Friday, November 8, 2013

The Jimi Hendrix Of Acting

I just finished watching Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A'Coming, from the PBS "American Masters" series.

I'm a big Hendrix fan, so it was fun to watch - It had footage I hadn't seen before, and it was especially interesting to hear Eddie Kramer (Hendrix's sound engineer) talk about his work in the studio - but my biggest takeaway was how many people said, "Jimi always had a guitar with him. He was always playing music".

Or as one of the "talking heads" on the program said (I forget who at the moment), "He was amazingly talented...and he worked like hell" (This might have been the same person who described him as "getting up in the morning, putting on his guitar, then going into the kitchen to make breakfast").

This wasn't "new information" for me, that Jimi Hendrix had an immense musical gift, that he was obsessed with playing the guitar and making music (As I said, I'm a big Hendrix fan), but in the position I'm in, the position that I have put myself in over the past decade-plus, it really "touched a nerve".

Jimi Hendrix was "Jimi Hendrix" because he had a huge talent, and he honed that talent every chance he got, and was never satisfied that he was "good enough".

While I used to consider myself a "very talented" actor, over the years, I've lost a sense of what that really means. I still have a somewhat-battered sense of having an ill-defined "something", but I can't really explain it, let alone "quantify" it in some way (And there's a part of me that thinks that's not really for me to do anyway; my job is to "do what I do", and leave judgments about its worth or my degree of "talent" or what-have-you to other people).

So I can't really say, like Hendrix, that I have some immense natural "gift". Probably not, cause most of us don't...but who knows, really?

But based on how I feel about myself, plus what other people have said about me over the years, it doesn't feel like I'm over-selling it to say I have "a certain something" - a "charisma", a "watchability", something that makes it not completely insane that I should hope to succeed as a professional actor.

But where I'm falling wildly, crazily short, is in the "working like hell" part of the equation.

I'm not only not "working like hell" - I'm not "working" at all.

And clearly, that's not the way to become the "Jimi Hendrix Of Acting" that I've always wanted to be...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Earthquake in LA...But The Real Disaster Is My Online Journal

I have just experienced the downside of an online journal - I went to, the website where I've kept an online journal since the latter part of the 90s...and it's gone (There's just a "This domain name for sale" page where Diaryland used to be).

I'm hoping this is just some sort of temporary glitch. But if not, it's not the end of the world - I hope - because my friend Jane has been archiving my entries (I hope she's still doing it, anyway!). But end of the world or not, it's definitely...disconcerting.

So anyway, I'm here, writing in this journal I basically abandoned back in 2008 - because how many journals does one man need, after all? (Though maybe more than I realized, all things considered!) - hoping that Diaryland will come back somehow.

(Because even if Jane has all my back entries "on file", that's still going to be a serious pain-in-the-ass if/when I want to put them back online.)

Well, I actually want to write a real entry - because I have things to write about and I have fallen seriously behind - but I'm also feeling the need to get myself cleaned and dressed, because I have one task I need to do (That, because it consists of a couple "mini-tasks", is taking me forever), and if I don't get it done today, when I have absolutely nothing else I have to do, I'm going to be very unhappy with myself.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I haven't posted in here for quite some time.

I intended this to be a paying venture, but sadly, that didn't pan out (Tip: if you have ads on your website, don't tell your readers, "Hey, click on my ads!". It's apparently "unethical"). And the fact that my "paying venture" wasn't going to, in fact, pay, "let the air out of my tires" a bit.

And since I already have a personal journal, and am on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter besides, it would seem my need to express myself just for the sake of expressing myself has more than enough outlets.

But I still think this blog might be of use - to me, and maybe to the odd reader or two as well - so here we are.

It's been a very slow year for the "Character Man" - Few auditions, no callbacks...and no bookings.

What's happening?

Is it the economy? Is it a "slow time in the business"?

Is it something I'm doing? Something I'm not doing?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best Year Yet

Well, here we are - Christmas Eve Day, 2008.

While I could get another audition before the year's over (The town's pretty much shut down at this point, but JS - my commercial agent - says there's always a few casting people still at work), I've gotta believe 2008 - good, bad, or indifferent - is basically over.

Going into this past year, I had serious concerns - The Writer's strike was going on, and SAG's contracts (in both Theatrical and Television, and Commercials) were set to expire - and while I remember hoping against hope I'd somehow be able to build on the success of the previous year, I was more worried going into a new year than I've ever been before.

So I guess the good thing I can say about 2008 is that there were still auditions to go out on, and I still booked some jobs.

And I'm still here.

But while I haven't actually counted yet, I can say with almost 100% certainty that I had fewer auditions than in the past two or three years.

And I booked fewer gigs (Four this year, versus six last year), and made substantially less money than in 2007.

(And that in a year where I, somewhat inexplicably. decided to try to go totally "freelance"; I haven't worked a full-time, regular job since the end of May.)

And honestly? With the exception of doing the infomercial with John Cleese (My first real "brush with greatness" out here), none of the jobs this year turned me on - Not the Yellow Pages commercial (My most lucrative gig this year, but that's not saying much), or the "Principal" role in the low-budget feature film that was really an extra role, or the Wimax print job.

It all, frankly, felt like junk. And it certainly didn't involve much that you could call "acting".

On the whole, very hard not to see this as a very lackluster, disappointing year.

And who knew, early in 2008, that SAG and the AMPTP would still be snapping at each other at this point, with no deal having been made and SAG trying to get its members to go for a strike vote?

And who knew the economy was going to go belly-up? (Probably a number of people, really, but I didn't.)

So here I am, at the start of another new year, feeling pretty much the same way I did last year at this time - hoping, praying (In my atheistic way), that I'll somehow be able to "swim against the tide" and have some decent success, but deeply worried about what the coming year has in store for me.

But my look has changed pretty radically in the past year - I've lost around 80 lbs, and am sporting a clean-shaven look for the first time since I was eight or nine - and I'm hoping that'll create new interest in the "Character Man" brand.

And while things look potentially grim in a couple regards, I have to believe that good things are going to happen for me.

Who knows? Maybe even great things.

What's the point of my giving over to doubt and fear? No matter what, the tv and film industry isn't going to be shutting its doors, and if there's anything going on, why can't I be part of it?

I have to believe that good fortune can happen to me (Which is a reasonable thing to believe, because it has happened to me). But maybe more importantly, I have to start believing that I can draw good things to myself, that I can effect my surrounding and my circumstances by the things I do.

I have to go into the new year with hope. I have to.

This is what I want - Not to just "get by", not to just "survive", but to thrive as an actor.

And that can happen in the coming year.

I'll get my chances, and I have to be prepared to make the most of them.

Cause I don't want to go through 2009 afraid and unhappy. I refuse to.

Instead, I think I'm going to have my best year yet.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just. One. More. Job.

This is always a "challenging" time of the year for me.

And one of the biggest "challenges" is that, as the year draws to a close, I always want to "end on a high note" (i.e. by booking "just one more job").

So I bounce between hoping-against-hope that "the year isn't over yet", and having to to reconcile myself to the fact that, at some point, if "the year isn't over yet", it might as well be.

Things traditionally slow down this time of year, and I doubt it helped that I had to book out twice in the past month or so - first for my head injury, and this past week for hernia surgery (My second hernia, by the by) - so while it's possible I could sneak in an audition or two over the next few weeks, 2008 is probably all but over.

And it was, career-wise, a disappointing year. I didn't book as many gigs as the previous year (Four this year, versus six the year before), and with the exception of the infomercial with John Cleese, the gigs this year, in a word, kinda sucked.

But I did still go out, and I did still book. I made money as an actor, as I believe I have every year since I came out here.

And that's nothing to sneeze at.

I got a check recently for the Yellow Pages commercial - for $391 and change - and the Coldstone settlement (For $1700) is waiting in the wings. And I periodically get small residual checks as well (Mostly for my Monk episode, but also sometimes for Nip/Tuck), so it's not as if acting isn't bringing in any money.

Just not what it had the year before...and by a substantial amount.

But more important than the money - ! - is the fact that, once again, I didn't do anything this year that really felt like "acting", and none of the things I booked were things that anyone's really dying to see.

And the point of all this, in my mind, in addition to making money, is to do stuff that actually entertains someone.

Well, maybe next year...

On Tuesday, the day before my surgery, I went to a place on Olympic Blvd that advertised "Instant Headshots", had a mini photo-session (The photographer took a total of 23 pictures), paid the guy about $80...and am happy to say, got some pictures I can actually use.

(I wasn't happy initially - first and foremost, because I'm an ugly motherfucker, which can't really be helped - but the more I've "lived with them", the happier I've become; headshots basically just have to look like you, and have some personality to them, and as it turns out, I don't need to spend $400 and have a photographer take hundreds of shots to make that happen.)

I showed them to my commercial agent yesterday, and he picked out a couple he thought worked for our purposes (And I trust his judgment on this sort of thing more than I do my own).

And the fact that he didn't say "Congratulation Asshole! - You just blew $80, cause these pictures suck" made me pretty damned happy - I'm glad I have a cheap place to do decent headshots. That's a pretty invaluable resource.

It's something I've needed to do for a long time, and when I had to shave for the print shoot, it seemed a good time to take the leap (Since not only am I many lbs heavier in my current headshots, I also have a mustache).

When my agent saw me, in person, without the 'stash, he said it made me look substantially younger. Which to me, are pretty much "the magic words" - I'm very concerned about "aging out of my category", so anything that keeps me looking generically "middle aged" longer is a good thing.

It's a challenging period of time. The economy's gone belly-up, SAG and the AMPTP are still fucking with each other, and it's hard to know how I'm going to get from "here" to "there".

But that, my friends, is the goal.

Bigger and better in 2009.

(More to come...)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One For The "Win" Column

Shot my first print job yesterday (In spite of laying my forehead open less than two weeks ago), for something I've never heard of called Wimax (A new Internet service - I guess the "new" part is why I've never heard of it).

They were shooting a series of print ads, with a bad/better/best theme (Basically saying "Wifi is like this, and 3G is like this. But with Wimax, it's like this").

So three of us were in the ad I shot - a guy completely bald on top, a guy fitted with a bad comb-over, and a guy with a massive afro.

Demonstrating, I guess, that Wimax is the hairiest Internet provider.

I was "Comb-over Guy" (or "3G Guy", if you want to think of it that way).

My call time was 9:00 a.m., at a location off Sunset I could easily have rode my bike to, which would have been my preference (We went from a first location to a second location, which is why the production person told me I should drive, but the two locations were maybe a mile apart, if that. But anyway...).

My spot didn't shoot till after lunch (chicken taco, rice, salad, and a sliver of pumpkin pie with a teaspoon of Cool Whip), and it was pretty tedious going - no acting/interacting with each other, but just the three of us standing in a row, looking this way and that, smiling and not smiling, as per the director's instructions.

Kind of weird, that the least-fun part of the day involved actually doing what I was there to do.

It was tedious, and thanks to my as-yet-unrepaired hernia, it started to become pretty uncomfortable just standing up for the length of time it took to shoot the three of us (We were basically just standing on the sidewalk on Sunset, in front of an interesting stone wall, so we had to periodically stop for passerby).

After we were done with that, they took pictures of each of us individually (I don't remember if I was the second or third one up for that, but in any case, I'd had a chance to sit down for a few minutes, and happily, it didn't take long).

The shoot was boring and uncomfortable. But unlike the boredom and discomfort I typically experience (in my "civilian" work life), I was very well-compensated for my troubles; the job paid $1000 (Which, after taxes and JS's cut, will still pay my rent for a month, with enough left over for a trip to Subway), so I'm not going to bitch too much about it.

And there were other...compensations; in addition to getting paid, and getting fed, I enjoyed the ministrations of Jenni, my attractive - and I think age-appropriate - English makeup woman (Who, between applying my "comb-over" and dealing with my forehead, had to spend a fair amount of time on me).

So, while I still long for the day I'll be "well-compensated" to actually act, any day where I make $1000 to have my picture taken belongs in the "win" column.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Wolfman Takes A Dip

Seems my desire to write in here has been blunted substantially now that there's no longer the lure of easy money...

Blunted, but not eliminated altogether.

Not too much going on in my "career" (Ooooh...putting "career" in quotes suggests I'm not feeling too positive about the state of things, doesn't it?). Though I was happy to get a second day of work out of the infomercial; seems they ran substantially short on their running time for the spot, so they needed to write some more pages to "stretch things out".

And Yours Truly was part of the stretching process.

(My initial un-happiness when I got the call about shooting some "pick-ups" had to do with an instant, irrational feeling that I "had done something wrong", that I hadn't been good enough, somehow. Which is stupid - needing to get "pick-ups" is on the director, not the actor - but there it was, hanging out in the stupid part of my brain.)

This second day of shooting was at the Director's house, just off Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills (Not a mansion or anything, but spacious and nicely appointed - impeccably decorated, with a pool and a view - representing a lifestyle to which I could easily become accustomed).

My bits were shot in and around the pool, which meant I had to do much of my work shirtless, a prospect I was pretty unhappy about going in (I'm a very hairy guy, something I've been sensitive about every since puberty struck, early and hard, when I was five or six years old).

But I did it, because that's what you do - I'm an actor (A middle aged, funny-looking, and yes, hairy actor), and vanity/insecurity/whatever you want to call it, doesn't really serve you well in that role.

Anyway, shooting the new stuff went very quickly - from call time to wrap, I was there for just two hours - and now I get to look forward to another check for another day's work.

So three cheers for "pick-ups"...!