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!
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.
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.
Happy Mother’s Day! I made sure to call my Mom today because I love her so much. We’ve really become friends as well as mother and daughter.
Today’s blog title comes from one of the panels that I attended at the Film in California Conference two weekends ago. The event was held at LA Center Studios and has been going on for many years. The keynote speaker was the amazing actor, Courtney B. Vance, who got his start in professional theatre. I needed to go home early due to a conference call for the 48-hr Film Challenge team that I was chosen for. I was one of many actors so I will have to hear if the script they write for the competition has an acting role for me. Whatever happens, I will help them out any way they need. As you’ll recall, I’ve been on three 48-hr film challenge teams, including the IFP Phoenix 48-hr Film Challenge from which Business Casual came. Well, the second panel I attended that day was about women who work behind the scenes. The panel included TV director Millicent Shelton, cinematographer Loren Yaconelli, Chief Creative Officer Rachel Shane, and veteran Production Designer Jeannine Oppewall, who all talked about being a woman in the industry and how they have made their mark in male-dominated positions. I really loved when in response to the question about who inspired them, Jeannine Oppewall responded that she was her best support and motivation back when she was one of the few female production designers. She also said that every morning she “zipped on [her] alligator skin,” which is a motto I need to use from now on. The industry will be tough and I’ve got to just push through. While I have never wanted to have a technical position, I can certainly take my inspiration and motivation from any of the veteran ladies in the industry. There was also a panel for the Amazon series, Bosch, which is exclusively filmed in and around Downtown LA. It sounded like an interesting cop series, which my Mom would love if she had an Amazon subscription. My parents now have a Netflix subscription, which can have additional users, so now I can watch anything on Netflix! Unfortunately, The Handmaid’s Tale is on Hulu so I can’t watch that right now. And there were exhibitors from every county of California with free cookies, chocolate, phone chargers, and even popcorn. Of course, I also picked up the brochures and business cards even though I have no idea how I’m going to film in San Francisco.
This past week I auditioned for Mary Poppins at Glendale Centre Theatre and I got a dance callback, but I haven’t heard if I was cast yet. I’ve gone on EPAs for other theatre productions and no news from them yet. I will be sending in a self-tape audition for a staged reading of a brand new play in Louisville, Kentucky, which will be in June. And I have another self-tape for a table reading of a pilot that I procrastinated on. Then, I had an audition for a paid short film yesterday for the cutthroat CEO/Agent in a Black Mirror/Westworld type of world. I did have an acting teacher say I had an extreme casting. So, I’ve got some auditions right now but I hope for bigger, Union bookings on recognizable TV shows, plays, musicals, and films. I’m praying to God double time to make it all work out.
Well, that was a long gap in posts. How are you all doing? It’s Spring Break but I haven’t slowed down at all. It’s crazy that when I’m vacation from the day job, I still have so much to do. I just auditioned for the relaunched Reprise Theatre cast by Michael Donovan Casting. I briefly met Michael when my Acting Business class in college had a commercial presentation at his office. We learned about commercials and got to even try reading copy boards and improvising on-camera. Speaking of commercials, I’ve had several commercial auditions since January but not the past two weeks. I even got to audition for a Google ad. We also sometimes get voiceover requests. The only booking I have gotten in the past few months is background on a Cisco commercial, that I got myself from Actors Access. That’s the only site I usually get auditions from, except those I get through my agent on Casting Networks. I also auditioned for a student film for Mount St. Mary’s University held at Sunset-Gower Studios yesterday. A friend of mine recently had an audition for a series regular and has booked a few co-stars before that. I wish I had his luck. I’m considering using the representation finding service through Actors Access/Breakdowns Express to obtain theatrical representation and a manager. My only manager meeting was not what I wanted. I’m specifically looking for someone who believes in me auditioning for Union projects and doesn’t insist I keep working non-union jobs that don’t have consistent pay, protections, and residuals. I can work a few more non-union projects, but that doesn’t pay the bills. This is in regards to theatrical projects; my commercial auditions are taken care of. I also did a large mailing this week of postcards and three headshots and resumes. I’m doing one last push before Pilot Season ends. I know many people say that a non-theatrically represented non-union person like me has no hope of obtaining a pilot audition, but I don’t care. No famous person ever said they didn’t go for something before they became successful because they weren’t union yet or didn’t have the credits or even the agent. So I have no idea where this attitude came from. And many people mean well when they say it, but it doesn’t help me to place limitations on what I want or tell me it isn’t possible.
I once again auditioned for my favorite outdoor (and sometimes indoor) Shakespeare company and then went to Las Vegas for my birthday. (Happy Birthday to me!) I also recently took an amazing Shakespeare Monologue class with veteran Shakespearean actor, Joseph Culliton, and we had a student showcase last week. And I’m auditioning for the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival on Saturday. I’m bringing my Cordelia.
The weekend after this, I am attending the Supermentors Showrunner Summit hosted by Marc and Elaine Zicree, the founders of The Table of which I’m a member. I am hoping for solid connections and good things to come from it. The showrunners will have me in the same room as them for two whole days straight.
Well, Happy Easter! I need to get back to work. (Or maybe go to the beach.)
As you’ve probably noticed, that one producer is no longer on the project. Sometimes you encounter people who want to make it their show and don’t have your best interests at heart. Well, onward the Go-Girls go! I have cast all the other roles. Special thanks to Film Independent for the use of their space for casting! I have some really exciting and accomplished people acting in the project. I am currently finalizing the funding plans and have filed federally and in CA to accept investors. Please check out the website at www.gogirlsfilm.com. If you’re not an accredited investor, you will be able to contribute to the funding campaign shortly once I figure out the best way to do that.
In acting news, I got a callback for a national brand commercial the week before last. This is exciting because I currently don’t have an agent and it’s my first callback with an LA casting director. I continue to submit to agents and connect with casting directors. And I also recently completed the Soap Opera Intensive with Bob Lambert, Casting Associate for Days of Our Lives. He will be teaching the class again on April 20. Please visit www.actingupnetwork.com for details. You will love his class as it takes you through auditions to preparing a final scene for a screen test. He even loves my headshot! Basically, you should go to the Acting Up Network site period because they are always having industry seminars and at least two ongoing scene study classes. Jodie, the head of the company, is so awesome! I am also attending an exclusive TV taping this week with the Film Funding Club, a group of people who produce films or would like to produce films (like me!). Nancy Fulton is the head of the group and she has many seminars, events, and extremely useful articles. You can find her contact information and more about her services at NoBetterFriend.com.
Oh, and I’m taking ballet classes again with Align Ballet Method. You can learn ballet too in a really supportive environment (of course, you can’t automatically get the 14+ years experience I have!). Go to AlignBalletMethod.com.
Basically, that’s what’s going on right now. I’m singing in the church choir for the Holy Thursday mass, going to Good Friday service, and singing Easter Sunday! Yes, I’m that Catholic.
It’s been two months since the last post and I’ve been so busy! I will be casting the other roles before beginning the crowdfunding campaign and contacting investors. I’m a Filmmaker Pro Member of Film Independent, which you can also be for $250 per year. On that note: the site for Film Independent is http://www.filmindependent.org, where you can find out about membership, events, film grants, and filmmaking labs in screenwriting, documentaries, producing, etc. You need to apply and be accepted for the labs. My membership also includes two free casting sessions. I’ve already used my producer session perk. So, my task in the next two days is to contact potential actors for the remaining roles (I’m Amelia, of course!).
I am still auditioning for all the Equity theatres I can and I hope to get cast somewhere soon. The next two ones are Independent Shakespeare Company and Theatricum Botanicum. I’ve started volunteering for ISC and completed my first session last night for a screening of the documentary, Still Dreaming, about a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Lillian Booth Retirement Home for Actors. I had a wonderful time and the film was engaging and charming.
Recently, I got to see my acting teacher, Kevin McCorkle, in White Guy on the Bus with The Road Theatre Company and everyone was brilliant! You have got to go see it. It deals with some pretty heavy topics, so be prepared. The show plays Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm through March 18. http://www.roadtheatre.org/white-guy-on-the-bus-at-the-road-on-magnolia/
Next up classwise, I am taking a 3-week soap opera workshop with veteran casting director, Bob Lambert, and I am so excited! I am also attending the free industry seminar hosted by Billy Damota and Dea Vise at Acting Up Network on March 10. March 10 is also my birthday and since my Grandpa joined my Grandma in Heaven, I’ve been celebrating by myself. Check out Acting Up Network for great classes and seminars: http://www.actingupnetwork.com. Jodie, the head of the company, is one of the best people to know in the industry.
And the last piece of news is that I have a commercial audition this Tuesday via Skype, which should be interesting since I’ve never done an audition through my computer before. I keep pushing forward with my marketing, classes, and connecting. I’ve also gotten back into ballet classes and I really want to take more than just a class per week. I need to back up my special skills section on my resume.
I’m visiting home this coming week! First off, I was wondering how many people are reading this blog. I don’t receive many comments about the posts. I wanted to first give you some updates. I booked a court TV show a few weeks back as one of the litigants. I can’t give any other details about the episode, but I can tell you the title of the show once it gets closer to the air date. I’ve tried out audience work but it’s precarious and you can get dismissed for wearing an item in the wrong color, and the tapings don’t last too long in general. Some friends of mine swear by extra work and there are a number of gigs that pay well, especially commercials, but I came out here to do principal roles and speaking parts. I didn’t leave job security in Arizona to keep doing the same things I did there.
The main crew for The Go-Girls is coming together with a director, cinematographer, production coordinator, and even more people whose job titles are to be decided. I went to a distribution panel at the Film Independent headquarters with the head of Distribber and learned more information to get my film distribution. I know it’s something you have to think about before you start filming. (Our start dates will depend on when we get funding.) One of the most important things he said was “Your list is your life!,” which means the more people you have who know about your movie and are connected to you, the more people will see your film and support it (financially and emotionally). I am working out the details but it has taken longer than I thought. I went to an industry picnic in Griffith Park to network and have a Q&A with the head of 360-degree production company, Buffalo 8, which deals with producing its own content and helping with the funding and distribution of films. I took lots of notes and gave just about everyone there my business card. I have contacted several of them to ask for advice and even one who told me he would be interested in casting me in SAG-AFTRA films.
I’m now also a member of the LA Table and they are so nice and actually helpful. They even help members have table readings and small film projects. My mind is boggled with all the information I have been given with all these Q&A’s and panels. I even went this week to see a free for Film Independent members showing of the film, Little Men, that Buffalo 8 helped fund and distribute. It’s a really great movie with heart and deals with real life like actual real life. And I auditioned for a paid student film, did an audience taping, and then went to that distribution panel all in one day. I had nearly forgotten the two Film Independent things I had signed up for this week I was so engrossed in details. You can join Film Independent for $95 per year and a film pro membership with free castings, consultations, waived film festival fees, and other goodies is $250 per year. I should really get the film pro membership because that is exactly what I need. http://www.filmindependent.org/
Now, I’m off on vacation to get my head back in order. I really need a break from all the anxiety and the endless list of tasks, and acting like the extrovert I’m not.