Since I have now been named “The Blogger” by Margie, I figured I should probably write another post. I find that this week is flying by, which is sad, because it means the end of my time in L.A. is coming soon, but I am also looking forward to Christmastime back home with my family, where there is snow (to look at of course, because I don’t think anyone likes being cold and shoveling…)
To pick up where I left off, last Saturday we had a quick immersion into improv with the talented Tim Bagley. I had read an article in Backstage, written by him, the night before, so I was extremely excited to absorb his comedic wisdom. Like every time I do improv, I always find it scary, and am terrified, right up until I am up on stage, in the moment, improvising. Just as we have been learning all throughout the intensive, you have to trust the person in front of you, focus on the relationship, and the rest of it will come. What scares me most about improv is probably that, the fact that there is no script or dialogue to carry you, or to save you if you get stuck. John and I had to pretend to be experts in origami, which should have been hard, since all I know is it involves folding paper, but I had so much fun up there! It really made me miss my gang back at Montreal Improv, and I can’t wait to get back into it!
After Tim, we got to spend the afternoon with a Casting Associate, Semone Leifer, who was really a treat. She talked about headshots and resumes, what casting directors are looking for, lots of advice, and then she had us put it into practice. She gave us some slices of life and specifically told me that she wanted to get me out of my comfort zone, so she gave me and Michael a dark scene, where I am a cop who shot someone and kind of has nothing left. I love living the life of someone who is so unlike me! Michael offered to go first, which always scares me, because you don’t know what to expect, but it was really fun. Or as fun as a dark piece can be. I did the first scene with anger, then Semone gave me the adjustment of being still and depressed, which worked better, and had more of an emotional impact. I really enjoyed interacting not just with a reader behind the camera, but actually ‘having a conversation’ with someone. Michael was the perfect shrink, listening and caring and even though Rebecca didn’t care, I really felt like he was trying to help. I definitely hope to run into Semone at another point in this acting journey!
After class, I had to rush up Sunset, all the way to the screening for Promised Land. It was not a lighthearted comedy, and it tackled some big issues, but it was so beautifully written and acted out that I truly enjoyed it. The entire evening was really fun for me, as I got to talk to some interesting people and get advice before the movie, then got to listen to Matt Damon and John Krasinski for a while after the movie. I could have stayed there listening to them all night, but again, it convinced me that I should finished one of my millions of stories and get together with a group of friends to make a short or a webseries or something. It won’t be Good Will Hunting, but you never know what dedication and hard work can bring!
On Sunday, we had the day off as far as the Studio was concerned, but us ISPers still managed to hang out. Tony, Chris, Revin, Veronica, her friend Max and I all went to the Saddle Club for brunch, which was delicious, even though we didn’t get to have a cotton candy tower. Afterwards, we took in the sights at the Griffith Observatory, and had some delicious milkshakes at Millions of Milkshakes. Definitely need to go back there before flying home!
On Monday, we went in early to critique our ‘conversations’ with Eden, but were nowhere near done when John claimed us. He decided to immerse us in comedy, so we got a lesson on comedy, then broke down the slices a bit before working on them, and putting them on camera. I’ve always been under the assumption that I am not funny and therefore not meant for comedy, but as Margie so beautifully said, “There is comedy and drama in every person, you just need to find the lightness in the drama, and the vulnerability in the comedy.” I do still have a lot of work to do, and came out of the experience with a lot of notes on specificity and falling forward, but comedy also isn’t so scary anymore.
After class, we went to a Chinese place for supper, then bowled a bit at Lucky Strike Bowling Alley. Some might wish that what happens at Lucky Strike stays at Lucky Strike, but that’s pretty much impossible in the age of instagram and facebook…unfortunately, my camera is being held hostage, so you’ll have to imagine what happened…
On Tuesday, we finally got to work with the amazing, world-renowned Margie Haber. Unlike the other teachers, Margie gave us a very short slice of life and let us work on it outside, then had us come in and do it in front of the camera without actually started a lesson. My problem with it being so short is that I memorized it, which would have been fine, had I lived a stronger relationship and let the reader feed my story. I need to focus on the relationship, making the other person more important than my feelings, and I need to go slower.
The class was full of information, with words we could no longer use, the 5 ego states and the 10 steps we must go through without getting technical. It was a lot to take in, but like most of the things we have been learning, they make sense. Without giving any spoilers about the crazy day we had, or the steps you would find in Margie’s book, the basic idea was RELATIONSHIP. We need to be specific and live the life of this person, so that the lines kind of come naturally. As a writer, I like to write the background stories I create, while I should really be living them. I should feel the sand on my feet, feel his touch, hear the music…she made it all sound so simple, though breaking the old habits is not so easy. We also got the Haber Phrase technique, which will be a lifesaver whenever the words aren’t memorized. I learnt enough in that one day to fill pages and pages, but something that really resonated with me was to Trust that you are enough. Sound advice for acting as well as in life. I definitely understand why Margie is the best.
Margie also brought up something that made me feel slightly ashamed. When talking about my blog, she mentioned how someone who had never studied there wrote a blog about one of Margie’s teachers, saying they were a terrible teacher. This blog made some potential students not want to sign up with that teacher. I felt bad because I knew that I had also read that blog and had come to the studio with the idea that this teacher wasn’t any good. When I met them and they were perfectly friendly and their students seemed to love them (not to mention the actor at the screening who told me I should study with her) I realized that it was wrong of me to base my opinion on a blog. Or a comment. Some people don’t click, some people hold a grudge, and some people simply have nothing better to do. I myself once had to remove a poor comment I had made, and so this little paragraph is an apology for believing, or spreading negative reviews. Words are powerful and they can hurt, so use them wisely.
Back to the fun part, which is writing about the acting, Tuesday night was magical. I have wanted to be an actress for as long as I can remember. I can’t name a movie or an actor who made me want to act, because it started long before the first movie I can remember watching. So, I have grown up watching every movie or TV show I could find, and I guess my guilty pleasure is reading all those magazines and websites about Hollywood’s finest. I convince myself it is research, but I love finding out all about Hollywood, and imagining that I will one day walk red carpets and go to award ceremonies and the whole nine yards. Living the life of another person at a moment in time is of course my favorite part of the job, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to the rest of it, which includes staying at the Chateau Marmont. All of this to say that Tuesday night, thanks to my new best friend who is staying there, I got to walk the halls I had only seen in movies and feel like I was a part of that Hollywood I dreamt about.
It was short but sweet before we went to “Tuesday @ 9”, which is an amazing night where writers write scenes that are read by actors in front of a room of people in a bar. It is a genius idea to try out screenplays, see what works, and to read and be seen by writers, so win-win for everyone. But it is also simply a chance to meet other creative people, who live and breathe in the same intense world I do. So many nice and talented people together for one night a week, helping to make each other’s dreams come true. I will definitely try to go whenever I manage to come to LA!
This morning, we got to meet Fern Champion, who had already provided so much knowledge and insight in Margie’s book. She is extremely funny, but also honest. She told us how it is in her office, and stressed the importance of arriving on time, which means leaving incredibly early to face LA traffic. She also had us do slices of life, and this time Atlee and I had a comedy. It was so much fun! I was a ridiculously needy woman with little self-esteem, what I could become if I don’t get over this self-esteem issue and realize that I am beautiful, talented, and ENOUGH! But, it was very fun to live her life for a little while. If all the casting directors are like Fern, auditioning will be a blast!
After Fern we got back to John, to work on a slice of life he had given us Monday. After we watched my scene, John told me I had a long career ahead of me, which could just be because I am young, but I am holding on to this major compliment, because of all of the other notes I got. I clearly have issues analyzing scripts, and seem to always think the person whose life I am living is vulnerable and sweet and a little girl, probably because I put too much of my personality in it. I think I did good, if the goal was to be that kind of a person, but Zoey needed to be stronger, and mask her insecurities and vulnerabilities more. A crack in them could have let the light shine through, instead of putting them on display. Of course, I need to work on specificity and make the words click instead of just saying them, but a really big note is that I need to be EMPOWERED. Slowly but surely I am putting myself out there and getting better at this, and if I keep making supportive friends like the amazing and talented people in this group, I will be okay!
I have to wake up early to get my headshots before another long and exciting day with Margie, so I bid you Adieu!