Actor/Musician

Cruise control

Yesterday I filmed my stint as Tom Cruise for a short parody to air on the Austin Movie Show. It was incredibly satisfying, and really moved me in a strangely deep and emotional way. Obviously it was great to get “back in the saddle” and just cut loose with some totally over the top acting, but it was the people that really made it for me. Maybe I’m just in some hyper-emotional frame of mind or something, but I just truly loved everyone I met yesterday. They all seemed like wonderful, fun, genuine people who I think I could connect with, and in a way, did. The show is just getting started and they seemed really open to any of us who wanted to be involved with the troupe to pitch ideas, brainstorm, just take some bit parts, or whatever level of involvement individual time and desire allowed.
I left feeling that I did an adequate acting job but that I could have done much better. Everyone seemed to be pleased and entertained though. I also left feeling a bit wistful and not really wanting to go because I wanted to get to know these people better. I guess we’ll see what the future holds, but all in all it was a great experience, even if I am left a bit bewildered by my emotional response to it. I feel more deeply moved and touched than I feel I should from doing casual light little comedy piece with people I only just met. It’s very bizarre. Even if I never see any of them again, I feel my life is richer for having met them.
Maybe this is just a side effect from tossing my inner creative passion monster a tasty morsel after having not fed it in a long, long time. It awoke from it’s hibernation with a bug hunger. I will try to post or link to the skit as soon as I can get a copy.

Baby Steps

After my last whiny spell, some small amount of progress has been made. I’ve asked around about some open mic nights here in Austin, and started rebuilding my solo acoustic song list.
Then today I saw a casting call for someone to play Tom Cruise in a short spoof about him and Katie to be aired on a local access comedy/improv show. I initially deleted it. Then I remembered over the years how many times people told me I looked like, or in some way reminded them of Tom Cruise (I lost count after about 15). I figured, what the hell, I’ll throw my hat in the ring. I may not be a dead ringer but if it’s a comedy caricature, then I could probably at least do something interesting with it.
Later as we were about to meet some friends for our monthly writer’s meeting, I got the call that the people from the show wanted to meet me to scope me out. I had to leave the get together with our friends to go meet them. I grabbed my Tom Cruise sunglasses, and prepared for the audition. I watched Ben Stiller’s hilarious turn as Tom Cruise’s stunt double from the MTV VMA show. On the way to the audition (I was just meeting them at a coffee house) I started improving as Tom Cruise in the car, and I gotta say, I came up with some good stuff. I may have to do my own Tom Cruise skit just to use it!
When I met them, we chatted for a bit and then they handed me the pages. I was hoping for a chance to improv and riff a little, but that was alright. I looked them over, they summarized the scene, and we started to read through it. I launched into my best over-enthusiastic Tom Cruise and read the first set of lines. That was it. They decided that I was the man for the part. Now I don’t know how many other people they saw, if any, but it was still cool to get the part after reading one set of lines.
So tomorrow I get to be crazy Tom Cruise in a skit which will air on a local show. And to think, I had deleted this email, and only retrieved it because of all the crazy people on crack over the years who have told me that I reminded them of Tom Cruise. Crazy, man. Like Tom Cruise.

My archnemesis, Darin Murphy

I have decided that Darin Murphy is my arch-nemesis. Who is Darin Murphy? Ahh, where to start.
Darin Murphy is a professional working musician here in Austin. I actually remember him and his sister Trish Murphy playing around College Station many years ago when I lived there. When I first moved to Austin and started trying to do some freelance work with that studio here writing jingles, I quickly found that there was this little clique of artists who get most of the work there. One of these people was Darin Murphy. As time went on, I heard his name (and that of the others in the elite cadre of musicians) more and more. I would hear him performing on the morning radio show. Then I heard about how he had been cast in the Broadway show, “Lennon” and moved to New York temporarily while he was in the show. It was especially noted that he he was the only person cast who had no acting experience at all, but had still impressed people so much and knew some great contacts. As I read his blog it just depressed me that this guy seemed to have it made. He seemed to be my successful twin. There was definitely a kindred spirit thing there too. A familiarity. I didn’t hate him. On the contrary, I felt like we’d probably be great friends and have a lot in common artistically and personally, but he seemed to be somewhat living the life that I so often feel is missing. He seemed like an alternate me who had usurped one of the better time lines that I could have followed leaving me in this time line disconnected and wanting. He is what I could have been.
As I studied up on my nemesis, I found out that he’s also in a cover band called the K-tel Hit Machine. The other members of the band are those same compadres from the Elite Cadre clique whose names seem to keep wafting into my life like a taunt. The band sounded exactly like something I would be a part of or would have started. I heard them on the radio this morning. They were awesome. I hate them.
Darin Murphy has stolen my soul. While he isn’t necessarily living my dream life 100%, he’s living what I see as a most realistic version of what could be a point in my journey to my life’s ultimate destination. He’s like my doppelganger living a version of my life that I’ve yearned for. This is the stuff comic book villains are made of. I don’t really hate him, of course. I envy and respect him, but it’s much more fun to blow it up into some mythical duality where he’s somehow cosmically stolen my life and therefore he is my arch-nemesis. I seem to constantly be taunted by references and allusions to this whole musical league of super heroes, and with each occurrence, the wind is sucked out of my sails.
He lives the life while I do what I’ve always done…dream.

There’s No Place Like A Garriott Party

Saturday night we were once again part of the secret ninja group of performers who helped present one of Richard Garriott’s famous parties. Guests were told to come out a good old “barn raising” party to help out with the construction of Richard’s new house. As guests arrived they were led in groups through a tour of the construction site of Richard’s new house and shown the blue prints.

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The Tin Man

As you’ve never seen him before.

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Two Timer!

I’m happy to say that my second short film, “E-ruption” won the “People’s Choice” award for at the second annual “Kinetoscopic Wonderment Film Festival.” Last year I took home “Best Film” and “People’s Choice”. The pressure is on for next year.
Following the patter of punny awards, this year’s were “The Oscars”. Mine was a golden hot dog with little arms holding a sword (as in an Oscar Meyer Weiner), while the two other awards were a golden trash can with eyes poking out (Oscar the Grouch) and a golden Oscar Fish (Last year’s were the “Palm D’or” like Cannes, except they were actually door knobs on palms.)
I may add a picture at a later time when I’m not so damn tired!

E-ruption

I have finished my second short film. As with the last one I am both proud of it and embarrassed by it simultaneously. The complete lack of budget, equipment, and the tight time deadline again make the production values pretty much non-existent, but hopefully the content and the experience will hold enough value to get the viewer past that.
This year was a bumpy ride. I wasn’t as organized I should have been, and there were 2 scenes that had to be re-shot. One was because the cameraman apparently forgot to turn the mic on, so there was no sound, and the other was because the cameraman thought that he could not find one of the scenes anywhere on any of the tapes. For the latter case, I re-shot the scene myself (my cameraman had a previous engagement) just days before the deadline, and edited it all together. As I knew would happen, he then later found the footage in an odd place on a tape.
The one thing I’ve learned is that I’m just going to have to edit my own films. This isn’t because of any deficiency with my cameraman/editor, but more because I’m a picky bastard, and since no one is getting paid, I can’t really expect too much time and effort from people. With both of my films, I ended up taking the “final edit” and doing quite a significant amount of additional editing only to realize it would have been much easier to have just done it myself from the beginning than it is to try and tweak or band-aid an existing full edit.
We got home from my band gig at around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and I edited until 3:00 a.m. I then awoke at 11:45 .m. and edited until about 7:00 p.m. I was mostly finished at that point with just a few more tiny tweaks.
You can view it here.

Screenplays are never finished…

…only abandoned.Now that being said, I still plan on editing and revising my feature length screenplay and trying to heed as much of Se�or Klein’s most excellent feedback as I can, but I went ahead and submitted my screenplay to a contest. It’s strange, I wouldn’t really want to submit it to an agent until I was as finished with it as I was going to be, but for some reason I didn’t feel like sending it to a contest was as big of a deal.
With an agent, I may only have one shot to impress them, but with this contest I’m just paying my $40 and shooting the dice. I don’t feel like I’ll burn any bridges with the contest. I’ll just fade into nameless obscurity with all the other entrants. I figured that even though it probably still needs a lot of work, what the hell, the deadline was fast approaching so I’ll submit it as is and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I’m out $40. Best case scenario, I get a free trip to L.A. to see the muchacho and muchacha del fuego known as the Kleins.
Regardless, it felt cool to finally do something with it, and I think it might inspire me to finally get back to giving it a good look and try to polish this turd up.

“Infamous”

Today I was an extra on the movie “Infamous“. It’s a big movie about Truman Capote starring lots of really famous people, but screw them, this is about me.
Many people who work as “extras” on a set aren’t really actors. Many of them are people from all walks of life who somehow heard about “extra” work and thought, “Hey, being in a movie would be cool!” However, there are always at least some “serious” actors among them. Being an actor and working as an extra is somewhat like being Charlie and getting the Silver Ticket to the Wonka Factory. Not the Golden Ticket, but the Silver one. This ticket won’t get you a grand tour and face time with Wonka himself, but you do get to work for a day with Oompa Loompas. Not the featured Oompa Loompas who get to do the fun song and dance, but the nameless, faceless Oompa Loompas who work behind the scenes in the factory doing things like cleaning children out of chocolate ducts. You can see the Golden Ticket winners doing what you’d love to be doing more than anything, but you are stuck in the back room making sure the Ever-lasting Gobstoppers actually last forever and don’t dwindle just this side of eternity. You’re exhilarated by just being in the Wonka factory, but sad and frustrated that you’re only on the fringe of your dream.
Today’s scene took place on a closed off downtown Austin street which was standing in for 1960 New York. I had been to a costume fitting last week to be fitted with 1960’s New York guy clothes (although from the way my sweater buttoned, it was obviously made for a woman). My costume would be my own black dress shoes, rust colored slacks, a maroon sweater tucked in, a long tweed coat and a scarf. The pants pulled up rather high as was the style back then. Maybe the whole trend now of wearing your pants practically falling off is some kind of karmic pendulum swing the other way.
I awoke at the ungodly hour of 5:15 a.m. to be on set at 6:15. When I arrived, a big bus took us all to another location which apparently used to be a restaurant or something. They gave us our costumes and then sent us outside to change in some tents set up in the parking lot. Hair and make up then saw us and did their thing (which in my case was putting lots of product in my hair and slicking it into a side part). I sat there at a table feeling like melancholy Charlie with the silver ticket and contemplated whether or not I should continue doing extra work since it was just sort of a tease and pretty much leads nowhere except to more extra work.
Quite a while later the bus took us to the set and we were all sent to get props. I got some lovely 60’s eyeglasses and a brownish orange briefcase. We were then placed in various areas and told what to do when the cameras rolled. I was paired up with another guy named Rance who ended up being very cool and interesting to talk to. We were both actors, writers, directors and had some really interesting conversations throughout the day while plotting how to best get us some screen time. There were lots of extras who owned old cars which they had on the street for the scene.
When the cameras rolled, Rance and I would walk down the sidewalk acting like we were talking, pause to say goodbye, and he would go into a building while I tried to hail a cab. This ended up being quite fortuitous since the two stars of the scene (Hope Davis and Toby Jones who looked like an absolute perfect clone of Truman Capote) ended up walking right in front of us as the passed. Score! There is no way that I will not be seen in this movie unless they completely cut the scene out. There were many takes and as with all movies, much waiting in between. Another good sign that I must have been in the picture a lot is that I got several notes from the crew member handling our section such as “tone it down a little when you’re hailing the cab so as not to distract attention from the leads”, and a few other notes which indicated that I was definitely being seen and thus scrutinized heavily.
Though I was only in the background, I was genuinely acting. Rance and I would walk along engrossed in our mimed conversation, gesticulating with purpose. We would reach our mark, say our goodbyes (linger as the two leads passes mere feet next to us), and he would go off to his imaginary job, while I tried to get the attention of the cab driver who just wouldn’t stop and pick me up. Instead he drove on and some other girl got in and stole my cab! I could hardly blame him as she was very pretty, but I still acted indignant and annoyed, and proceeded to look for another cab down the road.
In the end it was a good time even if it was a tease. I enjoyed meeting and talking with Rance, and I might finally make it in a movie without being cut out (knock on your crossed wooden fingers). Though it can be painful and taunting, I know I will do it again. I am an actor. Actors must perform, and given the chance to be a part of a movie, even as what equates to just being part of the scenery, we are drawn like sailors to the siren on the rocks. Like moths to the flame. Like bad writers to extraneous similes.
Charlie would have kept buying those chocolate bars too, hoping that Wonka would someday give another tour, and when that day came, Charlie might just open that wrapper and see the corner of something gold.
*EDIT*
I feel the need to share this entry from Wil Wheaton’s blog as it’s nice to see the other side of the coin sometimes. I love to see things going well, and people finding satisfaction in their endeavors. It made me feel good just to read this and live vicariously through him! Nice counterpoint to the incessant whining I can sometimes do here.

Film time!

Once again the Kinetoscopic Wonderment festival draws nigh (for those who don’t know my film won Best Film and People’s Choice at the first fest last year). I didn’t think I would be able to get anything together this year, but in a last minute push I wrote a script I like and am scrambling to get it all filmed and edited by the deadline at the end of March. I’m really afraid that there’s no way I can get it in under the ten minute mark, but we’ll tackle that bit of track when we get to it. This train is a’rolling, baby!