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9:45 am - Mon 12.29.2008
Backwards And Forwards

Backward and Forward (AKA "2008: A Year In Review")

I've got about a half-dozen things going on in my head that I want to write about, each one easily being an entry all by itself.

But I guess since we're into the last few days of 2008, it makes sense to start by "wrapping up" the past year.

I feel like I kinda/sorta did the career "Year in Review" stuff (Written in my "Character Man" blog, then re-posted in my last entry in here).

I booked four gigs in 2008 - the Yellow Pages commercial, the "Off Hollywood" principal-role-that-was-really-a-featured-extra-role, the "Book Of Inside Information" infomercial with John Cleese, and the Wimax print job.

But I didn't do the other "stats" - auditions and callbacks and such - which I've been afraid to do, for fear of becoming profoundly depressed; I knew auditions were off this past year, but I wasn't sure by how much, and on some level, didn't want to know.

And yeah, I wasn't just imagining it (I just wasn't imagining it big enough) - Last year I had 34 auditions...compared to 65 in 2007.

(Ouch...!)

More auditions in 2007 led to more callbacks (13, versus 10 this year), more avails (8, versus 2 this year), and more gigs (6, versus 4 this year); turns out, it really is "a volume game" - For the most part, you have to get the auditions in order to book the gigs.

Playing with the numbers makes me wish I were a mathematician, or a statistician, or some kind of "-ician" - I'm looking at the figures, trying to make sense of things, and it's hurting my severely overtaxed brain.

The ratio of auditions-to-callbacks (Or callbacks-to-auditions) looks good in the past year, as does the number of gigs...considering (In a little over 1/2 the number of auditions this year - as the previous year - I booked 2/3 as many gigs).

But then I remember two of last year's gigs - the "glorified extra" part and the Wimax print job - were not things I auditioned for (I was basically just picked from an online line-up), which then means in slightly more than half the number of auditions (As in '07), I got a third the number of gigs.

("Ouch!" again...)

And all this "number-crunching" made me curious about any longer-term trends...

2007 was a banner year - more auditions than ever before (19 more than the previous year), which led to more gigs than ever before.

("Ever before", in this case, goes back to 2003)

But looking at this past year, and going back five years, 2007 is seeming like an anomaly - Take it out of the picture, and you've got:

2003: 60 auditions
2004: 55 auditions
2005: 53 auditions
2006: 46 auditions
2008: 34 auditions

Notice any trends?

Hard not to find those numbers profoundly discouraging.

But instead of speculating on what those numbers mean - because I'm not going to solve the problem of diminishing auditions in one Diaryland entry. And I don't want to spiral into depression. And I have other things I want to write about - I'm going to move on...

What other big things happened in 2008?

Well, one "big thing" is that I became less big.

It started in October of 2007, but the past year was the year I lost the bulk of my bulk (At this writing, 80 lbs); Jane got me started, with the gift of a 10 week membership to Weight Watchers, and I took it from there.

In all honesty, I'd really have preferred some career thing be my big achievement this year.

But let's review - booking fewer, less impressive/lucrative gigs than the year before...versus losing 80 lbs ("Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner...!").

This isn't just a big achievement for this year; this is probably the biggest thing I've done since making the move out to LA in 2001.

It's maybe one of the biggest things I've done period (It's pretty hard for me to think of any comparable achievements to date).

And objectively - thinking like a complete person instead of just an actor - the weight loss is probably more meaningful, in the long-term, than anything I was likely to achieve in terms of my career anyway (I've been out here almost eight years, and still haven't booked a "game changing" role); I look better, I'm healthier, and (Hopefully) I'm now going to have a longer, healthier, better life.

Which will, with a little bit of luck and pluck, lead to me being able to "stay in the game" long enough to develop an honest-to-God career.

Another interesting development in 2008?

In May, I quit my job.

With fewer auditions than any time in the past five years, with the Writers strike starting out the year, with SAG and the Producers going at it all year long, and with the economy going into the dumper to a historic degree, I could see where you might question the wisdom of this decision.

But "wisdom" had nothing to do with it - I quit in a fit of pique; my employer (ArcLight Cinema) decided that no one could have a regular schedule, changed the "playbook" so that everyone had to have "open availability", which made me really unhappy, which led to my telling them to kiss my ass...in so many words.

Thus far, I've lived off a combination of savings (Like I said before, 2007 was a good year), dribs and drabs of acting income, and, late in the year, the odd Weight Watcher gig (I started training in September, and started doing "fills" for people in October. At this writing, I only work one regular meeting - on Thursday nights- but am, sort of, hoping for more in the new year).

(Clearly, I'd rather acting pay the bills. But barring that, I just need for the bills to somehow get paid.)

Other than chronically worrying about where the money is going to come from (And that's a fairly big "other"), I like my life a lot better this way (Not working a regular job); I like having time - even if I often don't make much use of it - I like not working a job that makes me feel demeaned and depressed, feeling like I'm wasting my minimal energy somewhere I don't want to be, and I like feeling, to at least some degree, that I'm succeeding (Part of what I wanted, coming out here, was to not work a regular job, to "make a living" from acting. And, while this isn't quite what I had in mind, I'm kinda/sorta doing that).

Wow...who knew I could actually get bored writing about myself and my action-packed existence?

But I'm almost done.

At year's end, I had what felt like a wave of health-related "issues" - I started having difficulty pooping, fell over and hit my head in my apartment, and grew a new hernia, in a very quick span of time.

Nothing very serious there (The pooping seems to have returned to something like normal, I've had "orthostatic hypotension" most of my life - Which is why I fell over. Which, admittedly, doesn't typically happen, but it's always a possibility - and the hernia was fixed a couple weeks ago, without much fuss).

But it did leave me feeling pretty depressed - cause I had to "book out" from auditions, for one thing, but more than that, because it reminded me that, while these things might not have been serious, serious problems are coming ("Death" being the most "serious problem" of all).

And that, my friends, was my year.

(And I realize I titled this entry "Backward and Forward" and only went "backward". But I'm tired, I feel like I've been writing for days, and I'm working a WW meeting in a few hours and want to take a nap beforehand. So I'm going to be saving the "forward" part till next time.)


 

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