Friday, May 31, 2013

Casting Is On Your Side

...let your preparation meet the moments.
You being fully present, truthful, personal, and vulnerable is going to give us the ammunition we need to champion you with all our hearts. We all desperately want you to do great work. We're rooting for that every time you walk into the room. You show up and do your fullest, deepest work, and we'll slay dragons for you and follow you anywhere. And man, we'll be so happy doing it. You have the power to make that happen. For you. For us. For the work. Hallelujah!

(from 21 Things That Make Casting Directors Happy in the Audition Room). Casting is on your side. Are you?

Remembering these items may help you be on your own side:

  1. Breathe.
  2. Play the role, don't worry about the lines; it isn't a memorization test.
  3. If not this there'll be another; do your work in the room, let booking or not booking be other people's concern.
  4. Enjoy that during the audition, the role is yours. You are playing it, in that room, for that time. Worrying if you'll be invited to play it again won't change things. Focus that worry at what your character needs, wants and must have in their life.
  5. Don't try to be perfect, truly failing is not possible, provided you don't punch the auditors ;-). Instead, try to have fun.

And that last one is a key. There is no perfect. You don't need to be anyone other than who you are. And there is not single one way a role "should" be played. Play it your way, the way no one else can. That is how you book the roles that are yours, that should be yours. Because they can't be played by anyone else the way you will, and those roles you were born to play will be yours. Fighting it or doubting it won't change it. It'll just make you tired. Break a leg.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Commercials Contracts Vote Due Tomorrow

SAG-AFTRA has negotiated its first major contracts as a new union - the Commercials Contracts - and voting must be completed by 5 p.m. PDT, Friday, May 31, 2013. Member leaders believe they have secured substantial gains for members working in commercials: If approved, the contracts will result in $238 million in wage increases and other payments for all categories of performers, improvements in cable use fees, increases in payments for work on the Internet and new media platforms, and an increase in the late payment fee

(from sagaftra.org). Please vote now.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We Are Forever Changing

The topic of personal identity is strictly speaking nonexistent. It's important to recognize that we are not the kind of things that simply popped into existence at birth, continue to exist, the same thing, then die off the cliff edge or go into another realm. We are these very remarkably ordered collections of things. It is because we're so ordered that we are able to think of ourselves as being singular persons. But there is no singular person there, that means we're forever changing.

(from The Ego Trick: In Search of the Self). So we are not fixed, and all of our characters can arise out of our varied selves. Also, we, as people and actors, can continue to change to become more and more the people we want to be.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Act in Faith

Acting in faith opens all possibilities. Everything is possible, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Make the film, do the chore, get the headshots, learn the words...

As John Burroughs said: leap, and the net will appear.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Actors Equity Turns 100

Actors Equity Association celebrates its 100th birthday.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Conversation Is Music or Argument to Beethoven's 5th

Every conversation has a musical element to it. In fact, one can often find the beat of the hubub in a crowd as well. This video illustrates well:

Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray play a married couple in a argument with pantomimed action and the dialogue is Beethoven's 5th.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fear and Fatigue

Fear - at least for me in an entrepreneurial context - almost always comes from fatigue. It's really difficult to rationally address the issues that cause you fear when you are tired - which just makes the cycle more difficult

(from Feld Thoughts). Sleep well.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Enthusiasm Counts

You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eye.
It is the swing of your gait, the grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of your will and your energy to execute your ideas. Enthusiasts are fighters. They have fortitude.
They have staying qualities.
Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress.
With it, there is accomplishment. Without it, there are only alibis.

- Henry Ford, quoted in Your Business Brickyard

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Pursue Work Openly

Be upfront and honest about what it is you really want to do, by putting it out there you may be surprised at what stars align and you'll only deter opportunities that wouldn't have fit you well anyway

(from Artists' Issues #1: Survival Jobs).

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Some Days

Some days you don't want to do what needs doing. Maybe it is laundry, or mailing those headshots, or whatever other task doesn't have appeal in the moment. On those days, do what you can anyway. Progress is progress even if it isn't joyful 100% of the time. Or as fast as we might prefer. Push against resistance.

I've mentioned before the value of doing "it" now whatever "it" is. But our characters also have reluctance, and resistance, to overcome. Some do, eventually, like Hamlet, some don't, tragically, like many of Chekhov's.

Often, the scenes we play are the moment they push through, or as the improv guideline states: "today is the day" meaning that right now is when whatever major event or change is happening in the character's lives. Part of why we watch a scene, or why it was written, is because this is not just an average Tuesday. There is something elevated, special and extraordinary about it.

For us, today is the only present we have, so anything we might do can only gets done now. Life is a sequence of now. For our characters, no one sees on stage or screen the years of growing stagnation that lead to today being the day it all needed to change. Only a montage or an example mundane day that must pack years into moments is shown. Nor is the time building up the courage to tell the other character how our character really feels going to be shown. The projects we work on are the highlight reels of our character's lives. Kind of like Facebook, all milestones and high stake events.

Our lives have the everyday, the mundane. If we can, it is good to find joys in them, though some things are more fun than others. And I'm off to annihilate some items on my to do list (I don't fold laundry, I break laundry's will to be wrinkled).

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Don't Avoid Failure

Quit trying to avoid failure. Break it and fix it. Mess it up and clean it up. If the gaps are short enough, it looks like unbroken success.

- Kent Beck

I've suggested before, try failing.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

What You're at Auditions For

I'm there to show them that I've done the work. I'm not there to book the job, I'm there to show them that I've done the work. And you are there to solve their casting problem.

- Carolyn Hennesy

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kickstarter's Take on Stars and Hits Using Crowd Funding

A follow-up to my earlier Stars and Hits Using Crowd Funding post and how things are not someone-must-lose-for-me-to-win; life is not zero-sum.

The world we live in is hyper-competitive and often pits us against each other. If someone is winning, someone else must be losing, right? But that's not what we see happening on Kickstarter.
The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. 63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.
We've seen this happen before. Last year we wrote a post called Blockbuster Effects that detailed the same phenomenon in the Games and Comics categories. Two big projects brought tons of new people to Kickstarter who went on to back more than 1,000 other projects in the following weeks, pledging more than $1 million. Projects bring new backers to other projects.

(emphasis added, from Who is Kickstarter for?).

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Weathering the Ups and Downs

Do you remember Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time? Meg & Charles traveled through time and space by means of a tesseract. Imagine a piece of cloth. You're standing on one end as the cloth folds at the center allowing you to easily take one step to reach the other end of the cloth...i.e., the wrinkle. This is the journey of the actor

(from Smooth Sailing the Up Down Paradoxical Life of an Actor).

She goes one to list ...three quick things to remember when you're having 'one of those days.'

  1. It's not linear, it's tesseract-ical.
  2. What you do today matters tomorrow.
  3. Pack your bag.

Basically:

  1. Acting isn't accounting, don't expect your career to progress in a linear way, because acting careers rarely do.
  2. Do what needs doing today even if you can't yet see the results.
  3. Number 2 means preparing now for a future that doesn't yet exist. Prepare, it is one of our only tools to cope with uncertainty.

But Rhonda S. Musak may put it all more eloquently in her post (thanks to Wonder Russell for sharing Rhonda's post).

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Monday, May 06, 2013

If Not This There'll Be Another

Your roles are your roles. No one else will book the roles that will be yours. Hard to have faith that you'll book something even if it isn't "this" thing (whatever you are currently working on). If you don't book from this audition, you will book another. This is simple fact.

I know, part of an actor's work require us to be in the moment, in the present: now. We're trained for it. That means not living in the future where all the roles you haven't booked yet, but will, are for the time being. Your roles are finding their way to you just as you are finding your way to them.

And I know, when bills are due, and you're feeling restless, or far from where you want to be, or otherwise dissatisfied and impatient, it is hard to breathe, find calm and remember that you really will book again. Whether it is this role or another or both: you will book. Think of it as math.

Not only are you stacking the deck in your favor by preparing and honing your work. Not only are you talented and intrinsically capable of being human (the core of our work) but the arbitrariness of the industry means that opportunity comes to everyone. Your chance to do great things with the opportunities that come your way is a certainty. It depends only on having the patience and persistence to make luck; luck being preparation meeting opportunity.

It really is mundane when you find the balance of investment and detachment from outcome. Like the formation of diamonds: time and persistent energy make good things.

In an audition you have the role, you are playing it during the audition. Whether you are offered the opportunity to play it again has little to do with you. I told my grandmother once that when I book, or when I don't, I give her the blame or credit. The genetics she and my other grandparents gave me make a difference and are beyond my power to choose them. Booking, like many things in life, is not about you.

Do your work, trust the process and jobs will come. If you don't book this, you'll book another. So have fun, enjoy the journey. Find fun in the process. Success is inevitable.

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