Heath

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Homepage: http://www.heathallyn.com/


Posts by Heath

Wow. That sucked.

Here is a good example of why you absolutely must LOVE acting to do it.
Today I was supposed to be a policeman on the Luke Wilson movie “The Wendell Baker Story”. I woke up at 6 a.m. showered and such. Drove the 45 minutes to the set. Arrived at 8 a.m. (an hour before my 9:00 call time, just to be safe). Surprisingly, I ran into Grant JAmes, who I had taken some acting lessons from when I lived in Dallas. He has a part in this film, and is shooting for a couple of weeks. Eventually I go to get my costume. They don’t have one that even remotely comes close to fitting me, even though my sizes were supposedly sent over ahead of time so they could get the right costumes. Eventually there is no other choice but to get another guy to be the cop, and I’ll take his place as one of the bus riders.
Now, apparently we were originally supposed to shoot soon after our 9:00 call time, but the schedule had changed and we were now at the very end of the day. So we all sit from 9:00 until about 7:45, only to be told in the end that since it was now growing dark, they weren’t going to get to our scenes, and we could all go home. Here’s the kicker; the cops were the only ones actually used today, and it sounds like you might actually see them in the movie.
So as not to end negatively, here’s 3 good points though:
1. Since I was not used today, the casting people are free to hire me again for another day (as opposed to if I had been used, they wouldn’t use me again for another role in the same movie).
2. I still get paid for today.
3. I ate lunch about 15 feet from Luke Wilson.
Even after all this, I am not deterred in the slightest from my chosen profession.

It’s all about networking

As I’ve said many times before.
First off, my jingle did not sell, unfortunately, but I did make some big impressions on some big people. Here’s the (names edited to protect those involved) email that I got back from my studio contact:

heath,
here’s how it went down. both creative directors called and told me how
great your song was laughing the whole time. then they played it for Bob Squiggly (the chief of Squiggly Advertising–a billion dollar ad agency) on the lear jet ride to go present a campaign to the company. he loved it and in fact tried to sing it to the company people in the meeting (i understand they are awful clients). anyway, Bob Squiggly had to recommend a different campaign (because of strategy) so our songs never really had a chance. but they did make an impression on the right people. specially yours. so rest assured, your first foray into bigtime national advertising was a smashing success.

Secondly, when I was an extra on the infomercial, I had exchanged business cards with a few of the actors there while we chatted. One of them had seen me at the Austinactors.net meeting, and in fact after the infomercial, I saw him again at the next meeting too, and we chatted for a bit. Then yesterday while I was in College Station for a band gig, he called me (which he couldn’t have done had we not exchanged cards) and said this play he was doing was needing a few small parts filled. He gave me the directors number, so I called and left a message. Today the director called me, and gave me the info. Much to my shock and surprise, it’s actually a paying theatre gig too. I go to rehearsal on Thursday to hash it all out.
Networking in action.
Thirdly, two of the premiere acting coaches here offered a free class the other night at their studio. I went with a prepared monologue, and had quite a good time. There was a lot of good talent in the room. At the end of my monologue, and after having me try some different techniques and such, they told me I seemed extremely comfortable, easy to work with, willing to take direction and try things, and that overall I seemed very professional. Yay me!
I will conquer the world.

I’m a “composer”

Much better than a decomposer, eh? (cue the “wah-wah-wah” sound effect).
So in the continuing saga of Heath pursues his dreams in a round about way, here’s the latest on what’s happening. The big nice professional studio downtown who I was doing the “mock folk song” jingle for, had asked me to send them the “music only” so they could get a bunch of different singers to sing it (which is what the ad campaign called for; there would be different people singing every line). I sent them the music only which I had recorded at home on my computer. The next day I emailed to make sure they got it, and I got a response saying “yeah, we’ve been working on it all day. Come on down and help the engineer mix it if you have the time”. Well I knew the engineer didn’t really need my help mixing it, but I certainly didn’t want to pass up some face time at the studio, which is a way cool place, so I immediately went down there.
I went and sat in the extremely cushy control room, and watched the guy fly through the Pro-tools program like a madman, tweaking the tiniest details that I was amazed his ear could even detect. There I was, listening to my own composition being sung by a mass of different people, and watching a professional engineer at a professional studio laboring over this little jingle I had written. It was super cool. He’d play little chunks of it over and over, adjusting levels, EQ, compression, etc. All these people singing my silly little words over my goofy music. Very cool.
As I left I was surprised to be handed a check for $100. Now normally I would have got $350 just for the demo, but I was initially told that since this was “on spec” meaning that the studio didn’t have this sold yet, and were doing it for free to try and impress the client into buying it, coupled with the fact that it was sort of my “audition” to be considered for the pool of composers, that I would be doing it for free. Nice surprise for me! Even better yet, if the client buys the spot I’ll get another $2500.
After this cool experience, Friday was not so good. I had what could only be described as a mini-nervous breakdown in relation to the whole life/job situation. I was just miserable and had a long talk with Jess about it all. We don’t really have much more of a clue than before, but it was good that we talked about it. Basically the problem is that I swing wildly between two extremes. One being “Hey everything is starting to take off and a real job would only prohibit me from adequate pursuing these fruits to fruition”. The other being “What the hell am I thinking? I have no idea if any of these avenues will actually be able to support life ever. I need to get a real job and just accept that I’ll have to pursue these things as a hobby only”.
Admittedly, we could scrape along at least until January on my meager earnings, plus perhaps borrowing some money from Craig (who has said he’s happy to help me out) knowing that I have some decent money coming to me in December. It would still be a stretch though until Jess can get a job.
The main problem is that all the things I’m pursuing really require full time dedication to make them happen. I may try and take some job at least until such time as it becomes a problem. For example if some project comes up that I couldn’t get off work for, then worry about quitting then. I don’t know. It’s very complicated.
Will and Annika have both filled me with envy (even though I know his job can suck, it’s still way cool and at least related to his interests and desires) and also inspired me. I actually sat down and worked on my screenplay today. I’m terribly lazy about it, and I really want to finish it so that I can get on to the painful process of letting others critique it, and then doing massive re-writes I’m sure. Then I can submit it to an agent, who will love it and get me a large money deal with someone to direct and star in it, because it’s feckin rules. I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be).
2 more things:
1. my mailbox was karmically balanced today. I got a bill from our new cable company for 94.32, but after canceling HBO which we got free for a month, and using our free pay-per-view movie coupon for “Equilibrium” it was $80. I also got a check from our old cable company (I guess I paid for the month after we had left) for 86.75. Looks like my karma is in the good for about $6.75.
2. Twice in this entry, I have used parentheses wherein I really needed to end one sentence and start another . For example the sentence:

I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be.)

What the hell is the correct way to do that? I chose a semi-colon for lack of knowing what to do. Should the semi-colon be a period within the parentheses? Should I just not structure a sentence that way because it’s wrong? Help!

My fortune cookie says…

“Your present plans are going to succeed”. Wow, how I hope that cookie knows what it’s talking about. Aside from no real income, I’ve frighteningly been actually starting to have a taste of the life I want to be leading. Craig Davis has been keeping us alive with his generosity in paying me for our studio work and such.
Even though the money’s not rolling in yet, I’ve been quite busy, and am seeing a lot of possibilities. I may just be on my way to doing what I want to be doing. Yesterday alone, we went into the studio, polished this jingle we’re trying to get sold (hopefully within the next week or so), then cut a new song for our upcoming CD. When I got home I had an email from the other studio I’d been in contact with about jingle work, and they wanted to know if I could do a mock folk song in the vein of “A Mighty Wind”. I got the email at 5:00, and a few hours later I had emailed them a finished demo (I have my computer set up to act as a home studio).
This morning he had emailed me back with some changes and by 1:00 this afternoon I had sent him the revamped demo. I was quite proud of my 20 hour turnaround time from first contact to finished demo, which included 8 hours of sleeping, and some idle time too. Here’s hoping the company buys it and throws some money at me.
Craig and I are preparing for our full frontal assault on the music scene too. We’ve talked to the drummer we use in the studio about playing for us, and it happens he also books bands at many places all around Austin. We just need a singing bass player to complete the band. We’re looking to have some promo pictures done, and start getting press packets out to everyone, and doing some gigs. Hopefully our CD will be finished by year end. Many things are a-brewing. If we can only hold out financially, there is great potential.
I’m keeping this fortune from the cookie with me at all times.

My bohemian lifestyle…

is coming together nicely. Today I got up at the obscene hour of 5 a.m. to go be an audience member for an infomercial. We all met in a mall parking lot and were driven in a really nice bus to San Antonio where it was shooting. Much to my surprise the infomercial starred THE infomercial guy. The English guy in the red bow tie and suspenders. If you haven’t seen this guy, then you must not have seen many infomercials. Anyway we clapped and laughed, and acted like we had just seen the miraculous ways of The Brookshine Automotive Surface Treatment System until about 11 a.m. and then they didn’t need us for a while so we ate free food, and lounged around the studio. It turned out they didn’t need us at all for the rest of the day so we just hung around until 3 p.m. when we loaded back on the bus and came back to Austin.
On the way back I got a call on my cell phone to tell me that I will be playing a policeman in the new Luke and Owen Wilson movie “The Wendell Baker Story” so that is mega cool (hi Bettie! Oh, side note: I made Jess watch “Kung Pow: Enter The Fist” the other day and was extra amused every time they called the bad guy Bettie).
Craig Davis and I are doing an acoustic duo show tomorrow night at The Pier, which should be interesting, fun, and by the seat of our pants. We also continue work on our upcoming CD.
I got another call about a real job yesterday, also. They are supposed to call me back later this week for an interview. It sounded like the best job so far, but we’ll see. I’m still waiting to hear about the other job that was supposed to call me back as soon as the hiring manager got his stuff together. I also have a third (and least attractive) job possibility I could probably take if both these others somehow fall through. I’ve determined that I am going to put all my efforts tomorrow into finding Jess a job so that I can do my best to render these points moot.

For your listening pleasure…

Todays studio session produced Hello “Mr. Sunshine”. I dig it. I’m on guitar, bass, drums, tambourine and backup vocals. It’s a bit “out there” but in a cool way.
Oh, and I had 2 job possibilities today. This is good for the money situation, and yet I can’t really say I’m happy about it as this means what meager progress I have made in the acting/etc pursuits will now have to be shelved, at least for the moment. So yay for paying bills and all, but yet I strangely can’t really seem to find any joy in this turn of events.
I’m a great musician/writer/producer though! Very happy with that!

Roadblock to Destiny

The title just seemed appropriate to my current life mood. I’ve mentioned this feeling before, but it’s never been stronger than now. The feeling that I know my destination in life, but yet I seem to find my way there. I took the wrong exit, and there is no maps.yahoo.com equivalent.
I’m not even talking about my ultimate goals of fame and stardom as an actor and musician, I’m just talking about my more feasible goals, although admittedly even my “feasible” goals are still pretty outlandish. I can’t even begin to remotely express my thoughts so I’ll ramble as best I can. For example:
Working as a Production Assistant on Film/TV projects. There is a decent amount of work in Texas in this field (although less since so many productions are going to Canada now), and yet it seems as out of reach as anything. One thing I’ve learned more and more in every aspect of life, is that it’s much more who you know, and not what you know. I submit my (albeit tiny) resume for every project that comes up, and I get nothing. I’ve even called camera rental businesses, props places, and any other production related businesses here just to try and find a job that’s at least involved in the industry, but none are hiring of course, and many are actually just basically kind of one or two person operations. There’s even an actual studio complex in Austin. Hard to break into the biz as it were. You basically start out doing anything and everything you can, a lot of it for free just to get experience and contacts. My uncle is a professional Director Of Photography and has been for over 20 years, and even he has found work to be lean lately, but I admire him so much because he is doing it for a good living. He has worked and raised a family strictly doing freelance cameraman/DP work. However, as previously mentioned, he paid his dues early on. He didn’t’ just jump into immediately working full time in the film industry. Now he has lots of contacts from all his years of work, and that gets him more work. The few production assistant jobs I have done have been as a result of his recommendation. Of course if I get a “real” job, that pretty much makes pursuing these types of things impossible.
There’s also a decent gaming industry in Austin. As far as “real” jobs go, I could dig working in the gaming industry. Of course, this also follows a similar pattern to the one above. Knowing the right people. I’ve actually seen 2 jobs which I’ve applied for. One as “Assistant Community Manager” for Star Wars Galaxies, and one for an “in-game support” position with another game. Chances of getting either are only slightly more than my chances of winning the lottery, and these are entry level positions.

Almost all accounts I’ve read about people getting jobs in the industry were things like “back when I was flipping burgers I played D&D with this guy who wrote a Zork parody, and this guy who worked for a game company hired him. Later after working for several game companies in progressively better jobs, they needed someone and he called me”.
Then there’s the music thing. Now being a musician in Austin is basically like being an actor in L.A. It’s a great place for music, but it’s also super saturated with musicians. Again, it’s a long term hang around the scene, get to know people, make contacts, and get your name out. Not something you’re going to accomplish overnight.
Now while I may sound all frustrated doom and gloom, there is an upside too. Since I’ve been here I’ve been on several auditions, sent out tons of acting and film crew resumes, and I’m going back in the studio tomorrow for another session of work on our new CD. Basically the only real chance I have is if Jess can get a good job, and thus allow me to be a slacker (financially) until I can get established. I really don’t think anything I want to do is possible when working a full time office job that’s in no way related to what you want to be doing. Especially for the acting/crew work, since you need to be available for the jobs, and if it’s a paying job it’s most likely not just an “after business hours” job. If it weren’t for the need for money, I wouldn’t even really mind my state of affairs. I don’t mind the auditions, and the working your way to where you want to be. It’s all the need for money to pay bills that creates the tension. Oh, how I do NOT look forward to getting another “job” I don’t really care about except for the paycheck.
My mind is quite a jumble and expressing this all coherently is becoming more and more difficult as I try to put it into words. Basically, life is good, Austin is good, and the world is my burrito, but it’s just a frustrating time. It’s like I can see exactly where I should be. In fact I can see several options of where I should be, but I’m trapped in one of those crazy entrapment mirrors, like General Zod in Superman. I can see everyone else there, and there’s a me-shaped space of emptiness. I’m a nuclear bomb of potential, undiscovered in a sealed box buried next to Jimmy Hoffa, underneath the secret bungalow where Elvis lives with Amelia Earheart.
Grr. Argh. Jane, get me off this crazy thing.
Hmm, someday, maybe I’ll finish my damn screenplay. It’s really going to be good, if it’s not killed by laziness. Right, well it’s always good to end on a random trail off long after you’ve lost all momentum and readers…

Life’s been good to me so far

Life in Austin has been way busy so far. Here’s the ups and downs of my recent life:
UPs:
Talked to my contact at a local studio. He says he will give me a shot at some jingle work. Basically, there is a pool of composers all competing to sell their music for whatever project comes up. My first submission will be for free (which is reasonable since he shouldn’t just start paying out of blind faith). If he deems my talents usable, then I’ll join the pool of composers. Whenever a project comes up, I’ll submit my demo, for which I’ll get paid $350. If my demo is actually chosen by the company out of all the submissions, I’ll probably get about $2500 (varies according to project). This is all theoretical at the moment, and we’ll see if any of this pans out into actual work for me.
I made $200 yesterday as a studio guitar player. Craig Davis wanted to cut one of our new songs for the upcoming CD, and also there are a couple of generic car jingles we wanted to finish for this guy who thinks he can really get some business going. Hopefully this could possibly turn into some work for Craig, Spencer (the guy who owns and runs the studio), and myself. So I laid down guitar on 2 jingles, then Craig and I recorded a new tune for the CD. The session was a blast. I am so in my element in the studio. Craig brings in great tunes, I take them and add parts, arrange, produce, spice up, etc., and Spencer engineers and produces and comes up with great ideas and suggestions too. Having that third brain and set of ears in there really helps come from different angles.
Yesterdays session was fun in that this tune had just been written last week and we really didn’t have it very planned out at all, so we just ended up sort of creating it as we recorded it and ideas came to us. Craig did the vocals and piano, and I laid down, bass, guitars, backup vocals, and even a sitar part. Very cool track. When we get done with the whole CD, we’re going to have a great drummer named Dexter come in and replace the temporary drum machine (used just to keep time in the song) with real, live soulful drums. That makes ALL the difference in the world. In fact, I debated whether to even post the song right now since it’s so unfinished, but what the hell. When the finished CD comes out you’ll have had a glimpse into the creative process.
(file deleted now 10/15/2004) – rough mix, no drums yet (just a drum machine keeping time), and generally unfinished, but still cool.
Monday night we went to an AustinActors.net meeting, which was cool and fun. Afterward we went to an audition for a freebie short film about a serial killers therapy group. I didn’t get cast. Tonight I’m auditioning for another freebie project. It’s a student miniseries about vampires.
I finally heard back from an application I put in online from IKON office solutions. The recruiter was going to forward my resume to the hiring manager here in Austin for a position where I’d basically work for different companies all the time filling in when someone was gone or needed. I think I’d be doing tons of copying, scanning etc. I still haven’t heard back from the hiring manager. I may inquire further today.
Internet, cable, and toilet are all in working condition. The apartment is cool. I have good friends and family who have helped out however they could. My wife rules, so I’m never alone.
DOWNs:
I really don’t want to go back to working for “the man” in a job I have no passion for. The thought sucks my very life away, but I see no way around it currently. Our bank account is dwindling to scary proportions. I very well may be inquiring at the Blockbuster video next to our apartment complex for employment as well as a couple of banks in the vicinity, and anything else I see as I drive around the streets. If it weren’t for my $200 session work yesterday, I’d be in serious panic mode.
I think I’ve about taxed my brain on this epic entry. Stay tuned for further adventures.

Where am I?

I feel as if something has happened the last few days…what could it be? Oh yeah, we moved to Austin. You would hardly know it looking at our apartment which does not look like we just moved in. We are efficient moving in machines! For a full account see, Jess’s entry here. Still have to iron out the internet/cable/toilet issues, and look for jobs ASAP.
Several movies are casting, so I hope to get in on that. One is a new Luke and Owen Wilson movie. Monday night, we’re going to a monthly meeting for Austin Actors, to meet people and attend a Q & A with a talent agent here.
That’s about all my addled brain can come up with at the moment. We’re here. The adventure has begun.

And so the adventure begins.

At 5:00Pm CST today, I become unemployed. Tomorrow we begin the move to Austin, finishing up on Friday. Scary.
On another front, Just as I finally put the foot down and stomp out the few computer bugs I’ve been trying to track down at home, my computer took a complete and utter nosedive. Long story short, I had to completely reinstall my operating system, and basically start from scratch like it was a new computer. Luckily I was able to retrieve my documents and bookmarks and vital things like that.
Spent about 13 hours yesterday getting my machine back up and running. Still have a lot of programs to install and testing to do to make sure what the problem was so it’s not repeated. Ugh. It made me utterly sick, and frustrated and I wanted to cry, and go to bed and never get up. Bad, bad day.
Things look on the up and up though, except for the scary moving and not having a job thing. However, while it’s scary, it’s also all very exciting. Many good opportunities lie ahead. Hopefully you find me on the streets of Austin holding a cardboard sign.
All engines ahead! The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.
P.S. and for anyone who might not have noticed, and who would actually care, if you put your email in the little field up top, you can get an email telling you when I’ve made a new entry. Don’t all rush for your keyboards!