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Summer’s winding down

Whew! Summer was full of surprises! It has been creatively rich and financially draining. I was out on strike with the rest of the Toronto civic workers for 39 days. This huge dry spell has left me unable to take a few courses I was hoping to this fall, let alone pay rent, buy groceries, etc. Which means, I’ve finally made it! I’M OFFICIALLY A STARVING ACTOR! What a milestone on my journey ūüôā We all go through this, and one day (hopefully) I’ll look back on this and remember it nostalgically. So, in lieu of taking more Second City, voice over, or scene study classes as I had hoped, I have instead focused on making more projects with my colleagues. I’m writing a couple of screenplays at the moment, and am slated to shoot four projects in the next two weeks. Busy, busy, busy!

I finished up the film courses that I was taking and added a couple of others at the tail end.  In all, this summer I studied Documentary Directing, Narrative Drama Directing, Editing Theory, Improv, Commercial Auditioning, Intro Voice, and Script Supervision and Film Continuity.  It was a productive few months.  The most exciting thing that came out of all this was the documentary class.  On the last day the instructor asked us each to pitch our doc ideas.  He found me a couple of weeks later, told me that he was interested in my idea, and that he would like to set up a meeting with me and his business partner to discuss their producing my film!  AMAZING!  My next steps are to send them a proposal, meet, and start writing a shooting script.

On the acting front, I’m working with a team on an entry for the Life’s Good Film Festival. ¬†We’re shooting tomorrow and on tuesday. ¬†It’s a cute little project, and I’m very happy to be working on it. ¬†It’s a bit rushed, as we have a deadline to meet, but so far so good. ¬†Everyone’s been a real team player and their professionalism and commitment has led to a well organized shoot. ¬†It’s my first silent film, so that will be fun. ¬†I’ll let you know how it goes. ¬†I have a spec commercial scheduled for monday, and booked a music video for october. ¬†It seems the summer dry spell is finally clearing up. ¬†I hope so!

I’ve also taken up my first role on crew. ¬†Next weekend I’ll be behind the camera as a script supervisor on another short film with a different crew. ¬†I figured I should take all of that knowledge I gained this summer and put it to work as soon as possible (use it or lose it!). ¬†I think that was a wise decision. ¬†It’s one thing to learn it in a class, but actually applying it is a whole new experience.

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Writing…

One of the things I like about acting is the obvious creativity that comes with it.¬† The more projects that you see and do, the more new ideas you get of¬†things that you want to do.¬† For me, this frequently gets channeled into writing.¬† I have no formal training in writing, but it’s something that has become an increasing hobby of mine over the years.¬† I started off by brainstorming a couple of play ideas, have finished one stage play, and for the last year or so I have been working away at writing short screenplays.¬† I find this genre very appealing right now as most of my projects lately have been short films, so it’s a style I’m fairly familiar with, it allows for storylines that the stage does not, and best of all, they’re short.¬† This lets me¬†bang one out in a couple of weeks, as opposed to months or years.¬† It allows me to practice,¬†¬†develop an idea, and then quickly move on to a new idea and new film.¬† I thought I had¬†written just a handful so far, but last time I actually counted, I think I had around 10 different screenplays on the back burner, two that I’m currently trying to get produced,¬†and three new ones that I’m outlining that have come to me in the last two weeks.¬† A¬†slim majority of my stuff is probably comedy, but the rest is more dramatic.¬† Comedy tends to be better suited to short film, as there isn’t much¬†time to develop characters, create¬†a story arch, and¬†get people invested in a dramatic¬†story.¬† I’m trying my hand at both, however,¬†and so far am pleased with my results.¬† Quite often I will tap into an idea, and I will just have a compulsion to¬†sit and write it down before the idea passes.¬† It seems to just pour out of me, and frequently I end up with a few pages of an outline.¬† Once I’m satisfied I’ve got the premise and key pieces, I can leave it for a bit and keep going back to it later as inspiration hits. ¬†If I ever actually get anything made that I’ve written, I’ll let you know.¬† For now it’s good practice, and a fun creative outlet.¬† And as an actor, the best way to get a good role is to write it.

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“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

~ Lao Tzu

I gave my first official performance at the age of four.  I can still remember it.  It was in my nursery school class, and was a production we were putting on for our parents.  Our class was split into two groups: the boys and the girls.  There were many more of us girls, and few boys, and this resulted in the girls receiving TINY parts in our collective piece, while the boys got lengthier verses.  I found this quite unfair, and it was likely my introduction to gender inequality in this business, and perhaps life in general.   

Before I continue, you may¬†find it amusing to know that my premiere performance was also the occasion of my first fashion faux pas.¬† For my big day¬†my parents had purchased me a delightful new dress.¬†¬†It had mint green short sleeves and collar, and was covered with a white jumper with mint green polka dots.¬† I loved it.¬† I walked proudly into the room with my new dress on, went to take my place in line, and discovered to my surprise that the girl standing beside me had on a¬†new dress with mint green short sleeves and collar, covered with a white jumper with mint green polka dots.¬† UNBELIEVABLE.¬† I honestly can’t remember how I felt about it, but I would guess that I was either slightly upset, or else found it amusing.¬† Either way, I believe we had our picture taken together to¬†savor¬†the moment.¬†

For our performance, all of us girls were lined up in a long row, and each said their piece in order from stage right.¬† I can still remember my line: “Mice crawl.”¬† That’s where it began.¬† My first scripted dialogue.¬† And in truth my performance was not without fault.¬† While I knew my line down cold, and had practiced numerous times, it seemed like every time it was my turn, whether in rehearsal or during our performance, my teacher would need to prompt me with “Mice…”¬† This infuriated me to no end, in part because I knew what my line was, and by her repeating half of my dialogue, it made everyone think that I didn’t know it, and in part because I couldn’t figure out why she kept needing to prompt me since I did in fact know my line.¬† I can remember thinking about this aspect of my performance even at four, and it was only years later when I realized what the problem was.¬† I knew my line; I didn’t know my cue.¬† I was so busy waiting patiently, keeping quiet, looking out at the crowd, that I wasn’t listening effectively for when the girl beside me had said her piece.¬† At that point I didn’t know what a cue was and no one had bothered to explain it to me.¬† If someone had taught me to pay attention to¬†when the girl beside me was finished, or wait for the line “_____”, then I might have had a more seamless performance.¬† But I digress…¬† What I took away from that experience was the confidence of knowing that I knew my line, paired with the desire to better my performance.¬† I believe that’s when my dedication to this craft began.

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