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10:23 PM - Weds 06.28.17
"Swedish Dicks" And Rich Pricks

Swedish Dicks And Rich Pricks (Who Own My Apartment Building)

(Having a hard time figuring out where to start, so...I'm just gonna start

Had my Swedish Dicks shoot on Sunday (Not Saturday, as originally scheduled).

And while it was relatively close to my apartment, it wasn't at the downtown studio "so close I could walk to it if I had to" where I'd imagined I was going - It was actually at a decommissioned (Is that the right word?) women's prison maybe eight or nine miles away.

My call-time was 10:00 am, but I have a deep fear of being late to a shoot (especially if it's someplace I've never been before and I'm afraid I might get lost), so I gave myself so much time to get there - on a Sunday morning with minimal traffic - that I was 45 minutes early.

(As I've said before, I'm usually way more nervous about getting to the gig than I am about the gig itself, so it was a relief that getting to the location was so quick and painless - And I'll take being 45 minutes early over being 45 minutes late any day of the week.)

Often when I walk onto a set, I have some amount of anxiety over being "the new kid", but that was mitigated this time out by the fact that at least four people I interacted with were big Shameless fans, who were very excited that I was there (As I was leaving, one of the ADs asked to take a picture with me to show his friends).

(I feel like I should send Netflix a fruit basket or something, because they've definitely "broadened my fan base" - Before they picked up the show, the number one response I'd get from people learning I was on Shameless was "Oh, that's nice - I don't get Showtime".)

All-in-all, it was a short day. The call was 10am and I was wrapped around 2:45 (And that included a lunch break).

But that said, I did have time on my hands initially, which I spent filling out paperwork, checking out the prison (imagining what it would be like if it were my home, and not just someplace I was visiting for the day), and trying not to eat too much.

But before too long, it was time to do the thing.

I had two scenes (With Johann, one of the leads on the show), and they shot my second scene first.

It was somewhat more complicated to shoot than I'd imagined - the stuff I do always seems pretty simple on the page - and I was a little nervous about "getting it right" (I thought afterward how the "challenge" of acting, from where I'm sitting, really lies more on the technical side than anything else - Anyone can "pretend", but can you pretend with cameras a few feet away while having to hit your marks?).

But we went over the lines and blocking beforehand (Most of the set-up time involved a prop Johann had to work with in the scene, as I waited in my cell) - after that, the shooting itself moved pretty briskly (Like Shameless, they had a multiple camera setup, which helps).

Being in the cell was interesting - It was smaller than the kitchen cutaway in my apartment, with two bunks - and I told people afterward that, even though I clearly knew I was just visiting, the cell door closing and locking before we did the scene was somewhat...sobering.

We broke for lunch after that, then came back and shot the other scene - Like the first one, there was a slight element of challenge (Something I hadn't anticipated having to "work out" when I read the scene initially), but it happened pretty quickly and smoothly, without much fuss.

I hadn't given it any thought, so was surprised to discover that Swedish Dicks is not just a web-series about two Swedish detectives, but is a Swedish show, with a Swedish director and a number of Swedish crew members (When the director was working out the first scene with us, and quietly said "No talking please" to the crew, it made me wonder if being extremely polite is a particularly Swedish trait - I don't think I've ever heard a director shush a noisy crew so quietly before).

(The only real "homework" I did for the gig was to look it up on YouTube, to see if I could watch any episodes, but all I found were a couple trailers.)

I asked my initial contact person if she knew when/where the episode would be available, but she wasn't sure - Apparently, while an entire first season has been shot, it hasn't aired yet (I was shooting an episode for the second season), and when it does, it'll air in Sweden first (On Swedish TV?), then get released online...somewhere.

So I have no idea when anyone will actually see this...but I did it, it was fun, and eventually, it will be "out there".

I was initially disappointed that I wasn't acting with Peter Stormare (Of Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and that Pepsi Superbowl commercial I shot years back fame), but I did get to meet him as I waited to be released (which just means I was done, but was waiting for someone to tell me I was done).

I told him we had "sort of" worked together on the Pepsi commercial, and he laughed and said, "We're circling each other...!", which I thought was nice of him (To basically "play along" with me).

Also met former underaged porn star/current actor on the show Traci Lords - I briefly joked about the chilling effect of the cell door closing, then as I was walking away, vaguely recalled that she'd maybe gone to prison at one point, for taxes or something (Oops!).

So all-in-all, a pretty nice experience - about the only "negative" I'd have to say is something I often say, which is that I wish I had more to do so there wasn't so much down time (While I was there less than five hours from start-to-finish - not counting that I'd gotten there 45 minutes early - actually shooting my bit took less than an hour.

Even if the non-Shameless gigs I've booked this year haven't paid much (I'll have more to say about that in a bit), it's very gratifying that they've happened - that came up in therapy yesterday.

It's gratifying for the experience, and the credit, and the fact that they at least paid something...but right now, what's most gratifying is that they give me hope - I was in a drought for years, where I didn't book anything theatrically (Shameless notwithstanding), and that can do a number on your confidence.

It feels good to once again think, "If you get me some auditions, I can book things" (And Lyle said he thinks my brown-haired, clean-shaven look is more marketable, so that sounds the death-knell for the white-hair-and-beard look for the foreseeable future - At this point, if he told me pigtails would make me more marketable, I'd go for it).


Thurs 6/29/17 (10:30 am)

When I sat down to write this entry yesterday, I debated what to write about first, the fun experience of shooting Swedish Dicks, or the way less fun experience of getting notice about my yearly rent increase.

But ultimately, I didn't want the rent increase business to overwhelm and negate the happy news of a successful shoot, even though, in my mind, it totally did (That's something that came up in therapy on Tuesday - how quickly happiness fades after something good happens, to be replaced by anxiety and depression - but more on therapy in a moment).

For my first couple years here, the rent would go up on a yearly basis, by maybe $25-30 a month.

It was always a source of stress, because of my uncertain income (With one job that doesn't come close to paying the bills, and another that is wildly uncertain). It might sound hyperbolic, but to me, every new bill/increase in current bills feels like a renewed threat to my security and my future.

And my response - after dealing with a wave of anger, angst, and depression (And quickly feeling stymied by what I could realistically do to increase my income) - has typically been to look around at what expenses I could cut (ex. my land-line, cable TV, my HuluPlus subscription, etc), and muddle on, anxiously thinking to myself, "How much longer can this go on...?".

But last year, at this time, my rent increase notice informed me my rent was going up over $75-a-month.

And this year it's going up $100-a-month.

If I was losing my mind over $30-a-month, you can just imagine what $100-a-month is doing to my fragile psyche.

I've started looking at other apartments, but finding something comparable to what I'm paying, that isn't in the hinterlands, that will take Hamlet, that has parking, etc., is seeming pretty daunting.

I'm trying hard to adopt a pragmatic attitude, because being angry and freaked-out won't help matters - the choices seem to be "stay where I'm at and find further ways to cut expenses for another year (Till the cycle starts all over again)", "get an additional job, or a better job", or "move" - but those options seem so daunting and so not-what-I-want that I kinda want to just curl up in a ball and die.

(I know - Again, it sounds melodramatic...but from where I'm sitting, I'm a 56-year-old actor with no family and no other real job skills, with an uncertain income at the best of times, in a world where my most basic expenses are going up and up and up, with no end in sight. It's making it hard to imagine a cheery future, to say the least.)

Oh, I said I was going to have something more to say about therapy, didn't I...?

Basically, when I got the rent increase notice, and did my usual "What can be cut?" calculations, the first thing that came to mind was therapy.

That might be because the math is pretty easy - cutting therapy would pretty much cover the increase - or it might be because I'm not certain if I'm getting much out of therapy (beyond having a place to "vent", which is not nothing), or it might be both.

But as things stand, therapy is on the chopping block, if I stay here and nobody drops a giant bag of money in my lap.

Well, we've reached the time where I typically have my weekly call with Mark and Jane, so even though I have a few other little things on the Diaryland agenda (A new contact with Ryan, Trump issues, Zumba injuries, etc), I think they'll keep.

Till next time...


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