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12:26 PM - Mon 4.20.20

Proof Of Concept

(Well, for some inexplicable reason, the writing I've been doing for the past couple hours just got deleted. That's a little infuriating/disheartening. But "onward and upward"...)

Today marks one month of being "Safer At Home" (I don't know if the official declaration was made then, but that's when my day job went virtual, I found out Shameless wasn't happening for the foreseeable future, and my Zumba classes were canceled until further notice).

And by and large, I'm still okay.

With my day job (Along with money from the Coke commercial, my $1200 "Stimulus Check", a mess of Cameos, and soon, my 2019 tax refund), I'm doing fine financially.

On the emotional front, as I've said before, the feelings of deprivation, isolation, and anxiety most people are experiencing are feelings I've lived with for years, so no biggie (And, happily, I'm not sick and no one in my small circle of friends and family is sick - though I worry about my niece Brittany, who is a health-care worker - so "Yay!" and "fingers crossed" on that front).

And in some respects, I'm doing better than "okay".

Even though driving in LA isn't the daily nightmarish slog for me it is for a lot of Los Angelenos, I still really like not having to drive/get gas/deal with parking/worry about my car/etc. (And don't really care that LA has basically "shrunk down" to my immediate neighborhood. As I've already said, I don't really go anywhere or do anything anyway, so what does it matter?).

And I like that my day job is easier-than-ever - Put on a shirt and log on, and I'm good-to-go (Though truth-to-tell, I'm really quite superfluous to the online proceedings). I can still find things to complain about, but it's pretty trivial shit.

And while it's not breaking any records, I'm just happy acting/acting adjacent shit is actually happening - No commercial stuff yet, but a number of voiceover auditions, two self-taped theatrical things (More on those in a bit), and the aforementioned "mess of Cameos". have meant I've been busier in this first month of "The Pandemic" than in the two-and-a-half months preceding. And I was not expecting that..

I'm more-than-aware this is a terrible time for a lot of people, all over the world. And it wouldn't take much to make it a terrible time for me (I get sick, someone I love gets sick, one or both of my jobs disappear, "Safer At Home" drags on and on as my savings drain away, etc).

But, right now (And I'm not joking here), my biggest concern is how I'm going to deal with the emotional letdown of having to go back to whatever passes for "normal" after this.

Because for me, this has been all right.

But that said, there have been some indicators that all is not well inside my giant head.

I'm struggling with overeating to beat the band.

And not just my regular, garden-variety overeating, where I go make a sandwich every time the urge hits me - Early on, there was a bag of Oreos that got eaten in one sitting. I also remember a box of Corn Pops that got eaten in less than 24 hours. And more recently, I bought two boxes of Pop-Tarts and a box of sugar-free cookies that I almost did in soon as I got them home, before throwing one of the boxes of Pop-Tarts down the garbage chute. And there have been any number of "lesser offenses" in-between.

(I have started to get back into tracking, and sitting in on my Friday WW meetings as a member. And my eating so far today has been quite reasonable.)

And along with some crazy bouts of binging, there's been a decided uptick of "self-harming", where I club myself upside the head over some frustrating situation or imagined bit of stupidity - I was doing quite a good job of managing the urge...but in a little more two weeks, I've had two-and-a-half episodes (The "half" being where I kind of half-heartedly did it but didn't really hurt myself).

So as idyllic as I'm painting my life during "The Pandemic", clearly something "ain't quite right".

And I'm not sure what that "something" is. But if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it might be that I harbor "expectations" of myself during this time - expectations that I "do more" (Read more, play my instruments more, draw more, exercise more, etc) - that I'm not always meeting.

And as a result, my subconscious wants me to, alternately, stuff myself with junk food, then punch myself in the head over it.

Now, while I know what I just wrote is going to be the big "takeaway" of this entry, it isn't from my point-of-view; there have been way fewer times where I've "acted out" in some way (Suggesting that things were not going well for me, mental-health-wise) than times where I've been content-bordering-on-delighted with the current situation (Again, I'm totally not kidding about worrying over when I'll have to start driving around LA again and wearing pants at work, and shit like that).

The big "takeaway" of this entry, for me, is that I recently did something I've never done before - I did a self-tape audition all-by-myself!

(It's a bigger deal than you might think.)

If you're not a regular reader (Or you are and you just don't have an encyclopedic memory of the minutiae of my life), I hate, hate, hate self-tape auditions - I have massively resented having to do them (My standard rap being something along the lines of "I'm an Actor, godammit! Now I have to be a fucking Director, Camera Person, Lighting Designer and Editor too? Am I going to get paid for all the work they aren't having to do now?".).

I didn't feel I had the skills to do it myself, so it meant having to get someone to help me (Often Tim G. bless him), or having to go somewhere and pay someone to do it professionally.

Neither of those options felt great (Tim travels a lot and was often unavailable, and I was uncomfortable imposing on our friendship anyway. And having to pay $30-50 to have it done somewhere meant turning auditions into money-losing propositions where I felt like I was throwing my money down a hole, since I've never booked from a self-taped thing - Well, technically I did once, but it was for a Director who had already worked with me before, so it doesn't really "count").

And my previously-mentioned ultra-low tolerance for frustration meant doing it myself seemed like a non-starter.

So when I got my first self-tape audition during this time, I went to a place and got it done.

But when the second audition came up, additional restrictions had been put in place and going to a studio wasn't an option anymore (Even before that, the audition notice specified that we had to do it ourselves and not have it done professionally...I assume so they could be protected from charges that they were compelling actors to go out and risk getting infected).

Sometime later, I was alternately whining to Jane R. about the whole thing, and trying to "get my mind right" about it (Because, love 'em or hate 'em, self-tape auditions have increasingly been a thing in recent years, and now they're gonna be the only game in town for the foreseeable future).

During the conversation, Jane (Who was a photographer before she became a film-maker) said: "I've got some stuff in the closest I don't really use - Let me see if there's something that'll work for you".

She ended up sending me a monopod (Basically a camera tripod with "feet" instead of "legs"), and soon as I took it out of the box, I was in love - It was super-easy to adjust, and it immediately went a long way toward relieving me of the anxiety I felt over having to do this myself.

An attachment I'd ordered for my cell phone had already come in, and one I ordered for my IPad Mini was on order and would come in about a week later (I also ordered a second monopod, along with a photographic backdrop and a frame to hold it from, but none of that was going to arrive in time for the audition-in-question).

My buddy Mike M. agreed to be my Reader. And after rescheduling a few times - waiting for my shit to get here, then scheduling around his anniversary - we "did the deed" this past Wednesday.

I did something of a "dry run" with Jane that afternoon because I didn't want to waste Mike's time, in the moment, figuring shit out (And one happy thing I'd already discovered - At night, without the sun shining through the slats, my blinds worked quite well as a neutral "backdrop", an issue that had been worrying me.).

So, we recorded the scene. For various reasons, it took longer than I wanted it to (I think about 45 minutes), and it wasn't perfect (I was too close to the camera, I was disappointed we couldn't get Mike on video - cause I think that would have helped my acting - and I couldn't get the framing quite right, so I was either cutting off the top of my head or more of the background was showing than just my blinds), but I could be seen, I could be heard, and I was happy with my take on it.

It wasn't perfect...but I was thrilled nevertheless - It was, as I've thought it if since, a good "proof of concept" (Which was something my therapist had helped me with - Realizing that, first-time-out-of-the-gate, it wasn't likely to be perfect, but that with time and effort, I'd just get more comfortable with it and better at it).

I wouldn't say I now love the idea of self-tapes - I still think it's better to be in the room, to have them experience you in the flesh, and be able to be re-directed - but I don't hate it either.

And, along with the minuses, I'm starting to see plusses - Getting to do it till it feels right, not having to ask for help (Beyond getting a reader), not having to pay someone to do it for you, etc

There's more to learn, for sure, but now I see I can do it, and that's big.

(I owe a huge thank-you to Jane, to my therapist, to Mike M., and to myself - All those people, particularly Jane, helped me "get my mind right" about this, but it's also been something I've been giving myself a talking-to about for years, so kudos to me as well, for fighting through the resistance...even if circumstances kind of forced me to.)

And what'll be bigger still is the day I self-tape something, and actually book a gig from it.

(Talk about your "proof of concept"...!)

Till next time...


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