Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From Demo Reel to Off-Broadway? Sweet.

Jesse Eisenberg, Oscar-nominated actor from The Social Network, recently stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to discuss Asuncion, the off-broadway play he wrote and stars in.

When the subject moved to his co-star Camille Mana, Jimmy Fallon commented, “Who is this girl? I’ve never heard of her before this.” To which Jesse Eisenberg replied, “Her name is Camille Mana. She’s phenomenal.”

Jimmy Fallon knows who she is now.

How does an Asian-American actress go from UC Berkeley to starring alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, & Remy Auberjonois just steps from the Great White Way? To hear Jesse tell it, he found Camille from her online reel and didn’t even make her audition.

Hear it from the horse’s mouth:

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Immediately I had to look up Camille’s reel to see what impressed Jesse so thoroughly. Found it on Camille’s Web site:

It’s a fantastic reel. Great variety – sexy, quirky comedy to indie drama. Color me envious.

This just proves my theory that a solid demo reel is vital for actors in this industry. If you don’t have any on-camera scenes to edit, create some! Find scenes from How I Met Your Mother or True Blood or Criminal Minds – whatever fits your type and talents – get some friends together and shoot them yourself. Focus on quality – bad tape isn’t better than no tape – and be sure that there’s variety.

Look what it did for Camille.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hair Be Gone Again

So this is what I did last weekend –

That's 9 inches of my hair that I'm donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths to become a real-hair wig for the American Cancer Society's wig banks across the country. I would have given more inches, but I wanted to keep my hair as long as possible while still meeting their minimum donation length. Why?

Because showbiz likes me with longer hair. If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you know that even though I prefer my hair short, history shows that I book more acting jobs when my hair is longer.

And the data:

Jobs booked with short hair: 3      Jobs booked with long hair: 15

Yeah. This is a really silly business sometimes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

If it Wasn't Hard, Everyone Would Do It

It’s simple math.

To write a 60 page pilot in 5 days, I just need to write 12 pages a day. How hard could that be?

Say that to any writer and they’re liable to punch you in the face. Because it is hard. It’s hard to will words into the perfect arrangement that will communicate what’s in our mind. The gap between what we want to say and what actually comes out can be mighty disappointing. And imagination by definition is nebulous – the faculty of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

Sure there are easy moments – the Relax & Write method has helped me tap into my creative inner core and write without self-doubt, but mostly for my fiction. For me, writing dialogue and scenes is still – as one showrunner put it – like "shitting razor blades."

As I sit here, 6 pages into my self-given assignment for the week, I think about last week’s episode of The Simpsons – “The Book Job” – in which Lisa decides to become a book author and finds herself struggling to get that first paragraph out. She gets distracted by YouTube, plays online games, and gets lattes at the coffee shop – all while facing a blank page. Eventually, she comes to a conclusion – “Writing is the hardest thing ever!”

But this isn’t news to me. Writing was hard when I started, it’s hard now, and it will likely continue to be hard in the future. I’ll get better at it, of course – I’m already much better than a few years ago – but the hard never goes away. The hard is par for the course.

So I will forge on, into the land of hard, for at least 6 more pages today. Then I can watch that Jimmy Kimmel Halloween candy video again...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

From Page to Screen to My Heart

I’m an avid reader and a lover of film. When the two intersect, I kind of love it. I know that makes me a rarity – hating the movie based on a book is a popular position to take in social circles. Some argue that in all cases, the book is better than the film based on it.

I couldn’t disagree more – I’ve seen fantastic cinematic interpretations of popular books. The Color Purple, The Horse Whisperer, Cold Mountain – all great books made into even greater films.

I love seeing the movie after reading the book. (I even tried to start a Page to Screen book club once, but couldn’t get anyone else on board.) For me, watching film adaptations is exciting because I get to see images and characters co-created in my imagination come to life. Because you can imagine Mr. Darcy rejecting Elizabeth’s invitation to dance all you want – seeing Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen actually do it is that much more delicious. It’s not about getting things right – sometimes the differences between my vision and a film director’s vision are the most compelling.

I’ve experienced a few glaring exceptions. Ben Mezrich’s Bringing Down the Housebeing adapted into the ridiculous, Hollywood-y 21? Awful. (A true MIT genius wouldn't have to work retail to pay for tuition. Puh-lease.) Changing everything about my beloved The Dark Is Risingby Susan Cooper to make the disastrous The Seeker? Don’t even get me started. (Merriman is defined by his white hair – why is he played by Ian McShane? Why is Ephram from Everwoodtagging along? And why the hell is everyone American?)

But for the most part, if it’s a film based on a book, I’m in. After I read the book. That’s the only way to do it, in my opinion.

I just read the first book in The Hunger Games series,so I’m particularly excited to see this:

Though I'm nervous about the Ender's Game movie adaptation. They better do that book justice or I'm going to be one pissed off fangirl.

What are your favorite books turned favorite movies? Tell me below and I’ll add them to my library holds list!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Blackless Friday

It’s the day after Thanksgiving! Here’s what I won’t be doing:

I’m weeks away from the end of my New Year’s Resolution / No Buy Experiment and I still don’t miss shopping. In fact, I’m thrilled to NOT be participating in the craziness that is Black Friday.

I’ve done it before – freezing while waiting in line at 4 am for the opportunity to spend money. Feeling like I was beating the system when really the system had me just where they wanted me.

This year, the shopping is commencing earlier than ever. Target and Walmart opened at midnight, so by the time you read this blog post, thousands of dollars will have already spent on tons of stuff made in China.

But a deal is a deal, so I get it. A few hours of lost sleep is worth that $200 saved on a flatscreen television.

Here’s another deal that I think sounds great. American Express is promoting Small Business Saturday – another made-up consumer holiday – by offering a $25 credit to anyone who registers their AMEX card and spends $25 at a small business on Saturday, November 26. That’s free money!

I signed up even though I won’t be buying stuff on Saturday, because local restaurants are included on their list of qualified small businesses. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and register your AMEX card now!

Happy shopping to you all! I'll see you at the stores in the new year...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Television

Happy Thanksgiving!

It may be a ridiculous holiday of excess, but it's the subject of some memorable television. Here are my favorites:

Mad About You - "Giblets for Murray"

I remember my parents trying to tell me about this episode and laughing so hard they could barely get through the description. My favorite part is when she throws the turkey out the window.

Friends - "The One Where Ross Got High"

Friends had terrific Thanksgiving episodes. My favorite was the one where Rachel made the english trifle out of beef, leading to one of my favorite moments:

And my favorite blooper:

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

And of course, the best piece of Thanksgiving television ever! Peanuts hijinks set to sweet, sweet jazz. Favorite scene - when Peppermint Patty lets Charlie Brown have it for screwing up Thanksgiving dinner. That's love.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving-themed television episodes?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Pre-Thanksgiving Hump Day Update

Where have I been for the last four days?

Writing, writing, writing and eating, eating, eating. And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

Writing –

After last Thursday’s notes call with the studios, I revised my outline about 6 times before sending the second draft over, which led to yesterday’s notes call. And as we head into the holiday weekend, I have more revising ahead of me. I’m starting to go cross-eyed looking at the same 18 pages, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

Eating –

KogiBBQ twice in a week! That’s extravagance. I love trying food trucks around LA, but KogiBBQ is still my favorite. No one else packs that much flavor into one little taco. Nom nom.

Writing –

I wrote and submitted my final round fiction entry into the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition. I’m one of only 25 writers in the final round – down from almost 500 who started the competition! Hopefully my story is good enough to earn one of the top four spots. Fingers crossed!

Eating –

Saturday dinner with a former co-worker at Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach. The name led me to assume Mediterranean food, but then Yelp said it was an Italian restaurant and the menu was all Spanish tapas. Our waitress cleared up the confusion Рtheir cuisine is influenced by all the nations in and around the Mediterranean, including Italy and Spain. Favorites Рroasted dates filled with cambozola blue cheese & wrapped in prosciutto and saut̩ed scallops & shrimp in a basil cream sauce. Yummm...

Writing –

I’m back to blogging daily. Help me out by sending me your burning acting or writing questions to answer. Or contact me to write a guest blog!

Eating –

Nothing was better on a rainy, rainy Sunday than a sausage & lentil soup from Bay Cities Deli. That place is magic.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiction Friday: Hearts Afire, Part 1

The following third-round entry into the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition earned me 2nd place in my round and a spot in the final writing challenge! (Read my first and second-round entries.)

Writing a romantic comedy was harder than I'd thought it would be. My location prompt was a bake sale and my object was a fire alarm. Here's my sort of romantic 1,000 word story!

Penelope Myers only did what she wanted. She was not swayed by popular opinion or emotions. She believed in making her own choices and committed herself to living a smart, decisive life.

Which was why on this particular day she was carefully inspecting baked goods at the supermarket. The fireman’s carnival was happening that night and she was late with her annual donation to their bake sale. She didn’t have time to deal with pans and preheating, so store bought cookies would have to do this year.

Penelope considered which cookies looked more homemade – the chocolate chunk or the peanut butter. When she finally decided on the former, she circled around the display just in time to see the last package of chocolate chunk being placed into a basket.

“Wait!” she yelped instinctively. “Those are mine!”

The man holding the basket pulled the package back out. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see your name on them.”

He was teasing her, a twinkle in his eye. Penelope stammered, “No, I know. It’s just…I really need them.”

“I see. Never stand between a woman and her chocolate. I learned that the hard way.” He extended the package. Penelope took them gratefully.

“Thanks.” She turned and headed for the checkout.

“I’m Steve, by the way,” he called out.

“Oh, um…hi…” she tossed over her shoulder. But her mind was already focused on what platter she would use to make the cookies look homemade.

As she walked toward the firehouse carrying a neatly wrapped platter of cookies, her mind wandered to the man from the supermarket. He’d been handsome, she thought briefly, with nice eyes. What was his name again? She wasn’t sure.

But she shook the thought out of her head. No time for a relationship. She was on a career track and didn’t want to be derailed. That’s not what she wanted right now. And Penelope only did what she wanted.

When she strolled up to the firehouse, the doors were open. “Hello?” she called out. A burly man in his fifties lumbered out a side door.

“Hey, darlin’. Whatcha got there?”

“They’re for the bake sale.”

“Ooo wee!” he cheered, looking at the platter. “Those look like they took you all day. We sure do thank you.”

“Anything to help,” Penelope replied, playing her part. “Where do I…?”

“Steve!” the man called over his shoulder. “Another donation!”

And before Penelope could run or hide (or both), the man from the supermarket strolled through the side door. He caught her eye and smiled.

“Hello. What do we have here?”

“Homemade cookies for the bake sale,” the older man gushed. “Look at these babies. They could win at the State Fair, don’t you think?”

Penelope could feel her cheeks burning. “Actually, they’re –“

“They look beautiful,” Steve interrupted, taking the platter from her. “Thanks for your support.”

“You’re welcome,” she said blankly. Then, not knowing what else to do, she turned and walked away.

“Hope to see you at the carnival tonight!” the older man called after her.

Penelope just walked faster. Seconds later, she heard footsteps behind her.
To be continued...

Click to read Hearts Afire, Part 2

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Award Season is Upon Us

Screeners have started to arrive!

Thank you award season! The studios send out thousands and thousands of these DVD screening copies of their award-worthy films each year to voting members in all the unions and voting organizations that give out awards. I get most of them because I’m a member of the Writer’s Guild. Two or three screeners will come because I’m also a SAG member, but the WGA is my major hookup.

Every screener comes with a ton of legal warnings:

Because piracy is a huge issue for studios. They want to ensure voters consider their films when award season rolls around, but they don’t want these screeners ending up on eBay or in China. That’s why each DVD is hand delivered by Fedex and specifically coded with my personal ID – so if they do find one of my screeners on the black market, they can trace it back to me and prosecute me to the fullest extent of the law. Yipes!

I love getting screeners because they allow me to enjoy the movies in the comfort of my own home and on my own time. My schedule doesn’t usually allow for all the free screenings around town, and since I don’t go to the movies regularly anyway, I usually haven’t seen any of them. (The last movie I saw in a movie theater was Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Before that, Part 1.)

Awards season is also fun because you can see what films the studios are really putting their money behind. Universal, for example, has sent me so many screening invitations and promotional flyers about Bridesmaids that I wouldn’t be surprised if they followed it up with an offer to pay for my future wedding if I vote for them.

I’ve gathered four screeners so far – I’m excited to see what else comes down the pipeline.

What award-worthy films are you rooting for so far?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All the News That's Fit to Tweet

A question posed by Ronnie Butler in last night’s social media workshop – "How do you get your news?"

A thought-provoking question, sir!

As a child, I’d watch NBC Nightly News with my parents or read the local newspaper. In college, The Tech was my source for everything going on in the world.

Now I get my news from two main sources. For general news headlines and happenings, I listen to news radio in the car – succinct, to the point, and traffic every 10 minutes. I love it – I live in LA, so I’m always in my car. The radio switches to NPR after I’ve gotten the gist of the day. Morning Edition, anybody?

Everything else I get from Twitter, either by looking at Trending Topics or from the news feeds I follow. Here are my faves:


Yes, they’re all TV entertainment news feeds. That’s the beauty of Twitter – I can find just what I want to read instead of sorting through a mountain of news. If your passion is basket weaving at high altitudes, there’s probably a news feed just for you.

What news feeds do you follow on Twitter?

Monday, November 14, 2011

All Aboard the Social Media Bandwagon

I’m a social media idiot. And I don’t mean idiot in the hipster sense.

I mean I’m an idiot because I know that social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al) is the way people communicate about everything nowadays, I know it’s shattering old paradigms of access and distribution of content, and I know it’s important for branding myself as an artist.

And yet I’m still not using it as thoroughly and consistently as I could to engage the world and make a name for myself.

The excuses abound. Time, for one – I am writing a pilot on a deadline, after all. Lack of vision about my brand potential is another excuse. I fight definition in many areas of my life, even though I embrace it in others.

What I need is a good kick in the pants to get off my butt and just start doing it.

Pants, meet Ronnie Butler.

I’ve blogged about Ronnie before – we met shooting Ugly Betty and have been friends ever since. I appeared in the chorus of his Modern US President video and just spent two days shooting his newest video, coming soon to a screen near you.

Tonight I attended a seminar he gave on using social media to maximize your visibility and propel your career forward. And boy did he make a good case.

He showed us this:

Then presented about a million examples of individuals who used YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to make six figure salaries, get signed by CAA, or get starring roles in TV and film. Six figures? Damn. Let’s do this.

Follow Teresapalooza!! on Twitter!

Ronnie and casting director Caroline Liem are giving an all-day workshop this Saturday called Social Media for Creatives - “Define your uniqueness, Take action, Create content, and Maximize exposure doing what you love.”

It’s only $99. If you’re an artist, you MUST go!

As for me, I’m vowing to engage the Twittersphere more often and start devising a YouTube channel strategy. What kind of videos would you like to see me create? (Keep it clean, people...)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Living the Swanky Life

I'm enjoying two straight days of getting fancy to stay up all night and hang out, schmooze, and take pictures with friends. I feel like a social butterfly! (Instead of my usual jeans and toe socks on the couch with my laptop butterfly.)

Last night was the wedding of two dear friends and former castmates from the hereandnow theatre company. It was a fabulous evening in Pasadena, highlighted by the dancing of La Marcha (a Southwest wedding tradition), tunes spun by DJ Shy, and sexy handsome members of the Air Force Honor Guard.

I had a great time, though this will teach me to check the pics in my digital camera before I leave the event:

My only picture with the happy couple! Boo...

Tonight I'll be heading to the annual CAPE Gala at Union Station. Last year's event was swanky to the max and this year's event will surely be no different. Look for my tweets!

Back to your regularly scheduled stressing on Sunday...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Marathon Writing Days

Spent the entire day at The Writer’s Junction working on my pilot outline today. My favorite place to write! I love having a full day with no distractions to just swim in the creative pool that is my mind. That sounded cheesy, but it’s true.

Christopher used a free day pass to join me in my writing marathon. This is roughly how our day looked.
  • 10:00 am – Christopher arrived and got a grand tour while I made some green tea and gave to my colleague Grace Lee's IndieGoGo campaign for her documentary American Revolutionary. Also read Nellie Andreeva’s analysis of this year’s TV pitch buying season. 33 put pilot commitments? Wow. We talked trash about Brett Ratner while setting up our computers.

  • 10:30 am – Writing commenced!

  • 11:30 am – Left Christopher clacking away at his keyboard for a notes call with my executive producer. Very positive notes – several things to think about and fix, but all doable. Whew!

  • 12:00 pm – Printed out the three pages of notes I’d typed up during the call and started addressing them one by one. Christopher continued clacking.

  • 1:00 pm – Free lunch at Wurstküche, courtesy of this deal from ScoutMob. At least the sausages were free – with Belgian fries and a spiced apple cider, it was still almost $10. Very cool space on Lincoln Blvd in Venice – the former location of the LA Supper Club, where I attended my first Moth show!

  • 2:30 pm – After a working lunch spent talking about what our respective characters WANT, we returned to writing, writing, writing.

  • 4:00 pm – Broke out the giant bag of candy corn to get through the food coma.

  • 4:30 pm – Succumbed to food coma and slept for 10 minutes. Woke up totally refreshed – catnapping is my super power!

  • 5:45 pm – Finished implementing all three pages of notes and felt great. Sent the revised outline off to a few writer friends to read, including Christopher. He sent me what he’d written that day.

  • 5:55 pm – What? Christopher wrote 36 script pages in a day! Started feeling not so great about my 14 pages. I dove in to reading…

  • 6:30 pm – Takeout from Fritto Misto for a dinner break with last week’s Parks and Recreation. One of our favorite shows with some of our favorite characters. Discussed the brilliance of Tom Haverford.

  • 7:30 pm – Exchanged notes on what we’d written. Christopher’s pages were amazing – what a knack for dialogue! You are all going to want to watch his show when it’s on – trust me.

  • 8:30 pm – My turn. Another awesome writerat The Writer’s Junction stopped by to give me notes as well. They threw me a million questions about all the things that were unclear. I had meant the answers to be clear, but obviously they didn’t come across. Simply put, I have a lot of work to do. Sigh – another day, another insight into how to make my outline better. Thanks to Christopher and Jack for taking the time to read it!

  • 11:00 pm – Before we knew it, it was time to go home. That’s a wrap on another marathon day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Saving My Cyborg Attachment

Though I’ve never been one to give human names to inanimate objects, such as my car or mobile phone, I have been known to harbor strong feelings for my technological companions.

Take my laptop, for instance. My Dell Latitude D630. This girl has been with me through thick and thin – from the Knight Rider writer’s room to Honolulu, Hawaii and back. She’s trustworthy, sturdy, and reliable. I love her.

But lately she’s been running a little slow at times and overheating more than usual. I bought her in 2008 – she’s on her second battery and has certainly lived a valiant life, but I know she has more to give.

So tomorrow, she’s undergoing a little surgery. Nothing too complex – just a thorough internal cleaning with the help of some eHow directions and the tools below. I’m sure there are more potato chip crumbs inside than I’d like to admit.

Please send her thoughts of health and wholeness – it’s not her time yet!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Commercial Callback! (Or The Anatomy of a Disaster. You Decide.)

Callbacks are always heightened situations. You’re that much closer to getting the job and the win is palpable – fun day on set, big payday, and national exposure.

All these thoughts and more were running through my head as I drove to my Dunkin Donuts callback this morning. The thought of having my face associated with one of my most favorite brands ever was especially exciting. (Did I mention how much I love Dunkin Donuts?!)

Simply put, I wanted this. Bad. That should have been warning sign #1 for me.

I walked in to 200 S. La Brea to find a much smaller crowd of actors hovering around the sign-in sheet, which had "Callbacks – Day1" written across the top. My nerves took another leap as a line from A Chorus Line jumped into my head – "I hope I get it! How many people does he neeeed?" Warning sign #2.

The casting director gave everyone an explanation. Same deal as the first audition – standing in line holding a jar of coins – except this time we’d then be walking up one by one and dumping our imaginary coins onto the counter.

Then he gave a pre-emptive note to everyone – "Don’t act!" Not an altogether unfamiliar note in the commercial world, which is moving increasingly toward real people, real people, real people. "Seriously, don’t act," he said again. "Don’t do anything. Just stand there."

What I should have done was listened to him. Unfortunately, the instinct to do something kicked in with a vengeance. Surely he didn’t really mean just stand there, I thought. I should come up with a few actions to separate myself from the rest of the actors, right? Warning sign #3.

I walked into the room, still struggling in my head between doing nothing and doing something to stand out. When it was my turn to dump my imaginary coins onto the counter, I tried to stay natural and not act, but I couldn’t. I imagined my coin jar to be especially heavy and cumbersome, requiring a big sweep of my arm to get the coins out. Too big, I thought immediately, TOO BIG!

The callback was over before I knew it. Who knows if I pulled it back in time. I wish I’d heeded all the warning signs and taken a deep breath before going in, but alas, that’s what callbacks can do to you.

And a love of Dunkin Donuts.

Monday, November 7, 2011

All in a Day's Writing



A modest Monday's work, made easier thanks to these:

Muppet feet!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Movin’ Right Along, Doog-a-Doon, Doog-a-Doon

CBS approved my 2-page pilot story area yesterday, so I’m moving on to writing my 12-page pilot outline! Hooray! I’ve already written an outline, of course, but now it’s time to turn it from a steaming pile of poo into something readable.

My executive producer and I are hoping to have a solid draft of the script done by Thanksgiving, which only leaves me a few weeks to deliver a stellar outline, go through the notes process on the outline, get approved to go to script, and actually write the script.

And that’s crunch time.

Sometimes I feel like my entire career as a solo writer has been spent in crunch time. I’ve always been pushing to get something done as soon as possible and battling fears that I’m behind the ball. Writing is a daily challenge in and of itself, but I’ve learned that managing my panic when approaching a deadline is a daily challenge as well.

When I’m in a heightened panic state, I’ll beat myself up for anything I do that’s not writing. Those minutes I spent doing my laundry or getting my oil changed? Horrible. "I should have done that later! Why am I wasting time eating and sleeping? I should be writing! Aaaagh!"

I have to remember that what I’m striving for is a balance – between writing and functioning as a human being. And much like my action plan theory for actors, staying on track as a writer means pacing myself – breaking down my list of notes and addressing them one at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. Staring at the long track ahead and freaking out isn’t going to do me any good.

So I take a deep breath and move into crunch time, knowing that I can do it. Bird by bird,as Anne Lamott says. Bird by bird.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Commercial Audition

The Client: Dunkin Donuts
The Role: Ethnic Businesswoman
The Location: 200 S. La Brea

That’s all I knew before my commercial audition yesterday. And that’s typical – information always seems to be sparse and general when it comes to commercial casting. Walking into the casting office and seeing who else was called for the audition tells me much more about what I’m in for.

On this particular day, the waiting area at 200 S. La Brea was packed full. There was an audition happening in every casting studio with a corresponding crowd of actors hovering about, waiting to get called. In one corner, a gaggle of little girls in ballet tutus with their moms. In another corner, tall, gorgeous models in high heels.

The crowd gathered around the Dunkin Donuts sign-in sheet appeared to be every shape and size possible. Black guys wearing gas station shirts, Asian people in business suits, redheads in tight skirts, etc. – clearly a cross-section of America. Because America runs on Dunkin!

I signed in and passed the waiting time by catching up with old friend Stephon Fuller, a working actor I met my first year in LA. He’s worked steadily for years in TV & film, chronicling his acting adventures in his blog My Long Ass Bio. We’ve always shared a belief in working smarter and harder to put ourselves on the Hollywood map. Case in point – he booked a role opposite Tom Hanks in The Terminal from a headshot drop-off. That’s badass.

Finally, the casting director called my name along with about 25 others to go into the room for an explanation of what the audition would entail. CDs often do explanations in large groups so they don’t have to repeat themselves all day. This setup couldn’t have been simpler – stand in a single-file line and act like you’re waiting to buy Dunkin Donuts. Got it.

When it was my turn, I filled my head with images of pumpkin muffins and breakfast flatbread sandwiches and hot spiced apple cider. I channeled my passion for Dunkin Donuts and acted the hell out of waiting in line, I tell you whut. (Kidding.) After about 10 seconds, the CD said, "Thank you!" and I was done.

Needless to say, I don’t stress about commercial auditions. They probably saw 100 actors yesterday for a handful of standing in line roles. The people who ultimately get cast will probably be a diverse collection of looks and types. They’ll know if they want my look and type in less than those 10 seconds and that’s all there is to it.

So I concentrate on having fun. And what could be more fun than auditioning to wait in line? And get paid to do it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Mamet Does It Again

Ten years ago, reading David Mamet’s book True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actorwas a revelation.

Unlike so many of the method acting books I was reading at the time, Mamet laid out an incredibly simple view of how to be a good actor – just show up and say the words. A playwright-centric opinion of acting, to be sure, but a refreshing change to what seemed to be a long tradition of overthinking.

Yesterday, I finally read David Mamet's missive on television writing that was allegedly intended only for the writers of The Unit,but got leaked and spread around the Internet like wildfire.

Again, Mamet impresses me by breaking good television writing down to the basics – every scene starts with a character wanting something and ends with him failing to get that thing, which leads to the next scene. That’s it! Practical wisdom that I’ll be applying to this pilot outline I’m working on. Thanks, David!

Check out his television writing theory for yourself, if you haven’t already. He tells it like it is.