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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, October 13, 2009

Free night with DAN FAUCI in Austin October 15th

So tomorrow (Thursday, October 15), Dan Fauci will be in Austin for a free evening, speaking on acting, creativity, and vision in your craft and career (followed by a Q&A).

Dan Fauci is a gift of a human being to the creative community. Besides being a past commercial, soap, theater, and film actor, he's the guy who started "The Mastery" acting intensive workshop, and created and teaches the successive "Leadership and Creativity" and "Into the Abyss" intensive weekend workshops, has his own production company(ies), and generally does whatever he can to help creatives get their work made.

It is seriously a friggin' big deal to get some time with Dan, so if you're in the creative space (in any form), I encourage you to go.

You can just show up at the event, but space is limited, so you may want to contact Van Brooks to assure yourself a spot. If you go because of this post, be sure to tell Van or Dan that.


When: Thursday, October 15th, 7:30-9:30 pm
Where: The Doubletree Inn, 6505 IH 35, exit 238A (Austin Room)
Other: Parking is free.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Other Side of Something Horrible

I haven't posted on the acting side in a while.

I've had good reason.

Here's the MP3 -- and remember, this is my "Ramblings" blog ...


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who says that?

One of the things I've been working on the last few months is -- at the core -- who I am as any given character. What I'm trying to do and how I do it may change throughout the project (or the scene, or the moment), but that should be layered on top of who I am as the character.

One of the things I don't like is watching a film and being struck with some version of, "She wouldn't do that."

So I started evaluating, trying to figure out what gets that reaction from me. Part of it is unrealistic circumstances created by the writing, direction, or editing, which arguably are outside the control of the actor. Other times, though, I'm realizing the disconnect occurs when the actor slips between why the character would do something, and why the actor would do something. In a couple of instances, it's because their was a switch between what the character in the current project would do, and what the actor had done as another character (or another character type) in a previous project that I suspect they were more connected to or comfortable with than the current moment's character.

So how do I avoid that? How do I find out that character core, that framework on which to hang my performance?

It's called a lot of things, but for me, it's come down to figuring out my character's "spine". Spine works so well for me as a metaphor, because it's the component of the body without which there isn't dynamic physical movement, it describes the moral character and attributes of a person, and it's the binding that holds a book -- the whole story -- together.

Early in my acting, I received a wealth of good coaching advice from my film coach Van Brooks. One of the pieces that stuck with me particularly was, "Don't judge your character". (The particular scene was me as a guy who may or may not have killed his ex-girlfriend.)

This came back to mind a few weeks ago when I was struggling with one line of dialog when getting ready for a cold read. My character said, "Darn" -- all by itself, in a cast-off way -- and it felt weird. The self-talk sequence that came to mind was bit like this:
  • "Darn"? He says "Darn"? Who says "darn"?
  • "Don't judge your character."
  • Who says, "Darn"? I do.

When I did the cold read, I nailed "darn". It wasn't punched, it was cast-off, I didn't think about it, and I sold it. My coach and peers called it out after the cold read as an example as to why selling the most insignificant word in a believable, organic way, creates good, unexpected moments.

Later in the evening (interestingly), my coach (Steve) had a discussion with all of us about weird dialog (someone else had some funky phrasing like "you're toast" that was causing similar trip-ups).

He actually even said, "Who says that kind of stuff? Your character does."

(Which was validating and freaky at the same time; he's in my head!)

So, one of my recent tools is I've stopped "judging" my character's dialog. That doesn't mean I don't try to figure out why he or she is saying what she's saying, and why it's being said at that time. But I shelf any useless judgements (like, "That sounds stupid", and so on). I can't replicate the "darn" by thinking about it, or trying to sell it. It works or it doesn't.

Oh, and a side-effect of not judging my character is I make more dangerous, interesting choices, which come through on the audition or cold read. ("Did I kill my ex-girlfriend? Yes, yes I did.")

Mheh. The process was more interesting as I worked through it than it probably reads here.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Living a care-free life ...

I haven't written about class recently. I need to talk about last week's epiphany about my character spine. Later I need to talk about that.

I want to talk about last night's class, because I had another of those "life equals acting" epiphanies.

The discussion was around being care free in our acting. Studying under Steve has given me a bunch of tools and applications geared toward getting me to be care free when I perform. (And I've touched on some of them before, but you're not going to get them here; get in class with someone of Steve's caliber.)

Anyway, the hard part about practicing to be care free is it puts it on the fore-front of my mind -- "mind" being that cerebral/intellectual killer of acting/being.

Steve doesn't want his students hung up on these tools and techniques (and, to be fair, a lot of these acting process steps are things he's figured out, so he's got a leg up on applying them more organically to his own process), so we've been doing things in class to help us become more care free.

Last night was one of those nights. And it was fun and inspiring, both when I was on stage and when other people were.

And what made my time (and the drive home, and thinking through the night, and this morning before things got all life wonky) especially good was my epiphany just before we finished prepping to go on stage:
I already work to live a care-free life. Acting is part of my life. That means I'm already working to be a care-free actor.
I don't mean I'm care free in a dysfunctional, character-disordered, disconnected kind of way. I've very much a planner and an executor, which on the professional side makes me great at doing both strategic and tactical work.

But I don't -- at home or at work -- worry about stuff.

There are a bunch of reasons. From a religious perspective, worry is a sin, it doesn't add any time to my life, today has enough worries of its own, yadda yadda yadda.

From a pragmatic perspective, what's worry going to get me? Honestly, best I can figure is an ulcer. Maybe even a bleeding ulcer. Yippee.

Taken to professional application, what makes me a great manager is I don't worry about managing. I'm ridiculously proactive about management -- personnel, risk, project, customer relationship, business recovery, whatever.

I build out a number of contingencies. I understand the impacts. I know what's allowable, and what's not. I communicate that to everyone. And I don't worry.

I still have tough, aggressive conversations with folks. Stakes are still high. I know I could lose customers, projects, or my job through no fault of my own; I don't worry about that. I worry about what could be my fault. And then when stuff does happen that is my fault (because it will), I take ownership, I fall back on one of my contingencies (fixes) for the situation, and I move one.

I once worked a project where someone walked into my office and said, "If anyone thinks this project is getting done, they're insane."

I sat down with him, we worked through the project, found out the project manager had been miss-representing things, and yep, anyone still wanting the project on the original cost, scope, and schedule was probably certifiable. So I articulated options, scenarios, and new cost, feature, and timeline considerations. And ended up getting negatively tagged and penalized. And I didn't worry (doing the work and and doing the right thing are incredibly freeing activities).

Understand, I work wicked hard at my job and in life. People who know me know I will fill any available time with doing stuff. Productive challenging fun stuff. It's my strength and my weakness.

And while I'm working with high stakes (corporate international mega-million dollars or personal relationship issues), I have fun; I laugh.

I bring a game console in to work for my development team and we blow off steam for a couple of hours (because if you can't spare the couple of hours, your project's already beyond in trouble).

I go catch a move for lunch to get creatively fed and reset and clear my head and be more productive when I hit the office.

But I don't worry.

It pours rain off and on for months on end and I can't get my lawn mowed and my neighborhood association might fine me and I don't worry. I mow my lawn when the chance opens up because I care about my neighbor, and if that chance doesn't open up until after I get a fine, so what? So I couldn't mow my lawn and someone was doing their job or was bored or was on a power trip? Not my issue. Not my worry.

Don't read this wrong -- I haven't "arrived". And there's a balancing acting between not worrying and being character disordered. And there are times when I worry, and have to have self talk (or a close accountability friend) reset me.

Kind of like when I have to get out of my head as an actor.

The main reason I wanted to study as an actor with Steve is I know I'm too careful as a person. I tend to do things right. But until last night, I didn't connect that I don't worry about getting things right.

So, the epiphany for last night was all the "right" stuff in life? Taken care of.

The acting opportunities? Networking with the right folks to get me the gigs I'm passionate about? Already happening. If the opportunities don't happen, it's not my shortcoming.

Auditions? I already know I carry myself professionally, know my lines, have my headshots, know the etiquette. So the audition, the callback, the freaking on-set scene is play time.

Work is done. Nothing to worry about.

And when I say "play time", I don't mean bounce a beach ball inanely for hours at a time. I mean no inhibitions other than what's ingrained and subconscious and I can break loose and do something important.

Last night, I had seven minutes to read a monologue I'd never seen, make some whacked out choices, and go. There was no way for me to memorize perfectly, so that wasn't a worry (though I surprised myself by still getting 80% of it, by not thinking about it).

The monologue was from a drug dealer. I did it with a debilitating stutter on Ts, Ks, and Gs, and a constant nervous bicep-rubbing-the-ear physical tick that nearly gave me rug burn.

Would you buy X from that guy? Maybe not (though I was pretty desperate in my stuttering, spastic plea).

Will you remember that guy who tried to sell you X?

Oh yeah.

And I wasn't worried about getting it right at all. For that moment, I was a care free actor.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free acting class in Austin

I've mentioned Van Brooks quite a few times. He's one of my film coaches, and he's doing a free one-night film and audition class for one night next week in Austin, TX.

So free up your Wednesday, September 5th 7:00 - 10pm if you want to "Work on-camera with a cold reading, get audition advice, and [attend a] Q&A about the business. It's also fine to just observe."

There's no obligation, and it's a good chance to check out the studio and Van's style and personality before his 12-week sessions start, and The Mastery workshop hits in October.

Shoot me a note if you need Van's contact info.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back in class

So, acting class started in July, then a session was cancelled, then I was in Cali, then I was sick flat on my back for two weeks, so tonight I was back in class. After a month out.

I enjoy class. Even when it's hard. I like to be on set, on mic, or in class all of the time. For me, acting's not like riding a bike. It goes away. And there are slumps. And my acting skills need constant use.

Tonight was kind of a "soft-in", which was good, because my voice is still shot.

Cold read stuff was what I was appropriately thrown into. Which I enjoy, and which I got kudos on, and I take encouragement from. But not for the obvious reason.

I'm a voice actor. Pretty much every voice over audition I do is a cold read. Plus mic technique. Plus creating the character with nothing but a voice.

I'm encouraged the skill showed up on camera tonight, and that I didn't stilt the physicality, the connection with the reader. Doesn't mean I won't have off cold reads later. But tonight, I didn't.

And it was so good to see my Meisner peeps again. I really care about those folks.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Good audition workshop today ...

I had a good audition workshop today with a seasoned casting director who's a recent LA-to-Austin transplant.

The workshop was limited just to my agency (and room capacity only allowed a subset of that), so it was nice to spend a day working with my agent and agency folks. The session itself was at Studio E, which I'd been meaning to check out for some time (Elizabeth Reeder was great).

The workshop was mostly open dialogue about what actors should and shouldn't do in auditions (mostly for episodic television, a smidge for film, and nary a peep for commercial), with a bit of cold reading auditioning and feedback at the very end.

All in all, a productive day with talented folks, I felt good about my cold read, and I left hungry for more.

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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

Self-portrait ...

Conceptual self-portrait of actor Adam Creighton.This is a self-portrait I did as part of my weekend "Into the Abyss" workshop.

I chose to go a wee bit conceptual. Think of it what you will.

And let me know your thoughts.

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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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"Into the Abyss" thoughts ...

I want to talk about the "Into the Abyss" workshop, and about what I tried for my monologue, but I keep getting interrupted by other things.

Like remembering two monologues in particular.

And this is not to detract from the other 30 people in the class, and I'm sure this will change depending on my mood, time of day, and further introspection, but I'm currently hit by two people.

Jessica Robertson and Melissa Rentrop. They are just two stunning, authentic, professional, organic people, and that's what comes out in conversations and performances. I'm blessed to have experienced their monologues.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

"Into the Abyss": Day 3

There's a lot to be said about today, and this weekend, but way too much to say easily briefly (or in a way that would do justice).

For now, I'm just enjoying being connected to such amazing, giving, talented human beings.

The other commentary can wait, and it's far secondary, anyway.

Oh, except for this. This is from my "Twitter badge o' the moment", but since the moment changes, I want to give this important thought some more time in the sun:

Twitter Badge from April 22, 2007: Jessica Roberson is one of the bravest actors I know.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Into the Abyss": Day 2

Today was Day #2 for the "Into the Abyss" workshop.

The day started with a brief, amazingly encouraging and generous conversation with Dan Fauci.

Today was about listening and seeing. And I got to apply leadership skills and new and important ways.

There are still way too many people in a single workshop for me, but one of the small group breakouts was rewarding and surprising and inspiring.

Tomorrow, we do "the work" ...

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Into the Abyss": Day 1

Just finished day one of the "Into the Abyss" weekend workshop. This is kind of the third in a series of workshops I've done over 4 years (first, "The Mastery"; then, "Leadership and Creativity"; now this).

Yeah, something called "Into the Abyss" isn't going to be dabbling. I feel pretty prepped because I'm knocking my teeth every week with Meisner training, but I am bound and determined to get observations and tools out of this weekend.

And I'm class with people I know and care about, and a bunch of folks who are new to me. Nice.

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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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Thursday, February 08, 2007

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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Saturday, January 27, 2007

No workshop today ...

Things happen for a reason.

Today I was supposed to be teaching an all-day workshop on marketing for actors.

For various legitimate reasons, attendance fell through at the end, and we decided to cancel the workshop.

Today, I woke up with a nasty sore throat and vision-impairing congestion.

But since I had planned to do an all day acting workshop, I'm now going to do all-day acting "stuff". I've already typed out a new monologue (lifted from the excellent Moon Knight relaunch), and I need to start some tax work and then do some shooting and animating.

It would be easy to have not written anything about the workshop not happening, and let it quietly go by.

But so what? I'm fine with it not happening. I know there's a desire for my stuff, so if it's meant to happen, it'll happen. Plus, now I've got this day carved out that I can fill with craft and biz stuff. And I'm telling you, so you can hold me accountable (if you're so inclined).

Good day, despite the sore throat/congestion thing.

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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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Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm teaching a marketing workshop!

Many of you have been asking about the posting that's showing up on multiple news groups and Websites.

Yes, it's true -- I'm teaching a marketing workshop. I've been busy the last several months (and especially over the holidays) helping folks with marketing their acting, collateral, business plans, Websites, and the like.

So, at the encouragement of my film coach and the Austin acting community, I'm doing workshop.

Below are the details (and if it goes well, there will be more of them):

Two Chairs Studio, 1701 East 6th Street, presents:

with Adam Creighton From beginner to working professional - how to market yourself and catch the attention of the people who need to know you.

From one of Austin's top CASTING DIRECTORS:

"Adam Creighton is one of the most professional, well-marketed actors I know. His creativity constantly gets my attention, and keeps him on my radar. I'm so impressed that I actually keep items he has created on the refrigerator in the office. I think of him constantly because his name and likeness is everywhere! And that's a really good thing!"

Donise L. Hardy, CSA
Casting Works LA

January 27th 10:00am til 6:00pm
Cost: $100 Limit 15 participants

Success in acting isn't just about performance - success comes from your talent, hard work, dedication over the long haul - and from MARKETING YOURSELF!!!

Join actor Adam Creighton as he shares how to achieve a new level of self-marketing in your acting business. Adam will detail specific examples that have worked for him, and how to apply techniques from professional careers to the world of acting. Here's what the workshop will cover:

  • Why marketing matters to you as an actor

  • Resumes and Headshots

  • 10,000 foot view of marketing

  • Marketing Collateral - What it is and how it works for you

  • Make it look professional!

  • Lessons from the Professional Career

  • Electronic marketing

  • Direct-mail marketing

  • Cards

  • Professional gift giving

  • Websites and Website critique

  • How to create opportunities for yourself

  • Q & A

For enrollment (or if you have questions) contact:

ADAM CREIGHTON is a working actor -- and an actor who markets the hell out of himself. "Hard-wired to be professional", Adam has found a way to consistently bring those skills into his acting, while always focusing on innovative ways to market himself and constantly stay in touch with what's happening with the business in Austin and elsewhere. Most recently, Adam was the lead in "Pray with Thanksgiving" (eleven72 Films) and you can see him this month on the NBC series "FridayNight Lights". He is represented by the Collier Talent Agency.

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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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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And now for something completely new ...

I don't typically make New Year's resolutions. This isn't one, but it is a new year, and it's time for a change.

Not in acting, per se. The change on the acting front (God willing), will be a leapfrog of greater, more productive, more amazing things this year than 2006. It will be continuing this ride with the incredible people I've been blessed to meet in the Biz, and meeting new incredible ones. Doing more work.

But the change I'm talking about is on the toy job front.

Bear with me for a little bit, and please realize this is not about self-aggrandizement.

And when I say toy job, I don't mean to demean the non-acting stuff. I give that stuff my focus on passion like I do other stuff in life. For the most part, I don't know how not to work hard at stuff I'm given to do.

Though I've been blessed with amazing opportunities over the last decade, I've ostensibly been in the same vertical market all that time, and I feel it's time for a change.

I'm really good at managing software/programs/services. I've migrated large-scale systems from one functional group to another, from one geography to another. I've worked in Rome (Italy, not Texas) and in mainland China. I've got software patents. I've built teams from the ground up, and said goodbye to them when I've taken on other opportunities (or they have). I've learned that my management style is professional and playful and collaborative and collegial. And that it's important -- for me -- to err on the side of honesty, but not transparency; diplomacy, but not politicking.

I've learned what's important to me in my management style is building people, rather than building things. I've learned to fight good fights for the right things. I've learned to let unimportant battles go.

I've learned all of that helps me build good, important things. And I have fun doing it.

I've learned that I have worth as a human being. And nothing I do (or don't do) takes away from my worth as a person. Who I am defines me, not what I do.

There is tremendous freedom in that. Freedom and knowledge and daring and responsibility. (I'm like Spider-Man.)

So it's time for a change. I got to thinking how once -- being basically a director for programs and services -- I was asked to step in and manage a physical remodel of BigHugeCorps' Austin offices. I did it with no knowledge of commercial construction on a ridiculously short time line with a shortage funds and a wealth of expectations. And I did it on time and under budget and gave them more and better stuff than for which they asked.

I'm an actor. I hadn't done that before. I also hadn't previously pitched a video game or TV show.

That and other stuff has me thinking, "Crap, I really can do a lot of different stuff."

Again, this is not about self-aggrandizement.

I could (and may) stay in the same vertical market, and (God willing) continue to be productive and successful and growing. Or, I could embrace that loving change side of me, and do something really, really different. Really big. Really exciting. Really scary.

I can't speak for other people, but for me it would be easier to stay in what I know. Be the senior guy. Work with the people I know, doing the same kind of stuff. Working with the knowns.

But how exciting would it be to do something I haven't done before? Become the newb (but not a n00b). Do something that takes my feet out from under me, makes me rely on the stuff I really know. Not the stuff related to BigHugeCorp, but the stuff I really know. The stuff that made me successful there. Before there. Hopefully after there.

The guts of my skills. The Core of me. What works, independent of where I'm officed (or cubicled, or streetcornered).

How cool would it be to work for a job that feeds my professional and my creative, my organized and my eclectic. That embraces my white collar process methodology comic book collecting video game playing and critiquing fly fishing recreational running ass whole-heartedly.

What if I turned my passion for playing and writing about video games into a career ("Hello, Electronic Arts")? What if my toy job was actually a toy job ("Hello, Hasbro")? What if I traded my desk job and computer in for a crow bar and tool belt, and moved to demolition or construction, because I love the physical labor, the wiping a pad clean for something new, or building that physical something new.

I've written all of this, knowing it could go nowhere. Maybe I won't find the "different stuff" that also takes care of the "life stuff." Maybe I'll be one of those people -- who for no fault of their own -- struggle in between gigs for a long time. Maybe I'll get cold feet.

I just know, right now, it's time for a change. It's time to be intelligent, but a little less careful. It's time to jump, not knowing where or when I'm going to land. With or without a parachute.

Ripcord ...

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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

Free class with Van Brooks this Saturday

Van Brooks is my film coach.

Under him, I've done The Mastery, Leadership & Creativity (with Dan Fauci), a couple of "Audition Intensive" weekends, a ton of advanced film acting classes, and, now, Samurai.

Want to see what he's all about? For free?

Van is doing one of his free classes this Saturday (Dec. 2) in Austin, from 12-3 p.m.

Check him out -- it's free. And he's good.

Need his contact information? Let me know.

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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, November 09, 2006

Samurai homework, last week and next

Yesterday was week #2 of my new Samurai acting "thing" (at freaking 7 a.m. each Wednesday morning).

Each week, we have "homework" (like any acting class, but different).

Here was last week's homework:

  1. Pull together all my notes from the last several months for my "Project X", put those into episodes (ooh, another clue!) so that every one is outlined (if not written), and I know where the gaps are.
  2. Raise my standards for the next 5 weeks. I need to come up with what I will do to explicitly accomplish a list of things that are more and bigger accomplishments than I have ever done creatively in a 5 week period.
  3. Write down a list of patterns I have that stop me from getting stuff done.

Here's how I did on stuff:

"Project X":

I so exceeded this, and I am re-energized about the project. I pulled stuff together, and found I had around 27 episodes, and they're all now outlined, and some are fully written. In addition, I wrote treatments for three new episodes, and created a framework for the entire project, and got a lot of that filled in (budget, resources, marketing/distribution needs, etc.). I am stoked to get booking on this again.

What I'm going to get done in the next 5 weeks:

Here's my list; clearly, I'm insane.

  1. Be less careful
  2. Wall in my home office / studio
  3. Set up my audio studio equipment
  4. Set up "Project X" Website (main)
  5. Set up "Project X" Website (process/fan)
  6. Complete the trailer and 3 episodes of "Project X" (write, storyboard, VO, shoot, post-production, and distribution)
  7. Do something new and exciting in my toy job career
  8. Write formal treatments for all of my projects (12)
  9. Write treatment for an idea I’ve been avoiding
  10. Write and perform stand-up during an open mic night
  11. Finish another run of demo CD business cards
  12. Add "Tools" section for my Website
  13. Redo my Website
  14. Read the Game Producers Handbook
  15. Write more features analyzing the game industry
  16. Write letters of recommendation for everyone that’s worked for me, I’ve worked for, and worked with
  17. Write my video game proposal
  18. Write a business plan for a new endeavor about which I'm thinking
  19. Install and compile sample games with XNA game studio
  20. Spend more time with family
  21. Run three times a week
  22. Go fishing (fly fishing)
  23. Install ceiling fans throughout my house
  24. Do some rewiring in my house
  25. Clean out my garage and organize my office and utility room
  26. Get a new dishwasher, since the built in blows chunks (literally)

Patterns in which I'm stuck:

  1. My need to be right
  2. My need to get it right
  3. My need to be careful
  4. Doing things on my own, and not asking for help
  5. Being cut off from my heart
  6. Toy job commitments
  7. Laziness/Procrastination
  8. Multi-tasking is costing my focus on things that may require focus
  9. Lack of sleep
  10. Am I doing too much?
  11. Am I giving up the right things?
  12. Caffeine?
  13. Guilt about what I’m not getting done

For this week's homework, I'm supposed to do a couple of things:

  1. Keep adding to our "Things to get done list"
  2. Spend more time on my craft than I spent last week, and document it to share next week.

#2 is hard for me, because I try to spend 40 hours a week on acting and related stuff, in addition to my full-time toy job. This is already a struggle, and with other recent life happenings, I think my showing next week is really going to suck.

But whatever -- it is what it is.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I am a samurai ...

I think I may be masochistic.

I have been working so hard for so long to not be comfortable, that I really feel out of my head at times. Which makes me feel alternatively snappy and euphoric. Sometimes bitchy, sometimes loopy.

The latest in this "make-myself-better-by-making-myself-uncomfortable" is Samurai -- a ... thing ... geared toward making me a more creative person.

Started by Dan Fauci in New York, Samurai is a weekly, early morning, actor get together, that's not an acting workshop. It's geared toward (minimally) alumns of the The Mastery, and most of us are Leadership and Creativity grads as well. Explicitly, it's purpose is to
"Find, clarify, and operate out of my purpose in life."
Lofty yes. Ostensibly this means a weekly meeting and constant touchpoints with all participants to drive our creativity, support our goals, and hold each other accountable to get more things done as artists than we've done previously.

Lofty? Yes. Scary? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Exciting? Hell yes.

We meet from 7 to 9 a.m. in downtown Austin. so getting up at 5:30 a.m. to fight IH-35 traffic from Round Rock is definitely out of my sleep and patience comfort zone. (There are so many people on the road at that hour -- and they all have a story, they all have a purpose. How cool is that?)

This Samurai session is led by Van Brooks, my film coach and Dan Fauci protege, and he's called this the kind of "mini sissy version of Samurai" -- because the NY version is twice a week, and getting there in New York is likely more cumbersome than even Round Rock to 6th street (not to minimize my sacrifice at all).

Each week, I'm going to have make creativity commitments to the group. And I will commit to specific people that I will ask their help to hold me accountable -- not passively wait for their holding me accountable.

I'm going to learn to operate not out of my head (how I currently operate), and not operate out of how I feel (how most people operate), but operate out of what I see. Which implies I need to learn how to see better.

Speaking of which, between Dan Fauci, Van Brooks, and Steve Prince, I am seeing so freaking much lately that it's kind of overwhelming. More on that some other time.

I am supposed to break patterns, because "patterns are justification for the now" -- a way I keep myself in a loop not necessarily all that conducive to growing, creating, and being authentic.
So my "homework" for this week from the session:
  1. Pull together all my notes from the last several months for my "Project X", put those into episodes (ooh, another clue!) so that every one is outlined (if not written), and I know where the gaps are.
  2. Raise my standards for the next 5 weeks. I need to come up with what I will do to explicitly accomplish a list of things that are more and bigger accomplishments than I have ever done creatively in a 5 week period.
  3. Write down a list of patterns I have that stop me from getting stuff done.
Awesome stuff. Maybe I'll share that homework. Maybe I'll leave you in the dark.

Though, I think I'm waaay more tired than I would expect a Samurai to be. And I'm jittery from sucking down waaay too much coffee.

Between this and Meisner happening at the same time (and the same day), I'm either going to become a much better creative person, or a much bitchier creative person. Maybe both. I'm that diverse.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Updates to my resume

It's been a busy month, but I shouldn't let things like this slide.

I've updated my online resume with film credits for Thanksgiving and The Torture Room (that's either an odd or apropos juxtaposition); the Centex Destination Properties industrial; and the Dan Fauci workshop.

Good month ...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Third day of the Dan Fauci workshop

I'm going to have to write a bunch more about this whole weekend later.

It was weekend that took me to a new place, and I'm realizing some new things about me. Or at least things I thought weren't true, but are. Or some things that I thought were true, but aren't.

Yeah, that kind of weekend.

But, briefly, I was reminded of the #1 thing I learned from The Mastery a year and a half ago:
Everyone has a story. Everyone.
And if I don't think about that while talking to people and trying to connect and see what they want, I'm missing a big chunk of who they are.

I learned a provocative conversation I thought would be "weird" was totally comfortable, fun, and really educational. (But what happens in the workshop, stays in the workshop.)

I was reminded that words are powerful, especially when totally devoid of a judgement or opinion. I learned we are all amazing writers.

I learned though I don't define my worth by what I do or what's said about me, I've got some pretty deep needs as far as words of affirmation.

I learned people I arrogantly thought I'd "figured out" (that "reductionism of the individual" I try to avoid), will surprise me in big, shockingly beautiful ways.

And I learned this weekend that my heart is still down there, and I'm not totally disconnected with it.

I think I'm finally starting to be OK with hugging again, too. What is that, 13 years? Yeesh.

Enough for now. Hopefully more later.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Second day of the Dan Fauci workshop

Today (Saturday) was rough.

First, I'm freaking exhausted, because I was working on toy job stuff until 3 a.m., then got up at 6 a.m. to fulfill my commitment to Dan that I would wake up early. I went running. There was a lot of Doors music on the radio, which was good.

Second, I'm still doing the "get-out-of-my-confort-zone" thing of not taking control or voicing opinions (which is really against my nature). While yesterday this made me want to climb out of my skin, today it was like an internal sandpaper irritation. Probably because I was freaking exhausted.

Finally, the "mini-Mastery" portion of the day was intense for me. My "In-the-chair" time was very interesting to me. I was struck with my responsibility side of this, and my desire to get awesome actress Tiffany to stop acting and get more "real" was really heartfelt, but maybe mis-implemented. Dan, thankfully, stepped in. And Tiffany was a great sport.

Waaaay later in the evening, it was my turn on the floor.

I did a piece from William Shatner ("What Have You Done"), which I'd personalized for me. My first read was rough; it didn't feel rough, but the response told me it was off. But this is why I picked it: The wording is tough, and the subject matter is tough.

I was playing prep for the second round too safe, and Dan opened my eyes. I had not wanted to mime much of the piece (so as not to devalue it), but he showed me my responsibility to create the space and get specific things visualized for the audience. And though I knew I had to take accountability for the events in the piece, Dan crystalized it for me. So simple.

Why is it lately my biggest moments wind up with me hyperventilating or needing to through up (but not throwing up).

Oh, and "In-the-chair" (and Meisner) cohort Lyn Burnor was so supportive. She said she started to panic when she saw me emotionally derail and need help, but I couldn't tell. Her voice was calm, clear, and got me centered again. She's another Biz Chica I'm blessed to know.

Now, more toy job stuff, then up early to do the same before class.

And, yes, 28 people is still too many to have in this workshop ....

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

First night of the Dan Fauci workshop

I started a 3-day workshop tonight on "Creativity and Leadership", led my Dan Fauci, the guy who created The Mastery Weekend Intensive, and Van Brooks, my Mastery (and film) coach.

I was told to have no expectations for the class, but I do, and that kind of screwed me tonight.

Given where I am my Meisner training, tonight had few to no "Ah ha!" kind of moments.

I feel like I should be starting with Day 2.

Not that tonight was in any way a waste. There are 28 beautiful attendees, and they all have so much to offer and share and work through -- and I really dig getting to know people, and weekends like this force me (and them) to work through relationships at more than a superficial level.

Not that that's easy. We're all supposed to do something that's outside of our comfort zone. I'm really comfortable being a leader and stepping in and driving forward.

Which I didn't tonight. I put all of my attention on other people and other things and nearly climbed out of my skin 5 or 6 times as mob rule derailed what the evening was about, or people got on powertrips, or whatever. But those are probably "just my judgements talking".

My Meisner coach, Steve Prince, has great advice for me taking any class: "Drink the Kool-Aid."

So I'm drinking it. And smiling.

And now I need to do homework from the workshop and go to bed, because I mentioned to Dan one of my hangups is I'm not a morning person, which led to a commitment from me to Dan to get up at 6 a.m. and go running. I'm sure I'll have uncharitable thoughts about him. And not so much smiling.

Oh, but there are too many people in this class. 28. I was told no more than 20, and 28 is too unwieldy. Another judgement, with which I'm sticking, because that expectation was set for me.

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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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