Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh, to be in class again

Today I donated my time and energies to NYU’s film production department to work on an end-of-semester project called “Speed Drills.” This involved students preparing a 2 character scene with professional actors, blocking it, setting up the sound stage, and shooting it from start to finish -- all in an hour. The scripts they are using are all from well known movies, so though I cannot really use any of them for my reel, it is certainly a good experience in getting something on it’s feet quickly. All of the actors are used for multiple scenes, with about 30 minutes of down time between each 1 hour segment.

It has been an absolute blast, but there is one thing I didn’t take into account when I signed on for this project. The actors have to MEMORIZE the lines. In less than one hour they’ve got to have lines and blocking memorized for a four page scene. My first few scenes have been fine, but then I did a scene from “Working Girl” where Tess (played by Melanie Griffith in the movie- I played this role) takes a novel idea to her boss (played by Sigourney Weaver) who later steals it. In that scene, Tess does all of the talking, including a monologue about broadcasting and FCC rules. I have always been a good memorizer, but this really challenged my skills! I now can say, with confidence, that you can give me a brand new scene that I have never read before and I will have it memorized in time to shoot 30 minutes later. Not only that, but the character will have an arc, and there will even be business with props. Seriously, now I feel like I can do anything!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Medical Warnings

I just saw a commercial about Advair, which is an asthma medication that treats both causes of asthma- constriction and inflammation. They said that it contains salmeterol, and that (and I quote), “salmeterol may increase the chance of asthma related death.”

Um, doesn’t this seem counterintuitive?

Sorry such a lapse

I am sorry it has been so long, but I have been tending to something that sprouts every year when spring hits. No, I wasn’t raking leaves, nor was I buying fresh flowers for the apartment. No, I was addressing the one drawback to spring that people don’t dare blog about. Ok, I’ll just come out with it...

(deep breath) I was putting bandages over all of the damned blisters I am get from my spring shoes!

My poor baby feet have been sheltered in socks and comfy shoes or boots for 6 months. Now they are screaming at me, “How dare you do this to us??? Just for that, we are going to shed our top layer in 8 different places, and only in the places where your shoes rub them. Mutiny!”

So, excuse my absence. Hopefully my feet will let me blog more frequently in the coming days. Fingers (and toes) crossed.

Voiceover magic

I spent a few hours this morning doing voiceover work for two short films. One was for a movie I shot last weekend (where I played a girlfriend who goes into rages when provoked- it’s a comedy, of course.) I needed to record some offscreen screaming, and rather than doing that on the set we decided to do it in a recording booth. I did a bit of improv-ing, shouting and punctuating my words to make it sound like I was in the middle of throwing things. I even got to shout a karate chop sound, “Hy-yah!” Very fun- the director and I giggled a lot.

Another filmmaker who is a part of the same program asked me to do some voiceover for her film as well. She was running sound for the first film, and while she was listening to my voice through the headphones the whole weekend, she decided that my voice would be perfect for her project. It is so nice to be asked to do things instead of having to audition! Apparently, she had held auditions but couldn’t find what she was looking for. I left feeling a bit a-glow.

Both of these short films are getting a screening, along with nearly a dozen others, on May 9 in Manhattan. If you would like to know where the screening will be held, leave me a comment and I will send you the info via email. Or, if I don't already have your email address, email me and I will send you the info.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's fun to be an actor: Part Two

I am sorry it has been so long since I updated you- I imagine that those of you who check daily have been frustrated by my absence! The good news is that when I am away that long, it usually means that I have been busy with acting!

To catch you up on some past stuff that I promised you- I have a very cool experience with a fellow blogger who has been deeply involved with the arts in New York (both in theater and film/TV) as a writer and as a dresser/wardrobe guru. She and I got together over cocktails on a Thursday afternoon, and we talked about theater, acting and how actors and writers can help each other out. We traded offers of contacts, and then she invited me to join her backstage while she drops in to say hello to the folks at Wicked. Wicked, as in the number one show on Broadway, Wicked. As in, the show I have seen twice and I am dying to do someday. THAT Wicked. What a great gift she gave me. Not only did I get to see the gorgeous costumes up close and in person, but I also got to stand on the stage (a raked stage, mind you) and look out into the empty audience. It was a defining moment. So, thank you, Fellow Blogger- you rock.

Some other fun things that have been happening:

I got cast in the lead role for a independent short film which shot this last weekend (this is different from the most recent audition I talked about.) There were a lot of “firsts” for this film. It was the first project where I have had to be semi-nude (the camera was at my back and showed me sitting and dropping my towel, with only my back showing.) Of course, the camera only saw my back but that meant that the man playing opposite me saw my front! Luckily, I bought some “pasties” so I could cover up my most private parts of my chest, so it really wasn’t that big a deal. I don’t have any moral objection to nudity, but I am incredibly shy and I wanted to make sure that I was portrayed in the most positive way, since it would be preserved on camera forever more! And it was- the director and crew were awesome. The second thing that was new was that I got to do some fighting on camera. I got to do a combat fall, I got to shout and throw things, and I even got to break a bottle over someone’s head. Twice. We used breakaway bottles that are made from sugar, which looks convincing but doesn’t injure anyone. I was incredibly nervous that I was going to break something or someone with all of the physical stuff I had to do, but it all turned out ok. The project looks like it will be really good, I am looking forward to seeing it screened very soon.

I have started doing charitable work with a local theater as a part of their outreach program. The theater was founded by a friend of mine from college, April, and I am thrilled to be getting to know the company. This Monday we went to a nursing facility in Chinatown and sang 1950s songs and read copy from traditional radio commercials from the time period. I was sharing the stage with several Broadway actors from the shows Rent, South Pacific and Passing Strange, and it was both humbling and thrilling to be singing with such a high caliber of talent. They were very complimentary of my work, and it is amazing to I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.

In other news, I just quit my “actor survival” job so I can focus on my coaching and acting full time.And while it is scary to have to generate all of my own income, it is also amazing to think that I will only be doing things that I like to do, and I have full control over how I plan my days. Seriously, people- with a little hard work, tenacity and patience you can live a life you love. I am living proof that it can work if you want to badly enough!

Have any of you, dear readers, had anything inspiring or fun happen to you this week or month regarding the acting or the arts in general? Please leave me a comment and let me know- I would love to hear from you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

You guys rock!

Because of you, my ranking on IMDB jumped from 120,000 to 57,530! So, whatever you were doing is working- keep it up! Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that the feature I starred in just has a major update. But keep clicking the links anyway!

It's fun to be an actor: Part One

I had a very fun week last week. Not only did I get to “meet and greet“ with 3 legit agents, but I also had a fantastic callback and got to step foot on a Broadway stage! Too cool, way too cool. One thing at a time, though.

The callback was for the independent project I talked about last time. When I walked into the hallway outside the audition, I said hello to a very nice girl who was lying flat on her back doing breathing exercises. Without getting up or changing her breathing rhythm:

She: Hi. Can I ask what role are you reading for?
Me: Meg.
She: (stops the breathing pattern abruptly) What?
Me: (not surprised) Yeah, I know.
She: (sits up, abruptly) You’re not reading for Jenna? I mean, you’re tall and blonde, and I just figured you’d be reading for the other role.
Me: Yeah, I noticed that everyone they’ve called in have been brunette. But, no, I am...indeed... called in for Meg.
She: Oh, well then I guess it wouldn’t make sense for you to read the scene with me. Since, you’re called back for... Meg.

It was this kind of exchange that made me perfect for this role to begin with. I possess a little bit of snark crucial to the brunette persona. Gotta thank good genes.

I was paired up with several different actors and felt amazing about what I brought to the table. When I was walking out of the room, the producer stopped me and said, ”We were just wondering... Would you be willing to dye your hair brunette?“ I laughed, dropped my head and pointed at my hairline and told them, ”Well, I am a natural brunette, so I am sure I would look ok!. Just pay for me to go back to blonde, and we’re in business!“ I am glad to know that at least my instincts are dead on.

A few days have passed and I have not been called so I may not have gotten cast. But it is wonderful to know that they saw past a ”type“ or ”look“ to see through to my spirit. It is even more wonderful to know that I have become the kind of actor that can let my true self show, against all odds. THAT is one of the really fun things about being an actor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It made me giggle a little bit

I was walking up the stairs out of the subway station, and I was behind a guy who was climbing with a strange limp. People were in a hurry, pushing past us and I was thinking, “C’mon guys, can’t you see that the guy in front of me is disabled? Slow down!”

And then I realized that he was walking funny because he had pants that were only pulled up to his thighs (hip hop style) and he couldn’t take big enough strides to climb the steps! And he kept walking, 2 full flights, and never once pulled them up. He would prefer to limit his mobility... severely... than wear his clothes correctly.


It’s the little things in life that make you happy to be alive and living in NYC!

Erin on IMDB!

In a humble request for help, I am hoping you will stop by my IMDB page and have a look. All entries on IMDB are ranked in popularity, and popularity is determined by the number of times the page has been viewed. As you know, I am in the process of finding an agent, and I want my IMDB rank to be as high as possible when they view my page. So, I am hoping you will stop by my page and take a look around!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Audition Log: Makin' it Happen

I had two great auditions yesterday. The first was for a short film- it is an independent project that is being done for a director’s reel (though they said they want to submit to festivals as well.) Here is the breakdown of the character I auditioned for:

Female, mid to late 20's. A feisty woman who feels confident that she's accepted her life as 'the hot girl's friend,' but with a little prodding shows the contrary. Very smart and sarcastic, making her an instant 'best bud' to guys she pursues romantically. She's very open about herself as a way to head off any criticism of her. She doesn't trust people with her feelings very easily, especially men.

I completely identify with this character! Up until my late 20s I was always the buddy or the gal pal, and it was hard for me to get noticed by the guy I had my eye on. Invariably, the guy would fall for my best friend and then cry on my shoulder when she wouldn’t give him the time of day. I know what this person feels like, what they think and how they react to others, so I knew I had to submit for it. And, I was called in! When I got to the audition there were already 3 other actors waiting, and they all looked just like each other, but none of them looked like me. They were all awkward and brunette- cute, but not bombshells. And definitely not blonde. For those of you who don’t know, I am a natural brunette (dark brunette) and dyed my hair for a role in 2004 and decided to stay blonde. And being blonde puts me into another type category- nowadays I am cast as the girl that guys drool over, not the sidekick who is a wallflower. But I don’t really identify with the popular girl nearly as much, and my acting style reflects that. So, for a split second I felt unsure about the audition, but then I cleared my head and realized I had a job to do. I just had to go into that audition room and show them someone who has lived with that circumstance all her life. My spirit and perspective easily shine through what I look like, and I knew I could knock it out of the park. And I must have, because I got a callback, which is happening this coming Monday!

The second audition I went to was for an original play at the Off-Broadway theater, Primary Stages. It was a EPA open to all Equity members- meaning I was not called in but just showed up hoping to get an audition slot. I did a monologue that I have been doing for years, but I got a chance to deliver it in a brand new way, inspired by the work I did at a previous audition. I didn’t choose the same context as with the previous audition, but chose something equally as stakes-raising. It was fun to tell the story in a much different way than was on the page- it added a depth and a complexity that I hadn’t found before. And I felt exhilarated delivering it, and think that I am well on my way to having a fantastic piece. After I left the room and was gathering my stuff, the audition monitor came to find me and asked me for a 2nd headshot. Somehow, the artistic director couldn’t find my original headshot in her stack (which was strange since I saw it in there- maybe it got stuck to the one before?) and she asked the monitor to find me so that she could be sure to have a headshot. That made me feel awesome! I can only assume this means that she liked the audition enough to keep my information on file for future auditions. I left the audition with a huge smile on my face.

Oh, and here is the character description of the role I was auditioning for:

Female. 25 – 28. Chameleon with an edge. A daughter with a need for a parent. Could be a social worker, a prison warden, a nurse, a lawyer or their loving daughter. Smart, patient, complex, she is a driving force and a catalyst in a whirlpool of confusion and the unknown.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Suck It Up"

Gotta love the NY Fire Department- can you imagine seeing this in your rear view window?

Points to you (and your eye-sight) if you can find what this blog subject refers to...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Odd Direction

I forgot to mention that in one of my recent auditions the director asked me to do the scene again, but this time have the character be “meek but calculated.” I paused for a second and repeated back, “Meek... but calculated?” To me those seem mutually exclusive, but I gave it a shot anyway. I played it like this meek person wanted to tell the friend how she really felt, but her meekness made getting the words out difficult, even though she had rehearsed them for an hour before. I don’t think I executed “meek but calculated” but I certainly gave it a concerted effort!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Collegiate Evening

Tonight I had two auditions for student films. The first one was at Columbia University, and it was one of the more interesting scripts i have read in a long time. The character I was auditioning for:

late 20s - A lesbian with a softer, maternal side. She is attractive, takes good care of herself (yoga, vegetarian), but is wound a bit too tightly. The scene requires her to be desperate while maintaining a likability. Comic sensibilities are a bonus.

I got to read with another actor, which is rare in auditions like these. Most of the time we read opposite a reader who sits behind a table and doesn’t really “act.” We did the 3 page scene twice. In between the two reads, the director gave feedback to the other actor- her first read was fantastic, but her character was really driving the scene, so a little tweak gave the scene a completely different direction to go. This made it especially fun for me because I could be fully in the moment, responding to what the other actor was giving to me. I have no idea if my take on the role matches what they were going for, but it was a great exercise in being present.

The second audition was for an NYU film- another interesting script. I didn’t think I was perfect for either of the female roles, but I submit for everything I am remotely right for and let the casting director make the decision. Here are the character descriptions:

Role 1- (25-35) is the protagonist of the film. She is the strong opinionated, outspoken alpha female. She is beautiful and aware of her beauty.

Role 2- (25-35) is the kind of girl destined to be a sidekick. She's a bit too meek, a bit too awkward but, of course, incredibly likable and warm.

I ended up reading for role #2, was ended up being the comedic role so I was pleased. There were 4 students in the audition room, and 2 of them mentioned that they almost went to Pepperdine (and one of them spent two summers in San Diego, so we had an extra bond!) The director had me read the scene twice and gave a re-direct (opposite a reader, of course.) When I was done he said, “We’ll tell you whether or not you got it next week. And, um, if you didn’t get it, would it be ok if I gave your info to other people?” I am guessing that means that I won’t be getting this role (which is perfectly ok)- and I love that he came right out and asked!

All in all a successful evening. And I have two more auditions on Friday to keep me busy. Oh, and I was called in for background work with Guiding Light again- hopefully I can leverage this into a speaking role in the near future!

Star Sighting

I recently got back in touch with a friend of mine from high school who is also living in NYC and who is a dresser on the Broadway show, “Mary Poppins.” We went to a little known restaurant nestled in the heart of Times Square, and who else but Ashley Brown, Mary Poppins herself, walked by and gave my friend a huge hug as she passing by?!? I didn’t get a chance to be introduced (it was a very casual sighting) but I was reminded of how close I am to the pinnacle of theatrical performing. I am in New York City, for goodness sake! Pretty darned exciting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back on track

In my hustle to create a thriving acting and coaching career, I have been neglecting the lifestyle part of my life, even though I live in the incredible city of New York! So to get back into the swing of things, it is time I put together my latest Happiness List, this time with a New York theme.

Happiness Is: (New York Style)

- Being forced (by unavoidable close proximity) to relate to people of vastly different social, racial, economic, and educational backgrounds. How incredible is this melting pot where each person influences another but no one loses their sense of history and purpose?

- Not having to worry about car loans, insurance, gasoline, or maintenance (smog tests, oil changes, brake replacements, etc etc etc.)

- Really getting to know your neighbors, especially when most of them are really, really cool.

- Walking down the street and smelling candied nuts being cooked by street vendors.

- Getting great exercise just walking up and down the stairs of my walk-up apartment.

- Having time to read when I am on the subway. Or do Sudoku puzzles.

- Knowing that no matter how long I live here there will always be something new to discover.

- Seasons!

- That someone would think to start a site like this.

- Architecture with history.

- Showing tourists and natives, by example, that New Yorkers are helpful and kind people. Imagine if a smile you give today encourages someone to say, “Wow- people can be so giving!”

- Knowing that friends from out of town are always dying to visit, and enjoy staying with me!

- The fact that I am stopping this blog because it has gotten too long, not because I have run out of things to say!

Finally, a win

Last week I had a great audition for an NYU grad film (I have been so busy the past few days that I haven’t had a chance to blog about it!) I knew the director/writer - he produced a play I did last summer - so it was one of those rare times that I could completely relax into the audition process because I felt like I had a friend in the room. Plus, it was a great script, and that is always fun to play with. I thought that I did a nice job with the audition, and I felt that even if I wasn’t cast it was a lot of fun to walk into an audition room where I already knew some of the players.

This hasn’t been that common since my move to New York in 2005, and it is nice that it is finally happening! I came from a smaller market (San Diego) where I knew absolutely everyone there was to know. When I moved to New York, it was so strange to be a part of a community where I knew no one. And after about 1.5 years of putting myself out there and making contacts, I am finally starting to see the web of connections being made, and it feels wonderful.

Consequently, I was cast in the grad film! And on that same day, I was invited back to NYU to be a part of a “speed drills” project where students are challenged to produce 24 film scenes over 12 hours, 30 minutes apart. I was also offered another 3 days of work through the NYU medical school’s standardized patient program. April is going to be a very busy month!

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