Actor/Musician

So who wants to read my screenplay?

The first draft is finished! I started it in 2000, wrote the first half in about a month and then sat on my lazy ass for 3 years procrastinating. Now it’s done. Well, the first draft is anyway. Now for the painful editing, re-writing, etc.
Movie Disclaimer:
To anyone who wants to read my screenplay, contact me at contact@heathallyn.com and I will send you the link and the password to get to it (I have it saved in multiple formats for you to choose from). You can then save it or just read it online. I am looking for honest opinions and feedback, and not just blind praise. I will listen to all feedback, and take no offense at all to any criticism. Artistic works are totally subjective, and therefore I’m sure some people may think it’s pure crap, and that’s ok. On the flip side of that coin, I listen to all feedback with an open mind, however do not be offended if I don’t take your advice or if I disagree with it. Ultimately I am the one who has to be happy with it. I already have a laundry list of things that may need to be tweaked or changed, but I don’t want to color anyone’s opinions so I’ll keep my own concerns to myself for the moment. Keep in mind that as I’ve said this is the first draft and not a final product, so I by no means think I have a finished perfect screenplay.
Let the reading begin! Contact me if you’re interested.

My big screen debut!

Well not technically. Technically, my big screen debut was in “House of the Generals” which debuted at a theatre in Dallas, and I couldn’t make it. However, my first big screen debut that I’ve seen was tonight a the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Austin. It was the first screening of half of the entries in the 48 hour film contest. As you may have previously read, the way it works is that Friday night at 7:00 all the teams drew a genre, and then had 48 hours to write, film, edit, score, etc. their film. We drew film noir. Every film also had to have the following:
Character: Jordan Moonie, professional skateboarder
Prop: brick
Line: “Excuse me, I think I love you”
In case anyone cares, beware spoilers for our short film “Dead Stock” below.
Friday night, the writers wrote the script. Saturday morning filming began. I wasn’t needed until about noon supposedly. I was later told that they wouldn’t be at the second location until about 2:00. So around 2:00 I went to the location (a dry cleaners) and they started to film scenes there. We got to my scene about midnight, and I wrapped up filming around 2:30 a.m. I played the small, but fun and pivotal role of Drake Manford, uber successful pro skater nearing the end of his career who is fabulously rich and successful, but whose wife convinces my former prot�g�, Jordan Moonie, that I’m the one who attacked him and shattered his knee with a brick, because I was jealous that he started to do better than me. She also convinces him that she’s in love with him, and that I beat her, so he agrees to kill me. In the end she kills me, frames him, and then trips on a brick and falls unconscious on a train track as a train approaches.
The contest itself was also full of drama. At one point the editor called and told us the tape we had run to him was blank. Nothing on it. Turned out we had sent the wrong tape, so whew! Later however the actual tape we finally got him had glitches (it had jammed in the camera) and was unusable. This was about 2:00 a.m. and that meant they would have to re-shoot 2 scenes, one of which included an actor who had long since gone home. They shot everything except for that one scene, hoping to get it first thing Sunday, and wrapped around 5:00 a.m. The next morning, they still hadn’t heard from the actor, so the director stepped into the role, and did great. At some point the editor had told them another tape was totally blank. eventually the problem was figured out, and they got the tape working, and I believe, in fact, also figured out that they could have used the other “bad” tape too, but at this point they had already re-shot. The deadline was 7:30 p.m. at Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, and at 7:20 they were in the car still editing with a lap top while speeding to the finish. We were literally the last film submitted right at the 7:30.
Tonight, we went to watch the showing of the “group A” films which included ours. It was amazing. In everyone’s opinion who I talked to, our film was in a complete other league from the vast majority. Every film played looked very much like an amateur film shot on somebody’s home video camera, and all but the first one were generally bad all around. Acting, writing, etc. When ours came on, it really looked like a real movie. Moody lighting, good acting, nice script, good score, editing, etc. It was just tremendous.
There was only one film after ours. Unfortunately it was the absolute hands down best of them all. It looked, and sounded 100% professional. All the elements were just jaw dropping good quality from the look and sound of it, to all the things I mentioned about our film, and even the credits. There was just no denying the big dog. I have to think the order of the films was no coincidence. Just as seeing our film after all the rest made me smile hugely, seeing the one after ours took some wind out of the sails a bit.
All in all though, I am ecstatic with it. The team was amazing, the writers took a very brave choice of doing a straight dramatic film noir instead of going to more audience friendly comedy route, and we delivered and incredible piece of good looking cinema that was just miles beyond everything except the last film. Hopefully someone will put it online at some point. Now I just hope there wasn’t anything to incredibly good in the “B” group of films which we didn’t stay for since we would have had to buy separate tickets to it. Tomorrow I’ll be talking to some of the guys who stayed for the second group to find out.

Money and Happiness

Why is it so rare that these two things go together. It seems like I only ever have an abundance of one. Right now, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as happy in some ways and creatively fulfilled. Since we’ve been in Austin my creative passions have run free. This weekend alone, I went on something like 6 auditions, and I must say kicked ass, but more on that later in the entry. The point is that our money situation is beyond an emergency state, and I must find a job, any job, and quick. This will balance out the money factor at the expense of my happiness factor. Anyway, enough about that, onto the fun stuff.
I had 3 different auditions today (all for non-paying projects). Before the first one, I stumbled upon a monologue that just resonated with me and fit like a glove. I have 2 other monologues, one light, and one darker that I’ve been using when needed up until this point. I knew immediately that I just had to learn this new one. With both the others, I really had to struggle and work on delivery and timing and such. The new one just flowed with me perfectly from the moment I read it. I quickly memorized it, and 30 minutes later did it at my first audition. They then asked if I had another one from a different angle, so I did my light hearted one from my repertoire. By the end they knew they wanted to use me in their short film. One small hitch was that this film was for the 48 hour film contest where film makers receive a genre and some miscellaneous detail Friday night at 7:00 and have 48 hours to make and submit a film. What’s the hitch? The fact that I had already auditioned for 2 other teams, one of which wants to use me for something, albeit they told me it would be for like 30 minutes on Friday night which wouldn’t interfere with the other 2 which would be shooting on Saturday. So now the problem was which of the other two to participate in.
I went to my second audition for a short student film, and absolutely killed with my portrayal of a tailor named Vito which I did with a strong New York accent.
My third audition was callbacks for the other 48 hour team which I had auditioned for yesterday. I told them that the other team definitely wanted me, so I wasn’t sure I should even audition again with them. They said they also wanted me, and that they’d love for me to at least stay and read, and I could decide later. I stayed and read, and felt like I kicked some ass. I then waited around before a second round of reading, and got to know some really cool actors as we chatted away for hours. After the second reading, they wanted me to stay for a third reading since they were really short on guys to read opposite the girls so I did. In the end, I felt I’d really done well, and now I have to decide which of these two teams to go with, and hope that the third doesn’t end up changing from the initial Friday night shooting estimate.
It’s nice to be wanted and feel confident in my work. I’m trying to just bask in my current happiness and not think about the getting a job thing right now. At least until tomorrow. I actually put in an 8 hour day of auditioning today. Crazy, eh? I have begun my world take over.

Auditions, gigs and funerals

The three are not related, in case you were confused. Saturday morning on our way out of town I went to 2 auditions. The first was for a little non-paying role in a film called “Love-holstry”. The script was demented, shocking and pretty damn funny. Basically, the lead gets dumped by his girlfriend, gets drunk, and then his comfy chair starts talking and coming on to him trying to get him to have sex with it. For my audition, I did a monologue from “The Jerk” by Steve Martin, and then read some of the script. I think it went well.
Next up was the extras casting call for the new Johnny Knoxville (of “Jackass” fame) movie, “The Ringer”. Since I initially didn’t think I could make the casting call due to having a gig that night, I had sent them my headshot in the mail previously, but figured I’d go ahead and pop on by anyway. Good call on my part. I filled out the info sheet, stood in line, and watched as everyone haned in their stuff and left. When she got to me, she turned to another girl who was in the back at a table and said “what about him?” She then told me to go see the girl at the table. Much to my surprise the girl actually recognized me from my picture that I’d sent in the mail, and I was hired on the spot to be an extra this Tuesday. It sounds pretty promising too, because there will only be 3 extras on the set that day.
We headed off to College Station for my gig which was uneventful. It was ok, but nothing special. Much to my surprise, it was pretty cold that night and I wished I had brought a jacket.
Sunday was Mimi’s memorial service. All in all it was a very cheery affiar, just the way she would have wanted it. She was a fan of wakes, and such as opposed to grim depressing funerals. It took place at a 100 year old house which also would have made her extremely giddy with joy. It was really nice seeing everyone and talking and catching up. To paraphrase something Jess said at one point “This is the cheeriest funeral I’ve ever seen”. It was true. All in all a fitting send off that she would have approved of heartily. It’s kind of strange to know that she’s gone and never coming back. It’s a concept that my mind can’t really wrap itself around. I wondered last night what an alien culture would think if they saw our little death rituals. I’m sure it would depend on the culture, but I wondered if they might be puzzled at how these strange people have a solemn ritual every single time one of their flesh bags ceases functioning. Billions of them around the world, and yet with each passing, life halts for just a moment to pay their respects. Those wacky humans!

This NaNoWriMo thing

For anyone who is not familiar, check it out here. It sounds intriguing, but there’s no way I will be participating unless I finish my screenplay before then. If I finish my screenplay before November, then I may undertake it just for fun by taking an idea loosely based on P@’s dream about time travel but done in a silly Douglas Adams-y way. Initially his dream gave me this great idea for an action thriller screenplay with a sort of “Minority Report” atmosphere, but upon thinking about the NaNoWriMo thing, it lent itself well to my Douglas Adams-y thing too.
If I don’t finish my screenplay before November then I shall endeavor to use that time to make sure it gets finished by December. Whenever I do finish it, it is only the first draft which will need some serious re-writing and tweaking, so that may end up taking precedence anyway. We shall see what happens.

So, how was your last 3 days?

Mine were action packed. As you probably already know, Sunday night while we were sleeping, the valve on our toilet broke and flooded our entire apartment while we slept. We had to move our entire apartment onto the patio so they could pull up all the carpet, remove the padding, and then put big dryer fans under the carpet for two days. Sunday night we stayed with my aunt at their house.
Monday, we came back, hung out on the patio for a while, and talked to management about the situation. We still don’t have the details solidified, but we’ll probably get a month’s rent or something.
The studio called me that morning about submitting a demo for another jingle (for which I will be paid). That afternoon I went by and picked up some samples of the type of thing they were looking for.
That night I went to a rehearsal for a play (the previously mentioned one where a guy I had met a few times had recommended me). The people were all very cool and fun. The play itself wasn’t necessarily my kind of thing (a lot of religious content about a guy who goes to jail and finds god), but work is work, and the people were all very cool. I knew it paid, but much to my surprise, it paid fairly well, even for my tiny part in it, and the fact that I will only be in one performance (the second one I can’t make, and there may be some more out of town touring performances in November for which I will be paid more).
After that, we went back to the apartment so I could get to work on the jingle, since I wasn’t sure how much time I would have in the next couple of days being that Tuesday was supposed to be the day the carpet got finished up, and Wednesday I’m going into the studio to record another cut for the album. I haphazardly set my computer up on the living room floor (where the carpet was rippling wildly from the fans), with the monitor stacked on top of it, the mouse on the monitor, and the keyboard on a chair. I whipped up a jingle by about 12:30 a.m. and emailed it off. It was not quite the quality I like to put out, but under the conditions, it was all I could do. Hopefully no one will hear all the carpet fans whirring behind all the vocals. No biggie anyway since my vocals will be replaced with a girl singer. We cleared off our bed, maneuvered around all the fans and dehumidifiers, and just roughed it sleeping in our own bed.
Tuesday, I got up, did some revisions to the jingle as per email, then just lazed around on the patio most of the day. I had a message on my cell phone from a girl saying they wanted me to come in and read for a part in some movie production. She told me to call the director back, but unfortunately did not leave a number. Through some detective work I determined who I thought it was, and left a message on his mobile phone. Haven’t heard back so I’m not sure if it was the right guy or not. Eventually the carpet guys came back, finished up the carpet and the shampooed it. This unfortunately left it kinda wet again (sigh), but in a purposeful way. We finally got our place back to normal and then went out to eat. When we were moving the couch back in I noticed 4 broken springs poking through the bottom, so I got some tools, and MacGyvered a fix using some little screw hook things. Woo! Go me!
Tomorrow I go into the studio as previously mentioned. In other good news, the car jingle I did with Craig and Spencer sold (doesn’t mean much to me personally as far as money goes, but it still bodes well). Hopefully more work to come from that venue too. Then of course, Thursday is M day! Mindi will be arriving for a visit! What fun she’ll have cramming into my truck with me and Jess and doing lots of cheap/free stuff! 😉 Hey, it’s all about the company, right?

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.