Archive for July, 2014
Yesterday and today I find myself more wiped out than I have been in quite some time. Last week was tech week before opening weekend for Cyrano De Bergerac (I play Le Comte De Guiche) so it had been a pretty long week not to mention the previous 5 weeks of rehearsing 4 times a week. I had also come down with some kind of minor cold or something.
Friday I had an audition for a commercial. The next day I got word they wanted to book me for Sunday. I reminded my agent that since it was in Dallas, I would have to leave by 2pm to get back to Austin just in time for our Sunday matinee. My agent relayed this information, and was told that my call time in Dallas would be 9am and I would be released no later than 2pm. I got a call from the Wardrobe department to talk to me about wardrobe options and I reminded her that I had to leave by 2pm. She didn’t particularly care since that wasn’t really her department. I got a call from the casting office to get some information and they said they weren’t sure I was booked or not because I had some sort of conflict. I relayed that I had been told my call time was 9am and I would be released by 2pm.
So we opened Cyrano on Friday night, and then after our Saturday night performance, I went home and got about 3 hours of sleep, maximum before having to leave for Dallas. I got to set a little early in Dallas, and as I checked in, I reiterated that I wanted to make sure everyone knew I had to leave by 2pm. The 2nd Assistant Director said he was not aware of that, but that was fine and he would relay the message along. Another friend of mine was on the call sheet but apparently had not shown up and they had been trying to call and find her all morning. I found out from her that she had to decline the day before due to timing issues and that the message had somehow not made it to production.
There was a short song we had to sing along to for the spot, and they had it playing on loop in the waiting area because the director wanted to make sure we knew all the words so he could concentrate on performance and directing. Time ticked on and I knew my scene was scheduled for 11:30-12:30 but it was looking less and less like that was going to happen. The 2nd A.D. again reiterated that they knew I had to be our at 2 so we would see what happened. At 12:30pm they broke for lunch for an hour.
At 1:30pm we finally got in the van and made the drive to set a couple of minutes away (good thing I got only 3 hours of sleep to arrive by 9:00am). They immediately pulled one of the other actors in to film him (and the wardrobe person mistakenly gave him one of my shirts to change into for the shot) and so I pulled the Assistant Director aside and just reiterated that I wanted to make sure they knew I had be gone at 2pm. Somehow, despite me telling every single person along the way as emphatically as I could, he was not aware of this nor was the producer. The producer pulled me aside to talk about it and I again told the story of how this had all been discussed and clarified before I was ever booked and that I had made sure to hammer it home ever step of the way with every person I spoke to. He went and made a call and then came back and asked if I could possibly give them until 2:15pm, to which I said that would be really pushing it, but I was willing to do it.
Somewhere around 1:45 or so they started setting up to film me against a wall but the director didn’t like the shot and went to look at other possible locations. There was a last minute call to change my shirt. Then we changed location and they had me throw on a different shirt. It was determined that since I was in the same location as 2 of the other actors I needed to have the same shirt as them (as we were all playing workers at the same business) so I quickly changed back into the original shirt I had started in. They had just pulled these work shirts from the back of the business and it was now an issue that there were two “Joel” shirts and two “Donnie” shirts and with three of us, someone was going to share a name. For no logical reason, They changed me from Joel to Donnie (which didn’t alleviate the name problem…now there would just be 2 Donnies instead of 2 Joels). Finally we were ready to shoot.
The director told me to “leave it all on the floor” and just really go for it. I could tell he was really frustrated by a lot of the previous actors not knowing the words (thus why we had the song on loop in the room all morning like some kind of psychological torture) and just being behind schedule and such. Take one, I nailed it, they loved it and were ready to move on to getting a small hand held GoPro for me to shoot myself with but it wasn’t ready yet so they got another take. One small line flub but the rest was perfect and since they would only be using a few seconds of me at most that wasn’t an issue. 2 takes with me shooting myself with the GoPro as if it were my cell phone (the first take I was still moving around wildly as I had been for the first shots, but that was too shaky and disorienting with the GoPro in my hand). 2:15pm, we were done and everyone seemed genuinely happy and complimentary.
I got a ride back and jumped in my car as fast as humanly possible. As it stood, my GPS said I would be getting back about 5:50pm when my show was supposed to start at 5:30pm. I relayed word and shared my drive via the Waze navigation app which allowed them to actually keep up with my drive and ETA in real time.
Not very far into my drive I got a “traffic delay warning” and my ETA was readjusted to 6:05pm. The app altered my route slightly and got it back to around 5:50pm. I hit a spot where I-35 was a parking lot and luckily, the app had me get on the feeder road which was still sluggish but at least moving. Eventually I got past what looked like a Semi-truck that had been part of an accident or maybe cuaght fire or something and cause the backup and traffic cleared. ETA 6:00pm.
Now, I am someone who never speeds. I always drive the speed limit. Let’s just say that this day, I was not myself. At one point my ETA was down to 4:43pm, but my need to urinate finally won. for the first time in my life, I seriously considered trying to pee into an empty bottle in my car (I was eyeing a nice, wide-mouthed juice bottle) but the logistics were just too much. I stopped. I was going to grab a quick bite to eat as well but realized my money and wallet were in the car and I didn’t have time to get them and come back and all that so I just got back on the road.
Normally, I wouldn’t fret too much about holding the beginning of the show a bit, but the play I am in is already 3 hours long so tacking another 20+ minutes of delay is not inconsequential. I rolled up to the theatre at 4:45 and they had just started the show. They had a made a few contingency plan alterations in case I wasn’t there for my first appearance. I got dressed as quickly as possible and while I did miss my actual entrance, I walked on stage literally just in time for my first line, which kind of croaked out of since, between my cold and no sleep, my voice was barely present. My hair and makeup weren’t done, my sleeves weren’t tied and one of my boot straps was undone and dragging behind me. As I sat down on stage, I discreetly tucked it into my boot.
When my scene was over, I finished my hair and makeup and got myself more in order. I sucked down cough drops, sprayed “Singer’s Saving Grace” spray, drank some tea with lemon and honey and limped through the rest of the show, squeezing my voice out as best as I could but being probably half volume and very croaky sounding. Not my best performance, but hopefully it was at least adequate.
After the show, though I was more exhausted than I could remember being in a long time, I was also starving so I joined some of the cast at a bar that also has great food. I wolfed down a burger and fries and tried my best to croak out some conversation. Then, finally, I crawled into bed and passed out hard.
I did as little as I could yesterday and today. Lots of laundry, picking up some checks, napping, TV, just trying to recover. Band practice tonight, Voiceover and photo shoot tomorrow as well as a dentist appointment and then the show kicks back up Thursday night through Sunday night.
Sure, I could use some serious rest, but I am very grateful to be so busy doing the things I love. That being said, I do also love sleep and rest and TV and food.
I listen to a lot of Podcasts. I can’t tell you the number of times the hosts have responded to criticism and comments from listeners by basically saying “Hey, it’s free, so quit your bitching.” This bothers me for several reasons. Firstly, it’s basically a big “fuck you” to the listeners that’s basically saying “I don’t really care what you think. You aren’t paying so you have no say in what we do.”
Now, I can see the logic here and it is true. I can do my own podcast any way I want and if I’m putting it out for free, you have no “right” to have input into it. However, here’s the thing: I want you to enjoy it and would genuinely like to know what people like and don’t like and how I can improve it. Sure, no matter what you do, you are never going to please everyone and will always have trolls and ass-hats who don’t really give any useful, intelligent feedback and just say “you suck,” or “eat a bag of dicks.” I’m not talking about them They are sad people who just want to make everyone else as miserable as they are and are jealous of any success and happiness that other’s have. But for people who really care and are submitting legitimate, constructive feedback, I would think that should be welcomed and considered.
I listen to a lot of Kevin Smith’s Podcasts on the SModcast network as well as Chris Hardwicke and the Nerdist podcast and have refrained from sending my personal comments to them because I am actually a fan and didn’t want to be dismissed or looked at as a “dissenter” or jerk who has the nerve to critique a free podcast, when the irony is that I want to help because I like them.
As an artist and a creator myself, I often tell others that the trick is to be open to all criticism while also not feeling like you have to act on everything. You need to be open minded enough to actually take it in and consider it, and then take what you think serves you. I’ve seen others go the other way and get overwhelmed because they feel the need to take every piece of advice and eventually lose their own vision and their project becomes a frankensteinian monster as they try to change everything that anyone thinks they should change and it’s no longer cohesive or true to their vision.
For example, I wrote a screenplay and I got a lot of very good feedback on it. After consideration, I found a lot of it was good, valid and helpful. Some of the other bits may have been good feedback but just didn’t fit the my own vision or the film I was trying to make. Then there was some feedback that I just had to discount because it was obvious that my film just wasn’t for those people and never would be. It’s a tough balancing act. To have a vision but be flexible and open to things that, in the end, may improve it.
This just as easily applies to Facebook or anything “free” (I won’t bother getting into the semantics of ads and such and whether something is really “free,” etc.) Stop using “Fuck you, it’s free” as an excuse to dismiss feedback. Criticism is not always from hostile people who are just jealous because they can’t do what you’re doing. Which brings me to another point: Also stop with the “I don’t see you doing it. If you think you know better, go out and do it yourself.” I think this argument is also a defensive, invalid response.
I don’t want to be an architect. That doesn’t mean I won’t have opinions and feedback on the design of a building. In fact, I posit that feedback from those outside the industry is equally valid. People who don’t see something in such detail with all it’s moving parts and such may have some great feedback you can’t see because you’re too close. You see behind the curtain. You know all the workings. They just see the overall picture or effect which could be very beneficial. Not everyone wants to be an actor/musician/podcaster/etc. But again, that does not invalidate their feedback and in fact may make it more valuable in certain ways.
To be absolutely clear, I LOVE Kevin Smith and Chris Hardwicke. I only mention them because I listen to so many hours of podcasts from them and they can both get a bit defensive and prickly and employ these responses I’ve mentioned here. I do understand it, and have reacted that way myself in the past, but it’s purely an ego defense mechanism. I’ve had constructive criticism I would have liked to have submitted and agreed with some of the criticism I’ve heard them cite and dismiss, but didn’t feel like I could contribute without being dismissed as one of the “uncool kids” even if I tried to present it non-confrontationally in a constructive way.
If you are putting something out into the world, then chances are you want acceptance and for people to enjoy it. Few people create something, legitimately just for themselves, to enjoy in solitude with no care whether others enjoy it as well. So let’s all put our egos aside and listen with an open mind and an open heart. Sometimes what is perceived by the ego as a hostile attack, is a friend reaching out a hand and wanting to help.
I try to live my life in gratitude, Never taking for granted or losing sight of what I have and all the wonderful things in my life and the world. It’s so easy to adjust our perspective and let our norm become mundane or lacking somehow. My iPhone is a good, if a bit obvious, example. I’ve often thought that if I could go back 10 years, 20 years and show myself my iPhone, my mind would be utterly blown (metaphorically, not literally). It is science fiction come to reality. There is a reason my lock screen is The Hitchhikers Guide To The Universe.
On a less obvious note, the other day I really thought about my keys. What an amazing piece of technology a key and lock is. A little piece of metal cut so uniquely as to open one lock which can only be opened by this magical combination of ridges. It’s really almost as magical as Gandalf illuminating runes and speaking Elvish to enter. A friend of mine also brought up what a status symbol keys really are. It says that you are prosperous enough to have a car or a house or whatever, and that it’s all locked away for your use only, you fascist ass-hat!
Sorry, I got a bit carried away.
I’ve taken up meditation and started using an app called “Insight timer” to time and log my meditation. It’s a really great app with a nice community layer to it. When you’re done meditating it will tell you how many other people were meditating (using the app) around the world. You can send message to people saying “Thanks for meditating with me.” I quite often think how vast our world is and all the things that are going on at any given moment. Right now, there’s almost certainly many people around the world doing just about anything you can think of.
At this very moment people are having sex, being murdered, getting fired, sleeping, shaving, climbing a mountain, watching a TV show, making a movie, vomiting with the flu, tickling a koala, snuggling, writing blog entries, plotting a scheme, eating way too much ice cream, getting married, achieving a lifelong dream, feeling depressed and useless, viewing the quivering fringe of a special doily draped across the piano with some surprise, pondering the significance of short-person behavior in pedal-depressed, panchromatic resonance and other highly ambient domains*.
The world and universe is filled with wonder. Never lose sight of it. With all we know, the fact is we know nothing. Only 4% of the universe is matter. The other 96% is still a mystery to us.
*-Frank Zappa “Evelyn, A Modified Dog”