and the new blog is on
My amazing girlfriend Jacqui and I have been talking about the future. She’s over in Melbourne and I’m here in Los Angeles, and she challenged me on the trajectory of my acting career while I’ve been living here. She brought up lots of good points.
Then she re-sent me an article I had emailed her a while back:
I re-read it, and all of the comments.
I’ve been working for a family, taking care of their two kids, for three years. I’ve become ‘comfortable’, but not advancing like I could toward my acting career.. Come January I would like to find something else. I don’t know what yet, but I have a month and a half to figure that out. Instead of coming up with a list of the stuff I don’t want to do, I am going to follow the following advice from the article:
“First you take stock in your skill set and find what makes you unique. What are you really good at, and what would be of value to others? Then you start looking for work that allows you to use that skill set.”
I know my strengths are:
And I’ve been listing out my other strengths on LinkedIn.
Now for finding a fit for work..
Note: I want to start having photos with my blog entries to make them more fun to look at; I spent a too much time looking for this on free range stock photos. Someday I will use my own images.
Before The Actor’s Network closed it’s doors (it is online only now), one of the things mentioned in their pitch meeting was their squib book. In it everyone wrote down information pertaining to casting directors, agents, directors etc.
I made up my own ‘squib book’ and it has been sitting, collecting dust because it is a 3-ring binder and I don’t carry it around with me.
So, remembering my Auditions Database I made up an Acting Contacts List.
I put all the things I could think I might need to know:
Title: (Casting Director, Director, Actor, Agent)
Works To Know: (movies or tv shows directed or cast)
Twitter/FB/LinkedIn: (although I still have yet to revisit LinkedIn, I will soon though)
To Research: (checkbox)
The list is small now, but I recently read The Clock is Ticking on Your Career at Backstage.com and she mentions marketing.. and I thought, “to who though?” (although this should be “to whom though”)
The website castingabout.com has all sorts of contact information, but I’ll need to focus who I’m spending my energy trying to network with. I also saw The Invention of Loneliness and the comment about knowing 150 people really hit home with me. I want to surround myself with people I care about who inspire me and who are working hard toward their dreams. I want to create a list of people in the industry who I would love to meet and work with.. so thus I begin.
This, of course, is an open ended project as I could continually refine my list as I go along. However, each week when I make the time to update it, I will be asking myself, “What have I done recently to achieve my goals?” and in this case it is finding those people who do amazing work and making sure I have chances to work with them.
Time seems so important once it’s gone.
Last Thursday night I discovered that my Friday day was free. What could I accomplish with this newfound time? Something important I decided. I wrote up some ideas: they included things like re-read the rehearsal chapter from the Challenge to the Actor book, read through parts of Howard Fine’s book, and pick up some items for the scene I am doing in my acting class.
I remember spending so much time walking up and down Chinatown, trying to find a gun that looks like what Boston police would have in 2008, which according to research meant a Glock 22, after hours of walking around and revisiting the same stores I saw on the Tuesday prior, I finally spent $6 on a plastic version, instead of a metal air pistol. Then, realizing that my time was running out, I quickly stopped at the Central Library in Los Angeles, and picked up several marionette puppet books that are only available there. Then I rushed over to Pasadena to meet up with my scene partner and improvise what it would be like for “Pete” to tell “Sully” about how he was leaving town.
I had an excellent time, but in my rush I misunderstood parking directions, and paid $5 at a place a few blocks away, instead of free. Then the pub we went to had some great food and a beer that was pretty tasty, but I drank it too quickly and got all tipsy (I usually don’t drink).
“Pete” had to leave, so I walked back to my car and set a timer for the beer to wear off… then fell asleep in my car.
Later in North Hollywood, I went to four different stores (Smart & Final, Ralphs, 7-11, AMPM) trying to find single beers instead of having to buy an entire case. Then I realized I could probably get them at a liquor store, which I finally did.
Acting class: Jack, my scene partner, and I went up first. The first thing I do is drop that plastic gun and it snaps apart.
Fortunately, there’s only a small part that broke off, and our scene went only a few movements before I was reprimanded for saying “line” so quickly. I think one of the things I am trying to work on is the entire memorizing thing. I get too concerned about saying things perfectly, that I don’t just let things come out.. I’ve noticed this even in my regular speaking pattern, I can hear myself taking pauses at irregular intervals as I form the thoughts and process of talking.
It is annoying, but I’m working on it.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the “proper” way of rehearsing with the Howard Fine way of acting. I’m not exactly sure when to call “line” or improvise my way through. Later when I was on book for another actor I gave too much time because I didn’t know if they had forgotten their line, and they didn’t call for it. I’ll figure this all out soon.
My scene partner and I haven’t “rehearsed” in the usual sense, and I don’t think we are supposed to quite yet. The Uta/Howard Fine/ Laura Gardner way is to work in small beats and really fill each moment. Cool, I’m game, but I won’t be able to do this until Thursday and Friday, because of the clashing schedules between me and my scene partner.
Anyway, let me get back to the topic of this post.. time.
After class I worked nannying until the kids went to sleep, and then I fell asleep. My sleeping schedule has been all askew this week.
A day off, and hopefully productive.
This time I gave myself specific tasks that would create the most impact.. deciding what to purge from my life. I have had several plastic tubs full of all of my items/collections/memorabilia from childhood, and it is too much. So after moving everything around and taking several photos of items, I called it quits for the day (10-4pm). I realized I still have 8 boxes of items that are “tough” to part with, but that there are 9 that I can “go through” and get rid of somehow.
Then I went to church and hung out with some friends instead of going to the Pop Culture night that no one could attend.
Instead I watched a movie called “Time Crimes” that was recommended. It was interesting.
In the morning I discovered that I could finally get rid of this box of Boy’s Life magazines I had since I was in cub scouts, all because they are available on http://boyslife.org/wayback/ hooray! That’s one box less junk in my life.
Then I worked and when I came home I found myself falling asleep earlier than normal. Fortunately I stopped myself from watching an episode of Family Guy.. I don’t even really like that show.
-Tue / Today-
During my morning pages, I came up with all these productive things I could do- post items for sale on ebay etc.
Throughout the day I was plagued by my lower back pain that happened while I was moving boxes Sunday, and a headache that often surfaces when I have stuff I want to do.
Then I make mistakes, like wasting time day dreaming and researching on Raspberry Pi projects, or looking at Poppy updates. Neither of which are the best use of my time.
Soon I’ll be leaving for acting class tonight, and I don’t have a monologue ready (even though it is optional, I am missing the opportunity).
I don’t want to complain, but I’m finding myself falling into traps where the decisions I make at the time seem like a good idea, and then turn out to be a colossal waste of energy and most importantly time.
My next day off is Sunday, so throughout the week, I hope that I spend the rest of my waking hours doing something that will get my life to a place where I want it to be.
I’m warning you future Matt.. remember this before you become past Matt.
On July 3, I finally donned my running shoes and ran around that track that’s nearby where I live. There’s also these outdoor exercise machines I’ve been meaning to try out and the most important is the pull up bar. I used to have a pull up bar in my apartment, but it broke and I haven’t replaced it yet. This was an obstacle.
At one time I couldn’t a pull up from a ‘dead hang’ and I had read that the best thing to do is to try reverse pull ups every day until you are able to do a real pull up. I tried and tried using that pull up bar in my apartment and lo and behold I finally could do one! I was so proud of myself. There was a time when I couldn’t run for 2 minutes without feeling pain in my chest and then after adding minutes every day I was able to get to an hour!
These things happened several years ago now, and my ‘obstacles’ were pretty weak. No bar to use, and as for running, my obstacle was the lack of motivation.
That changed on the 3rd. I woke up with no excuses anymore. This day was the first “holiday” day in preparation for the 4th of July weekend, I had the day free and I was determined to make the most of it.
My most recent audition was on Saturday June 29, and although I thought I felt comfortable, and thought I would have been perfect in the commercial, I made simple mistakes and that was that. Then I remembered about my last post and how I had wanted to start taping again, and how important it was.. so I decided that July 3rd I would make myself tape something whether or not I felt like it that day.
I ran only a 3 laps, and could only do 10 pushups and no longer was I able to do my amazing pull ups. Even though I started small I remembered how I was able to conquer my goals and get to amazing places by adding a little each day. I took that motivation to my taping too.
After my run I began the process to turn our living room into a studio. I moved the furniture around, set up the camera and prepared my props and costume, and then I taped. In reality I didn’t tape all that much, but it was enough to fill in key pieces of the latest episode 4 of my kids show, and I felt accomplished. I had to do everything myself, but that didn’t bother me this day.
I quickly edited together the scenes and worked the rest of the day on fine tuning the timing and the effects. The process has been slow altogether, but oh so worth it. I now still have a couple shots and some audio to tape, and then I need to find a suitable background (ah the wonders of green-screen).. but I’m finally making progress!
It is amazing, in a non-happy way, how easy it is to let one day go into the next and be sitting, waiting on accomplishing one’s goals. I want to speed up the setup time that has been such an obstacle (about 2 hours) and the editing time, which has already sped up SIGNIFICANTLY now that I’m using FCPX instead of FCP 6 (from 2007) and a new computer.
The final product is already looking wonderful, and even though I still have some work to do on this one, I am already looking forward to taping episode 5. Sometimes I have to give myself a little push.. okay, a BIG push, to get things going again, and overcome the obstacles that I let stay in my way for far too long. Once the motivation kicks in things can be happening!
Today is another day off, and although it is almost over I’ve already made more progress on the episode. Diligently I peck away at the ‘to do’ list and get closer to the release.
Like I’ve written before, you are what you most practice- and I want to practice being productive and streamlining the process to make my own path for my own work. That way I’m not sitting down, waiting for something to happen. Obstacles are only obstacles if you let them stay that way.
Today I ran 7 laps, and did 15 pushups.. little by little I can reach my goals.
I subscribe to the free email from Backstage ‘espresso’. In it they link to interesting articles.
Today I opened up the article by David Dean Bottrell entitled 3 ways to improve your luck as an actor
He writes, “Ambition will not make you better in the room—only skill gets their attention. And skill is gained through practice and by observing what works.”
I read this shortly after watching the Uta Hagen acting class DVD and there she mentions the agony of an actor (disc 2). An actress talks about wanting to show it all at once, then lose the grounding.
Uta tells her it’s because “you aren’t functioning as an actress”. After a moment of confusion by the actress Uta continues, ‘That’s the agony of being an actor and not getting the chance to show’ and “that’s why we need to make our own theaters.”
That was the moment when she and the actors onstage (as well as myself) began to tear up. [as I am again while writing this, hoping no one in this waiting room is noticing me as I type on my iPhone].
How absolutely true! It is AGONY to love to do something and not be doing it. I LOVE acting and I’m not doing it as much as I’d like and it hurts!
Who is to blame though? I am so fortunate to live in an age where I can make my own things, share my own ideas and possibly touch so many people’s lives.
I think the obstacle I am working on overcoming is to make ACTING and CREATING MY OWN PROJECTS a higher priority. Otherwise things get lost in the ‘fill’ of my own life. The daily tasks or distractions that whittle my days away.
My girlfriend and roommates probably get sick of hearing me talk about all things I want to do, that I haven’t made time to do. No one is more sick of it than me.
Instead of looking what I’m not doing, I can be thankful at the experiences I currently have. I’m taking an acting class at Howard Fine Studios (I’m even performing an exercise tonight). Friday I am performing at an improv show. I teach improv every Monday (where I learn a lot), and every other week I practice improv with my roommate.
I just know there is so much more I want to share.
The way out of this agony is to perform.
And I will.
Unrelated information: John, Melissa and I watched Superman beforehand, so we started the night later than usual. My birthday is this month, and I too am 33 years old. See? Superman and I are very similar.
We ordered a couple pizzas, then Darryl came back from some party, and we began the one show for the night.
The Americans, a 1980s spy drama from the FX channel.
The show just got picked up for a second season, and none of us had seen it before. It was really engaging. Although there was some confusion over whether they were indeed spies or double-agents, the show was intriguing to follow. I can see where the nosey-neighbor drama will create all sorts of tension throughout the series. For some reason I was reminded of the neighbor on Bewitched when the FBI agent moves in across the street. There’s also that type of high stakes in other shows like the near misses of Stanley Roper on Three’s Company .. of course those are all comedies and the Americans is not funny at all. Still good though.
John noted that the main girl, was speaking English when no one was around. It may be just a technique to be able to tell the story to an American audience without requiring subtitles.
The pilot was an hour, and I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with commercials.. that would have been ridiculous. Pilots are usually long because they have so much ground to cover.
In my acting class, Laura mentioned this show in regards to how the agents have to act ‘normal’. I’m sure I’d find all sorts of interesting analogies for acting and undercover spy acting, and in this case actors-playing-undercover-spies-attempting-to-be-normal.
Anyway, the night was fun, and the show was a hit.
I didn’t prepare a large selection for this night, so we scrolled Hulu and Netflix.
We began with Legit. My girlfriend was visiting from Australia, and this show is about an Australian comic. I thought it would be fun.
I was wrong.
We tried watching it, but the type of humor was dark and raunchy. I waited to see if it got any better. It didn’t and I had to turn it off after the scene where the dying guy in a wheel chair is taken to a whore house.
It made everyone queasy.
I thought it’d be better for us to watch something else that is a little less intense. So we watched, Hemlock Grove, via Netflix. House of Cards had been great, so I wanted to see how this one turned out.
Then the show opens with an explicit scene of a guy and a hooker in a car, followed by a woman being eaten by a monster with graphic sound effects.
So we moved on.
My roommates have been into this Australian series called Angry Boys, starring several characters performed by Chris Lilley. So we watched an episode of that, it had funny moments.
Later on we watched another episode with Skyler.
Other than that I don’t recall watching anything else. When I asked others later, everyone only remembers the dark ‘comedy’ show or the”werewolf one”.
Next time I’ll have my list ready to go and not rely so heavily on streaming. I seem to remember slow connections ruining the experience at times too.
The next Pop Culture night will be in a few weeks and I’m eager to party it up again!
Oh, and a note: I bought a few flavors of Wheat Thins: Zesty Salsa, Spicy Buffalo and Veggie. The Spicy Buffalo was a hit, as were the banana/strawberry/Sunny D smoothies.
Last week April 17th, was another Pop Culture Night.
In attendance: Melissa, Darryl, Lee, John, Gary, Ian, and Kristin.
This month I focused on web series. Since they are typically shorter, we ended up watching 15 different ones!
Comedians in cars getting coffee
Neil’s Puppet dreams
Werewolves of Reseda
Comedians in cars getting coffee
We started off the night watching Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, and the ‘plot’ is pretty self descriptive. The episode I thought we were going to watch was Jerry and Ricky Gervais. For whatever reason a different episode played with Michael Richards.
Very funny! They reminisced over their Seinfeld years, and Michael was his usual kooky self. Thumbs up!
Neil’s Puppet dreams
I had high hopes for this one. Neil Partick Harris was amazing in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long blog. This episode however felt a little played out. I think the puppets being not-for-children idea is a little predictable, and I wasn’t too excited about watching another episode. I’ll probably give it another try sometime.. and the episodes are super short, so there’s not much that can be done in a short amount of time I suppose.
Burning love – JULIE’S EPISODES
Although we didn’t watch season 1, the episodes we watched were fun! A few of us who were fans of the tv show ‘Party Down’ kept laughing as all of the various actors from that show were revealed out of the limo. The show itself is a parody of those ‘The Bachelor’ types of shows, and the show was HILARIOUS! This was one of the shows that everyone wanted to watch again, and we did. After just about everyone left, myself, John and Lee watched a few more episodes. Very addicting. = )
This was one of those award winning series I found online. I had trouble finding the actual episode format of the show, and instead we watched about 10 min from the ‘collection’ on vimeo. – I wasn’t such a fan of this one. I guess it could be classified as another teenage angst or something, and I wasn’t the demographic. Actually, I don’t think anyone really liked this one. I remember being bothered by the camera movements on this one. And the main girl was so angry for no reason.
Darryl and Lee worked on this series, and I hadn’t yet seen it, so we fired it up. We watched season 1, episode 2. It was fun to hear behind the scenes stuff. As John mentioned, “It’s like having a real audio commentary”.
This is a cartoon, by Tom Hanks, and is about a futuristic society. Not everyone was hooked with the first episode, but I’ll watch another episode sometime. I’m a Hanks fan.
Very similar to the Mindy Project, the New Girl– overly wacky woman and her daily life. Wasn’t a fan. It was too in-your-face.
Thurston – The Western Web Series
Kudos to these guys for creating a period style web series. That being said, I didn’t get into the plot, so eh.
Cold Storage – Walking Dead spinoff
Although I haven’t seen AMC’s The Walking Dead, John said it is shot in the same style. I guess if you are into that show you’d be into this.
We watched their newest music video – Ian was in this one. = ) Always fun.
This one has a REALLY great hook that doesn’t reveal hardly anything which leaves you wanting more. Students find themselves in part of a show where they have to solve puzzles in an all white room. Brilliant idea for a webseries because it would be only one room to shoot in. So brilliant.
Werewolves of Reseda
We watched the preview for this one and EVERYONE was ready to watch… and it was no where. Their website said it was available to watch on myspace.. myspace?!? Not so unbelievably enough when I went to the myspace page, the ENTIRE SITE WAS unavailable, likely due to updates or something. Then the series said it was available on Netflix. We loaded up the PS3, readied to watch it on Netflix.. and then it said the ‘series was unavailable’. For whatever reason we weren’t meant to watch it that night, so we moved on. Although their trailer really did look fun.
Another zombie series, and John, our local zombie show expert, kept pointing out the inaccuracies and plot holes. So, yeah… this one didn’t stick.
This series stars Christine Lakin, who played ‘Al’ on ‘Step by Step’, as a self-parody acting teacher. Everyone was laughing at this one. Definitely another thumbs up. I guess parody shows were a hit!
We finished up the night with a foreign series. It had an amazing production value. The show was a little too dark/gruesome for me though.
The night was once again a blast. Next month my Australian girlfriend Jacqui will be visiting, so we’ll probably watch a mix of US and Australian shows. ; )
Every actor must demand total discipline of himself if he really means to be an actor. – Uta Hagen:
Respect for Acting.
Yesterday I was chatting with my friends Ryan and Katie about the passing of time. “There will never be another March 2013″, I said. Sometimes I think about how I let each day go by and don’t do any acting! Even though I love it so much! I could tape something for my kids show, I could practice a monologue, I could read from an acting book, I could write my thoughts on another actor’s performance from a award winning movie. I have a HUGE list of ideas that I could pull from, lots of solo exercises to try. I have the equipment I need to tape something (twice over! iPhone & iMovie and a DSLR camera & FCP X).
There have been so many days in my life, and now they are gone. I’ve commented on this before I’m sure, but it is a great wake-up call that I have the control to do something about it. I’m not a victim!
Yesterday I received an unexpected bill in the mail. I started to panic, but I realized that there’s no need. It’s just money. After I spent two days of my vacation trying out new income ideas, I finally questioned my motives. Why am I devoting my energy on money making schemes?
Of COURSE having money would solve certain issues.. but then what? We are what we practice everyday, and so far I could say that I’ve had a lot of practice preparing and postponing.. instead I could be doing!
I could go on and on, but when I think about where I want to be as an actor, and where I am, I see an amazing journey ahead. There will be all sorts of twists and turns and amazing views, but I can’t sit and wish for things to happen.
It is time to work daily on the craft I love – It is time to become a master of total discipline.