Archive for the Acting Tag

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Are you ready for some Scottish Play?

Ready or not, we’re opening Maccers at Shakespeare Orange County. This production is hard rock – complete with electric guitar, fog machines, and the legitimately most badass wardrobe I’ve ever had the privilege to wear.

As "King Duncan" in Shakespeare Orange County's production of "Macbeth".

As “King Duncan” in Shakespeare Orange County’s production of “Macbeth”.



It’s good to be the King. Well – it is in Act One, anyway. Then things go downhill.

Variety

As I mentioned in my last post (wow, that was awhile ago), I was briefly consumed by the job of Assistant Editing a feature, which is called The Pact II. I have not seen The Pact. It’s not strictly necessary to have seen it for the job I did, but it does feel strange. I have caught about 20 minutes of it on Netflix, but I am already finished with my task.

I don’t think you could call it the full task of Assistant Editor as Hollywood understands it. We were just under too much time pressure to get to first assembly, so the Editor had to dive in and start stapling scenes together before I could give him the full complement of script supervisor notes. But he knows his stuff and the scripty was very meticulous in preparing their reports, so he should be okay.

Since then I’ve been working to implement the editor’s notes on the novel. We’re pulling the trigger on a title change, so the former Family History is now to be called Seeing by Moonlight. I think it’s a little more specific and evocative, and if that translates to any additional sales, all the better.

I’m also deep into rehearsals now for Shakespeare O.C.‘s production of Macbeth as well as Stage Door Rep‘s upcoming late night show My First Time. My role in Maccers is brief – things don’t usually end well when you’re King at the beginning of a tragedy – but I will be wearing the absolutely most badass wardrobe I’ve ever been able to wear on-stage. We’re not wearing kilts; my King Duncan is going to look like some kind of Goth rock star, and I’m digging it.

It’s keeping my days full and varied, which I’ve always enjoyed. We’ll just have to see what comes along next.

Tangled Up in Blue Fur

It stalks you, drags you down, makes you doubt yourself, traps you in a rut of no ambition, absorbs everything you throw at it. It is the Insecuriac, and it is on the trail of our heroes in this week’s Squaresville:

That’s me as “The Insecuriac”. This is the second of my three appearances in this season of Squaresville – I gather that the third will be in the season finale and that will be the time you see my actual human face, unless Matt replaces it with googly eyes or something.

This was my “Man in Suit” day, the same day we shot the “Star Trek” cosplay bit with me dressed up as The Gorn. “The Ranch”, where we shoot this stuff, isn’t far outside L.A. but it’s still a lot of people and gear to move up the freeway and into the hills, so it’s worked out so far that we go there once a season to get everything we need out of that environment.

It was an especially challenging day for MK and Chrissie, playing the sisters. First, it was a lot of hair and makeup time on a hot day at a location with no structural shelter; just our cars and a pop-up canopy. And this was after MK had already gone through Vulcan makeup. Then, after all the filming up there, we had to strike all the gear and drive to a house in Pasadena for more shooting in the late afternoon and into the night, including the heart-to-heart that ends this episode. After all the physical exertion of the day’s work, to end on something that emotionally-revealing is a real challenge for an actor, and I have a lot of admiration for them for soldiering through it; especially because it wasn’t nearly all they were responsible for that day, they were filming bits for all over the season.

For me, I probably should pretend I didn’t have as much fun as I did, because I got a lot of sympathy over being taped up in all that fur on a hot day. And yeah, I got pretty roasted and thirsty and there were times that breathing was a lot harder than I’m used to, but I guess it reveals something about me that I am still stupid-happy every time I think about having done it. The Insecuriac costume, which we didn’t have a lot of time to put together and basically no time to test, was such a pain with these little slip-on talons that kept slipping off, and the eye holes in the mask were nowhere near my eyes. And then I had to figure out how to move in the thing in ways that looked interesting on-camera.

For that first sighting of me, the whole crew was backed off about fifty yards, so I was just standing alone in this clearing, blind and almost deaf and doing these monster hula moves for about a minute or two straight before they finally realized they were going to have to yell at me that they’d finished rolling. It’s hard to tell, but the hood had this kind of Snuffleupagus snout, and I was encouraged to wave my head to try and get it moving. I don’t think that ever came across.

But I totally intend to protect my turf as Squaresville’s quasi-official “Man in Suit”. Maybe we can get Godzilla into Season 3.

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Poached from Squaresville‘s Instagram

We all scream in the shadow of Wilhelm

I finally have my session date and character scripts for my first-ever videogame voiceover gig. I’m playing about a half-dozen different characters in this chapter of the game; some of them important and ongoing, others just little one offs. I’m a pretty major geek about voice-over, so sometimes I get the most pleasure recognizing some of the one-offs in games and cartoons; they’re crazy fun because they make an impression fast but you start to get to know each talent’s bag of tricks. Listen to Billy West or Maurice LaMarche come up with their 200th different spin on some one-liner role in Futurama to appreciate it.

I know it’s weird, but I’m legitimately psyched by the fact that one of my characters has only three lines and the last one is “[Dying screams and gurgles]“. I think I’ll suggest we do that one last. It’ll never be a Wilhelm, but I’ll give it my best.

GORN!

A .gif at last, a .gif at last, thank God A-Mighty, I’m a .gif at last!

Yeah, the first of my Squaresville episodes is airing soon. I realize I risk being typecast as an alien lizard-monster, but there are worse problems to have.

(h/t to TheNobleHelium on The Tumblr)

In two days, things get Square

My friends have posted the official trailer for Season 2 of Squaresville. I am in exactly one brief shot of this trailer; with my face covered by the logo. Ah well, we did the math and decided that I’m officially the old man of Squaresville, and we do want to keep the kids interested :)

Season premieres this Friday, February 1st, at about 9am Pacific. And if you haven’t watched Season One yet, the whole thing’s only about an hour long and IT’S FREE (because it’s The Internet). Get caught up already.

Test Shot

Took my first crack at landing an actor-y thing to do for 2013 last night. The whole experience was very modern – I applied for a role in a low-budget feature through the website LetItCast.com.

I didn’t have to drive to a stage or studio for an audition; I didn’t even meet anyone involved in the production. The site listed an overview of the project and a breakdown of the characters by age/gender/type. They provided instructions for what they would like to see – in most cases this will be “sides” (aka an excerpt) from the script itself, but for this one they wanted a monologue, preferably from a list of playwrights whose work they viewed as in the intended realm of the movie. And the idea is, we just film our audition from wherever we are, and then upload it using their provided preferred technical specifications; which are very broad and easily-accessible to just about any equipment you might own.

More and more I believe that people who want to work in this business need a little minimal cross-training when it comes to recording a piece of video. Even if you don’t want to be a director or DP there are simply too many opportunities where these skills can benefit you to ignore it completely. Thankfully, consumer-grade equipment and software has become robust and user-friendly enough that most people who have at least used computers regularly throughout their lives should be able to film a monologue and have their face adequately framed and lit for something like LetItCast without having to go to film school or drop thousands of dollars in order to do it. Just pay enough attention to recognize the most common media file formats and what formats are generated by the equipment and software you have, find an instructional video on basic “3-point” lighting (lots of these on YouTube), and you’re already ahead of the crowd.

I wanted to give myself the best chance possible; so I asked my friend, the super over-qualified Matt Enlow, if he would shoot my monologue. He owns a better camera/lens than I do and is used to shooting in his apartment. The monologue was only two minutes, but I wasn’t sure how long to allow for the whole process. I figured an hour-ish would be safe for set-up and multiple takes, and that there might be some extra time for computer-sweetening afterwards.

But even Matt – who lives and breathes New Media both in his day job and his passion project making that web series I keep mentioning – was kind of blown away by the production cycle. I arrived at his place; he already had his tripod up. He pulled a poster off the wall where I was going to stand, and turned on a couple of regular home lamps. We did a little futzing with which-jacket-should-I-wear/glasses-or-no-glasses, that sort of thing, but basically he was ready to shoot me in about five minutes. Then he hit just hit a button and I started talking, and he cut two minutes later.

He said – kind of surprised – “I think we’ve got it”. I was immediately a little doubtful, just because every actor is insecure and when doing a shot that long there’s all kinds of time to make weird faces or trip over a moment. And who knows – Matt’s a great guy and cares about quality work (we did several takes of every tiny role I’ll be playing in Squaresville this season), but maybe it was Sunday night and he didn’t feel the need to grind too hard at it. Or maybe (I guarantee 90%+ of actors secretly come back to this thought on a daily basis) he thought I was so uselessly incompetent that direction or extra takes weren’t going to do me any good. But he seemed very convinced, so he popped out the memory card and put it in the computer for us to review.

Upload of the raw video to his laptop took about six minutes. We reviewed it and, while I do make some weird faces along the way, I agreed that it seemed surprisingly solid for a single take, and that searching for an ephemeral extra bit of quality might just waste our time and deaden my performance. So we went with that single take.

He trimmed the beginning and end, added fade-ins and out-s, applied a basic color balancing filter and then cleaned out some of the ambient noise. All that took maybe ten minutes in FinalCutPro.

Then he output it to the requested format and that was it. In a half-hour we had made my audition movie; soup-to-nuts.

I completed the audition application there and immediately set it to upload to the LetItCast website. Then we took a walk to go to dinner, which was of course my treat because karma, damn it.

By the time dinner was done, I saw an e-mail on my phone that confirmed the site had received the audition video. We went back to his apartment, I verified the upload, approved the video, and gave them permission to send it to the producers.

This morning, when I woke up, I saw another e-mail, letting me know that the producers had viewed my audition and inviting me to subscribe to e-mail alerts whenever they finalize casting for any roles on the project. Technology.

Maybe I get the role, probably I don’t. That’s how it works. But I found the whole process sort of marvelous and fun – instead of fighting traffic and the clock, having a heart attack over finding parking, waiting around in a hallway staring at my competition for two hours, and turning over one expensive headshot after another in order to act in front of strangers for two stressful minutes; I got to make a movie with my friends, in an environment where I was comfortable, for basically nothing.

I think this may have the potential to show us off better as actors. Best yet – the website doesn’t charge me for a membership, or to submit; Hollywood is full of pay-to-play garbage and this was a welcome exception.

Fascinating start to the acting experience for the year.

Brag

A theater critic at The Examiner listed the acting ensemble from Unrelenting Relaxation as one of the best in Orange County Theater in 2012. Our director, Mike Martin, is also on the short-list.

I am incredibly proud that I got to be a part of this show – it was an overpowering emotional experience, and often a hard thing to get an audience to – but I am so glad I chose to do it. Honestly, I believe this praise most directly reflects on the astounding women who played on-stage, the demands on them both technically and emotionally were so intense, and they never shrunk from putting themselves through the wringer. I always said that I had the best seat in the house, getting to experience the fullest version of all these performances every night as, in my role as Interviewer, I received all their stories and prompted them with my questions. The vast majority of my work as an actor was, while crucial, completely invisible to the audience by the very design of the show. Not everyone would be drawn to that but to me it made it an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Unrelenting was the second show I did at STAGES last year following Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and I loved becoming part of that family which has been producing quality work for 20 years. The cast was full of loving, dedicated people that I still count as friends, Mike was both supportive and creative in guiding our search for the show; and his assistant director, Brian Fichtner, deserves mention for his constant encouragement and attention to detail.

It’s impossible to sum up what it does for us to know that we’ve really reached someone. And when someone who loves going to the theater that much tells you that you did something especially well… for me, it’s like re-living the best moments of that show.

Year-in-Acting Photopost

I’ve performed my last show for 2012 and have been adjusting to the time away from acting. I do have to admit that I am already eyeballing a few opportunities to pursue in January; but I told myself I would be done for the year after the last Much Ado and I have held to that. By any measure it has been the acting-est year of my life, and I have to marvel when I consider just how many tricks of fate had to happen, and how many directors had to take gambles on me, in order for me to have enjoyed and learned so much.

Here’s a little picture-tour through some of the roles I played:

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January: as ”Mr. Blake” in The Scent of Hostility, a 10-minute play written by Jeffery Rockey for the 24-Hour Creative showcase at Camino Real Playhouse, directed by Jessica Morrow

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March/April: as “Sagot” in Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, produced at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, directed by Anthony Galleran

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April/May: as “The Interviewer” in Amanda DeMaio’s Unrelenting Relaxation, produced at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, directed by Mike Martin. I was onstage the entire show but the audience essentially didn’t see my face until curtain call – acting with just my voice and my shoulders/back-of-skull was one of the most intense acting challenges of my life.

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July/August: Backstage as “Lord Mayor of London” in Shakespeare’s Richard III, produced at Shakespeare Orange County, directed by Carl Reggiardo. I also played the role of “Clarence”.

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August/September: as “Borachio” in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, produced at Shakespeare Orange County, directed by Thomas F. Bradac.

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September: as “Dr. Ivan” in The 4th Floor, a 24-Hour Play Production staged at the Avery Schreiber Theatre, directed by Bree Pavey & Paul Storiale.

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October/November/December: as “Dogberry” in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, produced at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, directed by Denise Devin. I also played the role of “Friar Francis”.

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November: Shakespeare Orange County’s production of Much Ado About Nothing is revived for two performances at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center

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November: as Bonus Mystery Character who will appear on YouTube in 2013!

I marked my calendar, now mark yours

I have updated all the things at the Audition Bulletin Board. Lots of new listings for the next couple of months. And taking the early lead for the title of Show Every Company in Orange County Will Do in 2013 is Godspell, with two productions already on the books for the first few months of the year.