New Agent!

Hi everyone,

As you’ve seen, I now have a new commercial agent, Robertson/Taylor Agency. They were one of my top ten commercial agents to be signed with and now I am. I also got a theatrical agent meeting but we had different career philosophies, so I decided not to sign with them. You can’t let desperation rule your choice of representation. I also did my campaign for managers and I am in the midst of my Equity theatres across America campaign. The more hiring people who know me, the better.

In other news, the reading of La Famille, Episode 2 is happening on Zoom on Saturday, October 17, at 2pm on Zoom (of course). And the link to the event is: https://www.facebook.com/events/663378994561016 You will find the link to the reading of Episode 1 on that blog post. And also on the new CactusFlowerPictures.com where you can see my short films in their entirety (also available on YouTube.com but more fun to watch on my site!). I’ve never had a website for my production company before. So please get in touch there too as I also offer writing services.

I really want the pandemic to end soon and hope our next election is not a disaster. The arts and film production are really affected right now and we need all the hope we can get.

Back To Set

Hi everyone,

As you may have heard, film and TV production is starting up again in LA. Of course, there are many regulations for Covid-19 and you have to test every three days if you’re working on set. I got to be a featured extra on the new series, For The Love Of Jason, which will be streaming on UMC in November. Here is an article with more info on Deadline: https://deadline.com/2020/08/amc-networks-umc-male-dating-drama-trell-woodberry-1203021940/

That means my SAG vouchers are up to 2. (One of them I thought I had didn’t count because the pay was deferred.) It does take several weeks to process official vouchers. You can also check eligibility on the SAG website or call them to confirm.

There Will Be Changes

Hi everyone,

How are you holding up? I really can’t wait for this pandemic to end. I’ve done some more self-tapes and I’m getting the hang of things. I’ve been using my computer to tape myself and then tidying it up in iMovie. And my tripod are the plastic storage tubs that double as shelves and tables in my apartment. Pretty funny.

Well, I took the leap and decided to get business coaching for actors. I’ve been wanting to be more effective and do business smarter. I joined The Actors Think Tank program with Jodie Bentley. I had a free consultation with her and she was simply amazing. Jodie looked at all my materials and gave me pointers on what I need to work on. Check out her website at https://www.jodiebentleycareercoach.com/ You can sign up for the program like I did or do a series of one-on-one coaching sessions.

I am officially getting new headshots next week so you’re going to see the new and improved Anna brand images. I’m making some changes to market myself better and get those awesome jobs I deserve. And then I’m going to get back on the agent/manager campaign. We’re going across the board here!

Days Of Auditions Past

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all staying healthy, wearing your masks, and keeping up that social distancing.  As an introvert who often has to take breaks from dealing with people, it’s not so hard for me to keep my social distance, but it gets lonely after a while.  I don’t get to hug anyone!  Except my Mom because I am once again with my parents and this time I’m in Arizona.  More later about what I’ve been up to.

What I really wanted to share today were some funny and cringe-worthy audition stories, inspired by an article about different celebrities sharing crazy audition stories.  And also because in-person auditions will not be resuming any time soon.

Here we go:  When I graduated from college, I moved back home to the Portland/Vancouver area because I was afraid of LA.  I finally had my chance to audition for one of the big Equity theatres and I was so excited!  I went to sign up as a non-union person for a slot and came back for my audition time.  I chose a very shouty, angry monologue about a girl complaining about how her mother loves everyone more than her and part of Someone To Watch Over Me, eight bars as they had asked.  I had already e-mailed the company manager about how to break into theatre, so I knew him somewhat.  I walked in to audition for him and shouted through that monologue playing the anger and not the story.  And when it came to the singing, I started and then stopped the pianist, walked over to the piano, looked at the music, and then restarted.  I might have even apologized.  I knew immediately that I had bombed.

I once auditioned opposite a puppet for a web series.  I knew the series involved a puppet, but I had no idea I’d literally be auditioning with it with the creator doing the voice.  I had to give lines that were just absurd considering the set up.  It was about the woman telling the puppet that she had had a child from a one-night stand with him that he never knew about.  Also, it was in his home.

I auditioned for an interpretive dance version of Carmina Burana in the little town of St. Helens, Oregon, also right after college.  I hadn’t taken a dance class since first year of college, so I was rusty.  The director told me to choreograph my own dance on the spot and I flopped about having no clue what to do.  I decided that that show was way too weird of an idea, so that I wouldn’t accept it if he cast me, and he never called.

I auditioned for a summer theatre program when I was 19 and I did Desdemona’s “My Noble Father Speech” kneeling and talking to a chair.  It was a musical theatre program.  I did sing too, but I can’t remember what I sang.  And I auditioned for a theatre program after college performing the Miss Malaprop speech and another weird speech.  I didn’t do either very well.  The program head who auditioned me essentially made fun of me and asked if I had asthma and why did I yawn with my hand out like I did.  I got a rejection letter telling me to take acting classes at a community college because I wasn’t ready for their program.  I had a theatre degree.

Another really weird experience was when I auditioned via table read for a children’s musical in the writer/producer/director’s apartment.  I was reading for a British Sheep Dog wondering why I even decided to do this.  The whole set up was really creepy and amateur and the dialogue was awful.  When he and his assistant director told me right after that I was cast on the spot, I told them no and they insisted on me telling them why not.  I said I didn’t want to be part of it and that I didn’t like it.  He replied, “Well, you have to start somewhere.”  And I walked out saying, “I’ve already started.”  And I ran straight down those stairs and out to my car.

I got a rejection letter from the Brown University MFA program stating that I was “unacceptable for [their] program” and then the regular rejection message under that.  Two years later, I was chosen out of 4 candidates from the US to be in the post-graduate program at Drama Studio London.

What have we learned from these experiences? We do not talk to chairs.  Use age-appropriate material.  Do not stop your audition unless it’s an emergency.  Trust those instincts.  Desperation makes you do dumb things.  You can improve.  Acting coaching does wonders.  You don’t have to work with people who don’t respect you.  And puppets make funny co-stars, so do macaques.

From the Anna Archives

Hi all,

I’m participating in the Bramon Garcia Braun 10 Day Actor’s Challenge for Letting Go and part of the challenge is to do an acting exercise each day and after making a self-tape for a comedy pilot (I just might book that!), I decided that my acting task for the day was to look over my old self-tapes and see how I’ve done.  I really cringed at the older ones that had me constantly looking at the script and my facial tics and unnecessary arm gestures.  I often punctuate my words with my hands and make “fish lips” (not as adorable as that sounds!)  I can’t show my most recent self-tape because the project hasn’t even finalized casting yet.

Here is one of my first self-tapes for the ABC Diversity Showcase.  Now, why would pasty little me audition for this?  Because I’m a woman.  I am sharing this to demonstrate how much I’ve improved.  I was really nervous and it showed, and I also looked at my sides constantly.  Ever since taking Chris Game’s How To Book Everything Class, I have sworn to memorize the sides for every audition and minimize the silly gestures.

Next up is a much more recent video of my doing a scene from the one-camera comedy series, “Kevin From Work,” in Chris’  class doing a much better job and being really funny.  Completely memorized, not really nervous, and minimized silly extra movements.

Of course, we can all get better at auditioning, especially self-tapes.  Many projects request self-tape auditions and I’m glad to have the resources to do them, but I always prefer in-person auditions because I can meet the production team.

New Headshots and Demo Reel

I finally got new headshots this summer!  I had gotten feedback on my previous set that the photos made me look older and it caused my now former commercial agent to send me out on auditions for women much older. (Yes, I was put on the drop list in May.  I’m still broken up over it.)  So, this time I wanted headshots that make me look as youthful as I am.  These photos are by Renee Farias.  I also re-configured my demo reel with the Super Break-Up footage and took out the old photos.  I am listing them all below and they are also on the Photos and the Demo And Singing Links page (the song clips are new too!).

Super Break-Up

Hi all,

You might remember that pre-quel short that I said I was going to film.  I announced it on Twitter and all over Facebook.  Well, here comes Super Break-Up: the story of how Amelia, Goddess of Discord’s, first boyfriend broke up with her over her powers because no man wants to die if they tick off their woman.  Amelia can instantaneously destroy anything she wants and has complete control over time.  I don’t know when The Go-Girls feature will become a reality, so this is what you get until then.  I actually filmed this in February.  David L. Peters was my director/cinematographer and the majorly awesome Mark Needle was the 1st AD, Grip, Boom Handler, and Editor.  And he also bought the pizza.  (I thank the pizza delivery person in the credits.)  Richard Arzola so graciously composed the music for Imdb credit.  Veteran actress Athena Massey kindly let us borrow her gorgeous house in Calabasas for filming. The short was part of the Show Your Shortz event at Flappers Comedy Club and Mark’s retrospective screening of his projects past and present.  You can check out his work at My Extraordinary Productions.

So here is the full short available on YouTube and Vimeo:

Actress Mind Taffy

Hi all,

Let me start with some good news.  Go on over to my IMDb page to find out about my first foray into being a 1st AD: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5356965/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1  The feature is set to film in November.  I’ll definitely need to read up on my Tony Bill film set terminology.  In all seriousness, I’ve been on a number of sets and produced short films, so I have a solid idea of how to be a great 1st AD.

And now into the main topic of the blog post: the actress mind taffy I’ve had to contend with, namely varying opinions on pursuing Union work for little Non-Union me.  I’ve encountered the SAG old-garde who want to make sure that the Union is only filled with “qualified members” and that being Union is the only way to be called a professional.  There is also the attitude that there are so many qualified Union people, that Non-Union people shouldn’t take their jobs or even submit because they aren’t “professional” and will just waste the casting director’s time.  I thought we were all supposed to be on the same team.  Let’s remember that Unions are about fair pay and working conditions, not whether someone thinks you deserve it.  One wonderful acting teacher told me that the gigs are all “lottery tickets.”  And don’t forget all the people who Taft-Hartleyed themselves before the budget requirement on New Media.  Is someone going to take away their membership because they didn’t “earn it?”  I certainly wouldn’t!  Rise anyway you can, my colleagues!  Unions rise and fall based on contributions to the pension, and the more members the merrier.

There was a long e-mail chain post 15 years ago in the Oregon Actors Yahoo groups about what constitutes a professional.  Yes, anyone can call themself an actor, but no one gets to arbitrarily decide who gets to do that.  Anyone who has been doing it for 15 years like yours truly and has trained ridiculously with a Post-Graduate Certificate in acting from British drama school, deserves some respect you’d think.  (Writer/Producer also!)  I’m not just sitting here doing nothing.  But I’m grouped by default with that kid from Ohio who just one day decided to pursue acting.  And that really hurts.  One retired Oregon casting director many years ago gave me a long speech about buses of wannabes coming to LA every week and essentially not to think I’d ever make it or think I’m something special.  Well-meaning veterans say things to the younger crowd (or those who don’t age) in an effort to give them what they believe to be true, but it’s really discouragement and that just makes life harder.

I’ll go back to drinking tea now and petting my imaginary cats.

Why SAG-AFTRA Is So Awesome

Here is a wonderful response I received from SAG-AFTRA about my query about Non-Union performers being hired for Union projects:
Hello Anna,
Thank you for your email. We do not have restrictions on non-union performers auditioning for union projects but certain projects do prefer to only hire union performers. This is a personal preference for the production. Working on union projects is how people become eligible to join, so we aren’t as restrictive with non-union performers working on projects. There is often extra paperwork for productions if they hire non-union performers so sometimes that can factor into their decision.
I’m adding our list of requirements for becoming eligible below, just so you have all the information available on this topic. Additionally, there is a process called “Employment Verification” for performers who have been in low-budget new media projects, ultra-low budget films, student films, student commercials or short projects. This is different from eligibility in that there are no grace periods, you cannot list yourself as SAG-E or SAG-AFTRA eligible with any agencies or managers, and a performer must be prepared to join as soon as their employment is verified. This can work different for New Media/Short Projects and Ultra-low budget/student projects. Please let us know if you have been involved in any of these lower-budget projects so we can best direct you.
Eligibility
 A performer must meet one of the following requirements to join the union:
A. One (1) day of employment in a principal or speaking role (actor/performer) or as a Recording Artist.
OR
B. Three (3) days of employment as a SAG-AFTRA (or SAG or AFTRA) covered-background performer at full SAG-AFTRA rates and conditions.
OR
C. Any covered job on the staff of a radio or TV station or network covered by an SAG-AFTRA or AFTRA
contract.
OR
D. Union Affiliation – Performer is a paid up member of an affiliated union for one year and has worked as a principal in that union’s jurisdiction. Affiliated unions include Actors’ Equity, ACTRA, AGMA and AGVA.
Please Note:
1. Eligibility does not expire.
2. Ultra Low Budget, Student, or Short Films do not qualify towards SAG-AFTRA eligibility.
3. Potential Broadcast Members should contact the National Broadcast Department or their Local for information on joining.
4. Potential Sound Recording Members should contact the Sound Recording Department or their Local for information on joining.

Should a production fail to submit eligibility paperwork on your behalf, you can self-submit the documentation. To confirm your eligibility, please submit one of the following:

· Original Paycheck Stubs – The paycheck stubs must indicate date(s) of employment, performer’s name and social security number, production title, signatory company and wages paid.
· Performer Contract – The original contract with the performer’s name and social security number, date(s) of employment, production title, signatory company and wages paid.
· Payroll Printout – The payroll printout will include the performer’s name and social security number, date(s) of employment, production title, signatory company and wages paid.
Background vouchers and copies of paycheck stubs are not acceptable as proof of work. Submitting these types of documents will delay SAG-AFTRA verification eligibility.
In addition to enclosing proper eligibility documentation, you will need to include a separate piece of paper with the following information:
· Professional Name
· Current primary address
· Current telephone numbers
· Date of birth
· Place of birth (city & state)
· Social security number
· Gender
· Signature
A self-addressed stamped envelope must also be included so the documents can be returned to you. Once verification is completed, the performer will receive a letter of eligibility from SAG-AFTRA.
PLEASE NOTE: It takes the Membership Department 5 – 7 business days to verify the submitted eligibility documents.
Mail documents to:
SAG-AFTRA
Membership Services Department
5757 Wilshire Blvd. 7th floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Attn: Membership Services/Eligibility
Please make copies of the documents for your records before submitting them to SAG-AFTRA.
Should you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.