Friday, October 22, 2010

An Actor's Familiar Feeling: Waiting it out

So I had that audition yesterday for "Dark Fields".  I can't tell how it went to tell you the truth.  Which could be a bad sign.  Then again, I (uncharacteristically so) felt that I did a crummy job for The Onion callback - and I landed the job.  My coach's words rang true: you either match their needs or you don't.  Hmm.  So so true.  I'm also waiting to hear the final word on that modeling job for Gold's.  Oh yeah, turns out my agent spoke too soon, read the update about 3 posts ago.  Hey, people make mistakes and I am not angry in any way. 

So now I just have to chill out and think of other things.  I've found that acting is a lot like renting apartments here in NYC.  You can do everything exactly right technique wise, but if they don't "like the apartment" you aren't renting to them and if they don't "like your look or what-have-you" you aren't cast.

All that you can do is be prepared and do your best. 

Loyal reader(s): what do you do to relax or to get the focus off of uncertainty?  I exercise, or read a scene or work on a new monologue. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Audition today at 5:10pm

I received the sides yesterday around 6pm and took them to class.  Where am I in my process now?  I'm getting there, I just have to stick to my guideposts and prepare multiple variations.  Here I am about 1/4 of the way through my process to nail this audition :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Actors need to have a "bullcrap meter" and a video demonstration

You need to know when you are faking it and when the emotion is real.  One of the biggest things I continue to struggle with is the realization that I am already good enough.  I don't have to create an emotion.  I don't have to make an extra this or an extra that.  If the emotion is there, great, just walk into it - so to speak.  But it's been a challenge for me not to conjure up some kind of an emotion when  I believe the scene calls for it.   When you've been trained so long in a certain thought, it becomes hard to break such old habits.

Boo hoo, woe is me and all that bunk.

And frankly, casting directors know when you are faking it; they see acting all day and there is no fooling them.  So don't fake it!  That way, at least they can call you an honest performer. 

One of the things that helps me rid this nasty habit is a recently installed "bullcrap meter".  Whenever the needle moves, I stop and start over again from a few lines before.  It's been hard to install said meter, because I naturally want to make progress and blast through the piece - but my coach has made it obvious when his needle moves.  There I am, in the middle of a piece,  in front of the intimate acting class.  I'm just chillin', siting in a metal folding chair and then......

"Nope!  Start again." says Steve

Ok, I'll start again, I think.... 

"Ap! Ap! Ap! Ap! Ap!" instructs Steve

Oh boy, I guess I'll take that again.

"No Phillip, again." Steve rebukes

Ok man, just breathe you can do this, just speak! 

"Hot Damn!  One more time just like that." Steve encourages (!)

Focus....and here it goes...

"Ha!  You son-of-a-bitch you!" 

So here is my bullcrap meter hard at work as I wrestle a Iago monologue from "Othello".  Obviously, ones bullcrap meter is always subject to calibration. [UPDATE: I now realize that I left out a line '....mere prattle without practice is all his soldiership.  but he sir, had the election] followed by: and i, whose eyes had seen the proof....  Oh well, I'm not embarassed, it's not like it's on the internet for the whole world to see.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm too sexy for this blog: Right Said Fred video at the end.

[Update: Apparently my agent, (honest mistakes happen) may have spoken too soon.  I am not YET cast, but the CD is in final stages of casting, and I am a "first choice"....we shall see]

Because I booked a model job.  BWAHHAHAHHAHHAHA.  I shit you not.  It's for Gold's Gym.  The gym wants to rid its image of musclehead central and make it more accessible to the average guy.  To the fitness enthusiast and not a body builder.  So they are having a new campaign called "Real Gym Heroes" and they liked my story of weight loss after getting attacked. 

Oh yeah, maybe you don't know about that.  Well here is the story that I told the casting director:

On June 16th, 2008 I was jumped in Manhattan, and the assailant broke my right elbow and fractured my right scaphoid.  I also blew out my right hamstring during the altercation.  My wedding day was 60 days away.  As soon as I healed, and came back from my honeymoon, I decided that I was never going to let something like that happen again.  I started weight training again, running and taking boxing lessons. On the night in question I was 315 pounds and stood six foot three.  Today I am 245 pounds and my strength has increased dramatically. In the same day I am able to have a full bench and squat workout, run 5 miles in 45 minutes and have a full hour boxing workout including a sparring session.  The gym has helped me overcome my fear of another attack.  While I realize that an attack could theoretically still happen, I also know that I can knock-out a would be mugger with a swift right hook to the jaw. 

I am stronger than my fears. 

So as you read, last year I was 315 lbs of mostly mush.  Today I am 245 of mostly muscle with a solid right hook and a punishing jab.  If you had told me that I was going to book a modeling job I would have either tackled you to the ground and slapped you or thought 'Maybe its a 'before' model....ya know, like 'before' and 'after'."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Boxing has made me a better actor

I believe that boxing has made me a better person, a more well rounded person and in doing so, it has made me a better actor.

In the world of professional acting, you'll see a lot of ups and downs.  Also, I have noticed that the "downs" can last a long time, months even in between jobs etc.  Hey man, it happens.   I've found that when I focus on the negative things, like say not getting work, it all begins to spiral out of control.  I become my own worst enemy.  First comes the doubt, then confusion, then anger towards everyone else and then the anger turns on yourself.  It's a nasty nasty cycle that helps nothing and hurts everything and everyone.

But when you focus on something else and are happy about your position in life, things just seem to fall into place.  I wasn't able to focus like that on my real estate job, I wasn't able to focus like that on weight loss, but I was able to focus that much on boxing.  Maybe because I come from an athletic background (football and competitive powerlifting) I am able to lose myself in boxing.  Who knows.  All I know is I am hooked and it has made me a better actor.

Just because you are getting better at boxing doesn't mean that you can beat someone in a bout.  Just because you are getting more technically sound as an actor, doesn't mean that you will land that day player role.  You either match the producers needs or you don't.  You either react properly to the jab, execute a proper slip and counter with a right hook to the jaw or you dont see the jab coming and your nose is bloody.  On the one hand the execution is up to you, but on the other hand the opportunity is Lord given.

And I am surprised that boxing taught me that lesson about acting and finding success.  Another thing that actors need to posses is a feeling of confidence but also the knowledge that if you don't match the producers needs, you simply won't get the job.  It doesn't matter how talented you are.  Boxing has given me a similar mind set.  I feel a heightened sense of virility for sure.  I know that I can beat up most people in a street fight, and I'd be remiss to say it isn't a manly and comforting thought.  But I also feel way more humble. I am humble because if I fight someone who is 135 lbs, they could theoretically destroy me in the ring.  They could have been training for 10 years and have found amateur success and are about to embark on a professional career.  Me and my 8 or so months can not compete with that

You just never know.  Sometimes you just don't have the goods, sometimes you just can't match up; sometimes you aren't what the producers are looking for.   All you can do is your personal best - and in a perfect world that is all that matters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Actors should never judge their character; embracing my inner Iago.

That what my sensei told me, and it is very helpful.  He also said to eliminate all "fluffernutters", meaning all the unneccssary embellishments when you act, e.g. don't comment on the line with your face after saying the line.  Got it?  OK.

A few days ago I took one of those silly quizzes on facebook.  This one was "Which Shakespearian Character are you?"  I would have bet a gajillion dollars mine would have been Falstaff.  Jocular, lighthearted, quick witted, slow footed and all around party animal.  But noooooooooooooooooooooooo, I had to be "Iago."  Iago!  What?

Then after a while I realized that I was judging the character.  Yes, it's true; Iago is a bloodthirsty, calculating sociopath.  But at least he isn't this junk!  I swear to God, they must only sell that stuff to sorority girls or tertiary level alcoholics.

So I chose to prepare a Iago monologue from "Othello" tonight for class.  I also decided to find personality traits that I, a decidedly non-sociopath would have in common with Iago.  And wouldn't you know, I found something. 

Sociopaths (and I admit I am painting with broad brush strokes here) will do whatever they can to get what the want, even if it casues harm to others.  I admitted to myself that I hate it when I move out of the way of physically smaller people on the street.  Why do I accommodate those turdwads?  Why do I always sway and bob and weave through foot traffic?  I am a 6-3, 255 pound man with a working knowledge of boxing.   So if you don't want to get out of the way, hey man, suit yourself. 

I tested this out last night when Mrs. PhillyRay and I went to MoMA to see an exhibit and some of the mainstay pieces, Jackson Pollacks, AD Reinhardt etc.  We met on 57th and 5th and walked down 5th Avenue, it was around 6pm.  It was crowded, predictably so.  My conscience told me to budge.  Budge not, say I.  "Stay the course, PhillyRay" I thought.  U-oh here comes someone,  steady, steady...wait for it.  THWAP!  BOOM!  OOF!  (Shout out to Edward Ruscha)  I even saw people about 15 yards away and thought "Oh man, this is going to feel great!"  That's right, I even started to look forward to these shoulder knocks.  (Side note:  my friend Mark is the king of not moving out of the way. It's such a treat to walk down the street with him, in all honesty.  It's hysterical.)

I had embraced my inner-sociopath, my inner Iago, if you will.  It felt great. 

Even just a little step like that can make you connect with a character you would normally struggle with.  You're not willing to do that?  Well, then...despise me if I do not.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Actors need to let it rip, proverbially speaking of course. Also, boxing class recap.

I love empty subway cars.  There, I said it.  For those of you who live in NYC, you know how rare those cars are.  Usually when I walk into what I think is an empty subway car, there is a stinky bum or vomit or something less than stellar in existence.  "Fooled again!" I think as I quickly walk between cars. 

But not last night, this was an honest to goodness empty subway car and you know what I did?  I let it rip.  I worked on 2 monologues and really explored rate, inflection, pitch and dynamic.  I went totally ape shit.  It was exhilarating.  It felt oh so good, and I even got to the point where I discovered things about the monologue that I hadn't noticed  before.  It was a great experience.  Not only did I find things that I could do that I had never thought of, but I also left that train feeling energized.  I should admit that if someone came into the car I would have kept going.....not in the interest of progress, but because I was so wrapped up in it, there's no way I would have noticed. 

Actors, if you find yourself on an empty subway car......let it rip.  I implore you.

After missing 2 out my last 3 boxing sessions due to acting and real estate work, I made my triumphant return to class last night from 630-730.  Although I had not been to class for a while, I have been running about 10 miles a week and I do 500 jump ropes before and after a workout.  I feel much much quicker out there.  I'm able to execute a jab, jab and left hook combo and then quickly get out of harms way.  That wasn't always the case.  I used to execute the combo and then catch a counter hook to my cheek.  Contrary to popular belief, getting hit in the face isn't fun.  Thank you, jump rope!  You're the best.