07 December 2007

When the shit is falling from the sky, plant seeds.

I guess that's my interpretation of Winston Churchill's brilliant-and-simple quote, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

The schizophrenic nature of The Bidness occasionally makes for emotional volatility that would make the Dow Jones Industrial Avg blush. Volatility seems to pick up when testing new highs and lows, and I found myself riding the coaster, presumably, at a 52-week low.

Booking droughts are common among actors, and certainly no stranger to me. I had very high expectations of myself going into 2007, with 7 jobs in the last three months of '06. Kind of a difficult pace to keep up. Sometimes, you know you're close. I've been kicking at the door since October, an entire month I spent on Avail for four different jobs.

I finished October like Alex Rodriguez does. O-fer. So what you do is you give thanks for the knowledge that you're on the right track, you're not a Yankee, and you've jumped through that many hoops and done almost everything possible to get the job. (Either that or you can be pissed off about 2nd place and keep attracting more of it. Filthy habit I picked back up.) That last hoop is where chance comes into play. Wait--actually, it's more like Community Chest, given that not only do you have to nail the audition and however many callbacks, but you have to please a committee of ad agency, client, and production people.

This week, volatility was sharply up once again for Me (ticker symbol: SMRT). The price was up in anticipation of the Pirates 3 DVD release, which was to include the Tales of the Code short film I shot last year at this time. It happened to be the one and only reported special feature not included in the final packaging. So I'm left to assume it may appear on whatever monster Trilogy Box Set they come up with. (The sooner the better!) I was really looking forward to posting a recollection of that 16-hour night shoot and expressing my endless gratitude for finally having an incredible character and scene for my reel. Instead, my stock plummeted on the news, and investors reportedly spent an hour crying into and/or beating the crap out of pillows. An hour later, I'm putting the mental train back on the tracks with a same-day commercial audition...and then another. Nice, I'm back, stock price recovering after early weakness, time to go.

Here's where the poetry of life kicks in. Off I go for an afternoon of opportunity. If only my car would start.

Battery's dead, so I have an opportunity to be grateful to Mom, who still has me on her AAA account. Driver comes out just in time for me to be just in time. $109 for a new battery, but at least I don't have to worry about that for a while, right? Now, if only I could pay my rent this month. Off to my audition...for the role of a tow truck driver.

I gotta hit the fast-forward button before this gets too dull--good audition here, good callback there (yay), a check doesn't arrive on time, will my rent check bounce? (boo), Mom calls to inform that the new well we had to dig (back in NC) because of the drought is not, after all, contaminated (huge yay), two straight-to-callbacks the next day, one with a director who knows me and digs my work (more huge yay), perfect time for the car to overheat for the third time in two weeks (boooo), so I miss the second audition and take it straight to my dude at Midas, where I sit for an hour and he can't for the life of him find any leaks. (Yay? Boo? WTF.)

I do believe, at this point, I deserve that Super Bowl commercial that ends up playing incessantly for the next 12 months. Way back when I experienced this bottom-scraping before the 7-booking streak, the well ran completely dry and I was literally down to less than $20 in the bank. Now I'm back, and after rent is paid I will be at $21. The difference this time is a full year of dues-paying, well-digging, and seed planting. While the residuals of last year's tidal wave are long gone, I reinvested a lot of them in myself--headshots, reels, MacBook, a wardrobe that doesn't look like I picked it out in junior high school--they're all part of the reason I've gotten to this point. I'm going out more often, and all the time through the mountains of poop raining down from the sky on actors by the nature of the industry, the wilting dollar, and a debilitating strike. But I've seen much, much worse and with far fewer resources.

So I plant seeds and let the bullshit fertilize. And now that it's finally raining water on Los Angeles, some of them are gonna grow.

12 November 2007

Quick question about winter

How many people in the United States will freeze to death this year because they couldn't afford their fuel bill?

Where will our winter Katrina be?

Growing up in a typically-uninsulated 1920's farm house gives rise to these questions.

25 October 2007

My First Gig

Fifteen years after my professional acting career started, that first, most glorious job has finally come to DVD.

And the callback that got me the gig still remains in my memory bank. It's crazy: I can't tell you what I ate for lunch most days, but I can still remember the improv I did that day for the director, Syd Macartney, in that cramped-as-hell upper floor that the Fincannons (casting) used to use.

It was the summer of 1992, almost morning in America, and it was my first major audition: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Took them a couple of weeks to get back to us, but when I booked it, I think I finally realized that I was on to something. Deep down, I knew I wouldn't be booking jobs like that all the time, but thank goodness I couldn't know that in 2007 it would still be my longest job to date.

Three weeks of shooting, when it was all over. The first week as an extra, an upgrade at the end of the last day, and then another two weeks as a principal later in the month. Not bad at all in Actorland. Hell, almost unheard of today if you're not a name. But the memories of myself as a teenage dork, interacting with this new world to which I was drawn are still here, if the money is not.

I remember the woman in the production office handing me a stack of twenties with trepidation. Nobody bothered to tell me about the per diem I was entitled to, until one of the extras did. I remember a 110-degree upstairs holding area in an abandoned warehouse, with a dead rat in the far corner. Oh, and I remember George Lucas walking around the set all day. Yeah, I didn't know how freakin' good I had it.

Most of the action took place in Thalian Hall (Wilmington, NC). One day my mom made the 3-hour drive (2 hours for the rest of us) and got to play the stage mom for a bit. She was mostly well-behaved. Once however, she brought a confession back to the seats where I sat, watching the next shot being set up. She was wearing her "I just got into mischief" smile.

"I just ran into George." Oh my God, please tell me you didn't say anything.

"Well, I introduced myself as he was coming out of the bathroom..." She told me all the wonderful gushing things she had to say about the whole experience, yada yada. Geez, I hadn't even talked to him and here's my mom stealing my thunder, a bathroom stalker no less!

It was a few minutes later when George, on stage going over the script with others, uttered the words, "Why don't we give those lines to Fred?" I know I didn't imagine it, either, because I turned around to my mom in time to see her turn around to me, both of us wearing our "Holy shit, did you hear that?" looks.

My other favorite story from that gig happened before the day I learned about the glory of per diem. I was at the hotel and decided to go downstairs and just get some chicken fingers at the hotel restaurant. With no money or car, my choices were limited. I stepped off the elevator and at the restaurant entrance was one of the leads, who said they were all going to eat and I should join them. Well....okay. If you say so.

See, my feeble brain couldn't quite figure out that the cast and director and producers were not going to step inside to the hotel bar. No, up pulled the van and I jumped in with the cast, Rick McCallum, and some other people I should have gotten to know better. So, not surprisingly, we went to the best French restaurant Wilmywood had to offer. Oh, and I was wearing cut-off shorts, a tie-dye, and probably Chuck Taylors.

And in that impressive wardrobe, I sat down at a huge table and ate dinner with all those cats: Lucas, McCallum, Flanery, and probably Anne Heche, too. (She wasn't Anne Heche yet, so I don't remember for sure.) I picked the cheapest thing I could find on the menu and still had to borrow cash from this guy. (McCallum picked up the check and the other guy gave me my precious money back the next day.) And after an early morning call and a late start to dinner, I was falling asleep in my chicken dinner. I was the broke-ass, teenage, tie-dyed nerd falling asleep at dinner across from George Lucas. Let's just say he's never cast me again.

But I have run into him a couple times since. I went to Vegas for New Year's around '99. As I crossed the pedestrian bridge at Caesar's, there he was walking towards me, anonymously shopping among the masses with his kids. Finally, seven years later, I had the balls to thank him.

Quickly, of course. And nowhere near a bathroom.

19 July 2007

12 July 2007

Is this how to bust Big Oil ?

In order for progress to occur in today's American capitalism, profit must be present. In order to compete with the scum of K Street, renewable energies have to blow away the profit margins of our fossil fuel economy. It's just a shame that nobody seems interested in a study like that, or...um.....like, one of them librul media outlets would hafta...whoa. Holy shit, dude:

Renewable energy 10 times cheaper

Amsterdam/Brussels, 6th July 2007: Investing in a renewable electricity future will save 10 times the fuel costs of a 'business as usual' fossil-fuelled scenario, saving $180 billion USD annually and cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030, according to a joint report by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) released today. (1)

A powerful economic argument for a shift in global investments towards renewable energy (including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bio energy), within the next 23 years, and away from dangerous coal and nuclear power. The report gives the financial rationale for Greenpeace's "Energy [R]evolution," a blueprint for how to cut global CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, while maintaining global economic growth (2).

It's a Greenpeace press release, so you can be certain that if there is anything the slightest bit off with these numbers, the anti-earth crowd will howl. In fact, they will howl either way, making shit up to debunk the alternative energy movement. But even if these numbers are exaggerated by 300%, it is still worth it.

Boise Thomas makes a great point (in his Bookin' DVD) for actors when they have to justify going after this ridiculous dream of making a living at doing what we love. Tell Aunt Tilly that you chose to enter into the second largest industry in the world: marketing. Second only to oil.

Change is beautiful.

23 May 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad

17 March 2007

Go Union!

Unions take care of all kindsa shit and don't you fugeddit. (Clip rated R)

27 February 2007

I Owe Some Gratitude

This week, after three months of torture, my eyelid finally stopped incessantly twitching.

Thank you, whomever or whatever finally did the trick. It was really unpleasant. So I feel for the hiccup girl, though I'd rather have my problem than hers.

16 February 2007

Willard Scott was a Frightening Clown

28 January 2007

It's Screener Season!

Just thanking the Universe that I finally get to see a few flicks that I missed this year. And it would be too embarrassing to admit the number of movies I miss throughout the year, but that's the life the Industry has chosen for us po' folk.

It's the lifestyle that lends itself to blogs that have a shitload more going on in the sidebar than in the actual content, so my Sunday afternoon is dedicated to changing that ever so slightly. My own lifestyle choices have brought me to a messenger job during the week which claims 11-13 hours a day. So you'll forgive the Hollywood actor who misses a shitload of movies. (Or you won't and you'll move on.)

As there is no traffic presence here yet, I'd like to welcome the blog-hopping folks who may have happened upon Starving Actors. Hoping to focus on entertainment industry issues from the perspective of your classic nobody who packed up his car and moved to Hollywood and dove in head first. Also to create a bit of a bridge between Mama Bear LA and Baby Bear NC, the third largest film state in the country. I think.

I look forward to the challenge of creating interesting content while filtering out as much pretentious self-promotion as possible.

09 January 2007

Why do I feel so naked using a template without titles?