Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This past weekend I did end up working on that super-secret film project mentioned here in the last post. It was a great time, largely because of the people.

Working on this project gave me a chance to hang out with Jeff Burns - an awesome, funny and smart guy who literally gave me my start in film. (That first role was a short, fun bit in which I got to politely decline a neighbor's amorous advances by throwing a football at his head.) It was really great to reconnect with him and spend some time trading bad jokes and catching up.

The film also gave me an opportunity to meet Daniel Trinh, who is the film's writer and director. He's an absolute sweetheart and it was a pleasure working with him. I hope to see him do many more projects.

Working on the project also allowed a few minutes to meet Mark Pezzula, a clever commentor who occasionally chimes in on The Everything Film Show, and again meet talented cinematographer Shawn Schaffer, who I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more from in the future.

As the rumors suggest, a lot of entertainment is who you know, and the world gets a lot smaller very quickly in independent film. I met Jeff responding to a casting call. Jeff has worked with Shawn and Mark on other projects. Daniel did a commercial for the same company I worked for recently, which is how we connected, and is also somehow connected to the others - probably through Upstate Independents. Whatever the connection, everybody there knew at least one other person in the room.

There were a lot of other other nice folks at the shoot - too many to name here - however, the majority of my time was spent bugging Jeff or doing scenes. At the end of a very long and exhausting day, I scurried home happy for the opportunity to contribute to a project with both long-term true and new friends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feel the Burn(?)

Is it bad that I'm revisiting a draft started 1/18/09 today? That post as written with same original title is below:

The New Year might have given my goals a boost, but I've been wanting to get healthy again for a long time. Although my husband and I joined Planet Fitness about a year and a half ago, the experience has been such that we've both been drifting away and started looking for other options.

We finally settled on NY Sports Club given their variety of equipment and classes. It's literally about four or five times as expensive and required a contract - factors that we weighed heavily - but the clean facilities and ample parking won us over.

Now I just need to make sure that I use this investment to reach my health goals.

It's probably not much of a spoiler alert that I didn't do as well as I had hoped in sticking to this plan. Whether it was the guilt of infrequent exercise or pressure to play a teenager coming up, today I found myself back in the gym. Now sore but slightly redeemed, I just hope I can keep this up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paging Teenage Awkwardness

I'm really excited that, one week from today, I will be contributing to a super-secret project that will be submitted to multiple film festivals in the coming year. The catch? My relatively minor contribution to the work will be in the role of an eager college student.

While I've played older characters before, this will be my first time playing a character notably younger than my current age. At first that realization had me feeling a bit awkward (which could work well for the role) but I took comfort after some thinking; in the tradition of Saved by the Bell and Dawson's Creek, I may not be old enough!

I should head out to the mall now for "field research," or at least some good pizza. It is an NFL Sunday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I might be feeling especially snarky this Saturday as I've been thinking about a bunch of random things that irk me. For example, pronouncing theater more like the-ate-her to display culture or insisting it be spelled "theatre." I suppose I like my theater more low-brow.

At any rate, I've been spending a lot of time lately volunteering with publicity for a local theater, the Elmwood Playhouse in Nyack. It is already 1/3 sold out for a run of the seldomly performed yet beautiful musical, "A Man of No Importance."

While making headway with the tigh-knit "family" of people who operate there has been difficult, it has also been an incredible experience both personally and professionally - meeting new people, navigating PR challenges specific to entertainment that I haven't encountered before, stretching, if you will. It's also been a great way to keep active as I find that my life at present consists almost entirely of work or sleep. The opportunity to help out in a hands-on way for an inspiring group has been a welcome outlet and I wish them much success!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Good Things Come...

What's the longest you've ever waited to see something you're working on come to light? I'm not talking massive, life-altering things that you expect to take time like quitting smoking or memorizing pi, but simple things that you thought would take practically no time at all.

I love IMDb, truly, and think that they offer a great service that is valuable for both fans and entertainment professionals alike. However, sometimes meeting the rigorous quality controls they put in place to ensure the accuracy of information in their system can be akin to achieving embassy clearance.

It took more than six months before the small bit I did on Law & Order: Conviction made their cut, and I've been trying to get another movie added for a friend since March. I also just noticed that my friend Jeff Burns appears to have multiple listings, meaning that somehow despite the checks, he's made it in there - as two people! Wonder how long fixing that will take...

Here's to hoping that good things - great things even - DO come to those who wait!

Off the Grid?

First and foremost, my apologies for going off the grid - again. At least as life has kept me a bit too preoccupied to post like I would like to, I haved collected some new stories.

Recently I had the opportunity to do a commercial for Carrier, courtesy of MPW Marketing. Both are really great groups of people, and you can see the result below.


You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but the typical commercial is a full day's work - at least. And that's if everything goes well. The Carrier "Hipster" shoot was great fun thanks to a bunch of really chill and professional personalities who kept things moving smoothly.

Between the long hours and the serious wit of those overseeing the project, I was in tears (laughing) by the end of the day as we were finishing up the related radio spot, which you can hear below.


Thanks again to Carrier and MPW! I had an amazing time working with them and hope to do so again soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Catching Up

Wow, has it really been since March? I've been really busy and gathered a lot of stories...

In April, I went to a "gala" featuring Oscar nominated-actress Melissa Leo and had a great time hanging out with the folks of Upstate Independents. That month I also participated in a scene for the upcoming independent feature, Nothing for Christmas.

July has been a little more mixed. On personal note, this month marked three funerals and a wedding for 2009 - it sounds like an already done movie title, but pretty much sums up the feeling. Other ill family members are also constantly in mind.

This month month, I also did a couple voice overs for a couple online merchants. Between that and late hours for my 9-to-5 job, it has been a very busy season. I'm hoping the fall will be better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's Your Type?

It seems nowadays that everybody has taken some sort of personality test. Whether it was a career-oriented quiz given by your guidance counselor or a proficiency/placement exam you might have taken to 'find your perfect job,' you know what I'm talking about.

In the entertainment industry, it's much simpler as there seem to be just two types of people. For ease of reference, let's call them lines and squiggles.

Squiggles are the folks that most people associate with the entertainment industry. They have an almost pathological distaste for the rules of civil society. They are the more-than-fashionably-late, lampshade-wearing folks you don't introduce to the folks at your day job.

Lines are the people that you wouldn't figure are entertainers. They like goals and schedules and show up on time, whatever the commitment. If it weren't for their predilection for the arts, they might be extremely successsful and happy - but most likely, they are in a cubicle near you.

Squiggles say things like, "don't box me in," "it's for the art," and "you'll never know my pain" with wreckless abandon. Most of their sentences end with exclamation points.

Lines are more cautious and concerned about maintaining relationships. They try not to offend, grin and bear many awkward situations and seek to find common ground.

Lines are often irritated by squiggles, and squiggles hate lines. While squiggles seem to feel that lines dilute and weaken the arts, lines are often frustrated by the gaping voids of time and ancillary drama added by squiggles.

Both sides have valid points, but can't we all just get along?

If you haven't guessed yet, I'm more of a line than a squiggle. I have a day job and actively shield my co-workers from my extracurricular exploits, but I love the creative outlet of entertainment. I might actually be a third type - maybe a circle? - as I feel that I have significant traits of both. Not surprisingly, I prefer to work with lines and surprise them by acting like a squiggle.

However, in my experience, it is the mix that truly makes things work. Lines working with lines tend to produce films that are leaden and dull; squiggles working with squiggles make projects that never get done or are so 'heady' that only the individuals involved can enjoy them.

Squiggles and lines can bring a lot to a project when they work together: squiggles are unbridled and sometimes uncover new arenas to explore, and lines add balance, perspective and make sure the project actually gets produced.

I secretly suspect that apt lines (or 'circles') are more likely to get further ahead given their inclincation toward efficiency and the industry's surplus of squiggles. As I hinted in my last post, I've been facing a lot of distractions lately: in February, the major distraction was a month full of unbalanced squiggles. I might get into that more later - if I'm not too much of a line not to...


In all pursuits, there are many distractions set along the path to derail you...

Some of these distractions are good. For example, not too long ago I crept up to Toronto to visit with a dear friend of mine who recently settled there. She showed us the city; we caught up; it was an amazing time.

Other distractions are not as good. I must admit that I've had some "professional" dealings of late that have had me swerving.

I'll get into both of these highs and lows in the coming days - maybe tonight if I can keep this thunder - but I'm happy to say, "I'm back!"

Shout outs to Sharyn TG, uber-funny reporter for The Kitty City Gazette, who checked in to see if I was still on the planet not too long ago, and other friends who reached out to me via cell or email with questions along the same line - all is well! February was just a month that was chock-full of distractions.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Opportunities Right Under Your Nose... or Fork

I just closed a deal to provide voice over services for a sub-contracting company. Essentially, when another third-party company contacts them seeking someone to be their voice on the phone or via other voice recordings, I might be the sub-contracted voice they pick.

While not a huge score in the short run, I am very excited as this is likely to be a relatively steady source of work in the future. Perhaps equally exciting for me is how I came across this opportunity - I sought it out as opposed to responding to an ad.

At least a dozen times over the past year, I have looked over the ad-mats you get at diners. About half of those times, I have torn off an ad or two that were of particular interest and shoved them in my pocket. The job I just mentioned was a result of sending an inquiry to one of those companies.

At the end of the day, any positive, paying gig is a good thing. I'm really happy to have lined up this new opportunity and look forward to the additional possibilities that it may bring.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Foresight and Hindsight, Colliding

As I mentioned in my last post, there isn't much point in auditioning if you're in a frame of mind and body that you can't pull it off. I wrote that Thursday - but apparently forgot about it by Saturday. Either that, or the opportunity was just good enough to grab up those boot straps again.

Desire to keep moving forward and excessive optimism helped me trick myself into heading into the city yesterday to audition for a great role in an upcoming feature film. The location, people and experience were great; I wasn't.

The travel had me feeling a little strange and heady upon arrival and I was having trouble connecting with the script provided. Also, auditions were running ahead of schedule so I had barely even gotten through one silent read of the script before I was asked to come in and audition with a cold read.

The casting assistant and director were cordial and polite. The casting room threw me entirely off-balance. I have never auditioned in a green screen setting before, and to do so reading cold had me a little disoriented and distracted. Sadly, I think I let it show. Ouch. Oh well.

While I don't think I'll get called for the part, I did learn some things. Mainly, I learned that I need to get better at ignoring my surroundings. Green screen or no green screen, it shouldn't have mattered. Once I made the decision to walk through that door, I should have been good to go even if there was a live studio audience and circus animals milling around.

Secondly, I could have done more to control my time and review of the script - there was one girl who was supposed to go ahead of me who was reading the script when I got there. She felt unprepared to go, and I deferred to her to be nice. I should have held my ground.

Whatever happens, this was the biggest thing I've auditioned for to date and I'm thankful I had the opportunity. While the adventure did set my health back a little bit again, I'm ultimately glad I worked through it and hope that I can apply the lessons moving forward.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sick Sucks - and Loses Parts

I've lost the better part of the last week to a raging cold that has turned into bronchitis. In all truth, the cold has lingered in weaker form for a long time but really just became an issue of late.

Hating to be sick, I've been trying to ignore it and continued to push myself. Now that I've completely burned myself out, I've been MIA from most productive activities for almost a week (save for the day job) and had to decline a couple opportunities to audition. While many would argue that you do whatever it takes when you love the craft, I have to say that there's no point in going to deliver a monologue when you are truly disgusting, contagious and without voice - unless you're auditioning for the role of a sick person!

All kidding aside, if the right opportunity was on the line, I'd grab up those boot straps again and find a way to drag myself in, but this wasn't that time. A couple days of R&R should get me back on track, but all of this could have been avoided if I'd taken care of myself to begin with.

My take-away from this, if there is one, is that I have to stop talking about being better to myself and start doing it! That includes sleeping more regularly, saying "no" when I am tapped, and using the health insurance that (thank God) I now have when I need it.

Although bonding with my couch is cool, I'm looking forward to rejoining society soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


We are all called upon to make choices everyday. Unfortunately, even the simplest of choices sometimes feel incredibly significant when trying to get ahead - and they may be.

On Thursday, I was blessed with conflicting opportunities to attend a casting for a hair commercial or audition for a role in an independent film. The hair commercial paid well, but I wasn't feeling overally confident as I wasn't a perfect fit for the target demographic. While also slightly out of alignment with the part I had been asked to read for the independent film, which required more travel and would be unpaid on speculation, that project seemed to promise great content and experience.

After comparing traffic reports and rethinking which project I would rather put on my reel, I opted to head out for the independent film. While still uncertain, it seemed like the more likely and ultimately more favorable thing.

The people at that audition were the coolest bunch of people I have met in entertaint to date, bar none. The audition was comfortable and, while I was deemed a little too old for the role I'd been called in for (I knew it!), I did happen to meet an agent there who shared a promising lead for another commercial that would be a national run.

At the end of the day, there were no immediate gains from my efforts, however, I did make some pleasant connections that seem to have potential for later benefit. Would the experience have been the same at the other casting? I doubt it, but who knows? All I can say is that I am happy with the choice I made.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The "In" Crowd

Point-blank, I'm not affiliated with SAG, AFTRA, AEA or any other artistic union. While I have heard pros and cons about membership in general from a variety of sources, my layman's view would suggest that being part of the "in" crowd is where it's at.

Member status seems to be a thin veil separating the haves and the have-nots, often literally in terms of separate holding rooms and food services, etc. I have been on sets where this distinction was made so bold it was almost abusive - in one epecially memorable case, the dog on set was treated better.

The sad truth is that ridiculous treatment of non-union actors is somewhat normal. Frankly, I think it's just that the insecurity of the lifestyle is such that many on the other side of the curtain sometimes get a little overzealous in exercising their superior status, as if the distance will somehow protect them in their climb.

Before anybody flames this post, I do want to clarify that I get why keeping every Tom, Dick, Harry, Molly, Sue, Jane and all of their friends from slamming through the curtain is an issue. People get a little crazy about entertainment to begin with, and I can understand how restricting the talent pool to true professionals enables more full-time actors to earn something closer to a living wage. Makes sense.

However, my suspicions about the restrictiveness of the club and its modern caste system underpinnings are confirmed by the difficulty of getting straightforward information. When I've had legitimate questions about benefits and joining, I've received little or no specific response. One union representative told me that I had to come in to the office for a meeting to get my answers; they weren't interested in responding to my email or conversing via telephone.

For better or for worse, the unions matter. While the standing conferred by membership is attractive to some - and infuriating to others who lack it - it's best not to let it get you bent out of shape either way. Rather than fight the system, I intend to keep pursuing work in a professional manner so that I may eventually join the "in" crowd. Maybe this will be the year...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Predictable Unpredictability

It has been a weird twenty-four hours.

This morning started out good but confusing as I booked an audition for a project that I submitted for about a month ago. I had honestly forgotten all about it given the time that has passed and the number of inquiries I've sent out since.

As anybody will quickly notice, most things in the entertainment industry move very quickly once the ball is rolling. Such a delay, however, is also not too surprising. Just as I was preparing to take some time off for the shoot booked from the audition following my last headshot, I've learned that project has hit a snag in funding and is experiencing a (hopefully) temporary delay.

In short, there really is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to entertainment. By keeping many lines in the water and remaining open to what comes, I've been able to keep moving forward (or at least moving) for now.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Perseverance... Kinda

This story has a good side, and a bad side.

For the past couple weeks, I've been trying to get back in touch with an exceptionally difficult-to-get-hold of producer I worked with recently. I misplaced his cell phone number, and he is apparently allergic to email. In trying to get hold of him, I tried alternative contacts I had on hand to see if there was anything else that he may be checking and might respond.

And it worked. I heard back, but not not from him; another producer/casting director replied to an email I sent in error wanting to see me for a job.

I bet as you are reading this you are thinking, "Are you crazy? Do you really think you just happened to contact another casting director with your stupid random email?"

While that level of naivety would be bad, the truth is equally embarrassing.

The email contact wasn't random - it just happened to be for a different person I'd contacted for a different job. Although I wasn't right at that time, they have a new project and they'd like to bring me in for audition.

If there was a moral to this story, it could be stated that follow-up is a virtue. More accurately, however, I'd have to say the lesson is to keep your contacts organized.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Getting Fit

Just as I am pursuing new work opportunities in the New Year, I am also pursuing a new, healthier version of me. While feeling better is my main objective for the second goal, improving my health and overall condition can only enhance my ability to get work.

One of many tools I am using to do this is FitDay, a Web site that helps track calorie intake, exercise progress, overall nutrition and a number of other things, complete with adjustable, personalized reports.

To date, the free version seems to offer everything I need, but I can only imagine how in-depth the paid services may be given the options I've seen so far. With FitDay's help, I will have an unbiased measure of my progress to help me reach my goals. Now I just have to remember to keep up with inputting my food and exercise journal information so that the service can work!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Math of It All

One sub-goal of this project is to lay out exactly how much work is involved in breaking into entertainment. While I'm well-aware of the time and commitment required from prior efforts, I've never actually tracked and quantified the overall "costs" before.

As of January 1st, I started logging all of my auditions - not necessarily the specifics of each, but where I found them and the date that I submitted the initial inquiry. Since the New Year I have put in seven completely new inquiries with no responses to date.

Understanding that the percentages of this exercise may become incredibly embarrassing at some point, I wanted to be painfully honest and share just how much rejection is associated with this industry in a clear and tangible way. Sure, most people accept rejection as a theory, but it looks and feels a lot different when different when you're staring at umteen unanswered emails in your sent folder!

So there is stands: 7 inquiries out; 0 booked since New Year's Eve. I hope to share a perkier update soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Setting Things Straight

From time to time, I get asked, "Why don't you straighten your hair?" While I usually just flub back that I do sometimes (leaving out that it's for weddings), the truth is that's not who I am.

"How deep," you may be mocking - and I'd be right there with you, but I actually have a point!

It's the same reason I list my height and weight frankly, resisting the urge to cheat either up or down. Why promote an image that people are not going to see when you walk through the door? In fact, fudging your specs or failing to match your pics is probably the best way to ensure that you will not book the job.

Sure, I could straighten my hair and maybe get different gigs or be seen as more "versatile" or whatever, but I wouldn't keep it up, so why bother? I know myself better than that.

In an industry that thrives on fake, it's important to keep it real - even if it's just with yourself.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting Back in the Saddle

As I mentioned before, my acting efforts had a few false starts before now. If I were to break it down, I'd say there were three tries before present that were substantial enough to be true "beginnings." Each time, I saved my money, worked to get myself in decent shape and started anew with fresh photos.

As I get older, I notice that competing priorities and obligations have made it harder to focus on each start. This time, there were many reasons to delay - stress had my skin looking less-than-flawless, I hadn't been able to take up residence in the gym as I had planned, and the list goes on. But rather than hide behind those excuses, I decided to go for it.

Alexei Afonin, the creative genius behind Alexei Productions, was chosen as my ally for this like-new venture. I had come across his ad while scanning through Back Stage and really liked what I saw when I went to his site. The overall experience was great - comfortable, friendly and professional - and I was more than pleased with the results.

Armed with new tools to beat the streets and land new jobs, I auditioned and booked my first new role that night! I'm so glad I didn't wait for everything to be perfect before trying again; perfect never comes, and I've missed too many opportunities already.


It's hard to say when the acting bug bit, but I know it had started at least by the time I was eight as evidenced by my first headshot. My family lived in the sticks and my mother had driven me approximately two hours into the nearest "big city" (population at the time: roughly 97,000) as there was an open call that day that I had been begging her to go to. The event turned out to just be one of those cattle calls where they try to sell lessons and pictures to kids with stars in their eyes, but for me it felt magical.

Perhaps it's fortunate that my parents had neither the disposable time nor cash to enable my dream-chasing as we got through that experience relatively unscathed, short only a few hours time, gas and cash of an untold amount from the headshots, which followed. We didn't know about talent scams back then, but we didn't have the raw resources to make good targets, even if we had decided to go for it.

A lot of the details are fuzzy as almost twenty years have passed. Mom ran me about that day while Dad watched the store (literally) and we all rested easy, as if the headshot was some sort of magic bullet that would bring Hollywood calling.

I never got a job - or even an audition - from those first headshots. Looking back, however, I did get a lot of lessons. Perhaps the two biggest were:

1. To work in the industry, you have to go where the work is. A million headshots were not going to get me work where I was from, a town with only a post office and a stop sign to mark its very center. That day to the call marked the first of many trips that would follow, years later, until I relocated closer to NYC.

2. You have to be your own greatest advocate. I still struggle with this one, my home culture being such that any statement of competency feels like "blowing your own horn." When the sure-shot headshot didn't bring raging success, my parents advised maybe I should pack it up and move on to a more stable dream. In their defense, it was the best advice they could have given, given the realities at the time. However, there is never a shortage of people who will tell you that you're not good enough or that there's an infinite number of reasons you'll never make it. This truth is not distinct to acting as it is as valid in an office as on a stage, and you don't grow out of it. Fighting ahead despite the nay-saying really just helped me prepare for an industry in which everybody experiences a lot of rejection. If you don't think you can do it, why should anybody else?

There were many other lessons that day and many I'm still learning. On a recent call, I was asked why I'm not promoting myself better - especially given that my day job is promoting the work of others. Oops. I guess I have to revisit lesson two. My foot is in the door and I've come a long way, but I've still got a long way to go.