Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Next Project

I have just been cast in the student film Archetype, set in an upscale Manhattan architecture firm, where Mike, an intern, has been left alone in the office for the day, which he has been assured will be a quiet, uneventful one. I think you can guess how accurate that prediction turns out to be.

My character breakdown was as follows: Mike has interned at the architecture agency for five years but today he is left alone to deal with the difficult clients that demand his attention despite his low-level position. He is unprepared but unafraid.

So it's official: I'm playing Mike. Yes, I will be portraying a smoker on camera. No I will not actually be smoking. Filming takes place August 7-8, just before I leave for a couple weeks at home. It's my first film, and my first lead role on camera for anything with a script longer than two pages. It's a character and script I like, and the director/writer seems really cool.

Here's the interesting part. The script is based on true events. Very closely. So closely, in fact, that none of the names have been changed. That's something I might have to talk to the writer about, as, while I'm pretty sure I'll be fine, I don't want him to get sued. While hilarious, some of the character portrayals are not all that flattering. I'll keep you all posted on that, and of course how and where you can watch the finished product when it comes out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Founding a Voiceover Business

My voiceover demo has finally arrived! This is something I thought I'd have months ago, but that's how most of my professional goals seem to work these days-- done, but a bit later than planned. If you want to listen to it, you can listen here by pressing play on the pretty red box below:

More to the point now, this means I'm going into business. I've put in the biggest initial investment and now have the most important calling card to use to get work.

I've sent out the demo to two casting directors and one agent, all of whom had previously shown interest. I've gotten enthusiastic feedback, but no jobs yet. Just as should be expected, sending out to three people is nothing. So now it's on me to make a few investments in the business. It's just a question of which to do when.

Here's a the basic checklist:

Send out commercial demo to as many people who cast stuff as possible: Naturally we need to do just a little bit of targeting so that it looks less like junk email. But the more people who know I'm in business, the more likely I am to get hired. Due immediately, if not sooner.

Redesign again to advertise voiceover as separate from my acting: Something I've wanted to do for a while anyway. I've been having fun futzing around with the Drupal web development platform, which is much easier to manage than my current setup. Due very soon.

Establish separate business bank accounts: This is actually something I sort of have already but haven't been using much. I've got my personal checking, money market, and credit card accounts with Chase, but I've also got all three of those things with Seattle-based credit union BECU, because they gave me better rates on overseas transactions. When I was overseas for 19 months, that was important. But still, since I don't yet have much in the way of expenses or income, this can mostly wait. At most, I can "loan" my business some money from my personal accounts, but that's it for now. Due once financial transactions heat up.

Produce narration demo: I can and hopefully will be hired for narration work based off my commercial demo, but it'll be easier to get this work with a dedicated Narration Demo. Most people in the business have both. I've got a private session this Wednesday to go over some scripts. I have a credit under my belt so that won't cost anything. The demo record, however, will. Even with an employee discount, assuming it's still good (haven't been asked to do any work for the studio in quite some time), it'll be around $350 for the recording session itself, plus $65 or so for each private session I want for prep. I'd guess I'd need at least one more, but I could be wrong. Due date indeterminate, but to be discussed this Wednesday at my training session.

Get Premium Membership on this is the main online marketplace for voiceover talent. For free you can host a little profile on their site, but nobody will see it unless they are actively searching for your name, possibly not even then, as far as I can see. To show up in searches by voice type, get invites to audition for specific jobs, etc, you need a premium membership, and that's a little under $300 for one year. Due date indeterminate.

Form an LLC:  This is just for tax purposes, but I'd want to legally license my voiceover business for tax purposes. As it stands, if anyone employs me, an individual, for voiceover, and they pay me more than $600 in a fiscal year, we have to fill out 1040 forms to report income as an independent contractor. If they're paying me as a Limited Liability Company, they don't have to do that. Also I think gives me some minor tax savings if I file using S-Corp status, and, though this hopefully won't come up, limits my personal legal liability in the event of legal dispute. In other words, lotsa fun with fine print. Due once I start having clients pay me more than $600 in a year.

And that's kinda it for now. Anyone with business opportunities for me, let me know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


My life has little to no set routine. It makes the days a little hard to track. It's not quite to the point you get to when you're traveling and don't remember what day of the week it is. You have the subway construction on weekends to remind you of that. But things I think of having happened weeks ago, I'll talk to my friends and it was actually two days prior. Things like that.

So, when I came in to dog-sit my tutoring employer's three Portuguese water dogs, it was a bit of change. They were to be walked from 8:00-9:00, 12:30-1:30, 4:30-5:30, 7:30-8:30, and 10:30-11:30. They're fed once at 9am, and again at 6:30. This is their life, each day they are in New York City. They had a routine.

Against all odds, it actually turned out to be kind of relaxing. Except for about half an hour at the beginning of the first day, when the cleaning lady was in the apartment, it was just me and the dogs whenever I was there. Life was pretty simple. Make sure the dogs were fed, watered, and walked at the times they were used to.

They each had their preferences with things. Cooper seemed to want to stay out all day, prancing around as soon as I took him to the hallway, and only reluctantly turning home after half an hour or more. Casey would stick to the shade whenever she could, stop in front of open doors with air conditioning, and drink lots of water immediately after she got back inside. Carlos couldn't wait to go back home. After he did what he needed to do, he'd tug and tug homewards, dragging whichever other dog I was walking at the same time with him. When they'd get in the elevator, Casey and/or Cooper would be looking at the ground or the walls, while Carlos would be happily panting at me, wagging his tail. All of them wanted to take a second and check inside the bathroom trash can each time before they left for a walk. All of them really enjoyed kids and meeting the other dogs we met. None of them barked.

I'd sometimes sit in the office they were in, doing stuff on the internet while Carlos licked my hand, his food bowl, or Casey's face, whichever seemed more appealing at the moment. Casey would choose her favorite stuffed bone to take a nap with on one of the doggy beds, while Cooper would just stretch out on the floor. Hanging out with them wasn't a bad way to spend an evening.

Plus I got to use a really nice kitchen to make a couple meals, and the laundry machine to do all my laundry, so I was happy.

The dogs' owners are back now, and I'm back to going to be anywhere from midnight to 3am, waking up anywhere from 9 to noon, each day having something completely different to do. It sounds nice, but a little routine like the dogs every once in a while makes it nicer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Silver Birthday

I turned 25 this last weekend. You can see a good chunk of what the last couple years of my life have been about on these peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. Yes they were delicious. The cupcakes themselves came from my buddy over at Man Bakes Cake, but the designs were all Dana, down to the random bar sign with my family name on it we found over in west midtown months ago.

The whole weekend felt like a party. There was the big day itself of course, getting handed a bottle of bubbly at midnight on the house just as the dance floor started getting more and more crowded. Then a picnic on a perfect day in central park, walking by one of my favorite bands from Colombia playing live, a good dinner, then the main party in the Lower East Side in the middle of an art exhibition with impromptu live jazz.

What with the rooftop parties and karaoke in the days following, I felt like I was on vacation well into the next Tuesday, when I realized I'd missed a deadline to pick up my extra headshots from a theater and an important phone call to my college's career guidance office the previous day. Oops.

There's always something kind of sad seeing your potential turned into your story, even if it's a good story. It's especially weird realizing that things that used to be a huge part of your life just aren't really present anymore, (in my case things like basketball, biking, video games, international politics, salsa dancing... I should probably stop there). The story of what I've done the first 25 years of my life is one I think anybody would be proud of. But it's permanent now. No wondering what I'll do with that part of my life. But as anyone older than me will point out, I've still got plenty of life and potential ahead of me if all goes according to plan. Sure, I have regrets, but not many. I personally believe that anyone who claims to have no regrets in life is either lying or hasn't taken enough risks.

So here I am, a twenty-five-year-old professional actor between jobs, in Spanish Harlem, barely paying rent, while getting invites to Open Bar Surrealist Pool Parties on Facebook ("Featuring Five Award Winning Artists who will create live, surreal, larger then life installations, in and out of the pool, that will convince you there is something in your drink!") I've got a stack of new good books to read and $17.40 leftover credit to the Drama Book Shop that I don't know what to do with yet. No TV, shared internet with my neighbors, a weighted Piano Keyboard, a voiceover demo currently in production, Mariners/Yankees tickets the night before SAT tutor training, and airline tickets home for a couple weeks in August. And a few other things besides. Mostly plans. I have a lot of big plans and ideas. Who knows what will happen with them.

Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Let's Make Movies

Some brilliant ideas come out of nowhere when you're just chatting with your friends.

A demo reel is a sample of you acting on camera, so you can send it to casting people to get film acting jobs. I don't have a demo reel. A lot of my friends don't have demo reels. Either we haven't been in any films or we don't have usable footage of our work.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine. The conversation went something like this:

C: I may be in a web series filming in albany
 me: wow, that's great! 
2:25 PM what kind of web series?
2:26 PM C: thanks... it's a comic book kinda thing
 me: I'm intrigued
2:28 PM C: haha it's a one liner, but i am hoping it develops into more
  it's about a super hero who knocks up a super villain and they try to raise the kid together
 me: Wow
  that's hilarious and awesome
  Where do you hear about the auditions for these things? I'm trying to take a short break from theater to break into film stuff
2:29 PM so to speak.
2:30 PM C: nice... i actually met those guys at comiccon
  it's not paying or anything
 meshrug possibly something for a reel? I don't have one of those yet
2:31 PM C: me neither... someone just asked me for one yesterday and I hated that I didn't have one to give
 me: we should draft some of our friends to make a bunch of shorts so we all get reels
  mini 48 hour film fest
2:32 PM C: that would be awesome!
  I would definitely be in for that

And then I though about what I'd just typed. And I started liking it. And I sent it to my girlfriend, Dana, asking if she'd write for it. She liked the idea too and said yes. So I posted on Facebook and sent a few more messages and more people said they want in and want to tell their friends... I think we might have some attention.

So I'm going out of town for a couple days. Tonight five of my friends and I are going down to join Dana and more of our friends at the beach for two or three days, for the holiday. When I come back, I think I'm going to have the outline of something big that will end in demo reels for me and a lot of my actor friends, portfolio builders for my writer friends, and resume builders for my directing, cameraman, sound design, and film editing friends.

It's gonna be short, ultra low budget, and it's going to be awesome. More announcements to come.