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8:49 am - Thu 6/05/03
The Big Meeting

The Big Meeting

Having a hard time getting this going, for some reason...

(This basically continues an entry I wrote late last night/early this morning, so if you missed it--and believe me, you don't want to miss a minute of this exciting story--you might want to take a moment to go back and check it out.)

So anyway, I seem to be getting off to a fast start this month; I had castings on Monday and Tuesday, and yesterday I had a meeting with Danny Goldman, my first one-on-one meeting with a casting director (Not a casting, but a little "getting to know you" session).

But to backtrack a bit; Recently, Tom K., from Lansing, made a surprise appearance at the bookstore (Basically, I looked up from the info counter last Friday, shortly after I'd gotten in, and there he was).

Tom K. is something of an odd duck (Actually, he's more than something of an "odd duck"; he is the quintessential "odd duck"). One of his "hobbies" is to fly around, basically just to get the frequent flier miles, though this time out he was visiting another friend who lives in LA (He also had the ostensible purpose of pinning me down on the dates I wanted to fly to and from Lansing in September, since he's making those arrangements, and donating some of those frequent flier miles I just mentioned, a donation which I very much appreciate. But of course, "pinning me down on some dates" wouldn't really necessitate flying out to LA, since a phone call or email would serve the purpose. But as Jane says, Tom likes to surprise people).

Anyway, he came into the bookstore with his friend Chuck S., who is in the process of moving back to Chicago, but who used to be with NBC.

Later, Chuck told Tom I was a great "character type", and said he'd mention my name to Danny Goldman, a casting director who he described as "a good guy".

To cut to the chase, Chuck called Danny, told me about it, then I called Danny's office--mentioning Chuck's name to the assistant--they got back to me within a day, and I had an appointment for 2:30 yesterday afternoon.

To be honest, I felt a little weird about the whole thing; I mean, other than my being a "great character type", Chuck doesn't know me from Adam--Whether I'm a good person, whether I'm dependable, whether I can act, or anything else--so how am I getting this meeting on his recommendation?

(I guess Tom could have told him about me--though really, even though I've know him for years, I don't know what Tom thinks of me, as a person or an actor or anything else--but even so, I don't think I'd be comfortable recommending someone based only on secondhand info. But anyway...)

So yesterday, after a glitch with printing up some updated resumes that had me running a little late--the copy place cut them too small and I had to go back and have them re-done--I drove to Mr Goldman's office, about two blocks from the theatre on Santa Monica blvd where I did Crossing The Line.

I was actually sweating the fact that I was three or four minutes late, but when I got there, the assistant said he'd tried to reach me--Mr Goldman was running late from "another appointment", and wouldn't be back in the office till 3:30 or quarter-to-four (My appointment was at 2:30; they'd left a message on my voicemail at 2:07).

I felt an odd mix of annoyance and relief, but just smiled and said I'd keep myself entertained in the lobby till he got back. And really, it wasn't a big catastrophe; I had the day off, after all, with no big plans except for maybe seeing Finding Nemo later in the day.

So I waited in the lobby. I tried to read, then I tried write in my "book journal", but I just couldn't concentrate, so I ended up listening to a couple of young, pretty actors--Who were at a casting for a show called Shut Up And Vote--talk about this and that, then get instructions on what they were going to be doing during their audition from another casting director (Like a number of other casting places, this building housed a number of casting agencies).

Since I had some time on my hands, I walked a couple blocks to a party store to get something to eat, then went to another store when the first one didn't take check cards.

Anyway, around quarter-after-three an older, paunchy guy, in a really bad toupee, dressed very casually, came into the lobby.

And he was wet. I wasn't sure if it was sweat or if he had just taken a shower, but from his appearance it looked like he'd just gotten back from working out (There was a Gold's Gym right next door).

I know it was shallow of me, but when I realized this was the guy I had the appointment with, I was really disappointed (Not to mention feeling a touch insignificant, to have been kept waiting the better part of an hour while he finished his workout).

I was ushered into his office, where he took my headshot.

The first thing he and his assistant/partner did was to critique my headshot; they thought it was "bland" (Though at the same time, they said it was good, at least in the sense that it "looked like me". I guess I just look less "bland" in person).

They also thought the framing was "weird", with too much headroom at the top of the picture.

(I took this critique with a grain of salt, since the feedback I've gotten on the picture up till now has been overwhelmingly positive. But it did leave me wondering if I should have a more "dramatic" headshot in addition to my current one, which is more smiley/commercial than dramatic/theatrical.)

Mr Goldman asked me how I knew Chuck, which I found embarrassing--What else could I say, really, but that he was a "friend of a friend"?--then asked me about JS.

I told him I signed with JS towards the end of last year, and that I was very happy with him so far. I told him I was getting sent out a lot (I told him about the previous two days auditions), had gotten a number of callbacks, had been "on avail" for Yahoo, and that it was probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me out here so far, and "a nice surprise", since I hadn't imagined myself being "viable" in commercials.

Mr Goldman responded to that last comment by saying "I think that's probably where you're going to be most viable", a comment that left me with decidedly mixed feelings.

I didn't bring up much personal stuff, and I'm still wondering if that wasn't a mistake on my part; Part of me was thinking "He's not going to give a you-know-what about your personal life, Jim" (And besides, I don't really have a "personal life" at this point), while another part of me was thinking "You probably sound like every other struggling actor he's ever talked to. What are you saying that's going to leave any kind of impression with him?".

When he asked me how long I'd been out here and how it was going, I did mention my money woes, particularly the frustration of knowing I should be taking acting classes, but just not having the cash (He made a comment I didn't quite catch, but I think it was something to the effect of only movie star's kids being able to afford acting classes out here).

Then I mentioned Mark and Jane's recent gift, and how I was thinking about using it to get a voiceover demo made.

He emphatically advised me against that (I think his first comment was "What for?"). And since what he said was some stuff I'd heard before, and some stuff I'd kind of figured out for myself, I took what he said as the gospel truth.

Basically, he said movie stars are getting the big voiceover contracts now--I've noticed that--while established voiceover people are scrambling for whatever's left (He said it was easier for an actor to get a feature film than get a decent voiceover gig). And even though he'd told me earlier to hold off on union membership as long as possible--Something I've also heard from other quarters--he told me that no voiceover place would look at me without being in the union, because "they don't have to".

And he said voiceover demos mostly don't get listened to (That comment really registered with me, since I've been obsessed with not wasting Mark and Jane's money on something that won't actually get me anywhere).

It's not like voiceover work has been a big dream of mine--though it strikes me as nice work if you can get it--but I still felt crushed by what he said; I guess it felt like someone was saying "You know that thing you think is one of your big 'selling points'? Well, no one really cares".

He said if he were me, he'd spend whatever money he had on showcases, to get my face in front of casting people.

He said with my "look"--He agreed with Chuck that I was a great "character type"--I'd get bites from that.

(At some point, he'd motioned me to follow him outside while he smoked a cigarette. So part of this conversation was happening out in front of the building. Again, maybe shallow of me, but I once again found myself feeling a little diminished. I had to consciously remind myself that this guy didn't have to give me any of his time, period, whether in his office or in front of the building or anywhere else, so I should be grateful.)

He also said that I couldn't look to an agent to do all the work for me, that I had to look around and see what things I was right for, but I was a little confused about that; I'd already told him I submit for things on my own through Backstage, and when I told him I'd submitted myself for some tv shows and the like, he said "I don't know if that works or not..." (So if I shouldn't count on an agent to "do all the work for me", but submitting on my own maybe works, maybe doesn't, what's the third alternative I'm missing here...?).

Than it was obvious he was drawing the conversation to a close, so I thanked him for his time, and told him I appreciated his professional opinion, since I hadn't much opportunity to get that sort of help up to this point.

We shook hands, and he said he does a lot of non-union stuff, so we would probably see each other again (It didn't feel like a ringing endorsement, but "better than a poke in the eye", as the saying goes).

As I walked back to my car, I found myself feeling pretty depressed, whether it was really warranted by the "meeting" I'd just had or not.

I guess I just wanted this guy to be really impressed by me and book me for a job on the spot. And of course, that didn't happen.

But once again, I put myself out there, and I got in front of another casting director.

And while some of what he had to say was a little tough for me to hear, at no point did he tell me to pack it in; On the contrary, he said I have a "great character look"--I still don't exactly know what people mean by that, but it always seems to be a good thing--and again, he had a better opinion of my "commercial viability" than I did when I first came out here.

So not great--Not an immediate "big break" there--but not that bad either.

But I'm feeling like this entry has gone on for days and probably bored you all to death. But what can I say? I had to "sort it out".

And now I need to "cease and desist", so I can type up a thank-you to Mr. G (It's both a polite and a politic thing to do). I also need to go out and grab a Backstage.

And I'm hoping, later today, to get out and see Finding Nemo.

See ya...


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