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.

13217189_10154346309732259_5172035264850456399_o

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.

File 2017-12-10, 11 55 38 PM

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

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.

File 2017-11-16, 6 05 59 PMFile 2017-11-16, 6 06 36 PM

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!

File 2017-11-16, 6 07 04 PM

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.

File 2017-11-16, 6 07 26 PM

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.

File 2017-11-16, 6 11 04 PM

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

Bonus class :)

Although I was only supposed to have one class with Suzanna last week, someone wasn’t able to make it to the Tuesday class, so I was called in : ) Originally, I was only going to do a scene from Damages, but someone else was doing the Maggie’s Plan scene I had auditioned the day before, so I got another chance to step into Maggie’s shoes.

We did it like a scene, not an audition, and there was something about having done the scene so many times before, and being with someone I have known a while and worked with a bunch of times that made it really…natural. Like a conversation between me and my best friend rather than a scene in an acting class. Which is what it should always be, but this time Suzanna commented on it. And even after having done it so many times, we found new notes. Maybe because he delivered a line differently, but there was a new kind of teasing and some really good work. Suzanna asked if we wanted another take, and we said yes, because you always say yes if someone wants to let you act in front of an audience, but it wasn’t as good as the take before. Even though I quickly recovered, I flubbed a line. Still, my scene partner discovered a new moment in the scene, so it was not wasted.

file-2017-03-05-7-38-02-pm

For the Damages scene, I had done some research, because I am clearly lying about something, and I thought it would be good if I knew what that was. Still, short of watching the scene, I didn’t figure out how to make sense of the first part of the exchange, not until we went to the back hall to run our lines. She said them so naturally that I kind of just went along with it and I find it looks great. We had to do a pick up for line issues, then I had to figure out when I wanted to stand, and my scene partner had to be more threatening, but I really enjoyed re-watching every take. They weren’t perfect, and I still don’t know when the right time to stand would have been, but I liked every single one. It evolved a bit with each take and we tweaked it as we went.

I got a commercial rather than an actor role to audition, which I still don’t feel confident with, but Suzanna clearly likes me in commercials. Or wants me to work on them. The dialogue is interesting to learn and it definitely puts my resting smile face to good use. It also lets me work on my miming, because I had to pretend to drive up, get out of the car, walk around it and be a weather girl. They say you’re supposed to work on what you’re not good at, or in this case not confident with, so bring on the commercials!

file-2017-03-05-7-38-27-pm

As a side note, I have the awesome pleasure of sporadically being a reader for a Montreal casting director. I don’t want to share too much about what I find out behind closed doors, but the other day we were looking for pictures of an actress who had auditioned for us, and the project’s director and casting director started discussing…facebook. Yes, ideally, all of your pictures should be on your agent’s website and they shouldn’t have to go anywhere else, but sometimes your agent doesn’t have a website or you might not have any full body shots there, or you might not even have an agent. In these cases, google searches will usually reveal your facebook page if you don’t have a website. I always thought it was kind of silly to assume that employers would scour your facebook profile before hiring you, but sometimes, they just stumble upon it while looking for a picture. So, as the director always tells his friends: be careful about what they put on facebook, or which posts and pictures are public, because sometimes it does happen that they will check out your profile, and you don’t want to regret whatever it is they find.

“Turn your demons into art, your shadow into a friend, your fear into fuel, your failures into teachers, your weaknesses into reasons to keep fighting. Don’t waste your pain. Recycle your heart.”

-Andréa Balt

Another CD Audition

My plan for last Friday was to go work at McGill, with one of my favorite scenarios, then go to the Forum to see Keep Calm and Make Art at 4:30, as part of the Montreal World Film Festival.

Instead, on Thursday night, I got a call from my agent, for an audition on Friday at 5. It was for not only a real Casting Director, which had been one of my goals, but one of the best here in Montreal. It was for the type of character that terrifies me, and I probably would not have submitted myself for, but since they were asking, I accepted. More than anything, it was my character’s career that threw me, but I have to keep in mind that what you do isn’t necessarily who you are. And luckily, the scene itself was about relationships and answering questions, with the thing that terrified me only being implied.
I worked on the sides Thursday night, using my newly developped process, which gets amended every time I take an awesome workshop with valuable insights. On Friday, I ran it a few times with my mom in the morning, then with a friend and fellow actor once we were done work.
I was incredibly early, so I worked on my voice, went over the scene and all the work I had done, then went for it. I still went in really early, so I got to experience…The Waiting Room. I knew the names of 3 of the 5 girls I was in there with, although I don’t think any of them knew mine. I have a lot of nervous energy before big auditions, so it helped me to be able to walk around instead of just sitting and letting it stew. I also put in as many power poses as I could manage without feeling self-conscious, which would have defeated the purpose.
Oddly enough, or maybe it makes perfect sense, but I was a lot less nervous once I was in the audition room. Where instead of worrying about what was going to happen, I actually got the chance to do something about it. I took a deep breath and tried my best to be comfortable and to own the room, because I should, and the part I was reading for definitely would.
I did the scene once, then got some direction from the casting director and did it again, less nice, more straight.  I got positive feedback, but I am pretty sure she was the type who might just be nice and supportive to everyone. When it was over, I thanked them and went home.
This was a huge victory for me. It was my first audition with the new agent, and although I don’t really expect to get this particular part, I did get into the room. And I am striving for a career, not just a job, so getting into rooms and letting people see what I can do is always going to be a win 🙂

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

-Vince Lombardi

Workshops, Classes and Nursing

I was going to start this post by saying I have been busy this week, but I realized that is also how I started my last post. Obviously, I need to be more creative with my opening lines, but at the same time, I am absolutely loving this state of being busy and doing things that make me feel like I have somewhat of a hold on this unpredictable career I have chosen.
File 2016-05-13, 9 44 41 AM
On Tuesday, I went to a workshop with L.A. Casting Director Paul Weber. There were a couple of people in the group who were in the French union and taking the workshop to transition to the English side, but most of the others were just starting out and hadn’t been acting for more than a year. I had heard mixed reviews about the workshop, but I personally enjoyed it. The first half was spent talking about the industry and learning about the business, which was a lot of things I had heard before, because of all the reading and previous workshops I have taken, but it is all still worth knowing. I also like getting certain info from each different casting director, because there are always differing opinions on props and unsollicited submissions and such.  We were a small group, so he also took the time to ask each of us about our backgrounds, and give advice that was more tailored to our particular situations.
I finished the first half of the workshop with a renewed confidence in my training and abilities. He frequently used me as an example for what actors should be doing, and only had good things to say about my CV.
The second half was more hands on work. We were given sides and told to work on them on our own, with a list of things we should be thinking about, before running it a few times and presenting to the class. I was with someone who had never done a cold read in his life, so a lot of our feedback was on him, and what a great job he did for his first time. My comment was something along the lines of I have experience doing this, then he gave me an adjustment. At the time, this made me feel like I hadn’t done well, but on the other hand, I wasn’t looking for praise, and the fact that he didn’t comment on my technique, but just made a comment about the emotional life of the character is probably a good thing.
We had gone first, so we watched everyone else, then we each went up and mock auditioned for a part with just a few simple lines. Half of us read for the staffer, then the next half went for the doctor. As soon as I read the scene, I could see that the Staffer was either snobby and annoyed with the clueless country club member, or helpful and understanding. I wanted to ask which one it was, but figured I should just make a choice for myself. This would have been excellent advice, but I kind of did a cross between the two, which was not a strong choice. I was absolutely crushed when no one chose to cast me, after I had done it without needing the sides and was word perfect. But then I remembered how great the others were, even without knowing the lines. This very much reinforces my finally understanding that being off book means nothing for auditions if you don’t have all the other stuff to go with it. It also taught me a valuable lesson about making choices and having faith in them. I am constantly being told that it doesn’t matter if your choice is wrong, what matters is that you make a choice and commit to it. Instead of dwelling on not being picked in this workshop, I will work on committing 100% to my choices next time, so the casting director will pick me when it really counts 😉
After the workshop, I rushed to acting class, where I was late, but still got to watch two other scenes before my scene partner and I did one from Man Seeking Woman. It is definitely strange, with me setting my brother up with a troll and acting like this and the troll’s behavior is completely normal, but it is really fun to play.
On Wednesday, I had to miss Suzanna’s class, because I was doing background, first as a nurse, and then as a restaurant patron. I have gotten pretty good at pretending to talk, but this time I also had to pretend to eat. I don’t think anyone watching the movie will notice or care how long I had been playing with my food without eating it, but I did, so I would purposely spend a lot of time cutting the food, then get into such an interesting fake conversation that I never got to actually eating it. In the morning, I got to meet actual medical staff as well as a lot of french actors, then was reunited with some of the Monday crowd after supper.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

-Mario Andretti

Auditioning for a CD

In this case, CD stands for casting director, and is what we call the people who cast projects in the acting industry. They send out breakdowns, pour over submissions, and decide who gets to come in for an audition. Depending on the project, they will often either read with the actor or run the audition, then give suggestions or actually decide who gets to play the part.
I have had it on my list for a long time to audition for an actual Casting Director, as opposed to simply someone in charge of casting a student or independent film. Not to dismiss the work they do, or that every audition isn’t nerve wracking and exciting in its own right, but being put in front of someone who actually casts projects for a living was a sign for me that I had made it to a higher level, where people don’t just do this for fun because they love it, they also do it because it is their job. The level of professionals 🙂
2016-04-14 21.51.28
Although I keep submitting myself for the projects that I can, auditioning for a real casting director was something I assumed would only happen once I was either a member of ACTRA, or had an agent who could get me into the room. Instead, I was lucky enough for a CD to contact me personally. This is really exciting and a victory in itself, not because they came to me rather than waiting for me to have an agent, but because I did not submit myself for the project. I was just getting back from London, getting adjusted and updating my materials when I got an email, from a Casting Director, asking me to come and audition for the next day. The role was also union, so she would have to get me a permit if I got the part. Let me just say the pressure was on.
They sent me mock sides rather than a script, but I did find a character breakdown, so I let that help me discover who I was and what I wanted in the mock scene. One thing about CD auditions, at least until I am absolutely amazing at them, is that I want to go see my acting coach before them, so that I am confident that I am giving them my best work, rather than something I just put together by myself. So, last Friday morning, I drove to Suzanna’s for some audition coaching. I hadn’t seen her since I left for London, so there was a bit of catching up before and after, but we also worked a lot on the scene, reassuring me about the things I was worried about, and helping me discover the triggers to get to where I needed to. We also did a few improvisations in character, because that is something they apparently do sometimes. I left feeling much more confident than when I got there 😉
After the coaching, I had a few hours to kill before the audition, but I tried not to obsessively go over it, just to look it over every once in a while, and remember the important things, like who I am talking to or about, my emotional journey and who I am.
When I went into the casting office (yay!) I waited for another person to finish auditioning, and for them to reset, before it was my turn. The women explained the character to me, then let me do the scene. Even right after I got out, this part of the audition was kind of a blur, but I think it went well and I did it pretty much the way Suzanna and I had worked on. A solid take.
Next, the woman running the audition asked me to do it angrier, because I am angry at everyone, but not to do it one level. I am usually really good at taking direction. It is the note I most get back from audition workshops and classes, but in this case, I don’t think I took the time to breathe and take the note in. My head registered angry and not one level, so I used sarcasm, a little bit of angry, and a chunk of talking louder in an angry way because that is what she told me to do. It was definitely a different take from my first one, and I think there were some nice moments, but I did not find the triggers or let myself feel the pain and anger, I just said a lot of lines in a kind of angry way without justification. Definitely not my best take.
I waited to share this because I wanted to know how it went, but they are filming next week and I have not heard anything, so I am assuming they went with one of the other girls. It is sad, because of everything this part could have meant for me, but at the same time, this was an incredible win for me. I was contacted by a CD and offered an audition without ever submitting myself. I was brought in for a union project even though I am neither in the union, nor do I have an agent. And, I got to audition for a Casting Director. I am also choosing to see it as a learning experience, to know what I need to work on for future auditions. Exciting things are happening, and I can’t wait for my next adventure 🙂
 

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”

-Auguste Rodin

A Time for Firsts

I believe I mentionned that Carolyne and I decided this would be our year, and things are looking good 🙂

Last Thursday after I finished work, Carolyne and I met up for some menchies and talking about our careers. However, we had a movie to get to, so we definitely need to meet again as soon as somebody stops booking so much work 😉 The movie we went to see was X Men Days of Future Past. Most Montrealers, especially those in the acting industry, know that the movie was filmed here last summer. I was lucky enough to get to spend a bunch of days on set, just absorbing everything. Getting to see what it is like on a huge production like that was amazing. You only see me for half a second, and everyone I went to see it with missed me, but the experience of being on set was incredible and I loved it. It was my first time seeing myself in an actual blockbuster movie, although hopefully it will be far from the last 🙂

The next morning, I had an audition at an actual casting agency. I have been auditioning, but not so much for casting agents, or at casting agencies. It was a cold read, like my last somewhat failed audition, but I didn’t dwell on that, I remembered everything I learnt in LA from Margie and Tony. I was calmly waiting to be called in while the casting associate called people to cancel their auditions, saying some project didn’t get its funding. I felt so bad for them, not realizing that once I got into the room, that was the first thing the Director told me. The project I was auditioning for was the one that was being cancelled. The Director basically told me that the project was most likely dead, but since I was here, he would audition me. My first thought was that this was a total waste of time and they should have just told me to go home. But then I remembered what so many casting directors and Backstage articles had told me. The point isn’t to win the role, it is to win the room. So, I put the knowledge that this project would never happen aside, and just took advantage of the opportunity to act. I did the cold read really well if I do say so myself, then did an improv exercise, which they seemed to really enjoy. Overall, if you disregard the parking ticket I had when I got out, I would call the audition a success. The project will most likely never be made, and most of the other auditions were cancelled, but I think I would have gotten the part. Regardless of the role though, I definitely made a good impression on everyone in the room that day 🙂

On Saturday some plans fell through, so my mom and I spent the afternoon at the spa. This is what it looked like when you drive up, but luckily, it was not just a barn, and I actually had quite the incredible, relaxing time with some excellent company. We definitely deserved it after all of our hard work, and the MS Walk we did on Sunday before going to my grandparents’ for the first swim of the season 🙂

Last Monday, I finally made it to the Booze and Schmooze event. Carolyne had an early call time and couldn’t make it, but I decided to do something that scares me and went by myself. I put enough money in the parking meter for an hour, and figured I could make up an excuse to leave once the hour was up. As soon as I got there, I signed in, put the little name tag on, and saw that everyone else was already in little groups. I was psyching myself up to go and either join one or pounce on someone who was alone when I spotted someone I knew 🙂 I know the point of these things is to meet new people, but I was taking baby steps. We went to a table and he told me about the projects he had planned for this summer, we talked about my scripts I have been writing…And new people did come and join us, but since I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t so nervous, and could actually talk to them. When I finally checked my phone for the time, I was a minute over what I had paid for in parking, but my friend was giving his elevator pitch. (What you would say to someone like Steven Spielberg if you happened to ride an elevator with them. You have 30 seconds to make your case and pique their interest) I had the choice to either interrupt him to say goodbye, run off without a word to anybody, or pay for some more time with the app on my phone. I considered all 3, but the answer was pretty obvious, so I paid for some more time, and ended up staying almost 3 hours. I did get to meet some new people and handed out a few business cards, but I mostly cultivated existing relationships, which I think is equally important. I am on the list of two very promising filmmakers for all of their future projects thanks to an audition I gave last year, and another is still telling people about my scream from Lonely Ninja. Plus, bonus points because when I go next month, even if no one comes with me, I will know or will have seen a bunch of the people this time 🙂

On Tuesday I had my lines down, the outfit chosen, found the best angle to film from and was ready for my first ever skype audition. When the person was offline at our designated time of 7, I decided to take advantage of it and really get into the proper mindset of loss, to inhabit the character and ground myself. Ten minutes later, I decided I would give them until 7:30, then figure they forgot about it. At 7:30, I decided to give them an extra 5 minutes before coming to the conclusion that the audition was not going to happen. I emailed them to reschedule but didn’t change or anything until 8:30 when I figured it truly wasn’t happening. He eventually wrote back and apologized for having forgotten, which I can definitely understand, it happens. But at the same time, this sort of thing has been happening to me a lot lately. I have been debating the pros and cons of becoming ACTRA background, since I didn’t want to give up the possibility of all of these non-union projects, since I have had such awesome opportunities on them. But lately, I have been left without a calltime, waited hours for people to show up to a shoot, had a project be cancelled, gotten stood up on skype. I am either having terrible luck, or it is the universe telling me that it is time to go union, even if it means missing out.

That being said, on Friday I did a self-tape with both of my parents, a family affair, which earned me a callback less than an hour after I sent it in. So, for the time being, I will keep auditioning and go to the callbacks, for the experience and because I do love acting and being on set, even if it isn’t perfect. But there are some very interesting developments happening in the next few weeks and there will be some big changes 🙂

To finish off, just wanted to say that last night, my beautiful cousin was amazing in her dance show, making me wish I were as graceful as her <3

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

-Maya Angelou

Also, if you happen to be a fan of punk music, there is a moving being filmed this summer, with a big announcement coming tomorrow. Check it out 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/PUNKNOIR

20140601-001506-906431.jpg

Home Sweet Home

Image

 

This is the lovely weather I came home to. Nothing like the sun and warm weather of L.A., but it’s good to be home (although if home were in California, my life would be a lot easier 😉 ) It has taken me quite a while to update, partially because I have been busy, but also because there was a lot of uncertainty going on, and I didn’t want to write until I knew what was happening.

I was getting ready to come home, making a list of the things I hadn’t gotten to do yet, when I got an email from April Webster, an amazing Casting Director I had written to earlier, asking if I could come in and help out. The uncertainty was because she had originally wanted me to help out a few weeks, while I was leaving the following Friday. I considered staying in L.A. longer for the incredible opportunity, but she didn’t want me to change all my plans just to volunteer for her (she kept thanking me for being there and helping, while I felt I was the lucky one). I’m not sure how much I am allowed to tell about my time in the playhouse, as she called it, so I won’t mention the project they were casting, or all the actors and actresses who came in to audition and made me have to pretend not to be completely star struck. In the end, I only got to spend 2 days there, but it was really an eye-opener, to see what goes on behind the casting scenes. I know how stressed I am before an audition, but you don’t realize how stressful it is for the casting directors as well. There are producer sessions and pre-reads, the phone is ringing off the hook, there is constant re-scheduling, conference calls with directors and producers, negotiations and offers…I tried to help out when I could, but I spent most of my time being in awe of the process, and the people I watch on TV every week who were coming over to talk to me. It is definitely something I recommend for anyone who wants to be an actor, and I might see if any casting directors here in Montreal need a hand. I know it’s not like you’re auditioning when you’re helping out, but I’m pretty sure that if a role comes in that you’re perfect for, it won’t hurt to be friends with the casting director, even if it’s just to be able to do the scene with a familiar face!

Before leaving Los Angeles, I also got an audition for when I got back to Montreal, signed up for Tough Mudder, finished my Fundamental Intensive with Zak at Margie Haber, and did my final scenes at Anthony Meindl’s. I wasn’t really in LA very long, and I probably never even talked to some of the people in some of my classes, but there are others who though I only spoke to once a week for a few minutes, I will be following their careers, wishing them well, and hoping that someday we will get to work together!

I went to the audition on Sunday, and am not entirely sure how it went. I really liked the script, and my character, but there were 6 scenes we were supposed to be familiar with, and I only did 2 of them. I’m not sure if everyone else also did 2, or if she didn’t want to waste her time on me(self-doubt is always creeping up…) I guess I will find out soon enough, but there isn’t anything I can do about it now, so I will keep submitting myself, and working hard, every day, so that eventually I can be a working actress. Even if I’m not as far along in my career as I would like to be, I am a lot farther than I was last year, or even a few months ago, so as long as I keep on moving forward, and getting up whenever I fall down, I will keep getting closer to making my dreams come true.

The Blogger

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!

Image

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!

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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!

Let the Emotion Lead Your Action

This week I discovered how similar acting and dance are. My acting class last night was interesting, to say the least. I am told that there is something about November that makes the students’ and teacher’s brains try to turn off, which leads to fits of giggles and long conversations about the unreachable ideals of Hollywood. I still find we managed to learn a lot, even when we deviated off topic, and really enjoyed it, but I do love the acting as well. I went in there pretty sure I knew my lines, but focusing on saying them more slowly than on connecting with them. Last week I was told that I speak too fast, which led to me being a lot more in my head this week than in the moment. I think it got better after the first take, when I stopped thinking about going slower, but there’s this one part in the scene where I am supposed to be upset and try to leave, and although I tried to look hurt and then turn away, it still looked like I was leaving because the stage directions told me to, and not because I was really so upset that I couldn’t stay in the room a minute longer. Suzanna told me I had to let my emotions lead to the action, not have the stage directions dictate them. It was unlike any of the classes I’ve had previously with her, and I wish I had known my lines even better, so I wouldn’t have been so much in my head, and flubbed them a few times, but I really feel like I learnt a lot, not just about acting and film etiquette, but also about the people taking this class with me, which I find makes it all the more interesting.

After acting class, I went to my jazz class. It turns out there are only two of us left, so we get a pretty private lesson, and have time to discuss the fact that my knees are retarded, and that I need to kind of push them out to make my legs like a normal person’s. But I was really struck by something the teacher, Rachel, told us when we were doing a little routine that involved a jazz hand (remember Bring It On?) reaching for the sky. Rachel told us to put that hand up and look up as if we were truly reaching for something, like a dream or a wish. It’s a tiny difference in the position, but it changes the emotional tone of the piece. She told us to always let our emotions move us, not to simply do the steps because she told us to. The whole time she was saying this, I was thinking about how Suzanna told me the same thing an hour ago.

Image

So the universe converged yesterday to make it very clear to me that I have to let my emotions move me.

As far as my list of things to do before I leave goes, I have confirmed my headshot appointment, booked to audit Anthony Meindl on November 27th (so excited!), finished my list of things I need to pack, and finished How to Be A Working Actor, which leaves two acting books left to read (and At Left Brain Turn Right, by Anthony Meidl, which I ordered a few days ago). A recurring theme in the book I finished, as well as in Bonnie Gillespie’s Self-Management for Actors, which I am reading now, is that it is a really good idea to intern for a casting director, or to be a reader for them. SMFA stresses that you shouldn’t market yourself to the CD (Casting Director) as an actor, to be clear that you’re going in to be a reader, and then eventually the fact that you are an actor might come up, but don’t try to get a job from them. This works perfect for me, because I will be an alien and unable to work for them!

SMFA also advises against going to LA during pilot season unless you’re ready for it and have representation and what-not, but since I am not trying to get work, just to improve my acting, I think it will be okay, and maybe I will get a glimpse of the craziness of pilot season, so I will know what to expect when I eventually make that trip.

This weekend I am off to my work’s Christmas Party. I will dance, relax and swim in the pool, but I will also do some reading and prep for LA!