This past Monday I got my first day on a Toronto set in years, and it was…a lot of things. When I was doing the back and forth for Reign, it was my first experience with knowing the names of some of the ADs, and also having them know mine. When I checked in at my call time, the girl didn’t have to ask me my name, she just highlighted it and handed me my voucher. This was followed by years of background in Montreal until finally, this past Spring, I got them to know me. I spent the summer being one of the people whose name the AD knows, in a good way (not like in school, where you don’t want the principal to know your name), only to start all over again in Toronto, as if I had never done background before. At least as far as the ADs and hair and makeup and costume were concerned. Although I obviously realized this would be the case, I still found it really weird not to recognize any of the crew. And although circumstances that I can’ discuss mean that most of them still won’t know me next time I see them, I got to work learning their names, introducing myself, and remembering them, so that Toronto will rebecome as familiar as Montreal has. Really cool to note is that I did not break my tradition of knowing someone on set, both with the background, and from the cast. I don’t want to do background forever, because I know it’s not the best move for my career, but I do love being a part of a set and getting to know all of the people there, so it’s nice to see someone who knows you from before.
The most noteworthy part of the day, which was spent outside working on the same scene all day, was that it was a scene where they encouraged us to show a lot of emotion, and cry if we could. I mentioned a few weeks ago how I was worried that my being able to cry was contingent upon what was going on in my life, or that it wouldn’t be sustainable take after take, but I learnt on Monday that my block is either gone, or on an extended vacation. I don’t think the camera is ever actually on me, so I doubt you’ll be able to see this when the episode comes out, but I was able to cry for every single take, and we did a lot of them. My roommate has warned me that it’s weird to get excited about crying and some of the other acting challenges I have gone through lately, but for someone who thought this was holding them back, both in their career and in their personal life, the fact that I am not blocked off from my emotions anymore is a wonderful thing.
When I got home after, we did our roommate Christmas, with sparkling wine and cheese and Secret Santa gifts and it was really nice. I often spend one on one time with all of my roommates, but we are very rarely all 5 of us together in the same room for an extended period of time.
Tuesday morning I picked up some Christmas presents, one from an amazing friend, Miyuki Crochet, that I encourage you to check out because everything she does is handmade and gorgeous, then drove back to Montreal with Johnny. We hit traffic as we were getting close to the city, so plans got muddled and he ended up coming with me to Suzanna’s last class/Christmas thing that I had specifically told him we had to leave a day earlier so I could attend. It turned out to be very fortuitous, because after he and I both got to run lines and be readers with some of the people actually in class, Suzanna did a special activity, where we had to stand still in front of the camera, while everyone else wrote down the adjectives that came to mind when looking at us. Everyone else was biased by the fact that we all know each other, but at least they got one completely objective observer in the form of Johnny. I got no objective observers, because I knew everyone, but I still got a lot of interesting feedback, and my original purpose for coming was to see friends, so it’s a good thing that I knew everyone.
On Wednesday, I hung out with my grandparents before a day spent out and about. Some of it was a boring errand, but then I had a skype meeting for a part I will be filming later this month, where we went over the story and logistics for rehearsals and stuff. Next, I went to the Sim Center’s Inaugural SP Christmas 5 a 7, which I misread and showed up a little before 4, which was awkward for about 5 minutes, until I just got to catch up with a bunch of friends. I say inaugural because we usually meet at a restaurant upstairs for drinks (that one time I went, but it has been going on for years), but this year it was at the Sim Center, with snacks and a dance floor and a lot more people than last year.
I made it a point to meet the new SPs, but have to say that I spent most of my time on the dance floor. Toronto will be a great move for me, career-wise, and there’s a lot more opportunity there, but I do miss all of these beautiful people here. I guess I need to find my Toronto crowd for dance offs and serenades and who will drag me into the middle of the dance floor under the impression that I can dance much better than I actually can. That being said, my Montreal one is pretty awesome and currently has me covered.
When this party ended, after all the goodbyes, I went to another party that was an open event on facebook, but I still mostly invited myself to it, and dragged Johnny along. You see, when your career is as an actor, or crew, or doing background, you may get invited to the wrap parties, depending on how involved you were in the project, but you don’t exactly have an office Christmas party like normal jobs do. So, this party was for people in the film industry who don’t have an office party. Once there, we found that most people used it as it was intended, an office party to hang out with your colleagues and celebrate the holidays, so it wasn’t quite the networking event we had intended. The pub was super crowded though, so in addition to me introducing him to everyone I knew, I also got to meet a couple of people from the simple fact that we were either pushed into each other, or shared one of those moments where you’re almost bulldozed to the floor, and I happened to be around to see it. Still, it was nice to see the people I did see, and I reconnected with a girl who may have a project for me, so if I happen to be in town next year, I’m not ruling it out.
Thursday was an early morning after a late night so I could go get some pictures taken by a new production company that is building up archive of actors for future projects. In the hour that I was there, two of my fellow SPs from McGill showed up, as well as people I had met doing background. I had brought a bunch of looks and shown up wearing one I thought gave me a slight edge, in case I wanted to go for a role that’s slightly against type, but they chose the 2 dresses, so no such luck. One of the guys did tell me it’s all about attitude, regardless of what I’m wearing, but I still think having an outfit that matched the type wouldn’t have hurt.
They also had us do a monologue, which they brought me into the hallway for. Midway through my rendition, the elevator opened and a crowd of people came in, talking loudly. I kept going, because he never called cut, but when I finished and he said “Thank You”, I asked, “Aren’t we going to redo it, because you missed half of it?” but he said it was okay. So he either thinks the first half is enough to convince someone whether or not they would want to hire me (which is valid, but I would still never send in a self tape where you can’t hear half of it) or that’s just how they roll?
The rest of the day was spent finishing up my Christmas shopping, hanging out with family, and Getting in Gear for the New Year. It’s an 11 day program to revamp your materials and mindset and stuff for the coming year, which I have been doing for a few years now, but I get something new from it every time. Either I get to see how much my mindset has evolved, or I have a new headshot to use for feedback (like the one above, by the uber talented and absolutely amazing Owain Thomas), or I simply get a new understanding of what the results mean. Either way, I’m excited to see what surprises and revelations come this year.
Yesterday we had Christmas with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, so slightly behind on Get in Gear and all of that, but Family has to come first sometimes. Now to catch up and get ready for some more career defining discoveries.
P.S. As part of Day 2 of Get in Gear, feel free to comment with any words you think of when you look at that headshot 🙂
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”
-Michael J. Fox