Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A climb CAN be fun

Tonight ABC made me a happy camper as I watched the episode of BODY OF PROOF that I was in. I made a post a few months ago here talking about 2011. In it, I mentioned how getting a part on this show was how my year ended. It also was the kickoff to 2012, when I got word I had been booked on the follow up episode as well. Dr. Miles Hart would be back in action! As exciting as it was to now have two episodes and a recurring role on the show, this week I found myself quite nervous. Because, in our world, we don't always, "make the cut."

It's crazy how the ego gets in the way, because aside from hoping that my scenes or lines made the episode, I was worried also about what it would look like if they HADN'T! Some people even judge the SIZE of the role because of their own expectations or judgements, so I would find myself thinking about that too. I was really hesitant early on to post anything about my episode, which if you know me, that says a lot. I'm always getting told, "you are the best self promoter I know." I do my best not to get crazy with it, but shit, if you don't back yourself first, who will right? Sometimes I wonder if it has a reverse affect, because lately, I have had people asking me for help on things or to work on a project and it is started with, "I know you are busy and may not have time..." or, "I almost didn't ask you..." LOL! I appreciate it, but I'll always FIND TIME. Anyway, because of how important these TV credits are at this stage for me, I was worried about not having anything to show for it. I didn't want to promote it and look like an ass if nothing made it.

I've talked previously, about how countless people I know had filmed huge parts in something, but when it came time to watch the finished product, they found themselves on the cutting room floor aka NOT IN THE FILM/TV SHOW. It's devastating. You still get paid (unless it is a commercial in which case--kiss residuals goodbye), but most of us, who are fighting/climbing that ladder, really just want to see that their part was not removed. Most people would do it for free!
I can remember getting the call from my agent that I was booked on LAW AND ORDER opposite Alfred Molina (who is one of my favorites and on my list of people I want to work with), and I flipped! They were giving me the details of the pay to see if it was ok and I was like, "I'd do it for FREE. YES, confirm me!" Good footage from a recognizable show or film, opposite known actors? Yes please. This is not to say this is the only time you are surrounded by good talent, but unfortunately, you need those experiences to continue that climb. Especially in TV!

Here is an example, I recently signed with a new Manager and he was setting up meetings with agencies. There was one agency (who I eventually signed with), that he was really excited about and stressed, "they submit for film!" This was important knowing my film goals, but it also caught me off guard, "don't they all??!!" I met with the agency and brought this up and they filled me in: not all agents do, because it is not as lucrative for them as TV can be. "This is a TV town." I've been realizing that more and more lately.
Just the other day, I was hanging out with a good friend and we were looking up some other actors, on IMDB. The first thing he was doing was scrolling down to see what TV credits they had. If someone only had like one or two TV shows or maybe no recent TV credits, he'd say, "they haven't worked a lot." However, some of those people had loads of indie film credits, or maybe even bit parts in bigger films, but it got no attention. Literally, he scrolled past. It wasn't anything mean, it's just the way of this business. I've noticed others do the same countless times, including casting people.
Unfortunately, I'm like one of those people he was referring to for the most part. I have been the star or, or a lead in a number of films, lots of features even, but it doesn't get the same kind of attention. I could have great footage on my demo reel from some of those films where I was the star, but if I play the plumber on LAW AND ORDER, or I'm opposite a known actor, that would be the first thing people would want to see on a reel.

I have a couple of friends who won't say much about their, "little victories." I never look at anything that way, the saying is simple, "There are no small parts, just small actors." Some of my friends won't promote anything for many reasons, who knows, maybe out of fear for what I mentioned above. But the other day, a friend was talking about how he was keeping silent about his recent booking. It was a complicated situation, but it dealt with things from the business side of things. Either way, I just could not wrap my head around it. To me, we don't have many victories, so I can't understand the position of not sharing. More than anything, everything to me deals with what you are putting out there to the world. I would never want to bet against myself in a way by keeping something quiet like that. It's not like he was intending to, thats just how I view it to some extent. To me it's sending out the wrong message to the ears and eyes of the universe. I also like to share because I feel like it reminds me of my attack. It is forces me to continue to speak...with actions. After talking to him, things started to shift with my feelings of originally being concerned to promote my upcoming episodes. As innocent as my friends reasoning was, I felt there was a bigger disservice happening and I was starting to make sense of it enough to know it wasn't right.
Finally something hit me and it just made sense for me and I was happy I HAD shared. It was sort of a, "back to basics" thought process..."My FAMILY would be happy just to SEE me...even if I was just in the background." Often times, we let out own egos or expectations get in the way of some of the simplest forms of appreciation we can receive. This prevents others from enjoy things, even if they are, "simple" or "LITTLE" things for us personally. For me, that connected to my family and close friends. My mom, sister and my Dad from above...not to mention the rest of my watching relatives, would be thrilled just to SEE ME on TV. Hell, I'm thousands of miles away, it's just a way for them to see me PERIOD.

That presented me with a new position, but a familiar thought...a similar one to things I have previously written about in my blog, or discussed with my team on our films..."this climb up the ladder is the fun part!"
As stressful as it can be, this is where we have to get really creative and it's a more simplistic approach to our work in many ways. As we climb up, we'll achieve certain successes...but that doesn't ever mean its an easier path. However, when I've worked with veterans on projects and (this was shared with me by several people when I filmed BODY OF PROOF) I tell them that I've produced some indie projects...they ALL have commented that they wish they could be doing that. They remark that working on smaller projects really provided them with GREAT experiences, especially artistically. Interesting.

In a similar way, our climb up the ladder can be equally exciting for the viewer, right? At some point, things become routine. I fight against that, but still find myself in that position with certain's natural. When I was learning to play sports, it was exciting to learn and I could tell my coaches were exited to teach me. Then you learn and the expectations kick in...the judgements on performances and such. It comes with the territory though. At that point, your climb is now focused hitting the next level and excelling in your position. You want to be the team leader, or captain, best hitter or three point shooter. Statistics start to come into play and the evolution continues as the professionalism grows. All of these accomplishments and successes are hugely rewarding, but you'll still never forget how much fun you had when your day was focused on getting out of school to suit up and go to practice, or PLAY a game.
Well...I found myself wondering today if Johnny Depps family or close friends REALLY, HONESTLY get excited when his latest project is announced or released. What is that like for them? Has it just become expected...his routine? Are they they ones tuning in for the first viewing? Are they telling their friends to watch and support? I hope so. But you have to wonder if that has changed. Like I said, as you climb that ladder everything progresses and there are newer accomplishments and things to keep it all fresh I'm sure...just as there are more challenges. But, what are the little things now that they have come to appreciate? Obviously there are millions of people who are supporting him daily throughout the world, but I'm just wondering about those close to him.
I just made me realize, I don't want to tune out or prevent anyone, MYSELF included, from the fun that is associated with growth...ESPECIALLY those who have supported me from my beginning. Every moment counts, even if it just brings a quick smile to someone's face. Hell, my mom last night was talking to me after she watched my first scene and She had no idea what I said because she said she was too busy clapping. For ME, just seeing my name spelled correctly in credits is a treat!

I'll take that Co-"STAR" proudly!!!
There are factors that come into play, some of which I described above...but thats a given. There is not much I could do to control what would have happened with anything in that episode tonight...everything that was in my power was done previously to that 10pm slot. I learned the script for the audition. I showed up. I kicked ass in the audition. I booked it and learned it even better. I showed up to film. I did battle on set when it was my time. I clocked out. I paid my union dues. I paid my commissions to my representation. I kept an eye out for when it would air. I made post cards and promoted, it's time to just enjoy because I already had a hell of an experience before that episode even aired tonight. Not to mention, it's already benefitted me and others in many ways BEFORE any of my closest friends and family would have a chance to enjoy it.
If the worst was that I walked across the screen for a second and that was it...I'd still be in a pretty good position in the morning because I'd still have loads of people who were excited about it...and they will continue to be the people who would always be the biggest supporters and motivators to me. If they couldn't be happy now, they wouldn't be happy later. I'm grateful to be reminded of that because it helps take the edge off of things I find.
I'm so grateful for everyone that tuned in to watch, the people that shared the news, or those who set their DVR and will skim through the episode just to find all of the parts I was in lol (there are three haha). I'm thankful for the people that constantly show support, encouragement and LOVE.
I'm also thankful for the people who teach me so much through their unsupportive actions. In the most positive way, I learn the most from you because you remind me how lucky I am to have such great support and love from others.
Everyone has their own path and its important to allow for everyone to find it. Sometimes that path for them doesn't allow for support to others, but we mustn't take it personally. Letting go is often times a good thing. I was reminded of that this past week while grabbing lunch with a good friend.
If you didn't catch the show or missed some of it, check it out here:

Signed with my favorite gesture:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Less is more

Erin and I recently have started watching ONCE UPON A TIME. Actually, we both started and she cruised on ahead, logging in all the episodes before I knew what hit me. As I've been playing catch up, it's become a running joke for me to imitate Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin. He does a fine job, but it's quirky in just enough ways to have some fun mimicking. Well, tonight she was telling me about an interview she saw of him and she mentioned his full name and IT HIT!!

I quickly pulled up YouTube to show her this fascinating video. She was ready to head to bed and asked, "How long is it?" to which I replied, "Just watch." She watched the video in its entirety and I marveled at it again and decided I wanted to share the video, but it almost felt wrong to just do so simply by posting a link to it. I then found myself googling the story of it and was even more impressed.

Back in September, I was invited by good friend and fellow deal finder, E-Kan Soong, to attend a Johnnie Walker tasting event.

Having been to a similar event in the past for Dewars, I was excited to check it out, mainly because of the free food that usually accompanies these things. I also was interested to see if I'd get to taste (on someone else's dime) the famous Blue Label. These types of things are fun and if you ever get a chance, you should definitely check one out. I couldn't really handle the Dewars, but it taught me a lot, even if it was simply, "if I don't tough that stuff again, I'll be ok."

We showed up, with mutual friend, John Park, and make our way in, and of course head for some hummus and olives before being brought in to the tasting room.

I got excited...would my JW Blue surface? Would I finally get the famed Johnnie Walker Striding Man Pin? Would they have MORE olives inside?

We sit down and see a few glasses placed before us with labels ended at green. Uh oh...not to worry, I hide my concern once I spot a projected screen of some sort of twitter feed. Johnnie Walker had plugged into their twitter hashtag of #johnnieWalker and if you tweeted, it would pop up for everyone to see. I refrained from tweeting, "I drove here from Jersey for #JohnnieWalker Blue. Get it together." I settled for "#johnnieWalker knows how to party" or something equally lame.

Well, in comes the MC of the event and in with him comes his glass of what we could only assume was some Blue JW Juice (or at least I was). Of course he is flanked by a couple of promotional models. Ok, no need to flaunt... See you have more Whisky in your glass than we do in our little tasters in front of us...

At this point, I realize the olives didn't make their way into this room's too late to get up, surely the staff cleared them all out. Sigh. Back to having fun on the twitter screen, "@Mistakan doesn't want anyone to know he is here. Keep this a secret." It flashes on the screen and disappears before E-Kan notices. I laugh.

So the MC, who i was disappointed to discover wasn't Scottish, or at least faking an accent was starting in (Dewars had a Scott in a KILT MC).

He says a few things, but I sense he is holding back. A smirk creeps across his face as he directs our attention to the screen for a movie. The lights dim.

You hear bagpipes and then for the next 6 minutes, I'm completely in awe. Robert Carlyle is on screen in a video that is simply incredible. I hear the guy next to me say, "That steady cam is incredible!" to which I am reminded we are in LA and probably surrounded by people that are appreciating this short film for many of the same reasons I am.

It finishes and I'm hooked. I'll never order another Whisky in my life. I'm then struck by my previous thought of people enjoying this because they are, "in the business." I realize how untrue that would be because not only was I impressed by the single take, the production design, the direction, the SCRIPT, the director of photography, steady cam-op and Robert Carlyle's master class I just witnessed...I was engaged by the entire ad and REMEMBERED everything. The whole thing was a master class!

In a time where our attentions spans are growing shorter and we're adopting, "Less is more" in many ways aside from 140 characters-- this video rises above and succeeds because of the very same sentiment. It IS a six minute video, but I find that just like Erin didn't bring it up again while watching, most people can watch this and just be engaged. I also think that the Johnnie Walker people would be happy to know, their product is also being featured well and the promotion is effective. Kudos to them for taking a risk above a 30 second commercial. It works because, "Less is more." They didn't need fancy editing or any of the other tricks we've grown hip to, and we all have, regardless of profession. It's the reason why you can see something playing from the 30's and point to how, "bad" the special effects are. We've just all grown smarter with technology advances.

I just love everything about this video because of its simplicity. Don't be fooled, it was no easy feat. They shot for two days and did 40 takes of it. The once you see is the very last take of the second day, no probably the last one the fleeting sun would allow. I read a few articles about the shoot and the first day they were having issues with timing of when Robert approaches the wall of TV's. They were in a wrong position and it was forcing him to slow down his walk, while speeding up his dialogue which left him with a very unnatural read during that section and threw off the proceeding parts of the film. They realized and because it took hours to assemble, they had to call the day early to rebuild, losing valuable time. Every prop had to be placed perfectly to time out Roberts speech. The next day Robert showed up and on the very first take, he nailed it in one shot to kick off the day. Every little thing could throw off the entire take, because they committed to not having any cuts/edits in the film. The cow in the short happened to look in the right direction on ONLY that take. It ended up being up there as one of the longest single takes in cinema. There was also apparently a bad case of midges (which I had to google) which are essentially little flies that gather in clouds and bite humans frequently, drawing blood. The crew had their clothes pulled over their heads, but obviously Robert had to carry on without any indication of the swarming pests. So many stories.

Again, it worked because it is simple(not from a technical standpoint), GOOD STORYTELLING. I mentioned the writing earlier and again, it needs to be given another round of recognition, because none of the things I mentioned earlier would make any difference if their goal of selling their brand and giving its backstory wasn't effective. I can't think of many companies that could promote a 6 minute video about the history of their company that would have people lining up to watch.

Well done. When something isn't working...simplify it.

TiLL NeXt TiMe..

Friday, March 2, 2012

Make each moment count.

EDIT- as I was proofing this, I got truly unfortunate news about a family member of one of my dearest loved ones who suddenly pass away. I won't go into details as I'm completely shocked and want to respect everyone involved. It's so in line with this whole blog post it's scary and just want to say, there are more important things than most of what we allow ourselves to be concerned with and I believe family comes first here. Think about them often, let them know you are thinking about them and be grateful for their influence in your life. Forgive me if this post is all over the place or full of errors, as I didn't finish going through to check once I heard the news.

A few nights ago I had this really unsettling dream...I was on my deathbed.

Dreams are always so strange for me. They start one place, or with certain people and before you know it, you are in another part of the world with someone else entirely and it's no big deal. I don't always remember my dreams thoroughly, but this one stuck with me in some ways.

I wanted to write about this for a few days and like everything, there is a time and place. While eating dinner last night, Erin mentioned a story she heard and as she finished the story, I realized that this would be the time to write this blog. Strangely enough, I had also planned to blog about something that happened on Valentines day, but it ties into this dream in a way, so I'll share that here too.

There has been a lot going on it seems. With the ending of 2011, I set some serious goals and mentally focused in on a lot of things, some of which I've shared in some of my other posts here. The year has started off in a bang...In fact, it feels like I've been non stop since late last year. I really have felt the affect of it in different ways. In a physical sense, I've been fighting to stay healthy and fresh. For a few weeks I had a lingering cold, which turned into a flu that wouldn't leave for a week and a half & then I also I caught a stomach flu that set me back a few days. All in all, it's been a careful balancing act to keep everything in order, especially when I had to do the TOUGH MUDDER, which I'll detail in a later blog.

Aside from dealing with being sick (which I've finally kicked!), I've had some amazing blessings lately, which would be the main reason for the crazy couple of months. There have been some big changes, most of all my new representation and a few great gigs in a short period of time that I have worked on or booked to begin shortly. It's been great and I'm really excited for so many things that are going on right now. My new teams have been keeping me super busy, which is great! I've also gotten back into an acting class to polish up and work out some bad habits I've picked up along the way. It's been a few years since I've been in one and I've missed it. Very thankful for what I've been learning. It's been great to learn and be able to put things to use in auditions or on set recently.

I find myself taking on some pressure on the career front as a result. Not horrible, stuff, just things come with the territory mostly.

I'm excited to be busy and value appointments, but it's also important to not get caught up in an outcome. We're told it's a numbers game, and you'll book one out of a hundred. That's crazy right?! Just imagine going on ONE job interview. Now think TWO...5...20...50...this is what we do. At some point you have to be ok with rejection. Still...I'm human. Great to have the opportunity, but there is some work that goes into not letting yourself get caught up in what happens AFTER. Here is that, "pressure." At least..or up until my dream, that was all I thought. It's tough to argue that it's anything but me putting it on myself I guess, cause in the end you alone have to accept what you take on. Of course I want to nail all of the things I'm being considered for.

It's dangerous what we do. In life, you are taught you can't try to please people...but, in our business that is the very nature of what we do. Is entertainment not that at its core? You are pleasing someone just by entertaining, and throughout our job you have to please SO many people. You have to please your reps, you have to please the people hiring you when you audition (sometimes that alone is like 6 rounds of pleasing in that phase), when you get the job, you have to please everyone involved; producers, directors, DP's, costumer, makeup...its endless. In some way, they all have their expectations. Somewhere in there and what we fight for in the first place is to PLEASE YOURSELF. That's as much of the game as anything else. Just...Make every moment count...for YOU.

This ties in to the Valentines Day.
Erin and I were walking to dinner and discussing career stuff and how some actors prefer to be on shows that are on the HBO or Showtime networks because those shows don't film as long as some of the others so you have more flexibility to do outside stuff. Obviously, it sounds like an ideal situation and as we were discussing this we happened to be walking down an alley way. As we were mid sentence, a homeless man startled us as he looked up excitedly and said, "Yay! I just found a chocolate chip cookie!" It was a quick rush of different emotions. Obviously it was startling, but then kind of funny considering and then it just instantly made Erin and I look at each other. Without words, we knew that we were thankful. Here we were talking about the "challenges" or tough times some people face in our business but it was plain silly. We'd been caught up in discussing the trivial differences of obvious successes and how they could cause hardships in different relationships, but this man was just happy to find a cookie to eat.
High class problems right?

After our meal, we were walking back and were stopped by a older man. His name was Ron. He was from Seattle. He had a weird energy. I could see him coming from down the block and I knew he was headed for us. He stopped us as most people do in that area and it felt like it was, "pitch time." He was going to be asking for money in some way. 20 minutes later this is exactly what he did, but I NEVER had experienced anything like this. Ron was a Cinematographer who hadn't archived his dreams as he so put it. He was very unique and reminded us of Dustin Hoffman in RAINMAN. He was completely fascinating and obviously BRILLIANT, probably one of the smartest people I had ever come in contact with. He repeated his fascinating stories, while interjecting and cutting himself off to communicate who Erin and I reminded of, before starting back in sometimes remembering details he covered or asked us, others times not.
What struck me beside his obvious brilliance was his PASSION about his dream and in a sad way his understanding of how he hadn't achieved them. This plain scared the shit out of me. I thought about it for days and weeks after. Here was someone that was I'm sure a genius...but what happened??
I would hope to god that he reached some happiness, but I couldn't help but feel like what he was communicating in some way was true, that he wouldn't attain it. Obviously, I don't know his story or anything else that would tie into what he could or couldn't do, but I just found a relevance because of how hard everyone I know, myself included, is working to achieve our own dreams. Hoping to tackle each one. Will we all do this?

Back to my dream...

In my dream, from what I remember, I was thrust right into it. It felt like I just turned on the TV and it was the middle of a show or movie.
I was dying. felt REAL. I've never had that experience before. It was like I was OBSERVING it, even though I was in it...really weird. This gave me a really strange perspective within it. I relate it to the classic Scrooge movies when he is standing beside the ghost, watching his life. I was instantly drawn into this world and I felt pain. Pain for everyone in it. I was in a hospital I believe and was surrounded by a few of my loved ones. I cant recall who exactly, but it FELT like my family and Erin. I could feel their pain. Instantly I was sad, but I wasn't feeling it viscerally like you sometimes do when you are being chased in a dream or the classic FALLING DREAMS. I was sad as the observer. It wasn't made clear what I was dying from, but it felt like cancer of some sort. This could have been because of my Dad and recent encounters with people who've been affected by Cancer in some way.

But what struck me most was that in the dream, I understood it was SUDDEN. Not only was it going to happen soon, but it came out of nowhere. Not that any death should be expected, but obviously there are the cases that it's been a progression of some sort. This was not that. It definitely felt was something that JUST three days ago. It was that feeling. Shock, disbelief, despair, sympathy, pity..I don't know...but this is the thing that I think affected me most, and continues to. My mind was informing my dream I believe, that this was just pain unfortunate because, "he had potential." This could have just been my ego trying to throw in its two cents. But I also think it's ties into the pressure I've felt recently, because throughout the dream, while I was sad...I was also angry. I was angry because this would be it. I would not get to do the things I've dreamt about since I was a kid. I would not have the chance to surpass goals to be able to provide things for my loved ones...things I think they need (and who's to say they do?). This is what affected me the most. This is the thought that I woke up to. Like I said before it wasn't a dream that you wake up from and sigh because you realize it's not real. It was like I was witnessing it so I was aware it was a dream, but was so caught up in it, I Almost couldn't differentiate it.

When I woke up. I was grateful. Thankful I wasn't causing pain to anyone, thankful to have another go to see things through...but then it hit and I was thankful to realize this alone...I will be ok. I wouldn't have enough paper to jot down the things I am blessed to have in my life, but most of all, the only thing I would need in this moment is to know that air was traveling in and out of my nose (or mouth because I was stuffy). I was alive.

With all of the things I've mentioned earlier there were things that made me scared--What if that happened to me? There were things I was grateful for--I have a roof, food & loved ones to share it with. There are also things in a way that Even though I do my best to move on to the next, as a result of other things that have happened in my life, I've allowed some of then to sit on my shoulders as I accepted to carry them along.

In the grand scheme of things...of life, it defines a very small part of me. Of course I hold it in high regards, but there is a reason I haven't referred to this dream as a I said, it taught me and put things into perspective and it showed me that it's only MY perspective that creates this worry or pressure. I like to take things on by myself at times and it can sometimes get me in trouble I guess lol. I'm very thankful to have been worked into a stir with this dream.

The story was on Ryan Seacrest's radio show about a little girl named HANA HWANG. Erin was so touched by this and she shared how this little girl who just turned 13 has the body of like a 90 year old. It's a rare fatal disease and the life expectancy is 13 years old. She said that the Hana's tutor broke into tears talking about her, saying that even though she was when tutor, Hana had taught her more than anyone ever had.

I was really touched by the story because of how it just put my dream and feelings into perspective. This little girl does not have much time left. She knows this. She has never led anything close to a, "normal life"-- but she has inspired so many people and touched their lives. She fights and keeps moving forward. It's also very Clear that she has SO MUCH love from her family.

This link points to an audio clip of her story. If you have time, check it out.

Hearing this story made me think of this story my sister shared with me a while ago about Ben Breedlove and how this young kid passed away on Christmas, just a few days after posting a couple of videos about a dream he had. He had a heart condition since he was a kid and the doctors didn't believe he would make it past early teens.

These things always just make me think about how silly certain things in life are that we get so worked up over.

I was meant to be made aware of these stories and I was meant to have this dream. I thank my mind as well for knowing that it needed to teach me a lesson by creating this dream.

Love to all.