the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cake light

There's a movie or maybe a song or a novel where a character says that the most flattering light is the light that comes from birthday cake candles.  How everyone looks beautiful when framed by cake light.

I would use a similar analogy to say that one of the most flattering situations to observe human interactions is the lobby of a high school theater after the performance.  Last night was opening night for a group of students that I worked with through my day job.  After the show, I walked out into a lobby teeming w/love, excitement, positive energy, relief, and so much joy, it was as if the entire room were filled with people holding cakes, and casting that beautiful, flattering glow in every direction.

I am so proud.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Being an actor means there are ebbs and flows, right?  A few weeks ago, I had so many projects on my plate!  But, at this point, things are suddenly super slow.  No auditions on the calendar.  One teaching job and my teaching program admin day job. Some maybes down the line, but that's all that's concrete.

Slow is tough.  Slow means the inner critic is harder to ignore.  Slow means less income, more self-doubt, and generally is just plain sucky.  I really hate slow and how it makes me feel, but I'm working on learning to love slow.

Because, slow also means: you can travel!  you can see your friends (both onstage and off)! you can take the time to go to classes or yoga or exercise!  You can work on making your professional stuff (resume, website, etc.) better!  You can rattle cages and let people know you're available for their project!

And soon, soon, it won't be slow any more.

Several years ago, my partner and I watched a Judi Dench interview on '60 Minutes'  and she told Ed Bradley that every time a job ended she felt like she'd never work again.  Judi Dench.  Dame Judi Dench.  Oscar winner Judi Dench.  She has a hard time w/slow too.  So I'm in good company.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Resource of the Week: VoiceBank

An actor friend emailed last week to ask some questions about voiceover equipment.  She wants to pursue voiceover work and wants to start by creating a studio for home recording.  Not only is that a huge financial investment, I think it's a lousy place to start. 

First of all, the actor in question has never done voiceover work before, or even taken a class.  So she doesn't know if she has an aptitude for it, or if it's work she'll enjoy.  Second, and more important, you don't get voiceover work by having a studio (although it can definitely increase your opportunities), you get voiceover work by having quality demos.    You wouldn't get hired to work on a film just because you owned a camera, would you?  You get hired because of your reel and your audition.  Voiceover demos are the reel for voiceover work.

And, there's a cool website - Voicebank - where agencies post their clients demos, and anyone can listen to them - it's a great way to get to understand the format, what the trends are, etc.  So start listening!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Practicing Generosity

When you see a great acting job opportunity, but you're not right for it, what do you do?

I like to share it.  If it's a job that someone I know should be going out for, I forward the opportunity to them. 

But wait, isn't this a competitive, cut-throat business?  Jobs are scarce, tons of actors are looking for work, keep things to yourself, right?

I don't think so.

I like to think that the work is abundant, and it's just a matter of matching the right person to the right project.  I truly feel that when my friends succeed, I am also successful.  I think about it this way - if the Bay Area builds a reputation as being a place where there are talented people, more people will actually cast their projects here (instead of LA, NY, whatever) and if more people cast their projects here, more work will come our way and therefore more opportunities to be successful.

I also think about this: it's a lonely enough business as it is.  I'd much rather go through the whole slog of auditions, callbacks, etc knowing that others are rooting for me, instead of out to get me.  So I root for them.

P.S. (4/11/11)  A terrific post on generosity in the theater by Polly Carl is at the Arena's Howlround blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Resource of the Week: Voice One

Voice One is a voiceover school in San Francisco.  I took classes there for about a year/year and half fairly steadily, and continue to pick up classes when there's something that interests me.  Through classes at Voice One, I met a director who gave me a voiceover job, I solidified a relationship w/a local casting director who has called me in for a few projects, and gotten me a few jobs, and that's how I met my agent.  And, I learned about voiceover, made demos, and took a few on-camera classes as well. 

In general, voiceover classes aren't cheap, and take a lot of your time.  But if you want to know more about Voice One, here's where to go.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Full Plate!

A quick run down of the projects that are recent and current:
1) a commercial for 'Diamond Certified' shot by Scott and Tory of Two Trick Pony - this was last Sunday
2) an indie short called 'Stranger in Blood' I'm playing a lead in this project, which will shoot in early April
3) the HP industrial I mentioned in my last post - it shoots on Weds
4) working at Jewish Community High School of the Bay, bringing the Word for Word perspective to their rehearsal process of Kafka's Metamorphosis
5) day job #1: Youth Arts Program Admin for Word for Word Youth Arts, with programs at 3 schools starting in the next two weeks
6) day job #2: training actors for the upcoming Mini-CPX exam at Stanford's medical school, which will take place in about a week and a half.
7) auditions, acting class, yoga, and all of the usual shlep that's part of the actor day-to-day

This is definitely what a full plate looks like.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Resource of the Week: the actor and social networking

Hey all - do you tweet, use facebook, linkedin, foursquare, etc? Have you thought at all about how to use these tools to further your acting career?  You should.

Here's a few places to look for ideas on how to do that. 

Chris Brogan helps small businesses use social networking more effectively.  He blogs, tweets, writes a newsletter that are all free.  He's also written some e-books and actual books.  I read his book Trust Agents, and was glad I did.  If nothing else, he advocates a 30/30/30 rule for using online tools - 30% of your time 'listening' 30% commenting or otherwise adding value to what others are putting out there and 30% of your time creating original content (status updates, tweets, etc). 

Bonnie Gillespie (who I've mentioned before) writes a terrific weekly column on the acting business.  Here's where she answers a question about when to use social networking to contact agents and casting directors, which also links to an older column that's a bit more comprehensive.

In side news, I booked an industrial for HP today! It shoots next week!