Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Up and Down

I've always said that one of the primary characteristics about Life as a Professional Actor is that "the highs are really really high, but the lows are really REALLY low". I'm kind of having both right now, along with a general milieu of dissatisfaction. (I usually try to have my milieu on the side as a sauce, but sometimes it just comes with the salad, know what I mean?)

On the upside, I've had a couple of voiceover jobs in the last couple of weeks. One was a demo that turned into two demos during the session — it went okay, but I'm not sure I caught on early enough that the client wanted two rather different attacks on the different scripts (and maybe they didn't know themselves either until they got deeper into the session). The other was a job for a bank in a major metropolitan area, but the bank is only in that one city (meaning little-to-no residuals). Still, it was a fun job calling for an extremely character-y read, so I'm not complaining.

On the downside, NOTHING has been happening in the on-camera department, so of course at times like this I'm inclined to wonder what I'm doing wrong. I'm pretty sure the truth of the matter is just that nothing really is happening — commercials are not being made, because advertisers are putting more of their spend into non-broadcast advertising (e.g., Internet, product placements, etc.).

Still, I have an on-camera audition later today that's kind of ticking me off. I don't know what it is about this particular casting director, but I always feel like they put me at a disadvantage before I even walk in the door. I'm usually scheduled late in the casting session, which usually puts me at the end of the tape/DVD the client receives, and the fact of the matter is that a certain percentage of auditions are just never seen at all because the client is overwhelmed after seeing the first 20-30 auditions. Secondly, I don't know whether this betrays an underlying contempt for actors or what, but I almost always feel as though the person running the session feels as though the talent is incapable of coming up with ideas on their own, so they try to "direct" the talent in a rather constrictive manner that stifles creativity (surely that must result in cookie-cutter auditions on the final tape, making THEM look bad, so why do they do it?) And lastly, I think they just don't know what my "type" is, so I fairly often end up being called in for something that's a stretch at best.

All of this has resulted in my having NEVER booked anything through this particular casting director's office in the 10 years or so I've been at this. Which, I'm sure only enforces their opinion of me as a non-starter. But, of course, hope springs eternal, so I never turn down an audition from them unless I have a product conflict or some other good reason. (Note to casting director: "Hello?! I have product conflicts! Doesn't that tell you something?!")

There... I got that off my chest. Time to put that back in my Shoebox of Bitterness and concentrate on just being brilliant in my audition.

Or, failing brilliance, "good enough" to land the job.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Just discovered that StoryActor has been hurt in a serious car accident. It's times like this that writing about one's career seems so pointless, or at the very least secondary.

Matter of fact, I think that sums up pretty well the primary cause of attrition in the ranks of professional actors — folks discover there are more important things in life. Or, at least, Life's events can be more important than whatever motivated you to be in the Biz in the first place. Those whose sole goal, for instance, is to be "famous" (whatever that may mean to them) often find it hard to reconcile their pursuit of that goal in the face of starting a family. I mean, really — what actor can argue that the World needs their talent more than their daughter needs her responsible, caring, and financially supportive father?

Sigh... best of luck to Story. I hope they recover well and quickly.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Kinda Slow

Several voiceover auditions over the past week, but nothing to show for it as yet. I know I was requested for one of them, and the copy was right up my alley, so hope springs eternal...

Going up on the elevator to one of these auditions, I talked to one of my fellow clients (i.e., another actor repped by the same agency). This person is one of those people I would firmly place in the pantheon of "Extremely Well-Established Chicago Actors" — a former member of the Saturday Night Live cast from back in the day, ex-Second City Mainstage, movie credits, and ongoing accounts as The Voice of [insert well-known national products]. Anyway, they said it had been extremely slow for them, all things considered, so I guess it's not just me.

Received a script from a buddy yesterday, wanting me to be in a show he's directing. The guy doesn't do anything bad, and he's sort of a name in his own right (just got nominated for a Jeff award for the umpteenth time, as a matter of fact) so of course I'm considering it. The show's only going to have a very short run — more of a showcase than anything else. Normally, I'd take a pass on it but, given how slow it is in other arenas, I'm thinking of riding the horse the direction it's going.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Ran into an ex-castmate from a show I did in 2003 at an on-camera audition on Friday. She was preparing to go out to L.A. for pilot season for her second year running after stashing away as much cash as possible this summer in Chicago. We talked for a bit over coffee, during which I surprised myself by admitting that the idea of returning to L.A. sometime in the mid-future was beginning to buzz around in the back of my brain.

Funny thing that. I have SO many reasons not to go back to the West Coast, but the fact of the matter is that the minimums needed for both the union health plans and the pension plans keeps rising each year, and I'm in the uncomfortable position of not yet having enough steady gigs to qualify for both on an ongoing basis. Last year, I barely squeaked by to qualify for health coverage and, for the first time in 6 years, I fell short — by just $400 in earnings — from earning a pension credit. Given that I can expect commercial job opportunities to decrease in Chicago becasue of an increasingly fractured advertising spend (the number of national spots cast out of Chicago has dropped dramatically in the last year), not to mention my age, I can't help but wonder if it's not a smart idea to look to the SAG Theatrical contract to complete my 10-years worth of vesting. Which, of course, means returning to L.A.

Just thinking about it at the moment.