Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A Tv star complimented my monologue. Me. Mine! This is a big deal to me. A huge deal. I need to ride this happiness all the way, for as long as I can.
I, and my acting have been validated.
I'm in the right place. I'm doing what I love, and am in the right place.
Thank you to all who have supported me, who have continued to read. Thank you.
Wish me luck!
I still need it. And I need to work even harder.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Because they are storytellers. And they can't not be. And that, my friends, is a double negative, meaning that they HAVE to be storytellers.
Yes, there are writers, but that's just where it begins in the scheme of things of putting a story, book, screenplay to film.
Some storytellers start off as readers. They read a story and they think, this story NEEDS to be told to millions of people. And they gather more storytellers together to get the story made. They're the producers.
Some storytellers are behind the scenes. Some storytellers describe what the place looks like, and what things are there. They are production designers.
Some storytellers create visual images so that you're all sharing in the same story and being affected by it. Those are the directors.
Some storytellers inhabit the being of the protagonists and antagonists of the story. They make those characters real. They are the actors.
But WHY are there storytellers? Because we all feel the need to create things that AFFECT others. We all do it. When we're feeling sad, we'll confide in our friends the terrible day we're having. And because our friends empathize with us, we affect them.
Actors do the same thing, but on a bigger level. We are creators too, but more than that, we use our bodies, our being, to AFFECT. Because we want you to FEEL.
Some of us are comedians and we want you to FEEL joy. We make you laugh. To forget about your troubles, your losses, your life. We want you to feel good.
You with me here?
There are some people out here who don't know this yet. Who might not be the creative type. Who are acting because they want to be famous. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this. They always find out within a few years that they do not have what it takes (the need to affect others) and so, head back to where they grew up and do the things they had wanted to do all along.
There are some people who never made it out here, who also need to AFFECT people and make them feel. They're our teachers. Think of your favorite one. You have one. Probably more than one. And those teachers made you think differently, made you learn new things. And you've never forgotten them.
Actors want to make you feel. Whether it's sympathy, anger, fear, or love, all these feelings are great, because it reminds us that we're human. And that everyone is human. And feeling love and empathy towards people we don't know on a screen might make us feel love and empathy towards people we don't know in real life.
We are all human. And we all need to feel love. Let actors remind you of that every single day. You feel love, and you ARE loved.
Every single day.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
SO! Because you helped me weather the bummer storm that came in so abruptly, here is some sunshine that you helped bring!
First off, the role of Grace is "An Ellen Page/Rachel McAdams type" and one time, years ago, I was on set of a little horror film where the director complimented me and said, one day, there will be breakdowns looking for an "Elle" type. Wasn't that nice? Because when you're submitting for roles where the producers and director already have a famous person in mind, it's hard to compare. For instance, I don't really look like either of those women, and I'm also not nearly as charming. I tend to stick my foot in my mouth. A LOT. Have you noticed yet?
I get to the audition, which is being held at a loft just outside Thai Town. And man, that side of Hollywood is actually really nice. And the weather has been really beautiful, so it was a crisp, clear day, and I wore a dress (!) with my face and hair all done up and I got to say, even I was a little taken aback with how freakin gorgeous I looked. I was a fat awkward teen, so I look at my adult self all put together and go, wow! Let me, I'm not used to it.
I get to the audition space, and all around me are beautiful women, auditioning for the same role I am. I always check out what the other girls are wearing. I'm a bit clueless when it comes to trends, and other girls have such awesome footwear! At any rate, I sign in and I notice that one of the scenes I prepared, the monologue, had been revised with a gigantic cut. A cut I thought was such a shame, because it was just so sweet! The whole thing is "Grace" giving a toast to her fiance at their engagement party, and she goes on about how no one else had ever compared to her intended. It was so good! The cut was Such a bummer! [The film is a romantic dramedy; I believe they described it as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," meets "Memento"]
I'm confident, I feel good, I look good, I am ready to go! Girls are coming and going pretty quickly; an efficiently run audition are the best kinds. Especially since I only had an hour and half before needing to be at work.
I go upstairs to the audition room, and there's my old coworker and friend Dave, and TJ. They are excited to see me! Ah, that felt good. And Dave gets up to hug me, and TJ gets up to hug me, and they then introduce me to the camera operator and say he deserves a hug too. Hugs all around! It was so awesome. In auditions, when you meet casting, you NEVER touch them. There needs to be an air of detachment, plus, think of all the germs. So yeah. hugs! yay!
There was some small talk. I said I could also straighten my hair in case the director didn't like it. (Mmm, tasty foot! Why did I say that? I need to wait for them to address it: I might've created an issue out of something no one paid attention to in the first place!) And then I mentioned that I was so sad about the cut in the monologue because -
"then keep it. Do the whole thing." They said.
Woo Hoo! Some of my best emotional transitions were in that section! The words created a fantastic emotional arc that I just flowed away on.
I did my monologue.
Like I said, it was a speech to the character's fiance, and TJ is playing the fiance in the film. I got to direct everything I said to the actor who is going to be playing the character. [The business person in me loves this because the lead actor/producer got to see instantly if/how much chemistry we have, and if I could work as his romantic interest. Score. The person person in me just loves how great TJ is as a person. It's so easy to act like you're in love with a person you feel is one of the best humans out there. He reminds me of a certain mythical bird I know...]
I started and ended my monlogue with a small trick I had learned in acting class (Thank you KK and JimB!) and then I was finished. I have to paraphrase because I have forgotten actual words. But I'm pretty sure Dave said, That was amazing, and that TJ said the same thing. [I did for sure know that they did NOT say, "that was great. thanks."] If you remember from my last post, I had wowed these guys four years ago with a monologue I had done. I was under a lot of pressure to recreate the Elle Magic. I want to say I succeeded.
"What other scene did you prepare?" TJ asked. I told him. He asked if I could do the other one. The one where Grace is drunk. THE HARDEST OF THE THREE. The one I hadn't even bothered highlighting or learning. Gulp. Sure, I can learn it! He gave me some direction to go with it (thank God!) and told me to take my time. And then (sigh. heart. smiley emoticon) he went on about how great my monologue was, using actor terms! For instance, he loved my "specificty," my "intentions," and my whatever the heck else he said because I was feeling super awesome and could barely process that the producers of the film want me TO DO A SECOND SCENE. None of the other girls who had gone in before me were given the priveledge. And their footwear was way more stylish!!!
I go downstairs, plop myself down, and the girl next to me whispers, "so you made it to round two, eh?" "I guess so!" I said. I should've said, hey, I've known these guys for years, so don't psyche yourself out, but I was on retard mode and needing to focus to get this next scene down.
I also have my work clock counting down. The pressure is on.
I figure some things out, stress some pronounds, highlight my lines (ALWAYS carry a highlighter with you, struggling actresses, because stuff like this happens!) and ask to go once I'm ready.
I get up, I go, I do the scene. "That was really good," Dave said. TJ takes a breath. "Something's missing." he said. I completely agreed. As did the Camera Op. "I mean, yes, it was good," TJ continued, "But give me a second." He paused. Thinking.
He gave me a direction. It was simple: Be more drunk.
I got it. I knew exactly what he needed. I redid it. And I could see them smiling and nodding when I flung an arm here, and puntuated that word stronger there, and wiped my drool off. I finished and they were very happy. More compliments I can't remember, with TJ parting with "We'll be seeing you soon. Thank you."
So then I walked back to my car, blasted Britney Spears and just tried to take in all the awesomeness I was feeling. I got home and ran around my apartment in cirlces, yelling, "Yay me! Yay me! Yay me!"
I don't care that they are apparently holding auditions for the same character for the next six days straight, and that I am competing against every single actress in LA - I did a kick ass audition for two people who have liked me and remembered me and WANT to work with me. There are a lot of factors that have to line up for it to actually happen: I have to "look right," "be the best actress," "have the most chemistry," and have the entire producing team and director want me (the director being the same one who didn't see the Elle Magic four years ago) and be the best out of around 150-400 other girls auditioning for the same role with more credits than I have.
One of the things we Struggling Actresses have to remember is that One Audition Can Change Your Life. Because yes, I'm "an Unknown," but wouldn't it be grand to have people say, "aw yes, this film was the one that launched Elle's career."
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
At any rate, the first time I worked with Dave K with his production company, they were just beginning. And it was a fantastic audition with a ton of backstory that I will get into probably Sunday, once the audition is over and I've had time to dissect every little bit of it. But it's a fun story, good for ego.
Nah, you know what? To hell with it, I'll get into it now:
It was for a short film, and Dave K asked if I wanted to audition for his project he was producing. Hells yah! I had to have a monologue prepared, and as every actor who graduates theatre school knows, you are supposed to have at least 3 monologues in your back pocket ready to go. So I already had one. Yay me.
I get to the audition place (I believe this was waaaay back in 05, btw) and Dave K introduced me to his friend TJ. They asked me if I was ready to go, I said, sure, and away I went.
No, seriously, I think a cricket had walked in there. Then they both said, that was amazing. TJ asked who my agent was. "What's that?" I might've replied at the time. Apparently, I floored them both, and TJ said, bless his heart, and it's a reason I will always love him, "How can someone as talented as you not have an agent?" Sigh.
He gave me his cell phone number on the spot saying he wanted to help me. And he was the type of person who you know puppies and kittens follow around cuddling up to. He was so nice, so sincere.
Dave K and TJ told me that they were so excited to tell the director about me, that I was called back, and yadda yadda yadda.
At the call back, I decided to do something different! And it was at that callback I learned that was the dumbest thing I could have ever done. After I was done, and when I got a phone call, where they guys told me they were sorry, I wasn't picked for the lead in the short. That "the director didn't see what we do." I was asked if I wanted to be an extra for the film. Aw, heck, why not. So I did that.
And I called up TJ, hoping to learn as much as I could about how the biz worked, willing to memorize anything he'd tell me. But unfortunately we kept playing phone tag. He had just booked a pilot and was crazy busy. But, he said, I really want to do this for you, so don't give up on me just yet. I waited another month or two, called him again seeing if he was available, but his pilot got picked up and was going to series. I thought to myself, well, that's probably the end of that.
A couple of years later, an episode of his show was being screened at the Academy of Television with a cast q&a. I went. TJ was the only cast member to stay out in the lobby and meet with each and every person (around what, 200?) who wanted to say hello to him. I waited, and waited, and finally, I had my turn! "Hey TJ," I said, "I don't know if you remember me, but--"
"How could I forget you, Elle?"
He remembered me! He remembered me! I felt runway fashion model tall! A lead on a tv series who thought I had a great audition remembered who I am! From YEARS ago!!
It was only small talk, how much I enjoyed the show, how happy I was for him, how, if he ever checked his imdb comments, it's all filled with people singing his praises about what a great guy he is. Cause he IS!
A year or two later, I received a party invite from him. I thought, oh, he must've mass emailed everyone on his list, but I went anyway. There was Dave K, and it was so fun to catch up with him. I still hadn't seen TJ yet, but he knew how to throw a party. Then, I saw him. Again, he was saying hello to everyone who was there, only paying attention to that person. Which, to me, is such a movie star quality. To make someone feel as if they're the only person in the room.
Finally, he approaches me, with a hug, "I'm so glad you could make it, Elle!"
They say the most beautiful word in any language is a person's own name. So if you say their name to them, it's almost like a compliment. And it is, to have someone remember my name. I mean, I'm nobody. I'm a struggling actress. And yet he remembered my name.
TJ and Dave K are both producing the film I am auditioning for. I'm reading for Grace, female, early-mid 20s, spunky, playful, tough; Ellen Page/Rachel McAdams-types. Must be friendly with animals, dogs, cats, etc...LEAD
The script is beautiful and absolutely charming. I need to prepare 2 of the 3 scenes from the sides, and if they have time, they might see my second scene. So I'm super excited.
Wish me luck. Not only would working with friends be so great, but the film itself is going to be just beautiful. Fingers crossed, people! Fingers crossed! Being opposite TJ in a feature as his love interest would definitely boost my career. But I also know how these things work: If Ellen Page or Rachel McAdams said, hey, can I be Grace? She would. Oh, but whatever. Fingers crossed!
So yeah, there I was being all bummed and sad and aggravated how my last acting gig was in January, (and the air date is STILL tbd) and I was feeling a bit depressed. My lovely friend Phoenix has always been quick with the phone calls and emails and dinner invites. So thank you my dear. And even CarterArtist had a very logical way of reminding me that sometimes (and here's a fun example for you) if you really want an iPhone, a Sidekick just aint gonna cut it. Look at me, being all gadget techy for you guys!
And Ashley, my favorite triple stepper, helped me get my chin up, and reminded me that her angel food cake recipe would be a very fun and healthy way for my tummy to feel good.
So thank you, my dear readers and friends. It's been a bit stressful and sad, but the only way I should ever feel really defeated is if I ever give up on myself.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I've waited on Jennifer Love Hewitt before, a few years ago, and she just came into the restaurant I worked at tonight, and I did get to interact with her, even though she wasn't my table.
I don't care what Perez Hilton says about her. No, wait, I DO care about it, because she is one of the frikkin NICEST people ever, and Perez just says terribly mean things about her, and I've no idea why. She's wonderful. Extremely gracious and thankful.
And go ahead and get jealous - she's even prettier in person, if you can imagine it. She's great.
I know what that means, when you only read once with no additional directions. Either I'm so wrong for the role physically (which isn't that likely, since I look very much like my headshots) or I gave a pretty terrible read.
I'm bummed today. I was bummed yesterday too. I could use some acting money. You know?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
the Struggling Actress has been pretty down lately. The economy is crappy, meaning that people who go out to eat, (those who still do) are now splitting entrees to save money. Meaning their checks are lower and thus my tips smaller. And it's been slow anyways. The entertainment biz has pretty much been at a standstill. So all that extra money I would be making acting, I'm not.
I'm cutting coupons!
Luckily, I've got some great generous friends who will invite me over to hang out, and then make me eat their food. As my dear friend Glow says, "Food is For Eating!" Which, of course, it's not, when you're an actress. It's for looking at.
So, if you're in the LA area, here's a food tip of where to buy your groceries from dumbest, to smartest:
Jon's / Trader Joe's. (Thanks Phoenix! I forgot!)
Super Superior Warehouse
Struggling actors and actresses speak a decent amount of Spanish from working in the service industry ("Necissito mas salsa roja, por favor!") so we shouldn't be afraid of going to the stores that have all their signs in Spanish. You WILL save money there, trust me, and (bonus) you can buy flan y horchata! yum yum yum, delicioso!
At any rate, I sort of have an audition tomorrow. I don't know what time yet, but hey, that's LA for you.
I am reading for "Tyra" 20’s-30’s, Female, Caucasian: Tyra is a beautiful, intelligent studio manager; the right hand man of the studio head. She's on top of her game professionally, but has put her personal life aside to nurture and manage the studio. She's passionate but focused, ready to make the hard decisions and generally known as the responsible one. She is the romantic lead.
It's for an indie film, "Moral Majority," a whodunnit where a serial killer offs a few porn stars, leaving biblical clues. Fun right? Wish me luck. I'm down and out and would really love something positive in my life right now. Like an audition time.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Lidia Ryan's awesome website video in the bottom left of her website, which I mentioned here, can be done by Roger V.
He had this to say, if you're interested. (And Roger, I'm very interested....I just have to wait until I'm not struggling so much... :)
For those of you who are not struggling as much, check out the website!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Hey, lookit that! Another question!
Well, STBIASF, I hate to say it, but it takes a bit of research to pull this one off. A lot of theatre spaces, like the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax have rental fees that might be out of your budget. An easier option would be: Restaurants! Some restaurants, such as D'Cache in Toluca Lake have a projection screen and would be able to accomidate you, probably not charging you very much at all, as long as you promise to eat and drink a few things. I believe the Bungalow Club also advertizes their Monday Night Special where you can screen your film for free, and all drinks are half price! Score!
If none of those options sound good to you, there's always google and research! Get the director/producer to head up a team of people to call various venues around town regarding the screening, rental prices (if any), food and beverage agreements, parking (street? lot? valet?), dress code, online menu, drink specials, payment options, etc. etc!
But you can also think outside the box! Renting a projection screen and projector for a day means you can have the screening anywhere! Is the short a surf film? Screen on the beach! Does someone have a large wall in their apartment where everyone can bring their own beer and munchies? Screen there! Does someone have a huge tv? Screen on that! And chip in money to have the party catered!
Screenings are a very fun thing as you get together with the cast and crew again and celebrate how each person's hard work and effort created ART. Which, as all struggling actresses know, is not easy.
Congrats on your future screening, and may you have many, many more!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I'm sick and the Dayquil is messing with my head and brain. Luckily, I received a question that should still allow me to answer coherently:
Dear Struggling Actress,
Last night I found out that a friend of mine, while acting in a scene in his acting class, got SLAPPED full on the face by his scene partner. The slap was not rehearsed, nor was it planned, but the actress who did the slaaping had the excuse afterwards (after she issued an apology) that she was "in the moment" and that she "couldn't not" because of the way she was feeling. This isn't the first time I've heard about actors hurting each other on set or in scenes because they are "in the moment". Can you take a few moments (or however long it takes you to write a blog) to talk about a level of professionalism in the industry when it comes to stage combat and how "method" someone should or shouldn't go with hurting their scene partner? I'm so tired of hearing about actors getting hurt in the name of someone else's "art."
Sincerely, Frustrated in LA
In my experience, it's the people who DO know stage combat who end up getting hurt! Because the people who don't know the dos and don'ts of basic fight choreography hurt the ones who do.
For instance, I once worked for G4 on a sketch about a video game character doing a reality dating show. Hilarious! But when we were filming the football scene, one of my co-stars, Clueless, full on body tackled me. My head hit the ground so loudly (I guess it's hollow?) that everyone on crew heard it. I had to lie down for a few minutes before I could get up. And had the worst headache the entire day. (And imagine how nervous the director/producer was with an actress with a possible concussion/medical bills) Now, because I've been doing this film thing for awhile, and because I know all about film editing, and because I know you don't purposefully hurt people for ANY reason, I was not expecting this girl to be so stupid as to 1) not tell me she was going to tackle me and 2) actually do it.
So I knew, okay, this girl isn't so much an idiot, as she is just utterly inexperienced. For another scene, she was supposed to hit another girl from behind in the head with the butt of a rifle, knocking her out, so I made sure to go up to her saying, hey, there's this thing called "perspective" in film, which means even though you're a foot away from this girl in real life, on film, it looks like you're right behind her. And then I explained that she wasn't going to actually hit the other girl, she was just going to do a simple grunt sound cue, so that when the girl heard her go "hunh!" she knew to fall down, and, magically, it would look like she hit her with her rifle.
Frustrated in LA, I feel so badly for your friend. It is NEVER okay to "be so in the moment," that another person gets hurt. In school we had a fun little quote that we were to be 98% character, and 2% actor. That 2% actor has to ALWAYS be aware of what is happening around him and what he's doing to the other actor. For instance, what if the scene was reversed? And the dude hit the girl? The selfish and ridiculous "I couldn't not hit you!" would never fly. I mean, "I'm so in the moment," really translates to, "I am so incredibly selfish to not give a flying fish how you or your character feels, as you're just a prop to me, with no feelings or pain sensors whatsoever! Cause I'M Going to Be FAMOUS!"
WHENEVER there is any fight in a scene, unless your partner says, "hit me with full force, as hard as you can," and his name is Tyler Durden, you are not allowed to hit them. No hitting, no slapping, nothing. In fact, I never even TOUCH my scene partners without asking. And if it's a romantic scene, I let my partner know I am okay with touching, hugging, and even kissing, cause sometimes, that's the only time I can get some, you know?
The instructor of the class should have explained how this girl did the exact WRONG thing to do. Not only because she hit her scene partner, which is never okay (even in theatre and film, they block it out so no one gets hurt) but she also ruined the trust her partner had with her. And I'm sure all the other students are not exactly itching to work with her either.
And if any of my acting peers are doing a scene where there is a slap or tickle, it MUST be talked about beforehand, with everyone's choreography, and limits out in the open, talked about, and accommodated.
Be careful out there!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Realities of the Business - 12/05/2008
Over the past several weeks I have been ridiculed for continuing to present to actors positive thoughts and "false hope" about working in the entertainment business given the state of affairs of SAG and the economy. It has been said by a couple of naysayers that as a teacher it is my responsibility to make sure actors know the realities of the business and that they should get a "decent job" and not have hope to build their dream of becoming a successful actor.
In my honest opinion, artists have to live in their own reality in order to create. If your creative funnel is mucked up with ugly negative junk, then how can you channel the writer or even experience a full thought and feeling? Trust me, your representatives are there to buffer you from the realities of the business. That has never been your job.
The entertainment business is built because of the creation of positive energy coupled with the knowledge of how everything works. If artists were continually bombarded by the "realities of the business and world affairs," then there would never be great contributions to the art world ever. They'd be too depressed to create.
As a fellow actor, I too am continually faced with rejection and squashed feelings. The only difference is, I get back up, brush off my butt and get on the horse and ride again. If I let the realities get me down, don't you think I would have quit long ago? Why should artists be labeled as "not living in reality" because they don't want to focus on the economic state of affairs in the world?
Since I am out there with you on a daily basis, I understand that there will always be someone asking, "are they paying you money on that project?" or "why can't you just get on a show?" or "why aren't you SAG yet?" or "how long is this crazy idea going to last?" or "when are you going to get a real job?" Seriously, the left brainers should live in their own world and leave the right brainers alone to create and entertain. Where do these people think everyone goes to get away from all that depression? They go to movies, they watch television, they go to the theater -- get my point?
Always remember, the only way that you do not make it, is if you quit. There I go being positive again.Amy Lyndon
Creative types must stay positive!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
How did Lidia Ryan get that video to play on the bottom right hand corner of her website? Watch it here! It's really fun!
And if you like reading actresses' blogs, you might want to check hers out. I'm following her too.
It's really great to see proactive actors really put themselves out there in order to continue doing what they love.
Friday, April 10, 2009
What about actors in training who become so focused on their craft that they neglect business realities? Templeton has taught acting for the camera in academia and other settings where students work as a group for some time, and she finds that students in these "fishbowl" environments don't always receive a thorough grounding in how the industry works. They sometimes think the outside world will be "indebted to them" upon graduation, and they ask her, "Why should I work on sitcom exercises when I've played in Antigone?"
I have a degree in pretend from a very tiny private university, and it's true, after we graduate we go to New York or LA and are a bit bewildered as to how to start. We never learned the business of acting. We kinda just flailed around doing things other people told us to do that didn't work for them, but were told to do by other people and so on and so on.
But I think the blurb in the article is a little unfair. We don't LEARN the business reality of acting. We don't learn about the odds of us succeeding as actors in school. And the reason might include that we are taught THEATER at school, not TELEVISION. Show me an arts school with an acting for television major. That'd blow my mind. So of COURSE we're going to leave our institution thinking, okay, I've been a lead for several shows, I've been nominated for the Irene Ryan, the highest acting honor at the collegiate level, and I've been the school's darling since year one. I've done several PLAYS. Because in the theater world, there is makeup, and leeway with how you look. You don't go auditioning for Hamlet wearing tights and a crown. But god knows, for a two line co-star role for "Renaissance Faire Go-er" they'd ask you to come in wearing your RenFaire wardrobe. Theater seems to take itself seriously: Theatre casting directors don't need you to dress the part when you audition. Some TV casting directors do. And it seems silly. So we judge early on.
But here's the thing: we're learning acting from theatre professors. Sure they might have a "Silk Stalkings" re-occuring co-star role that could just be background work, but the professors are most likely failed TV actors who absolutely love theatre and teaching and are really good at inspiring young people. But we can't learn the TV business from them, as they mostly have no clue about it either.
I wish there was a better way than trial by error. It'd make things so much easier, and time go by so much faster.
Oh wait. Nepotism.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
And also, Temp X does caveat here that it's not for sure a legit memo, but he believes it is.
**The following was written by an Agent from CAA to his clients. He described the situation succinctly.
"I know a lot of your are getting antsy to get out more, and frankly many of you are in a tight financial pinch; as such, I wanted to describe to you all the current climate in LA and the factors influencing the current environment.
-SAG STALEMATE: Since the SAG contract expired on June 30, 2008, there have been few to no STUDIO feature films (this does not include companies such as Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company who are not in AMPTP and as such have completion agreements). Some analysts say there are up to 200 feature films on hold. Around September, we started to see a mass movement of film actors to TV projects. Many of my "name" actors have done one-day guest stars (this is very typical right now), and we are seeing a number of Guest Star level actors doing CO-STAR roles. Remember from November of 2007 to March of 2008, due to the Writer's Strike, again there were no feature films shot. So for the film actor, there has only been 4 months of work in the last 17 months.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Due to the lack of studio feature film production, BOTH film and TV actors are now competing for a limited number of jobs in the episodic and pilot environments.
-PILOT SEASON: During the Writer's Strike of 2007-2008, Studios adapted and used the void to eliminate pilot season as we know it. Gone are the days of hundreds of pilots. In fact, this year, there are only 67 pilots to have registered for production - of which only about 35 have been green lit for production.
http://www.variety. com/article/ VR1118000479. html?categoryid= 3284&cs=1& query=
<http://www.variety. com/article/ VR1118000479. html?categoryid= 3284&cs=1& query
And this year, due again to a sagging economy, studios and networks believe that by committing named stars to their projects, they will receive more money from this year's up-fronts from ad agencies. They are banking on star power to leverage better buys at the all important UPFRONTS. So, stars and pop-stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Chevy Chase, Brittany Snow, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Romijn, Ashley Simpson, Scott Caan, Skeet Ulrich, and proven TV talents like Kelsey Grammar, Eric McCormick, John McGinley, Joel McHale, Jenna Elfman, Donald Faison, Maura Tierney, Peter Krauss, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepherd, etc.... You do the math, 37 pilots... top stars being sought...
-TV: While TV has been steady, again due to the conflagration of film and named actors doing Guest Starring roles, we have seen a horrible trickle down. Many Guest Stars are now doing Co-stars and Co-stars/Developmental Actors (those with less than 5 primetime credits) frankly are not getting seen much. One CD recently told me that she had over 25 women who would be
considered 'working actors' going for a co-star role.
BOTTOM LINE: Again, due to the abundance of name and working actors, many less-developed actors are not even being seen right now.
-ECONOMIC IMPACT I - THE EROSION OF QUOTES/RATES: There are really three major impacts to actors during this economic crunch. First, we are seeing the erosion of quotes. Due to the availability of so many talented actors, CD's and Producers are in the driver's seat in negotiations. When they say, "well we got someone else who will do it for less", they ain't kidding. I have spoken to a number of my peers who have confirmed this erosion of pay for their actors. In short, right now, quotes are eroding and for many, the minimum has become the maximum pay.
-ECONOMIC IMPACT II - THE CONCLUSION OF SAG STALEMATE: Many are hoping that
with the end of this stalemate, Hollywood will get back to normal. I have to say, that I am not one who necessarily believes this. First off, due to the economic conditions, most studios have lost their millions of dollars from hedge funds; and European, Asian and Middle Eastern money has dried up. Even Stephen Spielberg has had to beg, borrow and steal to get his company financed .... And it wasn't anywhere near what he originally asked for. I believe that, even after the SAG stalemate is over, there is probably not enough money for 50 Studio Feature Films to be done right out of the gate.
BOTTOM LINE: While this will help us move towards normalcy, it will not be the cash cow some people think it will be. One side note, is that I expect that more formulaic projects will be down out the gate as Studios will be less likely to take significant risks since most of these projects will be financed by both the studio and their investors. In short, you will see more Iron Mans, Animation, and SAWs... they are money in the bank when you factor in ratios, etc.
-ECONOMIC IMPACT III - OVERALL STATEMENT OF ENVIRONMENT: It is important that everyone follow the economic conditions closely. I know it is easy to be skeptical over the studios, networks, cablers, production houses, show runners, etc, losing money, but it is a cold-hard fact right now. These entities are truly in a difficult spot. If you have read much lately, there have been dramatic cut backs at every studio and network, from firings to asking show runners to cut between 2-7% of their budgets (not to mention the 25+% cutback shows like the Sarah Silverman were asked to swallow recently). Furthermore, these networks and studios are largely owned by conglomerates who have lost in the billions over the last 6 months. When I attended NATPE in January, all the talk was how to get 'thinner.' Everything is getting tight. Budgets, Marketing, Staffing, etc., and this will undoubtedly impact the actor. Also, the foreign sales market (where much of the TV and Film money is made, is being hit hard by the erosion of the US Dollar. So these entities are not able to recoup the costs they were in better days by the
one-time explosion of the foreign markets.
BOTTOM LINE: The economic conditions are forcing the industry to be as 'thin' as possible.
-COMMERCIALS - INDUSTRY AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS: One analyst said last year, that 2008 was the worst commercial market since maybe 1974. I would not argue with this. Think about it: three of the top products/services for ad agencies are banks, cars and other financial services - all of which were struck down in 2008/early 2009 by this recession. This was confirmed when news struck that even the Super Bowl did not sell out advertising this year.
The good news is that the advertising industry tends to be one of the first ones to be negatively impacted by a recession, but one of the first to grow as the recession moves to an end as advertisers of products want to start accumulating market share before the turn of the economy. Another impact relates to the overall conditions of the TV/FILM/PILOT situation. Many strong actors have made enough money on TV/FILM, etc so that they have not had to do commercials in years. Due to the last few years and the lack of work, many top actors are now back in the commercial market; thus again, causing a logjam in casting.
BOTTOMLINE: The economic slowdown has caused a dramatic decrease in ad sales and the lack of work has caused more actors to re-enter the commercial market.
THE GOOD NEWS!!
Okay, so that is where we are today. You know me, I try to always call it straight as I see it. So, I am not going to sugar-coat this either. I anticipate that 2009 will be a tough year overall for actors (and agencies). First off, the economy will not likely get straightened out until at least the 3rd to 4th quarter of this year and so all the factors above will remain in place through most, if not all, of 2009. Secondly, until the labor situation gets straightened out, we will not be seeing dramatic amount of film production, and this seems to be dragging along as well (as we enter
the 8th month of the stalemate - it was announced today that SAG is thinking now about taking AMPTP to court for anti-trust violations). But again, even if it was finalized, there is not enough investor money to see the film production level normalize and increase for most, if not all, of 2009. Also, since movies cost around $40 for two (tickets, popcorn, etc) - this is not a recession proof field anymore. During our last significant recession, there were few choices for guilty pleasures to get away from the stress of our times - so many people flocked to the theatres. NOT SO THESE DAYS, one can go to the web, TV, cable (not around in 1974, 1982, 1988 much), Video Games, Netflix, RedBox (movie for a $1). So studios are probably not in any big rush to make films - as people cannot afford this once cheap diversion - better to divert for a few bucks to all the many other sources of guilty pleasures. OKAY, so that didn't sound like good news...
-The good news is that there are some paradigm shifts occurring that make 2010 -2012 look like it might be one of the most prolific times in Hollywood history. Due to technological developments, there are more platforms being developed than ever. The internet is driving millions of new viewers each year. Zillion is going to transform the way we view advertising. For those who don't know, it has recently been unveiled by the maker of Real Player and the 'mouse.' It is a system that makes you watch ads before downloading movies (they already have 14,000 Titles ready for download), TV, other forms of entertainment to your TV Screen. However, the consumer can choose the products they want to see (let's say you go retail clothing and watch a
Macy's ad and love the jacket; you can immediately click on the ad/jacket and go directly to their website where you can buy it). Also, you earn points by watching the commercials that you can use towards purchases. Furthermore, SONY and others are now selling TVs that wirelessly connect to your computer, so you can download TV/FILMS at anytime from your computer
(websites like Hula, Netflix, etc) directly to your TV. In short, technology is making more platforms which will require more content than ever. Also, Cablers are all embracing doing
scripted shows, some have up to 5 shows this year... again, more content is needed and thus MORE ACTORS!
-BOTTOM LINE: More platforms = more content = more actors! So as long as SAG/AFTRA can protect your rates and jurisdictional issues, there will be more good compensated work than ever in Hollywood by 2010-2012. "
20-28. Beautiful, model-type. Dominia is a sexy and seductive vampire with an attitude. She's much like a tamed wild animal, where beneath her alluring exterior is a predator just waiting for the opportunity to pounce.
I think this is the perfect headshot to submit for this, don't you?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I'm over at the Garage Workshop which had two things really going for it. 1) Kris Kelly, a great friend of mine from our school days, and 2) a completely new way of going about things, acting wise. That it's not an "art" so much as it is a "science." That a more effective way of opening up to your emotions isn't necessarily only thinking of your dead dog, but rather, controlling your breathing patterns!
Now, this sounds a lot like hooey, but when I was onset for "What Should You Do?" waaay back in 04 where I played a student whose math class was being held hostage, so she fakes being pregnant and having a miscarriage to get the eff out of there, (it was the strangest audition. They were trying to match the real person, so I walked into a room of 12 girls who all looked like me. And I thought I was so unique. Truly terrifying.) I had to be very emotional on set. I mean, hey, there's Crazy Eyed Guy with a gun in my face, and I'm Going To Die! I was worried that I wasn't good enough an actress to be crying for 10 hours straight, but the most amazing thing happened: I learned that not only Could I cry for 10 hours, but I could also shut it on and off just by going back to a certain breathing pattern!
And when this workshop mentioned that, I thought, you know, I kinda want to hear what else they have to say about stuff.
They record us on camera, which is super fantastic, because how else is a struggling actress going to truly judge what she looks like in regards to acting and camera technique, unless she can actually watch herself on camera! But they're also high tech, so I pop in my DVD instead of a VHS. I had been to a class audit somewhere else where they told us all to bring in a VHS and this annoyed me a great deal, because a) I'd have to set up my vcr that I haven't used in 4 years to watch it, and b) Target doesn't even carry blank VHS's anymore because, as we all know, IT'S AN OBSOLETE MEDIUM!
So last night was week 2 of the class. The first week, we played aorund with socio-class. How to carry one's weight/posture/speech when a person is in a higher position. We're not talking rich/poor, but status. For instance, a babysitter has higher status than her charge. And most oftentimes, (as we've all observed in our own lives, I'm sure) the 13 year old teen gives herself higher status than her goofy parents. We had a monologue to perform and were given direction for different class status in both of them. That saturday, a recap email went out that highlighted 3 students (one of them me!) so I'll share it with you, because after all of these no call backs, it sure is nice to hear good things about my work: Elle had a great character of a Low Class prom queen who was voted in as a joke, but enjoyed the trappings of fame. She followed that with her High Class runner up whose life was turned upside down by losing to the Low Class girl. The great thing about Elle’s set of monologues is something we all (myself included) need to keep remembering about the process of acting. She just worked the tools and didn’t think about it.
Pretty nifty, huh? That was such a nice thing, I thought. And last night we worked on giving props a biography, and what our relationships to the props are when they're either in our hand, in our pocket, or away from us. Think of it like a rabbit's foot that someone has with them all the time, and the anxiety one gets when they realize it's not in their pocket. No wait, actually, think about it like it's your cellphone and you left it at home. It feels like your arm fell off! That type of anxiety. I haven't watched the playback yet, but I hope it's good. I feel like it was. When I go up, I feel like I have everyone's attention. And at the end of the night, the instructor, Jim, tapped my shoulder like "Good job." That's how I'm going to read it, at any rate. He could've just been trying to scare a bug off me.
There are actually two instructors. Jim and his wife Lisa. Lisa has a recurring on The Office, and another gal in our class just booked a co-star on The Office as well. Man, is it awesome to have so much great happy energy in a class of actors.
Epecially when it's so slow in this town, and has been the past year.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
In regards to the post directly below this one, Boston Blond asked me, How do struggling/ undiscovered actresses generally feel about [nudity]?
Well, we generally feel a couple different ways about it. Although actresses are narcissistic to a fault, it's really only a front due to all our intense, crippling low-self esteem. We hate our bodies, no matter how thin we are. So a lot of us will Not do nudity because we are too terrified to do it.
There are some actresses who Will do nudity because, it's just a body, so who cares? I envy those girls. What a way to live!
There are some girls who will not do nudity for SAG low budget -which means that a film is made under a certain amount of money, so the minimum day rate a SAG actor can make is $100/day. In fact, for full budget productions, actresses who do go nude get a pretty big pay bump for it. There's also body doubles. For instance, I did a horror film in 04, and in 07, when we were doing reshoots (the project is as good as dead to me, but the people behind it tell me they're really close to distribution, so I keep calling it the project that will not die, since we started in 04, did reshoots in 06, AND 07) they asked me if I would be willing to show my boobs in it. Not at all. So they hired a body double for me. I really hope the film screens somewhere. I'd love to see how big my boobs are. I imagine they're going to be great. At any rate, you gotta pay higher than SAG minimum for these girls' bodies.
Now, if you're getting naked for art's sake, and it helps push the story along, further the plot, and show a needed vulnerability to a character, (which just about never happens in small films the struggling actress is apart of) I am among the category of actresses who would say okay to that. For instance, in the film "Great Expectations," we see Gwyneth Paltrow get naked. Kinda necessary to the plot. And Kate Winslet in Titanic and Little Children was necessary for the character. Her nakedness in The Reader seemed a little gratuitous, but man, if I had her ass, I'd show it off too.
For the breakdown below, the non-union film says that it has locked down world-wide distribution, and the film is being shot in 3D, yet they're only paying their actors a measly $75-200/day. That's complete bullshit. You work on a non-union film shoot, and you're most likely working at least 10-14 hours with no overtime. And showing your boobies. in 3-D. Your boobs will have people trying to touch them while wearing their ridiculous 3D glasses. It's a 3 dimensional jiggly sex film.
And my boobs are worth waaaay more than that in 3D.
Friday, April 3, 2009
|Additional Project Info: This is a 3-D feature film with locked world wide|
distribution. Be a part of the 3-D revolution!
**ATTENTION - MUST BE 18 TO SUBMIT FOR ANY OF
Ellen(18 to play 16, female) - Spanky's younger sister. They have a typical sibling rivalry type relationship, giving each other a hard time. In a twisted turn of events, they end up unwittingly participating in the same closed closet sex game. ROLE REQUIRES NUDITY.
(18 to 25, female) - Cindy and June are roommates who live in the apartment next to Mert's brother. Mert and Spanky get caught peeping on Cindy and June which causes the girls to play a practical joke on the boys putting them on their sexpot journey. June is also a sadist and dominatrix. NUDITY REQUIRED.
(18 to 25, female)- Cindy plays in with June on the practical joke. She play the SUB in their relationship. NUDITY REQUIRED.
(21, female) - Mert's Brother's psycho ex-girl friend. Desperate and neurotic, girl next door gone bad. She ends up helping Spanky. NUDITY REQUIRED.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
And the small rewards are actually pretty big. For instance, I can Netflix myself! And that feels pretty darn good.
So will I always be The Struggling Actress? Sure, because one must never forget where they came from. But will I always be a struggling actress? No way.
That's right! My film is screening again in Beverly Hills tomorrow night, and it should be fun times for all.
The best part of movie screenings, (I won't lie- it's usually not about the movies being screened) is the fashion! And I'm sure you're dying to know who I'm wearing, so I'll just go ahead and tell you. Depending on the weather and how warm it's going to be, I'm either going to wear joei & i or Derek Heart.
Okay, okay, so they're not couture designers but merely the tags on the two dresses I might wear. But it makes me feel ooh la la and famous. Whatever it takes, you know?
Also of note: The Struggling Actress has been invited to share her knowledge of the biz at a workshop! How awesome is that?! I've been tapped to talk about headshots! Yay me! I could be speaking at the intensive you signed up for! The best part? I get to dress up for it!
Maybe I should give my good friend and stylist, Chris a call....