Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sometimes commercials are good

I have had a very busy, successful week. It started on Monday, when I got a call from Paradigm Agency, whom I had met at The Network back in March. They submitted me and I was subsequently requested for an audition for an Easy Off over cleaner national commercial. I was thrilled to get this audition through an agency! Everything I have done in NYC has been my own doing, up until now. I have been represented in New York before (by a stinky agent who shall remain nameless), but this is actually the first time I have been sent out on an audition. And this is a very big agency, and if I have a good showing for this audition it will make them that much more interested in me going forward.

The audition for Easy Off was Tuesday. They told me I would be a contemporary, suburban mom but that there would be a little bit of a 50s feel to the commercial. This is perfect for me- I am a contemporary actor but there is something about my look and my sensibilities that is very 40s or 50s retro. I have never been to that casting director’s office before (Beth Melsky) and I am thrilled to finally get an introduction. Upon walking in I pick up a size card (where you write your contact information and your clothing/body sizes) and they take my photo using a Polaroid Camera, attaching it to the size card (in lieu of a headshot/resume.) I head into the audition holding area, and there are 10 other girls who are in my type category. While we are the same type on paper, I don’t really look like anyone there. Everyone is blonde, caucasian, and fair skinned, but they are older than me and have short, easy to maintain “mom” haircuts. You know the look- pastel sweaters and khaki pants with white tennis shoes. Yeah, not me.

They call my name and I walk into the studio. There is a backdrop set up with a camera facing it, and a mark on the floor for us to stand on. They also have a tray of props that we can use during the segment. There is no dialogue for this audition- it will all be miming, and what I have to do is carry a dish into the kitchen, open the oven, and gasp when I see that the oven has spots. Then I have to wipe the spots up and become very pleased with myself that Easy Off works so well. I did one take, and the casting director says, “Ok. Good. Um, do something different this time.” I do another take, and then a third, longer (and final) take. For some reason, each time I am getting the sense that I am, well, a little... rusty. I haven’t done this kind of miming in several years- the commercials I have done all have had dialogue (this commercial has voiceover dialogue instead.) When I am done, instead of showing me out (as he did with the other actors) the casting director was writing something on my card. I was certain it was something like, “Never bring this girl in again, she can’t even MIME, for god’s sake!” I kind of waved goodbye awkwardly and let myself out. On the way home, I contemplated sending a thank you card, because I wanted to keep in touch with this office. But I seriously considered writing only, “It was great auditioning for you this week” omitting the fact that it was for Easy Off, so as not to remind them of how rusty I was in the audition.

Fast forward to two days later, and as I come out of the subway my phone signals a message. It is from the agency, and I have a callback. WHAT???? I stood, mouth agape, for at least a minute, letting the filthy New York air creep in. I seriously had a callback for the commercial, after a bunch of BAD miming. AWESOME! I had achieved what I set out to achieve- the agency put their faith in me to submit me for an audition- and I do well enough to get a callback. Yippee! I called the agency back to confirm for the callback the next day. I feel like I have really accomplished something here.

At the callback on Friday, virtually no one looked like me. There were two blondes, but they were very different types (and older.) The rest were brunettes, with both fair and dark skin. Apparently I was representen’ (slang) for the young, funky moms out there! It was obviously there there was one of every type there, and now it was just up to the ad agency to decide which matched the look they were going for. And, often, when you see one of every type it means they don’t really know what they are going for, but they will know it when they see it. Prior to my audition, the casting director came out and was making jokes with us. He said I looked like someone familiar to him, and asked if had I been on TV recently? I told him no, but he didn’t believe me- seemed like maybe he thought he saw me on a competitors commercial? Then he said, “Well, it was someone who looked like you then, but you are cuter than she was.” Hmm...

He then brought me into the studio and I met the ad people, who were very nice. The room was large, and all of the agency reps sat behind a lone camera which was hooked up to a huge TV screen. I did the exact same thing as in the previous audition, but this time the camera was farther from me and I had a harder time connecting to it. I was miming the whole scene, but at the end I was to look directly into the lens so that they could really see my eyes and expressions. I had trouble finding and holding my focus on the lens- film & TV actors are conditioned to look everywhere BUT the lens of a camera, so this is always tricky. I certainly did the best I could do that day (and they even laughed quite a bit at my take on the commercial.) But in the end I knew that it didn’t matter how well I did- they would select an actor based on things out of my control. I think that when you are called back, the casting people know that you are equipped to do the job, it is now only a matter of preference.

I did not end up getting cast, but it was wonderful that the agent called to tell me that. After so many years of scheduling my own auditions, and then waiting anxiously by the phone for a call that may never come, it is nice to have someone on my team who does that kind of work for me. It allows me the space and energy to do what I do best- hone my skills, network within the industry and make lasting connections, show up to auditions prepared and energized, and do good work when I am hired. That is what I am here for...

Monday, May 12, 2008

It was a coincidence, right?

I had a very good day on Friday (other than the the crazy weather and my burgeoning allergies.) In the morning I caught up on some New York shows, some of which I TiVo throughout the week so I can be sure to know what is happening with the shows that shoot in NYC. As I was flipping through the channels I came upon, “One Life to Live,” an ABC soap. My mother and I used to watch all of the ABC soaps (and Young and the Restless, on CBS) so it was kind of fun to catch up with the show after a multi-year absence. I watched about 20 minutes of it before flipping to another program.

At about 1pm I turned off the TV and started doing my submissions (visiting various website to submit my headshots, and also doing submissions by mail.) I was taking a look at one of the old agent breakdowns (shhh...) to check out what types of things are shooting in NYC, and I came across this breakdown for One Life to Live:

MAIDS- Females, 20s-30s, Caucasian, Attractive and Polite, who take pride in their work. Must be able to do a credible german accent.

I remembered also seeing this on a casting website and disregarding it, because I certainly don’t speak German, nor can I do a convincing German accent. At about 2:30pm, my phone rings- it is the casting director from OLTL and she offers me the role of the maid, which is an “under 5” (meaning that this character is a principal role, but she has under 5 lines.) I had auditioned for this CD a few months back at The Network, and it was great to be offered this on the spot! The CD said that there would likely be more work for this character in the summer months, if this story line takes hold. (Apparently I am not playing a German, but I am playing a servant in a fictional country. I am guessing it is a north European, or even Scandinavian. She never asked me about my accents.)

So, how wonderful and weird is it that I happen to stumble on the show on TV, and stumble across the breakdown, only to be called to work on the show? I could not be more thrilled- that’s one more credit to add to my IMDB page! The episode shoots May 21, I will be sure to post the air date when I get it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

No idea how this happened

If you look up “acting website” on Google, mine comes up 3rd on the regular search (there are also 3 paid searches listed above it.) That is kind of crazy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Film auditions a-plenty

Have another film audition for a different project at Columbia University. It is happening later this week- here is the character breakdown:

Leah. Female, 20's early 30's, Extremely indecisive with a bit of a frazzled air. She is sweet and charming enough to get away with it. She's the protagonist so her charm and warmheartedness has to carry through the movie.

This one seems like it will be a lot of fun. Will report back!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Another audition

And the hits just keep on coming...

I just got invited to another audition, this time for a thesis project at Columbia University. The character breakdown:

Sarah- Girl, attractive, but probably overlooked by men. Like the man, she has a sincere and earnest quality to her, possibly vulnerable. She is a girl on her own in a big world that has better things to do. She is probably around 30-35 years old. Another interpretation of the character sees her as more damaged, looking for a shelter in the least appropriate places. This version is younger, 28-30.

The audition is not for a week, and I will be sure to let you know how it goes...

Great gift for a Friday afternoon

I just got called in for an audition for an indie short next week. Will be shooting in mid July in upstate New York. That is a lovely way to round out a very sleepy afternoon!Here is the character breakdown:

Lead / Female / Caucasian / 28 - 33 /
A restless and vivacious woman, filled with personality. At times, self-centered and quick to anger. She values freedom and becomes easily frustrated with routine and discipline. Sherry is a confident woman with distinct features.

This is very similar to the character breakdown of the film I just finished shooting, which is screening on May 9:

Lead / Female / Caucasian / 25 - 30 /
Volatile personality, substantially smaller than Tom, but with a killer instinct, quick with weapons, yoga instructor.

Is there something about this type casting that I need to know about? (if so, maybe you don’t want to answer, because I could get all crazy on you!)

Allergies... yuck

Probably one of the more unpleasant things about living in New York is allergy season. It is so bad this year in New York that people who claim to have never experienced allergies are suffering from them this week. For me, they are at their worst because they are happening all at the same time. First of all, I am congested and sneezing. Not pleasant, but manageable. Yesterday I awoke to find my eyes itchy and swollen, and they were shedding tears, non-stop, for about 2 hours. That was pretty bad- but made worse by the fact that I had a film project to shoot. Thank Dog for makeup. The worst of the lot is that, in the midst of all that, I am having my first asthma attack since before I moved to NYC. I used to suffer from asthma horribly when I was a child, but it has subsided since hitting my late 20s and had all but disappeared since moving to NYC. I had to pull out my rescue inhaler, which is 2 years expired, and luckily it works for about 6 hours before having to use it again. If I don’t get better in a few days I am going to have to head to the doctor to take care of this. I hate going to doctors (I usually end up being stuck with needles, which is an immense phobia for me.) Hopefully ti subsides in a few days.

All of that misery, and it isn’t even warm yet! C’mon, powers that be, it’s MAY already. You teased us with 70 degree weather 2 weeks ago, and now we have been plunged back to the high 40s, low 50s again. It is supposed to be in the low 60s for the next week, and hopefully that sticks. We could really use some sunshine.

Yikes. That was a whole lot of negativity. Hang on... let me pull out some humor.

Ok- here’s a funny conversation I overheard on the subway yesterday:

Mom (to her 6 year old twin boys): Well, Linda and Tom are divorced, so I don’t know if they will both be there or not.

Son #1: They’re not coming?

Mom: Well, they might be. But remember? They are divorced, so I don’t know if they are coming together.

Son #2: Mom, are you and Dad gonna get divorced?

Mom: (looks over at me, looks back and says quickly): Of course not, honey.

I don’t know why that made me laugh, it just did.

Happy Spring to you, and in case of sneezing- bless you.

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