Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Quest for the Perfect Take

I recently met a lovely casting director who advised, "In this world of (self-taped) auditions, everyone is searching for the Perfect Take."

This was timely advice considering I filmed 4 video auditions last week. 2 were for the big networks (woo!) and 2 were callbacks for web series (woo too)!

I learned a lot, specifically how hard it is to get The Perfect Take, but I had a ton of fun, and look forward to doing more, constantly working to improve my process. "This is my quest."

Below is a comic take about The Last Couple on Earth. Hope you enjoy it! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wonderful Writers

This has been a busy month for me, working on new projects by wonderful writers I'm lucky to know! :)

On May 4, I had the honor of singing in a cabaret honoring female writers of musical theatre:

Clare Cooper
asked me to sing one of her pieces from her show with Bryan D. Leys, "How to Marry a Divorced Man." This re-teamed me with Richard Binder, who's played my husband in many shows! In this piece, we played exes who have a tender moment, much to the chagrin of his new love interest, played by Tiffan Borelli, who also rocked a song from "Urban Momfare" by Pamela Weiler Grayson:

Then, on May 18, I played a sister mourning the loss of her brother in Rob Cardazone's new play, Terribly and In Private. It's an exquisite 5 character play that re-teamed me with my "Petunia" co-star, Wayne Henry, and gave me the opportunity to work with Andrew Schulz, whom I met in Heidi Marshall's on-camera class. Andrew is an incredible actor from The Actors Studio who recommended me to my current acting coach, Susan Aston.

Rob was mentored by Romulus Linney (father to Laura Linney) and Arlene Hutton, whom I met when I auditioned for her play, Gulf View Drive. Small world! Rob and I worked together a gazillion years ago at the PA Renaissance Faire, which was the basis for his play, "Ren Rats," which premiered at the Hunter Playwright Festival in 2013. Reading a play like Terribly and In Private took me back to my drama roots and was such a delicious piece to dive into! Hope to do so again soon!

Friday, April 17, 2015

More Fun with Film

Inspired by the scene I shot for the indie film, "Child's Play," I wanted to keep working that cinematic muscle, so I signed up for Heidi Marshall's 4 week on-camera class. I've worked with Heidi before, and was looking for a window in my schedule to open so I could take her Part 2 session. It was just what I needed!

We started with a scene called "Nice Apology" where I played a big sister on the eve of her wedding, struggling with her baby sister's recovery from addiction.

Then I got to do a scene from one of my favorite films, The Way Way Back. In this scene, the mom, Pam, has to tell her 14 year old son that they're leaving the beach house early, so they can head back home with her boyfriend who's cheated on her.

It was a really great experience, researching scripts and finding my groove. So much good writing out there! Can't wait to do more!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Filming in the Snow

A few weeks ago, on March 2nd to be precise, I filmed a scene for the independent film, "Child's Play." It's a family drama about a little boy obsessed with trains and time. I play a local news reporter who appears near the end of the film.... which happens to take place in the snow.

I've filmed in snow before for an NYU short called "Every Day." But that was a psychological thriller which took place inside a 3 story house. My scene for "Child's Play" was filmed outside in a few feet of snow, and it was absolutely exhilarating!

I met the cast and crew in Newfoundland, NJ at the train station which was used in the beautiful film, "The Station Agent," written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, starring one of my favorite actors: Peter Dinklage. It was such a treat to be working in the same place as that great film!

The cast and crew of Child's Play was AMAZING. They'd been filming in the snow for three days, and they were absolutely tenacious in their positivity and professionalism. I can't wait to see the final result, because just for my scene they tried so many different angles and lenses. It was such a unique experience, meant to put the viewer into all sorts of different shoes.

I met the director and writer, Aleksandra Szczepanowska, a few years ago in a class taught by Playwrights Horizons' casting director, Alaine Alldaffer. Somehow Aleksandra remembered me and brought me in for this role in her film. It was an honor to work with her and the superb crew. Alyssa Fulmer and Julia Warner are the producers. Patrick Linberg, Director of Photography, pictured above with Aleksandra, was so cool! Everyone was amazing!

So now, as I trek out into this snowy day that's supposed to be the first day of Spring, I'm reminded of the cast and crew of "Child's Play," with whom I made a movie in the wintery weather, and I take heart. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the Groove

I feel like I'm in a really good place in my life. Every day, I get to dive into a script - whether it's a working on a monologue for auditions, rehearsing a scene for acting class (I work with the sensational Susan Aston), or crafting a scene for a film. I love it! It's all part of my daily routine.

Today I'm working on songs for upcoming auditions, and I find the prep work is very similar to crafting a scene or monologue. It's all about communication (as well as the sustained notes, but you now what I mean). What does the character need in that moment? What are the circumstances? And all of that deep-diving stuff that comes with researching a play, screenplay or musical. It's all about the story, bringing what I can bring to the character, and letting it flow through me. I love getting into the groove of it all!

To "get in the groove " means to enter into the spirit of the situation or circumstance of the moment. The groove is really the track on an old record in which the needle of the record player had to ride in order to reproduce the music--so the meaning is figurative. Gorgeous pic below by James Woody.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Day in the Life of a NY Actress

Something I've discovered about acting in NY is that it feels like you're part of a community. Everyone you meet is doing something to make their dreams come true, and I've been so lucky to meet people who, as Bonnie Gillespie says, "share their toys."

I recently took a seminar with Bonnie about Self Management for Actors, and through that workshop, I met some incredibly motivated people who formed a Facebook group and have been sharing knowledge, experiences, and other "toys." :)

One such actor is Tanya Perez (pictured below right), who recently penned this awesome article for "Ms. in the Miz." In it, she chronicles her day in the life as a film actor in NYC.

This reminded me of friends and family who've asked me what my daily life as an actor is like, so here's a glimpse into my daily groove:

It usually starts with visiting Actors Equity and Actors Access to see which auditions are happening when. This gives me prep time, so I can work on songs, scenes, or monologues for each audition. Preparation is key. Even if I'm going in for the cold reading of a new script, I research the author's previous works or find reviews about a previous productions/readings, so I have a sense of the style of the piece.

Now, as Tanya pointed out for film / TV, we usually don't get the script until the day or night before the audition, so then it's time to cram and jam!

This happened for me a few weeks ago when I was called in for the role of a News Anchor in the independent film, Child's Play. I got one page of a script and had to "fill in the blanks" for the character, so I could fill her shoes. It was a blast, and I got the gig!

With plays and musicals, if I don't get an appointment ahead of time, I go to the "open" Equity call. That means getting up at 6 am to go wait in line at whatever studio is hosting the audition. Aasif Mandvi recently talked about this in an interview with NY1 about his book, "No Lands Man."

You wait in line with a ton of other actors and hope to get a timeslot to audition later in the day. I have this down to a science:

6-something AM: get up, shower, pack breakfast and lunch and audition materials, including clothes, shoes, makeup, hair tools, music or monologue, headshot and resume.
7-something AM: take the train or walk to the audition studio. If it's a major open call, move everything up by an hour and get there EARLY!
Hang out and wait until 8:30 or 9 AM when the sign-up begins. Hopefully get a slot around lunch time.
9-9:30 AM: go work at my support job
Anywhere from 11:50 - 4:30: get hair and makeup done, go back to the audition location and wait to go on.
Audition time = about 2 minutes.

If it's possible to hit more than one audition, I do.

As Tanya wrote, it can take about 10 hours (or more) to prep for  a 2 minute performance, but if you book the gig, it's worth it!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

What's Your News?

A few weeks ago, I was called in to audition for the news anchor role in an independent film, and I booked it! :)

Being a research nut, I looked at the different styles of reporting the news, and brought in some options to the director. Did she want a news anchor in the style of MSNBC, Fox, CBS, or (my favorite) PBS? This seemed to delight the production team, and gave me room to show different possibilities. However, in addition to each style, I realized the goal for my character in the scene was to get the truth, and that helped me drive it.

We film this week, and I'm very excited. The script is really good, and I get to improvise at the end of my scene. Gotta love when a section is set aside for improv!