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People, by nature, have some interesting things to say. Here are some of my things. Some about acting. All about living ...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another reason to be unafraid

I was at my brother-in-law's gymnasium the day after Christmas, and I watched various kids of various ages try various things, interested in what they were trying, when, and why.

Turns out the more comfortable a kiddo looked, the more likely she was to try something daring (hanging from the higher of the uneven bars, jumping from stacked mats into a foam pit, sliding on the big slide -- whatever).

The more secure they felt, the more gutsy stuff they tried.

This got me to thinking about adults in general, and me in particular, and the fact that the more secure I feel, the more gutsy stuff I'm comfortable trying.

And since everything comes back to living, and the more I learn about life the more I learn about in my acting, I was struck with some life/acting lessons from the observations.

Taking risks while comfy -- having supportive cast mates, coaches, directors, and so on -- is great, but it's kind of the low bar for me. I work to train myself to take risks when I'm not comfortable.

This means while I can do daring stuff in a comfortable place (supportive director, professional working environment, etc.), I don't need that comfortableness.

If I train myself to make gutsy choices and "tear it up" without the crutch of security, I'm much more useful in the industry (being an actor is a freaking uncomfortable gig).

And when I am working with a supportive director and professional cast and crew (which, frankly, is way more fun)?

Watch out for the fireworks.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

The "Wire in the Blood" Brits ...

Last night I went to a event, where the speakers were two of the blokes from the Wire In The Blood BBC television series -- director Declan O'Dwyer and producer Bill Boyes.

Bill and Declan are in Austin, because they're filming an episode of Wire in Austin, with Texas actors and crew. this is a big deal, as a BBC television episode is feature-length, so this is a movie, shot with Texas talent.

The two of them were phenomenally forthcoming with insight into their history in the Biz, British differences (surprising number of parallels to us across the pond), and advice for actors and other Biz folks.

And they were absolutely hilarious. We're talking an updated British Amos 'n Andy vibe, with meaty content for an actor hungry to get better and meet new people.

The two were also pleasantly self-deprecating, which is ironic considering they're really big guns in the industry (Boyes is a lifetime journalist / producer who was a one-time exec for the BBC, and O'Dwyer is one of the most sought-after directors in the UK, working non-stop across multiple projects (including the British Robin Hood series, which I love) for the last five years straight.

One of the things that struck me about the evening was the almost spot-on parallels (in particular) between Declan's advice for actors, and my current coach's (Steve Prince) philosophy (which, while Meisner-based, is supplemented with things he's learned over the years in the Biz).

What stuff in particular?

Declan said acting is weird, because "You're telling lies. But you still have to be truthful about it." This is a akin to Steve's definition of acting as "Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."

There was also a lot of talk about making a break into the industry via authentic relationship building (longtime followers know how this strikes a chord with me).

And there was a breakdown of the difference between knowing the mechanics of acting, and the danger of making those a bigger priority than being in the scene. It's about being connected to the people in the room, in the scene, or in your head (depending on the situation) in a real, "organic" (overused industry buzzword) way. And you'll see that in folks' eyes. When it's off, it's what my coach calls, "Dead shark eyes." And you need both the connection at the mechanics.

Afterwards, I hung out and chatted ("bunnied", "rabbited") with Bill and Declan to say thanks for the gift of sharing their insight with around a hundred Austin actors and industry folks, and to wish them well on the shoot. They're both very pleasant, very approachable, and very funny. Good folks.

I also really like the premise underneath Coastal Productions, the company behind Wire In The Blood, and co-founded by series star Robson Green. It's a successful company, with at least one of its goals being "supporting local young people who want to get into the industry."

And I ran into a ton of acting friends and acquaintances last night, which I love. I so enjoy getting my hug on with these amazingly talented folks with which my life has been blessed.

Good times ...

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Good actors, good friends ...

I'll (probably) write about tonight's Meisner class later, but I wanted to write about something else tonight.

Good friends who are good actors.

I mean, I'm blessed to be surrounded by a lot of them (leaving tonight's class reinforced that), but tonight, I had a go-to guy, who will likely be incredibly embarrassed that I'm recounting this.

Aaron Hallaway.

Dude is a buddy. And a seriously talented actor.

And tonight, driving down to class, I needed him.

For scenes or monologues, I improv scenes that are in the script, and scenes in my backstory, or tertiary relationships, or things I might do as that person -- all outside of the script. And Steve's been great at formalizing a discipline around that.

But -- outside of work with my actual scene partner (Nikki, who is so fun and talented), I've been bad about that with my current class scene.

So driving on the way to class, I called Aaron, and told him he needed to call me right back and improv something with me. It was an odd request (details aren't important), and I didn't get to the "why" before he was interrupted by another call. But I hung up knowing he would call me back and be committed to it.

Then I chose to forget he would call.

And he called, which surprised me. And I felt blindsided by the bombshell he dropped on me. In ten minutes, I went from conversational and jovial to yelling, pleading, bargaining, promising, and finally giving up and hanging up. And then spending the next 20 minutes remorse-ridden and looking for a call or a text message from him. Which never came. Which further cemented the remorse.

Aaron so helped me out, because I asked him too, and without him asking why. And he was on his way to his own audition.

I can't put too fine a point on how cool this is.

Don't do this acting thing alone. Aaron helped make me great tonight.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"The Bohemian" ...

Tonight saw the inaugural showing of a new kind of Austin creative showcase from founding members of The Bohemian.

Hosted at The Wave on 6th Street, the showcase was put together and run like a film set, with multiple set-ups and scene changes, and the whole thing filmed, mic'd and PAed.

The sets were a mix of stand-up comedy, original and pre-written scenes (film and sitcom), monologue, and short film, and were diverse in genre (comedic, dramatic, etc.) and tone (all-ages, "R", etc.).

The talent comes from friends and folks who have been studying long-term with my Meisner coach, Steve Prince. And these are some talented folks. (I wasn't performing with them tonight, but they're still talented).

The venue was a bit tough (long and narrow), not least of which was because their was a super-industrial, super-loud ice maker harshing the ambient sound, until one brave soul was willing to flip a breaker that may or may not have been just for the ice maker (we waited for a scene change, just in case). But, it's still totally generous of The Wave to have opened their space up for The Bohemian's maiden voyage, as we look for a new, permanent space for the ongoing effort.

This is a very cool, non-traditional way to present talent. It's a "next-next" way to do what we were trying to do with the (now-fizzled) Austin Callback showcase a year and a half ago.

Look forward to new, exciting happenings on this front. This is (hopefully) only the first of many showcases and related events.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Acting vocabulary ...

Pretty much once a year for the last three years, I've done Will Wallace's workshop when he's in Austin.

And though it was a kick in the teeth to not be with loved ones on my B-Day evening, I am an actor, and doing Will's workshop was a really good thing for me to do.

At the very least, tonight was a chance to meet new actors, watch them work, watch Will direct, and get a good workout myself. And it was more than that.

Something Steve Prince's Meisner class has given me is vocabulary. Vocabulary for acting words and concepts learned from previous coaches and methods. New vocabulary for new words and techniques he's teaching. And exercises for maintaining a discipline for all of that vocabulary.

Because as anyone who knows the power of words knows, vocabulary is not just about words and definitions. Vocabulary is about concepts. About the denotation (stated definition) and connotation (inferred, vernacular, or visceral definition). About the application of those definitions to change life.

Steve's also given me a sensitivity to vocabulary in my acting. Like tonight.

Tonight's word was "opportunity".

In cold read auditions -- screw it -- in any scene, there are "opportunities" to be taken. It's kind of like my note from last week's class: "Where am I playing it safe, and where can I make it harder?"

Will did a great warm-up exercise where we paired up and did mirror exercises to take turns "leading" and "mimicking", with the goal being for Will to not be able to tell who was leading and who was mimicking. That played into recognizing opportunities on the fly from our partner in our scenes.

In a sitcom cold read, where is the gimmick that sets me and your scene-partner apart?

In a comedic film scene, what is everyone else going to do, and what is the over-the-top, ballsy risk that will get the laugh because it's so out there and outrageous, and may be funny?

In a dramatic piece, what's the hook, that piece that turns an expected inward-facing pity party to more painful, this-is-what life-deals-so-it's-OK-I-lost-the-baby that's more poignant, more tragic, more engaging than the former (and caveat: this is in "Stoicism" or "Being an enigma", which are big actor deaths).



Come to think of it, Steve gave us a bunch of specifics about taking big risks after class last week.

Good night. And it all builds on previous stuff and is a massive feedback loop.

And I finally met (and got to do a scene with) Mylinda Royer, in one of those crazy, "You're that Adam / Mylinda" epiphanies.

I feel great about our scene. It was a comedic bedroom scene, and took my overshirt off (I was wearing a T, relax, ladies), mussed my hair, took off my shoes, and we laid out a sheet and put up couch cushions to denote a bed. Really simple, really quick way to set the stage and commit to the role. And Will gave great direction and Mylinda is amazing, so we blew it up the second round. Good times.

Plus I just like Will as a guy. Seeing him warms the cockles of my heart. And reminds me my heart has cockles. They're prickly. But in a good way.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Last night's Meisner class ...

Last night's class was good.

Started out weird, with me seeing my scene mate off to the side of the road with a blowout as I was heading to class, so I fixed the flat, we left her car at 24-hour Starbucks, then drove to class.
(As an aside, I and another guy stopped to help her, and she knew him, too. I'm thinking getting a flat and getting help from two people you know is a little coincidental.)

Our scene itself -- a nice, 10-page overlapping dialogue piece -- was more of a technical read, and we did it from two chairs (for those familiar with that concept).

I think this was the first time I was critiqued for making strong, definable choices for my character. Not in a negative way, per se, since it's what we're supposed to do in this process where I don't know my partner's lines. My coach's caveat was I need to explore other equally strong choices and see if I end up at the same place, or somewhere else. Which I totally get.

I was two shakes to the wind ill yesterday, though, so changing the flat, doing a scene, and driving home in freaky weather (which I normally love, but my tires currently suck), really left me spent when I hit home. I got an hour or so of late-night Biz follow-up in before cratering.

Now, a week of improv / paraphrasing practice with my scene before we do it again -- on our feet and full on...

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tonight's class was going to be a hefty night, and we all knew that going in.

We all survived it.

And I get my notes.

Notes are, for me, way more than about just that moment -- they're for all of my acting. Heck, they're for all of my life.

So, broadly, here's how I interpret my two notes from tonight:
"Where am I playing it safe? How can I make it harder?"
Two questions I will now ask myself for every creative project. God willing.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Into the Abyss": My monologue ...

Sunday, the third day of last weekend's "Into the Abyss" acting / emotional deconstruction (I say, only half kidding) weekend, was the day we did monologues.

I had goals for doing my monologue. I had a lot of goals. I had intellectual and business and process things I wanted to do with the monologue, and then once I started, I wanted to forget all of it.

I feel fantastic about how it went, and here's a walk through of my process on this particular item.

I've decided I don't care about being careful or doing a good job or getting it right in class anymore. Class is where I can try things I've never tried before, and see if they work, or if they don't. Nothing that happens in class can take away from who I am, so I want to be daring and stretch myself and not give a damn if I fall on my face. I want to stretch, and I want to see what to hold onto and of what to let go.

  1. Make choices
  2. Rehearse monologue
  3. Stand up when ready
  4. Pick my focus
  5. Introduce myself
  6. Give my monologue
  7. Get feedback
  8. Give my monologue again
  9. Get feedback again

1. Make choices:

I'd done my homework, had it memorized, and knew my choices. I was going to do a relatively new monologue in a scary way. It's a dark piece ("Harold", from Glenn Altermann's 2 Minutes and Under: Character Monologues for Actors Volume 2). I was going to have two separate goals, and two ways of getting them at two different points during the monologues. At first, I wanted to sleep with the girl, and I was penitent and forgiving until I snapped on a phrase. Then I was going to attack her.

2. Rehearse monologue:

Dan Fauci broke us into groups of 3 and we practice our monologues together. I was resistant to this, because I haven't had great "actor-teaching-actor" experiences.

But because of the way Dan had structured the weekend (and without wanting to sound too hokey for folks who haven't experienced either "Leadership & Creativity" or "Into the Abyss"), we were in a whole new place of being able to see stuff in each other, give germane feedback, and be open to take it.

Because of how I do my process, I was the odd man out. I don't rehearse monologues or scenes now in the traditional sense. I bullet through text flat, with no inflection, or I do it slowly (still with no inflection). This is something I learned in voice over, and my current Meisner training has really enforced it.

I also paraphrased my monologue, and had a conversation with my fellow actors. I tried a "whisper exercise" from my Meisner coach.

But I never rehearsed the monologue the way I intended to do it. I didn't want to get a way of doing it stuck in my head.

And my "practice mates" (Corina Calderon and Stacey Glazer) were so supportive of and patient with my practicing my way. I'm grateful.

3. Stand up when ready:

I'm a "go first" kind of guy. So, throughout this weekend, I chose not to go first. I wanted to shove my preparation out of my head and just enjoy the amazing things being done by folks at the front of the room.

So I was nearly last. But when we got to the last handful of actors and no one was standing right away I launched myself over the first row and to the front of the room. I was so ready.

4. Pick my focus:

If I'm allowed, I like to give my monologue to a person, not the one-legged cyclops vying for my attention. I mean, she's hot and all, but ...

So I picked a fellow actor I met this weekend, Irish Petree, and asked, "My I talk with you?"

The language of the request --for me -- is really important. I was asking a favor, and acknowledging the favor she was hopefully going to do for me. And I was initiating a conversation I wanted to have with her. Which is different than trying to orate myself into greatness.

And Irish was a great listener. I've talked to vapid readers before. Not her. Again. Me. Grateful.

5. Introduce myself:

Van Brooks was running the camera. When he asked if I was ready, I said, "Yes", then looked at the feet of the tripod. From my top peripheral vision, I could see him give the "go" sign, and I looked up and, with smile and power, said,
"I am Adam Creighton. This is 'Harold', by Glenn Altermann."
No "Hi, my name is ...". No "I'm doing a piece from ...". Just an acknowledgement of who I am and what this is.

And the looking up keeps the look and smile new and fresh for the slate. I have no idea how any of this looks on camera. Seems to work for me as a person, though.

6. Give my monologue:

I'm a head up, shoulders back, chest out kind of guy. So I started the monologue head down, let all of the air out of my body, slumped my shoulders, and became that guy who desperately wants the girl, and is unsure if he even knows how.

And in my head I heard her words that pull me out of my self loathing and lead me into my first line:
"So, are you bitter?"
And confused, scared, sick, I started:

"Bitter? No. Resentful? Why should I be? I'm free ..."
I don't remember much after that. I remember the rage welling up as I hit the phrase I'd loaded it with ("No doubt about it, I'm definitely different."), and my intention change as I wanted to lunge across the tape line and grab this girl. And me not crossing that tape line. And not even knowing it was a tape line in the moment.

7. Get feedback:

And then applause. Long, generous, surprised, supportive applause from my coaches and fellow actors. And I stood there and took it, and was OK with it. It's hard for me to take acknowledgement, so that's a big deal.

And I knew Dan was going to give me feedback. But rather than turn directly to him after my monologue, I acknowledged my fellow actor's acknowledgement. How rude would it be for me to disregard their kindness?

And Dan gave feedback. And it was spot on. It was encouraging, and I took the notes. There are no negative notes. There are things that are working and things that aren't and how to fix them.

And he asked me to do it again. He asked me to use the rage and purpose from the end of my first run as the start of the second.

8. Give my monologue again:

So I started again, and I took notes from Dan and made corrections while doing the monologue. I never broke the monologue, I never acknowledged the notes outside of the monologue. But I acknowledged them through it.

9. Get feedback again:

Again, generous, generous feedback from my fellow actors and friends. And humbling acknowledgement from my film coach Van.

And additional feedback from Dan. It wasn't about being louder or angrier. It was about me not holding myself back.

Anything I did well is also about something else. A phrase my Meisner coach keeps using:
"You see how great they were? That's because of everyone that went before them."
True, dat ...

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tonight (last night?) was a wicked good class, continuing to apply the stuff we've been working on for months to scenes. Finally to scenes.

I don't know if it's because Steve's such a good coach (he is), or I'm so desperate to learn and grow (I am), or the fact he's fully committed to teaching and I'm fully committed to absorbing, but this stuff's been clicking for me over the last few weeks.

Tonight was about a bunch of things. About me learning to separate what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Separating people and situations. Giving weight and focus to people and objects in the room.

And there's a goal we're starting to see, that I don't think would have had weight or input or import 9 months ago -- We're not just doing what we're told, we're making sense of what we're told, and we're doing something with it.

That's all from Steve, as is the encouragement that because we're doing something with what we're given, we're eminently direct able.

That's not hubris, and I'm still learning. Nine months of immersion and I'm having moments that work. And they get longer with fewer actor interruptions.

And the technique stuff he's showing us for scenes, besides being ridiculously useful (and nicely for me, on the work side are an extension of my personal process), are fun. The techniques alternate really hard work with play, and they feed off each other and create great preparation before and great moments during.

Feeling good about this class. Despite next week's impending suckage ...

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Good class tonight ...

I'm at the stage in my Meisner training where we're starting to apply the tools and techniques we've been honing over several months to scene work.

And it really opens things up for me.

There's the work, and there's the fun. And if I do the work, the fun is more so, because I'm not worrying about the work I didn't do.

Those who know me know it's not like I'm lazy as an actor. But acting takes a ton of hard work. Constantly.

And I figured some stuff out for me tonight as far as identifying exercises that are exercises, and being done with those, and exercises that are useful tools for my craft, that I need to hold onto, hone, and use to explode my craft and myself.

And I had an epiphany about me tonight -- my need to be right, and my need to get it right.

Both are seriously overrated.

Getting it done is where it's at. And in the past where I did pages and pages of work for every page of script, I'm going to winnow that down, use what helps, and toss the cumbersome stuff.

And that's for more than just me as an actor; that's about me.

Good night ...

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Thoughts on my acting process ...

I've been thinking about class last week, and figuring some stuff out about my process.

When it was my time up, I got stopped twice, so I had to start getting emotionally ramped three separate times (initially, and two restarts).

I'd prepared a new emotional catalyst for class, and starting out the gate, I had to get ramped up differently than I'd intended for that night. Midway through prep, I was feeling seriously dry with the particular scenario I'd worked up, so I switched to a preparation I know works for me (but which I hate using).

Due to switching, I wasn't fully ramped up within my "ready window", but I didn't want to make my scene partner wait, so I started the scene.

I got lucky, because my coach stopped us, saying he could see my partner wasn't ready.

Like I said, this emotional prep works really well for me, and I felt myself starting to get out of control on the emotional side. So I throttled it down, and started the scene for the second time.

My coach stopped me on that second run, because he could see I was being a bit too intellectual (not totally authentic). He gave me some heavy notes, which I took, and got ready again.

Third time, I let the emotion be what it was, started the scene, and just focused on my partner.

Much better the third time around.

I mentioned last week it wasn't perfect, because "I left things undone" (mainly on the consequence and holding my partner accountable sides of things). It was still a good run, and I survived using a brutal emotional prep that's draining to me -- three freaking times.

And my coach gave me some additional encouragement in his being pleased with my being able to start three times with the notes he gave, and not shut down

"That shows me your directable."

That's a very encouraging thing for me as an actor to hear.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Class tonight ...

Tiring night tonight. Not a bad night for me, I guess, but I definitely left stuff undone, which is a bummer.

But, I get my notes, know what I didn't act on, and what to do next time.

I also have an emotional catalyst worked out for me that that is a "fast on" and raws me up quickly. And I'm really motivated to find a replacement, because I so hate using it. And it's not a "fast off" ...

Then it was down for a quick pint with a few folks from class, meeting up with an acting buddy (it's his birthday, whoot!), and now home to make some copies of scripts and write them out in prep for memorizing for next week.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Acting is hard ...

Wicked hard. The emotional cost of doing it right is unexpectedly high.

I'm glad I'm doing this whole Meisner thing with such great, loving, supportive, talented people...

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's "Good tough" ...

Tonight was one of those "good tough" nights in Meisner.

Small group, tight sessions, and for me, some encouragement in important places.

I haven't arrived yet (never going to happen), but one of my big fear / growth areas as a person (so, as an actor, too) is emotional authenticity.

And lately, I'm able to build scenarios and buy into them and get places emotionally in a matter of minutes. I honestly never thought I would live here. Ever.

This isn't something to crow about, because it's brutal and costly. But I feel it's necessary as an actor, and as a human being.

Tonight ended with me crying and gagging from emotion.

But, like I said, I haven't arrived yet. So, I pretty much literally ran from the conflict, because I was so overwhelmed with my emotion that I made it all about me, and didn't regard my partner.

But that's another area of work identified, understood, and tagged to deal with.

So it was a good night.

And I'm so freaking proud of class campadre Megan. Chica seriously rocks ...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thoughts on Meisner thoughts ...

I have lot of interest in and heavy traffic through my blogs.

A lot of that traffic is centered on my various thoughts about my personal acting process. I get encouraging comments and feedback from folks who sympathize, empathize, want to dialog, or criticize the stuff I post. I have regular readers who read my stuff just to see what I'm struggling with, on what I'm moving forward, and what I'm experiencing on the personal acting process side.

I also have folks interested in the posts related specifically to my current, intense Meisner training. Which made me look at recent posts I've been doing on the subject.

I imagine they make no sense.

There are folks are who are long-time Meisner graduates who know what I'm talking about in these posts. There are folks currently doing Meisner training and are more advanced than me, who understand what I'm talking about. There are my current classmates, who are experiencing it with me (so, obviously, they get it).

And the stuff I mention is understandable to them, because Meisner -- and I suspect each coach's slight "flavor" of Meisner -- has a language all its own. This is not workout training. This is acting process training.

Folks not familiar with the Meisner process probably don't get a lot of what I'm talking about, or the same depth of it that folks with a Meisner background get.

More importantly, no one should look at my blog posts about Meisner and think, "Oh, so that's Meisner".

Meisner isn't something to be read about, especially not in a drive-by Web log fashion. It's something in which to be immersed and experienced whole heartedly in a committed fashion, with people who are also immersed and committed whole heartedly. And all this should be under the tutelage of a knowledgeable, experienced coach.

I may end up being more vague about some of the specifics of the training I'm doing. I figure it won't make sense to non-Meisner folks, anyway, and I don't want to "talk out of school" about the stuff my coach is taking great pains to impress upon us. Plus, there's a session he's currently teaching that's more junior than my group, and I don't want to spoil the stages for them before he introduces them -- and thereby undermine my coach -- by sharing specifics.

I figure folks will still get me talking about what I'm going through, where I'm stuck, and where I'm growing. Or not.

Besides, those Austin, LA, and NY folks who have Meisner experience and are keeping tabs on my progress talk to me, anyway. So they'll know.

This Meisner stuff is tough, important, growing stuff. You want to experience it? Commit to it, like we did...

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Feeling stuck when you're not ...

Each of us in my Meisner class are light years ahead of where we were.

Each of us feel like we're not moving forward.

Lynn, LeVan, Nikki, Mark, Megan, Marcos, Erin, Risa -- you are all amazing and inspiring and beautiful.

And we're all just fine ...

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Meisner learnings ...

Been a good couple of weeks on the Meisner training front.

By "good", I mean "growing"; not "pleasant".

First, through practices I learned the importance of being comprehensive in the reasons for my "activities" and their urgency. One week, I was doing storyboarding, and had a great moment of panic where I had to throw my partner out of my life. After I threw her out, I realized I was going to fail my task. But the consequences lost weight as I started intellectualizing why I was writing out dialog (as opposed to cutting and pasting it from the scripts before I printed the blank storyboard panels). There are scenarios where that would have worked, but I hadn't prepped them before doing the exercise, and it killed the scene.

Secondly, when I come to the door, I'm supposed to be coming from something huge, and coming to that person for a reason. So I've been working hard on finding a simple hook at that moment when I find out who my partner is -- and I'm getting decently good at it, which has improved my door work.

Along those same lines, I was struck with an in-practice conversation about what's "easier" -- door or activity. I came to the conclusion if either is easier than the other, it's because I'm not putting the appropriate thought, work, and preparation into it.

So, in class this week where I was doing door work, I went deeper.

She left me.

Which was brutally hard and emotionally debilitating and stirred up new things for me.

It also got me lost, because I wasn't focusing on my partner -- loving her and believing everything she said.

So, cool, I've experienced another area (about which I already knew intellectually) in which I need work -- staying connected and doing something while the emotion lives in me.

Good, growing couple of weeks.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Meisner and stop-motion animation ...

This is a stop-motion animation I created as an "activity" for my Meisner acting process training (rendered after the class).

Basically, at this stage of my training in Meisner, we're doing exercises where one person is at the "door", and one person is doing an "activity". Both people have goals. Both people are being blocked. Both people are supposed to honor the rule of improve, "Love your partner and believe everything they say."

The "activity" should be physically (or tactile-y) demandingand require extreme focus. I have a time limit. I have an extreme urgency to complete the task. The person at the door is interrupting me, potentially causing me to fail. I can't ignore them.

Stop-motion animation totally fit the bill.

That night's class wasn't that good (I wasn't bought into my urgency), but I learned important, applicable stuff about myself and my this process. So that was good.

Obviously, this is not normally the way to do stop-motion animation, and it's not the way I normally do it (no light box or tripod, the room wasn't light controlled, I didn't have my storyboards with me, I wasn't able to totally focus on the effort, etc.).

But because it required focus to do it right, it made for a good Meisner activity (though ended up with a horribly result).

Rather than just let the effort die, I compiled the thing real quick and posted in on YouTube for folks' viewing pleasure. And republished it here.


The Tools:

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

There are no breakthroughs ....

... Only hard, painful, important work.

"Having a breakthrough" is such an acting cliché. I've never torn through the acting equivalent of a tissue paper banner, to run triumphantly onto the performance football field to ... ah ...

Look, metaphors aren't really my thing.

I worked twice to tonight in class. And it was brutal. And it was good tough tonight.

First up at the door, I was rusty, but learned something about myself. I kept telling my partner, Mark, what he was doing wasn't important. My coach took me to task for it, "Because you know that's not true."

But it was true.

And my coach isn't wrong.

So ...

But what I realized is it was true. What Mark was doing wasn't important -- to me. I was using the statement, "What you're doing isn't important" as a way to explain myself -- not to make reference to what Mark was doing.

Loving my partner and believing everything he said was not what I was doing. At that moment.

I got there, and I got furious, and sick. When I finished that roller coaster ride of coming to the door with something huge and important and positive, and ending in a screaming match and feeling terrible because I cost him his goal ... I literally felt the bile in my throat. There were a few moments where I didn't get my notes because I thought I was going to have to bail and puke.

And then, later, I went again. 'Cause I'm crazy like that.

And I so want to work all the time.

And be a better person.

When doing door and activity in Meisner, nine times out of ten (if done right), there's a win, but not a clean win. I kick someone out of my life forever. Or I fail my task.

I learned tonight, doing it right, that there are worse things. There is failing my task, and all of the consequences wrapped in that, and having someone walk out of my life forever. I lost twice, and didn't choose either.

My coach likened it to "Kobayashi Maru" -- the training exercise from the Star Trek mythos that is an unbeatable tactical simulation. You can't win.

It's about what you do with failing.

And seriously don't dismiss the analogy because it's rooted in pointy eared fanboy trope. It's a brilliant, important metaphor that some people get, and to which others haven't given enough thought.

My stomach is so freaking knotted up right now.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Rough night in class last night ...

Last night was a rough Meisner session.

It was one of those nights that just felt "off" anyway.

I was ramped up from BigHugeCorp, the gods (ATM, traffic, stray cat, elderly driver, unobservant mom, etc.) were conspiring against me as I tried to get to class on time, and I had a disconnected night when I was up front.

The upside is I learned a bunch of stuff.

We're doing Door / Activities, and I was not bought into my activity.

The Task:

Without going into too much detail, I was doing a stop-motion animation, and it "had" to match some already completed audio and be done in 37 minutes (5 seconds per move (frame) x 15 frames-per-second x 30 seconds = 37.5 minutes).

The problem was as I was doing the animation (and being interrupted by the person at the door), I realized I had an out. There were like 4 places where I could snip the audio, and still have a usable animation, even if I didn't get done with the full 30 seconds.

So I realized pretty early I was easily going to get at least to the first mark (did), and maybe the second or third, despite interruptions.

And, because I wasn't bought into the task, the emotional state of my scene partner (Lynn Burnor, who was dialed-in and amazing, and it's her birthday on Saturday so buy her drinks) was more compelling than my thing, so I kept trying to make (rather than let) my thing be more compelling.

Frustrating as all that is, I get it. And I learned.

On Urgency:

More importantly for me, I learned something big about me and urgency.

For me, I act with a sense of urgency with most of the things I do -- running, management, writing, home improvement, fight the good fight, etc. This equates to "this is important, so I'm doing it." If I find something's not important, why am I going to do it?

That's all well and good, but urgency for me is directed, it's focused. It's do it quickly but do it right. It's "panic won't help me get this done."

So, my epiphany last night / this morning (it all blends, I had a gig for which I was prepping) is that as an actor, I'm working on being less careful. Careful urgency does not serve me in acting.

Panic does.

I know what that feels like. I know the red hot flush at the base of my skull softball-sized knot in my neck slick palms I can't get dry keep wiping them they're keeping me from doing anything aRMpiT sweAt SPICKETS WON't SHUT OFF!

That's what I need when I need urgency for a scene. I need to be blind with panic. I need to be desperate to get done not knowing if I can and every interruption my have just cost me everything. Not showing urgency, but so bought into the why that the urgency manifests.

So, that's where I need to be.

And I know what that looks and feels like.

Now, it's just about the work.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shockwave ...

(Title refers to the metaphorical application of the seismic phenomenon to life events; not the Transformer.)

Today was one of those wicked hefty kind of days.

It started with me getting to work late, because I was picking up a video game (we all have our priorities).

Then it was a loyalty kick to the head at BigHugeCorp, followed by a Meisner workout that was incredibly effective, and therefore incredibly effectively emotionally draining.

Then there was me being demotivated and going home to play the aforementioned video game (Crackdown), which, I suspect, will become like digital crack, and consume my life.

Finally it was off with a bunch of fellow actors (the beautiful ones) to watch my Meisner coach's film, Pineapple, which addressed real-world crack (among other things). I don't want to trivialize the film at all by saying too much or little about it, but suffice it to say (for now) I think it's an important film. I'll hopefully write more about it sometime this week on my "I'm Seeing ...." blog.

UPDATED: I've posted my thoughts on the film here.

And we talked about the chance to be in on the ground floor of a big Biz opportunity in Central Texas. Something that at the least will be important and have and give meaning, and at the most will send shockwaves throughout the film scene (Austin and beyond).

Shockwaves. Again, the metaphorical application of the seismic phenomenon to life events. Not the Transformer. The bad a$$ Transformer.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The CAGE audition tonight

I ran down and did an audition for The CAGE opportunity I mentioned the other day.

From the last post:

"If you're in Central Texas, you know what a force and opportunity the University of Texas College of Radio-Television-Film is. Tonight [sic, shoulda been "Thursday"], the CAGE at UT Austin is having open auditions, which puts you in the potential running for tons of their student and departmental projects. These things have screened at Cannes, Tribeca, and SXSW (which is coming up in March)."

So, yeah, an opportunity to get in front of folks who are aspiring film makers (or auteurs), and increased opportunity to be auditioning constantly. Working constantly (because I treat auditions like gigs). To put myself as a professional actor to the benefit of people learning the craft.

This was a last-minute deal, I made it at the tail end, there weren't many UT folks there when I arrived, and -- I honestly don't remember the audition.

This thing was like a theater audition -- raised stage, single spotlight, a stationary camera, and the audience somewhere "out there".

I mean, I got there, and and I was severely affected by the audition two spots before me (no monologue; just talking about something real that had happened in his life, which I would pooh pooh as an actor but hold on to as a human being). And I was irritated by the non-intimacy of the setup and the quietness of the actress who went on right before me (I have no earthly idea what she said). And I was deeply inside my back story.

I got on stage, introduced myself and my piece (my new monologue from my final "Round 1"Meisner class, which I just realized I never wrote about), ducked down to prep briefly, and then ... um ... near as I can figure, here's how it went:

(In my head)


Then there's this dawning realization I'm standing on stage, a vague sense I've said my lines, the last one's resonating in my skull, so I said "thank you" and ducked off stage.

I'm hoping the silence was because I was awfully good -- not just awful.

Man, Steve said things would work like this at times. Times when I know my back story and my motivation and they are living in me, and I wasn't worrying about the lines because I know them cold.


Then it was off to Erin Marie Keigher's B-Day ("Day 1 of Many") briefly before home (I'm lately in this "run-at-6-a.m." mode).

Erin is one of the Beautiful People (in every sense of the word) with which I'm currently blessed in my life.

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TXMPA event and class tonight ...

I made a brief appearance at the Texas Motion Picture Alliance event tonight (reminder, go register), then off to class, which Steve generously started an hour late so we could support the TXMPA effort.

I was at the event probably a total of 20 minutes, so I made the rounds with only a dozen or so folks, and received some beyond kind comments and condolences (maybe more on the latter in a separate post) in those few moments.

Then it was off to class, where I was a couple of weeks out of whack, from missing last class.

I don't know that I'll deconstruct or post any of my notes from tonight, other than to say it was what it was -- and I'm happy with that.

I knew I was a couple of weeks out of whack. I didn't go into tonight expecting to suck or rock. I expected it be whatever it was going to be. Far from an apathetic attitude, this is about grace from me, for me.

I'm learning lately that my success is a combination of practice, grace, and luck. I should write a separate post about that part of work ethic/mindset sometime.

Good night. Tired. Auditions tomorrow (hopefully). And maybe a Biz birthday party.

G'Night ...

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Eulogy (II) ...

OK, so let's talk about this.

But first, we need to got to two weeks ago:

"Oh, and I hate hate hate next week's class. Hate it."
I try not use "hate" that much. And "next week's class" was delayed from last week to this week, due to the ice storm.

All caught up?

The reason I hated it more than usual (I think I often hate Meisner class, until I get there), is how it was teed up:

"Next week, you will all do a eulogy. Imagine the person who means the most
in the world to you. Now imagine them dead. Got it?"
The elaboration was I was supposed to take someone I care about who's perfectly healthy (that's key), and imagine a scenario where they could have believably died (but are not likely to in the real world), and believe it. Prepare for the eulogy however I would in real life. Create a scenario for who the classmates in the room are. Buy into that.

Then deliver the eulogy.

"This is the work. This is the cost."
I'd been putting it off for last week, and was just about to start it when class was delayed (with the instructions, "Don't over prepare for this -- try to peak emotionally next class"). I was seriously relieved. "Don't over prepare"?!

This is a big freaking deal. What if the floodgates opened and I couldn't stop? What if I didn't react the way I should talking about the death of a loved one? What does that say for my acting, or my love for that person?

Monday night, I started to write out the words of the eulogy. The good stuff, the funny stuff. Tuesday night, I thought in detail about the circumstances of the death. Very mechanical.

"Know what that was like. What it felt like. What the smells were. Believe
Wednesday morning, I wrote some more things. I wouldn't normally write, I don't think. But I also made sure not to type. Scrawled it out in my deteriorating handwriting.

Wednesday night, I started the drive down to the school. I started talking out loud about the death.

I was so overwhelmed I had to stop 10 seconds in or I knew I wasn't going to make it to class. Knot in the throat so hard I thought I was going to choke. Tears flooding dry eyes to that point where vision was blurry and I couldn't see straight.

I filled the drive with gingerly poking at parts of the eulogy (from memory, not looking at what I wrote down), and the details of the death.

I mean "poking", too.

Imagine sitting in a room. The only light comes from a candle. There are no windows but there is a door. Stretched across the door is a giant translucent balloon, and it's the only thing keeping the sea out. Fascinated, you walk over and poke it every once in a while, stopping when the skin gets stretched and looks like its going to leak, spread, and burst, and you run across the room cowering over your candle. Not that that's rationale. Then you do it again.

Rationale doesn't really fit in here.

I would start down a path and feel emotion welling and I'd run back and look at it across the room.

Um, anyway, that was the drive there.

I get to class, and there's a brief talk about some other stuff, some fun at my expense (I'm good with that).

Then, eulogies.

This is eleven people putting themselves in a place where they're talking about losing the most important person in the world. Why that person was important. What was good. How they died (sometimes).

So painful, so important.

When it was my turn, I lost it to the point where I almost couldn't start -- and probably had at least three false ones.

And I believed it. The death, what happened leading up. What I was doing certain nights. The ache. My class staging an intervention. The smells. They survivor's guilt.

And we get done and break.

"Go call people. That's the difference between Meisner and Strasburg. With
Meisner you get to go call the person afterwards."
I know this sounds weird if you're not in the acting world. But it's not freaky weird. It's not Strasburg. Not Method. Not destructive or marginalizing.

"Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."
It's about building an "emotional Rolodex" so that I can roll that authentic emotion onto scenes I have to do.

It is freaking tough, though.

More talking about practice for this week and what next week will look like. Some stuff down the road with which I will have a problem. Some laughing, some joking.

Then the payout.
"I hate to do this to you guys, but stand up. Close your eyes. Everyone say, 'I
love you' -- say the person's name -- 'and I'm going to miss you.'"
We do, and eleven people are instantly back in the emotion of their eulogy. Laughing one minute, then totally connected and broken the next.

He made his point.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Eulogy ...

Tonight in Meisner was brutal and important and emotional and probably one of the most important, if not the most important acting night of my life.

And I'm not going to talk about it, because right now that would just undercut it. And it may have been more a me thing, anyway.

I may write about it later. I may not.

That's how I roll.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Meisner: Reloaded" ...

Tonight was a pretty lightweight class. Not that it wasn't worthwhile, but it was review, technique, talkie talkie, etc.

A bit of repeating, which (appropriately) is hard. Not technique hard. Doing hard.

Some of the things that are sticking with me from tonight:
The goal is not to be a character made for a scene -- it's to be a person living out moment.

I'm adding things to my toolbox that work, and getting rid of things that don't.

Life experience is temporary, so don't use it.

The minute I stopped lying, I became the greatest actor I will be. Now it's just about raising the stakes.

Acting is athletic.

In class, we take sides. That's what actors do -- we take sides.

I will never be done repeating. Eventually, I'll be repeating through the eyes of my character. That's when I know I've got this stuff down -- I'll know that I've got this when something I repeat affects me in a way it would not in real life.
Oh, and I hate hate hate next week's class. Hate it.

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Meisner, Round 2 ...

I'm about 5 hours out from the kickoff of the second ("don't-call-it-advanced") session of Meisner tonight.

I expect new challenges, new unexplainability, and new growth. And hopefully I can finish the whole session ("there is weirdness in the wings").

Here's a dump of last session Meisner-related posts (some loosely related, some more so):
  1. I'm scared ...
  2. I survived ....
  3. Thoughts on Meisner so far
  4. Good Meisner week ...
  5. The Network Austin Mixer tonight at Mother Egan's
  6. The responsibility of an actor ...
  7. Busy Biz week ...
  8. Meisnering(ish)-esness
  9. I'm pissy (2)
  10. Meisning
  11. comMeisnerating
  12. Busy on the acting front
  13. Nervous for class tonight ...
  14. Last night was rough...
  15. The one where I was a jerk ...
  16. That pretty much sums up class tonight ...
  17. Acting made me a better manager today
  18. I'm tired of sucking ...
  19. Bittersweet ...
  20. Yesterday was a good acting day
  21. Good night ...
  22. Want to study Meisner?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Want to study Meisner?

I've talked off and on about my current Meisner class, and how much it's doing for me as a person and my acting.

My coach is starting a new introductory (four-month) Meisner session in January, so if you're interested, contact me, and I'll get you his mobile number.

Just make sure the subject line has something to do with Meisner, 'K?

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good night ...

Tonight was the first of the last two Meisner classes (this session), and it was an important night.

Part of it was class. When I was up first with an activity, my partner was amazing. I did not let her get away with safe stuff, which was probably academic because she stood up for herself in a way I haven't seen her do before, and she was inspiring.

I volunteered to work twice, because I'm in a place where I feel desperate to be working all the time. The second time left a lot of room for improvement, which is totally fine with me. I know what to do next time, totally get my notes, and got to work twice.

The other reason tonight was so good is the people. I'm loving these folks, and I'm surprised how I miss them when they're even late to class, or tell me they're moving on.

That's the important stuff.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yesterday was a good acting day

I am so blessed as an actor.

Take yesterday, for example.

I filmed scene 32 for episode 13 of "Friday Night Lights" (first network television gig). I had a "good" Meisner workout (she kicked me out of her life, and, yeah, I wanted to leave for good). And on the way home, I checked my Biz PO box and picked up a check for a previous gig.

How blessed am I?

Now, I've got to head off to head off to Samurai, then Meisner class tonight until late. Both of which I hate until I get there.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bittersweet ...

Tonight was a "good tough" kind of Meisner night. Really intense, really emotional, really important.

Afterwards, it was a brief spin through The Gingerman's draft offerings in the first social get together (most of) the class has had. Has it really taken this long for our Meisner group to do something social together? Was it really every week at The Gingerman while I worked at FailedTechStartup?

My Meisner fellows so rock. Just talented and beautiful and engaging. I have never been in a class where I've felt everyone is so together on the acting front, so interesting on the personal front, the guys are so "bro", and the girls are so amazingly different and uniquely gorgeous. Take it for what it is.

But then it was a long ride home alone in the rain, which tends to make introspective.

Yes, tonight in class was tough, and it was good tough. But why do I feel last week and this that everything in the world won't be OK until I throw up, and I don't throw up so everthing in the world isn't OK?

I don't know why I freaking keep trying to figure this stuff out. It's not dissectable, and I just need to move on after the tough -- good or bad.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

I'm tired of sucking ...

Meisner was tough tonight.

It's always tough -- good tough, or bad tough. Tonight was bad tough.

Why the hell can't I get reconnected to my heart?

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Acting made me a better manager today

Today, I was doing training at BigHugeCorp for our new performance review system, and my acting came in really, really handy.

No, I'm not being sarcastic (even though I think our new rating system is a crock and the corporate sell job is embarrassing).

Today, at work, I was handed a script. A real, honest-to-goodness script.

It was a role playing scenario, the instructor asked if there were any real actors in the group, and I nearly dislocated my shoulder answering before the question sank in.

I and another manager (who happens to be a sometime actor) got a moment to read our couple of pages, then go.

Today, I did a cold read at BigHugeCorp. Didn't see that coming, and it was a nice surprise.

But it got better, because I had an epiphany today -- my acting makes me a better manager.

Specifically, I realized I could apply the rules of improv ("Yes, And ...") and Meisner ("Observation of behavior", rather than "Opinion of observation") to have better, more open conversations with the folks who work for me, and those with whom I otherwise work in different ways.

This shouldn't have surprised me (really, an epiphany isn't new information; it's just an "aha" moment where things I already know click in a new and meaningful way).

But the reason I do stuff (The Mastery, Meisner, running) is to be a better person -- and that should improve all the stuff I do. Including being an actor and being a manager. It just became obvious in a real-world way for me today.

Not that it was all rosy. I also got to see what it looks like when managers buy into basically the same performance rating process change Enron did. Nice.

But even with that, the glass for today is still looking pretty half full to me today ...

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

That pretty much sums up class tonight ...

this is an audio post - click to play

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The one where I was a jerk ...

this is an audio post - click to play

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last night was rough...

I had a better week last week, and more important repetitions outside of class than I did last night.

I was so bad I got put into "Meisner Chair Jail" (Steve said it wasn't, but it was).

Steve was justifiably upset last night. He was calling for a someone to step up and be a leader for the rest of the class.

I feel like the two things for which God made me are acting and leadership. With Meisner, I can't seem to do either.

And my greatest strength? I'm a thinker. And I can't intellectuallize this stuff.

It doesn't help that my body has been so screwed up the last few days from massive allergies.

Great, I'm screwed on the mental, emotional, and physical fronts. Nice.

I'm having a peach of a day.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nervous for class tonight ...

I'm on the road, and, wow, I'm suddenly nervous for class tonight Weird...

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Busy on the acting front

Been busy lately on the acting front, which is obviously good.

Sunday I did another Meisner workout, this time a 1:1 with Errich Petersen, who's really talented, a good guy, and he and I have some overlap in the things on which we need to work for this class.

Right after that I recorded a 60-second voice audition for an AFTRA Lay's/Super B**l radio spot. The copy was well-written (it flowed, had a lot of range, and was easy to fit into the target time) and a lot of fun.

My agent called me Saturday about the opportunity from New York (she's absolutely amazing; working on her vacation and getting non-Austin gigs for me), and sound engineer Chad Furrow spun on a dime and helped me record the thing so I could have a clean, professional submission. If you need a top-notch, skilled engineer who knows his stuff and is a joy with whom to work, Chad is your guy. Seriously, if you want to get a hold of hiim, let me know.

The last several days, I've been going back and forth with several sound production and casting agencies on the West Coast. The interactions have largely been around their preference for union talent. I've been talking to them about the merits of professional talent in work-at-will states like Texas, which also hosts a bunch of their clients. I'm in no way trying to undercut the unions, but I certainly need to sell why the reality of where I choose to live doesn't impact my professionalism and contribution to their project. We'll see. A couple of the folks have been really interactive, and seem interested in exploring this more.

Last night, I finally got my specialized CD burner fixed (I hate software), because I need to burn a ton of voice demo CDs for next week's game conference.

I also wrote another full episode of my "Project X(ish)", and recorded and mastered some test audio. This particular episode is in homage to one of my favorite 90s action cartoons, and is funny sh**. To me. Other people may say, "Not so much." Screw them.

Tonight, I'll probably do another Meisner workout (I so don't feel ready for class), and start burning and printing a ton of demo discs and resumes for next week's conference.

I am so running out of hours in a day ...

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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Tonight was an intense Meisner class.

Up to the 5th change (for those who know how this works), which comes from a bunch of 4th changes boiling over.

We each went up twice, and my first round I was out of head, working with phenomenal guy Marcus Lorenzo, and we were locked in and real and working through important stuff and ratcheting up real intensity with perfect repetition.

I wanted to vomit afterwards.

The second time -- not so much.

It's like that moment in Miss Congeniality where Michael Caine says, "A brief, shining moment, and then that mouth."

Yes, I've seen Miss Congeniality. Like eight times. You should see it, too.

Anyway, the second time I walked up trying to make something happen (wanting it to be different from my first time up, so that I wouldn't be trying to make that happen again), and really screwed up. I was in my head, not dialed in to my partner, superficial, read the riot act by my coach, and so on.

And that's OK.

Because I knew instantly how I was screwing up, and I know how to fix it. And it doesn't take anything up from my first time up.

I'm learning so much about giving myself grace in this class. Nice, unexpected side effect.

And so much was just clicking tonight. Not that I was getting everything, but there was so much important stuff going in the room tonight. Everyone had some moment that was better than they've had in class up to this point, and I knew that before Steve said it. I knew I had my best moment tonight.

Amazing, amazing people with whom I'm working. I'm blessed to work with every one of them.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006


Last night was a good class.

"This is the hard part," Steve said. "You'll be on tilt."

This is the part where stuff starts to get really important and really confusing and really intense.
Of course, I was "on tilt" last week, I think in no small part to this class.

Last night was good, though.

There were some really nice, weighty moments (Megan and Lydia, you are so brave), and it was a gift to be a part of it. And I had a really important moment with Marcus, who is just gifted in his authenticity.

Am I where I need to be? Yeah. Steve said we're "exactly where we need to be".

So, I'm going to trust that, not worry, and not overthink. Very freeing.

And Steve took some time after class to give us a 20-minute "Audition technique" lessen. It was a gift, but for me, just validation that the work and choices I'm making now are on track, and just need to be honed.

I did get an additional nuance, codified by Steve as "why me? Why now?" when I make character choices. I like that. I think I should add it to my worksheet.

Speaking of "gift", one of the things Steve said is, "A note [from a director] is a gift." I've kind of taken this as a given (that's why I do so much homework before every audition). I don't rely on direction or insight that I may not get. But Steve's statement added some positive weight to the surprise of any note I may get from a Director or Casting Director.

Good stuff ...

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I'm pissy (2)

this is an audio post - click to play

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this is an audio post - click to play

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Busy Biz week ...

Dang. I'm fried.

First there was Monday night's Casting Works LA showcase (which went well, thank you), and all of its hours of preparation, then a get-together with talented actor friends into the night.

Then, yesterday, I was back at CWLA to collate headshots and DVDs for mailing the showcase to Casting Directors (Tips for newbie actors: Have enough headshots, have them the right size, and don't get them photocopied at Kinko's in not-so-pleasing green/gray/blue stripes), and then I worked on programming a widget I hope to add to my Web site to make actor's lives easier. More to come on that later. After that, I ducked out to do a Meisner workout with Errich, Nikki, Marcus, and Lydia.

Today, I was off to a kids' film(ish) camp to talk about voice acting, which worked out about as I expected ("Can you do Darth Vader's voice? Can you do R2D2? Can you do a hungry hamster? Can you do Bullwinkle the Moose?"). But, I did have one kid come up to me on my out and say, "Hey, I thought you were going to be a boring speaker, but you weren't. That's good, because I hate boring speakers."


Then I had drive like a madman back to CWLA for an audition for an in-house industrial, and ran into fellow Collier talents (and classmates) Drew Whelpley and Tom Procida, and met fellow agency talent David Precopia, who people have said reminds them a lot of me. Seems like a nice guy, so I'll rethink my "bump off the competition" plan.

Good guys, all, so it's going to be competitive for this gig. I still want it over them, though.

And tonight, I'm back on for Meisner class #3.

I'm freaking exhausted, because I'm juggling all this with home life and the toy job, where I'm covering for my manager, various projects are going south, and BigHugeCorp, despite it's empty mantras, does not value people, and has no loyalty to them.

But, at least things are busy on the gigs front. For the most part, these are authentic folks who value relationships ...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The responsibility of an actor ...

I just got back from The Network Austin Mixer, and it was really good.

Steve Prince (my Meisner coach) and Van Brooks (my film coach), were tonight's featured speakers.

That was a little surreal. It could only have been more so if Lainie Frasier (my voice coach), was up there, too.

Anyway, for various legitimate and important reasons, it was a bit of an abbreviated night, but I got a lot out of both of these guys with whom I study (and for Van, with whom I have studied for a looong time).

The big thing that got me in general was how much alike these two guys' philosophy is. Which makes sense in hindsight, because I gravitate to both of them.

The specific thing that got me was the responsibility of the actor.

Steve made a good point about the increasing accessability of filmmaking, which often gets touted as a good thing (and it is), but he opened my eyes to the fact that whereas it used to be actors and writers who evolved to become directors, now it is often technical folks who take that role, and may not have the same history and buy in and love for and respect of my craft.

I've lived that a bunch, but it took having it spelled out that let me get my arms around some of my (mercilously few) frustrating projects.

The flip side is this creates a need for more ownership, more responsibility for the actor.

As an example, a technical director, Steve said, will tell you what to do ("OK, at this point, you cry"); a seasoned director who loves and understands the craft will tell you what's happening, and let you create the emotion and the moment organically from that info.

But, if you're working with a technical director ("You. Cry now."), it's up to me as an actor to build up my backstory and home work in a way that makes that "do this" request real and believable and authentic.

Such responsibility. Such an important deal. And for me, so motivating.

Also, hanging out with my Meisner classmates, it felt cool -- closer, more intimate, more comfortable. That was unexpected. And nice.

And I ran in to a ton of folks (one or two of whom I'm afraid I'll forget to mention, but it was nice to see Lydia, Nikki, Errich, Mark, Richard, Angela, Lyn, Deana, Lauren, Rob (dude is going to be on SNL, which will make me start watching again), my incredible agent Heather Collier, Donise, of course Steve and Van (both need hugs if you see them; don't ask, do), and a great long conversation with Steve Muccini, who gave me one of my first jobs with Suicide: A Love Story.

Good night, and now I'm motivated to create.

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The Network Austin Mixer tonight at Mother Egan's

I'm heading down to The Network Austin Mixer at Mother Egans Pub.

You can catch my Meisner coach, Steve Prince, and my film coach, Van Brooks, both on the same night this Wednesday (July 26), 7 p.m. (but show up early). Come see them share about coaching and independent film.

Van's got a class afterwards and Steve's got some important stuff to get to, so please make it easy for those two to bail after they speak.

Hope to see you there!

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Good Meisner week ...

This was a good week on the Meisner class front.

Class Wednesday was tight. I think I was doubting my coach that we were going to be making huge strides each week. He showed me.

I felt change in the Wednesday class sessions, and Thursday's get together exercises with Marcus/Mark/Lidya/Erin had some absolutely amazing moments -- the connection kind of things that make acting so important to me.

I'm so thankful to be an actor, and to be practicing my craft.

The only downside was he called me out as a "Perfectionist" in class -- which is true -- but I doubt I've given him enough to make that determination, so I hope folks aren't talking out of school.

Two weeks done, 14 to go.

Oh, and you can catch my Meisner coach, Steve Prince, and my film coach, Van Brooks, both on the same night this Wednesday (July 26), 6 p.m. at The Network Austin Mixer at Mother Egans Pub.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Thoughts on Meisner so far

This week was the first Meisner class, and it's a bit of a change for me. Not an acting class, per se, it's about authenticity in emotion and communication, and matching emotional and acting levels for every performance.

Some of the things said or done that are sticking with me (not necessarily saying I agree):
  • "Drink the KOOL-ADE."
  • "My goal is to get your emotion and acting at the same level, and raise that level. The minute your acting at a level above your emotion, you're a liar. The minute your emotion is exceeding your level of acting, you're a liar."
  • "Questions aren't allowed."
  • We're supposed to figure out this Meisner thing on our own, interpret and articulate it based on the experience, and not by having us told what it is. Interesting. Hard, but interesting.
  • For me, "yes" means "yes", "no" means "no", and "maybe" means "maybe". I sometimes use "OK" to mean "Yes". "OK" is not acceptable answer for "yes" for my coach. He told me in no uncertain terms.
  • I will likely cry in this class. By "cry" I mean "blubber uncontrollably."

Huh ...

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

I survived ....

OK, so class wasn't as bad tonight as I worked it up to be in my head. Which would be my problem.

Lots to think about. I might do a bit of a blow-by-blow during the next 4 months, without giving away the coach's stuff for free on the Web (it's not mine to give, and that'd be a disservice).

More later.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm scared ...

Tonight, I start a new class.

It's a Meisner class.

The Meisner technique isn't so much about acting, as it is about stripping me down, breaking down walls that get in the way of authentic emotion, and being able to call on that emotion when needed.

So, why is it scary?

I'm fairly buttoned up. And by doing this class, I'm asking to be messed over. For four months.

I'm seriously grateful to Van Brooks and the Mastery for starting the change in my acting and my character (seriously, that weekend is a big reason why you'll even see me with my shirt untucked and occasionally a few days stubble). Meisner could make that weekend look like an emotional blip.

This class isn't an acting workout, and it's not a camera technique. It's emotional deconstruction.

So, why am I doing it?

I care about relationships. I care about authentic relationships. I need that authenticity with my self, so I can better know myself, and relate with and connect to the people I love, people with whom I interact, and my acting craft.

This is important. And it's scary.

What happens when the floodgates open?

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