Archives for posts with tag: adventure

Ooops “little more red” = Much Darker

W.ARNING A.BSTRACT T.ANGENT:  I love seeing.  I Love laughing.  I love hearing, most especially when it precedes laughter.  I love smiling in appreciation of all this and so very much more. Today, last night, this morning, with my car, I worked shooting as an extra on a pilot (a T.V. program produced as a prototype of a series being considered for adoption, to be ‘picked-up’, by a network) “Blanco”.

The call-time, the time production schedules an actor or crew member to arrive at the location, was 11 P.M. last night.  Somehow, I had never before crossed the Williamsburg Bridge.  Wow.  Simply Wow; I wish anyone else was driving so I might have snapped multiple blurry photos that would never compare to a professional stationary photographers perfect angle.  Wow.  I would love to live there on the Williamsburg Bridge for that view, or at the least be happily stuck in traffic and be blessed with a clear picture.

I tried to find a photo to include here (admittedly putting the perfect words into Blackle.com – an energy saving version of Google by Google– is not my forte), alas they just were not the truly amazingly breathtaking beauty witnessed nigh midnight driving over that Bridge.  Many photographers have the bridge in the photo… this one time I was not in awe of the incredible structure supporting the tires, instead gawking in awe at the depth and curvature of the shoreline with L!ghts abounding… my life’s ambition is to have a place to see that at night.  Wow.  If only I could see the sunrise from the same space… might require the purchase of multiple apartments, but if you dream it —> then you can smile doing it. Sometimes being a ‘background performer’ can be delightful, even in 20˚ exterior shots walking around in the snow; making three new friends; seeing familiar ones like P.A. Lincoln Major from “Boardwalk Empire”.  The car sat on the side of the street alleviating the random owner from moving an actual car parked there in the middle of a scene or a take, which would ruin continuity and the shot, thus upsetting productivity and wasting time, and thus money.

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I have not known where to begin.  Multiple events have transpired and yet I remain with simply no clue how to cover them all: a blog for each? is that enough for a whole post by itself? has it been too long? am I suppose to keep-up with “behind the scenes” 411?  Therefore, as I often do (or do-not, to the point) when a perfect, easy solution evades me… I refrain from forward momentum and make mac n’cheese or chicken noodle soup, pondering the options.

"in the booth"

“in the booth”

Let us now begin with “The Million Second Quiz”: exhilarating and balanced by being challenging. A twelve hour LIVE shift made the combo deliciously exhausting.  As a voice over artist, I am experienced recording in a sound studio with only my auditory craftsmanship to carry me.  As a theater performer, LIVE is the name of the game; stepping onto a stage butterflies of possibility propel at the same instant catch your breath.  I could literally trip and fall, forget a line, the other guy could forget his- and there we might be in silence… where do we go from here… and that ‘anything could happen’ truth and connectedness is what feels like a roller coaster we stand on line for hours to share.

Standing-In for Seacrest

Standing-In for Seacrest

The Quiz was unique as a disembodied interactive voice, sans true rehearsals, asking questions LIVE to contestants battling to make it to/stay in “The Money Chair”.  I would speak clearly, and slowly- that was key because the pre-determined random questions handed to me every other hour (I was on for an hour, then an hour to prepare, whilst the other questioner queried contenders) were limited: RUNNING out was simply not an option.  Hence, I repeatedly heard “Slow down” directed in my headset.  Watching online, one could witness the impatience on the faces of would be millionaires as we took time to enunciate every multiple choice answer.  There was a script, and Ryan Seacrest is the one paid to ad-lib.  Eventually the twelve hours overnight shift required jumping jacks around 4 A.M., but the camaraderie of having a seat on such a Great Adventure was an overall blast!

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SundanceOn-set, talking with others tends to be easy- the outgoing side of my nature shines, making people laugh and enjoy the energy brought instantly.  However, another part of my nature enjoys quiet time.  Thankfully, when I was blessed with a commercial (turned out to be with J.Lo for Verizon) the energizing upswing was in full force.  I wonder now, if the “diet” I was utilizing (a book by nutritionist Haylie Pomroy) helped push those hormones in the positive direction.  Please, forgive the tangent.

Point being, the commercial paired me with an adorably freckled boy, Cameron, who looked like he could have been my kid.  His actual mom and I hit it off, having a poignant conversation-exactly what my little self needed to hear that day.  (Love those moments in life when you realize what is happening is the best medicine for you, and, truth is every moment IS that best cure.)  Thanks to the guidance of BBR Productions: I offered an exchange of information- handing the lovely mom, Whitney, my business card and we ended up connecting through Facebook.  This was months ago, and yet this week she messaged me: “Hey!!! Can u call me right now!!!!! I might have huge audition for u now!!!!”  Well, with that many exclamation points, I did not delay.

Though I had just crossed the threshold, home from filming on “White Collar”, having woke long before sunrise, I eagerly called her. She told me about a new game-show, “The Million Second Quiz” with Ryan Seacrest, auditioning for a questioner. Her agent had gotten her this opportunity, but she could not commit to a 12 day stretch of 12 hour shifts because she has children.  Two o’clock nap-time postponed, I raced, running in three-inch-wedge-heels to catch the train before departure… then sat waiting as it pulled away from the platform a good three minutes late.  Alas, the important part is I made it, happily in the rain!  It is required for the questioner to have good diction, smooth reading, and to remain confident with unfamiliar words- not providing a “tell”, right or wrong, when reading the answer choices: I got the part.

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-One person’s sole job is wetting the sidewalk, over and over Birdmanand over again- all night for five plus hours to keep it wet and give that slick, reflecting light look the camera loves (technical term is a “wet down”).

-Another person’s duty is putting smoke in the air: more smoke, less smoke, walk it through the set or location, fan it because there’s too much, the haziness is overwhelming the scene.

-One man (sadly it is a male dominated business, but what isn’t) is on a crane with a big spot-light to simulate a helicopter flyover in the shot.

I have not even mentioned the director, the stunts co-ordinator, or the caterer.  The point is- that long list of “credits” at the end of every [big budget $300 million dollar budget] movie prove just how many creative collaborators are necessary to manifest the entertainment we all spend our money to escape into for a couple hours of unbelievable safe excitement.

These people are Living what they dream.  They simply do not last otherwise because the stress is so immense one must Love it to stay in this business of SHOW.  With so many cooks in the kitchen, havoc and head-butting are sure to abound.  And yet we choose to show-up and take more work opportunities because the thrill to be a part is so rewarding.

This week I learned a new title- staff assistant- a position responsible to the A.D.s (Assistant Director- no explanation necessary right, the title is pretty self-explanatory), of which there are three: the first A.D., the Second A.D. and the Second 2nd.  Usually, there are a handful of staff assistants to act as extra hands, eyes, mouths for the Assistant Directors.  One such ‘staff assistant’ informed me on a recent day of filming 180 staff assistants were on-hand for a huge location shoot requiring the shut-down of a large well-know New York street!  I live by the motto/sutra “Do unto others…” and there for am genuinely friendly and interested in most everyone on-set; one because I am so thankful and happy to be there and two we are all there to accomplish the same goal so LET US HAVE FUN!

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April has proven to be the Busiest month and, Made_in_NY_logotruly, I wish I had photos from one of the most recent “amazing” adventures!!  Alas, as with most all productions “Everyone who is working on the film will sign a Non Disclosure form; This means you will not share any information about what we are filming on any social media- twitter, facebook, blogs, etc. If you do share any of this confidential information you will be sent home from set.”  How long will casting hold a grudge for making their job more difficult and causing them to look bad?  For ginormous budget movies/television one may not even have phones on-set and we are warned: should phones be seen- they will be confiscated, plus, you agreed to the confidentiality agreement.  The element of surprise is ultra-paramount.

Even when phones are permitted, they cause unnecessary distraction- preventing the smoothest production value.  The reason texting while driving is against the law: a cell phone seize your sole focus.  Thus, making you unaccountable when, say, the Assistant Director needs you to perform the action captured in every other camera angle of this scene, but because you are on your phone …. around the corner, five-ten production minutes (which might as well be five-ten hours) are wasted yelling your name.  I leave my phone tucked away and only check it when “turning around” is announced-the term for placing all the equipment and camera on the opposite side of a shot to catch the corresponding coverage.  This usually takes a good ten minutes, between cables, lights, props, “the village” (chairs, monitors, etc.), people, and all the rest-thankfully allowing ample time to take a quick peek at the e-mail for any upcoming casting opportunities requiring rapid response.

Twice this month, I again worked on “Boardwalk Empire”, putting me, so far, in all but one episode for the new season.  In #403, one scene takes place in a charming real location, and while I sit at the counter indulging, take after take, in the after-glow of consuming the best cherry pie a-la-mode I never ate, my day actually started with a different action.  My shadow can be seen walking up to the ‘Ladies’ room opaque glass door and knocking as the beautiful main character, leg raised ….

Come on now, we covered consequence and curiosity at the the beginning here- Thank you for tuning in!

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Having heard, and believed to some extent, the harsh critique-Teacher Katrina E. Perkins “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” * – I shunned becoming a teacher.  The first acting classes I attended regularly for any length of time, at Playhouse West in Los Angeles, met twice weekly, with one teacher on Tuesdays, and a different one for Thursdays.  The Tuesday Teacher, Mark Pellegrino, was, and is, an actor in known movies and T.V., including ‘The Big Lebowski”, “The Number 23”, and “Dexter”.  Tony Savant, the Thursday counterpart, was the school’s artistic director.  Each teacher presented wonderful insight and guidance toward creating the strongest, most truthful, acting foundation.

Having never taken an acting class, aside from an ‘Introduction to Acting’ and ‘Accents & Dialects’ courses at L.A.C.C., this school became my Home for two years.  Spending so much time there, in more than the two classes a week I was a member, additionally a wonderful perk of this school/repertory theater was the option to also attend any other class at your current level or below.  That is, if one were in the beginner course, one had the ability to sit-in and watch any other beginner class; if you’re in the intermediate level the option was for any beginner and intermediate, you get it. Learning through watching other students and hearing another teacher’s vocabulary, provided great insight and excelled my progress.  Sometimes, as long as I arrived prepared, the teacher might even let me participate.  Granted, my main teachers were always the best, it was beneficial to hear different phrasings to repeat an idea.

Aside from the numerous classes attended, the course required a minimum of two rehearsals outside of class each week.  The appointed class secretary compiled a class roster including each student’s name, phone number, and email address, and distributed it; some even volunteered to open their home at a specified day/time each week for rehearsals.  Did that mean people actually rehearsed?  No, however, it was easy to discern who took the Art seriously.  Having one teacher working in the field, and another assiduously focusing us week after week, forged a determination toward living truthfully – and the truth is teachers are Gold.

*George Bernard Shaw Man and Superman

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For a third time, I will be playing a "Smash"‘costumer’ on the NBC show “Smash”.   This time I received a call from casting without even submitting for the role!  One can join casting websites, whether you belong to the Union or not, where casting directors post roles with type descriptions for current/upcoming projects. The first time I was contacted by this casting agency, I had been submitting for over a month on numerous parts.  Thankfully, the background casting company (Grant Wilfley) finally called to confirm my availability for the shoot date and tell me the necessary wardrobe to bring to set.  The soundstage was in Brooklyn, they were filming a baseball dance routine rehearsal; there was great catering, and it made me giggle to hear Anjelica Huston’s laugh at lunch.  

About five weeks ago, after submitting to another post for a ‘costumer’, casting called me again!  I was told wardrobe was “wear one/bring one”.  Simply put, they were getting more bang for their buck by using me twice (they do pay a little extra for a wardrobe change).  First up, I sat as an audience member in one outfit- had I truly been out for a night at the theater in late Fall (season specific, though it filmed in Winter).  This time filming was on-location at a gorgeous theater in Manhattan.  What a glorious day at work, being entertained by guest star Bernadette Peters singing and dancing in the episode’s on-stage routine at a historic vaudeville theater.

Picking me out in an audience wide-shot, or the back of my head as the camera flies toward the stage would be a challenge.  However, changing into my own all black wardrobe of a ‘costumer’, and an apron with some fabric swatches provided by the Props department, I stand on-stage with both Anjelica Huston and Bernadette Peters!  Despite not having any lines, it remains an immense thrill to be a part of a live set.  A phone call from casting today, to portray a costumer tomorrow, pleased me beyond words.  No post was there for which I submitted- I have made it to a short list- in a very good way.

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For the first time, since quitting a full-time job two months ago, I have made enough money to cover the week’s expenses.  Though it is only one week, what a reassuring way to begin a full month of Autumn!  Through work on CBS T.V. shows ‘Blue Bloods’ on Monday and ‘Elementary’ (the new take on the classic Sherlock Holmes tale with Watson played by the lovely Lucy Liu) on Friday, combined with the regular Wednesday retained at the Retina Surgeon’s office- savings remain safe- or at least extended.  I am on the way toward supporting the monetary expenses of life through being an artist.

The second week of October, to balance, proved less exciting.  Casting rang and asked me to hold Tuesday directly following Labor Day for a show in its first season: ‘Next Caller’ with Dane Cook.  I was thankful, and declined a subsequent request from ‘Law & Order: SVU’ for the same date.  However, the holiday was cause for a rearrange of scheduling and a cancelation for my booking.  Naturally, the spot had been filled for the other show.  Although, I ended up being asked to work an extra day in the doctor’s office due to staff absences for vacations and illnesses.  No show biz work or paychecks for week two, though the additional day in the office coupled with an evening modeling for a two hour art class- again the week’s bills were made.  

All’s well.  Truthfully, I strive to consistently put the sunny-side of things out there, but for some reason, though I rationally know I am making progress and am scheduled for work on shows Monday (‘Smash’) and Tuesday- ahead of the weekly budget- emotion has me downtrodden.  Perhaps it is the impending birthday, once excited for, at the end of the week.  Or the focus on where I want to be over what I am doing to get there in a successive manner of small accomplishments.  Realizing it IS only a funk for the moment, grown into this day, I pledge to funnel the feelings into creative motivation andconquer the real issue- my need for an agent.

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Sometimes energy evades us to pursue the passions that make us feel truly alive.  A j-o-b, spring cleaning, taxes, eating well, getting enough exercise and adequate sleep are all necessary to keep our individual worlds revolving.  The evolution of life, however, demands creation to free our soul.  At a rehearsal this week for a play opening in May, the director needed me to read the other actress’s lines.  One section was a lower class period British servant making raunchy remarks.  Though my weekend had been long and my workday stressful, once I heard people laughing, at the silliness of the words combined with the tripping ease of the accent, I was electrified.

Later, I came upon a great reason to don a Scottish burr- Tartan Day, a national celebration for Scottish-Americans.  A supervisor detected the difference and laughed, sharing with co-workers who made jokes, and the day was lightened with good humor.  Putting on an accent is a challenge for the tongue and a practice in acceptance because sharing requires courage- keeping something locked away until ‘perfected’ is an exercise in fear and excuses.  Acting outside of our comfort, being Brave, we break constraints of “safety” thus growing stronger.  I had never asked a fellow employee if she is Russian or Polish because I thought it rude.  Casually querying, I discovered she is indeed Russian and would be happy to lend her authenticity to aide my practice of the Russian accent- a skill I look forward to honing.

Another forum in which I stepped out of familiarity this week was being on a live web show: MakeARightLeftHere.com .  A lot of people showed and I had a really great time participating in person; usually I only watch at home and comment on the board.  It is easy to make excuses:  I don’t have enough time, I am tired, I have so much to do, I’ll miss part of it so why bother at all, but the truth is we are scared to not fully succeed.  Every time we dare do something we could have rationalized our way out of doing, we Have WON through experiencing the adventure that is Life.