Month One

I have now been in Toronto for a month (with a few trips home in between) and although I’m assuming this will feel temporary until January at least, I am starting to get my bearings.

My last post ended with my parents leaving, but a piece of home remained in the form of Johnny, who I still think of as my cousin’s best friend, but has also been a coworker and a great friend in this whole acting business. Most of the day was spent unpacking and setting things up, until Shiva arrived, making it a Tom Todoroff reunion with the 3 of us and Christie. It was also on that night that we decided to participate in Hidden Gems, an elementary school’s talent show, that has since blossomed into the idea of writing and filming our own anthology of shorts. I love writing (actually won Nanowrimo this November, even with the move, and for non-fiction en plus) and acting and these people are pretty awesome, so I am really excited for this project. For now, we had a rehearsal with the 3 kids and most of the adults, then the official audition at the school. I knew the adults were all good, having seen everyone perform at Tom Todoroff, but the kids blew me away with their emotional availability and dedication. I am definitely going to be learning from them in the coming months.

We didn’t have internet at our apartment for most of this month, so a lot of my time was spent going to cafés to do some agent sendouts, and trying to get a job in the acting world. My original plan had been to spend November in Montreal, doing these sendouts, so that I could move to Toronto in January with an agent and a job and have it all figured out. Opportunity knocked and things changed, so I am multitasking, getting settled and getting representation, but being in the city does make it easier to go to the agent meetings I get. And I managed to get myself a job doing what I did at McGill, and have already worked a couple of days at it. Hopefully by the end of the month I will also have an agent that I love, who is excited to work with me and help me build my career. If not, I’m still excited to work with me, so I’ll just have to hustle.

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Recently I spent even more time in coffee shops, regardless of internet, to make new friends and meet up with old ones. First I had coffee with a director I had worked with back in Montreal, to catch up and talk about the city, but mostly because he wanted insight for a movie he is currently writing, which is awesome, because it means he thinks that I have knowledge ; ) Next there was my first Toronto Ninjas meeting, which only featured one TO ninja, but she was wonderful and someone I definitely want to meet up with again. Then I met up with someone I work with at McGill, who had done an amazing  photoshoot with me once. While he probably used to be more of a colleague, I’m pretty sure that now he’s a friend. So distance can bring people closer.

I got my first opportunity to live up to my self tape promise in Toronto after being in the city for just a few days, and not only made a new friend, I got to cuddle a rabbit out of it. Also, it was in French, so always nice to ‘use it so I don’t lose it’. (For those wondering what the self tape promise is, I vowed to always say yes to help friends out with self tapes, as long as I wasn’t busy. So even if I am at home in pjs and don’t feel like going out, unless I am booked to be doing something different, I will come and be your reader. This not only works for if you ask me directly, it also works if I see your facebook post. I used to scroll by, assuming someone else who was closer to them would volunteer, but now I do anyways. Because sometimes there isn’t anyone closer, and even if there is, I love being a reader, so might as well put myself in the running.)

To prepare for all of the eventual auditions I would be getting, my roommate brought me on a tour of the studios and casting houses, which really are all super close to our house. We were there for her to audition more than for a tour, but it is exciting to see how much is going on in this city, and how many opportunities there are. Not to mention just how many Montreal expats you can randomly meet in a single café. (The answer is 5 of us, and one of them happens to be connected to all but one of the 5 people living in my house).

If you know me, you know I love movies, so while we have had a bunch of unofficial roommate movie nights, I have also started scoping out nearby theaters, catching up on my Justice League, and getting to know Ladybird.

We had a slightly impromptu very low key housewarming party, but it is the quality that counts, not the quantity, and we had a pretty awesome group of people (one even offered to build me a ladder for my loft, which may or may not have been serious, but is still really sweet). We had so much fun that night that we made plans to do it all over again the next morning at the Christmas Market. That was maybe aiming too high, given just how much fun was had the night before, but we did get to meet up after separately exploring the market, and have a pretty fun afternoon together.

Before signing up for classes, which I think I will do in January, I have been auditing them, to try and find the best fit for me in a new city, because my acting teacher in Montreal, Suzanna LeNir, is really hard to beat. I am not only excited to get into acting classes here, but also to learn new things, and maybe brush up on and improve some skills I have merely dabbled in so far. And I’m open to suggestions J

This past weekend, I had my first real Toronto audition in front of a casting director (where I somehow talked my way into a rendition of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”), attended an open casting call and participated in the cold reading of a feature-in-progress at Toronto Cold Reads (it was the part of a seven year old, which I am told I nailed), rounding out an incredible month full of firsts and exciting new adventures. The plan is to keep the momentum going and just keep expanding my comfort zone and making the absolute best of this move.

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Which will eventually mean spending more time just in Toronto, rather than all these back and forths, but I have 27 years of being a homebody, so it will take some adjusting. Back in Montreal I spent lots of time with family, was a reader on set and for a casting agency, filmed a cool new top secret project, did some background with some awesome peeps and had brunch and coffee with friends. I feel like it’s important to keep in touch, especially since I am living more like I have 2 homes than like I moved away at the moment. And don’t ever want to lose the sense that Montreal, and everyone there, is also home.

 

“Home is where the heart is.”

-Pliny the Elder

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein

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The Last Week

Some very interesting things have happened in the few weeks since I last posted. Chronologically, I will start with the last class of the month at Suzanna’s; audition class. We spent the first few minutes discussing how I went from being in class indefinitely, to “I’m moving to Toronto in December.” Suzanna wasn’t ready to lose me to Toronto, and to be honest it didn’t seem real to me yet either. I was apartment hunting and figuring out budgets and finding all kinds of potential roommates, but it still felt like something that wasn’t really going to happen.

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An old friend from class came in unexpectedly, which was really nice, then I did camera for the first scene. I hadn’t printed my scene, so my reader eventually had to go through my phone for his lines.  I chose the one from Narcos, which was good, because there were all kinds of different things to explore, like really flirting, just being relieved to see a familiar face, being worried about my husband vs not realizing it’s serious until he talks to me. I felt really bad that I was distracted during a lot of the other scenes, since there was a conversation going on to decide whether or not we wanted a certain apartment in Toronto. For the commercial part Tracy and I did a really weird one involving a hooked hand and a parrot.

The rest of the week was a blur, because although I left class thinking I would be back for the month of November and only moving December 10th, our first place fell through and we ended up finding a bigger place, with a new roommate, and a much closer move-in date. By Friday, we were leasing a house and moving the following week!

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My last weekend in Montreal, I filmed a short called The Girl on The Run. I don’t want to give too much away, even if its intended use is for film school admittance, but I definitely got to play some intense scenes with a whole lot of emotions. I was in awkward and uncomfortable situations, then running in heels in the cold and rain. But I loved it. Because I was on a set and I was acting 🙂

Sunday was a family day, for my niece’s and my brother’s birthdays. It was nice to see everyone before leaving, but it also convinced me that I will have to be coming back often. Probably not for every Sunday night dinner, but at least the birthdays and holidays.

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My last week should have been spent packing and getting things ready for the move, so I would have a job and agent meetings and stuff lined up once I got to Toronto, but instead, I was working. Apparently that’s how things go, that as soon as you’re leaving, everybody wants you. Well, not everyone, but I did spend one day as a reader, two days on set as background and one day at Mcgill as a standardized patient. It was a really emotional scenario where I cried every single time. Last time I had to cry for an audition, I was going through some stuff personally, so it was really easy to get the tears to come. This time, it was good to know that I could cry consistently even when I wasn’t going through stuff. Although I guess I was moving to a new city, away from my family and almost everyone I know. But that still didn’t seem real, so it wasn’t affecting my emotions.

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My brother and his girlfriend came over on Friday to help pack up my stuff, then on Saturday my parents and I drove to Toronto, like we had countless times before. Only this time, they drove back on Sunday without me. Because I was staying. Because I live here now.  (In Toronto. Not because it wasn’t clear, but because I sometimes need to remind myself.)

I’ll write another post to recap my first week here, which will hopefully have all kinds of new and exciting developments, but for now, thank you so much to everyone who encouraged me and believed in me and convinced me that this was something that I could do. To everyone who gave me advice or people to contact or reached out…I appreciate you all more than you could ever know.

And to everyone I know in Toronto, I’m here! So let’s hang out 🙂

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.”

-Dave Mustaine

Follow the Mountaintop to Chekhov

This weekend started out on set, for the Social Media Horror Event, Follow, it happened yesterday, if any of you followed, but it should come out on youtube or something as well, in case you missed it. We had originally planned to live stream a bunch of it on Sunday, but because it was going to rain all day, we filmed all of my scenes ahead of time, on the Saturday. Not only is the medium in which the story was told super original and interesting, but the story also touches upon some serious issues. Did you notice?

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Through the use of the Instagram stories of 3 separate accounts, you witness the murder of one girl, the stalking of another, and I won’t reveal the end, for all of those who aren’t done watching it yet, but things get serious. It was entirely shot using cell phones, and I was the one behind the camera for most of my scenes. Which was an experience in and of itself. And for those who are paying attention, yes, I am aware that I keep getting cast as someone who takes a lot of selfies and lives on Instagram. It might be a sign that I should work harder at it in my personal life, but I just can’t imagine anyone really caring that much about me writing at home in a onesie. Or what I thought of a movie when I am literally the easiest person to please movie-wise. Perhaps I just need to find a niche, but in the meantime, I am perfectly happy only taking selfies for work!

Once filming was done, I headed over to the Segal Center for one of the last performances of the Mountaintop. A new friend had asked me to join her, and I need to see more local theatre. And make friends. So it was perfect. She was only getting there at 7:30, which usually would have meant I would be playing on my phone in my car until that time, at which point I would walk in and pretend I had just arrived. Because who wants to be wandering alone in a room of people, trying to look busy so it doesn’t look like you just don’t have any friends? That used to be my reasoning. And it is still part of my first instinct. Instead, I parked, replied to the few pressing messages I had, then went straight in. A half an hour before my friend was supposed to arrive. I scoured the room for a familiar face, then decided to kill time by going to get my ticket. And there were the first familiar faces of the evening! They were working though, so I headed back out into the crowd and found someone I work with at McGill. Not only do I know her, she is super nice and interesting and we had no problem talking about all kinds of things until my friend arrived. We mostly became friendly over facebook rather than the first time we met, so it was nice to catch up in person and reconfirm that I definitely really like this person. We talked right up until the play started, then all the ride home.

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As for the play, I saw the Lorraine Motel sign as soon as I got out of my car, and knew from having visited the actual motel in Memphis that the next few hours were definitely going to tug at my heartstrings. My expectations were met, and the performances were incredible. Also, I walked out wanting to do better and be better, which can never be a bad thing.

On Sunday, there was a free Scene Study workshop at the Centaur. Jackie Maxwell directed 13 actors in 5 scenes from Chekhov plays over the course of nearly 4 hours. I wasn’t sure I would make it, so I didn’t even try to be one of the performers, but even through watching you learn so much. They were ‘works’ not performances, but they were all incredible, with each try bringing new layers and sometimes completely changing how the scene plays out. I will definitely be putting my hat in for the next one, and recommend it to all of my Montreal actor friends.

 

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
-Max DePree

Oh, this is fast

Oh, how things can change from one moment to the next!

This past Monday, I spent my afternoon at McGill, working as a Standardized Patient, with quite a few breaks. During one of these, my boss asked me if it was true, that someone had told him he was going to be losing me to Toronto.

“Maybe, eventually?” I said, very uncertainly. “I’ve been saying it for years, right now I’m planning for January, but it keeps getting pushed. And even if I moved, I would come back all the time.” I assured him. At this point, the likelihood that I would be moving to Toronto in January was slim to none.

Once done, I drove to Suzanna’s for acting class. When I get the script in an email, I don’t print it, so I usually only write down my own lines to learn, not my partner’s. I know I should, but it’s an interesting exercise every once in a while to not know what the other person is going to say. Or so I try to convince myself.

After doing camera for the amazing scene work of 2 of my classmates, Nick and I went to run our scene from Narcos out back. I knew all of my lines, but I didn’t know where his ended before me, so I would cut him off every time he paused. I hate it when other people do that to me, so it was one more reminder that I should not learn lines that way.

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After 4 or 5 times though, we were pretty good, so we went back to class and went last. From the beginning, Suzanna said we had the flirting down pat, but we had other things to work on. This was high praise, considering the fact that back in LA, I was told to flirt as homework because I was so bad at it in class. I could have claimed victory then and there, but I got some other tweaks, like treating some of it as new information, and I got to play around with how some of the things affected me. Over all, it was an awesome scene that was so much fun to play. Because that’s the best kind of scene work; when you feel like you’re playing J

On Tuesday, I was supposed to be filming a scene on a non-union project that I had been working on for months (sporadically), with the director, through the casting process. It was an amazing project with heart and an incredible message and I was so excited to be in it, but then they cut my scene. Which I completely understand, but I still made it a point to fill my day with fun things to distract me from what I wasn’t doing. I went to see Professor Marston and the Wonder Women with a friend (super interesting, and I had no idea! It’s probably not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it) in the afternoon, then Only the Brave with my parents at night.

These were very welcome distractions, and I am so happy with the support system I have built/was born with, but a huge contributor to my not thinking about the role I lost, was the crazy venture I was getting into.

You see, Monday night, a friend wrote to ask me if I was still planning to move to Toronto. I made myself sound way more committed and determined than I actually was, and got myself a roommate. For December rather than January. And while I have been super loose about all Toronto plans, she was super on the ball, sending me places she had found pretty much immediately. She knew what she wanted to pay, what area she wanted to live in…she had the whole thing figured out and I was sorely lagging behind.

If I’m being honest, January would have turned into September, or some other faraway date that may never have arrived. Instead, with my friend who was very excited and a go-getter, I spent most of Tuesday checking out places, sharing my plans with the world and reaching out to people I know in Toronto. There was also a bunch of people who reached out to me, either suggesting we meet up once I’m there, asking to crash on my couch once I move in, or a few even asking to move in with me. One of these offers became our 3rd roommate.

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Though I have also been working and had a rehearsal for a really cool social media event/short film we are filming this weekend, most of my week has been spent figuring out this Toronto move. Which is terrifying, but also so incredibly exciting. I’ll definitely have updates the next time I post. And I’ll probably talk about this move a lot in the coming months, because this is huge!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Summer 2017

You might have noticed that I haven’t been updating this blog as regularly as I usually do, so I am going to tell you a bit about what I have been up to this Summer, then get back into a more weekly groove once you’re all caught up.

To start, I had the awesome opportunity of being on set a lot in June and July. I had one of my top background experiences, but I also spent weekends on set with speaking parts I can’t wait to share with you. From an aspiring actress in Overexposed, to a determined young woman in The House They Lived In, without forgetting my last days on Deep Web, and a reshoot for the short I wrote.

I continued working at McGill, being a reader for a casting director and even ‘directed’ a few sessions. I got to see a little behind the scenes on a tv show currently in production when I was hired to read for the actors that were out of town for rehearsals and table reads. So much fun! I also got to go around beautiful locations in Montreal and get photographed on 2 separate occasions, once for props in a short film (the pictures are beautiful, I can’t wait until it comes out so I can show them to you) and once for a slightly impromptu headshot session with the ultra-talented Owain Thomas. Seriously, you could not ask for a better photographer. The time flew by, he made me feel confident and comfortable (and super entertained) and the shots he got are amazing.

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If you’re wondering how the short I wrote is coming along, we have put the footage together, and are now working on synchronizing the sound and getting color correction. I’ll have to ask for some help with the music soon, but it is coming along really well, thanks to my awesome cast and crew, and talented editor. Not to mention, we now have a title. Instead of Really Short Short (or RSS) as I have been calling it, it will now be The Anniversary. There have also been some gut wrenching setbacks on this journey, but I am not letting that stop me or get me down.

In July, I attempted to win Camp Nanowrimo, the venture where you write a book in a month. The first few days were right on track, but then I spent 13 days on set, and started Get in Gear for the Next Tier, Bonnie Gillespie’s hundred day program to bring your career to the next level. These aren’t excuses, I know that I ‘failed’ Camp Nano, but it was a conscious decision. That might be worse, but I had the choice between writing, working on my career or working on me, and I chose me. Instead of sitting alone at a table and writing, I became somewhat of a social butterfly, getting to know everyone on set. It was completely out of my comfort zone, but the more I did it, the more comfortable I was going up to introduce myself and start a conversation with a stranger. By the time I finished those 13 days, there were very few strangers left on the set. And as far as my time off the set…I tried actually living my life, rather than living vicariously through the characters and the stories I write. It was more exciting, more painful, and a lot scarier than when I write, because I wasn’t in charge of the story, or the other people, but they always say “write what you know” and I know a lot more things now.

In class I have had the pleasure of stepping into characters from Kissing Jessica Stein, Scandal, Ozark, The Big C, Episodes, Prime, Ferris Bueller’s day off, Flight and Girls. Some called for kissing and accents, others for pain, anger or comedy. Every one was a wonderful learning experience.

I took a singing lesson with Caroline Gauthier, which wasn’t so much about the singing as figuring out how and why I try so hard to hide my voice instead of sharing it with everyone. She was absolutely lovely. As was Patricia Chica, who gave a Chi Energy workshop back in July, and hosted a Table Read for her script, Montreal Girls, just the other day. The workshop was definitely an exercise in sharing my vulnerability in front of an audience, which is something I would usually try so hard to keep hidden. Lots of discoveries and magical moments in that one day, so I can only imagine what will happen to everyone who signs up for her 3 day workshop in October. As for the Table Read, any opportunity to act and step into someone else’s shoes is a gift for me, so being able to meet new actors and work with a script that hasn’t been produced yet…it was a wonderful experience.

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In an attempt to convince the casting gods that I can be a kickass heroine someday, I took classes with my dad so that I can work with firearms. This isn’t necessary when it comes to film sets, but I am thinking it can’t hurt. And it was a lot of fun.

Another thing that can’t hurt is the bimonthly actor’s meet-up a brilliant friend of mine initiated. If you happen to be in Montreal, every 1st and 15th of the month, we will host a meet-up for actors to get together and act. Every actor will bring 2 sets of sides, then we will pair off and run the scenes. Cold reads at first, but we can get familiar with them,  switch roles…it’ll be a chance to network, of course, but the main goal is to work that muscle so when auditions come along, we are so used to working through scenes that it is fun rather than new or stressful. It’s an awesome addition to classes, an opportunity to learn from fellow actors, and something to keep your tools sharp when you can’t make it to class.

Finally, I sent in a few self tapes, booked 2 of them, and went on 3 auditions. One I didn’t get, one I haven’t heard back from, and the other one I booked. Well, I booked a part, not the one I auditioned for, but it will definitely challenge me a lot more as an actress than the ones I auditioned for would. I am more used to challenging myself in class than on the set of a really beautiful feature film I am honored to be a part of…but I tend to react well under pressure, and I have complete faith in the director/writer/producer who gave me the part.

As far as personal developments, I think I have grown a lot this summer. Not literally, but I have learnt a lot and experienced all kinds of new things. Some of these were amazing, some made me stronger and some simply broke my heart. But that’s okay, because I put myself out there, I was vulnerable and I gave it my all. Which is the point of all this, right?

To be more specific, I spent a bunch of time with my family, I went out for brunches, coffees and ice creams with friends, I volunteered at Comic Con (which let me see so many amazing panels), I had what I would best describe as a summer fling, found my confidence only to put it through multiple tests, spent 3 days at the same hospital for 3 different people (we’re all okay), finally got called Auntie Manda and started to believe that maybe, I AM ENOUGH.

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“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stand Up For Yourself

This post is a bit of a TBT. It was an experience I knew I definitely wanted to share, because there was a very important lesson that was learnt, but I also didn’t want to make people feel bad, or blame anyone, so I put some time and distance. I kind of also didn’t want certain people to know how I let myself get treated, but you live and you learn, right?

The same day I finished rereading Year Of Yes, I was on set doing something that definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but it was something I felt I needed to do. I was playing a murder victim, and from my understanding, I was basically going to be a corpse, like the ones you see on an autopsy table. I had been trying to be more comfortable in my skin, which includes showing some of that skin. As in being comfortable in a bikini in public. Or in this case, a strapless bra and underwear, since it is basically the same thing. The show was on a network that wouldn’t show nudity anyway, so I thought it would be a nice learning experience, to get me to expand my comfort zone. At McGill, we often do ultrasounds, where most of the girls wear sports bras, but I always wear a bikini, because for some reason, I feel less exposed. Someone once told me it’s different because you wear a bikini expecting to be seen, but bras and underwear are intimate, for people you choose to show, so the same amount of material brings a different level of vulnerability.

The point is, I went there pretty nervous that I would be in a bra and underwear on set, but this was something I wanted to be okay with, because of all of the romantic comedies in my future. I spent a lot of time waiting on set, reading my book, until the makeup artist was ready for me. Instead of the usual facial makeup, I needed the corpse treatment, so I was sent to get into costume. When I showed my options to the woman in charge of costumes, she first joked that I was actually going to be naked, before handing me 2 tiny flower nipple pasties, and telling me to choose whichever beige underwear I preferred. Shock was my first emotion, before I decided she was probably joking again. I told her I was supposed to be in a strapless bra at the minimum, and showed her my options. She insisted I wear the pasties and gave me a robe.

I went to the little changing booth and tried it out, feeling really uncomfortable. So I wore a second pair of underwear with more coverage, but didn’t know what to do for the top. The makeup artist was someone I had worked with before, and she seemed to understand that I was really uncomfortable, so she let me keep the robe on most of the time that she was spray painting my body. I figured this was something that had to be done with the least amount of clothes, so I would make my stand once the spraying was done. Until then, I clutched the robe and kept an arm over my chest.

The makeup process was pretty long, during which I was able to go over it in my head repeatedly. I kept going back and forth, trying to figure out if the lesson here was to speak up to someone and stand up for myself, or if it was to do this thing that scares me. I kept asking myself, “Why am I afraid of this?” I know that lots of actors do nudity. I have been offered auditions for parts where I would be topless or naked, and have refused every time, even when an ACTRA credit was on the table. Was this just me being afraid of leaving my comfort zone? I considered trying to be comfortable with this, so I could start saying yes to those auditions, but as I lay on a table, holding the robe over myself while the makeup artists drew lifeless veins and random crew members stopped by to change the garbage or have a conversation, I decided that this was not about me being comfortable with being taken advantage of. This is my body, and it is my choice how much of it people get to see.

I felt guilty, like I shouldn’t have agreed to this if I wasn’t okay with it, and also like I couldn’t back out, because they had cast me, and I made a commitment. I kept having to remind myself that this was not actually what I had agreed to, and I had every right to ask for what I had been assured.

When the makeup artist took a break, the set photographer came with pictures of another actress who was currently off playing a corpse in the scene they were filming. This actress was hanging out without a robe, but she also looked more like she was wearing a bikini than naked, because she had full, thick cups covering her breasts, not just her nipples.

I asked the woman in charge of costume if I could have something like that, so she called an associate, and I found out that I was supposed to get the exact same thing, but they had 3 corpses today and had only planned for 2 in the costume department. So she had improvised. Relief flooded me as I realized I wasn’t just being difficult and reneging on a deal, I was legitimately not supposed to be in this situation (looking back, I do know that I had every right to speak up, even if I had just misunderstood, but at the time I was equally terrified of causing a fuss and having them not want to work with me again. I had a lot of trouble saying no to things back then)

When the makeup was done, a bra was cut up and the cups used to give me more coverage. It was a makeshift solution, but at that point I was so relieved to have anything.

I ate supper with the cast and crew. I hate that I was apprehensive of everyone at first, because I had felt so vulnerable and exposed for the past few hours. Everyone was incredibly nice and slowly, I started breathing easier.

Once I actually got to set, everything went a lot better. Being a corpse meant that I got to wear contacts that made me nearly blind, but I am told I looked really cool. The scene was filmed at night, outside, so it was pretty cold out, but two of the cast members took care to cover me with a wool blanket between takes, going so far as to wrap it around my toes to keep them warm.

At one point, one of the leads flubbed their line after countless flawless takes. When someone asked her what happened, she explained that a creature had been crawling up my arm and she couldn’t make me sit still through that. Needless to say I loved her for it.

Some parts of it were awkward, and I did end up being comfortable with more than I was when I woke up that morning, but the entire debacle up to that point had been completely unnecessary. For the actual scene, I had a sheet covering most of my body, so I could have been wearing a tube top and shorts without anyone knowing the difference.  I could have been so much more comfortable and less exposed, but I learnt a valuable lesson.

In response to my earlier debate about what I was supposed to learn, the lesson was to stand up for myself and not be afraid to ask for what I need. Even if that upsets people, or if they wouldn’t have wanted to work with me again. Because I am worth more than the hours I spent being terrified and feeling exposed and kind of violated. Especially for no reason. I want to do things that scare me, or make me nervous, so I can expand my comfort zone, but I should never let myself do things that make me feel that way. I have hard limits for a reason, and nudity is one of mine. Some day, maybe I will decide that it’s the kind of uncomfortable I want to get used to, for an incredible part or a project that I really believe in and want to do. For whatever reason, if that day comes, it will be because I decided that I wanted to, not because I was too afraid to speak up and say no.

 

As a P.S. for anyone who recognizes the project or the part they played in this story, I don’t really blame anyone. At any point, I could have said no or insisted on more wardrobe or…there wasn’t a single person on the set that I think would have made me go through with it if I had actually told them how uncomfortable I felt rather than trying to be easy to work with.

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”

-Tony Gaskins

 

Masking, Sets and Reboots

Since last week was the last in June, we had our audition classes with Suzanna. On Monday, I chose the Rabbit Hole scene, because I figured it was the one I had the most to work on. I volunteered to go first, and my first take was definitely my best take. Not to say I shouldn’t have done the others, because they were very useful, but the first time is where I connected the most emotionally. There is a part where I talk for a paragraph, so my reader looked up at me, and at first it felt off, but then I just felt it and connected.

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Suzanna asked me about my moment before, because she felt I was coming in already expecting what was about to happen in the scene. Having done my homework, I explained that I wasn’t reacting to what I knew was coming, but to what I had been doing in the scene before this one. Which is true, I got the core right, but I needed to cover more, at least in the beginning, because the thing upsetting me is something I don’t want to share with my husband.

For the last take, Suzanna had me try it angry with my husband, so I try to leave and get offended with his accusations rather than just hurt. There are some moments that felt so much stronger with the anger rather than the pain, but a lot of moments truly benefit from the raw vulnerability I usually play it with.

I recently had an audition where we had to send in 2 different takes of each scene, and I think it’s a good thing to try while prepping all scenes. If I do the whole thing angry, then the whole thing sad, there are obviously moments that won’t work, but hopefully a combination of the two will bring a richer, more moving performance. And I always have to remember to mask my core.

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For our actor roles and auditions, we were all paired up, so I was the bubbly and overexcited wife with Nick and Sean, then a receptionist who is going on a cruise for the second one with everyone. Often when we do commercials I wish I could have done an Actor role instead, but these were sooo much fun, and I can only imagine how hilarious it would have been to actually get to film them.

On Tuesday I did a bit of background with some awesome people, discovering that someone I admire is even more of a class act than I already assumed them to be.

Wednesday I was all over the place, starting by helping a friend with a Self Tape. She thought my original offer was for a limited time only, some kind of resolution I was trying out, but no, I am actually committing to help out with readers and self-tapes and running lines and what not for however long people need me, as long as I am available. Why would I say no to the chance to act and help out a friend, all in one?

Next I went to meet Carolyne so we could catch up and talk about the industry and our lives. As always, she offered insightful advice, reminded me why I need to stand up for myself more, and we left emphasizing our Compass Feelings. If you didn’t listen to Dallas Travers’ 5 Day Acting Reboot, you probably don’t know what that is, and neither did she. At least not with that terminology. Basically, Day 1 of the reboot was about finding a feeling that we want to drive our careers and our lives. Instead of what goals we want to accomplish with our acting, we should be asking “How do I want acting to make me feel? How do I want to feel every day?” I chose Confidence as my Compass Feeling, because it has more to do with how I feel about myself, rather than how I think others feel about me. The whole reboot was pretty awesome, if ever you do want to check her out and find out more secrets. I was lucky enough to be featured in one of the Live Q & A sessions:

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In class that evening, I chose to do the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind scene, because drunk is still an issue. Unfortunately, I was pretty off. The first take felt like I was just running lines, and the second like I was playing anger more than feeling it (she told me to try being angry rather than a giggly drunk). The third take I sat on the chair rather than just standing, but like the wall from last week, I think I was using it as a crutch to drive the performance. And I focused again on the being drunk rather than the heart of the scene, which I did work on, but did not internalize.

I was on book for the actor who came after me, and was truly inspired by the fact that he brought a monologue rather than doing one of his scenes over. Although sometimes I think I really benefit from an extra chance to work on a scene, I think it would be incredibly beneficial to start bringing in scenes from my target shows, or monologues I want to work on. At least when I feel like I already did my class scene justice.

I had to leave class early for an interview, to see if I could attend an acting class in Los Angeles. This is definitely progress, because almost all of the really cool classes I have taken were chosen, not entirely, but very much because there was no audition process. I have often taken an entry level class, when I know an intermediate class would have been so much more useful for me, because trying for the intermediate class would have meant auditioning. And the possibility of being turned down. This time, I had to pull out an old monologue, and answer all kinds of questions no one has ever asked me before. It was a very interesting process.

On Thursday, I was back in Quebec to film some scenes for Deep Web, which were incredibly reminiscent of the Dark Shack. There were less ropes and someone different was wielding the knife, but it almost felt too close for comfort.

 

“Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.”

-Frank Tyger

Dick : The Movie

A few weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity of being on the set of Dick: the movie. My friend asked me to come and do some background, which you usually don’t do for free unless you’re starting out and need the experience, but friends are an exception. And really, I would rather be on set, in any capacity, than almost anywhere else.

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I was prepared to get there and hang out in the background, watch some acting, maybe meet some new people. The friend in question, Danny Malin, is someone I had wanted to work with eventually, so I thought it would also be an opportunity to see how he works as a director.

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It turns out that I was right, but also very wrong. I did get to watch some incredible acting, and met a few new people, but most of the cast was people I already knew to be awesome. And I did not hang around in the background. True, I didn’t speak, but I was not once treated like an extra. I was even included in a behind the scenes interview thing, which I had not been expecting, and would have better prepared for if I had known. As it is, I’m not sure if I made any sense, but it was my first time being interviewed, so I probably spent most of it nervously laughing.

Once I wasn’t needed for my background skills anymore, I offered to be on book as a semi-script supervisor. Call me crazy, but as I said, I would rather be on set than almost anywhere, and if I am on set, I would rather be doing something, learning and contributing than doing nothing.

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It was an incredible experience and I learnt so much on this set, not just by watching everyone work, but by talking to them. I am so glad that I got to be a part of this project. Everyone was so welcoming, and I hope to get to work with them again. And again. And again.

 

D33P W3B

Last week I was in Quebec City, not for a delicious French restaurant, but to film a part in an independent thriller, D33P W3B. I play Kristina, a girl who is very into gaming and sort of gets in a little over her head.

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The director/writer/producer/cinematographer is Jessy Dupont, who was also behind The Dark Shack that I did years ago. He asked if I would come and be a part of his new movie and so I came. There were so many familiar faces involved in the project (from Dark Shack as well as other ventures) but I only ever had scenes with Daniel, who played my boyfriend in the last film (one of the actors actually filmed his part from Vancouver).

It was a very different atmosphere from last time. Our previous shoot was two weeks long, with almost everyone staying in the same house for the entire shoot, including a set photographer and a sound guy/stand in/I’m pretty sure he did everything. This time, I was the only staying at the house, and we filmed at night, once the guys finished work. We were also just 4 of us on set; our fearless leader Jessy, my costar Dan, his girlfriend and me.

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One thing that hadn’t changed was the guarantee of good music while riding to set with Dan. We took advantage of this travel time to run lines, and he insisted that I had to try a poutine from Ashton’s, since we don’t have those in Montreal. In case you’re wondering, it was really good, but I still think we do it better over here!

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I don’t have a lot of set pics, because I left my phone in the car in an attempt to be more present, but I did get to watch the scenes we filmed after the first night, and snuck a few pictures. I might be biased, but it is looking pretty good. The second night I didn’t get to see them because I drove home instead.

Last week was definitely easy scenes when compared to what I will be doing this week, but you’ll have to wait until the movie comes out to know what I’m talking about

 

“One of the things I like about looking at pictures when you’re young and also meeting back with old friends you haven’t seen in a long time is, for me, it’s a glimpse of who I was.”

-Lea Thompson

Eternal Sunshine

Last Wednesday’s class presented a whole new challenge; that of being drunk. I was tipsy in a comedic scene over a year ago, and worked on being drunk in my first ever Tom Todoroff intensive, but it isn’t quite something I have mastered yet. Which was largely due to the fact that I am usually too shy to really go for it, but this time it was more about not really having the life experiences to back it up. Which is a frequent problem of mine, and the reason I am trying to get me some life experiences now. Not necessarily getting drunk, because I don’t generally drink, but I am trying to do all of the things that scare me. And live more in the real world, rather than mostly vicariously through books and writing.

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Our scene is from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where I play Clementine. We ran it a few times before class, where playing drunk got me nervous so I was shaky on my lines the first time, but I fixed that. He had trouble with one so he changed it, and I told him it was okay as long as he said something mean to get me upset.

I was on camera for the first scene, and then it was our turn. Suzanna had returned a hat she borrowed from me, so I used it as a bit of business at the top of the scene. I would walk in wearing the hat, throw it across the room while taking off my shoes, then lean against the wall, which was the biggest proponent of my drunkenness.

Our first take, Suzanna congratulated me for going there, but she wanted me to be less of a cute and giggly drunk. I tried to get offended more, to be more defensive. When she told me to try and get a rise out of him, we talked about my goal and I realized (what I should have much earlier) that I wasn’t just coming home drunk and unaware of what I was saying, I was purposely trying to start a fight so he could break up with me now rather than when it would destroy me. That definitely helped. And although I thought it didn’t matter what he said to me as long as it was mean, when Suzanna had him say the actual line, I wasn’t just sort of upset and leaving because I was supposed to, it actually hurt. The improv before our last take was also kind of weird, and veered sort of off topic, but it was informative and fun.

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In addition to class, I had an audition for a webseries, with the same team from Talion’s Law, which was awesome, because they’re a great group of people. And I found out this weekend that I actually booked one of the parts I auditioned for. Was it because of my incredible acting, or was it predestined that I should play Amanda? The world will never know…

 

“I’ve always been spontaneous and outgoing…I’ve tried lots of things so I’ve got some good life experiences, which is great ‘cause it means I’ve got lots of material to work with as an actor.”

-Leonardo DiCaprio