Sunday, January 25, 2009

Under Construction

In which our Diva is in Career Development Mode

I always feel a little antsy when I don't have any Exciting News!! or Crunchy Process Goodness to post about.  Which is a bit silly, since it seems unlikely that anyone outside of my immediate social circle reads this blog anyway.   But hey, maybe you're reading this at some future point when I am That Chick From Those Movies and you followed some links out of curiosity.  Or maybe you're a fellow dreamer-and-doer who's stumbled across my meanderings and found a kindred spirit.  (If so, hey, shout out!  Support networks are made of win!)  Or maybe nobody's reading it at all, and that's okay too.

The lack of Crunchy Process Goodness makes me antsier than the lack of Exciting News!!, because I'm very much a believer in the notion that an actor should always be doing some kind of acting, be it performance-oriented or training or whatever.  I've done several film auditions lately, but that's pretty much it -- on the craft side.

What I've mostly been doing instead (around the mortgage-and-groceries-driven reality of Office of Doom)  is That Other Stuff most of us hate.

I knew long before I started reading casting director Bonnie Gillespie's fantastic weekly Column "The Actor's Voice" that the self-promotion portion of an actor's job never stops.  But man, it's  nice to have that weekly kick in the pants of "So do it already!!"  To that end, I made a commitment at the turn of 2009: No auditioning for theatre until I have my website and representation ducks in a row.  The goal was to get the site up and submissions out to two or three agents before the end of January, and then maybe think about committing to three or four months of rehearsals and performances.  Because, whatever my intentions at the outset, That Other Stuff just never ever gets done during a show process.  Ever.

The funny thing is, once I got going, I've actually had a great time, and might even make that goal.   It helps that I have a rather broad DIY streak anyway, but darned if it hasn't also just been fun.  I finally swallowed my "only hand-coded HTML will do!" geek-girl pride, accepted that I'm not going to get around to learning to build CSS from scratch in the foreseeable future, and went down the dark path of canned Joomla! templates.  And the results aren't half bad, if I do say so myself.  There's plenty more to do, of course, but for starters, it made me finally write a proper PR bio (have I mentioned I hate writing bios?), with the side effect of having said bio punching up my IMDb page too.

I still have lots of theatre photos to scan in, but for now there's a sampling of the fabulous ones Ken Beach took at the final dress for Dracula.  Probably most time-consuming was going through many hundreds of shots from three photo shoots for the "Publicity" folder.  Which is arguably the most frivolous area of the site.  But y'know, when you're not a big star or model material, and you have a documentedly problematic relationship with still photos of yourself?  It's a nice shot of confidence to not only have, but have put together yourself, a decently professional, polished presentation of some really cool ones!  Shoutouts to photographers Todd Jackson, David Grelck, and Mike Smith, with thanks for making that possible by actually asking me to pose for them!  (Also glad that, unlike my outdated HTML, my Photoshop skills have stayed in good form.  Never underestimate the importance of cropping and color correction in the digital age.) 

Still on the agenda: Editing reel material and authoring a suitably professional DVD, so it's ready to send out to agents and casting agents when they ask for it.  (Which requires me to get resumes and cover letters out to them first, which is happening THIS WEEK.  You saw it here first -- don't be afraid to hold me to it, even if we've never met!)  This is helped by the prompt receipt of my copy of a recent student film by Devan McGrath, who gets a thumbs-up shoutout for professional communication, a fun but efficient set, and did I mention actually sending copies to actors, all in refreshing defiance of every horror story you've ever heard about working in student films.  :: blows kisses to Mal Corazon compadres ::  Watch for clips from that and The Cancer Jean on my website, my Actors Access profile, and assorted other places I should have had video up ages ago.

Dreaming-and-doing actors?  We don't have the money.  We gotta MAKE the time.  Do it.  You will not be sorry.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Singing for my supper - January edition

Tonight and next Sunday (1/11 and 1/18), 6-8 pm at Villa Verone Ristorante Italiano. I'll post next month's dates as soon as I have them.

Great food, great music, all in an intimate cabaret setting. What more could you want?

Villa Verone is located at 13 Douglas Avenue in downtown Elgin. Reservations are recommended - call (847) 742-0263.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trial of a Time-Lord-to-be

I wasn't going to post about the Eleventh Doctor casting news, because I didn't really think I had anything to add. And I don't, not about the casting choice itself, except for a minor misgiving that he's not a bigger change in physical type from David Tennant. Which just means he'll need to make up for it with a big persona shift, because regeneration is more than just recasting -- the Doctor is not Darren Stephens. But that's not what made me decide to post after all.

At the risk of sounding condescending, I have no problem with fandom freaking on spec. That's just one of the things fandom does, and if people didn't have fun with it, I sincerely hope they wouldn't do it. Not my personal bag, but no skin off my nose either.

I am, however, observing it in a superficial sort of way, and keep being struck by some of the underlying assumptions -- at a couple different positions in the discussion -- about acting and age. And here's the thing that I think people are missing: Acting is all about being what we are not. (Generally speaking, we get there by building it out of pieces of what we are, but it's still all about getting there.)

I've personally known several, and am familiar with the work of several more, very young actors whom I would consider perfectly capable of bringing the whole package: the class clown, the Lonely God, the unknown quantity, the Oncoming Storm. We're talking about building a 900-year-old Time Lord here. In that realm, the difference between the life experiences of a 25-year-old and those of someone twice that age is a whole lot less than you might think.

On the other side of the coin, I've personally known several, and am familiar with the work of several more, middle-aged actors perfectly capable of keeping up with the physical demands of the Doctor's role in its current form. Richard Dean Anderson started playing Jack O'Neill at 47. Patrick Swayze, at 56 (not to mention, y'know, in treatment for pancreatic cancer!), has been dubbed "Superman" by his younger colleagues on The Beast.

These people are exceptions, yes. But any star is, by definition, an exception. Heck, statistically speaking, any time you book a gig you are an exception.

The Doctor, of all characters, is nothing if not the ultimate exception.

One more thought... We're all grownups. We all know that the story of the casting process as told in the Doctor Who Confidential special is already packaged, polished, and sprinkled with PR fairy dust. That's how these things work. But there's one thing I see no reason not to believe happened exactly as Stephen Moffat tells it: Matt Smith walked in on the first day and knocked their socks off, and they couldn't get him out of their heads.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is called being a star.