Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Coming in for a Film Landing

Japanese director plus hand-tailored special FX equals unique horror film of dark terror. 

The above formula is a NEWS FLASH!  I was recently cast as the lead (shoulder brush, shoulder brush) in a feature length horror flick to shoot mid-October - possibly in and out of the country (heh heh). I would like to say that doing a short at AFI actually brought about this opportunity - thus, plan with that intention successfully implemented, executed and exceeding i.e. continuing to exceed. Including travel to an incredible island with clear blue water! Oh no - I just watched Jaws yesterday soooooo maybe I'll admire the water from a distance. Regardless, travel es muy importante. Quick, where's my Pimsleur set for Japanese I bought at Goodwill like eight years ago?!

Back to the film - yes, it is entitled GEHENNA: Where Death Lives. Hey, funny coinkydink - the AFI short also had a finicky culture-specific name attached. Not necessarily of a REAL culture, but a culture nevertheless - or real to someone, somewhere - depending upon whose ankles the roots wrap around. 

The director, Hiroshi Katagiri, is making his feature film debut here after working for various big dogs of Hollywood. Check out the info on his website (he obviously has a lot of people that believe in his abilities and aspirations), his ever-clever youtube channel (the man has a sense of humor, thank GOD), and his FB page for you to visit and "like" - because I know you will! (Points finger in public social media shaming fashion! Someone call Jon Ronson to bring the fire extinguisher...)

So this movie is real. It is happening. It is exciting.  I'm proud to attack it newly equipped with a brilliant double holstered belt toting my two guns, Stella and Adler. I get to play a bereaved single mother who buries her emotions with real estate work. Cut off emotionally from the world, floating in her own individual purgatory of guilt, then faced with the stuff of true nightmares. How do you like them apples? I, personally, like them from an exotic island fresh off of a tree. Hint. Hint. 

It's a ways down the road, but hey, now I can relax in the hammock of preparation. Just as if I were between two palm trees drinking out of a giant scripted coconut.

In other news, my next class assignment comes from Mr. Sam Shepard - with whom I think I will get along very well. Just did Wendy Wasserstein and I tried my damndest, but the intellectual quality of it kept me a wee bit too internal. I think I am understanding something important, however.  That everyone onstage has a rich emotional history if not present life. They can. They are capable of that. Otherwise what are we investing in from our Arclight seats? Everyone has emotional drive, whether or not they want to admit that or understand it.  I have to understand it, that is my job. So here I come "Fool for Love". Now, here I don't have any time to find any goddam hammock because I put it up this Saturday for the first time - fifteen minutes of scenework...GO!

Wish me luck, folks...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Imagining the Reality of You

I feel like Seinfeld. 
"What's - the deal - with texting?"

Yes, what is the deal. Here I am, left to figure out how I might gel with a person via communication completely lacking in TONE? Tone is everything. And so we project tone into these lines, these words because we are human and are talking to someone else, but through an email version of conversation - one send at a time. We are left with nothing but ourselves to talk to inside the boardroom of our minds, having coffee and discussing the meaning of things; debating, deciding FOR the other person, WITHOUT the other person. 

Maybe the monosyllabic generation of twenty-five-year-olds I continue to encounter has it right: 

Twenty-Five-Year-Old: hey

Hey. Yeah, hey. Hey how are ya? Hey, let's call each other and let our voices float in blackest space somewhere! Hey - let's meet up in person, step back in time to a live animatronic version of history where humans sat face to face trying to master the art of conversation, trying to articulate, trying to speak one's language well. I don't always speak it well, but hell, I like to bend words to my will sometimes. Or brand them with a big ol' E on their behind.

Eva: hey is for horses...

This neon 24-hour connectivity is finding us all with little to say. And deflating the willingness to say things aloud.  Where is this Connectivity Cowboy wrangling our millenial herd to? I think Joaquin falling in love with his OS system isn't really that far down the river. Hey, if your phone could READ your texts to you in a personalized manner? That would mean that a computer is then deciding exactly how the other person's tone is - injecting it with the judgement of a computer brain. And then the Robot Apocalypse (or something) is just around the corner. 

"Robocalypse" - the title of my next screenplay, starring Amanda Linda. She's a big youtube star, ya know. And those people are also taking over the world - or...portions of particular ones. 

Here is the point - we want to get to know each other. We meet more people through technology and dance around them in a tone-less setting. But I don't want Scar-Jo to read me their words. I want to hear them. I want to know the timbre of your voice. I want to see the expression on your face. I want to feel the energy of you, whoever you are, and feel...normal about it. Don't we have a hard enough time evaluating - much less knowing - what other people mean when they talk? Take ALL of the clues away and how will you protect your capacity to care from shrinking away entirely? The care is diminishing before our eyes and hearts in various puffs of magic smoke. You lose interest. They lose interest. You're all just....not very interested. And if you (heaven forbid!) ARE interested, you are terrifying. At least, these are the messages I am seeing people send to each other every day. 

We're all feeding this fear that deeper human interaction is a big, scary monster that comes out at night and wants to breathe on us with slobber dripping from its pointy, yellow teeth. And we are missing out on what is exciting and real. I feel forced to live in my imagination with a Brian Greene version of this person I want to get to know because I am now responsible to re-create the dimension lost in translation. All due to the safety net of textersations. 

I don't want to have to guess what someone else means. I don't want to be my own interpreter - like I have to look at some version of me signing from the side of the stage. What if I'm wrong about what you are saying? Who will tell me? Who will correct me? Do I continue on with my misperceptions, misunderstandings, and inefficient subjective absorption? The cost is that we may miss each other completely. If you had just showed up on my doorstep and walked me to the coffee shop... I'm just asking - what is the point of communication at ALL if we can't (and I hate to use this word) successfully get our messages across? We are breaking apart into tinier and tinier islands, doomed to end up like a Gary Larson cartoon where its just you and somehow, a duck that talks.

No one wants these responsibilities. No one cares to own anything anymore except the newest gadget. A handful of us... if you just put that phone down and grasp a handful of us, you won't be sorry. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Amanda Linda in LA LA!

She made it! She made it! She's......barely making it. Amanda Linda thought everything was awesome when she moved to LA - cause she's scrappy and can steal a nutri-grain bar from 7-11 if need be. She even found an awesome sublet for the el cheapo via a shady Armenian landlord! She's living the dream - just Amanda Linda, a box of wine, her dog, and a big ol' dream. But sometimes our HABITS get the best of us... 

Check out this original parody from myself and my writing partner, Lisa Mamazza. Our first endeavor - admittedly an ambitious one - and we're oh so happy with it. The old man might not be though...

(Courtesy of:)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This is How You Tub-let...

What a funny pair of directions that would be. STOP WHAT YOU ARE BOTH DOING NEAR EACH OTHER AND KISS! Sounds kind of fun actually, but no, that is not what the play is about. It IS about courage to create a moment in which two people finally kiss - giving in to their realizations of love and really GOING for it. It's a fricking beautiful play as the structural chiarascuro is fantastic. I think, anyway. It can also be overdone like any show and a poor production may have soured a mind or two. It soured mine just by HEARING about a bad production - and then I never explored it. Shows you how close minded we are about SO many things even subconsciously. (No we can't explore everything but don't claim to have an opinion due to someone else's judgement.)

Anyway - this play is my assignment for my second round of scene study at Aquila/Morong. A class I'm gonna start calling home when I go in for a third session. I love it. I've expressed to others my happiness there. You should audit, perhaps. 

I must say, as time flies by in La La, I am finally finding my sort of hammock of freedom in my craft - and that is not to suggest a laziness, but rather a sweet, sweet spot where I can go and daydream with abandon and pretend or be a conduit or just enjoy it all so much. A grave difference from last year's beginning - when all I saw was a question mark. Last year was not a simple year - and yet I found my writing partner. Since then we have been unclogging the comedic pipes that have been neglected so long.  At least in MY body and mind.  Don't worry, its like a waxy build-up. I can still hear quite well...

I once cleaned the tea kettle of a good friend by buying him a steel wool sponge. I could see my reflection after that small investment of time...that's pretty much what it feels like to be writing comedy.

So one is serving the other - my writing is serving my own acting on wholly other dramatic notes. I don't have to take myself so seriously - thank GOD. No, really, thank ALL the gods for that. I can let go of my ego and just play onstage with all the skill I've mustered over the years. 

This weekend I shot and starred in my very first sketch, a musical parody of "HABITS" by Tove Lo. Oh - I KNOW, I know that look on your face. Trust me, parodies are the HARDEST to do well. Why I started with it? Well, that seems to be my way. Go for the gold when you do it. Test your limitations immediately to see what you can learn from it. It certainly won't be perfect, but let's hope its at least really gd hilarious. ;)

I think you'll enjoy the parody - its called "Tub-let".  Coming soon in February. Me with red hair. Me illegally subletting a tub in a one bedroom apartment. Me being slightly felonious.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are. You. A....GOD?

Why yes it IS the anniversary of Ghostbusters and yes my best halloween costume to date IS Gozer the Gozerian, but no, that's not what this blog is about. 


He is a trim, bald Jew who probably needs a girlfriend with a pair of tweezers.  If I am to worship anything, let it be the God of Comedy - his name....is Larry David.

Myself and a recently discovered writing partner (hooray!) decided - without discussion - that we've been climbing small to medium to large comedic mountains in our minds for many a year and thus, as we venture together creatively, why not tackle the impossible Everest with sheer, guffawing ambition....and write spec for Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Yeah yeah I know - "How do you write spec for a show that's improvised?" - Highly intricate outlining / story-weaving for one thing. 

What's that? You don't watch it? SHAME ON YOU! Trust me, I understand the discomfort some express when having tried to get on the Curbwagon - much like I used to feel watching Ben Stiller films.  Back in the day, I recall sinking into my theater chair while Stiller was caught, humiliated, shamed, defied, unsupported - all in the name of supposed funny as he "met the parents".  But armed today with my myriad of life experiences and perhaps some tempered doses of cynicism, I can easily ingest the comedy of Mr. David with glee.  I think much in part due to his brilliant tap into absurdist nuances on all things mundane. I will drink buckets of that highly-concentrated syrup and never tire. Who needs pancakes?

But comedy is the thing. I never liked choosing between that or drama - instead, I am fleshing out (quite shamelessly) my comedic side as the year progresses because....well, it's just about time! I came out of the womb laughing. I crack myself up far too much. I study stand up and listen to numerous comedians' podcasts and most of all - I just feel free inside the funny. There ain't a feelin' like it. I also did three comedy shows on stage last year - and that momentum really became the impetus to stop RESISTING comedy.  I've always resisted it professionally - whether it is plain old fear, self-consciousness, strange expectation, being forced to choose - who knows? It no longer matters. Comedy's been a-knockin' on my door my whole life so I'm just going to let him in.

Hence my watching Broad City: Season 1 in three days. 

On the other hand, I continue to work diligently in my Jaffe intensive.  It has been a side-swiping bitch to find my own material - GOOD material - on which to work and hone. Sifting the internet for a great scene is very needle-in-haystack, especially when you are always craving perfection like myself. After hours and hours of research, it feels darn fabulous to find some dialogue that goes down like the perfect glass of water - refreshing, quenching, a part of you. 

Now, the best and final challenge of my course: find a scene that you ASPIRE to. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY!  Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Marion Cotillard - yes of COURSE I think of to WHOM I aspire to first. Then the titles will flow in later. Might as well pick a crazy hard, ball-buster of a scene that requires the chops of a giant. I might fail miserably, but that's the point of class, isn't it? It's a learning ground. Life is a frickin' learning ground. So go for the gold, baby.

Speaking of - just enrolled into Aquila Morong Studios. SUPER excited. Let's go bask in the light of tough, intelligent, grounded feminine power. And John Hindman. He's cool, too.

Now here are some clips from one of his best episodes "The Bare Midriff" co-starring the ab-fab comedy starlet, Jillian Bell. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Layer Cake...

I serve a loooooooooot of cake over the summer.  Almost every Saturday somewhere in Malibu. Usually the view is killer, the sun sets brilliantly and the rental fee is sweetly over $20k.  I'm serving up this wedding cake that has been snagged from public presentation to be cut covertly in the kitchen and dispersed in perfect portions by sweeping the room. Trying to fill the hands of a swaying Aunt who has wandered aimlessly near. Also, maybe a bartender you've been ranting with all shift. 

All day today I have been responsible - not without restless Cheetah syndrome round my room, but hey, good things come to those who slowly chew on them while chewing on other things way too simultaneously and inconsistently and it ends up taking an inefficient amount of time.  Did I mention I'm sometimes like a befuddled physics professor / octopus that is reaching around myself for answers and actions to pair? 

I have tormented myself all afternoon by trying to complete the homework assigned: find a final scene with which to audition (in this specific intensive I have mentioned previously).  The FINAL scene. That means, the most dramatic? The most meaty? The most hilarious? Of the highest standards? Layer by layer, the pressure builds albeit like a bunch of heavy blankets, but suddenly I'm sweating and there's clearly a fan directly over my head - the only soundtrack I have for hours upon end searching online. I can't concentrate on reading scenes while listening to tunes. Lessen the distraction for Professor Octopus. 

So many options to consider when beginning a search (which subsequently began Thursday): Film or television? Well that question will never get resolved until I look at all actresses I resemble/aspire to - and how far back in history should I go - oh I love Carole Lombard but dated material and lofty ambition? Well, no I should be funny and sophisticated and this IS a comedy office, but wait what about Meryl Streep's resume, something from when she was younger? Is that too hopeful or too foolish? Make it your own. Dear God, there's so much television and I watch many things but not enough like Homeland - um, Claire Danes is too award-fresh for me to take a scene from that show, especially having never really seen it - again, who am I? Jean Valjean?  If I can't choose from drama or comedy, there's a problem when that intersects with film or television and maybe I should have chosen that genre first but I didn't want to discount anything. 

You can understand that I might black out in front of a wall of soup cans at the grocery store from the pressure. 

Regardless, I've made headway. In other news, I saw a seamlessly gorgeous film today (also a part of my "homework", heh heh) and was pleasantly surprised: Sin City (A Dame to Kill For). Stunning cinematography, perfect transitioning of a graphic novel brought to life, tons of terrifically dramatic voiceover by Rourke and Brolin with gritty, whiskey-sodden words. Blood lessened in its grotesque nature by being often white - I appreciated that, Rodriguez, nice touch. 

I do have a small bone to pick with Eva Green, however. I love... eighty-five percent of her. But that fifteen percent is what bothers me each and every time I closely survey her performance. Something is missing that sells me entirely.  With certain lines and moments, she seems to be skimming the pond, intention lost, point of view less seasoned and suddenly you realize you're eating tofu. Still, she is beautifully shot (no pun intended) and often completely naked - something for you boys to look forward to. But the scenes in the pool are devastatingly pristine and her career is going swimmingly as of late - a more resonant path of roles in an actress's career is nice to see after a slew of big-budget deflations. 

As I continue to mull over my own branding - which roles are most appropriate for moi at this time - there are some wonderful examples of casting today, especially on television. Higher grade actors being cast as repeating leads, carrying the weight of a season rather than a snippet of an afternoon. Also, unknown actors surfacing and adding butter to decadent cake mixture. Now, there are way too many delicious cakes to try.  A good problem to have as an audience member and a good one to pollinate with as a bee in the industry hive. 

We are most alive when we work - actors. We should be drawing energy and excitement from what we love and then pouring it right back in. The choices TO make become clearer and clearer the more time we spend ruminating on what they might be then seeing what sticks. Hold up - hey, this scene has a wholeness and points of view, relationships, moments - are all so clear to live. Trust me, it will become a piece of cake. "Preparation should free you to the unexpected." And fearlessness will quickly expand your understanding.  

The other day, on a break from work (oh I have interesting jobs) I shot an actual bow and arrow onto an archery target for the first time, Hunger Games style, yo. With some professional guidance and fifteen arrows, I stabbed those hay bales to death. But four wobbly sticks made it to the target and even punctured it. That's four more than I ever had before. #closertobeingapro

Let's make this a week of accomplishment, growth and strength. Aaaaaaand cake. Throw a piece of cake in there for yourself. Work a wedding or something. Make $. Get by. Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle....

Friday, August 15, 2014

Building the Bicycle (in Reverse!)

Last night, I audited a fabulous scene study class. 

A marvelous quote about the importance of research uttered from the whip-smart lips of our class leader: Preparation should FREE YOU to the unexpected. 

Yes, yes, YES!!!!  I am Meg Ryan in the diner at hearing these words. Dear God, Yes. I sat there fighting the urge to kick myself at this most obvious key to acting - because it may as well be an iron-like skeleton thing buried deep in the mountains of Mordor as far as most actors are concerned.  I don't spend much time in New York, but I know enough to understand the vast difference in acting culture between here and there. One that involves the letters A, Y, Z and L. 

How refreshing to sit in a classroom where someone is kneading and pounding on you like the acting dough that you are. Sure, their forming methods are carried out mainly with fists and rolling pins, but the pressure of those hands come from a love of the craft.  I can endure the stretching, pulling, tearing, repairing, shaping, baking, burning, icing, and sprinkling if it means I will be a damn fine cookie one day. You should too. 

As I walked to my car, I thought - these people are truly teaching us how to ride a bicycle. No, they are teaching us the mechanics of the bicycle, too.  NO - they are teaching us how to build the bicycle in reverse - very Halt and Catch Fire - by breaking down all of its mechanics and going over every groove of every part and every connection between every piece. But one must understand that the bicycle isn't acting itself, the bicycle is YOU - in a scene, in those circumstances, in that skin.  Then, once you have thoroughly explored that particular bike (because you never get to build the same one twice), you have to learn to ride it.  Upon learning to ride, suddenly the repetition and depth will allow room for grace, for panache, for freedom to explore the land through which you ride.  You can do tricks - and you can modify them to your talents alone. Wheelies, handstands on the pedestals, hopping...around....okay, my terminology of bike tricks is quite limited. 

Research, research, research - an endless task for an actor.  READ - a good general rule. Find the time. Pull that time out of your ass. It's 2am and you have work in the morning but there are 10 more pages to read. Grab that cold brew coffee concentrate from TJ's, pop that addy, and giddy up, my friend. Preparation - a word foreign to many in the La-La Mer. I think the lifestyle ideal of sitting poolside all day is a diseased dream, a cloud of red sickness particles floating around actors' heads like that flu epidemic on that one Simpsons episode. (Dating myself? Um, so...?) 

Jude Law. I remember when A.I. came out, I read this snippet on his preparation for his superb execution in the role of Gigolo Joe: "Law spent months studying the great movers of old-time Hollywood: Valentino, Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Cary Grant. He also borrowed from top-heavily graceful screen baddies like Robert Mitchum, rock'n'roll knee-tremblers like Presley and Gene Vincent, even from the Johnny Bravo cartoons he watches with his children."  All that to capture the smooth, flawless movement of his robot character - despite only actually dancing for a mere moment in the epic film.  He went for it like a honey badger.  This is WHY I became an actor - because I love to learn - but I see that despite being better, despite having a stronger muscles, I am still lazy.  And if I'm lazy? Then at least 90% of my peers in this town are in a coma. 

I look forward to taking this class (once I audition, that is).  I like to see a teacher spew questions faster than an arcade gun in a mega-space war game. It's thrilling.  Don't get me wrong, I have met some incredibly knowledgable teachers while here in Los Angeles - and grateful to have had experiences with each of them - but these peeps were the real deal. The Pushers. The Pokers. The Provokers. The Thinkers. 

I talk often on this blog about fear. Fear is not unlike the idea of Satan - a great enemy that we can defeat over and over again, but can never destroy entirely. (Note: Religious metaphors born from my upbringing, not meant for present day endorsement.)

All of us have our daily battles with fear. Even Greats, like the late Robin Williams - an alien of talent who is now moonwalking with MJ somewhere in the clouds while Bacall watches from an ornate chaise. He shot through our lives and our hearts like a blinding ball of pure energetic joy.  Truly an Empath was he - else he could not so brilliantly portray a body of work that delves from one extreme side of the human spectrum to the other. Let the preparation, let the work - the hours and hours and hours of work - free you to the unexpected. And forget to be kind and make people smile in the meantime.

In related news, I am getting my hair did this afternoon. Perhaps a journey into the unexpected? Hey, not every battle has to be so serious. Lighten up, will ya? ;)