Monday, December 24, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Little Jimmy's Christmas Present

Really had to hustle to get this one done in time. Because of a bunch of callback craziness, we didn't make enough atx videos to cover my whole vacation. So I scrounged up camera equipment from my friend's Dad, a dog from my brother's girlfriend, and my Mom and cousin last Tuesday and threw this bad boy together.

Yes, the lighting's not too great. Probably a combination of the equipment and my own incompetence. But if I may complement myself for a second here, I was pretty proud of my own resourcefulness. Glad I didn't just give up because it was too hard. 

God bless my Mom, who's never acted a day in her life, jumping in there and giving it heck. (My mom doesn't give anything hell.) Even though she's a noob, I think she has a natural sweetness that makes this whole thing pretty funny. And my cousin Drew's face while he's holding my dirty socks is pretty priceless.

Directing a dog was not much fun. We had like 35 takes for a 1:30 long video. The little guy kept freaking out, haha. Maybe he heard Mom say he was getting euthanized and decided it was time to take off.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: New Nanny

Brand new ATX contributor this week in the form of the very funny Candice Martin! I met her at Act Now and was thrilled when she agreed to hop on board with us.

We weren't sure how to approach this from a cinematography perspective, since the whole thing is pretty much just two people saying in one place, talking to each other. I thought of the Steinbrenner scenes from Seinfeld, and we figured we'd go that route. I like how that back of the head thing somehow gives my character this weird authority that he wouldn't otherwise have.

And of course, how can you go wrong with Zach as Mary Poppins? Sometimes I think my entire calling in life is to film that guy doing embarrassing things while wearing dresses as often as possible.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My First Novel is coming out soon!

Okay folks, so there's this horror novel that I've been working on for the past year or so, and I can proudly say that it's all done and ready to be released.

It's called The Scarecrow and I'm publishing it on ebooks in a little more than a week.

I'll definitely keep you posted as things develop and maybe talk more about it later, but for now, check out the current book cover (made by the awesome David Miller) and save up about four bucks for Dec. 21st. I'd love your support and I'm sure you'll love the novel. It's super creepy stuff, promise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Haze the Homeless

I have, on more than one occasion, had a homeless person grip my arm and insist that aliens or the government or Al Pacino is out to get them. Crazy, right? Then I got to thinking... What if they were telling the truth? Then I got to thinking... What if some jerks played along and validated all of their self-delusion? And Haze the Homeless was born.

One of my co-stars from KONG, the rockstar known as David Caprita, was awesome enough to be our homeless guy. Man, he really does make this one of our best videos too. Haha he was really tempted to actually jump in that lake. He kept staring at it and muttering to himself. But a cop was parked not too far away, and we didn't have permits to shoot in that park. We figured it was best not to push the issue.

I can proudly say that I edited every bit of this bad boy all by myself. It's a satisfying feeling, being in complete control of a video from start to finish. Probably gonna keep at it!

Zach and I have really started to sync up in our shooting process lately. I'll bet we shot every bit of this in an hour and a half, tops. A new problem or idea will pop up, and we'll instantly look at each other and raise an eyebrow. The decision will be made in about ten seconds. Having a reliable partner as a kind of creative safety net makes the whole shooting process a lot less frantic.

So it's onwards and upwards, folks. More great stuff is on the horizon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Cry, Laugh, and Scream at a Total Stranger in the Span of Two Minutes Because Another Stranger Told Me To.

(EDIT: Just found out that I booked this gig!)

So I get called into an audition with this other young dude. I've never talked to him in my life. At this point, I haven't even said "Hi" yet. Don't remember his name.

Casting director says "You're best friends and you're watching a very sad video. Start crying."

Next thing I know we're sobbing into each other's arms, my face buried in his shoulder as we curse the world for being so cruel. "Why, God? WHY?!?!?!"

Casting director says "Video's over, and now you're both pumped up. You need to do something constructive. Build a fort."

There's a bookcase behind me. NOT part of our acting space. I grab some books out of it and we start making the crappiest fort in the history of forts. We smile and laugh at our stronghold of positive energy, still a bit emotional. "This thing is going to be a beacon for all of humanity!" I declare.

Casting director says "Now one of you makes an addition the other one doesn't like."

My best friend tries to add a secret door, which horrifies me. "This is a fort of HONESTY, man! Don't bring your lies to this sacred place!" I start building the fort in a way that blocks him from being involved. He gets mad and knocks the whole thing over, which causes a bunch of CDs that were in the books to come flying out to the floor. "YOU'VE SPILLED THE ARCHIVES!!!" I shout.

Next thing I know, we're screaming at each other at the top of our lungs and throwing books at each other, culminating in the other guy calling me something that rhymes with "stunt." The casting director says "Whoa, okay! That's enough!"

We stop and look up. They're laughing their butts off. I kinda forgot they were there. "Well... Didn't expect it to go that way," one of them says. "Thanks a lot!"

The two of us leave the room and take off going opposite directions, strangers again.

Dunno if either of us will get cast, but we definitely made an impression on those poor saps. Just
another job interview in Los Angeles...

Monday, December 3, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Boyz in Da House

I can proudly say that Zach March - who doesn't really think of himself as a writer - wrote every line in this bad boy. Well... with the exception of some Matt Hatfield improv at the end there, haha. In case you're wondering, the reason why Zach and I's faces are pointed away from the camera during the bread-throwing scene is that we couldn't stop laughing.

On top of all that, Zach spent hours sewing together a gigantic fat suit out of some fabric and the stuffing in one of our chair cushions. I tell ya... this little Supreme Saturdays experiment of ours would absolutely fall apart if that guy decided he didn't wanna mess with it anymore. Call Spielberg, because this man's a WAR HORSE! (Haw.)

All of those jokes with the canned laughter turned out sounding really great. I'm always really happy any time cool stuff is added in post-production, which is why I usually wind up raving about it on here. There's just something so cool about seeing things added to your performance days (usually weeks/months) after you've performed it. It's like your professor calling you up out of the blue and saying "Hey, remember that paper you got a B on last month? Now it's an A plus!"

Continuity-wise, this thing's a mess. I dunno what we were doing. Cabins open and close, people move in weird ways in between cuts, etc. But it has a charm to it that blends into the overall sense of humor kind of nicely. That repeated jump cut of Matt screaming "Football!", besides being something of a recurring ATX joke in a lot of our stuff, sets up a lot of those errors, I think, as being a part of the joke, rather than an accident. Pretty fancy editing fix, right there.

If there's one artistic discovery I've made from this episode, it's this: Fat suit = funny.

Now I'm learning!

Friday, November 30, 2012

SAG-AFTRA can wait.

So I'm in an interesting part of my career. I'm in the fun little category of being SAG Eligible. What does that mean, you may wonder? That means I can join the all important ACTING UNION whenever I want! Oooh!

When I was a humble Kentucky high schooler, I met a guy who showed me his SAG card. I looked at that thing as though it was one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets. "This guy has made it!" I thought.


(Yes, I did think up this caption. So you know... dibs.)

Now, yes. Just about every well paying job that will get you any kind of notoriety in this town requires you to be SAG-AFTRA. So it should be a no brainer, right?

The problem comes from the fact that once you join the union, that's it. Anything labeled "non union" is off limits. To put that in perspective, every acting gig I've done this year (besides the Kia commercial) is non union. I wouldn't have been able to do any of them, for fear of getting caught and fined.

Once I join SAG-AFTRA, my opportunities for employment become largely dependent on how efficient my representation is at getting me into casting rooms. That, and my ability to beat out the thousands upon thousands of other actors clawing over each other to get a limited number of roles. Seriously, I know a lot of SAG actors who never get any work because they didn't set themselves up properly beforehand.

It's kinda like moving in with somebody after you've only been dating for a few days. Geez, slow down!

Right now I have a pretty solid comedic reel, but next to no dramatic material. Not to mention my lack of a theatrical agent/manager. So there's still plenty of work that I can do as non union member. Once I squeeze every drop of forward momentum out of being non union that I can, that's when I'll drop my 3,000 dollar entry fee (yes you read that right) and start barking with the big dogs. My goal right now is to be doing union work by the end of May.

Until then... I'll be doing more of this kinda stuff.

Student Film
Extra in Syfy zombie movie
Music video

Monday, November 26, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: For Your Consideration...

Okay readers, honesty time. Gonna tell you a little story.

It's 11pm on a Friday night, and we have no ideas for the next day's sketch that could conceivably be done in one evening. To make things worse, Matt was still working, so he was unavailable.

So I said "Hey, let's just destroy the apartment and film you throwing bread at the window."

Zach said "Okay."

And that's what happened. 

That being said, considering we probably did the whole thing in less than thirty minutes, I was very pleasantly surprised at how funny the end product actually turned out. There's a pretty cool Samuel Beckett kind of rhythm to it, especially the way he keeps forgetting to flip the knife. Reminds me of the first five to ten minutes of Endgame.

Funny how there've been a decent amount of people who didn't "get" the punchline, as if there was something to get. I guess it takes a certain kind of person to be comfortable with that anarchic kind of comedy.

And yes, we did clean the window afterwards.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Vegan Food

You know that you probably have the wrong kind of friends when you send them a script involving them eating poop and they respond with "This is awesome! I can't wait to do this!"

But that's the kind of trooper our friend Evan Nischan is. Evan eagerly brought his Meisner mastery to our humble little script, not to mention his apartment as a location. He also gets the honor of being the first guest star to appear in two atx episodes. (His other appearance can be found here.) Congrats, Evan! You should feel... proud?

Special thanks to this kid for an easy fake urine recipe. (Yes, all the food was fake, sickos.) It was strangely difficult to find a feces recipe though. Seriously, never type "Edible Poop" into Google Search. Zach and I pretty much just kinda had to wing it. It took us a good couple of hours to get those two little turds figured out.

And no, I have no idea if the ingredients were vegan or not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making a Reel: Uploaded and ready to go!

When we last left our hero, he was engaging in a healthy round of Facepalm after futilely smashing his head against the horrors of assembling reel footage, like scissors trying to beat rock. Nothing was going his way, and it seemed all was lost.


There it is! I can't believe it's finally done! Just when I was about to give up on a pretty important chunk of the reel, a professional editor friend of mine said "Uh. I can convert those files for you." AND IT WAS SO!

Special thanks to David Haverty for getting me the 1000 Ways to Die footage. And an honorable mention goes to my Dad for having his heart in the right place by videotaping the TV screen of my Operation Repo footage and snail mailing me the CD.

Ultimately, I decided that my Repo footage really didn't showcase me in any especially helpful way, so I figured I'd ditch it. A good reel should DEFINE YOU as an actor. My reel showcases me as a mostly comedic actor with a unique physical build capable of playing some very diverse roles. Some would ask why not throw in a dramatic scene or two? Well, because since I've been in LA, I've never been cast in a drama. Not once.

This tells me that, based on their first impressions, casting directors think I should be funny. I can cry about this or I can embrace it and show them that by heck, I am pretty funny! This is what potential agents will be expecting of me as well, I'm thinking. Besides, money from comedies is just as spendable as the boo-hooey stuff.

That being said, I would like to showcase the more grounded side of my skill-set soon. There are a lot of places in LA where you can pay professionals to shoot specific content for your reel, and I suspect in the nearish future I may pay some friends at ProduceYourReel a visit....

But for now, I'm going to see how far this one takes me.

Some quick demo reel tips that I've picked up this last month or so:

-Always put your name first so the directors actually know whose reel they're watching, and make sure CONTACT INFO is clearly displayed at the end. You could maybe put some contact info with your name in the beginning too, but I felt like that might be overkill for mine.

-The SHORTER THE BETTER. If you're a nobody (like me!) then don't you dare go longer than two minutes. If you can do it in one, so much the better. Don't waste time making sure viewers understand every little thing of what's going on in the scene. They aren't watching a movie, they're watching you. Once the character, emotion and arc of the scene is established, MOVE ON!

-Simple, simple, simple! Don't waste people's time with scrolling graphics or clever transitions. Casting directors don't care about your fancy editing skills.

-Also... and I know this seems obvious, but make sure any given clip actually has you doing something interesting. If it's a boring scene or crappy writing, even if you're good in it, you're probably better off not putting it in there. Unless it's a really recognizable show. Which brings me to...

-Put your biggest accomplishments up there first, then scroll back in order of importance. You have about ten seconds to capture a casting director's attention, and "Hey! I know this show!" just about always helps in that regard.

Anyway, hopefully that was informative to you folks. I'll keep you posted as I submit this bad boy to various agents and managers all over town. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Double Date

Inspired by this scene from Louie. I love the quiet tension in just having one static shot focusing on an uncomfortable situation. Makes you feel like you're trapped there. Obviously owes a little bit to Waiting for Godot as well.

Had kind of a tough time getting the hang of this, acting-wise. Obviously, we had to shoot the whole thing from start to finish without stopping. Can't cut away or do any editing trickery to make me look better, it hinges on the acting 100%. (Kinda like what Aqueela had to go through in Audition.) 

But I'm by no means new to that kind of "endurance acting." My whole background's in theater (in a show right now actually), so I knew the drill. What was challenging to me was the absolute stillness that the role demanded. (The amazing Erin Holt had it mastered on the first take, of course. Show off.) I fidgeted and smacked my lips. Plowed through my lines a little too quickly. I had trouble trusting the notion that even when nothing's moving or speaking, compelling things are still happening: jokes are being told and decisions are being made. As I talked about in another blog post, simplicity is often the best policy.

It's a lesson that I obviously already understood as a writer (I wrote the scene, after all) but as an actor I guess it unnerved me. As I sat there in between the lines, I could practically hear David Mamet screaming "Pacing! Pacing! Don't be so pretentious! Go faster!" See, early in my career, teachers ground into my head not to take long, self-indulgent pauses onstage. And I think those teachers were absolutely right... But sometimes you just have to hold still and be quiet.

Zach was all too happy to beat these hang-ups out of me. "Every time you smack your lips, it makes me want to blow my brains out." I think I'm gonna log that away as "favorite direction I've ever gotten." He sure did get the job done though. I'm really happy with the end product.

We've already gotten a lot of positive feedback on this one. Guess you folks like to see me getting shot down by beautiful women.

Not that such a thing has or ever will happen in real life, of course.

Friday, November 9, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Dakaboobie

Got another Matt offering for you this week! Kind of a comedic version of Bartleby, the Scrivener. 

Seriously, try to say the word "Dakaboobie" without smiling. You can't do it.

I've noticed in sketches especially how just one joke or idea is usually enough to carry the whole piece. Simplicity has power.

My little cameo was a lot of fun. Kinda hate that you can see our apartment intercom though.

We totally stole that tree from the front of our apartment building, in the name of looking like a slightly different location. Then we put it back. I like to imagine that the landlord saw the security footage of that and shook his head in complete confusion.

Shot this the same night that we did Stop the Anti-Bullying Campaign. It was very late, so I fell asleep through a big chunk of the shoot.

That's why this post is a little scatterbrained.

I'm wearing red pants.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm in a play and it's a blast! How King Kong hooked me up with some awesome LA artists.

For whatever bizarre reason, I have yet to get around to posting on my acting blog that I have, in fact, been acting this last month or so.

Kong: A Goddamn Thirty Foot Gorilla is playing at the SkyPilot Theater until Nov. 25th. (8pm on Sat. 7pm on Sun.)

Upon arriving back in Los Angeles from Kentucky, I got to experience the smug satisfaction of having a director ask me to be in his play without having to audition.  And not just any director! This is none other than Jaime Robledo, a director I know through Sacred Fools whose imaginative staging and physical comedy has lately started to attract a lot of attention in the Los Angeles theatrical community. His work on the Buster Keaton show Stoneface (starring French Stewart) extended several times and sold out almost every night.

Long story short, I quickly found myself acting as an ensemble member in the World Premiere of Kong: A Goddamn Thirty Foot Gorilla at SkyPilot Theater. A teaser of the show can be viewed here.

The show itself (written by Adam Hahn) is a genre-bending cocktail of wacky physical humor, intellectual analysis, satire, and outright recreation of iconic scenes from the classic King Kong. Telling such an epic story is a huge undertaking for a tiny theater based in North Hollywood, and these challenges have spawned a show that has creativity bursting out of every scene. But don't take my word for it, check out our 100% Bitterlemons rating.

Playing an ensemble member has proven to be a fun challenge. I play everything from a simpleton sailor to an enraged New Yorker to a flying prehistoric moth. That means, of course, that I get to find different physicality and dialects for each and every character. Jaime's pretty much given me free reign to inject whatever personality I'd like into all of them, and the rehearsal process functioned as a creative sandbox to play around with how I wanted the characters to fit into the world of the play. It's been a fun ride.

We've basically taken source material that is impossible to adapt for the stage... and then adapted it for the stage. It's been great to work with people who say "How?" instead of "Can't." There's a boldness to the mentality of everyone involved with this project that I associate with real artists, and this young whippersnapper sure has learned a lot from all of them. Can't wait for tomorrow so I can do it all over again.

Come check us out!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Stop the Anti-Bullying Campaign

Ah, the persecuted bully. Finally, one of them has the courage to stand up for themselves! I think the bully's bloated sense of dignity is my favorite part.

I've recently started to discover the power of the monologue for the low budget sketch writer. Amazing what a high quality story you can tell with just actors in front of plain black backgrounds. We got a lot of love for Audition a month or so ago, which had a similar set up. So I figured I'd try something similar with this. What do you guys think?

I think this is the best utilization of Zach that ATX has done so far. For whatever reason, a lot of these sketches have focused a lot on Matt and I, with Zach stuck playing the straight man. It's always bothered me a bit, because he really has a powerful stage/screen presence. Expect to see a lot more of that guy in future sketches.

Really proud of how this one turned out. It's a lot more grounded than some of our louder, wackier stuff. Excited to pursue more grounded, story/character central humor in the future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Theresa Rebeck's Seminars: The frustratingly unbeaten path to being a "great" writer

Last night I scored a free ticket to Theresa Rebeck's very funny play, Seminars over at the Ahmanson Theater. It was starring my costar from Glee Jeff Goldblum, so I figured I'd check it out. Here we are together:

Wait... that shot's a little too close. Zoom out a little bit. 

There I am! In the back there, see me?

Pretentious celebrity name-dropping aside, this show really got me thinking about writing and what it means to be a "great" writer. The show revolves around four twenty-something aspiring New York writers desperately trying to impress a foul mouthed pro who acts as judge and jury regarding whether their stuff is good or crap.

This isn't really a review of the show. What I want to talk about is how much I identified with the four aspiring students and their desperation to be acknowledged as even a contender for the title of greatness. I wish there was one writer god who could tell me if I had the Gift of Writing, like in the show. But the pit I often fall into is the swampland of completely subjective opinions and tastes that can wrap around a befuddled writer like brain-sucking tentacles. (Which also happens in the show. (Not literally.)) Whose opinions matter? Who do you ignore?

It's somewhat easier to know if you're on the right track if you're a playwright or a screenwriter. If the audience laughs or gasps, keep it up! But prose is a different beast. Nobody gives you feedback because, for the most part, you can't get anybody in the professional industry to comment on your 20 page story. (Or, God forbid, your 500 page novel.) It's just piles of form letters saying your work "does not fit our needs at this time." 

"All this 'well done' bullshit means you're not being honest," Leonard insists in Seminars. "And if you're not being honest who gives a shit what you're writing?"

Good prose writing is, most would agree, a reflection of "the truth." If you want to be a good writer, you have to "be honest." Ah, well that was easy. Go write the truth. Article over!

I think we all understand the problem here. Sure, let's be honest. Honestly, I just had a hot cocoa from my Jack Skellington mug while watching an hour's worth of The Office. I miss Steve Carell, but I still really enjoy the new season. Andy's a funny character and he's really vulnerable in a way that interests me...

Snore. One time, in a panicked fit of writer's block, I decided to just writewhatevercomestomedon'tstopjustgo! This way I can discover MY INNER VOICE! Well, I wrote about sitting on a couch and having writer's block. How many editors do you think were clamoring to get ahold of that gem? (And yes, I actually did send it out.) The line between finding your own personalized "truth" and complete self-indulgence is pretty thin.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you only worry about what your audience wants, then you're selling out, right? Gah! (To my shame, I've tried that too. It was crap.)

I suppose what an aspiring writer should really be chasing is a surprise. Whether it's a particularly creative simile or a plot-shaking twist to the entire story, I think what audiences really crave is that of the unexpected. It's not enough to write about your dying grandmother. You also have to do it in a way that nobody has ever thought of before. Like, ever. In the history of literature. That's where honesty comes in, and the journey you get to take as a writer is discovering what your voice sounds like while communicating that honesty. When you get to a point where every sentence is surprising the reader in some way, then maybe that's when you've hit greatness.

So... yeah. Go do that.

Check it out. Might get you thinking. Or you might hate it. Or maybe you'll just remember that there's boobs in it. It's pretty subjective, really.

Monday, October 22, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Sara and Andy's Wedding

Slightly unconventional collection of sketches this week. Our friends in Kentucky wanted us to shoot something for their wedding, so they sent us videos across the country of them answering our questions and told us to have a blast with the rest. So we rolled the cameras and just told Zach to go crazy. I think I can confidently say that he took that direction and ran with it, haha.

I really love the two commercials, especially knowing how much footage got left on the cutting room floor. Matt did a pretty awesome job of distilling it down to the essentials. Haven't had to bust out my Italian accent since my college production of Napoli Milionaria! three years ago, but I had a lot of fun with that character. Maybe we'll bring him back sometime?

From what I understand, the video was a hit at the wedding. (I think they played it as a sort of prelude to the ceremony.) Pretty cool way to be involved from a good 2,000 miles away!

A lot of exciting things have been going on these last few weeks. I'll try to write about some of it tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Work it Out for Women!

Don't have... TOO much to say about this one, as it's almost 100% Matt's baby. Didn't have a whole lot to do with it, besides helping out whenever I was asked to. I think there's some funny stuff going on here, and I LOVE the music underneath everything. I wish it was waaay shorter, I'll admit, but I will say that he really went balls to the wall on this one and, in true Matt Hatfield style, managed to come up with something that most people have never seen before. 

As a writer, I'm starting to feel like ATX is about to hit a turning point for me. I feel myself wanting to branch out a bit with the stuff that I write, and I'm excited to see what happens. Stay tuned, as always, faithful reader.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making a Reel: What is this Nightmare?!?

Some of you might remember me writing a post in which I optimistically talked about how I was getting my reel together and all the exciting doors that could open for me once I had one. All I had to do was get the footage together! Well, that was more than a month ago. Here's what I've run into.

I want my reel to consist of my segments on 1000 Ways to Die and Operation Repo, my zombie PSA, Melvin Becomes a Man, and Dude Tips. As you may have noticed from all the hyperlinks, all of these clips can be found on the internet. So it should be super easy to collect all the footage, right? ...Right?

Let me say first off that Youtube is awesome. All you have to do to lift a Youtube video is put the url on and it takes care of everything for ya.

1000 Ways to Die and Operation Repo is where I'm having problems. My clips are streaming on their respective websites, and are protected against greedy little data thieves like myself. Okay, fair enough. But these shows have employed hundreds of actors, surely all I have to do is just email the folks from the show, and they'll send it right to me!

Psh. One show sent me an email that said "we don't send original copies to actors" whereas the other one just flat out never got back to me after two straight weeks of emailing, I guess in the hopes that eventually I'll buzz off

Looks like I'm on my own with these two.

Well, nothing like shelling out four bucks on iTunes to buy an TV episode that you're featured in. But I did that for 1000 WTD, only to discover that iTunes won't let me convert the file into a format that I can edit with. Even tried to use it on crappy iMovie, still wouldn't work. Bought iSkysoft Converter. Won't work. The episode is just sitting on my computer, and I can't use it.

Repo doesn't even have my episode on iTunes... Crap.

As of now, I'm waiting on my Dad to try some wizardry with his DVR to see if he can get Repo off of it. Still not sure what I'm gonna do about 1000 WTD.

You know what the funny part is? Once I actually have all the footage, stringing it all together into a rough cut will take fifteen minutes, tops.

Monday, October 8, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Conflict Resolution (Grappling with Green Screens)

Old ATX fans will recognize the ever-talented Jamie Burke from Melvin Becomes a Man making a triumphant return to our channel, and boy is she a force to be reckoned with. It was good to have her on set with us again. A lot of laughs were had during that shoot, and you can kind of tell in some places of the video where people were trying to keep a straight face. Hopefully we'll be able to trick her into getting into more nonsense with us again soon!

Well, my big triumph in this video is that I figured out how to use green screen effects ALL! BY! MYSELF! Boom. 

I guess our Final Cut's green screen program wasn't working for whatever reason, and Matt had pretty much given up on the idea. So I plopped down in front of my computer with a steadfast heart and a cup of hot cocoa... An hour of Youtube tutorials later and I figured out a way to transfer the completed video onto iMovie and add the green screen effects there. (Side note about iMovie: Not my favorite editing software.) 

I know that the end product probably isn't what one would call professional quality... I probably won't be working at Pixar any time soon, but I still think it's a nice touch that really gives the piece something that it wouldn't have had before.

Mostly, I'm proud of myself for being confronted with a problem that I had absolutely no idea how to fix, and then just grappled with it until I could make it work without any outside help. And as a result, I have one more skill that I can tuck into my back pocket for future videos.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to be a "Real" Actor

I've noticed a growing trend in the roles I've been going out for lately. Here's a snippet of the last couple of character breakdowns that I've auditioned for:

REAL to slight character looking. He's REAL and relatable...

REAL to character looking...

...REAL with character to very character teen...

Within the past couple of years, it's become important for casting directors to find actors who are "real." You can't go to an audition anywhere in this town without being asked to look real. But what in blazes does a real actor look like?

The first step to being real is looking like a real person. Just what the heck does that mean, you ask? You need to look just like "somebody you'd see on the street." Not specific enough for you? Okay, well let me try again...

Real Actor

To be real, you can't look like a big glamorous super star. Just look like a normal person! But at the same time, remember to stand out apart from your competitors or you won't get the gig. But don't try too hard, or then you won't be relatable anymore. They want somebody who is both mediocre and attractive. Just be real!

Not a Real Actor

Being real isn't just in your looks either! It's in how you act as well. You want to be approachable and down to Earth. (But don't forget to have more confidence and pizzazz than your competitors!)

Sometimes you'll be going for a role that is "Real to character looking." This simply means that they're looking for an actor who looks both subtle and animated at the same time. It's as easy as being told to act "Happy to sad!"

(If you're as befuddled as I am, don't worry. If you're alive and breathing, congratulations, you're real. When casting directors ask for a real actor, they're basically just saying "We're looking for an actor that we want to cast." Real means something different to each casting director, and you don't have much control over what that's going to mean. It shouldn't affect your performance at all. Go in there and ride the hurricane of chaos that is auditioning, and don't give it a second thought.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home Sweet Home...

Okay guys, I'm not sure how much this has to do with acting, but I'm gonna talk about my first few hours back in Los Angeles last Saturday night.

First of all, my flights were delayed and I wound up cruising into the LAX about five hours late. But I was optimistic. After such a long vacation, my creative guns were itching to start blowing holes in some impressionable minds WITH! ART!


The plane landed. "Let's do this," I said.

Los Angeles overheard my plans to conquer it and chuckled darkly at my naivete.

Because of the delay, my ride couldn't pick me up, so I had to look around twenty minutes for a shuttle that could take me to Van Nuys. The ride took about twice as long because Carmageddon was in full swing. (In other words, the 405 - LA's busiest freeway - was closed down.) An eternity later, I wearily trudged off the shuttle and threw seven bucks at somebody for the fare. At this point I'd been traveling for 17 hours, and I was just a five minute car ride away.

Called my roommate to come pick me up, only to find out that out of the blue, my car isn't starting for some mysterious reason. Pretty excited to pay for that this Monday.

Can't find a bus station to save my life. I'm so tired. Screw it! I'll take a cab! It's worth blowing ten bucks if it'll get me home!

HOLY CRAP THAT METER WON'T STOP TICKING. I eventually beg the driver to stop early. He does, but I don't have enough cash to pay him. He drives me to an atm, which in turn makes my cab fare rise even higher.

By the time I pay him, the atm eats my card because it thinks that I forgot it. The cab drives back to the dark hell it came from, and I'm left to drag my luggage another half-mile to my humble North Hollywood apartment, where all my neglected bills were anxiously waiting.

I'd been gone so long I'd started to think of LA as a magical place where dreams come true again. Three hours back west put me back in my place and re-taught me that the artist's life in Los Angeles can be summed up in one picture.

Time to get back to work!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: First Kiss

I'm back in LA and ready to kick the crap out of some auditions! Woot! Until then... here's the new ATX!

Ah, thank God we managed to shoot an episode in a location besides our apartment. The backdrops help to give an illusion of variety, but I would like to see us switch things up more than we do. But new locations require either generous friends or shooting permits. Sooo that's why that can be tough sometimes. It's probably partly my fault. I can get a little timid about asking people for favors when I'm sure more often than not it probably wouldn't be that big of a deal. Man up, Wellman!

But speaking of asking for outside help, we got ourselves a bona fide Groundlings alum! I met Sara Cravens through the Virginia Avenue Project, which is a children's theater group I got involved with last July. She's one of those fearless actors where you say "Okay, now you're going to climb on top of me and scream right in my face as loud as you can" and she very comfortably replies with "Like this?"

I was a little nervous about this one as I was writing it, because originally the roles were switched, and it was the guy who was the awkwardly aggressive kisser. It kinda worried me because I was afraid maybe it would come off a lot darker than intended. The safer (and much funnier, I think) idea to have the girl be the aggressor came to me maybe a few days beforehand. I ran it by Sara and we both agreed that it was funnier, so I went through the script and swapped character names around. Funny how just one change can improve a script so significantly.

Also got to put my editing hat on for this one, which I'm a little proud of. Matt did most of the editing, but I went in last week while I was in Kentucky and cut a few things down. Basically I just cut some of the monologue at the beginning (it was WAY too long) and a joke at the ending that didn't really work. Took me a good hour whereas it probably would've taken Matt about three minutes but I'll still call it a victory. 

Barely posted this sucker on time! I was madly scrambling to throw the video onto the internet before midnight like Cinderella trying to escape the Prince's dance before the spell breaks and everybody finds out she's just some poor tramp. But by Jove, we made it! Two months in and we've hit every deadline! Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Puppy Love

Oh, hello there internet. So sorry for forsaking you. I managed to put this sketch up on time, but somehow doing the corresponding blog post always managed to fall securely in the "I'll do it tomorrow" quadrant of my vacationing brain. But anyway... yeah. New sketch. Here it is.

If I can pinpoint any one common thread in our sense of humor, I'd say it has to be ugliness. When I hear of anything especially serious or horrifying, I'll eventually think "How can I make that funny?" As a rule, comedy is generally only funny when somebody isn't in on the joke. The audience's laughter is mostly a knee jerk reaction of "Thank God that's not me." (Or, sometimes, "That's me! That's me!") That being said, I think this ATX project has become something of a challenge of mine to see just how ugly I can make a character and still get laughs. 

The guy in Puppy Love is, I think, one of the more extreme examples of that effort. Heartbreak, obsession, rage, delusion, loneliness, insanity... funny stuff!

It's another weird little piece, and yes, the filming process was just as strange, if not more so. It was literally just Zach following me around with the camera while I did creepy stuff with some confused dog that isn't even mine. He kept nervously shaking his head and saying "What the fuck are we doing?" I got a little excited every time he asked that, because in my artistic experience, that question is always followed by a really unusual answer. 

I just about never know what I'm doing with these things, but as a result, the end product always surprises me. As long as that keeps happening, I'll stay happy, because that means I'm continually making new discoveries. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Days: A Friendly Game of Checkers

It's 11pm. I walk into the door of our apartment with arms bulging with groceries. Shew, what a long day! Can't wait to just sit back and take it easy!

I look around the apartment to see that Zach has the tripod set up. He's constructed a crude toplight out of plastic tubing and fluorescent lighting. "We doing this or what?!" he says.

Next thing I know, Matt's filming us scream at each other at the top of our lungs while our neighbors cower in their beds and wonder just what kind of horrible things go on in Apt 105 at one in the morning. Such is the life of the aspiring young Los Angeles artist. Where else do people sit you down and have a serious discussion about the proper way to say "Bibbity Bam Bam DIGGLE!"

This was an exciting sketch for me because it was the first one that I didn't write or direct. It was a nice feeling to not have to worry about having some kind of central artistic vision for the entire piece. All I had to do was focus on my character, which is basically a fraction of the many factors that a director has to yank his hair out over. Who knows? Maybe other writers and directors will step up and throw their talents into the ring...

Of course, one compromise I obviously made was that this wasn't a sketch so much as a short film. This sucker's nine minutes, and I think that could potentially deter some of you attention deficit internet folks. I just figured the day you become a slave to your own rules is the day cool things stop happening artistically. That being said, more often than not, we still plan to keep these babies short for ya.

LOVE the way that toplight kicks in. I think it really adds so much. Wish we could afford all those fancy doodads the pros use. (And while we're wishing for impossible things, I'd also like a talking puppy that can breathe fire.)

I'm kicking it back in my home state of Kentucky right now, so posts may be a little scarce these days. Don't worry, faithful reader. I haven't forgotten you! I'm just out with people who are waaaay more important to me than you!

(If it makes you feel any better, I've got a mean patch of poison ivy splotching up my right ear... That has nothing to do with being an artist in Los Angeles. I'm going to stop writing now.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Days: Audition

Sooo the Reel process is still going VERY slowly. But! I shall persist! In the meantime, here's our newest sketch!

The very lovely model/actress Aqueela Zoll graced us with her talent for this one, and I think she knocked it out of the park. Or at least the pie.

As I mentioned earlier, we're starting to bring in a lot of new blood for future sketches. I was initially nervous to ask people. "Who are these amateurs?" they would think to themselves. "I'm a REAL actor!" I only knew Aqueela through an audition (ironically), but she was totally on board when I gave her a call. More often than not, I'm starting to find, most actors in LA tend to be flattered that you thought of them and are usually more than happy to help out. Especially if they get some good reel footage out of the deal.

Shooting everything in one take like that really forced us to rehearse each moment carefully. The process was similar to theater more than film. We couldn't just fire off spontaneous jokes off the top of our heads or go off script too far. Especially since we only had one pie. We also had to stop a bunch of times because some evil dog kept barking outside and screwing up the sound. 

Keep showing the love, folks. Share us with your friends. We promise we're housebroken! Now if you'll excuse me, I think there's some leftover pie sitting in the kitchen...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Making a Reel: Hunting for Footage

"Do you have a good reel?"

It's a question that always makes me squirm. "Er... I'm working on it," I'll mutter. Then the person will inevitably smile politely and say something like "Oh, I see" before changing the subject. It's the one big chink in my armor that still exposes me as an unprofessional boob.

To be fair, not every new actor in LA needs a reel the first day they get here. When I arrived last October nobody had filmed me in anything besides the occasional home video shot by mommy and daddy.

Casting directors will not be impressed.

So the first task of a befuddled LA actor who's trying to make a reel is to get cast in things. But wait, don't I need a reel to get cast? Well, yes. Shut up. 

Do crap for free. If you think you're getting good material out of it, whore that talent of yours out to any pimply college kid who comes your way. Then ruthlessly forget his name after you get your first Oscar nod.

I'm at a place in my career where I've shot enough solid material though, so I've run out of excuses. 

I now have to embark on a giant email quest to actually obtain a copy of everything. You can't just rip stuff straight off of Youtube, alas. It's a lot of "Hi! Remember me?" (They probably don't.) "Could you take some time out of your super busy day to send me that piece I did for you awhile back?"

Most of these people I haven't talked to in months. And from what I hear there's always that one guy who I'll have to pester twenty thousand times until his only choice is to either give me what I want or rip his own eyeballs out in annoyance. 

But I gotta do what I gotta do. A good reel will open doors for me in ways that a headshot can't. I'll keep you guys posted on my process and would appreciate any advice from you veterans out there. Soon I'll be able to answer "Do you have a good reel?" with "Heck yeah I do! And it's better than yours, dummy!"

Or something like that.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Days: Dick Jokes (Saddest wig in cinema history...)

Well, we've hit the one month mark and the project's still rolling! Here's week four:

Ah man, I love that long silence about midway through, haha. All credit goes to Matt for that ridiculous Easter egg at the end too. That sucker would make a pretty jacked up ringtone. I was also pretty pleased with how all the laughing and hooting sort of became the soundtrack for the piece.

Okay, okay, so we really did make an honest effort to do the cross-dressing thing right. Picture two straight guys standing hopelessly in some high class wig shop, walking around in circles. The internet told us there was some big sale, but the saleslady acted like she had no idea what we were talking about. Eventually we had to tuck our tail between our legs and just use the same ratty one we had from Dude Tips. We'll do better next time, I reckon.

I've started trying to recruit some other actors in the hopes of giving us some new talent to play with. Evan's a fine actor that we know from Kentucky. You can see him for a very hot second in this national Lexus commercial. Stay tuned for more awesome LA actors showing us up soon!

It was a pretty simple shoot, except for the fact that we had nobody behind the camera. We literally just ran back and forth to start and stop each take. It's still a pretty humble operation, but by Jove we're getting things done!

Whoa! Dude Tips made it to 160 views last week! Thanks for all the support and feedback so far. We are a contagious disease that has infected your brain. Now go to a public place a sneeze a bunch!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My first national commercial shoot. (Featuring Blake Griffin.)

Okay guys, seriously. They gave me my own trailer. Let me repeat that: I HAD MY OWN TRAILER. Had my name on the door and everything. Did it have furniture? No. Did the electricity work? Sometimes. But by JOVE you'd better believe I strutted around set yacking off the phrase "I'll be in my trailer" to any unfortunate soul who happened to be within earshot.

I couldn't help but appreciate the power that big budget studios have over the city of Los Angeles. They shot our scenes on the driveway of some house, SO THEY SHUT DOWN THE ENTIRE BLOCK. I don't know what horrible labor camp they sent the residents of those houses to, but I never saw anybody who wasn't a part of the shoot.

Blake Griffin needs you to surrender your home... NOW

The shooting process itself was pretty easy. I met Blake Griffin, who had actually heard of my small state school ("Oh yeah, we played against them.") and then we got to it. Blake was pretty much the star of the spot, whereas I only reacted to what was going on in the scene. (Blake got his own umbrella guy to shield his beautiful complexion from the sun. I didn't. What a ripoff.) That being said, it was pretty amazing how subtle they wanted my reactions to be. Take a look at the next two pictures and see if you can tell a difference.

If you think they're pretty similar, than sorry. You don't have the chops to be a commercial director, because one of those suckers is right and the other is WRONG! 

Another interesting thing I noticed was how it took a good four and a half hours to shoot a thirty second commercial spot. I understand setting up for shots and whatnot, but I'll bet we took forty takes for each shot. Many of them were pretty much the same direction as the one before. I'm by no means bashing the director, cuz I've obviously never directed anything that big. But my primitive, idiot actor brain didn't understand why we needed so many takes. I just did what I was told like a good boy. I mean... when somebody gives you free Hawaiian style BBQ baby back ribs... you behave.

It was a great experience, and they had to drag me off of that set kicking and screaming. Because now that I've had this success, I have work to do. Time to make a reel, find a theatrical agent (maybe a manager too) and shmooze with the casting directors I've already met. Any time you move forward, you make sure you wring as much momentum from that blessing as you can. Forward motion is what it's all about out here. Cuz trust me, the pond is littered with other little fishies who are dead in the water. Gulp! Gotta keep moving!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Dude Tips (Pucker up, baby...)

We're on a roll! Here's this week's sketch, carried entirely by yours truly this time. We take a few pages out of MTV's playbook to give you a hot new segment called DUDE TIPS!

Ahaha so much fun. And the suspenders from Melvin Becomes a Man made a triumphant reappearance. (I'm a sucker for little easter eggs like that.) The feedback so far has been very enthusiastic, which makes us all happy as schoolgirls on the first day of summer vacation. 

You know what wasn't so much fun? Drinking an entire blender's worth of protein shake. You know why that wasn't much fun? Because we don't own a blender. Therefore we wound up getting a chocolate shake from In-N-Out and watering it down until it was choco soup. Yeccchhh....

I managed to gag my way through an entire giant cup's worth, only to look up and see Zach blinking helplessly at the camera, whose battery had died halfway through the take. Time to do it again!

Also: What do you do when your actress bails on you at the last second? Why, slap a wig on a dude and tell him to pucker up! That's creative problem solving right there, folks.

More often than not, I find myself playing the "nice guy" characters. It's SUPER important to know your type in this town (something I plan to touch on more in a future post), but sometimes when you do something completely different than what people are expecting out of you, some really funny things can happen. The joys of writing for yourself is that you get to try out roles that most directors won't automatically picture you in. And so for my big ATX sketch debut I cried... BRING ON THE DOUCHEBAG.

It's been SUCH a crazy week, so expect a bunch of posts this next week as I discuss my commercial shoot and another gig that I booked for Monday. In the meantime, keep the views coming! Last week's "Serial Killer" clocked in at a solid 114 views and "Cat Bowties" continued to climb past the 200 mark! You guys are amazing!

What did YOU think about Dude Tips? Want another episode, with even dudelier tips than the first? Let us know! We are your obsessive loveslaves. We spy on you when you sleep and we read your private emails. So... uh, you know. We think your opinions are neato.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Serial Killer (Dang, it was hot out there.)

What, you didn't think I'd forget about ATX in all the commercial excitement, did you? Here's the second week!

Haha, that stupid run he does at the end really cracks me up. And seriously, what kind of serial killer wears a bright neon yellow jacket when he's stalking his prey?

This shoot wound up being a lot easier than I was expecting. We had a pretty awful experience the last time we tried to shoot outside. Lots of ambient sound, other people walking into the shot, ever-changing lighting... there are so many factors that the ultra-low budget guerrilla filmmaker has little control over. Not to mention all of the potential problems of trying to shoot into a car. So I was bracing myself for all kinds of problems.

We zoomed into a sleepy-looking residential neighborhood in North Hollywood and shot everything we needed in less than an hour. Every once in awhile we'd have to stop for a passing car (kinda felt like we were neighborhood kids suspending our street hockey game: "CAR!!!") but besides that, the elements were pretty kind to us. Unless you count the 98 degree California heat burning our eyeballs out of our skulls.

So Week 2 is in the books. Cat Bowties, our first video, made it to 164 views in one week! Let's keep that momentum going for Serial Killer and see if we can make SK reach 200! Watch it, share it, and subscribe to our channel. Every time you share our videos on your Facebook, you're exposing them to hundreds of people that we don't have access to and, therefore, helping our fledgling project to thrive a little more.

What did you think of Serial Killer? Comment either here or on Youtube. We love feedback!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How I booked my first national commercial!

I was on the set of some little cheapy movie as a background actor, dully waiting around in between takes. It was near the end of the day, and I was getting tired of moving my mouth and pretending to talk while the "real" actors did their thing. Also: no air conditioning. I looked down and saw that I had a voicemail. It was from my agent, and all she said was "Give me a call. I have some things I need to go over with you." My first thought was Great. What do I need to spend money on now?

I called her and the first thing she said was "You booked the Kia commercial with Blake Griffin! Congratulations!!!"

My brain initially had trouble figuring out whether it should be excited, grateful, relieved, empowered, or just plain unbelieving. I think I settled for something like "Wow!"

The first national commercial is a pretty huge step in the right direction for a young actor like myself. Without even mentioning the SWEET residuals that usually come with a car commercial, I'm also automatically eligible to join SAG-AFTRA whenever I want. (All I need is 3,000 bucks!) It can take people YEARS to get their union card. I probably won't join it instantly (I discuss the pros and cons of that move a little more in depth here.) but it's AWESOME to have that in my back pocket. I'm also gearing up for a theatrical agent hunt, so a national commercial will be a GREAT thing to have on my reel.

Now I know what you're thinking. "Nathan! Just a few posts ago you were going on and on about how subjective commercial auditions are! One week later and you booked one! You were just exaggerating!"

Okay, first of all, stop using so many exclamation marks. Secondly, let me walk you through my audition process for this. I walked into the room. They said "Look confused." So I did this:

"Not that confused," they said. So I did this:

"Now as if you really like it." I did this:

"Thanks, that's all we need!" AND I WALKED OUT THE DOOR. I must have been in there all of thirty seconds. Five days later, I got the gig. I didn't make any outstanding acting choices. I didn't schmooze with the directors. I just made a couple funny faces and took off before they stopped laughing.

More importantly, in the moments when I felt exhausted and was thinking about giving up, I STUCK WITH IT. Instead of quitting after that dog walking commercial audition, I went to the next one. THAT'S how you get jobs.

And, you know, magically looking exactly like the part they need helps too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Cat Bowties (Wait, we started?!)

Whoo boy. Lots to discuss. But first... Here's a link to the first video:

Alright, so judging from early feedback (which ranges from "LMAO!!!!" to "I hated it") you either had a good time or were left scratching your head, wondering what the heck you just watched. Either reaction is okay. It's kinda how you're supposed to feel.

Tim and Eric (examples of which can be viewed here and here) are notorious for making supercharged pieces of comedy that basically crank up the intensity to the point where logic snaps and the viewer is bombarded with absurdity. The goal isn't so much to tell a story as to basically assault your senses as brutally as possible. (They're kind of a comedic version of Antonin Artaud's work with theater of cruelty.)

I set out to emulate that style with Cat Bowties, and then Matt took it to a whole other level in the editing chair. As far as I'm concerned, we were totally successful. 

That being said, this wasn't really supposed to be the first episode of our series. For every one person who thinks Tim and Eric is funny, there's another fifteen people who hate it. I know this kind of stuff is really polarizing, and I would've rather posted a more user-friendly introduction. Buuut some wires got crossed and it wound up getting posted first. Actually... we weren't supposed to launch at all for another week. Whoops! 

Anyway, we are officially moving, and I have no idea where we're headed. It's a totally terrifying feeling, to be honest. I can't help but envision the whole project crashing and burning, with everyone I know and respect just shrugging and saying "I don't get it." I woke up this morning and I felt like a giant anchor was wrapped around my barely-floating artistic career. Basically the same question hit me that, I suppose, hits everyone who tries something ambitious: "What if I suck?" 

But my philosophy has always been that if I'm scared of the project, that means that I took risks and tried some things that were outside of my comfort zone. That, in my humble opinion, is what an artist is supposed to be. It's certainly how one grows. Somewhat perversely, the only ones who get to decide if it's a success or a failure is you, my esteemed audience. All I can do is offer as many burnt offerings to you as possible in the hopes that one of them is pleasing to your mighty appetite for entertainment. 

So yeah, go me. Sound off in the comments section about what you thought about our crazy video, and if you've ever been scared of failing! Did you triumph or crumple? I starve for your stories!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"I Just Don't Think I Can Do It."

Here's an old post that I wrote on a long-forgotten xanga account a few months ago, but I thought it had enough relevance to repost here. Very quickly in your first year as an actor, there will come a time where you think "What the heck am I doing here?" I asked myself that question last March, and this is what I came up with:

I guess what it all comes down to is, if I could go back in time, would I move out here again?

The decision to move to California is without a doubt the biggest and scariest thing I've ever done with my life. I left behind a girlfriend that I loved, friends who had my back, and a family who shaped me into the person that I am today. Essentially, I destroyed my old life to start a new one in a city where thousands of people are clawing over each other, trying to do the exact same thing I am. The odds of me failing miserably are almost certain. So if I could go back, would I change anything?


What I realize is that failure is never the end. In fact, the only way to succeed is by failing. Even though there are plenty of times where I sit around my cramped apartment with next to no income, worrying about how long my savings are going to last, obsessively puzzling about how to break into an industry that is as airtight as Alcatraz, missing people from home, at the same time I realize that I'M DOING IT! THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT.

To chase a dream is to fail and fail and fail and fail and fail and maybe one day succeed. And yet, this is the conflict that makes life worth living. If I had kept my old life, I would have gone absolutely crazy. I would have asked myself every day, "How might things have turned out if I'd been braver?" Nothing's wrong with settling down, but (for me anyway) settling down is something I have to EARN. It's a nice, well-deserved rest after a bitter struggle for my own destiny. 

And what an exciting struggle! I've been in music videos, TV shows, Shakespearean plays, a short play WRITTEN BY ME, a PSA, and indie short films! I've met nationally renowned casting directors and I've met lowly homeless people, dying of AIDS and wanting somebody to talk to. In a way, success and failure is irrelevant. What it's really all about is making the ride as wild as you can. As nice as the merry-go-round is, you're inevitably gonna wanna graduate to a roller-coaster. (Even if sometimes you're so scared that you nearly crap yourself.) And that's what I'm doing. 

Another nice thing about failure: They make the successes that much sweeter. Case in point: AS I WAS WRITING THIS, I got an unexpected phone call that opened yet another little window of opportunity for my fledgling artistic career. It's like getting hit with a lightning bolt made of candy! 

Be wise, be fearless, and never lose faith. You can ALWAYS push through until tomorrow.