Monday, October 20, 2014

Sept-Ober: my favorite time of year professionally

I've mentioned in this other entry Success: Celebrate Your Surroundings, that I discovered a very simple connecting element for everything below...each thing either involved friends, or stemmed from another gig that did.  This is why I felt compelled to share this entry.  It really was a team effort.

I don't know what it is, but ever since I graduated from college, September's/October's (Sept-ober) have always been incredible months for me professionally.  Maybe it's because fall is brewing, and it's one of my favorite seasons?  Whatever the reason, some of my best gigs either were booked or carried out during these few weeks every year. 

A few weeks into September, I got to revisit my old home away from home to rehearse and perform for a special event as one of my old Disney characters, Prince Naveen from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. I originated this role a few years ago when they created a huge show on the Mark Twain river boat, to help promote the release of the movie in theaters. 

It's by far one of my favorite characters to play since he's just a silly, fun, jazz music loving, ukulele playing fool! It's always nice to head to Disneyland for some fun in the park, and it's an added bonus that with this show, we rehearse in the park after-hours when it's entirely empty...which is wild!
This is Salisha Thomas (super fn talented actress/singer you'll be hearing a lot about soon) and I right after a night of rehearsals.

Shortly after the Disney gig, I had fun in costume yet again as part of an on-going production I act and produce, Erin's web series, ONCE UPON A...ANONYMOUS.  We have multiple episodes and are lining up for our Rock Opera, after reaching our crowd funding goal which will be our biggest and most fun installment yet.  The music is awesome, and if you are a fan of ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC (the show we parody), you are sure to love this Rock Opera installment.  Well, as a way to celebrate the premiere for the ABC show's latest season, Erin came up with an idea for me to dress up as one of the characters I play on the show, and spoof an upcoming story line.  We had a lot of fun filming this on the hush, and I also edited this video as well:

While in rehearsals for the Disney gig, I was hit up by a good friend and fellow actor, Nikki McKenzie. Nikki and I have known each other for a few years now after doing the ABC Diversity Showcase. She also plays Ariel in our web series, ONCE UPON A...ANONYMOUS. She had been performing in a comedic play that became a nice hit in LA with several extended runs called, WOMEN ARE CRAZY, BECAUSE MEN ARE ASSHOLES. It's funny as you can imagine from the title. Well, they were going to be holding auditions and she recommended I check it out.

I've seen Nikki in the show, so I was familiar with it, and I was immediately interested. The show performs with two different revolving casts, so not only is it flexible, but you get to really have unique experiences each time, since the performers can vary from show to show. This is something I experienced in my time with ALADDIN & the PRINCESS AND THE FROG shows at.  I personally love this, since it helps keep shows fresh and unique each time. More than anything though, I had been missing THEATRE.

Since I've been in LA, I've been fortunate to be involved with several stage productions and have done my best to do at least one show a year.  Since I left ALADDIN, it had been a few years since I had my feet on the boards, (with the exception of the Princess and The Frog one-off events each year) and I was just missing that feeling of being in front of a live audience. The last time I had it, was earlier this year for the taping of my episode on 2 BROKE GIRLS.

I quickly researched some reviews to familiarize myself with the character names that most interested me, so I could see if they would be seeking those roles.  Two stood out, but there was one I really had my eye on.  It was the one that kind of scared me, which I loved, and I thought that would be the one I would like to challenge and tackle if all worked out.  Trouble was...the auditions were conflicting with my Disney rehearsals/performances.  I was in touch with the director, and communicated I really wanted to audition, but over email, and in LA where flakes are a dime a dozen, I knew the chances were slim I would get a shot to come in.  "Why don't you email me Friday and I'll have a better idea of what we are doing." Shit.

Well, sure enough a few days later I get an email asking if I can come in Monday. YES!

I went in and did my thing. I felt GREAT coming out.  Not necessarily because I felt I crushed the audition, but because I got to actually WORK in the room and with cool people.  The vibe was chill, and they spent TIME in there working on it with me and pushing/challenging me with the material and I felt like I just worked out physically!  THAT is an experience you always get with theatre pieces that is not always present in the flow of work with camera stuff. It's like being in practice in the gym before the big games. Outside of the theatre, you do a lot of your prep independently. Not always, but usually. I honestly didn't know if I was right for them, but I didn't care. I genuinely had a fun time, and it sparked something.

Sure enough, a few hours later, I'm on the phone with the Director and I'm IN! I'm so excited to work with this cast and the show is a lot of fun. The play opens November 14th.

A few days after booking the show, I received a text message from a friend of mine, Bennet Silverman.  He wanted me to shoot something in a project he was working on.  Every so often, I will get these messages from Bennet and it's always the same gist, "Ace, are you around such and such day? I have something I want you do to, if you are up for it."  I've done a few different projects with him now, and he's a great comedic filmmaker, so I always shoot back a quick, "I'm in."  He's someone to keep an eye out for over these next few years, and has some great things in the works as we speak.  I'm very excited for him!

He's one of the creators of the youtube channel NICE PIECE PRODUCTIONS, and works for various other companies, directing content.  If you want to see some of the past comedic video's I've done with Bennet, I'll post a few at the bottom of this blog.

This new project is an episode on the crazy, yet funny series, PEDRO'S AUTO which stars YouTube sensation, SUPEReeeGO.  The show is distributed by Russell Simmons', ALL DEF DIGITAL label and it is about Pedro (Eric Ochoa), an auto-mechanic who miraculously maintains a successful body shop despite his extremely limited knowledge of cars and his relentless efforts to become the next Latino rap superstar and Bennet is directing this newest season.  The cast is a riot, so definitely be on the lookout for the episodes as they air every Friday over the next few weeks.  

                                         Bennet Photo Bombed us.

A few days after our first table read/ cast meet for WOMEN ARE CRAZY...I got word that Erin and I were cast as to play a couple in a really cool commercial.  It's amazing how many commercials we've probably auditioned for combined, and for this, it's a simple call out of the blue because a friend was producing it.   

We had a great time, and probably would have done for free given the day's activity and product the commercial was focusing on.  That sounds super suggestive, but it's PG, trust me ;)  I can't share more than that because of an NDA we had to sign, but it's a MAJOR company, you buy a LOT of stuff   There's a clue in this video link below, if you can catch it ;)


I've had the chance to work with another filmmaker on a few different projects over the last two years and he's another person that I say "Yes!" to whenever he calls with an idea to film something.  He's a very talented storyteller, but better yet, just an awesome person.  Jay Parupalli.  His ideas are always fresh and original, and huge companies are beginning to take notice.  One of the other projects he developed that I worked on is currently being shopped around, and without missing a beat, he put together his next pitch project PHANTOM and gave me a ring.  I personally love this concept and story, and have no doubt he will have people chomping at the bit for it soon enough.  We got a chance to screen the finished product two weeks after he wrapped production on it.  I couldn't believe he already put it together in that short amount of time.  But, he wastes no time.  He also wrote, directed, shot, edited, composed and designed all the visual efx on the piece.  This kid is a beast.

Check out the teaser video for it:

About a week after the commercial, I got word that the film I shot earlier this year, THE MAN IN THE TRUNK, won it's first award for Best of the Fest at the Offshoot Film Festival in Arkansas, where we filmed.  It was a special treat for me, even though I wasn't personally there.  I've spent a lot of time in Arkansas now for various films, and festivals and have made a lot of great friends, so it was nice to know that not only did people show up to support the film, but that it took home the grand prize.  

A few days after the film festival win, I got a same day appointment on a Friday for the new hit show on CBS, SCORPION.  It's badass show and I LOVE Friday auditions -- deadly combo.  Each episode plays like a mini action movie and it's incredible what they pull off from week to week.  With same day auditions, you make choices, and you make them fast.  There isn't much time to prep.  I actually had to read for three different characters, so now I had to find a way to distinguish three different roles.  There is always a tendency for you to favor one over the other and the challenge becomes making sure you give equal attention to all parts.  There was something that clicked in me when I first got the audition, and it was something that was fresh on my mind from the audition a few weeks prior for the play.  It was a small technical thing, but one that in my opinion made a world of difference and I made sure to implement it for the audition.  I walked into the audition beyond focused.  I'd been having a great couple of weeks, and felt like a machine going into battle which would serve me well, since I was auditioning for military characters.  

I ended up getting the call that I booked it the following Monday!  Not only that, it was the role I most wanted of the three.  I had an incredible time filming this thing.  It was a week and change worth of filming days, and I got to work with one of my acting bucket list actors, Robert Patrick (you might also know him as the T-FN'1000 in TERMINATOR 2!).  He along with the entire cast and crew were awesome.  I can't say too much about the episode right now, but I play, Airman Javier Barrios, a Nighthawk pilot, and there's some awesome action in Bosnia.  

If you haven't checked out the show, I definitely recommend giving it a watch.  It's an enjoyable one for sure!

A few weeks ago we filmed a short horror film for a project called FUN SIZE HORROR.  Erin would write and direct the film that we submitted as our part of the anthology.  We got word recently that our project, HAPPY BIRTHDAY will be one of the opening day films to launch the project.  We had some amazing talents lend their efforts to our film, and we couldn't be more excited to debut our installment.  The film finds us in the middle of a birthday party for 6 year old SOPHIA thrown by her cardigan-clad parents.  They've put together the perfect party for her, including a very special surprise gift.

The film stars a very precious, Nev Scharrel as SOPHIA as well as Victor Webster (CONTINUUM) and Erin as her MOTHER and FATHER.  This film was all friends involved and Erin and I are beyond grateful we had so many throw down on this!

Fun Size Horror is a horror film collective that has come together to create 31 films to celebrate Halloween! You can find all of the shorts distributed across DreadCentral, BloodyDisgusting, ShockTilYouDrop, Collider and HitFix, the week of Halloween! Starting October 27th through Halloween, a new short will appear everyday on each of the five sites hosting Fun Size Horror. Each short will only be up for 24 hours before being replaced by the next day's horror film so make sure to catch them while they're up!

Lastly, I want to mention my film, ROADSIDE...and when I say mention, I barely will do that.  There are some fun things brewing at present.  Over the last few weeks, I've been busting ass to get some updates brewing for everyone that not only worked on the film, but for those who have been in support of it since the project was announced.  It's been a hell of a ride with this project (which deserves its own blog), so I've been very happy with the progress we've made recently.  Timing is everything, and for me personally, I'd felt like the time was now.  If you've read this far, I will just ask that you keep some positive thoughts coming for us and the film, and I should have some fun news to share with you over the next few weeks.  

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