The Murder Project

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Last summer I got to spend time promoting a project I worked on. I had such a great time shooting this web series. I got to work with actors I had known which made it less intimidating for me. I have a special place in my heart for this little web series because it’s how I got my SAG card which is a big deal. It’s the first step in becoming a legitimate actor, joining the union, and it can sometimes be difficult to accomplish.

The series is about a group of friends coming together to celebrate the marriage of Brain and Vanessa (me).  However, an unwelcome guest arrives, my best-friend Nicolette and she ends up dead. Who did it? Why? What do we do with the body? One thing I know for sure everyone has a motive to kill her!  I enjoyed this character so much. Vanessa a determined soon to be bride who will let nothing get in the way of her future….nothing! She is devious, manipulative, but it really stems from her need of security. She’s had to work her way out of an impoverished past and she’s finally found a secure way out. So she has to do what she has to do, at least that’s the back story I created to give her a heart 🙂

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So I wanted to share some stills from our shoot and also the link to our site.You can watch the videos here and I recommend doing the #MurderProject – Lean Back Experience (We Pick) . This allows you to see it as the director intended. I would love to hear from you. What episode did you like. I’m so excited about ending 2013 promoting this project and having my U.S visa renewed.

It makes me especially excited to see what I create for my career in 2014.

#MurderProject-Menu

Rehearsals, Props, Fun Times

I was recently working on a scene in which my scene partner made a choice to smoke. He used really cigarettes. Now for me second hand smoke is  a big no no. I hate smoke. I hate when people smoke around me. I just hate it. I don’t judge those that do smoke, I just don’t want to have to inhale it.

For two reasons really. 1. I’m allergic. 2. It gets up in my sinus. Now here is the funny part. The scene we were working in is called 27 Wagons Full of Cotton By Tennessee Williams. Wait the best part is one of my lines in the script written by Mr. Williams is “Well smoke got in my eyes and nose and throat  it hurt my sinus. I was in such a won out nervous condition it made me cry” Truer words had never been said.

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I started a coughing fit in the scene and after the performance my scene partner mentioned to me he thought I was acting, with the coughing etc. Nope I was choking to death literally!

I don’t want to stifle anyone’s creative juices and their acting choices but he wasn’t picking up my hint in rehearsal when I said I’m allergic to the smoke. It hurts my sinus. Granted those are words in the actually script so he’s probably thinking I’m doing method or something. But I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Between the smoke and the allergies I was sick, really, really throwing up sick for 4 days.  How can I ask him to not smoke. Well I can’t I guess.

So I did some research and found out what the pro’s use on set. They can’t actually be smoking on set. The New York Post had this great article.  Apparently for pot smoking on screen they use Oregano, who knew.

I think I’ll this article to my scene partner. Maybe then he’ll get the hint!

Show Business Heartbreaks

After reading this interview by Alec Baldwin, I felt inspired to see the documentary in question, Seduced and Abandoned.  I’ve been thinking about my a career of choice lately and I do agree the movie business is pretty hard. You have to be tough as steel to make it. It’s a very competitive business and if it’s not your passion and you don’t find it thrilling then I think it will be very difficult for you to do it, because it’s so tough.

Tough in the sense that you’re going to have your heartbroken over and over again. You may kill yourself to get a role you’d probably be great at and you may not even be able to get in on the audition. Or you may go to Seduced-and-Abandoned-Poster-600x449network over and over again and not book the job.  You may spend years in acting class honing your skill and not book anything. It’s a business of highs and lows. I remember my second year in Los Angeles I had a talk with myself about whether or not I was really going to commit my life to this career.  I knew the road ahead was not guaranteed and would be unpredictable and filled with heartache, but also filled with great joy and excitement and passion. So I chose to forge on, and I do not regret it at all.

When I look at these actors who have had such great success’ and I hear the agony over their careers I get it.   We’re artists and we are made to create, but its the little pesky things like money and business that gets in the way.

But you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do, and I’ll keep working to get to the level of success that I want.

The documentary is on HBO and is worth watching. Its great juicy behind the scenes cut throat action. As an actress I know saw how they look at us when we’re auditioning. The part regarding Neve Campbell’s bank ability was interesting as well. But I also enjoyed Bérénice Bejo‘s take.

I think Alec Baldwin was right, in this business we must be a bit selfish, but also tough as nails I think.

How do you feel about at this time of year?

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It’s a new month. It’s a new beginning. I love beginnings because they hold so much promise. You get a chance to start over. To press reset. So the beginning of every month has always been special to me. October is a little different. It’s that month where you realize, holy crap the year is over!

In the past I’ve been frightened by this, depressed about this. But this year it’s different. I am excited by this. Yesterday I pulled out my 18 month goal list. I do 18 months because a year is too short and two years is too long so this time period works for me. It works for Sheryl Sandberg too, she does it as well. So I went through my goals and looked at what I had accomplished, what I hadn’t yet accomplished. What needs to be deleted from the list, what needs to be added to the list.

As I was doing this I began to realize I was actually getting stuff done. I wanted my number of auditions to increase, and it has. I wanted to connect with certain casting directors and I did. I wanted to save a specific amount of money and I’m on schedule. So I’m making things happen.  When I woke up this morning and it was October I was excited because I thought wow I’m really getting so much accomplished lets see how much more I can do before the years end. So I added some “impossible” things to the list. I thought why not.

Now I haven’t finished or completed a lot of them. I want to book more jobs, audition for bigger jobs, etc.  But the change has started. Because I’ve been really zoning into my desires. I’m in an upward swing. My mood has been better. I have been better, happier.

So October is my new favorite month, next to December my birthday month. Why because its a chance to really make that list we made in January count. So we may have fallen off the wagon on some of our goals, but lets look at October as our reset button. It’s like our fresh start.  I have a great method of getting goals done. It took my a while to figure out what will work for me. If you want me to go into that let me know and I write a post on my method.

So tell me how do you feel about this time of the year?

Image Credit: Mary Kate McDevitt

Power of Thank you

Happy Monday!

I wanted to start the week with some gratitude.

One of the main things we’re taught in my acting class is the power of thank you notes.   It’s seems like a no brainier but you’d be surprised how many people don’t send thank you notes.  

Well I had met this one particular casting director when I first moved to Los Angeles. She told me to keep in touch and I did. Through out the years I would send her holiday cards, update her on what I was doing, and congratulate her on any of her work I saw.  It finally paid off.

I saw her post this on Actors Access and I submitted myself. Over the years she had never called me in but this time she did.  I was so excited because it was for a studio film, with a director I really liked (female director) and staring some one I really liked. This may seem like nothing, but I don’t have a theatrical agent which means I got in on a studio film audition on my own.  Which is nuts.

However, another example of thank you working for me. Last year I had an audition for my first feature film.  I went in; had three callbacks the last being with the director (female again); and I felt it went o.k.  I didn’t get the part (actually the role was cut). But I  made a great connection with that casting director. I sent my thank you note as usual and I’ve kept in contact with her since. It’s been about a year and I just got an email from her thanking me for all my notes.

So now because of thank you, because I listened to my acting teacher’s advice. I now have two strong casting directors knowing who I am.  One of my vision board goals this year was to become known by 5 major casting directors so I’ve got three to go!

 

 

 

 

Image credit: coldwellbankerprime.com

Compete under pressure – Do you have the killer instinct?

Has this ever happened to you at an audition. You’re waiting in the room. They start bringing people in. Its dead silence, you’re hearing nothing. Then the person before you goes in.  You’re psyching yourself up, getting into present time. Giving yourself the old you can do it just be confident speech. Then you hear it.  The room roars with laughter. That person comes out and you hear, “you’re the highlight of our day” blah, blah, blah that was great.

Then it’s your turn. Can you say pressure. Now its on you to keep this momentum going. That other actor just did a great job oh why do I have to follow that.  I hate these scenarios yet they keep happening to me. Gosh I guess the universes is trying to teach me that lesson. And you know what no matter how hard i try I still have it in the back of my mind how much they love the other person.  I’ve got to stay focus.

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I must say I didn’t flinch on my choice.  I stuck with the choice I made, It didn’t stink but I did not get the response I wanted.  Auditioning is such a sensitive thing. I know the best thing to do is go in prepared with your choice, they may not like your choice but at least you’ve made one. So now I don’t know if I didn’t get  a call back because the just weren’t feeling my choice or maybe i was influenced by the person who went before me.  I mean I had good volume and I did it as I rehearsed it, I guess I’ll never know. That’s the part of the process I hate but it’s what we signed up for as actors isn’t it. Oh gosh now I sound like one of those actors, I vowed I never would. Well I have a blog about acting so i guess I’m way past that threshold.

Is this how athletes feel. It makes me think about Ryan Lochte racing Michael Phelps everybody thought Michael was going to win and then Lochte beats him. So maybe I just answered my own conundrum. YES!!! That’s it. I love it when I answer my own question.

Do your work, train your butt off and then swim in your own lane and compete hard! From now on I’m going to take a picture of Ryan Lochte to my auditions as my reminder. I let you know how that goes.

We opened…..then we closed

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Well I’ve been having an eventful summer. A friend of mine was starring in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, as Stanley. Now every actor worth his/her salt knows that play and would die to be apart of it. If you’ve seen the movie Blue Jasmine, then you caught a cliff notes modern “version” of the play. So when my friend told me he was going to play Stanley Kowalski I was ecstatic. And when he asked if I would consider doing a part that hadn’t been cast yet I of course jumped a the chance.

My first rehearsal went something like this. I arrive at the theater, two of the leads are there along with the director; we are in a dinning area of the theater not on the stage. O.k no problem.  The rest of the day went like this:

10:00am  — Scheduled call, two cast member plus the director and myself are there

10:30am — Three additional cast members arrive

10:45am — 11:15am – Bicker about the my friend not arriving

11:15am — My friend aka Stanley arrives, bicker becomes mild argument

So we begin rehearsal. I should have known from this day something was wrong.  First of all my friend is a working actor and had the strongest resume of the bunch so when he was late I know something was up because in our business you can never be late.  EVER!

The above behavior continues and escalate as we arrive to opening week. The director gets sick and can not attend the rehearsal for two days. The actor playing Mitch (and the main trouble maker in my opinion).  has decided he can not speak as he has damaged his vocal cord (bull…).  Well where are the understudies you might say…oh there weren’t any. So I asked  friend in my acting class who luckily was working on this play, if he could fill in. He came to the rehearsal, which should have been our first night of previews, then suddenly the actor playing Mitch could speak, where once he couldn’t. Its a miracle!

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Fast forward to opening night. The director (who has now returned) tells us we’re going to do a run through tonight as we are not ready to open, you don’t say!  During our first and only run through the actress playing Blanche stops in the middle of the scene and begins to cry as a prop phone she brought in has been broken. I mean heavy heaving sobs of despair that lasted for about 30 minutes, the director had to clear the stage. Granted the phone had sentimental value, but come on!!!  Elizabeth Taylor’s husband died in a plane crash while she was filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And that’s a classic and she didn’t. And guess what she didn’t do. Waste anybody’s time.

The next day, the real opening day 😉 we’re all at rehearsal, surprisingly every one is on time and we’re waiting for about 2 hours. Then a lady comes out, who says she owns the theater, I’d never seen her at any rehearsals; though she claims to have been watching a few of our rehearsals. She begins reading this heartfelt letter that basically said;  they we’re closing the show, without opening because some of the actors are acting like total divas.  Unbeknownst to me the actors playing Mitch, Blanche, and Stella had been sending threatening emails of walking out of the production etc.  So the producers didn’t pull their punch and closed the entire production.

Acting, tacky business I know!

What did I learn from this. Oh so many things.  Always have the best attitude, even if you’re unhappy about the way things are going, you never know who’s watching.  Be professional. Nobody has time for your personal life dramas at work. Have breakdowns on your own time. Be professional!!!