  Fun will ensue!

I am looking forward to Dr Who this Saturday night.  I will have it recorded at the boyfriend's house so I can Who-It-Up!

Following, what will hopefully be a good night's rest, I will drive my little self to somewhere near Charlotte, NC.  And this is where I get to be in love and angry, thankfully, just not at the same time this time around.

Partners.  Cop drama.  Anytime I get to cry is a great day.  Can't wait to fight with Darren Conrad.  It's going to be epic.  Don't want to give too much away but it is going to be awesome!  I will be done and have enough time to drive back home and hopefully not pass out completely.  Yes I have to work Monday and Tuesday, likely Wednesday Saturday and Sunday as well.

I will be sad when all this filming I have coming up is over and I have to start from scratch again, but until then.  A-C-T-O-R-I-N-G spells happy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress:THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

I missed the leaves falling this year.  It's not that I was out of state and unable to see.  I went to my dentist this morning.  I was the first appointment I think, and on my way back, while forcing myself to eat my bagel and coffee, I looked around at the bare trees and thought ,"How did I miss fall?"


I sit here, in my office, typing these words of wisdom to you, anyone without at least one extremely rich parent or an adult who isn't independently wealthy with loads of time on their hands who wants to be an actor.  Take it from a smart actress who has made her mistakes and continues to learn.

GET OUT NOW!!!!!!!!  RUN!  GO MARRY A NICE BOY OR GIRL AND LIVE A NORMAL LIFE!  A LIFE WHERE YOU DON'T WORK 5 JOBS TO SURVIVE AND YOU CAN AFFORD TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!  A LIFE WHERE YOU DON'T HAVE TO QUIT YOUR JOB BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GET EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND OFF!  A GLORIOUS LIFE WITH CHILDREN AND FRIENDS!


No, this life is not for everyone.  In a normal life you don't have to go to work in Winston-Salem until 3pm on a Thursday.  Afterwards you leap quickly into your already packed car and drive five hours to Atlanta, GA for an audition or three.  You get just enough sleep.  If you can't afford a hotel or you don't have a friend in town, this could be in your car.  You get up at 7am after having a sleepless night and drive to a location on Friday.  Lead, principal or an extra, it doesn't matter because it's credit and just enough money, likely around $100, to constitute the cash you spent to get down there, or at least it will in the nearly two months of wait time it takes for the check to arrive in your mailbox.  You're lucky today, they are prepped and on time and you are fifteen minutes or more early.  You are never less than fifteen minutes early, if not, you are late.

In a normal life you don't have to get done with five hours of work to have to drive six hours back to Raleigh, as soon as your done with your post filming audition.  In real life you don't knock on a friends door at 3 am and pass out on their sofa or in their bed only to know you have to wake up at 6am to film something forty-five minutes away, but this was the closest you were going to get without having to rent a hotel.  And that price adds up.  You pray there isn't anything good on TV, because if there is, you will watch it and forgo sleep.  In real life a 6am wake up call to be on set and prepped at 8am after only three hours sleep would be ludicrous, especially on a Saturday.  But you wake up.  You can't help it.  You couldn't sleep anyways.  The set is long.  You try to find places to sleep, but you are in the middle of nowhere in an open field with cars full of equipment.  You manage to rest in between takes.  You can feel a sore throat and stuffy nose coming on.  You hope it isn't catching because you have to make out with that guy you may or may not like.  Still, always polite, you brush your teeth and rinse like you are prepping to make out with the hottest man on the planet.  This action could very well be to hide the sour cream and onion chips or the infection you feel brewing in your throat.  Either way, you don't want to be accused of severe halitosis.  In the back of your mind you pray he did the same.  He didn't.

In normal life you don't drive back to Raleigh to pile on even more auditions, or perhaps you have rehearsal.  You have friends right?  It would be nice to visit.  Let's see you have forty five minutes.  You could squeeze in some coffee, but no one is available.  Next time.  You rehearse until 11 and then crash at the same friends house, setting your alarm even earlier.  4 am.  You have to be in Charlotte at 8am for a small part in something.  You are dangerously low on cash and cross your fingers they will pay cash when you get there.  Hint: they won't.

In a normal life on Sunday you get to sleep, but not in this life.  In this life you oversleep by about twenty minutes and rush out the door like a crazy person, breaking speed limits left and right.  Did you remember to eat?  You didn't, but you don't remember.  They didn't give you a contact number so you frantically look for someone to call to say you are running late.  The words running out of your mouth and through your head would make a seasons sailor blanch and steady themselves on the furniture.  Total sleep in the past four days?  Ten hours, and you aren't even close to done.  You get there, dress and wait for hours.  You rest, but it's hardly sleep.  You wake up at your name and rush to set.  You are there for less than an hour.


In normal life, on your drive home, you don't get two texts from friends who want you to audition for their indie films that just happen to be along the way.  Might as well right?

In normal life your agent doesn't give you two auditions to tape that night when you get home and ask if you can come back to Atlanta the next day for an audition at noon.  You call in and beg a coworker to take over for your shift that starts in less than ten hours.  You get your auditions into the CDs on the casting website just in time for another five hours of sleep before waking up and hopefully having the energy to drive back to Atlanta for the second time this week.  You rush back to make sure you get into your other job on time and your work a forty hour week at one job and various other hours with your other three, all while rehearsing a show two hours away four days a week.  You've given two weeks, more likely three months, notice that you need those days off and you are getting paid well for this part so you won't be in.  You hope they will give you the days off.  Hint: They don't.

So I beg you.  All you poor actors and people with no money who want to pursue this.  You have been warned.  It's not a bunch of fame or reknown.  It's hard sleepless work, and for those of us working more than one job.  It's a sprint into the unknown darkness.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bitter Bloggings from an Optimistic Actress: AWARD WINNING ACTOR

First of all, due to some feedback I have come up with a brilliant name for these posts about acting.  If you want to hear about happy things that happen on set, please check out Confessions of a G-List Actress.  Otherwise, welcome to Bitter Bloggings from an Optimistic Actress.

Hello all you actors.  A little truth for your ear, eye and mind.  Stop, collaborate and listen.

Recently, I helped with the casting process of a small short film.  Partly this is in prep for auditioning folks for a few films I intend to try to fund and  distribute.  We got hundreds of submissions.  Some great, some not so great.  What became a theme, specifically with the less professional actors, was the term "AWARD WINNING ACTOR"  or "AWARD WINNING ACTRESS" with one or more exclamation points after it.   I think the number topped out at 8!!!!!!!!  As we all know the louder and more vehemently you exclaim other people know you are a great actor the truer your talent, right?  This means you can charge more, right?  WRONG-O!

I kid you not we had actors claiming to have won Emmys, Obies, 48 hour film awards.  It was insane.

We'll get back to this story momentarily.

Several times I have heard or seen these exclamations of these same actresses and actors talking about how they got asked for fan mail from a stranger.  Lets be honest.  If you haven't been paid more than $1,000 a day for a part these are likely a scam or something more dangerous.

Yes I too have been asked for autographs by random gentlemen, other story entirely.

If you have ever been to my website I do not list award winning actor.  This must be because I haven't won anything yet.  On the contrary.  I have had my fair share of acclaim.  My awards can be viewed on my webpage via twitter with a link to the article involved with said award.  Why don't I tout my fame to the rafters?  Because it has no bearing on my ability to bring a tear to the eye or a laugh from the belly.  An award does not make the actor, and any actor who thinks a casting director is swayed by some of the piddling awards that were posted on home pages, has another thing coming.

In response to this I have talked to several casting directors, actors and agents asking when the term award winning should be used.  The vast majority said there really was no time to even mention AWARD WINNING ACTOR.  Most CD's find it pretentious, agents have no use for it unless you win something BIG, and directors know well enough that festivals can be highly political.  A small group thought mentioning it under your resume or on twitter was fine.  The less you have to toot your own horn, the better.  From what I have gathered you can mention awards in a separate place on your website.  So, who just took AWARD WINNING ACTOR off their website homepage because they won it at their local 48?  National and international are okay to mention, but other than that, keep it small.  The more they have to find out, the more interested they are.

Tell the Truth
Sadly there are people who think fudging their resume will make them more appealing.  The six degrees of separation moves down to around three degrees or less in the acting world.  Never claim to have won anything unless you actually have won said award.

Be Honest With Others
Okay, you have awards.  Don't just type AWARD WINNING ACTOR on your IMDB like you've earned it.  If you mention that in enough bold there might be a director who says, which award did you win?  The next words out of your mouth had better be both impressive and true.   And winning an award named after a guy named Oscar doesn't mean you won an academy award.  Nor does buying one from the local shop.

Be Honest With Yourself
Yay!  You got  an award.  While every award is a great honor, you have to know how to properly gauge what is worth mentioning.  Best actor at an obscure lesbian film festival where they show maybe twenty films and you were one of only two males in the festival is not really worth noting in bold print on the front of your website.  Especially if you choose to simply put award winning actor.  So you won best scream at your local 72 hour horror film festival.  Big Deal.  It's not even worth the five minutes it will take to put it on facebook, twitter, and your website.  It won't win any points with any casting director who will get you in a movie guaranteed to get you on that Academy Stage.  It won't get you any clout with that equity house in New York.  Any director who responds to Best Actor-Fancy Dance Film Festival Middle of Nowhere, Alaska is probably not likely to get you anything that will actually advance your career.  Nor is that most improved award you won in your acting class from your teacher you are paying $500 a month to get more work.

Also, and I am annoyed I even have to mention this, if you were in a film that won an award, this does not mean you won the award.  Being an extra in Silver Lining's Playbook does not mean you were nominated for an Oscar or Won a BAFTA.

Back to my story, after several weeks of weeding through actors resumes, reels, and headshots all parts were cast.  You want to know among those claim to be award winning actors?  None.  He actually started pitching anyone who said AWARD WINNING ACTOR on their site homepage because, to be honest, they seemed to be the less talented and capable.    I suppose they were too busy celebrating their awards to bother learning how to act.

I know several women who claim best actress awards and they were in a festival where they were the only woman.  Be careful throwing AWARD WINNING around.  It can make you more trouble than you're worth.