On Tuesday this past week, I submitted for a small role in a feature film. I have been submitting like crazy for any and all background roles I find, but I usually get too nervous to submit for featured roles. I received the casting call […]
This past Monday I got to work as a production assistant on the same film I worked on a couple weeks ago. We were in the same location but this day was much different than the first day I was there. The first day was […]
Each character I play has its own set of challenges, and my role as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is no exception. In fact, it may have been my most challenging role to date, as Honey is, at first glance, a very different person than I am.
When the director first asked me to play this role, I did not know anything about the play. But I was excited that he even asked and I know any role I can get is great practice, so I immediately said yes. Then I went to Google to learn more.
Here is the first description I found about my character: “Honey is the mousy, slim-hipped wife of Nick. She’s definitely not the brightest bulb in the bunch.”
My first thought? “Of course she isn’t.”
I have found over the years that when I actively avoid playing a certain type of character (because I feel I won’t be able to play them very well), my very next character has the exact characteristics I was trying to avoid. That happened with “Pitmen Painters” (I always felt I could not do a British accent, and my character in that was British) and “Rocky Horror” (I have always felt anything but sexy, and our biggest note for that show was to “be sexy”). The last two productions that I auditioned for at Blue Moon Productions had ditzy characters, and I made sure to write on the audition sheet that I would take any role except those. Not to be a braggart, but I am generally not a ditzy person. I did not think I would be able to play that type of role very well.
But now I had to.
My character also grows more and more drunk as the play progresses. I have never been drunk. I wasn’t sure I could convincingly pull that off either.
The very first thing I had to do was find things I had in common with Honey. Our biggest similarity is the fact that we are both timid and shy. I wouldn’t even have to act for that part. Each rehearsal I found a new thing I had in common with my character: we both were prone to bouts of naivete, we had religious upbringings, we are both childless, we feel incredibly awkward in certain social situations, and so on and so forth. I was surprised by how much I was actually able to connect with this character.
I also read several different character analyses about Honey, to see how others interpreted her. I kept the ideas that I agreed with (she’s naive, she’s not very bright, she has a very child-like nature) and discarded the rest.
And thus, my version of Honey began to take shape and come to life. It felt weird at first, letting go and acting in a way that is so different from how I act around other people. But eventually, I found myself having a lot of fun playing this type of character.
So, takeaway number one: Do the things that scare you the most, because that is how you grow. These roles have challenged me, but I came out on the other side a better, more confident actor (who is surprisingly good at British accents 🙂 ).
Takeaway number two: I learned one of the reasons why I love acting so much. It’s been bothering me because I didn’t really have a clear reason why I want to be an actor. I just know I enjoy it and I feel it’s something I need to do. But I realized acting is really therapeutic for me. I get to yell and scream and ugly cry and show how angry I am. I get to be giggly and act a fool. I don’t do that in real life. At work I have to be professional, no matter how irritated I get with people there. In public, I always try to put my best foot forward. On stage, I get to release all of that. I don’t have to hold back or put my guard up. It’s incredibly freeing.
I keep learning the same lesson over and over: do the things that scare you. Try the things that you’re afraid to try because you feel you won’t be good at them. The only way to improve is to do them. And besides, you might surprise yourself and find you’re better at them than you thought you would be.
This last Sunday, I had my first gig as a PA. (A production assistant is basically a person who helps run errands or help set up/break down sets or whatever production needs help with.) What was supposed to be a 12 hour day (9 a.m. […]
I recently came across this picture on the Pinterests: It reminded me of two very specific people in my life: an acquaintance of mine and a certain local writer who reviews plays for the newspaper. The first one harshly criticizes everyone, so I try to […]
I’m not an affiliate. I just wanted to help people who, like me, were on the fence about this program.
Last July, I signed up for the Friends in Film program.
Around that time, I was feeling really frustrated. I had entered two screenwriting competitions with no results (except a loss of $130 in entry fees :/ ). I was having a hard time finding background work (and when I did, I didn’t hear back as often as I would have liked). I knew there had to be a better way. I just didn’t know how to break in as an actor and screenwriter from Southwest Oklahoma.
I actually found the program on Facebook years ago. It would pop up on my news feed every so often, but I didn’t really give it much thought until this last July. I don’t remember exactly what the ad said, but it was something along the lines of helping actors and writers get in the film business. Whatever it was, it was exactly what I was looking for.
The initial course (Career on Fire) is free, so I signed up. In the free live training, the creator of the course, Janet Urban, showed an overview of how to find work on film sets (from anywhere!) and how to move up in the film world to the job you’ve been dreaming of. To learn the exact steps, however, I would have to enroll in the Friends in Film program.
Now, I have done many an online course in my day. Some are okay. I did a fantastic screenwriting course back in 2015 and learned a lot from it. But most of them (especially the ones I took in early 2018) are garbage. They don’t teach anymore than what I had already learned on my own from Google searches. So I was skeptical. If I was going to drop this much money, I had to make sure it would be worth it.
I watched and read all the success stories Janet has on her website. They, of course, made me want to take the course even more. If what they were saying was true, this program was exactly the thing I needed to get out of my job and on an actual path towards my goals. But I wanted some stories or reviews that were not on the Friends in Film website.
I only found one other review (it gives a great overview of the program; I recommend it if you’re considering signing up). Basically, the author said the program seemed to work, but she had to drop out before she could finish it.
Despite my reservations, something kept telling me I needed to go for it. So I did. And it is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career so far.
First of all, from what I’ve experienced and read from fellow Friends in Films course-mates, the methods do work. Janet has worked in the industry for many years (and is very successful herself). She knows where to find jobs, the steps it takes to get those jobs, how to act on set and what to say to potential contacts. Her methods work even in Oklahoma, where I thought there was little filming going on (I was wrong). If they work here I imagine they’ll work wherever you live.
I think my favorite part of the program, however, is how she not only on helps you advance your career, but also helps you become your best self in every aspect of your life. She is encouraging and uplifting and also teaches you how to develop a mindset that will set you up for life-long success.
As with any kind of training you do, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. It took me about 6 months to find my first gig. But part of that was because I took two months off to prepare for “Evil Dead the Musical,” because I let my shy nature hold me back a bit, and because two of the gigs I had found in September fell through.
When you sign up for the course, you also get access to the program’s Yammer page. This allows you to talk to other people going through the course, people who have finished the course, and Janet herself. It is great for getting feedback (on things like your resume or cover letters) and encouragement from people who have once been where you are.
This program has given me a newfound hope for my future. It has laid out a path for me (that has very practical, doable steps) that I probably would have never found on my own. I feel like my goals are in reach instead of a pie-in-the-sky thing that I would never achieve.
So if you are a writer, actor, director, or anyone who wants a career in film, I highly recommend this program. Yes, it is pricey, but it is a worthwhile investment in your future. And it is definitely a faster route towards my dreams than if I had just kept trying (poorly) on my own.
For more information, go to friendsinfilm.com.
Early last month, I came across a pin on Pinterest that read, “Remember that once you dreamed of being where you are now.” That particular day, I received that same message in three different places, so I figured I should probably pay attention. My initial […]
Yesterday, I spent almost 11 hours standing on the sidelines of a makeshift football field, as the wind blew and the temperature steadily dropped, holding a saxophone and wearing a marching band uniform (which, as you former and current band kids may know, is too […]
I’ve been telling you guys to have no fear and to do the things that scare you and blah blah blah and I haven’t even been taking my own advice.
Ninety percent of the time, I do not like my job. I used to like it alright, but lately I just hate being there. The only thing I like about my job is that I can pretty much take off whenever I need to. If my favorite thing about my job is not being there, then it may be time to find a new job.
I have been trying to figure out what it is I dislike so much about it. I don’t have to wake up super early (my workday starts at 10 am), my boss is really lenient (I can take off for class or emergencies or whatever, and he is usually pretty cool with it), I get to be around music all day long. But despite all the positive things about that job, it’s just not what I want to do with my life. I feel unfulfilled. I also feel drained after a long day of work plus private lessons plus (sometimes) rehearsals. Then I end up doing nothing once I’m home, instead of working towards my dreams and aspirations. But I’m afraid to give up this job, because I may not find something better out there. I’m also afraid I’ll regret leaving and won’t be able to go back.
Along these same lines, I’ve been realizing I need to make some big changes to make those dreams come true, i.e. give up some things I kind of enjoy (like teaching private lessons and taking flute lessons). I need to start cutting out the things that take my attention away from my main goals. For example, over the past few months I’d been seriously considering getting a master’s degree to be a woodwind specialist. This would allow me to teach at the collegiate level. But…I don’t really want that. I was considering it because I felt it would be an easy path to take to have a better lot in life. I was falling back on things that were comfortable (playing clarinet) instead of facing my fears and going for the things I really want to do (acting/singing). That may also mean giving up a draining job to find one that does not sap all of my energy. It definitely means spending less time playing on my phone and watching t.v. And it means no longer sleeping til the very last minute so I can start getting stuff done before work. These jobs/habits are easy and comfortable and difficult to give up, but necessary if I ever want to get anywhere else in life.
Also, (this is sort of related) I was making a list of things I wanted to do but was afraid to recently. Taking acting classes is one of those things. I finally realized, I have acted in several plays and musicals over the past decade. But I’m afraid to do the exact same thing in a classroom setting? That’s ludicrous!
After thinking about the things that I definitely do not want to do for the rest of my life, I tried to figure out what it is exactly that I do want. I’ve been toying with several ideas. I thought about starting my own freelance writing business, opening my own music store, or starting a private lesson studio for adults that encompasses all the arts. But I don’t really want any of those things; they just seemed like a faster way to maybe make some money. What I really want (and have for awhile now) is to have my own acting troupe. Once I finally told myself it would be okay to focus on that (even though it is definitely very risky), I was able to really figure out what I need to give up and what I need to start focusing on to make this dream a reality.
I’ve already started taking steps towards this goal. The idea is to have a group that performs improv shows, plays, musicals, and original works. I decided I need to work on piano and uke (both already integral parts of the improv group’s podcast), so I signed up for piano lessons and bought a baritone uke. I applied for a new job. I have a friend who also wants to start an acting troupe and we’re going to talk about it tomorrow night. I’m currently involved in a play (to work on my acting chops) and am saving up money to take an acting class in March (hopefully I won’t chicken out again…). So, it’s a start. The improv group has made tremendous strides since it started back in November, 2016. I have a really good feeling about the group’s future. I’m pretty amazed that it’s lasted as long as it has (especially since I thought it was all but dead more than once), so hopefully that means it will last for many years to come.
Anywho, that’s enough rambling for this post. Go forth and fear no more (she said mostly to herself).
One thing I’ve heard many times from other writers is to make a writing schedule and stick to it. Even on days when you aren’t feeling too creative, you’re supposed to just write anything you can think of during your scheduled writing time. They say […]