Oh What A Year

I like to spend the last few days of December figuring out what I want to achieve in the next year, but I also like to take some time to go over everything that I have accomplished over the past 12 months. Every time I do this, I realize that even if I am not where I planned to be, I am still leagues further than I was. And especially this year, even if everything on the outside had stayed the same, I have not. I understand a lot more about myself, my comfort zone is huge compared to what it was, and I actually feel ready for all of the things I have been saying that I wanted. Which I did, but sometimes things happen for a reason, and I’m starting to feel like lately, everything that has been happening has been leading up to where I am now, as well as where I am heading.

I am going to start off with the numbers and work accomplishments, because they are more concrete than what comes after. I had 39 auditions this year, broken down into 22 self tapes, 15 in person and 1 callback. Which I booked 🙂 These gave me 66 days on various sets, of which 35 were background, but 30 were speaking days, where I had a part and got to live the life of someone who is not me. The last day was as a PA/ Dog wrangler, so probably doesn’t count, but I do always say that there is nowhere else I’d rather be than on set, in any capacity. And I mean it. Ca Arrivera Jamais Icitte, Over Easy, The Cohort, Talion’s Law, Augustine, Another 10 Minutes, Overexposed, D33P W3B, The House They Used To Live In, Dick, Follow, Girl on the Run, and so many others. I can’t wait until I spend more days on set than off!

I surpassed my goal for Networking, with more than 40 events, mixers, award shows, film fests, screenings, book signings, wrap suppers, brunches and coffee dates with other actors, or people somehow involved in the acting industry. The best part, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, is that networking has become less of a chore to get myself out there and more of an opportunity to hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while, or to meet amazing people I admire (or will soon come to).

I got to be a reader for all kinds of really cool projects, with incredible actors, exploring a multitude of characters. I even directed a few sessions, which was really different and harder than it looks. One of these projects keeps bringing me back for table reads and stuff on set, which just blows my mind that I get to be a part of it. Another one I was actually cast in, then slightly heartbroken when my scene was cut, but I still absolutely love the story as well as everyone involved, and can’t wait to see how it all turns out. In addition to my job as a reader, I got to read for a project in pre-production that I am involved with, for a bunch of friends (and new acquaintances) as part of my self tape promise, and for my very own project.

In April, after years of being too afraid to, we shot The Anniversary, a short that I wrote. It was a bit terrifying, yes, but nothing like I thought it would be. It was exhilarating and emotional and a lot of work, but something I can’t wait to do again and again. I learnt so much about scriptwriting, finding a crew, casting a project, shot lists…and I still have so much more to learn, which I will, a little more with every new project I start. Which will hopefully be often. I also want to learn more about post production, so that I can maybe do some of it on my own, and so I will have a better answer when people ask me what I want (most of the time, it was “I don’t know, what do you think?”) Every time I bring it up, I have to thank everyone who gave (or are still giving) their time and energy to help me make this dream a reality. I am eternally grateful.

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In addition to the amazing classes with Suzanna (where I used accents, attempted commercials, played drunk, comedy, cried, flirted and kissed people), I tried my hand at Meisner (which is scary for me, because you can’t learn your lines and hide behind your preparedness), took a Chi Energy Workshop, a singing lesson, the Centaur Chekhov scene study and audited classes in Toronto. I volunteered for Comic Con, which was a lot of fun, and since I was mostly manning the microphone in the large halls, I got to listen to all of the panels and basically got mini masterclasses from incredible actors. My roommate also tried to start an Actor’s Meet Up, where we get together and run scenes as a super cool way of networking, but since 3 of the 4 attendees now live in Toronto, it looks like someone else will have to take over? And it isn’t really an acting class, but I am definitely proud of the fact that I passed both my non-restricted and restricted firearm safety courses. In theory, this means I can buy and own certain guns, but I am more interested in what it can mean on sets.

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I participated in 3 table reads, one for the English translation of Antoine’s Cow, one for Montreal Girls, a movie in pre-production, and more recently an excerpt of a sci-fi film for Toronto Cold Reads, which I will definitely be returning to in the New Year. The stage has become a lot less scary for me, not just through my time at LAMDA and with these ventures, but from all the time I spent ‘stage managingLeave The Therapy Take The Cannoli. I still can’t really call myself a stage manager, but it was a pleasure helping them out and being a part of that famiglia.

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Over the summer, I got some insight into how a friend creates his shot lists by helping out for one. His method involves a lot more people than the sheets of paper I’ve seen others use, but it also gives you the opportunity to actually test out the lighting and angles and distances. Ideally, it would be how I would like to create the shot list on my next project. This was not my only time posing for a camera though, as I participated in prop photos for a friend’s short (they’re amazing, but I’m not allowed to share yet), had the privilege of being photographed by Owain Thomas, photographer and friend extraordinaire, and recently got more shots with a new production company.

I made a multitude of discoveries and worked on myself and my materials through Bonnie Gillespie’s Get in Gear for The Next Tier (and the free end of year one as well), and plan to revisit the wealth of knowledge after rereading her book, Self Management for Actors in the New Year.

On a personal level…I can’t even begin to explain the journey I took over the past year. As a writer and an actor, I often list a lack of life experiences as something that is holding me back, and while I probably only caught up on a fraction of what I have been missing out on, I have discovered so much about myself.

It started out with little things in class, like holding someone’s hands for an extended period of time, slow dancing with strangers, accepting compliments and not so pleasant truths in Meisner (over and over again).

Then everything came together when I spent a lot of days on a set this summer. I was doing background, but I went with the intention of meeting people and being…memorable? I’m used to going on set and remembering everyone’s name, but they mostly won’t remember mine. Which is sometimes because they have a bad memory, sometimes because I didn’t say much, and sometimes I literally just overheard someone else using their name and remembered it. This time, I was determined to actually talk to people, get to know them…be the me I am always too afraid of being, because I’m worried people won’t like me. When I say things happen for a reason, part of me is okay with not being ACTRA yet, because this was the kind of set that I probably wouldn’t have been on if I was a union member, and if I hadn’t been there…I can’t be certain, but I don’t think I would be living in Toronto right now, and my comfort zone would be substantially smaller. It was the little things, like people using my name, or coming over to greet me in the mornings, but it made me feel special and like people actually enjoyed talking to me, and my company, which isn’t always the case. I would show up at our call time, which would be incredibly early, with a smile, so excited to be there and to see what the day would bring. I went in knowing a lot of people, but I left knowing the name of almost every extra on set, a lot of the crew, stunt people…even some of the cast. I became a lot closer to people I had just known in passing before then, and also made some new friends, whose support and advice mean the world to me.

It was through this experience that I met someone who broke down walls I didn’t even know I had, completely overwhelmed my comfort zone and taught me so much. About life, relationships, love, heartbreak, but mostly, about myself. About the kind of person I am (how she’s pretty awesome and I shouldn’t be afraid to share her), how much I can handle (way more than I would have thought), how much I am willing to give (everything, so I should be careful), but also what I want, and the things I don’t want to compromise on. We are still friends, and even now, I don’t regret a single thing. Because of the lessons and the experiences, yes, but also for the way it made me feel. Confident. Desirable. Needed. Wanted. Enough.

After this, I was brave enough to post an entry about an experience I had in the past where I learnt to stand up for myself, that I was afraid of sharing, but felt I needed to. I was confident enough with myself to do background in a bikini, and a revealing bathing suit, which would have (and still) terrified me, but I did it. Then I went so far as to sign on for a shoot where I got held captive in my bra and underwear, which was so far out of my comfort zone, but now it’s done, so the comfort zone is bigger. And I’m not going to say there’s a link with what I lived this summer, but I am now able to cry. Which was holding me back acting-wise, but also in life. I felt so closed off when all the women in my family were crying, and I just sat there, dry-eyed, not really feeling it. I still probably can’t just cry on cue, but I have been able to cry in scenarios at McGill, in class, on set, in auditions, in rehearsals, and most importantly, in my life. My cousin recently said yes to the dress, and my aunt’s tears led to everyone else in the room crying as well. I was about to argue when my cousin pointed this out, because I was so used to being unaffected, but there I was, crying along with them. Happy tears. Silly tears. But I wasn’t closing myself off anymore.

Probably the biggest change was me moving to Toronto in November. Having never lived away from home for more than a few months at a time, this was pretty huge for me, and my family, but like I said in the beginning of this post…I was ready. Or at least I am now. Looking back, it wasn’t the year I joined the union, and my career didn’t explode, but I still think I was right when I said 2017 was my year. Because now that I know I’m enough, it’ll be a lot easier to convince the rest of the world.

I hope your year brought you more joy than sadness, more accomplishments than defeats, but most of all, I hope next year knocks this one out of the park. For all of us.

“Everything happens kind of the way it’s supposed to happen, and we just watch it unfold. And you can’t control it. Looking back, you can’t say ‘I should’ve…’ You didn’t, and had you, the outcome would have been different.”

-Rick Rubin

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

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

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

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

Coffee, Country, Café

I think we have already established that there are few things I enjoy more than being on set, so it was really fun to film a short a few weekends ago.

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On the Saturday, we met at a farm about an hour North of Montreal, where I roasted coffee beans, climbed a tree and filmed some scenes. We had a general idea of what we needed for each shot, but the dialogue was completely improvised. The story was a living thing, changing and growing as the day went on. I also had to repeatedly drive into the shot, which is definitely not on my list of things I love to do. The short itself is sort of a passion project, put together by a bunch of non-union actors who wanted to get some on-set experience, and to put some nice footage on their demo reels.

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On the Sunday, we met at a cafe that graciously allowed us to take over for the morning. We were using about half of it for our table and the filming set up around it, not to mention restricting the conversations of the patrons every time we were filming. It was definitely interesting to film in a location that was full of people who were in no way involved in the shoot. I also got to meet a woman who used to be the artistic director of a theater company a friend of mine took over.

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After we were done filming, I drove off to an audition, that I had tried to do as a self tape, but as soon as I got there I understood why he wanted me to come in person. You see, things happen to the woman, and it is more her reaction and her physicality that matter over how she says the dialogue. I showed up in the dress I wore for filming, completely unprepared to be rolling around on the ground, which was an experience in itself. I am not surprised that I didn’t get the part, because my brain was probably equal parts dedication to making it real, and self-consciousness over possible wardrobe malfunctions and how ridiculous I must look. Well, probably not equal parts, but there was enough self-doubt to take away from the truthful performance I was trying to give. It was not the first audition to take me by surpise, and will most likely not be the last, so I need to get better at fully committing!

“Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.”

-Roger Staubach

All Kinds of Reading

I have a week’s worth of fun acting things to share with you 🙂

First off, I filmed a few scenes for a horror movie last weekend. It’s the one where we have no script, so the director basically tells us what has to happen in the scene, and then we improvise. What makes it even more interesting is that it is being filmed on a gopro, and my costar is the one filming, in character, so I have no idea what I look like, or even when the camera will be on me. This is a project I really cannot wait to see the finished product of, because it is so different.

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Screenshot from ou r final Stage Combat class.

On Monday I had an audition for a student film that I would absolutely love to be a part of. The script is really well-written and funny, the character I auditioned for is awesome…I should find out next week, so my fingers will be crossed until then. As far as how I did, I think the scenes I was able to prepare were good, but I think the frozen read I did was soo much better. In case you were wondering, a frozen read is where they give you the sides (your lines) and have you do the scene right away, without any time to prepare, as opposed to a cold read, where you have at least a few minutes to work out what is going on.

On Tuesday I couldn’t go to class because I was doing background on a show where I got to watch a lot of soccer, and read the entire The Girl on The Train book. Anyone want to go see the movie? 😉

On Wednesday I did get to the cold read class, with a lot of new students. There was only one woman who had been there the month before, and I knew another woman from the Cohort, but all the others were new encounters 😉 I did 2 scenes, one from Transparent where I don’t have a lot of background, but it’s a really interesting scene; and another from Nip/Tuck where I get to be all emotional. Suzanna also gave me the task of being less put together next week, more down, which implies that I am not usually like that. So, it should be fun.

Then today, I had the awesome pleasure of being the reader for a casting session. I might sound like a broken record, but I really love being a reader. I love doing it in class, and doing it with the talented actors that come to audition is just…probably a dream job until acting starts paying all the bills 😉

Since we are in October now, I will mention that I did pretty good on my September goals. I have a new draft of my book, with revisions from someone else that I asked to read it. I filmed a scene that I wrote with Lorraine. I learnt a new monologue. It’s actually a poem, so it is tricky to not emphasize the rhymes, but it’s different and was fun to work on. As for the pull ups, I can do 5, where my head rises above the bar and everything, but I haven’t been able to do them in succession yet. Like I can do one, then come back in 20 minutes and do another. Still, I am getting better, and if I keep going, my muscles will get stronger and 5 in a row will be a piece of cake.

For October, my main goal is to get Shards of Glass to a point where I think it is ready to be published. And if I could spend the rest of my days acting, that would be lovely!

 

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

-Sam Levenson

We Filmed A Scene!!!

Before I start, I want to thank Lorraine and my dad, from the bottom of my heart, without whom this endeavour would not have been possible. <3

One of my goals for this month (also a resolution for 2016) was to film a scene that I wrote. My requirements were mostly to have someone other than me filming, and to have another actor in the scene with me. This way, the challenge wasn’t just sharing words that I wrote myself, but also asking people to give their time and effort to help me.

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This was really scary for me, so there was a lot of procrastinating and delaying. I had written the scenes and shown them to Carolyne probably last year (huge thank you to her and to my mom as well, for a whole lot of deliberating, and support). When I got back from London, I edited them to be easy to film with minimal locations, and figured out which would be the simplest. I decided the scene between two lawyers would be more complicated, so I settled on the scene I took from a much longer story I was writing, about two best friends discussing boys, which completely fails the Bechdel test, but the story itself wouldn’t.

Next came the hard part. This suprised me, because it was having other people read my writing that had initially given me pause, but now it was asking people to be a part of it, then coordinating everything while trying to inconvenience them as little as possible. Lorraine immediately said yes, as did my dad. I know these are baby steps, but this became about building the confidence to be able to film more complicated scenes, with more actors, filmmakers…I am working my way up to another scene, 2 shorts and a webseries.

It didn’t take long to coordinate our schedules, so we met Lorraine close to her work, for very guerilla filmmaking. I had been so concerned with convincing them to participate and figuring out where to meet that I had put very minimal consideration into logistics. Part of it was because I was hoping to discuss it more with my dad, part of it was because that didn’t seem scary enough to worry about ahead of time. Both my mistakes, because I know my dad would have been happy to figure out the shots with me had I asked, and if I had sat down and thought about more than a master and two over-the-shoulder close-ups, I easily could have planned it all out. Luckily, this was my attempt at failing, so I could work hard and fail better next time. Or so I tell myself after doing the bare minimum, when I know I could have done so much better.

Here are some other things I learnt (or didn’t think about, but definitely need to before my next foray into filmmaking):

  1. Location: Yes, the scene was a simple conversation that could be shot anywhere. However, a good location needs more than just a place for 2 people to sit. I had originally intended to film it indoors, which would have fixed a lot of issues, but as it was, we spent quite some time walking around, trying to find somewhere that would fill the following requirements…
  2. Sound. My first and ultimate location were the bleachers of a baseball field. In my head, as long as there wasn’t a game going on, we were fine. If there was, I figured we would film it in the car. It somehow escaped me that a location needs to be quiet, so a guy doing landscaping, machines, birds, planes…these are all things that ruin shots.
  3. The Sun. I was concerned about this one, in the sense that I didn’t want to film after the sun set, because then it would be dark outside. I forgot to think about shadows. Not just how lighting changes as the sun is setting, but how different camera angles bring different levels of sun exposure and can leave half a face in the dark.

Basically, this was a success, because I filmed a scene that I wrote, but at the same time, I was way too preoccupied with getting it over with, and didn’t devote even a quarter of the time I should have into planning it. That’s not true. I didn’t plan smart. I have more than enough experience with filming and being on set to know all of the things I did wrong. I just worked on preparing the wrong things. I had my actor cap on, and my writer’s cap, but not any of the other caps required when you are creating your own work, and leading the project, no matter how small.

I will use my knowledge, plan smarter, and be more open about asking for help and opinions for my next scene, which I am hoping to film some time next month. In the meantime, I will attempt to edit the footage we got into something worth sharing, even if it is just with you guys. Luckily, my dad and Lorraine had ideas and were both wonderful, so it didn’t end up as bad as my planning. It actually looked pretty good 😉

“Done is better than perfect.”

-Sheryl Sandberg

BUT, also…

“Always do your best.”

-Don Miguel Ruiz

 
 

A Perfect Labor Day Weekend

When I left work on Friday, everyone was anticipating the long weekend. Yesterday was Labor Day, which could have meant 3 days spent lounging by the pool, catching up on some reading…a vacation. Instead, I got to do something a million times better. I got to act and do what I love all 3 days.

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It started out on Saturday, with some outdoor scenes for Diablo, a short fan film I am lucky enough to be a part of. We had to create an old medieval village, so I was out in the country with an awesome group of people. I decided to take advantage of the remoteness and didn’t use my phone or anything all day. Which means I still have no idea how I looked with the makeup and the dress (from the front), but it was an experience. As for the actual filming, we have been working on this for so long, and had rehearsals and I really got my character, so it was a blast to film. Nice and innocent is what I am good at. Plus, I got a thigh strap for my mic, which may not sound like much, but I am excited every time I get something that I usually associate with bigger productions. 

On Sunday, we reshot the ending for a scene from The Cohort that we filmed a couple of weeks ago. We were only 4 of us and it was a very short day, but still a lot of fun. And it meant I got to spend a lot of the day writing and editing, so very productive 🙂

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On Monday, the day started out with a screening for Keep Calm and Make Art, where I got to catch up with Carolyne, the director and some ‘crew’ (our crew was made up of other students, so they are filmmakers in their own right 😉 ). I also got to see a few of the other shorts, before I had to get to set for some more filming on The Cohort. This time, it was a much bigger scene, with a lot of actors and extras. We were a lot of people crammed into a tiny room, dressed like we were in the middle of January, but it was so much fun. So many of us had lines, that it really felt like an exchange, and even reacting to what other people say is really fun. I love the collaborative nature of this project, and being able to play with my character.

All in all, it was an awesome long weekend. The only thing that could have made it better would be if it truly were a vacation, where I took time off to swim and read and barbecue with family, because I would get to be on set every other day of the week 😉

“You only have one life and if you’re not doing what you love, what’s the point?”

-Hilary Swank

Chase Your Dreams

After a week off, we were back in class on Saturday, learning some more Stage Combat. I rushed in at the last minute after watching my cousin’s circus show. I am always amazed when watching those kind of performers, just like when my dad has me watching American Ninja Warrior with him, because they are crazy talented. Part of me always assumes that they have been training since birth and I would never be able to do any of the stuff they do. Which is probably true on most fronts, but at the same time, nothing is impossible. My cousin, who is currently touring the province in a circus show, didn’t start training until he was in his twenties. He has always been really active, awesome at sports and in incredible shape, but that still isn’t the same as training since birth. Instead, he found his passion and went for it. He switched careers and trained harder than most of us have ever trained before. He shows me that you are never too old to chase your dreams, as long as you put in the time and do the work.

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I’m not sure about you, but I often sell myself short, and decide that I can’t do things, without ever trying them. Usually it is things I have no interest in, but when it comes to things that I do care about, it is nice to know that I can overcome this pessimism, as long as I put in the time and effort. One such thing that I am constantly fighting myself on, is actually stage combat. Because although I aspire to be a kickass character, and playing a superhero (or just being in a MARVEL or DC movie) would be an absolute dream, I know I am not so good at stunts or stage combat. I know sports and physical activity are not my strong suits. I know that looking at me, you don’t expect me to be anything other than nice and quiet, which I only halfheartedly fight against. I am starting to realize that it is possibly my belief that I am not good at these things that keeps me from changing that, rather than my actual capabilities. In other words, if instead of taking classes while believing that I am not good, I start working harder and believing that I can get there…maybe I actually will.

Saturday’s class was one of the most demanding emotionally, but the easiest physically. We learnt strangulation, which is really disturbing and way more draining than I was expecting, but I feel like I really got it. More as the strangler than as the victim, which was definitely weird. I think succeeding at something, paired with the earlier amazement, is making me change the way I look at things. Instead of trying to take as many classes as I can, I will strive to actually learn and improve and be confident in my skills, so I don’t need to constantly take classes and learn the same things over again. Not that this is the case, as I haven’t learnt most of the things we are learning now, but I would probably have the same success rate if I were to retake the course in a few years, unless I change the way I approach it.

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On Sunday, I spent another day filming the same webseries as last week, with a smaller group, but still a really great time with some awesome people. It was such a treat to be able to just have fun with a character, being silly and ridiculous at times. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together, but really am not looking forward to filming being over.

 

“I love the art of acting, and I love film, because you always have another chance if you want it. You know, if we – if this isn’t going well, you can’t say – well, you could say – let’s stop. Let’s start over again, Gene, because you were too nervous.”

-Gene Wilder, RIP