Friday, March 27, 2009

Fake Cops and Real Detectives

Watching the news today, there was a report about a murder in Sherman Oaks, California. Then a detective came on to read a statement. Fair enough. Except, the detective in question wore a fedora as if he had stepped right out of the fifties. And the murder in question? Perpetrated by 3 guys posing as cops.

Ironic that the real detective reporting on fake cops looked every bit the fake cop himself. Or mafia hoodlum. I mean, he looks snazzy and hip but if he came to my door, I wouldn't buy him as a detective for a second! He's trying too hard. If I went in to an audition as a detective, wearing a hat like that, the casting director would shout "Next!". Or maybe he'd just comment "Nice hat" and then giggle to himself.

But what do I know? I'm the guy who wore a bathrobe to look like an Angel. Hahaha...

Head Games

During a recent audition, the casting director commented on my footwear. "Nice boots," he said. "Thank you," I replied. Then he chuckled to himself for a few seconds and then began the scene. What the hell is that about? Obviously a private joke. He can't have been sarcastic. I mean, my boots were brown, very normal looking boots. You might laugh if they were clown boots, bright pink or very pointy. Haha. Very funny. Let's all take a moment and guffaw. But they aren't. They're common brown leather boots. So why the comment? Did he genuinely like them? And if so, why the laughter?

During another audition, I noticed, mid-speech, that the casting director was looking at a resume. (His assistant was reading opposite me) It wasn't my resume, mind you - which would have been nice. If he's not going to look at me in my audition, I'd rather he was looking at my resume than looking down his assistant's blouse. But no. He was looking at someone else's resume. I know this, because the headshot stapled to the back of the resume was very clearly not mine.

Now, to be fair, he could have made a mistake. The casting assistant did take 2 men in to the waiting area at the same time. (See? Some of you are confused already) Both of us gave her our headshots. (Stay with me) Then he called "Gideon" and in I went. (I know, it's dizzyingly complex) There's only a 50/50 chance of him picking up the correct resume. But when each actor's resume is attached to each actor's headshot, the odds have to improve, right? And when my name (like every other actor in this town) is printed in bold typeface on the front of the headshot which, coincidentally, also has a large colour image of, um, ME, you would think he could pick up the right one. Especially since the other actor had a shaved head! You would also think that he would quickly realise his mistake and either swop resumes or put the one down. But no - he continued browsing through the other guy's credits until I finished the scene. Sweet. Perhaps I was so dull, he thought he'd see who was next...

My other favorite is where I arrived to audition for a major series about a quirky detective. I arrive 10 minutes early, to find the office locked. I knock and knock but no answer. So I wait. In the sun. Slowly sweating in my "hitman black" sweater. After 20 minutes, someone saunters up and unlocks the door, but says nothing to me, the obvious waiting-to-audition-actor, brandishing my stapled sides (script). So, after a moment, I go through the door and sit in the waiting room. After another 5 minutes, the guy comes through with a sign-in sheet and says "I'll be with you in a minute; I have to make some calls". I sign in and wait a further 5 minutes, before he calls me in.

In the room, he asks what role I'm reading for and then pages through his file to the scene. Then he looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to start. I look at him. He looks at me. I remind him that he starts the scene. Oh. He starts the scene and remains, head buried in the script. I wonder where his reader is and where the hidden camera is for this "on-tape for producers" audition.

Midway through the audition, the door bursts open, and in walks a guy carrying a tripod and camera, no doubt for the day's auditions. He has a brief chat with the casting person, who suggests he comes back in a few minutes. The guy leaves. Then the casting guy says "okay. let's just take it back a couple lines..." And we finish the scene. Did I get the gig? No. Will I ever get back in to read for them? Unlikely. Because the guy won't remember me, as he didn't watch a second of my audition. However, my name will be sufficiently familiar for him to know that he brought me in - I just didn't make an impression, so he won't call me back.

Now, one could make the argument that I have every right to utter the following responses to the aforementioned behavior:

Scenario 1. "Excuse me. I'm glad you like my boots, but what's so funny? Do you think it will help my performance if you laugh at me for no apparent reason immediately before starting the scene?"

Scenario 2. "Excuse me. That resume you're looking at? It's not mine. I'm Gideon Emery. The name on the one you're holding is Not Gideon. He's still in the waiting room. Would you rather see him first?"

Scenario 3. "Excuse me. You're obviously a little rushed this morning. How about I come back later when you're all set up?"

Unfortunately, as an actor, you can't. Because if you do demand the same basic respect you offer them (being polite and courteous), you won't be seeing them again. Ever. Naturally everyone is entitled to a bad day. And not all casting people behave like this. Most are consummate pros. But it can be a challenge when you spend hours preparing for a casting, missioning through traffic, struggling to find a parking spot, only to have the person clearly sign the fact that they couldn't be bothered.

Sometimes I couldn't be bothered to blog. But I do. I suck it up and blog, people.


Because blogging is all that separates us from the beasts...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Western Stage & Eastern Screen

The 50 Hour Theatre Festival that I acted in a few weeks back was a blast. I got to tread the boards at Zombie Joe's Underground in a whirlwind get-your-script-and-learn-it-stage-it-perform-it-in-24hrs blitz. We had 3 performances and, all things considered, it wasn't too bad.

Here's a pic from our little piece, entitled Dr Lox. I played the good doctor, who seemed to be going through some kind of withdrawal. I say "seemed", because it was rather esoteric and my character (like the actor playing him) was quite unstable. The whole Zombie Joe's family are fabulous and my trusty fellow actors were Danielle Larson and Jeffrey Grin. Some fun wordplay, stylistic staging and physical performance. Good to scrape off the old theatre cobwebs!

In other news, a sci-fi thriller that I filmed a while back finally got a Japanese release. It looks pretty cool with the Japanese titles and has a great little trailer. You can check it out RIGHT HERE. Hopefully it will make its way stateside one day soon...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fix Your Accent

Only in LA would you find a sign offering accent services. Yes, if your accent isn't up to snuff, these guys will fix it for you. I love it. No "perfect your American accent" or "sound like a local in 2 weeks". Just a rude "fix your accent". It's not even aimed at actors, just the public at large. As if anyone stupid enough to read the sign must be in need of help. Your accent sucks and needs fixing. Nice.

Last time I checked, my accent was in good shape and needed no repairs. They should focus on the people I have to deal with every time I call the cable company/gas company/phone company, cos I can't understand half of what they're saying. And it really doesn't matter if the call center is in India or Indiana.

To be fair, being a British South African living in America has taken its toll on me. I say things like "paaass me the waa-duh". I'm neither English nor South African. And I'm hardly American, either. I'm just one big fake accent that becomes whatever it needs to be for the occasion: Russian mobster, home grown terrorist or snooty British talent show judge (I mean, do I really look anything like Simon Cowell?)

Maybe my accent does need fixing after all. I should call these guys. Question is, what exactly happens in a "fix" and how long does it take? Is it like fixing a sandwich or more like fixing your hair? How long does a fix last and is there a 90 day warranty? (I fixed my car and it still isn't fixed!) Is this a one-size-fixes-all kinda fix? And if I am going to pay to fix something that isn't broken in the first place, the least they can offer is a fix with all the fixings!

I like my stuffing and gravy...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Can't Quite Put My Finger On It

With no news of my own, I thought it only fair to share the story of a Finnish blogger (and computer programmer) who, after losing a finger in a motorbike accident, decided to turn himself into a cyborg.

Well not quite. Jerry Jalava has attached a prosthetic "finger drive" where the digit used to be and can now apparently plug himself quite literally into computers. Kinda cool and creepy at the same time.

I typically prefer the gym over robotic evolvement. But if I had to do a little tinkering, I would build an espresso machine, so I'm never without a fresh cup of coffee. Plus, I wouldn't have to stand in line at Starbucks. Nor would I have to tip the cashier or the "barista" for pressing "pour".

What the heck is that about, anyway? Tipping for a cup of take-out coffee. It's not like they bring it to your table! If I'm tipping for service, why don't I tip my auto mechanic? They really work hard and even have greasy hands to show for their troubles.

Oh wait.

I remember why I don't tip my mechanic...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Very Close Now

You know how you have those feelings sometimes? Feelings that you're really close to getting something? Well, my landlord just informed me that I am "very close now" to getting parking in my building! The only catch is that I've been "very close" for the past 6 months. Before that, I was "number three on the list". He also said he saw me in both "the crocodile movie" and "the vampire".

Splendid. Maybe he'll be inspired to bump me up the list. Or not. Next month, he'll tell me "it was between you and another actor". This guy could have a career in casting. "We really liked you for the parking spot, but the plumber thought you were too creepy."

Thanks for the comments from those of you who watched my vamp stint. It was probably the most fun I've had on set to date. Coincidentally, my CSI:NY appearance aired earlier that day on Spike. Naturally, I discovered that after the fact. Probably just as well. A double dose of creepy Gid could cause irreparable damage.

Creepy or not, hopefully my next job is a little closer than my parking spot...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Moonlight Shines Again

After some mindless surfing on the net, I stumbled upon the fact that Moonlight is screening on the Sci-Fi channel. For those of you who didn't catch me the first time, or anyone crazy enough to go for a second helping, 'my episode' of Moonlight is on Sci-Fi this Friday @9pm.

I thought it was a great little show that really didn't have a chance to build its audience. If you like a little romance and aren't scared of a little blood, then you won't be disappointed. Oh yeah, and if you like vampires, you'll like it too. Please be sure to watch beyond the opening scene execution, unlike some of my friends the first time around. I might be coming back...

When the only news is the state of the economy and supervillain-du-jour Octomom's new "octo-lair" (as Fox "News" calls it), don't you deserve a little fantasy escape? And what better day than Friday the 13th...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Stage

With the disappearance of both the high pitched whining and the spring cleaning somnabulant neighbors, I am free to focus entirely on my lack of work at the moment. And in this downtime, I thought I'd add some new pics to my website. Pics of plays I've performed in over the years.

Here's a link if you're interested. It was quite fun revisiting my old photo albums to pick out a few nostalgic shots. Not least because 2 of them feature the man who got my professional career into gear, the late great Bill Flynn. He introduced me to my first agent and I was fortunate to work with him on 3 occasions.

I miss Bill and the experience of being on stage. It was great to jump back in, albeit briefly, for the "50 Hour Drive-By" the other weekend. Stirred up my passion for performing. It's curious how rarely one gets to actually act in LA, since most time seems to be spent in the pursuit of work. Theatre instantly reminds one of what acting is about - the act of performing for other people. And there's nothing like the immediacy of a live play to bring it all home.

I'm hoping to get a picture from the recent festival, but in the meantime, here's a look at Gideon over the years. Try not to laugh...