Actor/Musician

A good day’s work!

Yesterday I started my gig with Compass Learning doing videos and voiceovers for the educational software. It’s aim is to be fun, funny and educational. They’ve brought together a small group of us to do multiple characters/voices as needed. Yesterday I played an exceedingly cool guy who LOVES to graph things mathematically. To quote my character, “I once made a graph out of leftover graphs to graph how much I like graphs.” It was a lot of fun, but MAN was I glad there was a teleprompter! I am not a math person. I don’t think there was any way I could have memorized all the gobbledegook about functions, compositions, formulas and “F of X”, “G of X”, etc.
This project has made me discover some new talents though. Apparently I can just spontaneously read things off a teleprompter but sound like I actually know what I’m talking about and do it in character. They seemed pleased at my performance and I felt good being appreciated for my creativity and skills.
I got a call last night to see if I could come in today for another piece. I, of course, said yes and today was even more fun. Me and one of the other cast members named Danu were to perform as infomercial hosts…as sock puppets. When the director told me that I told her that strangely enough, I have sock puppet experience.
Just like in my previous sock puppet experience, I once again found that I seemed to be a pretty natural puppeteer. I enjoyed expressing things through a puppet. It’s a whole different experience and skillset. My favorite moment was when they had me voicing my puppet (with an appropriately cheesy infomercial host voice) and simultaneously voicing a robot who would be put on screen later by the graphics team. The dialogue was very quick in some parts where I would rapidly be switching between the characters and having to remember to only make the puppet talk for one of the rapidly alternating voices. It was a blast. Danu and I had a great rapport and brought a lot of our own improvisation to the performance that the crew loved. At several points the crew were having to hold their mouths to contain their laughter so as not to ruin the take. I felt so in my element and like I really brought it. Everyone, including me, seemed really happy at the result and at how quickly we got it done. There was a lot of long tongue tripping dialogue (this was a science piece about conversions, and scientific accuracy and process) but we breezed right through it.
I went to lunch with Jess and Staci and then headed home for a nap before my second gig of the day. The guy who runs the murder mystery dinner theatre troupe had hired me to go to a private party event. Interestingly, it was a one man show. I was given all the details of the plot and I showed up at a house where 30-40 Dell employees were having a dinner party. I pretended to be with the catering crew as I mingled with the guests, putting on an Italian accent and generally being an over top, slightly obnoxious character. Only the party planners, the “killer” and the catering crew were in on it. I pretended to be kind of pushy with one of the employees (who would turn out to be the killer) and generally just made a scene with my silly behavior. I then pretended to take ill (I had been eating the food and drinking on the job, as well as complaining that the water tasted strange), and ran outside. The owners of the house pretended to call for help. I then came back to the party in a trench coat and wig as “Lt. Calabro” of the Austin Police, doing my best Columbo rip off. I made a scene, told people that my previous character had died and that someone at the party was the killer. After some investigation I “found” a stack of copies of a riddle the killer had left, obviously toying with us. The riddle gave clues to the killer identity, who turned out to be one of the Dell employees (who was in on the plot, obviously). It was all quite unusual and a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Coming up, I’m doing scenes from “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and “The Princess Bride” for some UT directing classes, as well as ongoing sessions with Compass Learning for the next six months, more short films, murder mystery dinner theatre shows, probably a bunch more things I’m forgetting and anything else I get my creative claws into! I’m a working actor! It’s still kind of hard to believe.

Fun with movie scenes

Often there are casting calls for students at the university casting for scenes from well known movies to be performed in their directing class and then filmed later. I’ve done several of these and tend to audition for the ones that interest me. Yesterday I received an email from someone I’d worked with on a few occasions saying he wanted me to be in a scene from “The Producers”. It was all very last minute as the performance was today. It was nice to be sought out, out of the blue and just offered a part. He asked if I knew anyone else to be in the scene so I suggested Larry.
We went over the scene a few times then went to meet him for a rehearsal. A few hours later we performed in class and it was a resounding success. Going into rehearsal, Larry and I both thought that there wasn’t really much room for interpretation. The scene was pretty much on the page we thought but through rehearsal with the director we ended up finding some interesting angles. I play Max Bialystock much more sinister, creepy and slightly insane. It was fun.
From there I went directly to another audition for a scene from “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang” which also felt like it went well. Wednesday I finish up filming a fun short film and Thursday I am auditioning for scenes from “the Princess Bride” and “Once”. I also have my first session with the six month voiceover/video gig for an educational software company. Then on Saturday it’s off to the Ren Fest where Jess and I got married 6 years ago on November 9. Good times!
On a sad note, our Xbox 360 died today and it looks like it will cost Larry $100 to fix it. Not to mention we’ll be without it for weeks! And in the middle of our Fallout 3 addiction!

Ricardo Montalban and a life update.

I read this quote from Ricardo Montalban and thought it was awesome. Here are Ricardo Montalban’s 5 stages of an Actor’s career:
1. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
2. Get me Ricardo Montalbán.
3. Get me a Ricardo Montalbán type.
4. Get me a young Ricardo Montalbán.
5. Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
I was Khan for Halloween. It was awesome. I’ll try to see if I can get my hands on someone’s pictures.
I think I just got a 6 month long voiceover/on screen gig for an educational software company. They wanted an SNL style group of people who could do multiple characters/accents/impressions. I’m quite excited about it! Also worked a pretty fun four day Production Assistant job. Filming a short film two days this week, performing with Capital City Mystery Players doing murder mystery dinner theatre and private shows, scenes from movies for student’s directing classes, and much more!
Larry and I pitched a page of ideas to a company that may have us film a bunch of “viral” youtube type spots for them. Could be our first outside client possibly paying us to write, direct and produce videos. I don’t think they like our budget though even though it’s RIDICULOUSLY low. We’ll see when we present it to them.
Life is a roller coaster but generally beautiful.
Hopefully going to England for 3 weeks around Christmas!

Wassup, people!

I learned recently that my friend, Darrin, reads this blog though he has never commented. Therefore inspired by knowing that there are actually at least a few people still reading here I am inspired to update!
My silence is not only due to being a sucktastic and neglectful blogger but also because I’ve been fairly busy. i’m currently involved in more films than I can keep track of even with my nifty new iPhone and constant email and calendar access!
I am in the midst of a 10 day shoot for a small feature I’m starring in after which I immediately start another feature. There are also several shorts I’m in, several more shorts and features in the pipeline for other people and that whole ever growing stack of shorts (and features) that Larry and I have written that we want to get into production.
In other exciting news, episode 1 of Sal Monella is in in the finals tonight of the Austin Film Festival’s “Funniest Filmmaker in Austin” contest. Then there’s also the rest of my non-film related life to live too.
Life in general is kind of a roller coaster of highs and lows but overall I think my account ends up in the positive. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…

Chipmunk Punk

When I was a kid, I had the album “Chipmunk Punk”. This was a 1980 album of Alvin and the Chipmunks doing 9 songs that were not really in any way, punk, but were pretty cool and influential to me. This album actually introduced me to a lot of songs that I would later come to really love. At the time, I had never heard of “The Knack” and I don’t think I had heard of most of the other songs on the album either. I just knew I liked the Chipmunks as we had a cool clear red album of theirs from 1969.
Recently I was thinking back on this and realized just what a weird album this was. The track listing was:
Side A

  • “Let’s Go” by The Cars
  • “Good Girls Don’t” by The Knack
  • “How Do I Make You” by Linda Ronstadt
  • “Refugee” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “Frustrated” by The Knack

Side B

  • “Call Me” by Blondie
  • “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
  • “My Sharona” by The Knack

Now the first thing I noticed is that one third of the songs are from The Knack. Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Knack’s debut album “Get The Knack” which spawned all three of these songs, but to have three of nine songs by The Knack, who I had never even heard of at that time, seems an odd choice. Were the producers friends with The Knack? Did they get a hellaciously good deal on song rights?
Secondly, though I remember very specific changes they made to the lyrics to make them more kid friendly, those three songs from The Knack are racy! They’re all about trying to get laid. Sure they changed “Til she’s sitting on your face” to “Til she’s sitting in your place” but a few lyrical changes do not change the overall subject of the song.
I don’t really remember realizing at the time what these songs were about, but again in hindsight, WHOA! How did this album get made?
“You thought you heard her saying ‘Good Girls don’t’…but she’s been telling you ‘Good girls don’t but I do.”
“Frustrated” is all about blue balls, basically. Some girl not putting out.
“My Sharona”, all about lusting after this young teenage girl.
Again, I ask, HOW DID THIS ALBUM GET MADE AND RELEASED? All I know is I’m glad it did, because I played the hell out of it and was introduced to some awesome music. I own every one of those songs on CD by the original artists. Except for “How Do I Make You”. I can’t remember how that one goes but I remember I liked the Chipmunk’s version of it. Somehow I listened to this album repeatedly without ever really realizing how inappropriate some of the songs probably were for a nine year old boy.

48 hour film competition

The 48 hour film competition is going on again this weekend. Once again I had a gig on Saturday so I couldn’t be in any films so instead I offered to help my friend, Greg, write his.
Last at 7:00 P.M. Greg received his info. His genre was “Road Movie”, the character we had to include was “Zack Needham, take-out delivery driver”, the prop we had to use was a baby block, and we had to use the line “That was a good one.”
Me, Jess, Larry, Greg, Hillary and Chris all went to eat and brainstorm, then we adjourned to Greg’s house to start writing.
Me, Jess, Larry and Greg then proceeded to write from about 9 P.M. to about 2 A.M. I have to say I think we wrote a pretty damn good 7 minute film. Absurd, crazy, funny, and out there. I then emailed Greg a bunch of music I’d compsed for past projects that he could use in this one for various scenes. This will be the first thing I’ve ever helped write without directing and starring in it too. It’s kind of weird but kind of cool too. can’t wait to see what we have at 7 P.M. tomorrow!

A $600 impulse buy, and misc updates

Well, not exactly. We’ve been discussing getting a new bed for some time. It seems like a rarity that either one of us gets a decent nights sleep without feeling achy, crunchy or like we need to see a chiropractor. This is a bummer to us because about 2 years ago we spent a good amount getting what was supposed to be one of the best mattresses at this particular shop. I was not looking forward to trying to figure out what mattress to try next. You just never really know until you’ve slept on it for a while so “trying it out” in the shop is pretty much useless.
Cut to today. After getting an insanely great amount of clothes for both of us at Goodwill for only $100, we headed to Costco because I wanted to look for this little portable AC unit a friend had told me about to use in the room we call “The Cave” where my computer and home studio resides. For some stupid reason the AC vent going to this room is about half the size of all the others so it gets warmer than the rest of the house.
As soon as we walked in they had these queen size memory foam mattresses for only $600. Now anyone who had ever looked at a memory foam mattress will know that this is a pretty incredible price. We had always wanted to try one but had never seen them for less than a metric ton of money. We asked about their return policy and Costco has an awesome policy of “if you don’t like it, we’ll take it back. Period. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been. No time limit.” I strongly felt that this was the bed we needed to get.
So we didn’t find the AC unit I was looking for (my friend, Greg, is going to pick one up for me from Sam’s Club where he saw it), but we ended up with a memory foam mattress for about the same price we paid for our old one! And three tubs of sabra hummus which is the best hummus ever. It is THE reason we got a Costco card.
On other fronts, I’ve been hella busy with acting gigs, some Production Assistant work, our own short films, gearing up for our first feature, and many other things. Life is generally good and I hope to stop being such a crappy and infrequent blogger. I film for about a week on an independent feature this week, I’m the lead in another indie feature shooting next month and have a part in a third indie feature in July.
Grand Theft Auto IV has also sucked up a huge part of my life. It’s awesome and addicting. Rock Band still rocks We had the best Rock Band session ever Saturday night at Greg’s home theatre. Though he has it on Ps3, we brought our Xbox because, of all our friends, we by far have the most songs since we have bought almost all the downloadable content. We played for about 6 hours getting our band all the way to the Hall of Fame gig, but by that time we were all tired so our attempt at the brutal 8 song setlist to get into the Hall of Fame will have to wait until next time.
That’s about all my brain has to spit out at the moment and even all that is the highly condensed summary. Ya’ll come back now! Ya hear?

Indiana Jones and The Movie Musketeers

The Movie Musketeers tackle Indy 4!

The Brazil Nut Dance, as it was meant to be

When Larry and I made “The Brazil Nut Dance“, we had always envisioned it a certain way but at the time were unable to finish it the way we wanted. Well now my knowledge has grown and it finally exists as it was conceived in our minds.

Get Rich! (Webisodes)

A while back I was involved in making a series of webisodes called “Gettin Rich”. They’re sort of infomercial parodies. Well now you can check ’em out!

Gettin Rich: Roadkill

Gettin Rich: Deportation