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2:25 pm - Mon 10/27/03
My Million-Dollar Face

My Million-Dollar Face
Sat 10/25/03 (3:15 p.m.)

Jane wrote this in partial response to my "Jim Wrestles With The Question Of God" D-land entry:

I don't think you've "fucked up"-- You did a LOT in theatre here in Lansing--and were a big part of Schuler Books...have a lot of friends, have a fascinating, well-written diaryland, and journals before that--and have been brave enough to uproot yourself and try for your dream--which the majority of people "living lives of quiet desperation" or whatever that phrase is--don't have the guts to do--or have gotten so entangled in the conveniences and obligations of daily life they never dare make the leap.

Thanks Jane. That's a good thing for me to remember. A series of good things, actually.

Sun 10/26/03 (11:38 a.m.)

The "Godzilla's Revenge" thing is today (At 2:30 at an address in Woodland Hills).

Mitchell, the director, didn't specify wardrobe, beyond "middle management"–sportcoat and slacks–except to ask for a blue, button-down shirt.

Now, I don't actually have a blue, button-down shirt, and unfortunately, I procrastinated on buying one till I had no choice but to go down to a clothing store on Wilshire, five or six blocks from my apartment.

I could have went to Ross. I could have went to K-Mart. I imagine there are any number of options in the L.A. area for inexpensive, blue, button-down shirts. But I didn't go to any of those places; Instead, I ended up buying a shirt that cost as much as I spend on a typical week's groceries.

(Adding insult to injury, right next to the button-down shirts, the place was having a sale on these other dress shirts, of a non button-down persuasion, two for $30. Now, that's much more in line with what I'd want to pay for dress shirts. But I didn't want to show up for today's shoot without the one thing the director specifically asked for, so I sucked it up, and as a result, severely ate into my "profit margin" for this gig.)

Mon 10/27/03 (12:35 a.m.)

Well, the "Godzilla" gig seemed to go off pretty well.

Going in, there wasn't anything to be anxious about concerning the acting–I felt like I'd pretty much done anything I was going to be asked to do at the audition–so to rise to my usual level of anxiety, I had to worry about things like getting lost on the way, the director not liking the clothes I brought, and stuff like that.

But I did get there (I got there almost an hour early, actually), and the director signed off on my clothes (I'd brought crappy alternatives as well, just to show I'd at least thought to bring alternatives). So after that, I didn't have any choice but to just relax and enjoy myself.

When I was thinking about it earlier, the main thing that struck me about the experience was that it was kind of...boring. I mean, not entirely, of course, but it was definitely there (And the whole shoot was only about two-and-a-half hours long).

But you know something? That was actually okay.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't like to be bored. It's fairly high on my list of "Least Favorite Things". And I look forward to the day when I'll have a trailer or dressing room to retire to while they're setting up a shot or shooting another scene or whatever.

But I discovered during the shoot for the HBO commercial that being bored on a set has a much different meaning for me than being bored at the bookstore.

At the bookstore, when I'm bored, there's no likelihood things are going to get more interesting any time soon. And when I'm bored at the bookstore, I'm being bored for eight-dollars-and-change an hour. And when I'm bored at the bookstore, I start thinking I'll probably never have a great day there (I have lots of good days, to be sure, but great? I don't think that's ever gonna happen. At least not till the day I can say, "Well, I've got a couple national commercials running, and NBC just picked up the last pilot I shot, so I'm outta here...").

Being bored on a set is me being bored, but with the possibility of things becoming more interesting at any moment. Being bored on the set is, when it pays, me getting paid better–even at the bottom rung of the ladder–than I've ever been paid for doing "straight" jobs. Being on a set, bored or not, holds the promise of bigger and better things in the future (As opposed to the bookstore; the only thing that's going to result from my working at the bookstore is more working at the bookstore).

And most of all, being bored on a set is still me on a set, being an actor. That's just inherently preferable to being bored at the bookstore.

In other words, it's just not the same animal. But I thought it was worth mentioning, because it was interesting to me–In Jimlandia not all boredom is equal. I can deal with boredom being part of my job is there's some sort of payoff (In money, satisfaction at the end of the day, career advancement, etc).

(2:25 p.m.)

Anyway, things started at 2:30, and we wrapped at 5:15 (Just like the director said we would when he e-mailed me). From my perspective, it seemed like everything was very smooth and professional; As the light began to fade, the director started to, understandably, get a little more tense, but even then, he didn't really lose his cool or lash out at anyone or anything like that (There was just a more palpable sense of urgency to his voice).

And the scene was pretty much what I've described before; I'm a guy coming home from a day at the office, and when I walk up to the front door of my house and start to open the door, thousands of screaming Japanese people pour out of the house and run down the street.

(Understandably, I am a bit surprised by this development.)

Playing the role of "thousands" were between 30 and 40 Japanese actors of various ages (including one infant, and two small children). I don't know the technical term for it, but those 30 or 40 people will be digitally doubled and redoubled and redoubled again, until they become the population of Tokyo, running from the terrifying might of Godzilla.

I won't bore you with all the technical details; Basically, they did shots of the people running, while I looked on, shots of them from various angles, close ups of my darting eyes, an insert of me putting my key in the door, a master shot of me walking up to the door, etc.

It almost went off without a hitch; At one point, one of the women fell down during one of the shots of people running, skinning her knee and ripping her pants (If it had been me, I would have been pissed off about wrecking a pair of pants. That would have taken care of making any money off the gig!).

When we wrapped, the director shook my hand, telling me I had "a million dollar face" (So I guess I won't apply to be on Extreme Makeover just yet...). And making the compliment just a bit more meaningful, he told me to call him today, so he could give me the number of some casting directors he knows, and I could call them and "mention his name".

This was a "spec commercial". What that means is that there is no client. I guess it's basically the equivalent of the "reel" I hope to have some day soon, or an artist's portfolio; the director can shop it around and say "This is what we do at ‘Commercials R Us'...".

He can certainly try to sell the commercial to the "Godzilla's Revenge" video game people. Which made me a little leery as I signed a release form, wondering if I just got paid $100 for something that's going to eventually be a national commercial I should have made thousands from. But the way it was explained to me was that there are rules in place for spec commercials–this is a SAG commercial house–that prevent that sort of thing from happening.

Another nice little "grace note"; the A.D. shook my hand afterwards, and told me they'd be calling me in a couple weeks after the spot was finished being edited (The director had mentioned a copy of the spot when he first called to offer it to me, so I was happy to hear they weren't going to be leaving it up to me to guestimate when they might be finished with it).

Well, there's so much more I'd like to write about right now, but thanks in part to today's staff meeting at the bookstore and the need to get in some laundry besides, I'm out of time (I'm not even going to have time to get in an especially badly-needed nap...)

But before I go, I wanted to thank all the folks who've been making comments in here lately. That's always a lot of fun for me, to know that people are "listening", and find what I have to say at least vaguely interesting.


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