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.

Zip On Your Alligator Skin

Hi all,

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.

Springing Into Action

Hi all,

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.

On Stand By

Hi all,

I have my LA apartment.  It’s smaller than my former living room, but it has an accent wall, a granite counter top, gated access, my own parking space, and no cockroaches.  At first, I was so upset about uprooting my life and coming back to the place that broke my bank account and broke my heart.  But I now have security that I didn’t have before.  I am taking an acting class and have begun to go on some theatre auditions, many of which are EPA calls and one for a concert reading of a musical at Rubicon Theatre (that’s in Ventura).  I received an audition invite off of Actors Access to audition for a video game prototype.  I sent that VO self-tape as soon as possible.  I did, of course, rehearse the script beforehand and do my scene study.

Right now, I am taking the commercial improv class with veteran casting director, Jeff Hardwick.  You might remember him from casting Untold Stories of the ER.  I’m having a great time in class and we do specific improv games to help us when we audition for commercials, as many commercials require improv.  We also get to look at commercial copy and learn what to do in group auditions.  Almost everyone in the class has an agent.

I did submit to many different agents, however, it was a targeted list and not a blanket one.  I heard back from one agency inviting me to come to an open call for clients, so I will definitely be there.  I basically submitted to agents that allow direct submissions.  There are some agencies that are excellent that had no information about submissions, to which I sent one-sheets.  Only one was refused.  There are two top agencies, that I did not previously know about, that have a specific disclaimer banning any and all unsolicited submissions and materials.  I looked into managers, but the only few I knew about require significant credits.  I wonder what manager takes on someone developmental like me.

The dates for the pilot are not set yet, so I am trying my best to keep my schedule open for them.  I’ll provide more information and updates about what I have been up to.  You will see that Go-Girls funding campaign sometime soon.  I know it’s taking some time to get going.

First of May

Hi all,

I had a pretty productive weekend, at least my Saturday was full of awesomeness.  In the morning, I filmed a part in a short film for the Phoenix Comic Con Film Challenge and the top 10 entries are played at the Con itself.  I can’t give away any details, but you’ll love what malady I catch in the film.  Check it out at http://www.phoenixcomicon.com.  Jason Isaacs, Ron Perlman, Christopher Lloyd, and Alyson Hannigan are among the guests.  You can still get passes, unlike that other Comic Con.  I tried to get passes to that one and missed when the online waiting room opened.  You had to enter during a small window for a chance to get a pass.  On the cosplay front, I don’t have any new costumes planned.

Back to the second part of Saturday.  I had my audition for Phoenix Theatre that afternoon.  I ran into an acquaintance of mine right before he went onstage in a one-man show at the theatre and my buddy from Once On This Island, the actress and musical composer.  I just told myself to do my absolute best and not let nerves get in my way.  I went in there, put positive mode on, and I got my Broadway on like never before.  I need to audition like that every time.  I will not jinx myself by talking about expectations, but I hope for great things.

I had an audition on Monday that was not Broadway fabulous.  All I needed to do was cold read for three roles, but I had a sinking feeling as I did each one.  I don’t feel that I gave it any life and that it was a mess.  I didn’t get cast, but would have had to miss Comic Con for rehearsals.  It only paid a stipend anyway.  I also found out that I did not get the audition for a well-paying commercial campaign.  They don’t usually tell you that they haven’t chosen you to audition or that you didn’t get the job in LA and other major markets; you generally get silence.  I should probably drop my usual litany of rejection, but I think you might be wondering if I got this or that.  All 12 of you.  (:0

I did get an interesting audition about 2 weeks ago.  A representative of a new on-line toy company based in Tempe contacted me about auditioning for their series of paid infomercials.  He found me through a submission file at the ASU Film School.  I went right after work.  I had to prepare the sides for all three characters in the infomercial.  I made it a point to have each character be unique and just went with it in the energetic style they were seeking.  The director had me sing, do accents, and ad lib a sales pitch for a toy.  I had such a great time.  I don’t usually have an audition be like a party at a friend’s house.  I’ll let you know what happens.

Turkeys on Parade

Hi all,

I’m squeezing in a November post and Happy Thanksgiving!  There are a great deal of things going on in my schedule.  I was part of the table reading for the upcoming SAG-AFTRA film, Bogie and Bacall.  It was my first table reading and I hope to be part of the film.  I also just found out that I was chosen to be part of the Actors Showcase at the Filmstock Film Festival, which runs December 5 through 7 at the Harkins Valley Art theatre near ASU in Tempe.  The showcase is on December 6 at 7pm.  Audience members get to vote on their favorite actor and the panel of judges is composed of prestigious industry professionals.  You can get tickets at: http://www.filmstockfilmfestival.com/  I’ll give you a hint about my performance piece: I’ll be creating a storm onstage.

I auditioned for a local casting director a few weeks back for whom I hadn’t auditioned in a few years.  I hope to be a regular in their office.

I need to send in the paperwork for the distribution of Pick Me!.  I neglected to have everyone sign release forms when we filmed it and now know that was a mistake.  I have the paperwork on my end ready to go, but am waiting on the forms to be returned.  Climbing Stairs is still in post-production, so you will hear about that as soon as I have the completed film.  I have a possible offer of having that at the Eastern NC Film Festival and a distribution offer.

I auditioned for a small commercial this past week that was a last-minute casting.  I was very glad to be on top of checking my audition sources so I could submit in time.  I will find out soon if I booked it.

I just attended a free workshop at the Actors WorkHouse, headed by industry veteran, Duane Daniels.  I really liked his approach.  One of his acting philosophies is that you have to have a visual for what you are saying or you won’t have a connection to it.  He said a key to memorizing lines is to have images that go along with the words.  Hopefully, I will find some money to take his classes and coaching sessions.  Check out their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/actorsworkhouse

I also finally got to attend the In The Works event with the Phoenix Screenwriters Assoc. and I got to read the narrator part of a script.  I always enjoy getting to do a staged reading of a work.  I will be submitting part of La Famille for the next event.  Basically, the actors read the script and then the audience gives the writer feedback and asks them questions.

I am working on getting some much more significant bookings.  I miss theatre, but the best way for me to get people to notice me is through film.

Monsoon Season

Hi all,

Looks like I missed a post for July.  Two weeks ago, my friend, Luca Patruno, and I made our film short, Climbing Stairs.  He organized about everything and even bought lunch.  I had the pleasure of working with Brian Osback as DP and Robert Price as the Head of Sound.  I was so happy how everything came together and the film looks really good.  I never imagined my film on a whim would end up this full-fledged and awesome.  The trailer is now available on YouTube and here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFBZDOAb9R4 

I am in steady rehearsals for Once On This Island.  Be prepared to be blown away by a hurricane of talent.  If you are in the area on September 8, the performance will be at 7:30pm.  Tickets are free and available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/once-on-this-island-tickets-12300614469

I was also just cast in The Murder Mystery Company’s Phoenix troupe, which is the third highest-grossing murder mystery dinner theatre in the country.  It will be an ongoing gig.  Additionally, I have an audition for paid fundraiser performances of Oklahoma set on an actual cattle ranch tomorrow.

I have a significant local audition for the film of a web series that I have long wanted to audition for next weekend.  I will move forward with finding people to join me with producing The Go-Girls.  I connected with director/producer, Jake Katofsky, on Stage 32 for advice about making my feature.  It turns out that special effects, location shooting, and the like will make the budget about $200,000, and this does not include publicity and marketing costs.  I could have it filmed in Phoenix for less cost than LA, but I really want it filmed in LA.  A scene in Third Street Promenade is not feasible for an indie film.

The time for my day job to resume is upon us and I am certain to get some sub assignments this coming week.  Quitting the day job is not happening any time soon.

 

Anna No Jutsu

Hi all,

It’s time to update the blog.  The film premiere is set for Kameleon, the foreign film that I had the pleasure of dubbing with many other colleagues.  The premiere is set for Thursday, May 29, at 7pm at the Tempe Pollack Cinemas.  Ticket sales will benefit Sojourner Center, an organization that provides refuge and assistance for women and children escaping domestic violence.  The link is  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sojourner-center-movie-event-fund-raiser-tickets-11355746343

I have been noticing that there is a group of other actors and myself involved with and auditioning for many of the same projects.  That is a very good feeling and it makes me feel that I’m doing well and have become a reliable talent.  Many film industry people say that being reliable is the number one trait they look for in talent.  I think that in some cases, they’re looking at a union card and major credits.  I remember that Bonnie Gillespie said that industry people who use union status as a barrier to hiring someone are making an excuse because they can pay the fee and Taft-Hartley you.  On that same note, the local AriZoni awards for theatre split their actor categories into Professional or Non-Professional (Amateur).  I really don’t appreciate that because not having some silly card doesn’t mean you’re not a professional.  You are not calling me an amateur under any circumstances.

I am just about finished with my round of auditions for the Equity theatres.  Since I’ve come to Phoenix, one of these theatres has closed down and the other was on hiatus.  I think that one has come back to stay.  I felt really good this year about how they went and I hope I have some good news for you soon.  I also auditioned for an award-winning dinner theatre and it looks promising.  That audition went really well.  Sometimes you can tell if you’ve made a real connection in an audition.  That is what you should always do, but the reality is you might just be showing them your shopping list.  What I mean by that is what one of my course tutors at Drama Studio London said.  He told us that we needed to focus on what is happening in our scene or monologue and on the other person.  We can’t let ourselves be distracted or be thinking about any personal issues or chores we need to do.  He said brilliantly that, “No one wants to see your Tesco (UK grocery store chain) shopping list.”  This means that when you think about something that is not in the scene, the audience or director can see it.

I have some project ideas, but there are always things to audition for.  I auditioned for a campaign for a mobile app in North Phoenix at one of the coolest offices I’ve ever seen.  I think the gig would be a lot of fun.  I am continuing to work on ideas for producing The Go-Girls, La Famille, putting together a charity concert, and how about a production of Songs for A New World?

I started acting with a drive for theatre, but have since gotten a number of paying smaller film and commercial projects.  I’m glad I’m open enough to go with it.  I didn’t think that film or Phoenix would open doors like this.  I am so glad to be part of the film community and to have their respect and trust.  Here comes the LA countdown.

Winners Circle

Hi all,

 

I am squeezing this post in so there’s one for September. My precious doggy, Thor, had to be put to sleep and I am really sad. He was the smartest, cutest, most cuddly poodle ever.

 

I’ve been getting a great deal of things done acting-wise. I have new headshots that you are guaranteed to love, taken by Scott Hays. It was the real LA or New York experience they always talk about in the fashion magazines about the shoot with the celebrity on the cover. He had an Apple TV with satellite radio for whatever kind of music you want. I also had an official hair and make-up artist, which I have only had once before. I was also cast in a one-act for the Herberger Festival of the Arts. The performance will be at 12:45pm on Saturday, October 5. The show is called Spirit and it is about a group of dead people in a grave yard. I play a young woman who recently died and is really confused about where she is.

 

Yesterday, I had an audition for a film company to be its spokesperson. I did really well and someone I know is on the production staff. I think I have gotten to know a great deal of people in film here. I recently came upon the Hack Hollywood site run by David Patrick Green, a working actor with major television credits. He said a key to success is establishing relationships with the people you want to hire you. I’ve been trying to do that, but there is not solid way for me to establish relationships with LA casting directors and producers from where I am. The only LA casting director who knows me is Helen McCready because she travels here often and sometimes has local auditions. I’m all for networking, but having the people hiring know who you are is no guarantee they will cast you or even give you an audition. I wonder what to do with theatre companies who won’t hire you and casting directors who will not ever give you an audition. I am hoping to break in somewhere.

 

I dumped the trial manager because he started demanding I give him my financial details, which is not the business of anyone who isn’t your personal banker. He swore I must be in debt because I was reluctant to spend money on Backstage and Actors Access membership. At first, he told me I could have great success and encouraged me to connect with LA casting directors. Then he starts telling me that I have serious roadblocks and not to connect with them because I was not able to return to LA immediately. I don’t know why someone assumes I could just pack-up and go being the starving artist that I am. It simply started getting too personal and invasive. So, that was the end of that. Who gets a manger in another country anyway?

 

I love my new agent. She works really hard and regulary submits all her clients. I got a casting for a really well-paying commercial gig and I am available for the audition and shooting dates.

I will be auditioning for Fiddler on the Roof at Desert Stages in Scottsdale much later in October.  I got a callback there for The Mousetrap this past Spring.

 

Speaking of auditions, something funny happened recently. I submitted for a paying short film and received an e-mail saying they were currently considering applicants and would get back to us soon. Then, this past week I received an e-mail to say they were not going to audition me and how they were so many talented people who applied. What annoys me about this is they don’t need to tell me they aren’t going to audition me. If I don’t hear for a few weeks, I just assume a response to that effect.