Been awhile since I updated here. It’s been a busy time, exciting in some ways, exhausting in others, sometimes frustrating, sometimes with great potential. Any writer knows you can’t eat potential, and that has summed up rather too much of my life, but another birthday passed and I’m still knuckling away at this business; and I am assured this counts.
A few bullet points-
-We’ve closed the 2014 season of Shakespeare Orange County. While it was my third performing with the company, it was the first under the new regime and is effectively an entirely new company behind the scenes. And I am proud to announce that the regime now includes me – I have joined the Artistic Committee and will be focused on developing the acting company and strengthening ties with the local theater community, as well as contributing to the company’s web presence.
-This horror film, The Pact II, is now available for streaming/download on the likes of Amazon Prime and iTunes. I was the assistant editor on it, which was really no more glamorous than three days of logging footage and sorting them into their respective scenes. Still, I got paid; and I nearly became the writer of The Pact III, but didn’t for reasons which are thoroughly Hollywood. Stories for another time…
-I am, to my constant amazement, still pressing forward on my new novel collaboration with MF Thomas. I say amazed just because as a sustained, persistent large-scale writing endeavor it has been far beyond just about anything I have tried to do in so short a period. It is not a sequel to Seeing by Moonlight, but it is, similarly, a blend of thriller and sci-fi, with the sci-fi more prominent this time around. Our working title is A Sickness in Time, and Chapter 15 of it is open in Word even as I’m typing this, begging for my attention.
-My work continues on The Sounds Below, and excitement is high throughout the Earbud brain trust for its potential. October will be a special month for us – in honor of Halloween we will premiere two horror plays, mine and a new piece from Casey Wolfe titled Over Halloween. In addition, nominations are now open for the Audio Verse Awards. Earbud won a couple last year and we have three eligible episodes this year which we consider some of our all-around finest work, so we’re hoping to take a few virtual certificates home. You’ll probably see some tubthumping from me in the near future as the nominations phase shifts into the first round of voting.
-The feature film Bread and Butter, starring my longtime friend (and star of Habitat) Christine Weatherup, is about to make its world premiere at the amazing Woodstock Film Festival. It’s going to screen on the 18th and 19th – details here. I was the boom operator for six out of the sixteen shooting days, Christine did some fantastic work alongside Micah Hauptman and Saturday Night Live‘s Bobby Moynihan, and I became great friends with writer/director Liz Manashil and many of the crew, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a long festival run and distribution in the future.
These images probably tell the story better than anything. First – as Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Photo by Jordan Kubat
Then, as Josh the Deputy in The Tavern:
Photo by Jordan Kubat
Lastly, as this guy:
That guy is “Dale Dailey”, a character in the independent comedy/drama feature film Reclaiming Friendship Park, which wraps production today after a whirlwind two-week schedule under the leadership of writer/director Daniel Holland. I was on for five days, and it was a major step up in the camera side of my acting career, both in terms of the size and complexity of the character. It is exceedingly difficult to know if I did a good job; all I know is that the cast and crew were happy. My final shot was on a sunset-painted rooftop in Venice, and it’s hard not to get a little old pinch of that feeling that you’re living a dream when that’s going on.
Dale’s an odd one – and as the movie gets closer to completion and exhibition I might talk a little more about him; but at one point I was filming him, performing Peter Quince, and rehearsing Josh simultaneously; which requires a certain dexterity (also, a fuel-efficient car).
We’re entering in to a more relaxed phase now. Josh is the only character to keep in my head – and I don’t mind admitting he’s not on-stage all that much. I spend a lot of the play backstage, working on writing projects. And I think those obligations are going to move into the forefront now that there are no more rehearsals in the immediate future. There’s a show that starts rehearsal in October for which I might audition, and I still submit myself for on-camera stuff; but I am sort of looking forward to a little vacation from this summer; a chance to give some more emphasis to writing, to rejuvenate, and to find some perspective on what this crowded year in acting has meant to me. I’m attending an acting class for the first time since college, and some good study and self-discovery will probably do me more long-term benefit than just jumping into another show.
I know I’m going to look back on these months and wonder how I kept so much straight – while simultaneously keeping my novel-writing pace steady as well as my Earbud work and tending to my screenplays. Those pictures will be there as proof, though. Three faces – the same in many ways but different in the ways it’s my job to make different.
At last I have a V.O. Reel:
This pulls together clips from my audio dramas, a couple of the video game characters I’ve recorded, a feature film voice-over that was recorded but never used, and that fake commercial I did on someone’s podcast. There are a couple of other things floating out there that I haven’t acquired yet, and at least one hopeful future gig that would add nicely to this, but I think there’s some decent variety and entertainment happening in a minute there.
It’s also on YouTube, since that may be more convenient under some circumstances.
Voice work is known for being a pretty cushy gig at the pro level, and for being REALLY hard to break into the pro level. Nevertheless, I do see gigs popping up on casting notices once in awhile, and have been lacking the means to effectively pitch my abilities. So this is a big step in the right direction.
Now I just need enough of my on-camera work to find its way back to me…
Very proud to announce that I’ve joined the cast of Reclaiming Friendship Park, an independent comedy/drama feature film that will be shooting in and around San Pedro in August. This is going to make August a pretty crowded month on the acting front, as I will also be performing in The Tavern and rehearsing for Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare-Summerfest Orange County at the same time. Still, it’s a tremendous opportunity for me to play a major role in what has the chance to be a very charming ensemble piece. I will play Dale, an oddball shut-in at an apartment complex where a businessman who wants to trade in the corporate life for the “healing arts”, has just moved in and started disrupting lives.
This will be a major step up from the challenges of Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine. I was told I could be on for as many as eight of their eighteen shooting days, with some long, complicated scenes involving many characters. We’ll be moving at microbudget pace, no doubt; still, my hope is that I can rise to the occasion and give the filmmakers some good work.
I tend not to say things in advance so as not to jinx myself, but I have another feature audition coming up in a week that I am dearly hoping to land. Just getting into one movie gave me a major boost of confidence; after this, I’m actually starting to dare to think I can do this regularly!
Habitat is here. By which I mean it is now available for download and streaming! Actually, this is only possible at the Earbud website at this exact moment; Earbud’s web designer needs to re-do something with our RSS feed to get us onto iTunes and all the rest. But it is now finished, and public, and FREE. I do hope you listen and spread the word.
I wrote an essay about my love for sci-fi and the development of the idea which you can read at the Earbud blog here.
“I wrote the first draft in a week, intending it to be a short film, but as Tolkein once wrote: “This tale grew in the telling.” I realized we needed time to really take Danna on something resembling the human journey, and even with this version of Habitat realized, I never get tired of writing about Danna and Interface, and their attempts to get through this thing called Life.”
Written/Edited by Nicholas Thurkettle
Danna – Christine Weatherup
Interface – Nicholas Thurkettle
Premiering tomorrow at Earbud Theater:
Artwork by Kevin Necessary
There’s a word I love: “gesamtkunstwerk”, roughly from German, it means “total artwork”, and was used by Wagner to describe opera as an artistic mode that could unify many artistic disciplines within it – composition, performance, design, painting/sculpture, etc. These days, film is our dominant gesamtkunstwerk, but to me what is most exciting it not just gathering multiple artistic modes under one umbrella, but about seeing the chain of inspiration, one piece of art generating another, and so on. It’s thrilling that a thing that springs into being from nothing can have such rapidly-mutating offspring.
Anyway, this wonderful cover piece Kevin did puts me in mind of that. It’s a wonderful image to look at, and it took me a bit to remind myself that it only exists because of a story that I wrote. So his artistry becomes a part of the whole that is Habitat, along with my script and performance, the incredible music (which, while not composed for us, nonetheless suits perfectly), and Christine’s performance, which I am dying to share with you.
Happy to announce that, after many months’ work, my first episode of Earbud Theater, Habitat, is going to launch next Saturday, the 21st! In brief: Earbud Theater is a podcast dedicated to creating new, original audio dramas in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre. I adapted Habitat from a screenplay of mine, and we recorded it late last year – with Christine Weatherup and myself playing the two roles and Matt Enlow handling voice direction.
I’ve been slowly but surely editing the piece, adding music and sound effects, and we tested the first cut last week to very positive response. It’s the story of a spaceship crash and a planet of hyper-rational non-corporeal aliens, or maybe it’s a story about a woman in an apartment with a talking stuffed animal. Either way, it will be available this Saturday for FREE on iTunes, the Earbud website, and all major podcatchers. I really hope you listen and enjoy!
There was another significant happening yesterday – I finished and exported the first cut of Habitat, the audio drama I wrote/performed in/am editing for Earbud Theater, and had the chance to share it with a few people.
This project has eaten up many hours from many days over the last month since I took over editing responsibilities, and even before that it was creating an always-fueled restlessness in me to share this story.
I guess the obsession makes sense. There aren’t many projects in my life that have called for so many of my different skills to all push so hard together on something so big. Even on top of the writing and acting, I’ve enjoyed every opportunity I have had to play in the editing process; and I was adding sound effects and music to creative projects as far back in highschool – even if, at the time, it was mostly crudely-improvised idiocy involving AV cables and cassette tapes.
And despite my love for live theater, I need some less-ephemeral calling cards to show the world what I can do. I have fallen in love with the audio drama medium – in the way that everything old is new again, I think podcasting has provided a great venue to rejuvenate this form, and I already have another script ready to record and more ideas in the pipeline to produce after this one is finished and launched. We’re on-track to release in late June/early July, so stay tuned!
This past Sunday was my shooting day on Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine. It’s done – I’m in a feature film. The next day I went to see Spider-Man 2 and caught myself thinking: “My face is going to be THAT BIG“. For someone who doesn’t get cast on looks, that’s disquieting.
While this is a huge step forward for me, it was also surprisingly, satisfyingly incremental. What I mean is that I have worked on feature sets before either as an executive or crew, and so I am familiar with how the day breaks out and have a general idea of what everyone is doing; so I could tell when we were close to rolling and manage my energy/headspace accordingly. I have done quite a bit of acting over the last few years, and while very little of it was on-camera, there has been just enough between the shorts and webisodes that it wasn’t completely new.
And as stepping up to bigger assignments go, this practically came with training wheels. My role consists of four scenes, all of them in the same location, all of them in the same costume, and in every single one of them, I am sitting on an overturned bucket and conversing with the main character. Two person scenes, no movement – it’s like nearly every possible variable was taken out so I could just focus on not blowing this opportunity.
How did I do? That’s even more difficult to say than normal. I am used to connecting with the audience and sensing feedback immediately. Even an audience’s silence can carry an energy that lets me know where they are in terms of attention and emotion. But in this case, the majority of the crew was behind a big black curtain, watching me on monitor and staying as quiet as possible. It changes everything about my feeling of presence in the scene to not have that element, and I don’t think I have adapted comfortably into that mode yet. My role, however, was primarily comic relief without needing to carry the story, and between takes I did get feedback that people were smiling and laughing back there. Who knows if that’s true, but we did wrap 90 minutes early, and if I wasn’t doing something right I have to imagine they would have stuck around and done some tweaking.
The movie has its Facebook page up and running, and the word is that there should be a cut ready to screen privately for cast and crew come September, after which it heads out into the festival world. Inherent to that game is a certain opaqueness about where and when it is going to pop up first. Trust me, as self-conscious as I am about my big, weird head, when I know something, I will share it.
I try not to surrender too much to anxiety, but I admit I was preoccupied about this heading in. I see my life in the creative space as one where very rarely, someone will take a gamble on you and, without sure knowledge, you have to be willing to take them up on that gamble and believe you can prove worthy of it. I didn’t want to let them down, and they seem happy; more importantly, I have done something I had never done before, and now have a better chance of doing again.
Major great news – I have been offered my first on-camera speaking role in a feature film. Why the caveats? Well, I had a role many years ago in this forgotten little movie made during my days as a development executive. During some reshoots I was pressed into service to play an employee at a bus depot, silently loading bags into a bus cargo hold. “This is great,” I thought, “this is guaranteed to end up in the movie, because if they don’t see how this bag got from point A to point B, the movie will make no sense!”
My scene got cut. But that’s just one of many, many stories about that movie.
Last year I had a role in an independent feature I’ve mentioned here before – Bread and Butter, but it was a voice-only role, and for all I know still might end up cut or replaced. So when it comes to features, I’m not technically totally new to this, but it sure feels like a major first, in that I’ll have a real role with long dialogue scenes and a character name and stuff.
The movie is called “The Story of Ben”, and it’s a romantic comedy to be written/directed by a gentleman named Kevin Resnick. I call him a gentleman because he specifically warned me that my big shooting day might be Mother’s Day and he wanted to make sure I was okay with that. I told him my guess was that my mother would be supportive.
My role is Greenley, the main character’s best friend/co-worker who is perpetually stoned and has terrible advice about women. It won’t be a massive studio-level production, it is an MFA thesis film produced through the New York Film Academy, so very low-budget and distribution isn’t likely – although you have to imagine they will be motivated to get it out there on the festival circuit. Kevin and his producer Rebecca Norris took a short to Cannes last year.
Honestly, I wont even be paid beyond gas money and the meals on-set. And unpaid work is a longtime hobbyhorse of mine, but one of the things most likely to make me okay with it is to have the opportunity be a real professional stepping stone, the chance to do something I haven’t done before. This very easily qualifies.
The film shoots in May and my guess is that they’ll spend most of the rest of 2014 finishing and tweaking. So who knows when it will emerge, or how it will look when it does. But this is major – updating my resume across all the different platforms I use can be tedious, but I’ll be glad to do it this time.