Sunday, April 15, 2012
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”—Woody Allen
After a long talk with mi padre, I think it seems fitting to make my dream of the week a bit simple compared to previous dreams. This week, I dreamed about doing something … and being insanely happy while doing it.
What did I “DO” to move forward?
I did my taxes, played with my dog, signed up for Denver Center Season Auditions, and got a smartphone. Not a bad week.
Any of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seat, waiting for my weekly blog installment to drop every Sunday night, have probably noticed the lack of consistency on my part. I’ve been a bad blogger.
I guess the problem with writing a blog that is focused on inspiration and go-get-em-ness is that if the writer is feeling down, he might slack off.
This spring I’ve had the incredibly difficult problem of an abundance of life choices. Every day, I get pumped up with a combination of life choices that are never the same between two days. Apples one day. Oranges the next.
As I said earlier, I was talking with my dad recently and he at one point asked me if I had taken any time to simply calm down and just ‘listen’. I hadn’t. I hadn’t done that probably since before graduating college.
I’m so grateful for the fact that I have parents that remind me to do things like, “Calm down and listen.” I just closed the show that I had been performing in for the past three months and I have over a month till I start my summer job. That’s a good chunk of time to calm down and listen. I’m not expecting to have any particular answer over the course of that month, but I expect that I’m going to be a lot happier than I am now.
Running around, making contacts, making friends, doing auditions, and practicing the craft will do wonders for an artist to advance in his career. Making ample opportunities to calm down and listen for what he really needs to hear will do wonders for an artist to increase his happiness.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
“If the other actor isn’t giving you what you want, act as though he were.”—Michael Caine
This week is a nice marker for me. Until this week, I was honestly dreading one part of moving to a new city: Having to make a whole new list of friends and contacts after spending a year making friends and contacts here in Denver. It was hard to not view some of my growth here in Denver as a waste because I would have to start from basically zero wherever I go next. I’m not worried about that now. I’ve been dreaming about all the new friends and new ‘business partners’ I’m going to be making when I move. It’s a good dream; I love people … especially ones I’m just meeting!
What did I “DO” to move forward?
I started working more on my music writing and performing. I used to be a pretty good dance music DJ and while I’ve still got the technical skills, I’m re-learning some of the art to it. I’m also still working on building some auditions and contacts in Seattle.
Patience … Not a subject for a single article.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found a lot of uses for patience in my life. I’ve been very grateful for seeing these moments as they’ve come along and I think it’s going to help me in a huge way, as I get closer to ramping my professional efforts up even more.
The first place I have been taking on some patience from is my booking schedule. I’m currently not in a show until September and that is unusual for me. (Hah, I’m sure some of you are cursing, “Oh, Poor Erik doesn’t know what it’s like to not constantly be in a show.” Get over it!) Non-the-less, I’ve had the temptation to think this lack of shows is signifying a harder road than I wanted to deal with.
It is harder than I thought it would be—and I thought it would be really freaking hard. But I am reminded: every day I work at it and every time I watch my friends who are also rocking out in this world it shows that it is still very possible.
Another lesson about patience I’ve been learning is specifically for the actors out there. We all know it is annoying as hell to have to act across from someone who is a blank wall or someone who has his or her own thing going on and is not responding to you at all. It sucks!!!
Those of us who have even the slightest bit of humility in themselves will remember that we also (at one time or another) have been the actor who gives nothing and receives nothing; the actor who is as fun to act with as a chair. So, lets not get pissed off every time we have to work with someone who needs more acting classes. We should love them for being there and trying. After all, we all could use some more acting classes
every once in a while … always.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
“The camera doesn’t have to be wooed; the camera already loves you deeply… you have never known such devotion. –Michael Caine
I just day-dreamed about remodeling a kitchen to be perfect for every one of my cooking fantasies. Mmmm, food.
What did I “DO” this week?
O.K. So I guess it’s more like, “What did I do these past few weeks?” I do apologize for my absence. I had a bit of a spring-break and have been away from the-ol blog for a while.
As you remember, I was submitting to agencies last time we talked. I had an audition for the best agency in town and they basically liked me, but said I was not ready for camera work. I was expecting that, but I admit: it took a while to get out of the pit of “I SUCK!!!” I took it as a hint and in the last few weeks I’ve lined up some acting classes to try out and I got a plane ticket to see my friend’s wedding in L.A. (A good place to look for a workshop maybe?) I also submitted auditions to some theatres in the mountains for summer. I also had an "Extras" cattle-call audition for a Johnny Depp movie being shot in Colorado this summer. Cattle-calls are silly ... just ... silly. In general, I’m trying to re-open my eyes to this business and what I need to do next in it.
“In My Own Little World” is the title of this article and it is basically to say I need to be there more.
These past few weeks have been hard because I think I’ve gotten very caught up in the lives and emotions of others in a way that hurts my life and emotions. I think the practice of being in our own little world is about developing a thick skin, not just to our own failure and rejection, but to our friend’s and family member’s failures and defeats.
I’ve been getting a lot of reminders to say to myself, “It’s their life. Let them live it. They WILL be okay.” I’m sure I could say that about myself a bit more too…
What if we started every day with that simple statement or something like it (Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer, or Mrs. Eddy’s ‘Daily Prayer—For those of you who know it.) It would be so great for us to remind ourselves… AND FULLY BELIEVE; This is our life. We should just LET ourselves live it. We will always be okay. More than okay. GREAT!
Monday, March 5, 2012
“Take your job seriously, and then you’ll be hired to do the fun stuff!” – Auditioning and Acting for the Camera by John W.Shepard
This week’s dreams:
I dreamed most about perpetual motion this week. Starting last Sunday, I was working almost from wake-up to bed time on my craft. I had tech rehearsals for a show that opened three days ago, “Six Degrees of Separation.” Meanwhile, I had kid shows during the day. I was having drinks after our opening night on Friday with some people who saw the play I was in and one of them asked me what else I did for a living. With out an instance of hesitation, I said, “I’m a full time actor.” That is a big thought change for me: To un-questioningly affirm myself as a full time actor is awesome! This week, I dreamed about keeping that affirmation going.
What did I “DO” this week?
I started re-submitting to talent agencies in Denver. I’ve heard enough of some actors saying they can’t get any work from their agent while other actors say they are getting plenty of work to know that if I had an agent, I would do very well! The result? I’ve got an audition this week for the (arguably) biggest and best talent agency in Denver! I started my month of using public transportation instead of my car and I love it. I’m getting a lot of acting reading done on the bus and have a better handle on my schedule and how to effectively use my time. It was a very good week.
So…As I prepare for the possibility of being represented by a talent agency, I’ve started grabbing hold of the fact that the majority of equitable work in the area is in commercials.
I’ve noticed that commercials can have a bad rep with actors who are focused too heavily on “the art” of our work. However, I’ve long accepted that I am going to have to do things that are more about the money than the art.
Lets play would you rather:
Would you rather do commercials and feel your artistic soul be challenged while working on your craft in thee commercial. Then also be able to do shows and films that are the ‘good’ work a little later…
Would you rather work as a temp and get a job as an envelope stuffer at a Blockbuster distribution center, act in shows that are artsy, but don’t pay well (or at all) and be so tired and sore and drained from your day job that you can barely focus on stage?
I did the second option…for about three weeks. I HATED IT!!! And that second option sucks so much, I will never believe the work of commercials or industrials are beneath me. At the end of the day, it is still acting…Warehouse jobs, waiting tables, and making lattes isn’t.
I’m not saying these above jobs are bad jobs. They just aren’t the jobs to have if you want to have a conversation with a stranger and say, “I’m a full time actor.” Which, believe me, is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever been privileged enough to say.
I think what I really learned from this week is that there is (regardless of your life purpose as you see it) enormous value in being totally comfortable with your identity to the point that your job, your actions, and your words all radiate that awesome identity.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
“The greatest wisdom is to realize one's lack of it” - Constantin Stanislavski
This week’s dream:
I’m not sure if this is a ‘dream’ per-se, but I was thinking a lot this week about that thing people say about how in the arts you need to be fully committed to what your doing. Committed in the sense of, “If you are willing to do something other than your art for work, you won’t be as successful as you could be in that art.” I’m not sure I buy that as an actor. I think the more diverse my life is, the more I can bring to the art. Look at Donald Glover! That guy does so much! This week, I dreamed about keeping my identity as a renaissance man.
What did I “DO” this week?
I say a show yesterday. I signed up for some auditions for shows in the late spring and for some summer stock theatre. I set up a game plan for getting an agent with in the month. On an ECO note, I got a bus pass! No commuting to work by car for the month of March!
What a mean trick I pulled last week! I mentioned my future-not-yet-scheduled skiing trip with Johnny Depp on my facebook post and I got more hits on that blog post in a day than any of the other posts got ever! Maybe I should always mention celebrities in this! But, seriously, that trip’s gonna happen—I’ll let you know when we finally schedule it. After all, Depp and I are both busy men, he is terrible at picking up his phone, and I don’t like texting back and forth.
I’ve been performing in a great kid’s show for about a month now. I’m a supporting character in the show—most of us are. Something that I’ve started noticing about my performance and the dangers of kid’s theatre and extended show runs is that I am tempted to cheat my audience out of my best performance.
This comes in two forms: First, I am tempted to wait for my cue. Second, I am tempted to let outside influences affect my show.
What do I mean by waiting for my cue? I’ll give an example. In the show’s script, one character is listing all these things he does in his life as a kid. The pirates listen to this, and at the end of the list the boy mentions that he plays soccer. The pirates all speak in unison, “Arg…Soccer?” That’s what’s written. But, is it all that is happening on stage.
If I’m doing my job right, I should have an opinion about absolutely everything that goes on within the world of the play while I’m on stage. This doesn’t mean that I have to make vocal ad-libs that are not in the script. I should at the very least have a thought.
A supporting actor, if he/she is truly professional, will be focused enough to give themselves wholly to the world of the play and to their character’s opinions about that world. It shouldn’t matter if the play is a Tony winner or the crappiest script ever. I believe that doing this one thing could bring an actor un-told success in this business because the audience will look at that character and see the full story—and they will love you for it. If done right, you won’t have to worry about pulling focus either. (I think a blank face in an actor on stage pulls my focus as an audience member more than anything)
About the second thing: I think one of the cruelest disservices I can do to the audience is to bring my outside day onto the stage with me. We actors love to commiserate back stage. We LOVE to share the things that make our lives suck the most. When one actor enters the dressing room and announces that they woke up with some phlegm in their throat, the flock gathers to agree that there must surely be some new illness floating around.
Imagine how good our shows would be if we refused to commiserate: if we let go of our fetish for sickness and instead we couldn’t shut up about how awesome our world is. After all, our world IS awesome. Our job is SO COOL!!! So, stop whining!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
“Work that you loathe will taint your entire being.” – Mari Lyn Henry & Lynne Rogers in How To Be A Working Actor
This week’s dream:
Well, this past week being Valentine’s Week, I found myself thinking mostly about my girlfriend. We are in a long distance relationship and have been since the beginning. I’ve been dreaming of the day that I can make it no-longer long distance. The day where I’m successful enough to allow us to actually be part of each other’s daily lives. (Awe!)
What did I “DO” this week?
This week, I submitted a video audition for a role in a feature film to be shot this summer. (Thanks to my brother for reading the other parts, and Matt for donating time and a camera)
I have a theory about success with an agent that I’ve developed over the past few weeks after talking to several individuals. The theory is: Aside from having the right look (which might not matter as much as you think) one’s success with good agency is directly connected with one’s work ethic and how effectively someone uses their talent.
I was talking with a professional in town who has done several commercial spots over the years in the Denver area. He works more than most, but less than he could. Something that stood out to me from what he said is that Denver actors in particular, have this sense that they can go into an audition or even the shoot and wing it. Some, no doubt, get away with it; but most don’t. Agents hate this!
What I deduced from this is that: even if there are twenty guys working with the best agency in town that look exactly like me, maybe three or five of them get regular calls. Why is this? Those three to five actors are the ones who show up to work like professionals. They are easy to work with, prepared, professional, and they deliver…every time. What are the other guys doing? (This may be harsh—especially since I’m a friend with some of them) They are probably not doing the above things and they are probably griping at home or in the dressing room about how little work there is, how hard the Denver market is, and how they hate that they look like twenty other guys at their agency.
I think, in the acting world, there is no such thing as an, ‘easy market’. Some markets have more work than others. Some are more saturated with actors. Some have the more desirable work of film and television, while others have better options in commercial and industrial videos. Every market is hard as hell though! So, what do I need to do?
I need to be as tough as my market. If there are twenty guys in my agency who look like me: I need to be a better actor, a better professional, and a better person to work with than any of them. (Not in a snooty competitive way—in a mater of fact way)
In the ‘business’ world of the normal people jobs: People move quickly up the ladder by putting in the extra work, being the best player, and talking to the right people. Why do we actors think our job should be different? If you’re in a show that has eight performances a week, are you going to be working hard? You bet! Is that enough if you want to keep moving up or be more stable financially? HELLZZZ NO!!!
Maybe I need to pull a few more eighty-hour workweeks for the next few years. Then, when I’m drinking hot cocoa with Johnny Depp at a skiing lodge in Austria, then I can finally sit back and whine about the one time a director didn’t hire me because I didn’t quite look right for the part.
I wonder what Johnny Depp’s favorite hot-drink is. Does he like it spiked, or not? Something creamy or some kind of tea? I guess I’ll have to ask him in a few years when we go on a buddy-buddy ski trip. Does he ski? If not, I can teach people how to ski…I’ll teach him…(The thought of seeing him ‘yard-sale’ on the side of a hill and laughing my head off as I help him dig snow out of his goggles makes me really hope he doesn’t ski much) Johnny, I invite you to a skiing trip in Austria…chance of a lifetime for you buddy! IT’S AUSTRIA!!! That’s some James Bond shit right there!
Monday, February 13, 2012
“Endeavor to penetrate the psychology of persons around you toward whom you feel unsympathetic.” -Michael Chekhov
Today’s Song: L’idolo Di Oro by Erik Siegling THAT’S MEEEE!
A little off the format, but I had a dream last night while I was sleeping about some actress. She was flying from one gig to another. First, a commercial shoot, then a photo shoot, followed by a rehearsal, and a talk show appearance. Busy gal right? The thing is: She’s ‘working’. That is the kind of effort needed in this career. Thanks dream! Good reminder!
What did I “DO” this week?
I met with an alumnus from my college for coffee and we chatted about what he knows about the acting industry. He gave me some good reminders and some awesome tips. I’m working on a video audition for a role in a feature length SAG film to be shot in Colorado this summer. And I bought enough groceries to fill the pantry and the fridge, just so I stop getting down on myself for not having food in the house…Winning.
I’m thinking about changing the blog format. What do you (the reader) think? Stanislavski wrote his acting books like a sort of 1st person novel narrative. I hated reading that style, but I thought it might be cool to try. It could flex my writer’s muscle and pay a little tribute to the acting pioneer. Also, I’m thinking of including actor’s exercises for readers to try at home. Comments! Make them!!!
Ok, I couldn’t help myself. I’m submitting an audition this week for a western feature length film and I thought it’d be fun to throw down some western pazaz for the song of the week.
Anyone who keeps a mild eye on my facebook knows that I’m pretty diligent about posting news articles that have something to do with politics in America today. Sometimes I even get feisty enough to post some political comment. Well, I guess it was only a matter of time till that bled onto here.
All I want to say about it is this: We’ve gotta start listening to each other. If there’s anything we are proving by meticulously arguing our points to each other, it’s that not a single person or ideology has got it totally right or totally wrong.
As actors, (you know who you are), we have this incredible occupational hazard associated with our job. If you look back at the Chekhov quote at the top of this post, you’ll see what I’m talking about… Any actor who is worth their salt should be able to flex their empathy muscle at any given moment. Acting is not about finding out what is similar between our character and us; acting is about truly understanding what makes the character one unique, whole being.
And that is how actors will save the world!
But seriously, a good example is one of the button issues of today: economic philosophy. There is this great divide about full capitalism versus socialism in American society. Both sides are really good at finding what’s wrong with the other side and how it could never work. Socialism takes power from people and puts it in the hands of government, (Dangerous). Capitalism takes power from people and puts it in the hands of the corporation, (Dangerous Again!).
What if both ideas work. Seriously! What if there could be happy countries that use different methods to attain social equality? The thing is, there are. Sweden evens out social equality through taxation and the re-distribution of wealth. Japan does it through a more capitalist approach. Both countries have half the social inequality of the United States (whom currently has one of the largest in-equality ratings of the already developed world) Sweden and Japan both have thriving and productive cultures and are moving forward. So, maybe we should stop fighting about which philosophy is right or wrong. Our country is too impossibly big to figure that out anyway.
So, this had nothing to do with writer’s block, but I figured the title would get folks to click on the link to this blog. Oops. Sorry if you were looking for more art stuff, but hey, we artists could be the ones to get this country moving on to the happy train of mutual understanding!
Yesterday, a friend asked me if I was reading any good inspirational books of if I was just getting high on God. Honestly, both. God is awesome! The books I've been reading are proof of that. The books are: "The Four Agreements" and "Think And Grow Rich" Good reads.
Screw writer's block!