Monday, March 4, 2013

Today's Special: Basil Raspberry Lemonade

As I sip my Basil Raspberry Lemonade in this cafe, a couple sits at the table in front of me.

It's fascinating to see a couple out in public sitting together at a table and rather than address each other, they busy themselves in newspapers.  Are they really together or just sharing a space in public?

Who am I to question these people when I myself am here just to say hi and possibly flirt with one of the wait staff because she's a friend and said I should stop by.  I'm sitting alone at a table as she serves this couple next to me.  We're all in the same room physically, but socially in our own worlds.

Oh wait, I think the girl at the table said something.  I can tell from her accent that she's from Australia.  It's thick.  There, a conversation.  Brief, with some laughter and anger, and already over.  Back to the paper for both of them.  His whole body is turned away from her, off to the side of the table to better accommodate the newspaper over his lap.  He's more open to the rest of the strangers in the cafe than to the person he's sitting with.  The news of strangers lives trump what is more present.  How accessible is news written down by, from and about strangers when someone you know who is alive sits right there beside you?

I take a sip of my lemonade.

Movement.  He gets up and grabs some sugar packets from the counter.  In the moment he sits down he's unwittingly opened himself up for conversation.  After a few seconds I realize they're talking about the news stories they've read and not about the details of their own lives.  They talk about the outside world as if there is no news of their own lives, only what they read.  Have they grown tired of each other, run out of themselves, or worse-walled up parts of themselves they refuse to share so they fill that space with other people's stories?

I take another sip from my lemonade.  I'm just attempting to look deep and intriguing by writing furiously on a sheet of college ruled notebook paper in the black folder I carry in my backback, which is sitting on the chair across from me, showing how my mind is so taken by my work I can't allow for the distraction of another person at my own table.  I won't forget to occasionally check my phone between glances at the girl who invited me to visit her work in the first place. 

Life smiles at you in the oddest ways.  Sometimes it's just having a laugh at your expense.  Other times its smiling because it knows what's going to happen next.  Either way I suggest smiling back.  It makes you look less lost.

Back to reading the news.  Page A2 is more intriguing than an attractive person across the table.  She read something that surprised her and shared it with him.  The conversation was brief and they are back in their papers to consume the news.

How much past do humans share?  Is it more than our future?

I don't think I've ever been in a relationship long enough to just read together.  If we're in the same room I feel the need to share.  Something.  When learning to drive, my dad told me "when you're driving on the road, you're driving on the road.  You're not at the party you're driving to, you're not with your friends last night, your mind must be where you're at-driving on the road."  When I'm alone I often drift to other lands, but when I'm with someone I care about, it's difficult for me to escape mentally somewhere else for long.  I still do it, but the gravitational pull of the other always brings me back.  Maybe that kind of long-term relationship perspective is not one I want.

Time for the bill.  Papers down, heads up.  Chatter.  He drops his card and heads outside to smoke.  He stands on the other side of the window right next to the table.  He fake punches at her outside the glass dividing them and walks away to light his cigarette.

She is in her phone.  He stares at the front page of the Wall Street Journal dispenser outside, heads back to the window to glance at the LA Weekly sitting on my side of the glass.  He'd grab it if he could.  He reads the sandwich board outside and paces about, finishing his cigarette.  I'm sure in his pacing he read the bus bench ad for a realty company.  He sees that my friend finished charging his card and returned it to his table.  He comes in, signs the bill and asks the woman "ready?" without sitting down.  As she stands up she asks "grab the paper?" which he does, and they walk out the door.

Left behind are used cups, the signed check, a stack of ads from the paper and me.  Still alone at my table with my words and lined paper.  Furiously writing down the story of the people I watched as I drank my Basil raspberry lemonade.

The table is cleaned and a new couple take their place, intently reading the menus.

I pay my friend, smile and leave to walk down the road back to my apartment.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Focus (and lack thereof)

I'm in the process of meeting potential new roommates, but that's not really the topic I want to speak on right now.  It's more about focus.

One guy I spoke with tonight, I was under the impression that he was an actor as that's what he studied and what I was told he did.  He is currently assisting a manager, interviewing to assist a producer and basically working in all areas of the film industry.  He's been on about one commercial audition a month and when he said he assumes his agent will drop him he seemed unconcerned.  When I asked about his acting goals he said that he could go either way, as in if one of the other pathways opened up he'd go that way instead.

This hit me.  Where I am caught is that I've devoted nearly half of my life to acting and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.  I've PA'd on sets and I write/direct/edit but only to facilitate my acting.  I am an actor and I would like the world to see me as such (though there's a-whole-nother story there*) and I can't imagine entertaining other ideas when I know what I am. 

This made me realize the reason so many people in the entertainment industry used to be actors.  They never really wanted to be actors in the first place.  They wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry and thought acting was the easiest way in.  In all honesty for some it was, but only the super gorgeous can get away with that.  Acting is rough and you have to be super dedicated to it.  You have to face rejection daily and smile about it.  Some people only see the huge paychecks for a few days of work and notoriety, but neglect to notice the months and years of not working, networking and not getting paid that are required to add value to your name in the first place.  That's the same problem with grocery stores.  We see all the fruits and vegetables and we expect them to be there and we don't see the thousands of hours of work and effort and lives that go into creating that food and bringing it to the store.  We just see the finished project, fruit and film alike [in more ways than one?].

When I hear someone talk about acting as an "if" I know they are not serious about it.  I don't even think "if" when it comes to acting for me.  I view it as a certainty.  Maybe an eventuality, but always a definite.  As long as I am persistent, it will happen.  The industry has no choice but to eventually accept me, because I'm here and I'm not going elsewhere.  I'm setting up my tent on Hollywood's front lawn ** and not budging until I'm invited in.  It's not quite war, but it's not quite not war either. It's just the industry.  I've seen people with money and connections jump the queue and they will continue to do so.  That's what money and connections do.  I may not have money *** and I am working on connections, just being me - Vinnie - a nice guy with talent and drive.

I just had a mild revelation tonight that not every actor is an actor at heart.  Picasso had drive, Van Gogh needed to get his images in paint, other artists...well we aren't saying their names now.  They just didn't want it that much.  Maybe that's it.  I need it.  I can't fully live without acting.  Now that's much more vulnerable of a position than I want to be in.  That's how it goes, I guess.  I'm in a kind of freefall, trusting the ground will greet me with a smile and not a splat, but I'd rather be living toward my dreams than dying from their stagnation.

I should end on a positive note. Well...maybe some of the appendices below will do the trick.****

*I met a producer friend of mine yesterday who's been helping me out and she said there was a project I might be good for that some other people I know are putting together.  I was excited and I'm always up for acting, then she said she immediately thought I would be great doing 2nd2nd AD work on that project.  i.e. not acting.  That made my heart sink for a moment that her first thought of me was not as an actor.  Actually, it pissed me the fuc& off since I've told her I'm an actor first, everything else second.  I've told her several times.  She'll learn.

**If you're not aware I once literally set up a tent on WETA Workshop's front lawn in New Zealand with the goal of getting a job.  I've apparently always been tenacious.

***I'm actually in debt, but since I graduated from a 4 year private liberal arts university with only $10,000 of debt, I'm counting these first years in Hollywood as my real education and it's costing me less than a doctorate and getting me farther ahead in the process.

****In all honesty I am very blessed to be able to follow my passion and I'm glad I can share some of these moments with people I care about.  The days where I question my sanity right next to the ones where I know I'm truly and completely alive and loved.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tingly feeling

I'm riding a little wave right now.

I just got back from a second callback for a feature film, and they had me read with four women (as my wife in the film), which makes me think they've already cast me and were figuring out who I'll be married to.  (Now that's an interesting form of arranged marriage).  I only say it makes me think that because they had me stay in the room and brought each woman in one at a time and the director was giving me thumbs up between each one.  I figure that's a good sign. 

The reason I'm talking about this (besides sharing a very positive moment in my path with people I care about-blog readers) is because sometime right before the first one as I was sitting in the room I started to get a tingling sensation in my spine that kind of spread in gentle waves to my head and around me.  I get this feeling sometimes when I'm acting, and I know it means I'm acting well and instead of focusing on it, which would distract of my work, or ignoring it which would also distract and weaken my work, I just experience it and rode the wave of that tingling through the scene.  I'm still feeling it now and I felt it in the first audition and first callback for this film as well.  I've felt it in the past at other odd times too.  The most regular was when I used to get my haircut.  I cut my own hair now so I don't get that feeling from it anymore, but I always used to get my haircut by Rudy (the racist) barber [he's not that racist, I just like the sound of Rudy the Racist Barber].  I'd wait in line in the shop, because it was always busy with regulars and listen to them talk about sports and hunting and look around at all the mounted animals on the walls and the huge fish tank.  I might even start to feel a bit of a tingle when I knew he was finishing up the guy in front of me, and every time I sat down in that chair and I heard the buzz of the clippers in his hand as it neared my head, I felt that same tingly sensation.  The only thing I can think that it might be is the exchange of energies between certain humans.  Like we were somehow sharing a palpable experience and I was tuned to that particular interchange of energy, of human interaction.  I dunno.  Whatever it is I like it and I'm a bit addicted to it.  Not sure I want to dwell on it longer in blog form, but it's a fascinating feeling and I hope every has it at some point.  Though right before the audition I had also gone to confession so maybe it was a reflection of another higher connection.  Who knows.  Either way I felt it, I still feel it and I like it.

I've had a super busy week as well.  Oh yeah- I now have commercial representation!  That's a big bonus for me, having someone else out there trying to get me work.  Though I've been doing a pretty okay job of it on my own, this may seriously help me pay my bills assuming I keep doing my part of it.  Though I don't want to jump ahead to any conclusions as I did in my callback today.  I've been kicking up all my efforts to a higher level this year and it's really been smiling on me.  I know I haven't written in a long time, and one of my last posts was very negative.  That happens.  It doesn't mean life's been poor or I've been hiding, I've actually been doing well.  I'd love to talk and share more right now, all my meetings and other auditions and whatnot, but I also need food know what? I'm planning on celebrating my week by playing a few hours of Halo4.  So yeah, I work hard, I play hard.