Thursday, January 23, 2014

Confessions of a G-List Actress: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.

~Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.
Meryl Streep 

I will start with this.  Ladies, never go to meet a strange director without checking them out first.  This is how crazy people sell us into the sex trade, rape and or murder us.  Make lots of large male friends who look threatening and ask them politely to drive with you to meet said "directors."  Or be well armed.  That being said...

I met a new director this past Saturday at 11pm in Indian Beach, NC.  Talented one too.  How I found myself there at such an unholy hour after a work week of well over 50 hours is quite amusing.  The humor of driving such a distance is not lost on me.

I found a part on The Southern Casting Call.  I saw the words Leading Lady and figured, well, what the heck.  I will send them a headshot, resume, and reel and ask if they are paying.  No harm in that.  They were paying for gasoline.  Normally to this I say, well, call me when you get a project with funding. But something nagged at me a bit and when the script was offered I said, why not?  Worst I can say is no.  I will be quite honest, a 4 hour drive and only gas/food/lodging being provided is not a good seller for me.  Most of the time these days I am broke or have not time so I am already thinking the words to politely decline as the script is being sent.
I open the file...it would be rude not to at least give it a look...and begin reading.  It's good.  Really good.  I am a big fan of sad films and this is filled with all the depression that we as actors kinda hope for.
Not paying and shoots over two days.  Well, let me see what is going on.  Little bit of emailing back and forth and I will say I am hooked on the idea.  No lines in the script, all improvisation, simple idea, great for a reel since the only female role is also the main role.  You're killing me smalls.  It's shooting over a weekend and it's a weekend before I am taking 3 days off.  I can't afford a full week.  Well let me just...
Oh wait, you can't shoot that weekend.  Huh.  Too bad.  No time in February and don't want to wait til March you say.  Well the next day I have off is...

So Jan 18th, at 6pm, I find myself driving the distance to Indian Beach, NC.  We are shooting this thing in 24 hours. I have Skyped with Kyle, the director, and he seems like someone I could hang with on my one day off that week.  It's late.  I woke up at 6:45 am.  I have probably had 25 hours sleep in the past seven days, but I have my food, my caffeine, and my a/c is on full blast with loud music running.  I am not going to fall asleep at this point.  Gotta film!  I find the condo.  It's a beautiful place on the beach.  Too bad it's freezing cold.  Even worse, too bad I have to get in the water tomorrow.
The director and his camera man are walking out to grab pieces of a dog crate.  Yes, there is a dog in the film.  Her name is Jersey and she is very sweet.  I am taken upstairs to a very nice room with a HUGE bed and allowed to change into some of my clothes as a costume.  The director's girlfriend does my makeup.  It looks good.
In the living room, on a luggage cart, is the camera.  It looks like a big metallic grey box with a lens a a monitor and sony stamped on the side.  I honestly don't know what the metal box is for, I assume protection of the equipment.  I watch on the screen as they check the view.  The image on screen is breathtaking, and complete with filter.  Very cinematic.
The first scene is a lot of action.  Pour wine, surf internet, text guy, go to couch, text again, take picture, eww, don't like picture, go to kitchen, take another picture, send that, go back to couch, turn off kitchen light as you go, wait, text again, wait, call, he doesn't answer.  A lot of action to put into two minutes.  The first few takes he cues me as to when he wants me to change actions.  It looks fine on every take.  The final take someone brings up just letting me do the action and see how it works.  I start the action and go through the whole thing and on my final action it clocks in at just over two minutes.  Feeling good.
Most of these shots are in a few takes, if there are more than one.  I try to make a different choice every time, but sometimes, there are only so many way to turn on a light.  But I am still feeling good as the hours creep away and soon I find myself in the final of three scenes for the night at 5am.  It is a good thing too.  The sleep is trying to take over.  We have only three scenes to shoot girl.  You can stay awake.  I hate to admit this, but now the need to sleep has become pressing.  What do they want me to do?  Lay in bed and pretend to sleep.
At 10am I wake up to find no one around me.  I had actually fallen asleep.  They took several shots around me and then called it a night.  They were dragging pretty hard as well.  I could only laugh and apologize.  You could have woken me.  They understood.  Mortification is still present but what is done is done.
Interesting fact about myself.  If I am tired enough, and get still too long, I can fall asleep anywhere.  ANYWHERE.  I have fallen asleep on a cutting table, under a table, in a freezer, on a kitchen counter, in a wheelie chair, on a fall pad in a small room when a cannon was going off.  It's a really special gift, and kind of annoying when you only have so many shots left and exhaustion is setting in.
At 10:30 everyone else woke up and at 11 we were back to filming.
We had to use people on the crew to double as the men in my life. The director played my dead husband in a few photographs.  Kyle is really photogenic.  Just throwing that out there.
Next scene!  Outside.  In the cold.  I have layered myself so I don't have to go inside to change outfits in between the takes of my walking along the beach, and me getting into the freezing water.  The walking was easy.  Until my fingers started going numb.  I am walking a dog during most of these shots, and smoking with my free hand.    Just to reiterate, you don't know cold until you are on a beach in the winter and that cold wet air is hitting you.  Holy Cow!  We throw an item or two so the dog will jerk me along.
Now my least favorite shot.  I have to jerk the dog in and pretend to beat the poor thing.  Still sorry about that Jersey Dog.  To fake it I turn my back to the camera and beat the side of my leg.  In the cold, I hit the side of my leg so hard I bruise myself and hurt my hands.  We only do one take of the beating.  Now this poor animal is terrified of me.  And I still have to do the same motion indoors one more time.
Directors love the shot of the girl laying next to the ocean and the ocean waves rush over her, waking her up.  This did not happen with me.  I lay down, "drunk," and curled up tightly in the cold, wet, sand.  The water was not going to get anywhere near me.  So I stood up and walked into the ocean until I knew a wave was going to hit me.  I got in position and it hit me so fast I had no time to react.  Oh the cold.  New version of freezing to death.  We ended up just having me lie in the sand and when a wave got close enough, I freaked out.
Some little girls down the beach watched and were laughing at me in my ridiculousness.  On the way back in I waved.  They giggled at me.
Inside, dripping in salt water and sand, I waited for them to set a camera up next to a toilet.
A side note.  In any given situation I really will fight for the hardcore acting award.  Give me the chance and I will run with Jared Leto and Meryl Streep.  Who wants to give me that shot?
The next shot is me retching into a toilet.  Toilets, even clean ones, don't smell good.  I leaned my head over the toilet and began to "vomit."  Fake vomit. nearly becomes real vomit one or twice.  I gag, I spit, lean back against the wall, and swallow hard.  Somehow, during my gagging, I actually wretched so hard I pulled a muscle of my tongue in the back of my throat.  It now hurts when I swallow.
We shoot the rest of the scenes during the day, me running after a guy with a knife.  Beating the poor dog again.  Kicking the dog out.  Looming menacingly over the dog.
Now there is a break to shower the saltwater and "ick" off my body.  I take a mini-nap in the shower. Get out, change into my might clothes, and prep to go downstairs and cry.  Makeup is done, we are three shoots away from done, and all of them are of me crying.  The first two shots are great and you can't see me cry due to the distance.  The tears come anyways.  Very quick shots and we are done.
Now to drive to a bar and then find a car wash late at night.
I walk into the bar and actually am offered a drink by two men.  I politely decline and shoot my scene.
Now my favorite part, the car wash.  It was, by far, the best thing.  We found a small car wash 3 minutes away.  I sat in my car, building up the necessary emotion.  Then I sat in the car and bawled like I hadn't in a long time.  I don't know if it was two minutes, or five minutes, but that cry felt like the greatest release in the world.  When the director called cut, I asked over and over again if I needed to do it again.  I craved the moment in time.  The moment of release.  So much adrenaline.
I watched the moment and when he called cut and I turned to talk to Kyle, my nose was snotty and my makeup was everywhere.  Wow I was a sight.  But that shot was incredible.
I drove back and got into Raleigh to stay in a friendly spot until the morning.  It was around 1:00am when I got in.  Adrenaline means little sleep.
I wake up after 4 hours of sleep and drive to the old 9-5.  Work until around 3:30 on MLK day and drive home to change so I can film the Dr Who Film.  By the way it's fantastic!  It goes splendidly.
Thank goodness I was allowed to sleep the next day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bitter Bloggings From an Optimistic Actress: Do you play Basketball?

I get annoyed when I am strung along.  Don't get me wrong it rarely happens, but it still does happen.

I have been told on regular occasions I was getting a callback over and over  and over again and then I found out later the callback happened without me.  That makes me mad.
I hate being told I am getting a callback and then finding out the director had already chosen to hire his girlfriend.  Ooh that burns me up.
I hate driving to auditions and going through the process only to find out later someone else who didn't even get a callback was cast.  I will spit nails if that happens.
Above all, I hate people, who have a specific look in mind, who call me in to judge me for no good reason at all.  They were looking for a brunette and they call me in.
Me:Umm, weren't you looking for this?  
Them:Get to this audition you are perfect!
Me:Alright, I am here after an eight hour drive and no sleep!
Them:Oh, you aren't what we expected.
It's a waste of my time.
I hate driving all the way to auditions only to be told, "I am sorry, we thought you'd be *taller, shorter, brunette, african american, older, a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater*"

Now my resume has all the information on it that they need on height, hair color, eye color, weight race.  If they are unsure there is a website that says EVERYTHING ABOUT ME.  Yet somehow I get dragged several hours away to be told ridiculous things.

"Your headshot made me think you were a brunette."  "You have blue eyes?"  "Wow you look young in person."  While these are things I can easily change; hair dye and contacts.  There is one thing I can't change that people are somehow shocked to find at every turn.  My height.

I know people are really hard pressed to get someone to change the color of their hair for a part, even though you can buy hair mousse that will wash out in one wash.  Yes to change eye color you have to buy contact lenses.  Ladies, please be open to changing your look.  You may find you look better as a brunette or blond.  I will bleach, dye, shave, wax, paint, gain or lose whatever you want me to. I will never tell anyone to make a drastic change to their body that is unhealthy.  So many actors are going through really severe diets and binge eating to get and keep parts.  It's not healthy, but it is their body and they have control of that.

I have control of my hair, eye color, and weight.  What can I not control?  How tall I am!

I am six feet tall.  It is annoying enough as it is.  Do you know how many times a day I hear the following?  Wow, you're tall!  Do you play basketball?  To this I grit my teeth to avoid saying something rude.  Oh wow, you're really short.  Do you play mini golf?  Are you a member of a union with the other oompa loompas or do you just labor for chocolate?  Was Snow White hard to deal with?  Do I call you a little person or is that politically incorrect?  Aww look at the widdle munchkin.  Who's a cute little short stack?  I just wanna gobble you up like the little short cake you are.  I don't but some days I REALLY WANT TO!

After the basketball question, if they are aware I am dating someone, the next statement is often, "Wow,
your boyfriend must be really tall!"  As a matter of fact, according to this chart he is average.  At 5' 9 1/2" he is the height of the average American male.  The average female is only 5'5" tall.  I will get into why this can be problematic later, but for now, yes, my boyfriend is shorter than I am.  Do I really care.  No?  I like to wear heels around him just to be a head and shoulders taller than he is.  He likes my height and finds it attractive.  In fact, through my life I have been hard pressed to find a tall guy who isn't already dating a super short girl.  I wonder why?  *wink wink nudge nudge*  Most of my boyfriends have been shorter than I am.  Why?  Height has never been an issue.  Kinda why most of my exes have failed to be super-models.  It was never that important.  A brain was always more attractive to me than a guy who could wear the tight suit and smolder.  I can find plenty of men who can flex and bench press me.  Where is the guy who is smarter than I am?  I wanna date him.  Where is the guy who can make me laugh?  I wanna hang with him.  Has that ever ended up being a really tall guy?  On an occasion or two.  But the head hugs happen often and they never seem to mind.  Short or tall it's all the same heaven to me.

Of course I get the, you must be a model type comments.  Flattering I will say, but I am actually considered "fat" by model standards.  Oh I have the height. But they want you to be tall and never eat anything or to have a metabolism that defies the laws of physics.  Or, if you are older, you are allowed to be up to an 8, but then you are modeling mom clothes.  I know technically I could be a mom being 30 and all.  People won't hire me as a mom, they say I look too young.  I was told by an agency I could be a plus size model.  I have the bikini bridge but not the thigh gap.  I wear a 6 by the way.  A 4 in dresses.  Yup, that's me, plus size all the way.  My plus size friends are very sexy and voluptuous women and it is slightly offensive to them that the models who model their clothes are between a 6 and a 10.  The women modeling the clothes are actually wearing a much smaller version of the clothes they might want to buy.  Most plus size models have never been "plus size" in their lives.  But I digress.

I also get, your lucky, all those super cute clothes look great on you.  No, they don't.  I can't fit into normal clothes.  My torso is a full 4 inches longer than the average female's and my legs are about 4-6 inches longer.  That adorable knee length dress, is a shirt on me.  That skin tight tailored dress, well there is a big bulge on my waist where the hips of the dress should be.  Trends are never my friends.  If I find a pair of pants that fit my butt they are WAY too short.  Thank goodness for the current trend of leggings and boots.  They don't fit, but they conceal the fact the trend doesn't technically fit.  Those leggings, often times, hit me mid to lower calf and I can buy some really tall boots (knees highs for the average female) and they will just barely cover what is exposed of my calf.  Long jeans were meant for teenage girls with no butt.  In fact I don't think anyone takes into effect hips on women.  I have a 28 in waist and 42 inch hips.  There is 16 inches of butt behind me to go along with the extra leg?  Do people take this into consideration?  Clothes were meant for shorter people.  If this was the 90's I would be in great shape, because no matter what I am rocking the midriff shirt.  And I know that sometimes it stinks because shorter people have to have clothes taken to a tailor to be shortened.  There is only so much fabric in those hems, they can't let out more fabric than is in the hem.  I used to have to add fabric to the bottom of my pants so they would be long enough.  No way to make that look cool.

We never got to grow out of that awkward phase where our limbs won't submit completely to our will.  It just doesn't happen.  I know being short stinks but at least you don't hit your head on ceiling fans.

Beyond these silly things that get in the way.  Beyond the cold extremities and bumped heads there is this...

Without fail, if I have not met a casting director before, I walk through the door and there is a wide eyed exclamation of "WOW YOU'RE TALL!"

From that point on some have stared at me like I am going to grow another foot.

One thing I will never ever get?  I will never get why some of these casting directors will not take the time to flip the headshot over and look at my height.  I am six feet tall.  Do they think I am lying about this?  And of all things to lie about, why that?  If I was going to  lie I would be making myself shorter.  Do they not realize how tall 6 feet is?  Did they not find it odd that when I did my full body shot in my audition there was an excessive amount of wall behind me?

It is a little unfair, I admit.  Often times my height is a hindrance more than a help.  Why?  Because of the men auditioning with me.

The auditioning process, which is already unfair and biased against people of my gender, weight, and age, becomes that much harder when you are head a shoulders above the people you are auditioning with.

We all know Hollywood, and in fact a large portion of this industry, gives most of it's jobs to men.  Some stats say women get as few as 18% of the roles.  And of those roles 78% are sexualized.  So basically if a film is casting 100 people, odds are, only 18 of them will be female.  And of those 18 actresses, 14 of them will be running around in their underwear (if they get to wear that at all through the film) making out with one another and groping themselves explicitly.  The other 4 will likely be 3 women in their 40's playing mothers and Meryl Streep.

When walking into a room I try my best to find the tallest man to act with.  Why?  Because the societal norm is that when you are romantically involved with someone the man must be taller.  There are very few occasions when you, as a female are allowed to be taller than the man.  Why? Because in film it is more important that you look like a couple than you act like a couple.

When I was in college I was told by professors they couldn't cast me because I was going to be taller than the guy I was playing opposite of.  I actually lost parts because I was going to have to lean down to kiss the man I was acting with.  I had a CD tell me, you are so talented but I can't pair you with anyone.  So my ability to portray this part rests on the fact I might be taller than the guy I am supposed to be into?  Am I alone in recognizing the inconsistency here?  I was asked to leave a studio feature film set where I agreed to be an extra, all because they said I stood out due to my height.  Background can't do that.

There is an ideal height difference that some casting directors look for.  Think of it as an ideal kissing height.  Ever noticed how the women in most films are just tall enough to have have to stand on their toes to kiss the man?  This makes the guy look really masculine and the girl looks very demur and sweet.  This is no accident.  They pair actors together for this ideal image.  The female's eyeline is about at the line of the man's lips.  This is the perfect height combination.

If they can't find the ideal height, they will allow for the man to be a lot taller than the woman.  This allows for a moment of comedy as the girl stretches to kiss her man.  It's kinda cute.  And if she needs to be protected, the girl doesn't have to lean over to bury her head into the bosom of the strong man who will save her from all the bad things in the world.  Because no woman will ever date a man who is shorter than she is unless he's in a wheelchair.

Only in two cases will they allow the woman to naturally be taller.

In the case of a really nerdy guy.  You want them to laugh at the poor guy so the woman is allowed to be taller.  Peeta from Hunger Games or Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors are meant to be emasculated, humiliated, and laughed at, and sometimes, even saved by a girl.  I kid you not, if you watch the film Little Shop of Horrors, once Seymour has saved Audrey from the plant, they do some camera angling to make Rick Moranis look taller than Ellen Greene.  From that point on in the film, Audrey is shorter.  Up until then she can stare over his head and she has to lean over to kiss him.

Also, let's say you have a real jerk or character who is supposed to have some sort of Napoleon complex.  Yeah, that guy can be shorter than the female.

Or you can be a mom or older sister...but that is another story altogether.

My boyfriend and I are actors.  We very often avoid telling casting directors we are dating.  CDs don't like casting people in a relationship on a film.  If the couple has a fight there can be a problem.  Whether the CDs know or not, I have lost parts due to my boyfriend's height.  If he has been cast in a part, the fact I am taller has lost me the part.  A CD for a particular film actually told me I wasn't going to be hired because none of the men cast were tall enough for me and finding someone would take too long.

I want to be the fly on the wall for some of these conversations.  Hey, let's not hire the talented tall girl.  That would look weird.  The director would have to take the time to make the man appear taller.

It gets worse when you are dealing with network CDs who have to think of the image of the celebrities on TV and in film.  It is unlikely I will ever be on Sleepy Hollow, unless they need an Amazon woman.  Why?  I am taller than their lead female.  Nicole wears heels in every scene since she is only 5'1".   Even height in a non-sexual partnership is taken into consideration.

Not saying there aren't amazing tall women in Hollywood.  They have beaten the odds and are SO VERY LUCKY.  I am doing better than most.  So to all my tall girls out there.  Are you taller than the boys?  Can you reach the top shelf?  Here is my advice.  Stand straight.  Love Yourself.  Learn your craft and be the best at it so they have no excuse to not hire you.  And if they don't hire you and they give you an excuse, that's all it is.  An excuse.  And you don't have time for excuses.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

APOCALYPSE LIVE:?????

Okay.  I know some people are out there who read this, though it may not be many.  Since I needed to get out some over developed emotions I decided to skip ahead a bit and put a much later occurrence online.  Shame on me for super spoilers.  It's a Rayne-y day.

She knew she shouldn't cling to her sin, but she was afraid of going without at least a small amount of it. What other way could she defeat a witch alone?
Rayne had never seen a real witch before.  She'd heard of them, but never seen one.  She imagined a short woman, all warty and wrinkled, with pointy hat and whiny wavering voice.  The stripped socks and ruby slippers came to mind as she tried to find a laugh in her fear.
As usual, she'd have to improvise the killing.  Where was a Kansas farm house when you need it?  Was this a decapitation or a stabbing type thing?  She'd have to figure it out soon enough.  Down the half destroyed hallway she snaked, towards the only light at the end.
The thickening of the air was the first indication to hit her.  A humid cellophane gripped her body, forcing her into slow motion momentarily.  Her flesh stretched and warped in the time change, and she felt every agonizing moment.
Her arm began to shorten and compress.  Her rib cage compacted.  Her skull was caving in.  As quickly as it began, her limbs started to straighten and stretch to, what felt like, twice the normal length.  Her muscles and bones groaned audibly in her head.  She was going to be torn in half.  And then it was over.
Then, the smell flooded her nostrils and set her sinuses on fire.  Decay.  She must be going in the right direction.
An eerie chanting hung in her ears.  The voice was weak.  Ancient.
The chanting continued as Rayne's feet found their way through the mass of bones, death, metal, and cement. Gently, carefully she edged her way through the destruction and chaos.  Rayne grasped her knife tightly, stepping over the remains of, what was most likely, a cat.  Her foot crushed the human skull lying next to it, but to be fair the most-likely-cat remains did appear to still be partly alive, or at least they were moving.
"If you're going to visit deary you might as well just come in," a raspy voice hissed.
Rayne swallowed a curse and stilled herself in the corridor.  Maybe she could stay still until her presence was forgotten.
The voice continued, "I'm old and blind deary, but I can smell a frightened creature from a thousand paces lovely."  Rayne reached a hand for what appeared to be a tanned hide spanning the doorway, she pressed against it and slid into the witches den.
The den was once an office.  The man who lived in it was filthy rich according to the furnishings.  How did Rayne know it was a man's?  His hide was the one spanning the doorway.  She noticed the still slightly warm flesh that pressed against her hand.  She couldn't help but turn to see him strung up.  His bones and organs were gone..
This is not what I signed up for.
The room had been furnished gloriously.  A beautiful wood conference table sat in the center of the room, now coated with human, animal hides, and mis-matched cloth surrounding a large pinkish orb.
My grapefruit!  Rayne giggled inspite of herself.  They weren't kidding.
The wall had been stripped of it's paintings and most of it's paint and filled with trophies, most disturbing of which were the most recent additions.  Three heads had been nailed to the wall recently.  One head had been shoved through a hole and the head still moved, trying to break free of it's prison.  Rayne couldn't quite tell if it was a man or woman, the features had been disfigured so severely.
On the floor next to a fireplace, fashioned like a bear rug, lay the naked, boneless hide of a young woman.  Her mouth was pried open, revealing a tongue that still moved.  Her eyes darted from side to side in distress and panic.  Rayne's eyes caught the poor girl's eyes and she could see her lungs expanding in the skin to cry out for help, but no sound escaped.
So odd with so much torture and death there was no scream.
The witched stepped onto the body with her bony foot and cackled giddily, "Don't be scared deary."  Her silhouette was lined with flames that seemed to lick at her flesh without burning it..
"You know this is very stereotypical of witches.  Deary?  Lovely?  You're better than that."  Rayne felt both stupid for speaking and incredibly macho for antagonizing a witch.
The witch stepped from the flames into a dim light which showed her features.  Rayne had now locked eyes with a witch, and she really wished she hadn't.  The sight was fearful enough to kill.
The witch plucked a coal from the fire with her bare hand and dropped it on the back of the poor girl laying prone on the floor.  The poor wretch's eyes went wide in pain and her skin tensed to try an move from the heat.  Rayne ignored it, she knew there was nothing to be done.
"Sit a moment."  The witch pointed to a chair, near the large pinkish orb.  "There is no hurry.  We know what you've come for.  You can sit a moment."
Rayne sat in the chair quietly, though she knew not why.  It seemed a rather dangerous move on her part.  The witch smirked wickedly and placed a hand upon the orb.
"You have been admiring my future sphere?"
"You're crystal ball?  Looks like something from a Stephen King novel.  Literally."
"You wish to know your future."
"Not personally," Rayne lied.  She felt the pain wash back into hear head.
"That wasn't a question girl.  I know the future and you do wish to hear it."
"Ok, good grief, long as it will get you off my back."
The witch hefted herself onto the table and placed her hands onto the orb, lifting it with great difficulty into her arms cradling it like a child.  She hummed her strange song and the orb glowed pink to her voice.
You're messing with me right?  This is surreal.
"Oh little one.  You are a bearer of many burdens.  You long for things that will not be.  Greatest of all, the sins you will not divulge. You carry them with you like a great treasure to be hidden from the world.  You are here to kill me.  You will be victorious today but my revenge will be complete when, with leathery wings, your sins take flight."
"That didn't even rhyme," Rayne smirked.  "Do you have any advice I can use?"  The witch thrust a finger into Rayne's face.
"Do not fall too in love with your future."
The words finished as Rayne's knife buried into the flesh of the witches throat.  The witch smiled as this happened, knowing Rayne's human flesh cried out as it died in her body to the sin.  She had to get to her bearer before she lost her humanity.  She couldn't live in the pain.