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4:18 pm - Thurs 8/12/04
\"The class for 'Helpless Victims' is down the street...\"

"The class for 'Helpless Victims' is down the street..."

Thurs 8/12/04 (6:00 a.m.)

In a current post on Craigslist, a guy wants another guy to come over to his house and trim his body hair.

He specifies "No freaks".

____________________

Well, I'd like my happiness to come from somewhere inside, and not depend so much on externals, but thus far–"thus far" being, oh, the past 43 years or so–I haven't been able to "work that out".

So that being the case, I'm glad "externals" are going pretty well right now.

JS is going to call me back to confirm, but it looks like the Time-Warner radio spot is on for tomorrow morning, around 11:00, at a recording studio on Melrose. I'm looking forward to it; I've been in recording studios on a few occasions, but it's still something of a novelty for me (The guy told JS he expected it to take somewhere from an hour to an hour-and–a-half, and they're paying $500).

Having JS tell me how much they're going to pay for the radio spot got me thinking again about the money I make for non-union stuff (And at some point, I'm going to quit talking about how much money I make on these things–I think it's a little gauche, to be honest–but for now, it's the only concrete way I have of "tracking my progress")

On the one hand, there's a part of me that feels pretty stoked; getting $500 for maybe an hour-and-a-half's work is not too shabby (Though you have to remember–When I mention a dollar figure for a non-union gig, that's going to be minus JS's 20% cut; it's 10% for union stuff). I came out here, in large part, to get paid, and when I do get paid, even the "low-end money" is more money than I've ever seen for doing anything in my life.

Not to mention it's getting paid for something I actually enjoy doing. It's undeniably gratifying, no two ways about it.

But...

We're into August, and Friday's gig will be my third for the year. Take out taxes, and JS's percentage, and I've made maybe $3200 from acting for the year to date (One goal of mine for the year is to break the $5000 mark; I read somewhere once that the majority of SAG actors make less than $5000 a year from acting, so I immediately wanted to beat that, on my way to bigger and better goals).

In short, I don't think the non-union money is ever going to pan out, not if you're talking about making a living. I'd have to do what I've done so far this year every month in order to advance to "the next level"; a beautiful dreamland where I'm done with Borders, taking acting classes, doing theatre at night, and auditioning for commercials, tv, and movies during the day (And I'm able to pay for parking. And I can afford to date. And I can put away a little each month for the future).

I just said that the average SAG actor doesn't make a living from acting either. SAG membership, in and of itself, is not necessarily the "keys to the kingdom". This acting thing is an uphill battle any way you slice it.

But at least with a SAG card, there's a minumum you can be paid. There are residuals, overtime, health insurance, a pension, free movie screenings and special events, free dvds at awards time--"for your consideration"--and probably a host of other good things that come with that little membership card (I think SAG has its own credit union as well).

So SAG membership is definitely another "goal on the way to bigger and better goals". Another "rung on the ladder", if you will.

I feel a little embarrassed when I go off on money stuff, afraid I'm creating the impression that that's all I care about.

But I think it's interesting–When I write about "the next level", my "beautiful dreamland", there's nothing there about money, per se, and there's nothing there about things; it's all about "doing stuff". Acting. Auditioning. Parking. Dating. Saving.

Obviously, the money means something to me. Every time I write about getting paid for a gig, I mention that it's "more than I've ever gotten paid to do anything before". I'm a middle-aged man, and I've never gotten a decent wage for anything I've ever done, so starting to get paid, and fairly well-paid, for who I am and what I "bring to the table" is very meaningful to me. Maybe I shouldn't attach so much value to that, but what can I do? I live in a capitalist society.

And it would be bullshit to say that "stuff" has no appeal for me. Part of my dreams of success are definitely dreams of having "stuff" around me that I like, that helps make life more enjoyable (ex. They're coming out with a Mini convertible for 2005. And just recently, I've found myself obsessing over the Vespa "Gran Turismo", wondering if it could possibly be at much fun to tool around on as it looks. And for whatever reason, when I envision my future, I envision it with me writing my Diaryland posts on a laptop). While I'm very aware that I currently have everything I need, I wouldn't be at all averse to upgrades in a few key areas.

But more than what money "means" to me emotionally, more than the "stuff" money can buy, the important thing is what money can do.

I want to be successful to fulfill what is, in all likelihood, an unfulfillable need. I want to be successful because I think I would enjoy the trappings of success (The aforementioned Mini, Vespa, and laptop, for starters).

But what I'm looking for, more than any of that, is freedom. The freedom to do what I want to do, to focus on what I wish to be focused on. The ability to look at my life and say "The life I'm living is the life I want to be living".

That doesn't take Tom Cruise-sized paychecks, I don't think, but it sure as shit requires more money than I'm making right now.

So that's the direction in which I wish things to go.

____________________

Had a great audition yesterday. Maybe my best ever out here.

It was for a videogame based on The Incredibles (If you're not familiar with The Incredibles, it's the next computer-animated movie coming out from Pixar; it's about a family of superheroes–"The Incredibles" of the title--retired and living quietly in the suburbs, till they're called into action to save the world one more time).

I was playing a retired superhero, who's now an instructor at a superhero training camp.

The spot basically consists of me yelling at the hapless "superhero trainees" as they first try to smash through a wall, then have to run around catching watermelon "victims" that are being dropped from a rooftop.

(Okay, I'm about to do some serious "patting myself on the back" here. But you have to understand–I never feel as good about how these thing go as I did yesterday. So please bear with me on this)

Right off the bat, I made a decision I was very happy with–JS had only told me they wanted gym shorts and a fitted t-shirt, but I didn't think that "sold" the "retired superhero" thing at all, so to a pair of black gym shorts and a black t-shirt, I added a red bath towel "cape", and a pair of red wrestling shoes that Chris S. gave me some years back.

(When I got there, I was pretty delighted to read the script, and see my character described as "out-of-shape"–"Hey, I'm out-of-shape!", I thought to myself–and wearing a cape.)

I had a chance to hear what a couple actors before me were doing (It was a small area, and as I said, the audition involved a lot of yelling, so even in the lobby, I could hear everything going on in the room). And in my opinion, nobody was getting it right.

For example--The first line of copy was "You may have arrived here as men, but you will leave ‘Incredible'".

That's obviously a line addressed to the "troops" as they're "in formation", but the guys I heard were screaming it, with the exact same delivery as when they were yelling at the "recruits" a moment later, as they're going through their "superhero drills". And I didn't think that was right at all; when I did it, I was forceful, I made sure I had everyone's attention, but I think the point of that line is that it's tough, yes, but also inspirational, so I didn't scream it at them.

(Since the casting director felt the need to tell me, when I came in, that the first line is addressed to a group, that sort of confirmed my view that people weren't "getting it".)

The other thing I noticed was that people had obviously been given permission to improvise, but no one was doing it particularly well; nobody was saying anything particularly funny, and no one was saying anything that spoke to these "recruits" being superhero wannabees (They were yelling things that were just generic drill- sargent stuff).

I think part of what served me so well, in terms of improvising good lines (And you had to improvise something, because the copy itself was actually kind of boring), is that 1)I'm something of a comic book geek, and 2) I knew the videogame was an offshoot of a Pixar movie (Even the casting director didn't know that, much to my surprise), so I knew I had permission to be as funny as I could manage.

(I know--the premise should have clued people in that it's meant to be a funny spot, but from what I'd heard before I went into the room, that wasn't necessarily the case.)

So I did the first line very "The Few. The Proud. The Marines".

Then when it was time to yell at my hapless "recruits", I said a couple things that I thought of out in the lobby, along with stuff that just came out spontaneously:

"What are you, Lois Lane?"

"C'mon! It's only a concrete wall. What are ya gonna do when it's solid steel?"

"The class for 'helpless victims' is down the street..."

I also kept threatening to quit and go home in disgust (Which doesn't have anything to do with superheroes--I just thought it was a funny thing for a "drill sargent" to say).

I knew I had done well, because the casting director was laughing afterwards, and complimented me.

He also asked for my height and weight, and when I told him how much I weighed, he seemed very happy (6'2" and close to 250 lbs are pretty good stats for a retired, out-of-shape ex- superhero).

So anyway, I really nailed this one.

It doesn't mean I'm gonna get it, but I know they're gonna have to give me a serious look.

(Callbacks are supposed to be Monday, and the shoot's at the end of the month.)

Well, I could go on, but I think I should save it for another entry.

But I'm feeling good, folks. I'm feeling really good.

 

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