First speaking part of 2015 :)

25 Feb

Yesterday I had a very contrasting and interesting day. At my day job, I had to dress in goth and be a whole lot meaner that I tend to be on a regular basis. It still terrifies me and brings me way out of my comfort zone when I do this scenario, but I feel like I am getting better at it. Or worse, depending which side of the table you’re sitting on.

Afterwards, I went to shoot a scene for a student film. I have to admit, I was kind of skeptical. The emails were very professional, but then we were supposed to be filming at a grocery, and the address was for someone’s apartment. My dad had the address in case I got hi-jacked (his words, not mine), but I had nothing to worry about. This was actually the kind of project that restores my faith in non-union/student films. I was received and brought to a room with chairs and a table laden with food. The director came over to discuss what she needed from me in the scene, and they had my outfit waiting. I am pretty sure every single member of the cast and crew came up to thank us for being there, since it was on a volunteer basis. We did have to wait around until the grocery store closed before filming, but I brought some knitting (a new skill I am working on, thanks to my mom) and had some interesting conversations with the background actors.

Once we actually got to set, a cute grocery store the owners were letting us use, I got behind my cash and we did the scene from different vantage points, sometimes focusing on the main characters, other times on me. One thing I loved was that no matter whether any of us were on camera or not, we still did our actions as if we were, so one being filmed wouldn’t have to imagine those details. We wrapped at least an hour before they had expected and I had an absolutely lovely time, with a kind, professional and pleasant staff. I am definitely looking forward to their graduating and I would say yes to working with them again in a heart beat!

Also, on an unrelated note, I could have written an entire post about the Oscars, but I figured those of you who wanted to watch them did, and those who didn’t weren’t really interested in my take on them. However, I feel like I have to point out that whether I agree with the winners or not, the performances were amazing, and not just on the screen. There were some jokes in the opening that while they may seem offensive, were still bringing awareness to an issue that shouldn’t still be around in 2015, and then the acceptance speeches were, for the most part, incredibly touching. But even more than that, a lot of what was said was encouraging change. I thought it was interesting to use the awards show as a platform to bring attention to issues like Alzheimer’s, suicide and equality (in all respects).

Back from NYC :)

22 Feb

I just spent an awesome weekend in New York City with my cousins. It was kind of cold and snowing, so we didn’t visit all the things we had planned, but we did get to see some major landmarks, hang out in Times Square and saw a Broadway play. It was On The Town, which I hadn’t heard of, and didn’t know anyone from the cast, but my cousin said it looked funny, and I actually really enjoyed it. We all did. We spent the night at McGee’s, the bar that inspired Maclaren’s from How I Met Your Mother. It was my cousin’s one requirement for the trip, that we had to go there. We met up with one of their friends from high school, who is a fellow actor, studying in New York. We reminisced, caught up and he told me all about the possibilities a place like New York can offer. It was an amazing weekend, that I would definitely love to make a tradition of (the cousin getaway trip, although New York is always a good idea too ;) )

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Also, last Thursday’s rehearsal went a bit different than the others we have had so far. We started off by playing some theater games to loosen up, and one of our numbers included dancing. They also discovered what I have long known, that I unfortunately have no rythm. For hand clapping that is, I think I can manage the dancing.

Now I have to leave you to watch the Oscars and learn some brandprov :)

“The Lights are so bright but they never blind me”

-Welcome to New York, Taylor Swift

Work, Demos and my Brand

18 Feb

I just got back from a day working at Mcgill. We used a lot of improv, but in an interesting way, because although the 3 of us who work there had a script, there was another person who would come in with no idea what was going on and would often throw curve balls at us. Unintentionally, but it was definitely a lesson in keeping our emotions in check, and controlling our laughter. Have I mentioned that this is probably one of the absolute best survival jobs for an actress? For like a million reasons? Well, it is. Definitely :)

This week I tried to update my demo reel, to make it more on brand and so that I would be super proud to show it to people, but finding scenes that fit my criteria has been tricky. This means I am now focusing my creative writing energies into writing short scenes that are incredibly on brand and will show casting directors exactly how to cast me. I am then going to get some amazing actor friends to film these with me. Extra points if the scene is on brand for them too. Now I need to get writing :)

Although I only plan to start taking dialect classes this summer, I have started watching interviews with british actors, to see how they naturally speak and get used to their vocabularies. I am assured this is the kind of research/homework I will get when the classes start, but for now I am very much enjoying absorbing Emma Watson’s genius. That’s a thing, right?

In other news, I should be filming a small part next week, and you can play Where’s Waldo with me on this week’s Reign episode. It would be in the first scene, and this is what I am wearing (plus a coat, minus the background). Can you spot me?

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“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

-Vince Lombardi

Changes in the Air

15 Feb

I am now 12 days into the Self-Tape Challenge, and I am learning a lot of things. For one, I now know where I can do a self tape on my own in my house, and I am also getting comfortable with them. That isn’t to say I am amazing at them, but I am trying new things and getting confident, which was the goal of the challenge. I am also taking the opportunity to learn some monologues, but for now I keep practicing things I actually want to send in as self-tapes instead. Which is really a good and exciting thing. Whether I send it in or anything comes of it doesn’t matter, it is really fun to actually work on things that are currently casting.

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Looking back on the rehearsal from last Tuesday is kind of bittersweet, because I am no longer participating in that project. I completely understand, because it was easy to realize that I was not really meant for the part, but it is still unfortunate that I spent so much time working on a role and learning my lines, getting into it when someone else will ultimately play it. Every day on set is a good day though, and I got to explore a character that is nothing like me. The moral of this story is not to submit for things that are off-brand, even if I am really aching to get back on set. Lesson learned, and it was an interesting experience.

Other than some work at McGill and a lovely afternoon spent with Carolyne, the only other thing of note this week is that I bought a car. Mine was dying, so it was a necessity, but it kind of puts this career into perspective. I need to get working ;)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill

Also, congrats to my cousin, Steve, who ran a half-marathon dressed as a penguin today :)

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The Echelon Workshop

9 Feb

I just had a really productive weekend. A while ago, I contributed to the Echelon fundraising campaign, and one of the perks was a Thespian Workshop. Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had an amazing time, and learnt some interesting things.

A lot of the work was improvisational in nature. I am no longer terrified of improv, but let’s just stay it still keeps me on my toes. We also had a lot of times where they asked us what we wanted to work on, or what we found hard to do and the responses reminded me of some pivotal lessons that I had clearly been forgetting. When I said I had trouble being seductive in a scene, a woman reminded me that you need to put the focus on the person. If you look at the other person and really take in every aspect of them, it just comes accross as seduction. So instead of trying to be seductive, take your scene partner in. It takes the pressure off of you and looks a lot more truthful that just trying to look seductive on your own.

As for my Achille’s heel of crying, they reminded me again that it helps to focus on the other person in the scene, but also, not to focus on the obstacle of getting myself to cry. If I am in my head, worrying about how I won’t be able to cry, then I won’t be able to be truthful to the scene, or to let the emotions naturally bring me to a place where I might tear up, or hold myself back from crying, which is actually more powerful than the tears. I am definitely leaving with some excellent tools for facing my acting obstacles.

As for our scene itself, we did it first the way we saw it, then the two people leading the workshop each took turns redirecting us. Some of the redirections definitely made it more powerful, while others might have just been a test to see if we could take direction.

Another thing I realized this weekend is that we gravitate towards people that remind us of someone. If you are in a room with strangers, you will go to the one who reminds you of your sister or your best friend. In my case, I went to the person who reminded me of myself. Not this weekend, but at the play on Friday, before they let us into the room, we were all waiting in a cafe type place. I had been sitting alone at a table, and eventually started a conversation with another person who had come alone and seemed to be using her phone as a defense mechanism, rather than trying to get into the conversations of people I actually do know from work or previous acting engagements. It seemed scarier to bank on them wanting to talk to me than trying my chances with someone new. This is either excellent, because I made a new friend, or really weird, because I was facebook friends with at least 15 other people in that room. Next time I’ll try to talk to all of them.

Overall I had an enlightening experience, learnt a lot about the industry and met a lovely group of actors that I definitely hope to be able to work with again in the future ;)

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

P.S. You can check out the series and the cast of Echelon at http://echelontheseries.com/

Self-tape Challenge and Getting Out There

7 Feb

How is everybody’s weekend going? I have been reading a lot of acting blog’s lately, notably The Working Actress, who no longer posts, but it is still interesting to see what happens for a working actress during pilot season. It’s kind of hectic and crazy but also something to aspire to. Anyway, she was posting mostly short posts pretty much every day, which I am thinking of giving a try. So don’t be surprised if I start posting more frequently, they should be pretty short and sweet ;)

So, in last Tuesdays class, we were 2 people short, which you would think would mean we finished early, but we always seem to go over when there are less people, because everyone gets a little more time. I got to do my Birdman scene 5 or 6 times, and while I thought I had it figured out, there were so many things to work on. First of all, it is interesting to pretend you are standing on the edge of a roof for an adrenaline surge when you are actually standing in front of the camera in an audition room. Second, tone makes all the difference. I haven’t seen Birdman yet, so I saw the scene as a kind of teasing, flirty encounter, when really it was kind of not. Anyhow, I got to do the scene a bunch of times, in different ways, and think I learnt a lot, and had a lot of fun. The talking in between takes and after class were also a treat :)

Tuesday is also the day I joined in on Bonnie Gillespie’s Self-Taping Challenge. For the rest of the month of February, every day I will be putting myself on camera, either doing a scene, an audition, a monologue…I am testing out different methods of taping on my own, instead of my dad’s camera setup that we do for self-tapes that I am actually submitting. So far my dad’s way is still the best, but finding a reader is a bit of an issue. Also, if you follow me on facebook or twitter, I only post a screen capture of the video, so you can’t watch it. If I do a monologue that is awesome, I might post the whole thing, but for now you just get a picture.

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Speaking of submitting myself, unless you get the part, you don’t really find out what people think of you or your work. I don’t have an agent to call and get feedback, so I just assume that if I didn’t get the part it is either because I wasn’t good, or wasn’t what they had imagined for the character, I look too much like another lead, I remind them of an ex-girlfriend…basically I have no idea. This time, however, I did get the part, but before that, I got an email that wasn’t intended for me, where the guy said my reel was impressive, and describes my range of emotions. Pretty awesome, right?

On Thursday, we had a rehearsal for the play, where my note kept being to go bigger. I thought I was being big, because I am used to on camera work. On stage, however, you have to exaggerate things so the person in the back row can see it. Especially in comedy.

On Friday I worked at McGill and caught up with Morgan, as well as chatted with a bunch of fellow actors, sometimes about roles and classes and submitting, but sometimes about things that have nothing to do with acting. Since we started pretty early, I decided to go to a cafe and write to avoid traffic. I did write a little bit, but in writing down my goals for the next few years, I also formulated a 4 step plan to get me where I want to be career-wise. And maybe also life-wise. I will share more as I put the plan into action ;)

After work, I had supper with my cousin so we could find a hotel and stuff for our trip to New York. We met up with another friend for a bit before I went to see The Nisei and the Narnauks. I didn’t really know what it was about going in, but it was soooo good. If I had kids, I would go back and bring them, but even for adults, it was really interesting. The set and the puppets were beatiful, the actors were incredible, the story was incredibly touching, and the moral of the story was really thought-provoking. I recommend that anyone in Montreal go see it before February 22nd, at the MAI.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

– Muhammad Ali

Appreciate the Journey

3 Feb

One thing this acting business is teaching me is to truly enjoy the journey, both figuratively and literally. The road to being a working actor is filled with ups and downs, so you have to appreciate the hustle and the struggle as you try to achieve your goals, even if you don’t quite succeed, or at least not on the first try.

After finishing my blog post on Friday, I got a request for a self tape. I had submitted Thursday night and it was filming Saturday afternoon, so time was of the essence. When I never heard back from them, I was okay, because it gave me more time to prepare for my agent meeting. I checked out the agency, chose the perfect outfit, rehearsed my lines with other people, made lists of why they would be lucky to sign me, questions I wanted to ask them, etc.

By Sunday morning as I drove to Toronto, I was ready. My phone was also stocked with nerdist podcasts, which were pivotal in the literal part of enjoying the journey, since I spent over 12 hours in the car that day. As for the meeting itself, my destination…it was kind of bittersweet. It started out with them looking over my resume, asking about my experience and how long I had been without an agent. I thought it went well, and then we did the scene that they had asked me to prepare. I was completely off book, and wasn’t thrown by having to do it sitting instead of standing, since I had practiced it both ways (the swivel chair was slightly disconcerting, but I think I managed it well). I thought we would get into my questions at that point, or at least discuss how it would work if they represented me, but instead they thanked me for coming in and the meeting was over. Since this wasn’t an audition, it wasn’t like they were going to call me with their decision. If they had wanted to, they would have either signed me then, or given some indication that they would be sending me the paperwork to look over or something.

I had spent the day driving and was no closer to having an agent, but as I drove home, I did not see it as a waste. I had thoroughly prepared for that meeting, and even if I didn’t get to use it, I still had all my answers and questions ready for my next agent meeting. I got interview experience and would be less nervous next time.

It wasn’t until Monday that I started to feel slightly defeated. I had so many things planned for this week, once I would no longer have to stress about the agent meeting, but I found myself making plans and schedules instead of actually doing anything, which is what I do when I am not happy with where I am at. Finally, after supper I decided to do some research on headshots and tips for finding the right outfit. Eventually, I ended up on Ms in the Biz, and after reading her headshot advice, decided to read an article by a girl whose picture I recognized from Bonnie Gillespie’s group. The article was called “Ready or not, Here I Come!” and from the first few lines, I recognized myself. I often spend more energy finding excuses for why I am allowed to not do something than it would actually take to actually do it. Not to mention you feel awesome after going to the event in question, and super guilty if you don’t. Or at least I do.

The actress’ name is Sarah J. Eagen, and after loving that article, I decided to check out her website. Starting from her first blog post up to the one she had posted that very day, I read them all. So many of them resonated with me. It was like I could have written half of them, because I had gone through the exact same struggles, or felt the same, while others were exactly what I needed to hear, in general, and yesterday specifically. Discovering her site was the best thing that could have happened to me last night, because instead of wallowing again today, I woke up and started working on 100 day challenges and preparing myself so I would be ready if I got an amazing part/audition/agent meeting for next week. If ever you also find yourself needing some acting inspiration, check out: http://www.sarahjeagen.com :)

“No excuses. Tomorrow, what will I wish I had done today?”

-My new daily mantra, thanks to Sarah J. Eagen

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