Archive for October, 2008

A Simple Death

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I just auditioned for a student film up at AFI this morning (I’m told I would know by Tuesday); to my surprise afterward I found my friend David Schroeder waiting to audition for the same role…!

“Lower Learning” meets Badger Luck…?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Last November I worked a day on a film called Lower Learning as Featured Background. As my on-set report reflects, based on results, I really should have been upgraded to Day Player for the scene. Not only was I part of a two-shot close-up with a principal, interacting with him but physically interacting with him (“albeit” a hand-shake), the director directed my personally (in actuality a director can only direct principals and other contract role players: featured and general background are directed by Assistant Directors: if the director wants something changed he tells the AD who tells the backgrounder).
But I figured, hey, it’s a tight shot of me with the pleasant and very funny Nat Faxon, so I patiently waited for the film to be released.
There is a concept of Life I’ve deduced, called Badger Luck. Those who are friends and/or good to me, tend to do Really Really Well. Those who do wrong by me or do wrong by my friends… tend to get karmic backlash. Years ago when I was booked to work five days on one film and at the very very end of the first day, about 90% of us were told we weren’t to return, that feature film Went Nowhere, never even got released (and it starred Kim Basinger Forest Whitaker, Tim Roth, Danny DeVito, Ray Liotta, et al). Never got released. Hmm.
Now with Lower Learning, (as of this blog entry’s date and time), its imdb entry still shows no release date. Ironically, at the bottom of its poster it does show October 10, 2008: I’d come across a small poster for it hastily affixed to a few local light poles, that it was only opening at the Laemmle Sunset 5. A producer friend of mine surmised this meant they could only just “four-wall it.” They couldn’t get a wider release.
I went and saw it this past Saturday morning and… well… apart from the fact my scene is omitted completely (being a flashback, not much of a real loss to the storyline: just “explaining” a minor backstory point that technically didn’t need explaining), based on the rest of the film… the flashback might have been considered the funniest scene of the film. The “comedy” is about a loser elementary school with a corrupt principal, in which pretty much all of the faculty have lost all will to teach, to inspire, or in some cases even to live. It’s almost surprising no character commits suicide in this feature, though one does come an instant away from actually doing so.
I think I actually laughed once, and there were two to three actual moments (not sequences), which had me chuckle. Beyond that the film seemed to strive towards depressing the audience as much as were its characters.
btw, apart from myself in the auditorium, there were five or six others who attended the same matinee, and they actually managed to sit through the entire film as well: I did not ask them if they’d worked on it in some capacity.
Now would the film have been a success (or at least watchable), had my scene been included, and/or even more so had they honourably upgraded me to Day Player contract? We’ll never really know. One can only go by what happened to/with the film after I wasn’t upgraded and after the scene on which I worked was cut. As always, results don’t lie.
(Ironically, I still added the title to my NetFlix queue, on the off chance its DVD contains Deleted Scene/s as Bonus Material…)

USC audition class, and new headshot/s needed

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

This morning I went down to USC for the audition class. As I was heading to my temp day-job from there, I arrived at the 8:50am class around 7:20am.
With an hour and a half with which to wait, I drowsed for about an hour, waking up just before Hilde (with whom I made the appointment, and I now presume may be the teacher’s aide), apologetically had to bring into the classroom the sofa on which I had been sitting. She put out a sign-in sheet, already aware I was first. By the time I was done and headed out there were about five men and one woman waiting.
Hilde took our sets of headshots and resumes and brought them in; I’d taken the liberty of attaching my demo reel DVD disc, as it looks much cleaner than its YouTube variant. The class’s teacher Nina Foch had already thanked those of us already waiting, before heading into the class herself (at the time I did not know who she was, as she never introduced herself, nor did anyone introduce her to us).
Hilde had given us each sides which turned out to be a few pages from different movies. Mine was a scene from Moonstruck, which as it turns out, I’ve never actually seen, which probably is a Very Good Thing, as it had me auditioning a scene as though it had never been done.
I studied my scene while inside the teacher worked with the class. Hilde came out and called me inside.
I’ve done over forty student films, but this was the first time it was more than one to three people: it was about thirty plus, or certainly seemed that way. But at the very front of the multitude was a table next to which was the teacher, and behind which was (I think her name was) Debbie. I said hello and shook her hand, as well as Conner, who would be reading the lines in the scene with me. The scene was straight-forward enough that I barely had to consult the pages, but the reading wasn’t first up.
Debbie started out with a simple question such as how long had I been in Los Angeles, but the teacher cut her off. I said nothing as I knew a process was going on. The teacher did a polite aside, indicate she was teaching [the class] how to audition [actors]. I just waited, intrigued with the process.
The teacher pointed out not to ask direct questions, and demonstrated, saying, “Tell me about going to medieval festivals.” I began to recount the fun involved, my attending in garb and before hand collecting dollar coins with which to pay for things, et al. The teacher gently prodded about what I wear and how I behave at the faire, et al. Debbie made an attempt, “but” began to ask if I climbed rope ladder games at the faire. I presume she meant to ask that. She got as far as “climbing rope–” when the teacher corrected her again, pointing out, and speaking in a robotic voice, “You might as well be asking, ‘Tell me what you can do, hu-man’…”
She stressed [Debbie] doesn’t have to ask What Can You Do?, when by just listening [the actor] will convey everything s/he can do.
So we got to the reading. Connor clearly is not an actor: his read was similar to how Randy’s character on My Name is Earl reads aloud. He wasn’t the worst. I did my best, and the teacher thanked me, as did Debbie, who asked if I could do it one more time. She realized she couldn’t quite communicate what she wanted adjusted. She was trying to request a stronger attitude with the big line towards the end. The director was even more confused that I, asking what motivation did she want me to have? Debbie couldn’t quite articulate what she sought, and the teacher gently kept driving home the point What Motivation was wanted? Debbie expressed wanting my being more assertive. She and the teacher agreed the rest had been spot on.
I did the scene again from the top, ironically being stopped just shy of the big line to which Debbie had referred, but I had shifted the last line I had said, a bit more lovingly. I guess that was the line to which she’d actually referred.
I was thanked but before I left, the teacher pointed out to me I should have my headshot redone; it’s completely wrong. “The rule is,” she said. “Men up; women down,” defining that as photographing upwards for males and photographing down for females. My photo is shot downwards. She told me the photo was “killing” me; they’d all seen my headshot and “then suddenly this handsome man walks in,” the class from which she acquired concurrence.
Ack. I’d gotten the new headshot from a good friend who did it for free as she was building a portfolio so as to become professional headshot photographer. I’ll have to see if she’ll charge me. If she’s open to a reshoot, I can certainly take her to lunc for it [bg], but if she charges “headshot prices,” my photographer roommate certainly could do it [g]…