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9:20 AM - Weds Jan 1st, 2020

2019 - My Year In Review (Part I)

Off the top of my head, I'm not sure when I last wrote a "Year In Review" entry (I know I didn't last year, and I don't think I did the year before either). Not sure if it was laziness or depression or what was going on, but it just quit seeming like something worth doing.

(My guess is that I'd started getting depressed over the lack of "forward momentum" in my life, and the drop-off in auditions, and there "didn't seem much point" in summing up years where "nothing was happening". But anyway...)

Not sure where to start...

I guess the obvious place would be my acting "stats" - This year I had:

1. 13 Commercial auditions
2. 13 Theatrical auditions
4. 18 Voiceover auditions (And a couple Non-Union ones I felt guilty about doing).
5. 7 Callbacks (Which were mostly commercials...though one of them was theatrical, off a self-tape audition).
6. 4 Avails/Pins
7. 2 Bookings (I Theatrical, 1 Commercial)
8. 11 episodes of Shameless (In a 12-episode season)

So what do I make of all that?

Was surprised I'd had the same number of commercial and theatrical auditions - I'd thought it'd be weighted heavily on the commercial side (Possibly because I had a wave of commercial auditions at the end of the year, so that's what's in my head).

The number of commercial and theatrical auditions feels pretty paltry - I'm not going to check (Because I don't want to bum myself out) but I'm pretty sure I've had years where I had as many auditions in a single category as I had in total this year...and voiceover auditions weren't even a "thing" at that point.

Disappointing that nothing came of the voiceover auditions (More on that in a bit).

Happily surprised by the ratio of commercial auditions to callbacks - Read once that you should get a callback at least half the time, and I came pretty close (As I think I suggested before, callbacks are almost entirely a commercial thing - For the small roles I'm typically up for theatrically, they'll usually cast me from the initial audition).

Pins/Avails (Which are basically a sign of interest - Where you're maybe "The Guy"...but maybe not) had started to become frustrating because it's felt like they've largely gone against me in recent years. So, that being the case, it's fun to look and see that I booked half my pins/avails this year That's a stat I can live with, instead of getting a half-dozen and not booking any of them (It also feels like a good rate-of-return from callbacks.

Bookings are the name-of-the-game, so I was thrilled to book, period (I didn't book any non-Shameless jobs last year). But I'm even more pleased when I consider how relatively few auditions I had to work with. And more pleased still when I consider that the two bookings are, in my estimation, "qualitatively better" than anything I've booked in a long time.

It was cool to be in a record number of Shameless episodes this season (At least relative to the season itself - In last year's super-sized 14-episode season I was in 12 episodes, while I was in 11 of 12 episodes this year). My feelings about the show have gotten a little...complicated over the years (That could be its own entry), but it's still a point of pride that, from one appearance in the first season, they now use me in almost every episode.

So on the whole I'd say "Could have really used more opportunities..." - You can't book from auditions you're not getting - "...but I did okay with what I got".

This year I tried to make more non-Shameless income happen, in a way I could live with (In part because I'm terrified over what happens to me after the inevitable end of the show) - I put out my shingle as a voiceover actor, and signed up on the Cameo website (To make fan videos by request).

On the voiceover end, I spent upwards of $1500 on voiceover coaching, a recording set-up, and a year's membership on a VO website...and haven't made a goddamned dime so far (Apparently, they weren't kidding when they said it's a hard field to break into).

But while I'm disappointed over my complete lack of any success thus far, I'm glad I did it. I'm not counting myself out yet, for one thing. But beyond that, I'm just happy I did something to address my concerns and didn't just stew in my anxious juices (If I don't want to "work for a living" the only other option is to figure out ways to monetize the things I actually like to do).

With the Cameo thing, when I was first made aware of it, I managed to both feel superior to it (It seemed a little "sad" to me), and at the same time, think I wasn't "a big enough deal" to be on it.

And initially, Cameo seemed to feel likewise about my "not being big enough to be on it"- Despite my misgivings, I threw my hat into the ring...and nothing happened.

Months later, my buddy Mike M. posted on Twitter that he had just signed on to the site, and when I congratulated him on his success (Because "I didn't make the cut"), Cameo contacted me and invited me to sign up as well.

Which I did.

And to date, I've earned just shy of $280. Which probably doesn't seem like much. But to me, it's basically "found money" - The videos are short, are fun to do, I feel like I do a pretty good job with them, and they don't really take anything out of me, so it feels, by and large, like money I get "just for being me" and screwing around (I don't charge much, and Cameo takes 25%, but it still feels like a pretty good rate-on-return).

As things stand, I can't see it becoming a real "side-income" unless I get another high-profile gig after Shameless - If not, the Cameo gigs likely disappear along with Shameless - but once again, I'm proud of myself for making the move. I constantly fret about the future, but rarely do I do anything to try and make the future go the way I want it to; the Cameo thing was just a small step in the right direction...but a "small step" is still a step.

Another thing I started - or restarted - doing in the latter part of the year, was drawing.

I feel like my relationship with drawing has been more "fraught" than it should ever have been - I've let my low tolerance for frustration and my desire to be perfect short-circuit my enjoyment of the process, and (Ironically), keep me from seeing just how good I could get at it.

In any case, I think it's a good thing for me to be doing mentally, emotionally, and creatively.

(And going back to "ancillary sources of income"...While it's not something I'm really considering at this point - I'm simply not good enough - a few people, upon seeing my Instagram posts, have alluded to me possibly selling my work. And just the thought is motivation to keep at it - The idea that I could create a physical piece of art someone would actually want to pay for is tremendously appealing.)

And at some point - I don't remember when I started - I started taking dance classes at Urban LA, a place across from the Y where I Zumba.

I started out taking a beginning "Popping" class on Tuesdays, and when that instructor left, switched to a "Beginning Hip-Hop" class on Friday nights.

It's only a once-a-week class, so in order to really be gaining from it, I'd have to be doing a lot of homework, which I'm not doing, by and large. But I like that I'm "putting myself out there", moving, being social and, hopefully, keeping myself up enough that, should I be asked to dance around in a commercial or TV show, I can be a happy surprise.

Well, there's only one thing left to write about...

The Documentary.

But in terms of its impact on my life this year, it pretty much dwarfs everything else I've mentioned in here, so I'm going to give it its own entry - Both because it rates that level of focus, and because I'm tired and don't want to write anymore at the moment.

So, till next time...


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