Friday, June 27, 2008

George Lucas Paid My Rent

It's not every day one gets to say that. I received a check in the mail yesterday for some recent voice work for a Star Wars series and it was almost exactly the amount of my rent. Seeing as I will be using it for the rent, I figured I can say that George Lucas will, in fact, pay my rent for July. Pretty cool.

On a side note, I haven't heard anything from my latest creep casting (with me being the creep - not the casting person). I figure I have creepy down to a fine art now, so I don't think I was lacking in that department. In fact, I fear I may be a little too creepy. This character is supposed to be a normal, regular guy until the reveal later in the show that he's a predator. It's possible I may have been too creepy. The wrong kind of creepy (is there a right kind?). Creepy-from-the-moment-I-walked-in-the-room kind of creepy.

Of course, my creep factor (or CF, as I like to call it) may be off the charts. If Barack Obama has a CF of 1 (very low), Steve Buscemi is probably a 9. I'm an 11. And it's not just in the casting office. On my best days, I don't think I get any lower than a 6 on the CF - and that's still pretty darn creepy for your local Starbucks. I may be stuck playing creeps for life. My CF is too high for most cable shows, and definitely eliminates me from anything on daytime TV. I'm not safe off-camera, either. My last voice booking was playing a creep!

Well, I better run. Thanks, George, for paying the rent. I gotta run out to the hardware store now. I need an extension cord for my voice booth and a couple tools to try fix my faulty CF.

It's stuck in the ON position...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Sausage for the Creep

Well I just heard that I didn't get my sausage. I have been released from my hold and am free to roam about the cabin. Bit of a let down, but then again - the role was described as a "spiritual person", not a seedy lowlife. Tomorrow, however, I have a casting for a "wiry creep in his 30s".

I don't wanna upset any fellow actors here, but don't bother showing up guys. This one's mine.

Step aside, Buscemi. Watch your back, Bacon.

There's a new creep in town...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please Hold

After doing this acting thing professionally (and exclusively) for nearly 15 years, I have become very good at forgetting about auditions as I leave the room. It is the only way to retain some shred of sanity in a career where one fails to book the job more often than not. Besides, there are so many other factors that determine whether or not one is successful - such as one's height, weight, hair and previous credits and how those might affect the producers, director, casting assistant or other cast. One can't take it personally, because it isn't personal. So there's no point losing sleep over it. I aim to go in, enjoy myself, be friendly, leave and forget.

This is all fine and good, until one gets a callback. Then you start to invest a little. You can't really help yourself. It's validation that you have the goods and gives you greater confidence in the room. Of course, that can mess you up. Maybe the very reason they brought you back was for your carefree delivery. Start caring and you might blow it. Well, I've learned not to care about callbacks, too, because there are still other actors on that list. All I can do is be the best "me" and hope that me is what they're looking for. And then forget about it. (Because you never ever hear that "you were good, but...". You simply either get the call to say you booked the job, or you never hear anything)

So I can forget about auditions and I can forget about callbacks. But I can't forget about "on holds". That's why I'm writing about them right now! I am currently on hold for a TV guest role. What does that mean? Well, I'm in the running. It's somewhere between "callback" and "cast". Probably, there are 1 or 2 others they're considering. Or maybe it's just me. They just haven't decided yet, because they have other priorities. But, in the meantime, we are "on hold" for a period when, strictly speaking, we cannot take any other work.

I don't enjoy being on hold. When I get the call, I do allow myself a little "yeah!", and then feel a little depressed. Because it's not real. It's like being told you might win the lottery next week. It's down to a couple people - you're one of them - and you probably won't know until after the draw date. Now try not to think about the lottery.

Difficult, right?

So, I am on hold from tomorrow until July 7th. I'd like to rejoice in having work, but it doesn't exist yet and I still don't know. I was on hold for a 3 week period last month for a movie. Then, the day before the shoot was due to start, they released me from my hold. Great. I can't even get angry that I cleared my schedule for no reason as, well, it was already clear, okay? Hey, it's been a tough year for the industry.

The real hold, of course, is psychological. It's got a hold of my brain. I want to get excited but I'm not allowed to, yet. I am the poor dog, whose owner is waving a sausage over its nose, juuuust out of reach. I might get the sausage. I might not. It's out of my hands.

All I can do is sit, salivating, hoping that my owner has a heart...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lip Smacker Loses Mouth in Coffee Shop Brawl

In an effort to escape the incessant heat in California, I have fled to the air conditioned sanctuary of my local Starbucks. Unfortunately, most of the clientele must be deaf, as the music blasts at such levels, it's hard to think. Even with my own music blaring through headphones, I can still hear it. What's worse, is it drives poeple to talk over the racket, causing an even greater racket. And it's driving me mad. The loudest of all, ironically, are the staff themselves, who spend more time gossipping than making coffee. That's no doubt why my hot Americano arrived iced.

With a little effort (and progressive loss of hearing), I managed to tune out the caucophony and get writing. But not for long. For in a rare moment of quiet a new sound pierced the caffeinated air - a clicking. Well, more of a smacking. The sound one makes after eating a particularly good piece of pie. I thought I had imagined it, until it came again. And again. I turned around, expecting a small child, but was greeted instead by a 20-something guy in track pants, vest and sweat band. He was reading, but not silently. No, clearly the book was a rare San Bushmen publication, for he continued the smacks, now accompanied by clicks.

I turned and gave a stare. You know the one: that "what the heck, dude, you're not Xhosa!" look. There was silence for a short while, then the smacking picked up again, this time peppering conversation. A phone conversation about his credit level. Real English words this time, interspersed with his own phonetic punctuation (apologies to Victor Borge). Soon there were pops, too. Smacks, clicks and pops. It would be charming if it weren't so bloody irritating. Like a dripping tap. After a while, it doesn't matter if there's silence; you're brain is anxiously waiting for the next painful drip.

I ordered another coffee- "hot please!" - and tried to calm down. When I turned around, the guy had gone. Ah, sweet relief. But too soon! There was a pop-pop-pop to signify his return and then a whistling solo that would have made Roger Whittaker proud. Or not. And as the soaring strains of "Halleluja" wailed around my brain with the whistler-popper-smacker providing tone-deaf harmonies, I shed a tear for the whales, a few short miles away, that would soon beach themselves in protest.

I'll be starting a petition to outlaw clicking, smacking and popping in public. If we don't take action now, people, the movement could grow out of control. Before you know it, poppers and smackers will be driving cars, in the White House, or worse - raising kids!

Vote now, before it's too late!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Boy and the Creep

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and was privy to the following conversation between a creepy fat guy (Creepy Guy) and a skinny young man (Boy). I felt compelled to type it down as fast as I could. Here's just a taste.

I will preface it by saying 2 things only:

1) every word is true.
2) I am not the creep.

CREEPY GUY: Okay. What do you prefer? Drama or comedy?

BOY: Drama.

CREEPY GUY: Okay, good, good. Now what genres do you like?

BOY: Uh...

CREEPY GUY: You know, like action, adventure. What are your top three genres. Take a moment and think about it.
[The Boy takes a moment]

BOY: I like action...

CREEPY GUY: Okay! And horror? You like horror?

BOY: Yeah...

CREEPY GUY: Because a lot of guys start out in horror movies. If we can get you in one of those, you know?

[Creepy scribbles something on his pad, then looks up again]

CREEPY GUY: Do you see yourself as the leading man or more as the supporting character? The sidekick?

BOY: The leading man. I did this FOX promo, where I was the leading man, so I know I can play it. I mean I was like an extra, but they said I could do something more. I was featured playing guitar.

CREEPY GUY: Good, good. Now are you SAG or not?

BOY: No, I’m not. But with the commercial, maybe...

CREEPY GUY: Well let’s check that out. Cos I repped this girl and she got bumped up to a featured role and she got SAG, so you never know. Line producer, second AD, they’re the ones you wanna know. I’m not saying be an asshole. Just be charming. You know Jason? He’s the one with the short hair?

BOY: Oh yeah...

CREEPY GUY: He played a featured role on Samantha Who. He was, uh, he was the groom’s brother. He had to join Central Casting. Once he did that, they called him to be on this WB show. I’ll tell you, you have that fire...

BOY: Hahaha...

CREEPY GUY: No really. Like Jason? He has this game face. But you got the fire. Are you taking acting lessons? You should buy this book, by Jeremiah Covey. It’s called “The Art of Screen Acting”. And you’ve heard of Stanislavski, obviously. He wrote a book, but it’s not that good. Mark Haber wrote a book. Jason went to an audition and they really responded to him. Just from what he learned in that book. This woman I know, she was working in a diner with pineapple earrings and she woke up one day and said “what the hell am I doing here?” And she went to Groundlings and now she’s one of THE biggest voice artists, period. You know Principle Skinner on the Simpsons?

BOY: Yeah...

CREEPY GUY: Well she was the woman, you know the woman. His Mom? Well the woman who goes “Skinner!” That’s her. Every cartoon you hear? That’s her.


Only in Hollywood...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Casting Breakdown

And it really has broken down lately. Nothing like a writers strike followed by an impending SAG strike to kill the year. It's been really quiet so far, though I am grateful to have booked some TV work and a few voices. As you already know, I go in a lot for "creepy", "edgy", "charactery" and most recently "weasely" (I wasn't gutted when I didn't get a call back for that last one - there was some more deserving weasels in the waiting room).

Really, I am happy to have a type if that gets me in the room. Yesterday I went in for an episodic as an equine therapist, with not a "creep" in site! No, the character doesn't psycho-analyze horses, he just uses them to help rehabilitate people. Although that might make for a funny skit - listening intently with pad and pen as a horse lies on a couch sharing it's childhood secrets.

But I digress. Apart from going out for my monthly commercial casting, my agent routinely sends me commercial breakdowns to respond to "only if (I) fit the role". Nowadays, the trend is not to cast actors, but the "real thing". You can no longer play a fireman. You must actually be a real, certified fireman. (Didn't they know I was just an actor when they signed me?)

I thought I would share some of them, as they make me chuckle and might amuse you too. At the very least they'll make you glad you have a real job.

So here they are (no kidding):
1) Email regarding: MERCEDES For the role of: REAL PIT CREW
3) Email regarding: NIKE For the role of: UFC referee
4) Email regarding: CHRYSLER For the role of: REAL WELDERS - must familiar with the machinary mu (I've heard of "welding", but not "mu". Mu? Mu who?)
6) ADVANCED IN SKILL LEVEL in BMXing, ATVing, off-road dirt biking, motorcross

And my personal favorite:
Email regarding: HUGGIES UK For the role of: WOMAN
(Need I say more?)

Well I'm glad my commercial agent's on the ball. If I was any one of these, you could be sure they would know about it - that's what that "SPECIAL SKILLS" bit is for at the bottom of the resume! If I could fashion steel wool into a St Christopher medallion with my tongue, you can be sure that's where I'd list it. And although my chest is coming along thanks to my weight training, I'm pretty sure I don't have breasts. So sorry, Huggies, I won't be playing "New Mom" any time soon.

I know they mean well and hey - it's possible Jared forgot to list the fact he's an award winning swimmer in butterfly and freestyle (I've had that one, too) - but if he can't get his sh*t together, you shouldn't be repping him! Stuff Jared. How about putting me up for "regular guy", "Dad" or "shopkeeper"?

At least send me out for "creepy"...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Golden Moment

After 3 years of sporadic blogging, I've finally reached my 100th post. Hip hip. Typically bland post, I'm afraid, but if I wait for something exciting, I could be waiting months. I will spare you the week and will limit my post to one day - today.

At 8am, I set off to the gym on my bike, feeling fresh and fit on a Saturday morning. As I sped along the Walk of Fame, I hit a pothole and my tail light came bouncing off. I heard it clutter on the sidewalk and immediately brought my bike into a neat brake and turn. However, Hollywood's golden stars were particularly gleaming today, as my tires slipped and the bike slid away, leaving me spread-eagled and face down, as a fairly large crowd of tourists looked on. I leapt to my feet and recovered my light, but had clearly lost all cool points for the month of June (if, in fact, I had any to begin with).

2 hours later, I headed off to a small movie theater on Sunset to watch a screening of a movie I acted in nearly 4 years ago in a foreign country. Finally, this little film would see the light of day and I was looking forward to settling down in an air conditioned room with popcorn and an icy Coke.

I'm not allowed to talk about the film, which is fitting, as I haven't anything to say about the screening, either. When I arrived at the theater, I was informed that the film had not been delivered, and so the one-off screening of this never-quite-finished-film-no-one's-heard-of was a total non-event. So I cannot even report whether or not the movie I can't talk about is any good!

At least I can say I had my moment on the Walk of Fame. I crouched over a star while, for a few seconds, a crowd of onlookers paid rapt attention. Some of them may even have taken photos!

What more could a Hollywood actor ask for?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kitchenboy Moves On

My friend Braam Kruger has passed on. An extraordinary chef, his food drew people to appreciate another great talent; his art. I was introduced to Braam through Nicole, my girlfriend at the time, who was one of his so-called "friend girls". It was a phrase that denoted just that - not a girlfriend, but a friend who happens to be a girl. In spite of this, it was very clear that Braam relished his 'harem' of friendgirls, who, all gorgeous, would be around him at home or out and about. Men were often annoyed by their female companion's attention towards him - what was the appeal? Such was the man's impact.

The first indication you had that this was no mere mortal, was in his appearance. When I met Braam, he was in his late forties, but with his thick beard and greying hair, appeared older. But it was very clear the man did not feel a day over 20. His fashion I would best describe as "Bohemian sixties beachwear pop", encompassing billowy kaftans, smoking jackets, lycra pants and leather slip-ons that tapered to a curly point. He was always the loudest in the room - both vocally and visually. Always with a too incredible story from his recent past, both arrogant and exceedingly charming. The consummate host, whose dinners would go on to the following morning and from which you'd need days to recover.

Braam left an indelible impression on all he met. Whether they were appalled by his brashness, his avant garde appearance or captivated by his aura and converted to a loyal fan. But through my many many visits with him, I felt I never truly knew the man behind the facade. The real Braam, the struggling artist full of massive talent but somehow not fully recognised by his peers? He admitted to me once, in not so many words, that his Kitchenboy persona (his food label) was just a marketing tool, to draw attention to the product(s) he had to sell - his exceptional sauces, his weekly columns in the paper, his commissioned paintings. But it became his life.

I think towards the end, having survived a stroke, Braam realized that the heavy drinking, smoking, partying persona had taken its toll, not only on his health but on his relationships. We grew out of Braam. He was a magical, magnificent phase that we entered, were blown away by and then left, or we were to be trapped in a world that doesn't offer a promising future. His great loves Fairy and Junglegirl both moved on with their lives and, having found love again in Amalanka, it was too late to put on the brakes. He cut back, but it was too late and not enough.

It was tough to see Braam again over Christmas, during a brief visit back to Joburg. We met at a restaurant but, instead of it being a long overdue catchup, he'd invited us to a meal review. And so we had to sprinkle our conversation between the endless back and forth of waiters with 100 dishes, Braam's incessant photos of each platter and compulsion to regail us with the origin, preparation and critique of each dish. This was the Braam for people he'd just met, not the Braam for friends.

I think his doing a review meant it was on safe ground. He didn't have to talk about life and loss, he didn't have to hold up a mirror to something he wasn't comfortable facing - his steady decline. It was a glimpse of the old Braam, shouting over to waiters to tell the chef this and that and delighting in his judgement that he could do better. And maybe it was his way of saying "remember me? I'm still here!" But as he rose, shakily, to his feet to go to the restroom, I saw just how weak he'd become. Braam and Kitchenboy were too intertwined to separate. Killing off Kitchenboy meant killing off Braam, yet they couldn't survive together for long.

I am blessed for having met Braam. He taught me a lot about myself. He made me the most incredible meals I've yet to taste - and one or two stinkers, too. He gave me a great many laughs and as many hangovers the next day. I will miss his voice, his crazy outfits, his painted nails, the jellybeans in the foyer, New Year's in Chinatown with Happy Man prawns, his fabulous nude paintings, his extraordinary home, the Kitschmobile, his loping gate and his wonderful warmth. No-one could accuse the man of not living life to the full. And that is true inspiration.

Hats off to you, Kitchenboy. Thanks for the memories.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cars, Cards and Illiterate Heavies

I really want to move on to a new storyline, but have to share the punchline to my last post. When I collected my car from Fred's cousin, I noticed the check engine light was still on. "Ah yes, we tried to do that," murmured Fred's cousin, shaking his head sadly. I wanted to shake his head for him - violently. My service light needed a service and apparently neither Fred, nor his cousin could reset the damn thing - not for love or 1200 bucks.

Instead of bludgeoning Fred's cousin with a tire iron (for some reason I felt less anger towards Fred), I managed to let the blood drain from my face into my finger tips - that way I could sign the invoice and stagger off to vent in the comfort of my not-quite-fixed yet car.

Cycling would seem a better option and I enjoyed my ride to gym the other day. That is, until I was nearly crushed by a Lincoln town car, with registration 8G59464. The car swerved to the curb without signalling, and without checking its wing mirror. If it had, the driver would have noticed me, on my bike, pedalling away. Thankfully I managed to screech to a halt, nearly falling over in the process. The occupants clearly knew they had hit me, as there was a distinct sound as my handlebars made contact with the side of the car. Also the passenger couldn't fail to miss me, wobbling alongside the rear door, as we both navigated towards the sidewalk.

Evidently, limo drivers are a callous lot - or perhaps this particular chauffeur had been drinking, as he emerged with his passenger, grinning as if he'd won the lottery. The passenger appeared ecstatic! Almost as if "nearly killing a cyclist" ranks somewhere below "spotting Brad and Angelina" and slightly above "that guy from CHiPs".

No rush to help, no apology, not even a cursory wave of the hand to say "hey, I'm sorry, but I was born this way". I don't know who I was more disturbed by - the evil driver or the guy running the tourist stall, who refused to lend me a pen to write down the town car's details, even though he had no customers and a bucket of pens within arm's reach!

When I got to gym, I worked out with a new intensity. Last week, Fred's cousin helped me to 220lb on the bench press, a new personal best. Limo guy got me using the whole stack on the tricep press. Thanks, limo guy. I did notice however, that most free weights, as usual, were in the wrong places. 45lb plates hanging on spots clearly demarcated for the 101b plates. The same with the dumbbells. But only the heavy ones appear out of place. Anything under 30lb is where it should be. It's sad, but clearly the stronger one gets, the weaker one's grammar. Until all one can manage is a grunt. Wait a minute, I've think I've heard one or two of those guys...

Later on and safely back in my car, I shot off to a voice audition and, to be fair, my engine light went off by itself. I felt a wave of calm run over me. I collected some new business cards on the way, which the ever friendly Mario made using my headshot. But rather than crop the image to fit the card's dimensions, he saw fit to stretch the image vertically, thus making me look even more gaunt than I already am. But I resisted the urge to make him swallow them in front of me and drove off again into the future.

All might just be well with my world again. Almost. As I slowed at the traffic lights, I heard a dreadful cry. Others heard it too, as I noticed heads turning. Curiously, they were turning in my direction. Oh dear. Had I run over a cat? Crippled a child?


The sound was coming from my brakes. An excrutiating 15 minutes of squealing later, I was nearly at my audition. I glanced to my right and saw a man gazing out into the traffic from the gas station. He looked peaceful, almost meditative. He also looked like Fred. Which is fitting, seeing as he was, in fact, Fred. I gave him a steely glare and pulled away, but it's doubtful if he caught the look through my tinted windows.

So now I need to do my brakes. And fairly soon. Well not me, of course, but someone. And, as God is my witness, that someone will not be Fred and especially not Fred's cousin. Of that I am certain. Fred's cousin will never again come within fifty feet of my vehicle.

Unless he happens to work his way rapidly from the grille to the under carriage...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cars, Birds and Fred's Cousin

The past 10 days have been interesting and, starved for content, I thought I'd share them with you. First I was on hold for a movie for a supporting role. Great! Three weeks of work in June. Then I was called back to read for one of the leads - fabulous. And on Friday I was told via my agent that I "won't be going any further". (The casting director didn't specify if that meant 'in your career' or if her comments were restricted to this particular job.) Hopefully the latter.

Fresh from my let down, I set out on my bicycle, only to have something thrown at me by a woman on a balcony. I specify gender simply because I like to believe that women are beyond such filthy antics. While I don't think it was intentional, it was nevertheless upsetting, especially when I ran my hand through my hair and discovered the "item" had not only clung to my head, but was in liquid form. Some anonymous woman spat on me.

Yesterday I returned to my bicycle to discover that a bird (quite possibly assisted by a number of brethren) had relieved itself on my helmet. Not an unsightly cue ball splotch on the outside that would be visible to passers by. Oh no. This feathered wretch had deposited its business inside my helmet, so only I would know the nastiness cradling my bothered brain.

For the past 4 days, my left eye has been twitching involuntarily. The later in the day, the more it twitches. At first, it was fairly mild and would come and go. However, the past 24hrs have been particularly twitchy. I feel a little (more) conspicuous in public. It's bad enough I look like the creepy guy - the twitchy eye seals the deal! I'd put it down to a couple of late nights and too much TV, but it may have something to do with Fred's cousin.

Today I returned to my friendly auto mechanic Fred to deal with an overheating problem, a mere 2 weeks after a service that set me back $650. The day after that service, the engine light came on (permanently) , the car started overheating and I discovered the door handle they had replaced was missing its rubber seal and subsequently an area of scratched paintwork was exposed. Fred's cousin had done the work, so perhaps I should have anticipated a different level of service.

Fred's cousin happily informed me that he can fix the overheating problem. I just need a new thermostat, new hoses and oh yes - a new radiator. Grand total? $600. Oh- and he threw away the rubber seal, so will try to cover the door handle with touch up paint. (Insert twitch)

I must confess that I was a little abrupt with Fred's cousin, possibly insinuating that he and Fred were trying to fleece me and I couldn't afford it and what the heck, Fred's cousin, I just paid you guys 650 bucks, you're killing me here! But I quickly (and nauseatingly) came to the realization that while I didn't (and for the record, still don't) want to cough up the dough for the repairs, I can't really drive a car that overheats after 5 minutes. It can't possibly get better by itself, no matter how gently I massage it's flagging ego.

Where does all this leave me? Well, $1250 in the hole and 8 hours spent farting around Burbank while Fred's cousin tinkers under my hood and dreams of ways to spend my hard earned cash. (Or more accurately my 'credit' - thank you Visa, you're a true friend)

On the upside, that movie I shot in Prague nearly 4 years ago, which I can't talk about, finally sees the light of day - or more accurately the light of one theater on June 14. For one grand showing. Oh- and I had the delight (no sarcasm here) of working on George Lucas' Clone Wars series, which I also can't talk about. Oh- and Fred's cousin just called to say my car is ready.

Ready for what?

Ready for a sound beating!

Who's been a bad Volvo?

**twitch twitch**