Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acting, writing and producing; SUCCESS!!!!

Joe Bastianich, a very successful restauranteur and entrepeneur said in his NY Times profile "Art without commerce is a hobby." 

Ouch!  It stings!  But that's because it is oh-so true. 

I am proud to admit that Gut Punch is now, technically speaking, a boutique ad agency with real clients.  I love our current client.  I love their idea; I think it's genius.  I gotta tell you, it feels really effing great.  Here is what we made.  And now a word about Gut Punch's sponsor: Pongr.

The major problem I have with applications like Four Square is that there isn't any real world recognition, that, and the fact that if people know you are somewhere else, they could in theory, rob your home.  On to the real world recognition part, you "check in" at a bar enough times and you become the mayor of that bar.  That's cool.......I suppose.

But wouldn't you like to take pictures of you enjoying your favorite brand, such as Brooks Brothers?  You take a picture of you wearing brooks brothers, or a picture of the golden fleece logo etc, you get the idea here and you send it out to the Pongr universe.  Eventually, your rank in the company grows and  you can get free stuff.

Who wouldn't want a crisp, sharp Brooks Brothers tie?  I would love one.

So check it out people, it's fun! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I am a bit smitten with my legit agent.

As many of my loyal reader(s) know, two weeks ago today, I booked a day player role on Comedy Central for the upcoming "Onion Sports Network".  I did this through my legit agency.  I love them over there.  They are so kind and accessible, additionally I feel as if, and have always felt, that they "get me." 

They don't just see a large white guy, they see who I really am in real life and submit me for work accordingly.  Any agent can see a 6-3 245 pound large framed dude and think "Great!  I can submit him for cop roles!"  Not this agency, here is what they submitted me for yesterday - I think it seems like a great role that I can blow the top off of. 

[CHARLIE] (late 20s-early 30s) Paul's best buddy. Jocular, funny, overbearing, seething. Ostensibly smart and lovable, but with an undercurrent of malignancy and anger. Enjoys a bit of danger, and feeds his best friend's paranoia. (LEAD/ STRONG SUPPORTING)

BUT WHAT IS THE MOVIE ABOUT, PHILLYRAY?!?!?  Oh, right....

NANCY, PLEASE

Feature Film
SAG ULTRA LOW BUDGET AGREEMENT
Shoot/Start Date: 10/25
Location: NY
SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY
NOTE: IF POSSIBLE, PLEASE SUBMIT ACTOR'S ONLINE DEMO CLIPS ALONG WITH EACH ACTOR SUBMISSION.
SYNOPSIS: PAUL is a young, gifted, aimless PhD candidate at Yale University. He's just moved in with his competent, pragmatic girlfriend, Jen, and is struggling to complete his dissertation. There's just one snag: as Paul is unpacking his belongings, he discovers that something has been left behind - a battered old book that contains the notes he needs to complete his writing. He will have to retrieve it from his former roommate - the obstinate, casually sinister NANCY. What should be a simple errand becomes intolerably difficult, and egged on by his best friend CHARLIE, Paul soon becomes increasingly consumed with the retrieval of his book. Caught up in a web of perceived injustice, Paul's relationship and career begin to unravel, and he finds himself rushing headlong into a thresher of emotional torment and physical punishment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NYC: confusing signage of the week

There are many confusing signs in NYC. Most are parking related, but occasionally one runs into a sign of a different sort. What does "White Moves" mean? Is it the electric slide? The tootsie roll? Or is it the "shopping cart"?  Loyal reader(s), do chime in. 


 
In PhillyRay news: no auditions scheduled for this week so far.  Just real estate and a lot of it.  I walked around for 2 hours today in the rain showing apartments.  I will not have time to go to the gym tonight, and no, a case of atheletes foot does not count as exercise. But if it did..............

Friday, September 24, 2010

An actor should establish "Relationship" to get the focus off them

Before I get into how to establish relationship, a quick tale.  Wednesday, during a 10 minute break from acting class I went to get a bag of chips. I saw a Dorito bag with cool graphics all over it. It was an advertisement for the latest version of "Halo" an awesome video game that people go nuts over. I snagged that bag because I didn't realize that it was promotional advertising, I thought that Doritos now came in a new flavor, a "Halo" inspired flavor. Perhaps they are remarketing my beloved and ne'er to be seen again spicy sweet chili?  Nope. It was nacho cheesier. Damnit!  Watch out consumers, those bags are tricky. 



There are a few ways to establish relationship and by doing so, get the focus of of yourself.  I will talk about two ways: one is more suited for rehearsal and one is more suited for performance. 

For the rehearsal tip, taken an object and stare at it, play with it, manipulate that object in your hand.  When you're doing that, run your lines and you'll see how much better you will sound.  Your rate, inflection, pitch and dynamic will become greatly varied.  Don't just pick up the "Papermate" brand blue ball point pen and go about your lines.  Study that bitch.  Notice how the prong from the cap eventually pulls away from the pen when it is sheated?  Notice how there are two hearts on top of each other in between the words paper and mate?  Notice how the end of the cap is thinner than at the beginning of the cap, where the pen first enters?  This is how specific I needed to get to get the focus off of myself.  You may not need to get this specific, but you'll only know by trying.

Watch an old Marlon Brando flick and notice how he constantly plays with objects.  He was a very tactile actor.  He was doing that to get the focus off of himself and put the focus back into the scene, and it works wonders. 

For the performance tip, I suggest focusing all of your gaze onto your scene partner.  This will put the focus on the other actor and will therefore give you less to worry about.  When you have less to worry about, your work will succeed.  Often times, a film director will tell the actors to take the scene again "just as a throw-away, this one doesn't count."  And wouldn't ya know, that is usually the best take.  Why?  Because the actors are relaxed and therefore have all the focus off of them. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You can lead a _____ to water, but you can't make him drink.

You thought that the "______" was horse, right?  Wrong, it's "the client who employs the casting director".  A few days ago I mentioned that I had a commercial audition for Guinness beer, and I even gave my loyal reader(s) a dramatic reenactment. 

Today I received a call from the on-camera faction of my commercial agency notifying me of a call-back for said Guinness commercial.  It was a call-back for a national spot PLUS internet.  This could be a 6 figure job.  HOLY POTATOES! I thought.  I breathed a sigh of relief because at that time my career was on the right track.  Day player role on Comedy Central last week, call back for national spot tomorrow. 

5 minutes later my phone rang again.  My call-back had been cancelled.  The air left the room and I took a seat.  The rest of the conversation I can't really recall, but I am sure I was cordial and understanding.  After all, my agency didn't fubar on the call-back, the client, Guinness, did.  Clients often don't know what they want or what they are looking for and change their minds all the time.  When I auditioned, the hero was to be a celebrity, now it's a basketball player.

What was the specific reason for my call-back cancellation? I am too tall.  The Guinness drinking heroes of the spot will be professional basketball players, and they want the bland beer drinkers to be shorter.  I am six foot three.

Everyone is short compared to Patrick fucking Ewing.  I am now drinking whiskey. 

Sad?  Yes.  Broken?  No.  Half in the bag?  Hell yeah.

But I can now rejoice in the fact that two casting directors in NYC would hire me based on my acting skills.  Now it's just a question of intangibles falling into place.

An actor should utilize all 88 keys of the piano

Not literally, unless you are a quadruple threat actor like Jason Segel.  Gets me every time.  Honestly, I do indeed tear every time he mutters "how I love youuuuu" at the end.  That and the end of Adam Sandler's "Wedding Singer", when he serenades Drew Barrymore on the airplane.  Those are the two times I cried during movies - the only times.  When funny guys get all vulnerable and pour their guts out over serio-comic love songs. 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!?!?

Schindlers List?  Nope.  When Haley Joel Osment's parents leave him in the woods in A.I.?  Not once.  When Bambi's mother died?  Surely, you jest.  "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Wedding Singer"?  Yup, every time.  Like a schoolgirl with a skinned knee.  Oh my sweet savior, I literally just got misty eyed thinking about Adam Sandler singing "I wanna grow old with you." 

Anyway, by utilizing all the keys of the piano I mean using all of your tools in a monologue, using all of your training all the time, being the best possible actor you can be at any given time.  One way you can do this is by varying up your speech patterns by tweaking a combination of four things.  I've mentioned rate, inflection, pitch and dynamic before on this blog.  I've even given a video demonstration.  Varying RIPD is so important.  Sure, you can have a hamburger on a cold potato bun and it would be, OK I suppose.  Maybe even passable.  But if you toast that bun, add some fresh lettuce, tomato and raw red onion and some Heinz, its ethereal. 

Additionally there are 16 ways to say a line.  You can even combine those ways to utilize your skill sets. 

Next blog I will talk about exploring "Relationship: getting the focus off of you".  That's one of the sixteen ways.  We'll talk about how I use that to free up my RIPD.  I spoke about entering "the matrix" a few posts ago, I used "relationship" to get to that point - read it if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Audition for Guinness Beer Commercial

Whew I am spent.  I just woke up from a 30+ minute power nap at my real estate desk.  Actors and Actresses: stop messing around with temping, catering or whatever side job you have and get in real estate.  What other job is 100% flexible, has an uncapped earning potential and allows desk naps?  It's a trick question, it's only real estate.

Anyway.  I worked late yeterday, until around 8pm showing apartments around Hells Kitchen, and I was thinking about the next day (which is now earlier today).  What did I have today, you ask.  I answer: a commercial audition for Guinness.  That beer is friggen delicious.

The CD was the same one who gave me a call back for the Kraft mayonnaisse gig.  My slot was 11:55am and they were recording in groups of three.  The CD told us that they are casting 9 regular guys and one hero.  The hero will be someone famous.  The premise is that 9 out of 10 drinkers order boring beer at a bar.  Are you that tenth drinker?  You are indeed if you order Guinness. 

"Ok guys, this will be the best audition of your whole week" said the CD "First we slate our names, then we talk about whatever, then I will film each of you one by one standing at a bar drinking a beer and waiting for your friends.  Don't be interesting, just stand there, it's impossible for actors to nothing, but try.  After a while just walk off camera."

The CD recognized me from the Kraft callback and asked me if I was getting tanner.  I told her yes.  It's funny, I've gotten a little tanner, but she probably noticed the weightloss and wasn't sure what the difference was.  So the CD had us improvise back and forth and just talk with each other about whatever.  My conversation with the other two actors ranged from my tan, to what the middle guy did (he taught) to what the other guy does.  He doesn't have a day job and just does push-ups the whole day. 

It was actually a very fun audition.  The other two guys did a lot of stuff when they were up there, they looked pretty interesting to me.  Which is cool, but also the opposite of what the CD specified.  They would stand there, mime sipping their beers, mime burping, whistle and then mime order another beer.  That was very interesting.  They also stood there for 20+ seconds.

I stood there for maybe 10+ seconds with my beer in my right hand and my arms down by my pockets and stared off into space.  A specific point in space, nontheless.  After that time I gave a slight nod, as I would if I saw my friends enter the bar and walked off camera.  YOU CAN NOT POSSIBLY BE MORE BORING THAN THAT!  Here is basically what I did:


video


When I walked out of the audition I saw my great friend Mark.  I hadn't seen Mark in I don't know how long, even though we talk via phone frequently.  It's funny, when I walked into the audition holding room I thought "I wonder if Mark will be in the waiting room."  When he wasn't I was a bit deflated, and when I re-entered the room after my camera time, there he was.  When he was done we had a cigar.  It was great to see him again.  It'll be awesome when we both book the job and hang out September 30th :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Becoming a working actor: Real jobs vs. "Reel" jobs

A talented director I have worked with many times before once said, "As the saying goes 'we either do it for the pay check or we do it for the reel.'"  Truth, such truth.  As a struggling actor focused on becoming a working actor, I find myself in the middle of a balancing routine.  What am I balancing?  I am balancing paid work with work for my acting reel. 

Yes, of course we would all love to be in constant demand for juicy character roles on the stage and voice overs and day player roles in movies and recurring roles in TV, but before that happens, people have to know about you.  You get yourself known by networking.  You network by acting with people and having a great reel. 

Remember actors, just because producers can't always pay you with cash, they can usually figure out another way to hook you up.  Is the project edited by a professional?  If so, ask them to put together your reel for you.  Is the sound mixed by a pro?  If so, as them to put together your VO reel for you.  Does the director work for a big office of some sort?  Ask her about temping by the hour so you can leave for auditions when you have them.  A reel can cost $1,000.00 - so having someone make the reel for you gratis, is a really good thing.  Good survival jobs are hard to find, so a flexible temp job in a friendly environment would be very beneficial.

I hate to use this phrase but.....think outside the box.  Think about what you need and use your free acting work to get it.  Does one of the producers work as  a personal trainer?  Have him give you 5 free sessions.  Who knows?  Just ask.

And by all means, get it in writing (email is fine) that you will get the footage when the project is done.  You can't have a reel without footage?  Am I right, or an I right?  Right?  right!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Actors need to have momentum

A working actor in my class told me that while there is no such thing as a big break, most of his work can be traced back to one original job.  Hmmm, that is a very interesting thought.  You do one job, and the DP likes what you did, or you caught the producers eye and he remembers you for a future project.  I can see how this can be true.  I can actually trace back my securing of a ultra-spacious rent stabilized one bedroom in Astoria Queens to an off-off Broadway production of "Merchant of Venice" in June 2005.  That was 5 years ago, we moved into the aforementioned apartment last year.  I am not shitting you.  I am so not shitting you. 

In June 2005, a mere 2 weeks after I graduated from Union College with a theater degree I saw in Backstage an audition notice for a non-union (but paying) production of Merchant.  Great, I will audition for this I thought.  I went to the audition on Manhattan's lower east side.  It was held in a former middle school turned performance center on Suffolk Street.  It was about 100 degrees outside and around 110 inside the waiting hall, and man oh man there were many many people there to audition.  Merchant boasts many male roles and three EXCELLENT female roles, including the highly coveted role of Portia. 

I came in with my "tennis balls" speech from "Henry V".  I had a callback about a week later, and bombed on the cold read for Graziano.  Either other people previously offered the role of Solanio turned it down, or Tim saw something in me.  I was cast.  I was elated.  From the audition I met an excellent actor, Ben Curns.  Turns out I saw Ben in a play the year before.  I thought he was awesome then, and I still think that today. 

Through Ben, I met his friend Mike Burdick.  Mike is an excellent playwright.  I did a bunch of shows with/for Mike.  Through Ben I also met his girlfriend at the time Synge.  Synge directed me in a show written by Mike.  Then Mike put on a showcase of a few of his plays.  One of the actors was a talented gent named Skid, he is Synge's sister. 

The next year when I helped start up Fire Island Shakespeare company, we ended up firing our director and an actor quit due to this.  We needed a third actor and a director.  We brought in Mike Burdick and Mike recommended Skid.  I saw Skid act, and thought he would be great.  So the cast was myself, Rob Brown and Skid Maher for "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged".  The three of us enjoyed about 50 performances together and the next year we continued the trend with "I Hate Hamlet!"

The next winter, Skid was in a show that an actor dropped out of.  The show was to go up in less than 2 weeks and they needed someone who was a quick read and not a quitter.  That's me.  On that show I met Laura Jo Schuster and Dee Beider, two very talented comedic actresses. 

The next summer I brought in Dee and LJ to act in "I Hate Hamlet".  LJ, Dee and I needed to run lines, and we went to LJ's apartment, which was only 3+ blocks away from where I lived.  I walked in the apartment and totally went apeshit.  I loved the place, I needed to live there.  It was HUGE. 

I hounded the super and  management company with phone calls until a one bedroom came available.  It was a mirror image of LJ's place and just one floor higher.  Our old apartment could fit in the living room of this place.  It was also 200 less than our old place and with laundry in the building. 

Ha. 

I hope that in 5 years, I can post something like this that traces back big money to Tuesday's Onion job. :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Orson Welles, so so very excellent.

Notice how quickly he leaps into character once he steps away from the makeup station.  It's a really thrilling piece and a fine tutorial on old style stage makeup. 

I was once compared to a young Orson Welles in a review and it made me swell with pride.  It also made me want to buy the reviewer a steak dinner.  I see this video and shed a single tear looking at his greatness. 
So check out this stellar video of Orson Welles at the Dean Martin show.  When it's over take a few moments to soak up what you just saw and then take a few moments to fathom how much those two boozed after the show was done filming. 

Audition for the 39 Steps

I worked on the sides last night in acting class.  Steve asked "How do you think you did?"
"This is a really hard piece." I non-answered. 
"Well I hated it, and I rarely say that, but I truly did hate it.  When is the audition?"
"Tomorrow at ten thirty in the morning."
Steve chuckled "OK you're pretty much fucked."

I went up again later in the night after Steve gave me some pointers and ideas/tips etc.  The class laughed, Steve laughed.  It was a grand ole time. 

The piece requires a Scottish accent and I spent yesterday before class and last night after class and the wee hours of this morning working on said accent.  I used a technique that Steve taught me.  You say a line in your regular voice, repeat it in an accent, repeat it in your regular voice, then back in the accent.  You get the point, here.  You can't have the piece be about the accent, the piece has to be about whatever the lines are, the intentions are etc.  So I did a lot of that.  And I gotta tell ya, the audition went ok.  Not amazingly well.  But I don't think that I bombed either.  I think I saw the CD crack a smile, which is promising.  This theater is based in Sarasota, Florida and they put up about 16 shows a year.  This would be a good group to get in with. 

If I am what they need, then they will cast me.  If not, they won't.  It's as simple and as cold as that.  That is a mantra that all thick skinned actors should repeat over and over again. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SAG AFTRA and AEA: To join or not to join?

Sometimes you don't even have a choice.  Look, I am a union guy.  I believe that actors should earn fair wages.  After all, coming up, we are the most ripped off profession in the world.  Just do a quick google search and you will see "networking seminars" on sale for $500+!  These seminars make outrageous claims like "You will have a huge career jump" or "You will brush shoulders with the who's who of the casting world." 

Lies I tell you, lies!

If these seminars were marketed towards any other profession they would be shut down and the organizers would be incarcerated.  I'm serious.  You can't charge money for an interview!  That is essentially what they are doing, too.  They call is "networking" - bullshit!  It's a friggen interview.  End rant.

The point of the above rant is that, by joining an acting union, you are making a stand for fair wages for fair work.  You are making a stand that employers should not only pay you for the day, but they should allocate a portion of that cost to your pension.  By joining a union you are effectively shoving your middle finger in the face of clip joints like "The Network" and "Actors Connection." 

Monday night, when I was on the phone with The Onion CD's and being offered a role, I was asked if I belonged to AFTRA.  I told them no, I belong to SAG.  They asked me if I was a "must join".  I told them "I don't think so." "If you were a must join, would you join?" 

Of course I would.  This would be the first job landed with my legit agency and I needed to get the ball rolling with them and I'd like to get in good with The Onion, as I love their sense of humor and they seem to bring actors back for repeat work.  What is a "must join?" You ask.  I answer: when an actor does an AFTRA job, he/she has 30 days to do as much AFTRA work as possible, then starting on the 31st day, if you want to work AFTRA jobs again you must join their cause, you must join AFTRA.  It's totally fair and I agree with it.  It also costs $1600.00 - so the good news is that I can now join AFTRA because I forgot that 2-3 years ago a JVC commercial I did was AFTRA.  Check it out here, it's the first clip on my comedic reel.  So unbeknownst to me, as of 31 days after March whatever 2008, I was an AFTRA must join. 

Since I was cast late Monday night, well after AFTRA was closed, The Onion was not able to get a definitive answer and I was unable to give them the correct answer.  That was my bad.  Either way I would have done the job and assured them that I would join AFTRA.  I hope they didn't get too much of a scare when they were notified that they had indeed cast a "must join" actor and was already on set.  Geeze, woe is me. 

So I will join AFTRA this week.  Mrs PhillyRay and I talked about this and she had a funny remark.  "Do you have anymore acting clubs to join or is that it?"  Ha, no worries Dawn, this is it. 

PhillyRay actor and card carrying member of SAG since 2005, AEA since 2009, AFTRA since 2010. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I was a professional actor today.

Well, that was fast.  Yesterday as I was leaving my boxing class, I heard my cell ringing.  It was the casting office for the onion.  What I auditioned for earlier in the day had been pushed up to tomorrow and I was being offered the role.  I took it in a heartbeat of course!

Within an hour I had a finalized script emailed to me in addition to two alternate lines.  I also received my call time, I was to get in a 6:15am van at 14th and Broadway the very next morning.  Mrs. PhillyRay and I went out for a bite to eat to celebrate.

I felt joyous, at peace and relaxed.  It felt totally calm. I felt like I did on my wedding day.  Everything was falling into place, if only for a little bit.  It felt great.  I barely slept at all last night I was so excited.  Today was pure adrenaline and the shooting itself took about 2-3 minutes.  We filmed in Long Island, and it was supposed to be Cleveland.  I arrived around 7am, had breakfast at the truck, went on a van back to holding, filled out 4 identical contracts, had wardrobe check me and sat until it was time to go.  Go-time was around 12 noon. 

I will recap more for everyone tomorrow, as I have to memorize an audition piece that I'm gonna use on Thursday. 

Tomorrow's recap: a must-join AFTRA saga and learning to take a little sour with your sweet. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Callback for The Onion Sports Network

"Are you a Cleveland Browns fan?" asked the Casting Director

"No," I answered "but I am a Mets fan; I can relate."

"Ha" grunted both casting associates.

"Would you like this read with a Cleveland accent?  A hard 'a' perhaps.?" I mused

"Yeah.....we're trying to avoid that." The CD said "Just slate your name."

That's how the callback started today at The Onion's corporate offices in SoHo.  I went there to read for a role called "Clevelander #1" and "Clevelander #2".  The idea was that Cleveland decided to move all of their professional athletes out of town and shut down their beloved and scrappy teams, the Cavaliers, Browns and Indians.

Each time I read they would say "Great!  Now do it like (additional direction)."  This happened a few times.  I like when that happens because it accomplishes two things.  One: they tell you EXACTLY what they want and two: you show them that you are able to take direction.  For those who don't know, a lot of actors can not take direction.  You tell them what to do, and they repeat exactly what they did before.  I can not imagine how frustrating that is. 

The Onion is very funny, loyal readers will know that I read it every day.  Like I have mentioned before, The Onion is launching two television shows at the moment.  Onion Sports Network is slated for Comedy Cental and The Onion News Network will get its air on IFC.  I am really excited about those shows. 

Another thing happened during the call back that got me thinking.  On my initial read, I decided to play an opposite.  The line was inherently sad and depressing, so I played it with a bit of a chuckle.  I arbitrarily made a decision.  I was told to try the line again, without doing the chuckle.  "It looks like you are in on the joke." he told me.  Obviously, I do understand that joke, but I was not indeed, playing it like I was "in on the joke".  Understand the difference?  To me there is a difference, but the CD's perception is the reality, and that is that. 

Actors, have you ever made a decision when auditioning and it was misunderstood?  If so, how did you bounce back?  I didn't argue with the guy or be like "Oh, actually.....I was playing an opposite there."  Ha!  Could you imagine?  Of couse that line would be delivered as snootlily as possible.  I'd be out that door so fast, ha.  I bounced back by following the direction and applying the best technique I possibly could. 

Now, I have to show apartments to hyper privileged people in NYC and I have to work on an audition for Thursday for the "39 Steps".  Fun!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Acting Class, a breakthrough of sorts. Another Dr Phil video too.

So last night in acting class I had a bit of a breakthrough.  I put up my "Breaking Bad" monologue again, loyal readers will know which one I am talking about here.  It went pretty well, better than last time even.  But Steve told me that he could tell that I was still acting.  He could see the technique being applied and he could tell that I was processing information and putting it to work etc.  Normally this is a good thing, it shows that I am applying my craft, that I am doing my homework so to speak.  For someone at my level, it's not really that good of a thing.  I need to get past that threshold and enter the realm where no one...not even me, knows where I am going next.

Got it?

Think about it for a second, when you talk to your friends you don't know where the conversation will lead or what your reaction will be, your friend's reactions will be etc.  You just talk.  It's so natural, its the most natural.  Ubernatural.  Au Naturale.  It's almost like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix when he finally sees how he can manipulate the system, and he sees nothing but code.  The  breakthrough is equally dramatic.

In many ways I am very close to acting in the matrix, to put it crudely.  We did a simple exercise where I performed my monologue but played with a pen and studied the pen and put all of my focus on the pen.  The trick here, is getting the focus off of yourself.  By doing so, I was completely surprised by where I went vocally and physically.....and I gotta tell ya, I wasn't even thinking about doing those things.  Like the first kiss in a romantic comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr, it just happened. 

But how can I achieve this?  How?  All actors want to get to this level.  The only way is through technique.  Steve tells us that there are only 16 ways to say a line.  You just have to work on those ways.  It's practice.  Do you think that Michael Jordan practiced dribbling and free throws?  You bet your ass he did.  Do you think that Nadal practices his serve?  Damn straight he does.  Do you think that the guy from Bravo's "Flipping Out" practices being sassy and botoxed out of his grill?  Yes, he does.  Without question.

This is a a good thing.  In many ways, I.AM.RIGHT.THERE.  And I also have a lot of work to do, but each time that you practice working on technique, the session time gets shorter and shorter because it's deeper into your bones.

video

End piece.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Acting is slow this week, so I shift focus

When acting slows down there are two things to do.  One is, you pine and sob that things aren't going your way.  That works, if you consider "working" crying into a glass of Canadian Club.  You are quite tasty Canadian Club, but you are a terrible psychiatrist. Another way is, you focus on other things that will have a positive effect on you, your life, your relationships or your career. 

I have my Wednesday acting class with Beauchamp, that's great.  It's a great place to focus on sharpening my skills and working on other skills that I have yet to acquire. 

I also focus on getting better at boxing.  It's a lot of fun, boxing.  I also enjoy that I can kick a little ass, if need be.  I find that when rehearsing a monologue or a scene and I do something physical, even if it's just walking around the apartment - its really beneficial.  I learn the text faster and for some reason, the time flies by.  I also focus on general exercise.  Like yesterday, I went for a 5+ mile run around 11102.  Surprisingly, I am not sore today and I finished the run in just under an hour.  Hopefully, everything will fall into place.

After all, John Lennon once said "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  That's cool, I can get behind that. 

He also said that he was a walrus.  Goo goo ga joo. 

What about you, loyal reader(s) - What do you do to ease tension and stress when things aren't going how you want them to?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I believe in Dennis Dixon

Not much going on with acting this week aside from me having class tomorrow.  Gut Punch has two projects in post production, so we're just waiting for those to get wrapped up before moving on to the next thing. 

If you've read my bio on this site, you will note that I am a Pittsburgh Steeler fan.  Next Sunday is week one of the NFL season and I am chomping at the bit.  The Steelers ne'er do well QB Ben "You can do whatever you want with it" Roethlisberger is suspended for the first 4 games, and Dennis Dixon has to step in at the helm.  He was the front runner for the Heisman Trophy his Sr year before blowing out his knee mid-season.  Many sportswriters and Oregon Ducks enthusiasts agree, he would have won the award had he not gotten injured. 

Still, he is 0-1 as a starter.  Last year he took on the Baltimore Ravens on the road (a formidable challenge even for Ben Rapelispenis.  He showed flashes of competence here and there, including a boot-leg play that turned into a 30 yd scamper to the end zone.  However, he did also throw a late pick in OT......so, yeah.  Although, the late pick was not the straw that broke the camels back.  He had the Steelers up with 2+ minutes left in the game and the Steelers usually stalwart defense gave up a touchdown to the Ravens.  This drive was highlighted by a frustrating 3rd and long conversion by Ray Rice, courtesy of a flagged tackle by James Farrior. 

The Steelers face the Falcons at home, then the Titans away, then the Bucaneers away then the Ravens at  home.  Since the first few games of the season are typically won/lost by defense (as offenses have yet to find their rhythm) I can see the Steelers starting the season 3-1. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Monologue from Acting Class

Here it is with the mischief/charm, confidentiality and R.I.P.D. and game play role play.  It's come a long way I think.  I'm still struggling with moving too quickly on to the next point before I take enough time with a current point/thought/idea/notion.  That'll come around though.  Here it is.  Leave contract negotiations in the comments


Monologue from "Breaking Bad" on AMC from Phillip Chorba on Vimeo.

So that's that. 

Acting class recap and production tonight

Happy 90210 everyone.  I am blogging from the Peach Pit today.  For the past 2 weeks or so I have been growing sideburns in an ode to Dylan.

Something tells me that Luke Perry pulled them off a tad better when he was my age.  But can YOU PULL IT OFF BETTER THAN LUKE PERRY?  Post your pictures in the comments.  The winner get a paisley necktie!  I'm tots serious. 

Anyway.....acting class went well last night.  Really well, in fact.  I feel as if Steve and I have figured out what I have to do.  I have to attack each scene with a sense of mischief, confidentiality and it wouldn't hurt to add in some game-play role-play and vary up my rate, inflection, pitch and dynamic.  I know that I mentioned the mischief revelation a few posts ago, but it came as a huge relief to hear Steve say so as well.  Steve said that if I employ these tactics, I will attain a certain amount of "societal acceptability" with my work.  If I am too big, too broad, too.......cartoonish, I won't get cast.  (Unless the scene specifically calls for that.)  I've only had one part that required me to be cartoonish, and that was for an actual cartoon on Spike.com - ha.

What do I mean by rate, inflection, pitch and dynamic?  Rate is the speed at which you deliver your lines.  Inflection is what word you choose to highlight.  Pitch means is your voice low like a bass or high like a heavy guitar solo "whaaaaaa!!!!"  Dynamic means the volume, like on a stereo.  Hint: stereos are what people used to listen to their music on before iPods.  Here is a demonstration:
video
So that's that.

Gut Punch is filming tonight for a new client.  We are still figuring out all the nuts and bolts etc, this will be great.  Filming from 7-12, so it'll be another long night.  Last night I didn't get home till around 1130 and I was out the door at 845am.  Class is back in session now, so I have to get used to peeling and pulling myself out of bed at 8am.  If I put water on the stove to boil for coffee and hop in the shower, it forces me to get going, and I am generally fine.  Besides, it's not like we have kids now, so I could theoretically sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays.

Speaking of Sundays, I am SO GLAD that football has returned.  Nay, ELATED, BEJOYED.  Bejoyed?  I think I just made up a new word.  I'm down with that.  Like loved, beloved.  Joy, bejoyed.

Coming soon: a re-creation of last nights monologue.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gut Punch Pre-Production: Actors, Directors, Producers all have to roll with the punches

Our initial top location choice looks like it's a big no-no.  The insurance has not come through, heaven forbid something should happen.  There will only be 8 of us or so, but still.....it just takes one light to fall on someones head and all of a sudden Arnold Diaz has us on "Shame on you!".  So as a well connected and well oiled comedy production teams are known to do, we fired off a few e-mails to each other and came up with another location.  We are now going to film in the penthouse of an advertising agency.  Supposedly, its all red and white in there, very mod.  This should go pretty well. 

Gut Punch is excited to earn actual money as a creative agency.  Ha.  This is life imitating art, and not the other way around.  I cast three background actors and I suppose I'll offer my services as a grip for the production.  I might even do the VO, this remains to be solidfied.  "Grip" for those of you who don't know are part of the production crew.  They are on the other side of the camera.  They carry things around: sandbags, lights, stands etc.  Hence the term, "grip". 

No auditions this week, but as always I have to perform, so I resumed making video tours with witty commentary for apartment ads on craigslist.  Here is the video:



If you are looking for a 2 bed that can convert to a three bed in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, oh boy.....do I have a deal for you!