Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Update: 26 Jun 2018

Hey everyone!

It's been a while so I figured I'd do a vlog post to catch everyone up.

Don't forget to like my Facebook and Twitter accounts for further updates, and check out my YouTube channel for more videos, coming soon!

Here you go!

Friday, September 29, 2017

No, really, I'm doing stuff!



As promised, today's post is an update on what I've got going on.



I'm currently writing my first original film.  It's still in progress, so I'm not sure yet if it's going to be a short film or a feature-length film.  I already have the two leads in mind (myself and a female lead), and I'm hoping my costar will be available when production time comes.

The film is going to tackle two social subjects that are very important to me.  The first is the fact that we have people under physical attack in this country because of their religion.  The second is the abhorrent, "throwaway" attitude we seem to have for our returning veterans.

These two issues are very important to me, and the only way I know how to express myself about them is through my art, since I'm tired of arguing with others on social media.

So, I'm writing.

Another subject that my film is going to subtly address is that of interracial relationships.  In fact, I intend to be in as many television shows and films in which my characters' love interests will be WOC.  The reason for this is twofold.  First, we live in 2017.  The 21st century.  Ethnicity between couples should no longer be considered abnormal.  It should no longer be met with stares, dirty looks, and snide comments.  Loving v Virginia was FIFTY years ago.  Long before that, even our Founding Fathers had no issue with mixing DNA. *coughJeffersoncough*  We should be over this by now, but we're not, for some reason.  So, my aim is to make it open and visible in as many shows and films as I can have a say in, in hopes that maybe I can help normalize it for people.

The second, and more important reason, is that I am in an interracial marriage.  It is a happy, stable, loving marriage with lots of laughs and good times.  Sure, we have our struggles, as do all couples, but we're normal.  We also have two gorgeous boys, and I want to try to help build a better world for them, a better America.  One where they won't have to protest racial injustice.

Maybe my films won't make a difference.

But maybe they will, for someone out there.  And isn't that the goal of art?

CoS

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Work This Body*

*credit to Walk the Moon




I've honestly been hemming and hawing about whether I should blog about this.  I'm at the "fuck it" point in the narrative, so I'm gonna go ahead and damn the torpedoes.

A few weeks ago, I took an acting intensive.  I'm not gonna say where or with whom, but I'm going to talk about my experience.

It was abysmal.  But one GOOD thing did come out of it, and I'll get to that part.

One by one, we were called into the small studio room and given two opportunities to perform our sides (which we had chosen from a list a couple of weeks prior) in front of a camera, with direction in between given by the casting director.  While we waited our turn, we could hear everything going on in the studio.

The sides I had chosen had me playing a lead vampire talking to another vampire.  While I waited, I could hear the CD give everyone essentially the same instruction: "tighten it up and make it more conversational".  When it came to my turn, I was given the exact same instruction.  I still have no idea what "tighten it up and make it more conversational" means.

Afterward, I was told by one of the other actors there that I shouldn't have chosen those sides, because a male vampire is handsome, and I'm not.

Um, what?!?  Muhfugga I'm damn good looking.  I know I can easily snag any role that Nathan Fillion could, and play the hell out of it.  Hell, I could play his cousin in just about anything he's in.  (As an aside, I told my wife what this person said, and she was like, "What the fuck?!?")

Believe it or not, THAT was the good part that came out of it.  Or rather, my reaction to that bit of "constructive" criticism was.

I have to admit that I'm not in the best physical shape since leaving the military.  Because of that, I have decided to take a year off of acting and go full beast mode.  I'm also going to be taking various classes to improve my acting skills.

THEN I'm going to come back and go full hard-core after a role that this person said I could never play because I'm "not handsome".  As a huge middle finger to them.  I'm also going to begin writing my own work, which I will begin production on next year.  And, as the title of this blog post indicates, this song is going to be my mantra:

Walk the Moon - Work This Body

Apologies to Amy Jo Berman





A few weeks ago, casting director and acting coach Amy Jo Berman tweeted out a question: What is your feeling on ego as an actor?  Most people answered "no way!", but I replied that it was actually a complicated answer, one that wouldn't fit into 140 characters, and that I would blog about it later that day and hit her back with it.

I completely dropped the ball.  Amy Jo, I totally apologize for whiffing it, but life honestly got in the way.  Life with a new job and two toddlers.  I'm hoping you'll go with "better late than never", so here it is:

We ALL have ego, whether you're an actor or a plumber.  It's what defines you as, well, you.  As an actor, we also have to have a certain amount of ego, in that we need to have confidence in our abilities, especially when we walk into that audition room.  We have to know that we are perfect for that role, so that the CD can sense that we're perfect for that role.  That's probably why I didn't get the role of Daenarys Targaryan on Game of Thrones  Yeah, that's it.  I even shaved my legs for that audition!

Anyhoo, as with most things in life, ego must be something that is in your life in moderation.  Too little ego, and we don't get the role.  Too much ego, and we become the monsters we might be playing.

Fortunately, in my young career thus far, I've not run into any of the diva horror stories on set.  I've heard tales, but I've yet to experience anything first hand.  The closest I've come to that is when a PA actually thanked me for not treating him like a piece of shit.  I was blown away, because I'm one of those guys that treat everyone with respect, unless they give me reason not to, and I tend to assume that most people are the same way.  Yeah, I've gotten burned on that assumption.

But I digest.

My point is that ego is a tightrope.  You have to walk it skillfully, or you can fall off to either side.

Hopefully, you work with a net.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why Acting?

So, I get asked a lot how I got started in acting, and why I chose it.  So here's the answer, and, fair warning, you're probably going to think that it's too far-fetched, that it's total bullshit.  But...


I caught the bug in middle school, where I portrayed Professor Alfred Kokintz in the stage adaptation of The Mouse That Roared, a comedic look at what happens when a tiny European duchy decides to launch a space program.

From there, it was a downhill slide into the debauchery of Guys and Dolls, wherein I played the sleazy and dangerous Joey Biltmore, and the final nail in my acting coffin came when I played the lead in Phantom of the Opera.

After that, I had a decision to make.  Did I want to pursue a career in a field that I loved, whoring myself out as a dirt-poor waiter while living in a car at the beach until my big "break"?  Or, did I want to play it smart, and focus on the long game?

I chose the long game.  I joined the military.  I loved it, too.  I got to travel to interesting places and kill interesting people, as well as save other interesting people.  Then, in January of 2015, about a year and change before I was going to retire, a wonderful director (thank you, TJ!) took a chance on me in a pilot for his web series, The Commuter Chronicles, filmed and set in Baltimore, MD.  It was a bit part, about 30 seconds of screen time, and one whole, entire line, but he liked me so much that he wrote another part for me, and I was to have an entire episode about my character.

From there, it was extra and background work, including the Supreme Court scene in the 2016 film Loving, with Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, and Nick Kroll, where Nick, as defense attorney Bernie Cohen, delivered his closing arguments to the court.  As an aside, while on set, I accidentally said, "Hi Dave!" to Nick, having confused his name (not his face!) with legendary musician Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters fame.  Anywho, that film was my first Taft-Hartley film (Google Taft-Hartley if you don't know what that is).

After that, I did a couple of guest star roles on Fox News Channel's Legends and Lies and ID Channel's A Nightmare Next Door, then in October of 2016, I retired from military service, after which I landed a supporting role in the 2017 indie short film, Medusa.  At the moment, my acting career is on temporary hiatus, due to financial and familial obligations, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to re-kick-start it in June of this year, with an eye on producing a couple of my own films, and shooting for pilot season 2018.

So there you have it, the entire story.  And don't forget that it's true.  Han Solo said so.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Back in the Saddle again, with some sage advice this time!

Hey kiddos!

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Yeah, sorry about that.  There's been a lot going on on a personal level that I'm not ready to talk about yet.  I'll get there.  Eventually.

What I DO want to talk about comes in the form of two items.

First, I've heard this saying multiple times recently, and I absolutely HATE it!!

"Only dead fish go with the flow."

To me, this is the absolute dumbest thing a person can possibly believe.  Let me tell you why.  Dead fish don't "go" anywhere.  They just float.  You see, "go" is a verb.  It is a word of action.  It means you're doing something.  When you're "going" with the flow, you're still being proactive.  You're reading the flow.  You're accelerating when you need to accelerate, and you're decelerating when you need to decelerate.  You're steering to avoid obstacles as well as to shunt yourself into opportunities.  What you're NOT doing is swimming upstream.  That's just beating your head against a brick wall.  It's counterproductive, and all you're doing is working harder, not smarter.  So, no, dead fish don't go with the flow.  They're just flotsam.

The second thing I want to talk about kind of builds on the first, so I wanted to stick it here in the same blog post, and that is the importance of honing your skillset, whatever that is; whether it be acting, or something technical, or basketweaving.

A little of the personal stuff I was talking about.  So, recently, it's become painfully obvious that I just wasn't making it financially while chasing my dream of being a full-time professional actor, so I had to suck it up and get a "real" job.

My field is electronics, and as a result, plus my military background, I wound up getting an offer from a recruiter to attend a hiring conference that happened to be in the town I live.  So, I went.  I mean, it was a no brainer.  It was free, there were tech company reps at the conference conducting interviews, and it was seven minutes from my house.

The first day was pretty grueling.  Training.  On multiple subjects.  Basically, how to interview; you know, don't be arrogant, don't pick your nose, that sort of thing.  And it was all what we in the military have dubbed "death by PowerPoint".  I was so done after the first day.  Plus, I saw a lot of the other folks there and I thought they probably had more impressive resumes than I did, so I didn't think anything was going to come out of it.  Let me tell you right now, I couldn't have been more wrong, and I couldn't be happier to have been wrong.

IIRC, there were a total of about 15 companies interviewing.  I'm not going to name any of them, but the pinnacle company, well, let's get old school and call them "Spacely Sprockets".  Yeah.  I went Jetsons with it.

Anywho, it turned out there were only two of the companies that I was even interested in, mainly because I want to stay where I am geographically, and the other companies were looking to hire in other locations.  One was an HVAC company, which I was like, "Ok, I guess they'll work."  I interviewed with them the morning of the second day, and I thought it went pretty well.  Apparently, so did they, because I wound up getting request for a second interview with them subsequently.

At 5pm on the second day, I interviewed with Spacely.  I honestly didn't think I had a shot with them.  Why?  Because their standard offer package was too good.  Fat salary, overtime, company vehicle with gas card, company laptop, tablet, and phone.  All that and I worked out of my home while setting my own schedule.

So I walk in, and the first thing they did after introductions (there were three gentlemen in the room, and the head honcho was a guy named Ed) was break out some electrical schematics, and say, "Tell me what we have going on here."  Oh, ok, electrical schematics.  I can do these.  So I rattled off what the schematics showed like I had done thousands of times before.  As I went down the line, all I could see was Ed's grin getting bigger and bigger.  I shit you not, he was laughing out loud by the time I was done.

He looked at me and said, "Where the hell have you been?!?  I've been sitting here all damn day, I interviewed 14 other people, and you're the first person who could actually read the schematics!"  Then he told the others, "I'm done.  This is the guy."  We spent the rest of the interview shooting the breeze, and they told me about the company compensation package, which I already listed.

Long story short (too late), I just did the final interview this afternoon with the company's VP.  Everyone that interviewed me thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Because I am.  I'm kidding!  Sliced bread is pretty fucking awesome, and I can't hold a candle to it.

But there's two lessons here:

1) I got the job because I had more skills than anyone else there.  HONE.  YOUR.  SKILLS.

2) DO NOT EVER.  Let me say it again.  DO.  NOT.  EVER. walk into a room thinking everyone else they're interviewing (or auditioning, in the case of acting) is better than you.  They're not, and who knows?  You might be a lot more skillful at your craft than any of them.

CoS

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Acting and surrealism

On Sunday night at 8 pm on Fox News Channel, my big show, the one I was most proud of thus far, aired.  Legends and Lies: Francis Marion told the story of the Swamp Fox, and I played Lt Col Hugh Horrey, his right hand man and cavalry leader.  I was excited, because I'd had lines each of the six days we shot, and even a closeup of me firing the musket (which was probably the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on!).  I thought I'd be featured fairly prominently.  The truth is, I wasn't.  Anyone who blinked at the wrong time wouldn't even have known my character's name.  My face wasn't even shown until right before the mid-hour commercial break.

But, let me honest.  The episode wasn't about me, or Lt Col Hugh Horrey (about which very little is actually known, historically), but about Francis Marion.  To be perfectly fair, I'm not disappointed at all.  The handful of scenes I was visible in, they made me look REALLY good.  My key line was still in there, and my facial debut was one of me in near total darkness, where only my wolfish grin could be seen.  Visually, I thought that was a stunning introduction.  And, continuing in the being fair, they were cramming about ten to fifteen years of Marion's life into an hour long program.

But the thing that really struck me was how surreal it was watching myself on television.  There I was, seeing my own face on tv, while having remembered filming those scenes.  I remembered what everything looked like while we were filming, and now here I was seeing the output from someone else's perspective.  It honestly felt like I was in two places at once, or that I was remembering two different timelines.

It was so weird!

But it was so fucking cool!!!!