Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Not Lazy I'm Sick

Recovering from the worst case of flu ever.  I think I've fallen victim to federal biological warfare. I've been sick for two weeks and only slowly coming back.  Rats!  Had to cancel two auditions.  Barely made it to my photo session with Joe Henson a week ago (illness gives you high color) and now trying to regroup.  

I liked the photos.  Some of the un-retouched proofs are at right.  One executive, one casual Mom, one 3/4 shot for print work.  Still planning a blitz to the agencies when I get all my materials in hand.

But for now all I want to do is sleep.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Busy Week

Busy week: Started Brenna McDonough's Master Class (which is wonderful!)  Brenna coauthored the book at left with her husband. This is the second class I've had with her - largely auditioning for commercials and industrials, but a lucrative sideline for the dramatic actor.  Also updating my resume and reposting it to IMDb, Actors Access, the Actor’s Center in DC, Casting Frontier, NY Castings, and Dragonuk Connects.  Rewrote my 45-second bio (should I be asked to "say something" about myself at an audition.) Signed up for a teleprompter class in May, submitted a headshot and resume for a wonderful play in Philadelphia that would use a bit 'o me Irish (longshot, there are loads of terrific actresses in Philly), found a comedy monologue for a film audition on the 16th, signed up for a peer practice session on the 17th at the Actors Center.  Getting new headshots taken by Joe Henson on Sunday and creating labels and drafting a cover letter for sending the headshots out to agencies as soon as I get prints.  Whew!

Oh, yeah! And doing my taxes!  (bang head, bang head)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Interchangeable in Hollywood

By the way, I saw this poster for the television series "Pretty Little Liars" yesterday when I was out at the salon getting my hair cut.  Can anyone tell these sweet young things apart?  Aside from one being a blonde, their faces are almost identical.  Before I posted this, I actually checked the series to make sure they weren't digitally animated!

I've remarked before on the lovely sameness settling in on television, but what is the business thinking behind this?  And what must it be like to be one of these interchangeables?  

4/6/11 p.s.  My husband the novelist-budding screenwriter ventures that on low-budget series aimed at certain demographics - teens, for example - producers go with actors who look very similar so that if one leaves to go do something more interesting or lucrative they can be easily replaced and the series continues without missing a beat.

I think he's got it!


In addition to studying film I often watch documentaries in the evening as there’s no better way to observe human behavior than…well…to observe human behavior.  I was watching Kings of Pastry last night, a terribly interesting 2009 film on the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF - Best Craftsman in France) competition for pastry chefs.

As the IMDb description puts it: “The collar awarded to the winners of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF - Best Craftsman in France) is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. The three-day competition includes everything from delicate chocolates to precarious six-foot sugar sculptures and requires that the chefs have extraordinary skill, nerves of steel and luck…The filmmakers were given first time/exclusive access to this high-stakes drama of passion, sacrifice, disappointment and joy in the quest to have President Sarkozy declare them one of the best in France.”

The description hardly captures the unbelievable pressure on the 16 finalists (out of 70.) The candidates compete not against each other but against an exacting standard of excellence.  All through the competition the judges – themselves MOFs - are watching everything the chefs are doing, peering over their shoulders, scribbling notes, even judging their tidiness and clean up.  Add to that the fact that there’s a film crew in the room recording every triumph and tragedy.  Each day is timed; one begins before dawn.  At night their wives and girlfriends are there to lend moral support.  Only a few will be awarded the coveted tricolor collar.

One chef – Philippe  Rigollot - had done extremely well through the first two days (even my husband said, “Man, he is good!”).  The third day each of the 16 is assigned a table to arrange all of their dozen or so creations for the final judging and public display.  They are exhausted mentally and physically.   Philippe is carefully moving his centerpiece – a fanciful 3 ft. tall man with a top hat, mustache, and monocle, all made of chocolate and sugar.  As he sets it on the table, the centerpiece shatters into a hundred pieces and everyone gasps. It is a catastrophe.  It has taken him the three days to make the parts and assemble it.  There is no time to make it again.  The other chefs and the judges put their arms around his shoulders and urge him to take the sugar base (all that is left) and create something to turn in.  His shoulders sag, his faces reddens and he starts to cry.

There’s something particularly heart-rending about a man in tears, and understand this is a big guy!  In the end Philippe pulls himself together and picks up the sugar base, determined to follow it through to the end.  He creates a pulled sugar bird and a flower and a few decorations to attach to the base in time to turn something in, but it is nothing like his original creation.  No matter.  He finished, he didn’t just walk out.

And, like a Hollywood drama, in the end Philippe is one of only 4 of the chefs to be awarded the MOF collar, despite the loss of his masterpiece.  As the judges explained, he turned in a centerpiece and received a grade – not a good grade, but a grade.  And his scores for all of his other creations were so high, they decided he had earned the MOF just the same.  (Since they saw him create his original centerpiece – and it really was unique – I have to think that played a role as well.)

So what does all this have to do with acting?  Well it illustrates a maxim for auditions, and for life: that it isn’t the error that matters, it’s the recovery.  Success is not perfection, it’s persistence.

I have a film audition coming up on the 16th.  I will be thinking of Philippe Rigollot, and his smiling face.