Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What have I learned about Love?


One of my readers and friends, Jim, has posed a question for me to answer on this blog:

“What did you learn this week about love?”

This has been just delicious to think about. And as I was working to come up with an answer, I found myself saying, “No, that is more about gratitude.” Or, “No, that is more about accountability. Jim wants to know about LOVE.” So, in order to come up with an answer, I needed to, first, define the parameters for the question. I really want it to be something I learned, not something that I was reminded of. And I want it to be a pure example, not something muddled with expectation or results. These parameters can make answering the question harder, but delightful as well. I dove in with gusto.

But delight wore off when I realized that nothing was standing up to the parameters I set out. Each thing that would pop into my mind would start out with a warm, fuzzy glow but then would sour as I realized that it didn’t fit the mold of this exercise. And the more and more I tried to find something that fit, the more and more I had trouble coming up with anything.

And then I stopped to think about the breakdown that was before me. I looked at the exercise as a whole, and asked myself a few questions: Why did I set up parameters at all? Why did I have to create a context for this question? Is this how I approach all of life? Maybe there are some things that are without context, or scale or reference.

Maybe love needs no rules.

And so, in just trying to answer the question, “What did you learn about love this week,” I learned something very important about love. Love needs no rules. And I was reminded of why I love Jim so much, who always challenges me to explore and communicate.

PS: If you have a question I should answer- leave a comment and tell me what you want to know!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Nicest Rejection Ever


This is an email I received regarding the audition I had last week, where I learned a new way to approach my monologue:

Hi Erin,

Thank you so much for making it up to Columbia to audition for us last Saturday! Unfortunately, we can't offer you anything right now in "Phoebe." We really enjoyed your performance [in your monologue]- you have a very easy style of acting. Best of luck with everything, and again, thank you so much. 

With Warm Regards,
[the director/producer]


I love it when producers take the time to say something nice to the people who took the time to show up to their auditions. Kudos to you!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's Spring!


I am so excited, I actually got tears in my eyes... Look at those temperatures! What is blustery in my home town of San Diego is positively tropical in New York- Temps in the 50s??? Yahoo!!!!!!


This definitely goes on my Happiness List!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Deadlock


I met with a 2nd agent from DGRW tonight (there are 4 total)- and I am not sure what exactly to think about the meeting. He was really nice, and during the Q&A I felt drawn to the agency for the same reasons I was drawn to it with agent #1 that I met about a month ago: They take on a sort of managerial role with their clients- they like to develop clients and hold onto them for a long time, and all 4 agents work for each client, so you get 4 times the effort from this powerhouse office. The only sign clients (no freelancing) which I love, and they have a great reputation for both musical theater and film/TV.

When I auditioned for agent #1, I knew he loved me- we had a great conversation and seemed to really click. This agent was more difficult to read, though. He seemed to like my monologue but didn’t seem to love it. He seemed to like my resume (and credits) and asked me who took my headshot and how long ago it was taken, but didn’t give an indication of what he thought one way or another. He was definitely in control of the session, so much so that when he was done asking questions, he set aside my photo and said, “Well, I’ll take a look at your reel online and be in touch if I have any questions.” I certainly could have asked some questions, but you sometimes get a vibe that it would be better to move on. I got that vibe, so that is what I did.

Now, a best case scenario (and the most likely scenario, actually) is that this agent will go back to the office and ask agent #1 what he thought about me. Hopefully this leads to a good conversation about what I have to offer- not only am I versatile, but I am also a strong auditioner with good credits, and I am a workhorse. I know exactly who I am and what I bring to the table. And I am in this for the long haul, so an agency will be able to make money off me quickly and for many years to come.

Never assuming I have anything in the bag, I just scheduled 8 more agent sessions, both legit and commercial, for the month of April. And I am still doing the monthly follow up with the 20 agents and 45 casting directors with whom I have already started building relationships.

See, this is why I have no social life. Poor Tom.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Learning Something New

I had a great audition on Saturday for this student film at Columbia University. It was a first call, so we didn’t even read from the script. We had a mini-interview, and then I performed a dramatic monologue in the style of the piece I was auditioning for. The director and producer really seemed to like the monologue, but wanted to play with it a bit and asked me to deliver it in a way that I had never done before (as directors often do). I was excited to do it- I love being given a redirect and then seeing how far I can go with it. And this was no exception. Now, I should say that the text of the monologue did not fit in at all with the direction she gave to me. But because of this, the stakes were really high which made my read all the more dramatic- while at the same time my character was less dramatic because she couldn’t let the real feelings come to the surface. It was such a strong choice that I am going to start working on it in this new context (but will change a few words in the piece so the new focus doesn't confuse the listener.) It is always wonderful when you can learn something from an audition.

Tonight I met Katja Blichfeld from NBC/Universal (who casts 30 Rock) and I had a really strong read with the cold sides. She loved my take on the role- that the role she had me read would never actually be a part I would be cast in (she said I was too cute) but that she loved the fact that I made the dialogue my own. This was a huge compliment. I told her about the 3 times I was on the set of 30 Rock and that one of the directors told me twice that he wanted to be sure to call me in. Katja said she could see why- she said I had a great comedic timing and that I was extremely camera friendly. She thought I would fit into that environment quite nicely, and she said she was really excited to get to meet me.

Oi! Now if only I could get an agent to be a fly in the wall in a meeting like this so they can see how much these guys like me!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Free gifts don't always do the trick

I appreciate that charities send free gifts like address labels- I know I will never have to buy labels again because I keep getting new ones in the mail. But it is a little disconcerting that more than half of them come labeled “Mr. Erin (Last Name Withheld)...” and not “Ms. Erin... (Last Name Withheld)” Are there really a lot of men out there with the name of Erin? Spelled that way? It makes me think twice about donating to them, because what if I am forever a male in their fundraising database? Too much hassle.

But it is fun to send those labels on cards/letters that go to family members...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mission Possible, and Probable


I am on a mission to find a kick-ass agent.

Commercial agents and casting directors say that I am in a perfect, marketable type category for commercial work. That they are always looking for new faces. That I have the technique, the timing, and the enthusiasm to make a big splash in this part of the industry. I am so close that I can smell it from here.

I had a great meeting with Doug Kesten yesterday, who is a commercial agent with Paradigm. He liked my first read, but asked me to do it and 2nd time in a different way. It is always good when you can deliver a strong read using adjustments they give you- it usually makes the agent confident that you can go into the audition room and represent the agency well. I think I executed the adjustments very well, and we had a really lovely chat afterward.

Interestingly, Paradigm doesn’t really sign people without having a trial period of freelancing. Even more interesting, they don’t really notify you if they are going to freelance with you. They simply give you a call and say, “I’d like to submit you for this project. Show up at such-and-so time wearing such-and-so outfit...”

So, I am on a mission. Must get an agent, so I can have access to the auditions which will make us both a lot of money. It will come...


Very inspired

If you have HBO On Demand, I highly recommend viewing “The Gates” (in the documentaries section) which is an intimate look at the art project that took over New York’s Central Park in 2005. Really, really moving stuff...

In other news, I also caught the last 2/3 of the movie "Lost in Translation" today. What a great film...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Big Give

Man, oh, man, is there a sob-fest in my apartment when this show comes on. As I have grown older and have experienced more in life, my ability to be touched by others has intensified and I find myself tearing up at nearly anything these days. Oprah’s show “The Big GIve” is absolutely amazing. Those of you who know me know how passionate I am about giving back to my community. It is wonderful to see just how far people will go to give to those who are in need. The show rewards creativity and the “I can do it, no matter what” spirit- and in the end dozens upon dozens of people will be affected personally, and millions will be affected just by watching.

If you get the chance, watch this show. It will inspire you...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Weird Coincidence

I was reading an acting blog today, and the writer had talked about a class they were currently doing in LA. I got a thought that I should go online and do a little research to find some good acting coaches for my level. I have the TV on in the background, tuned to the marathon session of "America's Next Top Model" (of course) and who comes on the TV as a special guest 1 second after I go to Google to start my search? None other than Alice Spivak, one of the most revered and celebrated acting coaches in NY. Holy crap- that coincidence made me excited!

Part of my inspiration for looking at acting coaches is my good friend, Dennis, who is on the short list to work with legendary coach Michael Howard. It got me to thinking about how, no matter what level you are at, you should surround yourself with those who are better, stronger, and have something to teach you. I have been teaching for so long that I have somehow gotten away from being a student. Getting back into class can only support my efforts as a coach, as an actor, and a human being, so I am very interested as I start the search.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bad Ju-Ju


I met a casting director from CBS/Paramount Studio last night. It was a good meeting- I got to ask her some questions and she saw me do a scene from one of their 2006 pilots. What was fun about the scene was that I got a chance to take something that was written with a very straight forward point of view and really make it my own. It was fun to see that I had given a script (that she was intimately familiar with) a new twist!

But one of the disappointing parts of the evening was the fact that she was 45 minutes late, and we didn’t get to start our actual auditions until an hour into the session. I can’t tell you how frazzled many of the actors were after waiting that long. I was torn between being frustrated, and realizing that this is all just a part of the business. The nice thing was that she knew she was late, and she didn’t spend a lot of time trying to make excuses. She acknowledged us, apologized, and got started. But I saw a lot of actors really let the lateness get to them, which ends up making it that much more difficult to stay focused. That kind of bad energy just permeates the room and can affect everyone adversely. I just wanted to say, “Hey, guys. You are about to meet the casting director at a major studio in NYC- be happy! Be grateful! Be talented and wonderful!"

UPDATE: In response to a comment posted- I want to make sure my readers know that I am not advocating letting industry professionals walk all over you, and I am not saying that it is ok that they waste our time by being late. What I am saying, though, is that you have a choice when you're in the audition room. You can choose to stay, or you can choose to leave. And if you choose to stay, my hope is that the actor does what he/she can to keep their spirits up, both for themselves and for the people around them.

Would've been nice


I got an email today from an Columbia MFA grad student who asked me to come in next week for a reading of a film she is shooting soon. I have never met her, so it seemed odd but exciting that I would be hand picked from their audition database to be a part of her film. But it turns out that "reading" meant audition, so I was not being offered a part after all. Drats.

I got the original notion of being offered the role because a few weeks ago I was called out of the blue by a different MFA student to do a scene study from the film "The Hours." The scene was rehearsed for 2 hours outside of their directing class, and then performed off book in front of the class. The director chose the scene between Kitty and Laura (played by Toni Collette and Julianne Moore in the movie. I played Kitty.) For those of you who know the movie- yes, we did have to kiss in the scene. And seeing as how that moment was a huge dramatic climax, we actually had to do it again and again in front of the class while the director and the teacher tried different timing and actions to show how they affect the drama of the scene. If I has a nickel for every time I heard, "Can you ladies do the kiss again?"...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Too many to mention


I have broken my commitment to blog after every acting opportunity, be it auditioning or performing. I have actually been so busy that I needed some time away from blogging, which is a good thing for many reasons.

Recently I had had the opportunity to audition for several wonderful agents, through The Network. These 3 awesome gents all loved the monologue I prepared, and each asked me to send them a copy of my vocal demos so they can hear me sing. I happen to know that they have been to several networking seminars recently, so though they loved me I anticipate that I won’t be called for 3-4 months while they get through the dozens of people they met before me. If you’re not careful, you can become disheartened at how long it can take for your marketing efforts to pay off. But like any business, just because you don’t get immediate sales doesn’t mean you aren’t creating lifelong fans who become loyal customers. I just have to be patient, yet persistent. I know I have everything they want in a client- now it is just a matter of finding a slot that is open and waiting for someone exactly like me!

Tomorrow I shoot my 4th NYU studio TV project. It is a fun group to work with- each script is 3-4 pages / 3-4 minutes long and is shot in a studio with a 3 camera set up. This format is more like theater than any other on-camera work because it is a typical proscenium set up, and when you are filming live (to tape) you cannot stop in the middle of a take. This is where my years of theater really come in handy! I have gotten to know many NYU students through this project, who hopefully will think of me as they head into their thesis projects in the next 2 years. This is one of the top film programs in the country, so it is a real benefit to get to meet and work with these young budding filmmakers while they are learning the craft.

Other than that, I have also been auditioning for casting directors, film students, theaters and agents (see my full list of auditions and projects here.) And when I am not doing that I am busy doing my business coaching work with actors- so my artistic soul is certainly being taken care of!

Another New York Moment

As I was getting off the train, getting ready to transfer to another line, I heard two distinctly different type of music being performed live in the station. One was an older gentleman singing reggae music a capella. And just around the bend was a younger fellow playing the bagpipes.

I am not kidding.

And there was a point where sounds of the two mixed perfectly and sounds like they were in concert with each other.

So cool.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Well said...

My friend and colleague, Judd, wrote an eye-opening commentary about Americans being afraid of putting a woman in the White House. It echoes my own observation that there is a sort of hypocrisy in the coverage of Hillary as a candidate (don't get me started...)

Take a look at Judd's blog here.


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