Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am eating my face with envy...

I am eating my face with envy, which is not a good mood to be in when I’m trying to lose three pounds by Friday.  Bah!  Found out yesterday that a drama classmate of mine has snagged a principal role in Veep, the new HBO television series with Julia Louis-Dreyfus that’s filming locally.  It’s Erik Mueller, below, who I’ve mentioned before in this blog.  Charming fellow with a warm, sad, funny face that is just wonderful.  He’s going to do great things in comedy.

But what’s wrong with me, me?!!  Why didn’t they pick me?!!  (Because you didn’t submit for it, you dolt!  Oh.  Yeah.  That. )

Actually now that I’m a union member I just yesterday submitted for for Veep through Pat Moran & Associates in Baltimore, as they put out a new call for principal roles.  (That’s when I checked the cast list on IMBd and saw Erik listed.)  I know Pat favors actors with theatre experience (which Erik has), so I may still be toast.  Still, it’s good to see someone I know do well.  He’s a sweet guy and deserves it.  So Hooray for Erik!!

I’m still eating my face though. (wink)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Everything takes so long...

I've spent most of this weekend drafting personal emails to people who will get a link tomorrow to my acting reel.  This isn't something I can blast out with a one-size-fits-all cover note.  Personal relationships deserve personal attention.  Some I'm hoping will provide feedback so that I can improve the reel in the next go 'round.  Some will get it because the reel contains a clip from a film we appeared in together.  Casting agencies will get it as both a link and DVD.  Everyone, I'm hoping, will pass the link along if they know of someone looking for an older Union actress to fill a role.

Everything seems to take so long.

This season 23 shows are shooting in New York, including soaps like One Life to Live and a whole slew of comedy and dramatic series:  Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Suits, White Collar.   Steven Spielberg is filming Lincoln down near Richmond next month.  Lots of great actors.  Almost all of the smaller roles were for men.  Bah.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I must find a way to get into foreign films!

I must find a way to get into foreign films and soon. I am continually blown away by the wonderful quality of films coming out of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, non-Bollywood India, Spain, Argentina, and elsewhere.  I’ve been searching on the Internet for information on  how one would go about looking for foreign productions.  Lots of study-abroad programs for acting students, but that isn’t really what I’m looking for.  I know working abroad often sets you up for double income tax, but I wonder what are the other obstacles?   A fellow actor suggested I submit the idea to the editor at AFTRA’s magazine and see if they might have someone look into it and do an article.  Sounds like a plan.  It’s obviously easy for foreign actors to appear in American films and TV - just look at how many Brits and Aussies we have - but as with many things it isn’t a two-way street.  Foreign countries make it difficult for non-citizens to work.  Anyone with information on acting in foreign films, please write!

What prompted all this is that my husband and I saw Sarah’s Key last weekend.  The casting and performances in the WWII part of the story are just excellent.  Again I’m impressed by a child with little experience or training – Mélusine Mayance, in the title role - who gets it so right.  How do kids do that?!   The overall look of that part of the film is beautiful.  Foreign filmmakers have a knack for telling a simple tale and making it compelling. (sigh) I was going to make some crack about how awful the present day part of the film was, how miscast, how badly acted, but I learned this week that Aaron Schneider, who directed and edited the perfectly wonderful film Get Low, was second unit director of photography on the 1997 Winset/DiCaprio Titanic, which I think means he shot the part with the insufferable Granny and her insufferable family.  As such, I'll shut up and allow that everyone grows in their profession, hopefully even me.

Here at home I’m running to get all that needs to be done done and even the earthquake on Tuesday allowed only a brief pause while my life flashed before my eyes.  The acting demo reel is finished at last and can be seen at lower right along with an interview I had edited down as a promotional piece.  I very much took to heart what Geoffrey Soffer said about reels - that they're less about wowing them with my version of Lady Macbeth than about conveying a type.  I think it does convey a type.

A big thanks to my friend and editor Austin Smokowicz for pulling these together for me.  I haven’t promoted the demo yet – that takes place next week when (so an actor friend tells me) Mercury is no longer retrograde and the New Moon will portend good growth (I think that last bit is from the Farmer's Almanac) – but I’m very happy with the format.  I think it has a crisp look that not only accommodates different-sized video files without distortion (films shot 4x3 and 16x9, for example) but is also easy to update without having to redo the whole reel.  I expect several new clips to come in over the next few months so I’ll be bumping off the least of these and replacing them with more recent work.  So glad that my clips are finally arriving with some regularity.

Speaking of which I just wrapped on The Louder the Better, Michael Toscano’s SAG Master’s Degree thesis for Columbia University, where I had the pleasure of working with the very talented actor Regen Wilson.  (Nice job, Regen!)  It’s always a good sign when the director shows up with a ton of crew and equipment because you can rest assured that as long as you turn in a worthy performance you’re going to look great on camera.   Toscano had a sure hand though the long (and late!) days shooting.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished film, which will screen in New York next spring.  With any luck I will be there with bells on.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Connections Missed and Made

What I especially love about the New Media is the incredible variety of original material being produced, including new and thoughtful takes on old themes.

I met New York actress Melissa Center a few weeks ago through “Hollywood Happy Hour,” an online acting discussion group founded by author, producer, and casting director Bonnie Gillespie.   Melissa as it turns out has a hit series on the Web, Missed Connections Live, based on ads in the New York Craigslist Personals column, “Missed Connections.”

Personals can be a goldmine of social commentary, as Brooklyn blogger Sophie Blackall discovered in compiling a selection of them into a soon-to-be-published book Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found.  But as an actress, Melissa took a different approach.  For her, each post was a comedic moment in time that she could expand on in scripting a series that is quirky, funny and a showcase for her considerable talents.  

And even though she embellishes the source material, Melissa says the main idea is to stay true to what has been written by real, everyday people.  I suspect that’s why it resonates with so many viewers.  She’s fresh.  She’s charming.  It's real.  I love her clever opener.  Watch it.  You’ll get hooked.

Missed Connections Live has been the featured series on Blip.TV and was recently nominated for an Audience Choice Award.  Plus Melissa herself is up for a StayTunedTV Award for Best Actress in a web comedy, winner to be announced in conjunction with the International Television Festival, August 5-11 in Los Angeles.  She's planning to fly out for the festivities.

Far from missing connections, I’ve made a few in the last couple of weeks. I’ve just been cast as a Faye Dunaway-type radio network executive in a SAG short – The Louder the Better – that examines how conscience is often the first casualty in the radio talk show ratings wars.  Script by Michael Toscano.  We start shooting it August 13th.

Then a comment on Facebook prompted a note from director Paul Awad at Diesel Films about an original Western series he and screenwriter Kathryn O’Sullivan are producing for the Web (a “Web-stern” as he calls it).  I read for a role and was cast as Pearl Thurston, whose husband has just met a violent end in the town of the same name, Thurston.  This is Diesel Films 11th creative project.  Very excited to be doing a Western.  It starts filming in September in Virginia.

News of that role led to an email from actor friend Richard Cutting and an online introduction to writer/director Wayne Shipley whose recent Western feature One-Eyed Horse was filmed in nearby Maryland.  (Funny how this business works.  Success really is about who you know and how they know you.)  Shipley has a new film in preproduction, Day of the Gun.  Hoping I’ll have a chance to audition.

Commitment, a thriller short I shot last summer, gets a screening at the New York City International Film Festival on August 19 and I’m still hoping to get tickets and get up to New York to review my performance as Special Justice Helen Rider. Writer/director Richard Volin did a terrific job with it and I look forward to adding a clip to my demo reel once it finishes the rounds at the film festivals.

But for now, to bed.  It’s late.  The day job will have me up at 5 a.m.  Boo.