Sunday, January 17, 2010

do what you love and the money will follow?

It seems I left a rather important audition cycle off the blog, so I thought I'd get to it!

Yes, I have recently auditioned for, gotten called back for, booked, and filmed my very first commercial. Everybody say "goddamn!" I have no idea why I said that... I think for some reason I was thinking of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction saying "I said goddamn." and it sounded really cool, in my head... but anyway...

So, two Tuesdays ago I had an audition. National commercial, good pay, and an interesting audition note: they wanted us to come prepared to tell a story from our youth (first kiss, getting in trouble, that sorta thing). So off I went, chauffered by my hubby, to give it a go. The casting call mentioned that we should look like we were attending a casual family party and that we could be a little "hip." Armed with that info, I donned jeans-tucked-into-boots (that should really be a single item of clothing, shouldn't it?) and a cute tunic-like top and left the colored hair strip hang out (I usually hide it).

The audition was fun. We were gathered into faux family units and sent in in groups of 5 or 6 people. We stood in a line and smiled for the camera, then each got a turn telling our story. And that was that. The only real difference from the previous auditions was that when I walked out and got into the car I said to hubby, "I want to get a callback for this one, dammit!" I don't know, I just felt like after a few auditions, I was over my "new girl/I'm just in it for the learning/it's all experience/blah blah blah" status and I suddenly felt ambitious.

By the time Thursday rolled around, I figured callbacks must have already been announced, and I was okay with that. But lo and behold, at 5pm I got a call - they needed me the following morning. Woo hoo!

Once again, put on the "hip" outfit and hitched a ride on the Thunes bus (that sounds dirty) to SF. This time they asked us to bring pictures of ourselves from high school or college and be prepared to tell another story. Again, we were grouped into "families," and again we went in and stood in a line and took turns telling our tales. When my turn came, I was more nervous than I expected -- my voice sounded rather breathless and strangled (at least to me), but I thought I pulled through and at least the people behind the monitor were smiling at me, which was promising.

This time, we also did a kind of mock dinner table conversation where we took turns rotating our circle of people so that we'd each get time on camera while we just chatted with one another. It was clear to me, from early on, that this was less about our "performance" and more about how well we listened to the other people, reacted, and showed that we cared, and I tried to make sure I delivered in this regard. This time, when I got into the car I said, "hubby, I really want to get this one!"

So, long story short: around 6pm that evening I got an email that simply stated: "Congratulations, you booked the job." This was an extremely gratifying moment alright. Just a little over 2 months with my agent, in which time I only had 2 print go-sees and 2 commercial auditions, and on the third audition I booked the frickin' job!!! I am hereby officially patting myself on the back and celebrating this small success (may it be a harbinger of greater things to come).

In hindsight, it's interesting to note a couple of things:
1. This time I felt like I was more me when I went in there. I wore Georgia clothes; I let the dyed hair show... I mean, I realize there will be times when when wearing khakis and pinning back the hair will be the right thing, but in this instance, I felt like it served me well to fly my own freak flag. (Admittedly, my freak flag is very small and not all that freaky.)

2. This was the first time I excitedly told other people about the audition and openly expressed my desire to get the job, regardless of the fact that this could entail public, as well as private, disappointment. I guess I could glean that there is something to be said for positive mental energy and declaring one's intentions, but I also don't want to suggest that this will get me cast every time. :)

Regardless of the hows or whys, this was the all-important first time -- the time that proved that it was possible. Of course, I also think I sound like a gambler who hit one jackpot and now needs to keep going back, and yeah: that's a pretty close analogy to trying to get acting work... so be it.

Tune in next time to hear how the shoot went... for now it's off to eat more French food!

Franglish for hedonists

Just shared this with the hubby and he thought I should share further...

So, I'm googling like a motherf*$%er trying to find a good fish restaurant to go to tomorrow night. And boy oh boy is that a rabbit hole to go down - try googling "Paris" and "restaurant" and pretty much any other selection of words and you're in for a long read. Luckily, some sites have English versions of their menus so I can figure out what the hell pleurotes and gambas and cabillaud are.

But here's the thing: the English translations are fucking amazing. I mean, there's got to be shitloads of English speakers in this town, right? But did they get one to give their copy a read? No, not at all...

The Restaurant “La Marée” belongs to these institutions of the Fançaise Gastronomy turned towards Fish Cuisine. With a selection of products of quality, selectided by the Chief Yves Mutin, you will find a cuisine made of simplicity, and a touch of gastronomical subtility.

At 200 m of "Ternes", the restaurant is very near famous places of Paris like "Champs Elysées" or " Salle Pleyel".

The resumption of this restaurant by Pascal MOUSSET, gives again a blow of youth , to recreate the environment which made the success of this convivial restaurant, equipped of a cuisine of market at soft price.

This cosy restaurant of 60 places, makes the happiness of those who love French Fish Cuisine. This as a place that harmoniously mix Famous Stars of show business, Businessmen and all hedonists, in love with the good cuisine.

A cuisine to be discover or rediscover for the pleasures of the palate…

no, but really, we're back...

My oh my I've been a bad blogger. I don't know, life has just been so.... life-y lately. To summarize: the holidays were beautiful and cozy and LAZY with many days spent in our pajamas until well after noon.

Anyway, this is just a short update to announce: I'm in Paris! Got in last night after a long day of travel. Flew to London, took the tube to Knightsbridge to meet my mom, went to Harrod's and got bumped about my throngs of shoppers - goddamn that place is insane. Food Court? You haven't seen a food court until you've been there. Oyster bar, sushi bar, prepared foods, truffle bar, fresh meat, fresh fish, dim sum, krispy kremes, the largest selection of English pies and pastries imaginable, candy heaven, and on and on. We got ham and brie sandwiches and huddled under an awning (yes, raining!) to eat them. Then it was off to grab our bags and get our butts to the train station. As we lugged our bags up and down multiple staircases in the underground, I patted myself on the back for the lightest packing job I've ever achieved. Made it to St. Pancras (how can you not think "pancreas" every time you see that?) and boarded our train to Paris. It takes about 2 1/2 hours and goes through the chunnel - I'm not a huge fan of traveling under large bodies of water, but you can't even tell it's happening. What's really fun is trying to pee on one of those trains while you bounce side to side and the garbage compartment door swings out and smacks your knees repeatedly. But I digress... and this post is getting WAY longer than I intended. Suffice it to say: we made it to Paris. The train station at Paris Nord was frickin' packed with people and I became instantly paranoid that someone was about to steal my purse. We argued with a guy who was trying to sell us tickets and said we were insulting him by using the machine instead (yeah right, scammer!) The sight of 10 armed gendarmes with attack dogs was quite soothing - I got the impression that this part of town gets crazy on Saturday nights. At any rate, just a short metro ride followed by a 25 minute wrong-direction walking detour, we found the entrance to our apartment building: huge double doors off an absolutely lovely street. We stumbled over the threshhold into a dark courtyard and made our way uncertainly toward the building. Suddenly a light went on and a voice greeted us - our guardian angel was an adorable old man with a long white beard, woolen plad shirt, and colorful scarf. He looked like an ancient gnome and spoke with the most lovely French accent ever. He got us into the building and stuffed into an elevator built for two (and only two). One more struggle as we tried to get the keys to work and finally we were in. Our apartment is, in a word, rad. Big kitchen, sofa bed, loft bed, toilet, bath AND shower (hot even!), wifi, TV (The Simpsons in French!) and free phone calls to the US.

After freshening up and resting our sore, bag-carrying arms, we did venture out for an 11pm dinner at the bistro across the street. Salad w/ goat cheese toasts for me and fish soup for my mom. She tried to ask whether the soup was brothy or thick or what and the annoyed waiter's slow and patronizing response was "Fish... Soup!"

Whew. So... after a good sleep, some coffee, and unbelievably delicious croissants from down the street, it's noon and therefore time to venture out into the wide, wide world. Kind of rainy today, so we'll probably visit the Louvre or the Centre Pompidou. Awesome!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hi folks, we're back

Gosh, I nearly got dragged down into inertia there. Wait, I think I'm mixing my metaphors... no matter. The point is that I could very easily have let my blog muscle atrophy, but gosh-darnit I won't do it. And I hate waiting until January 1st to start doing my "to do's" - too much pressure there. So, here I am, fighting the good fight and keeping up the ol' brain dumping. By which I mean, writing stuff that I think about, not secretly getting rid of gray matter.

Speaking of which, hubby and I finally visited the Pirate Store at 826 Valencia ( a couple of weeks back and they had for sale a "brain bucket!" Yes, they did. They also had a kitten plank - you know, so you can get your kitten to walk the plank? Anyway, I highly recommend a visit there. I even grabbed a flyer for a Comic Book Writing workshop that I'm hoping to send the kids to in February.

But where was I? Oh yes, I guess I was just here... watching 2009 wind down and having mixed feelings about being in my pajamas at 2:45pm. I keep telling myself that 2010 is going to require a lot of energy, so I might as well soak up the down time while I can.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

today I cuddled a stuffed dog on camera and other news from the acting world

I went to today's audition feeling utterly prepared to be a lovesick dog owner. I had the script memorized, I was emanating lovey-dovey vibes all over the place, and I was picturing an adorable black lab in my mind. What I wasn't prepared for was a 12" stuffed beagle wearing a sweater. Looking back I guess I was naive. I mean, if they want to know how you'll look interacting with a real, live canine, what better way than to have you snuggle a plush toy?

The casting director invited me to get comfortable in the cozy chair and to tell the camera just how in love I was with my dog (okay, I realize this sounds weird, but the concept for the commercial was actually kind of cute). But then the final moment: "react as your dog comes into the room and pick him up and love him." Here I am, doing improv in my acting class every Tuesday night, and yet I found myself strangely blocked about how to carry on with this little guy. It didn't help that as I kissed his shiny, vinyl nose, I imagined the germs of all the other dog-loving hopefuls jumping into my mouth. But I did my best, I suppose: I cuddled, I (as mentioned) smooched, I squeezed and hugged and sighed happily. Boy did it seem to take a long time for her to say "cut."

At Nancy Hayes Casting, the people behind the camera are uniformly kind, encouraging and patient. This woman gave me 3 chances to take her direction and do my best. Really, one couldn't ask for a fairer shake, when it comes to the audition experience. So why did I feel like such a dork today? There's just this undeniable x-factor with acting. The whole thing of being "on" or not. And today was a bit... blegh. Nonetheless, it's all experience, and I figure each rejection is one more notch on my belt. How many will there be before I book something? 30? 50? Millions of people have said it before me, but there is something distinctly nuts about undertaking an endeavor where your odds of success, ANY tiny shred of success, are so ridiculously slim. But hey, the joy of not being able to find a job (a straight job, that is) is that I've got nothing but spare time on my hands, baby. So wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

(not) putting my best foot forward

Worst audition requirement ever, as received today from my agent:
"your bare feet may be shown (fairly close up) so please take the necessary actions to ensure that your feet will be presentable."

Okay, seriously? I know lots of people say their feet are ugly, but mine... mine are like Amy Sedaris in Strangers With Candy, where when she walks her toenails click on the floor. Take some size 10 honkers, adorn them with loonnnng toes (I mean it; the 2nd toe literally dwarfs the big one) and throw in 12 years of ballet to add some truly spectacular calluses. It's not pretty. I haven't worn open toed shoes in several years. The last time, after Scott convinced me that nobody would be looking at my feet, I was at a bar and our friend (who shall remain nameless), looked down and said "wow, you have really weird toes!" (Insert a few hundred extra hours of self-loathing here.) If I'm caught barefoot with company, I'll find a way to put them under a table or sit on them or obscure them in some way. When I get a pedicure, I have to practically medicate myself so I don't imagine what those cute little ladies are saying about honky's monster feet. So, yeah, this may not be the audition for me...

Friday, December 4, 2009

got 30 minutes?

I like Colleen Wainwright (a.k.a. "the communicatrix") because she writes about acting and marketing--two things I seem to keep coming back to in my life. Also because she's pretty funny. Here's part one of her two-part list of things actors can do with just a little spare time: 10 things you can do in 30 minutes