Off to a good start. We knocked out 4 scenes this week. 12 to go.
My enchanting ranting, poetry and prose
The occasional clippings, drippings
and Fun Fotoz
Big UPS to my My little Eleven Year old Nephew, Keller.... and congratulations...
"THIS WEBSITE is my NHD project for 2013/14. It ties in with 'Rights and Responsibilities' because it discusses what rights kids have to watch certain PG-13 movies and what responsibilities parents have to make sure their child is watching appropriate content. It also has information about the rights and responsibilities of the association that rates movies. I chose this topic because it was a fun topic idea and the PG-13 rating movies vary. If you are wondering why I only did one rating it is because I am a one-man team and I wanted to explore one rating in depth."
Awesome job if I don't say so myself. One note though... what ge should have (COULD have) done was put an "About Me" section in there that shows a picture of him, a quick and easy bio and maybe what his favorite movies are... just a thought... For example...
"Hi. My name is Keller Englebert Huffman. I like to dance, sing and climb things. I pick my nose occasionally and sometimes I forget to wear pants. I take my movies very seriously. Unless they are funny. Then I'll just laugh like everybody else. Some of my favorite films are FROZEN, BAD MILO, TROLLHUNTER and AIRPLANE. The picture here is me a few years back when I was wild and young. I'm much older and refined now."
THE PLAN is to convert one of the many corporate/industrial vignettes that I'm shooting over the next few months into a short film. HENCE, we are casting...
After the casting workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago and my own casting sessions where Ive been auditioning actors myself, Ive been pondering the process of an actor. Every time I see another actors work, or have him/her audition for me, I wonder where they came from. What brought them here, to this place, in character and out. Sometimes those thoughts stem from a fascinated approval. Great job. Good for you. So happy you came to audition. Sometimes those thoughts strike from sheer horror. Oh my God, what were you thinking? WHO told you that this would be a good idea?
I've been a working, studying, suffering, celebrating and surviving actor for 15 years. I haven't won an Oscar and I'm definitely (obviously) not famous. I'm not working as HARD at it as I used to, bit I'm not done yet either. I'm not the BEST actor in the world. I'm not the worst either. I HAVE booked a few things. More than many. Compared to someone who you would consider a 'successful or accomplished actor, Ive book and worked very little. I still love it. I love and respect all actors who do it right. Success or not. Those who do their homework, put the time and energy into their craft. I have the utmost admiration for those people. I learned SO much more about acting when I started writing and directing. Writing and Directing are totally different but enable you to see the craft of acting and even the BUSINESS of acting in a totally different light. THATS one thing every actor should do... pursue avenues of insight. I think any and every kind of artist can benefit from stepping back and approaching his or her work from a new angle, but sometimes you need to follow a path that might not even take you there. Inevitably... it will. But an actor should always be looking for ways expand their own awareness of what the HELL it is that you're doing. In a broad sense, in a smaller, more specific sense. As it pertains to your career and as it pertains to your character, your scene, or that tiny little moment inside of the scene that you can't figure out.
I had a great teacher back in New York who used to break an idea or a concept down into analogies. He would explain a character or a scene one way, then he would explain it another way... and another way... he would find countless ways to describe the lesson or the point he was trying make. Eventually, he would hit one that was mine. He would say it in such a way that it totally made sense to me. Explanation #234 RESONATED. I could see, hear and feel it 110%. I loved that about his classes.. I knew he was going to get around to spelling it all out in way that made sense to me. If I just kept listening. If I waited for it. All those other explanations and perspectives were describing the same thing.... but those painted pictures were for someone else. I don't know if everyone in that class had the same appreciate for the methods being taught there (the teachers always said that their teachings were ANTI-method). But I hope at least SOME of them were. Hopefully the other actors in the room were gobbling up the analogies and rational that was made specifically for them. That's one of the great things about acting. Its about finding truth and expressing that truth in front of an audience or the camera.
"Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality." — Lee Strasberg
And there is no one way to do it. There are a BILLION ways to do it. There a billion ways to hone your craft and create realities. If you are not finding your way. or if you feel like your lost. Keep looking. Keep digging. The answers are out there. YOUR answers are out there. Actors are supposed to be creating and expressing realities that reflect the world we know. The world we love and hate. That same world... the one we face every day... is full of opportunities that can take an actor to a whole new level. Writing and Directing are just two easy ones that make sense. People watching is ind of a cliche acting school suggestion, but it can still make way for a breakthrough. I've had teachers tell me to go run through Washington Square Park waving my arms, dancing and singing. A person who wants to be a good actor has to be willing to try new things, try EVERYTHING. I never did that one though. Running around like a lunatic in Washington Square Park just ain't for me.... BUT....
Robert Downey Jr? You betcha. Watch this 2 minute video of him running around NYC in his underwear, talking to people on the street. Its insane. Kind of annoying depending on how you look at it. Many people find him annoying. For anyone trying to achieve ultimate truth in their art.... take some notes... this is one way to do it...
Robert Downey Jr is a different breed altogether. Which is one of the reason why he is where he is. YES he is somewhat of a tortured soul and he's had his trouble with drugs, the law and life in General. That's another story. It still takes a tremendous amount of courage to put yourself out there as an actor. Drugs or no drugs, he can and always will stand out as one of those people were BORN to do this.
Would you do something like that? Could you do something like that?
I'm gettng off track now, and Ive got to go. But I'll be back with more of my own thoughts and theology on the art and craft of acting.
For what it's worth.... which might be nothing.
Casting starts this week for "The Property & Tort Report." This project is a new legal themed series of video vignettes that I'm producing/directing. To submit, actors can find more details on LACasting and/or send head shot/resumes to Director James Huffman or Associate Producer Julia Grimm at firstname.lastname@example.org
I wrote most of these. I have a handful of others that were more technical in nature and required some expertise. So someone else wrote for me.... I'm excited to shoot them all... but the ones I wrote... I'm really excited to shoot... I like the way they turned out. I was able to weave my vision as a director into each scene. The is my first time being PAID to write. The client is super happy with my work. Hopefully that will lead to more writing work in the future.
Here are a few breakdown highlights....
EDNA GOLD- Female, 55-75, Any Ethnicity. Edna is a long time member of her community. She is a genuine, honest, kind woman. She is very patriotic but she feels compelled to speak at a zoning hearing to protest the motion to open a halfway house in her town that will be designed to help military veterans. Appearing in the "Zoning Variance" episode.
CHARLIE CLARK - Male, 55-75, Any Ethnicity. Charlie is sort of cranky old timer. He owns and runs the local convenience store. While he complains about everything, deep down he loves his town and everyone in it. He doesn't like change. He appears at the zoning meeting to voice his concerns. Also appears in "Zoning Variance." Wardrobe: Mountain man comfort wear.
CHAIRMAN PHILIP WILSON - Male, 40-55, Any Ethnicity. Philip Wilson is the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning commission in Lancaster County. He is genuine, honest man with a good heart. He has a wife and three kids. He has a vast appreciation of his local government. He takes his role very seriously even though he has an easy going manner. "Zoning Variance."
SAUL SCADUTO - Male, 40-55, Any Ethncity. The character of Saul Scaduto was created in the vein of Saul Goodman from "Breaking Bad." He is the attorney who slithers around on the underside of the legal profession. He is a good lawyer who makes plenty of money, but he has a certain sleaze factor that precedes him. He meets with the owner of a new "Class A" office building in the hopes that he may become a tenant. That meeting doesn't go so well. Appears in the "Leases" episode. Wardrobe: two options>>> 1-Poorly fitted suit & tie. 2- Super sharp well dressed shady character.
ARNOLD AZARIAN- Male, 45-60. Armenian/Persian. Arnold is the owner of a Class A office building. He can be a shrewd business man and quite abrasive, but he has a big heart. One of his tenants wants to jump the lease and he agrees to allow this if she finds a replacement. Arnold meets with "Saul Scaduto," the replacement, and does not find Saul to be the type of person he would like to see conducting business in his building.
MITCH ("THE PITCH") - Male, 35-55. Any ethnicity. The ultimate infomercial pitch guy. He is Mr. Mega-Man with a microphone. He can sell anything. Mitch "The Pitch" appears in a short commercial for the "Gishu" set of professional grade knives. The commercial runs during the "Product Liability" episode.
MASTER CHEF OROKANA MUSUKO - Male, 35-55, Asian. Part of a fictitious infomercial, The Chef demonstrates the razor sharp "Gishu" knives at the "Oki Doki" Steakhouse.
SKATEBOARDERS 1, 2 & 3 - Male or Female, 12-16, Any Ethnicity. Looking for 2-3 good skateboarders with at least one who can do a trick or 2. We will shoot an intro sequence that showcases the skill and adventurous nature of the 3 amigos and then we'll what happens when they come across a pile of debris that might offer up an opportunity to bust out some grinds or kickflips. The lesson in this scene centers around legal liability in the case of injuries suffered while making unauthorized use of public and/or private property.
There are a handful of other roles being added next week. So stay tuned.....
This weekend I attended the "Hollywood Across America" Pilot Season Symposium in West LA. The Pilot Season Symposium is an all day workshop that features a couple industry speakers in the morning, some in the afternoon and then a few hours dedicated to showcasing every actors work. Every actor in attendance was able to get on stage perform either a scene (with a partner) or a monologue. The work is then evaluated by the 10-15 industry "experts" who happen to be casting directors, talent agents and managers. There were about 100 actors there on Saturday. You can probably imagine how long of a process THAT was.
It's been a while since I attended a workshop like this. Back in New York I hit the workshops regularly and aggressively. I took small workshops, big workshops. I took extended master classes that stretched across multiple weekends. In fact, at one point on my acting/workshop taking career, I owned and operated a small business called "The Audition Experience" that offered workshops to actors on a daily basis. I ran that business for 3 years until I sold it off and stepped away. Moved to LA.
So, yeah, that was me... back in 2000-2003.
I learned SO much running that business. I learned a lot about small start ups. I learned a lot about the business of acting. I learned a lot of the audition process and the craft itself. I did get some work as a result of shmoozing the casting directors. Not a TON, but I got some work. There is no guarantee of work... ever. No matter what you do.
Like I said, it's been a while since I took a workshop like this... but I got an email from my agent Marlene a couple of moths ago, asking me to attend. She worked out a discount deal for me... and since its been so long since Ive taken any workshops, I thought it would be a good idea. Marlene was also a panelist at the symposium, so she wanted to have the chance to show off her clients and do some follow up afterwards.
These things can be a gamble. Its debatable as to whether it's a wise was to spend money and time. I used to have this conversation all the time when I was trying to convince actors to take my Audition Experience workshops. Attending a workshop is not a guarantee of employment. In fact it's not even an interview. It's not a real audition for a real role. The workshops, no matter WHO is hosting, is designed to be an educational opportunity... that's all.
BUT, taking these workshops can be incredibly beneficial if you play your cards right. True there are no guarantees but you get to meet A List casting directors face to face and perform for them. Then you have a toe in the door. One toe. If you follow up and stay in touch with that casting director via postcards. Send them stuff in the mail every time you book something or you appear in a play. The casting director gets your mail (no guarantees there either) and he or she is reminded of who you are and how you met. If you HAPPEN to bump into that CD at a restaurant or something, there is no reason why you can't say hello.
"Oh HI April Webster, how are you doing? This is a great restaurant. Have you ever eaten here before?"
She might say...
APRIL: Oh hi... yes... I love this place. I'm sorry, Ive forgotten your name.
YOU: Oh, it's (state your name), we met at a workshop last February.
APRIL: That's RIGHT! You did that Angelina Jolie monologue from GIRL INTERRUPTED.
YOU: Yes! Along with 4 other girls. You must have been so sick of hearing that monologue.
APRIL: No, it's fine. That happens a lot. You were the best though.
YOU: AW, you're so kind. Well, it was great seeing you. enjoy your dinner. Hopefully we will run into each other again soon.
APRIL: Have a great night (Whatever your name is)
AND scene. You disappear. short & sweet. Rekindle that connection and keep your fingers crossed.
That's just a random scenario, but the point is... the crux of your success... as it pertains to maximizing the value of these workshops... is in the follow up. It also helps to be a good actor and not a socially awkward pain in the ass.
PS: I saw 4 girls this weekend do the same monologue from GIRL INTERRUPTED. I wasn't just throwing that in there for no reason. Now, its very debatable whether that's a GOOD thing or a bad thing. One one hand, it shows that you are not being very original in your selection process when seeking out audition material... on the other hand... if 4 women do the same piece... and you ROCK IT.... then you win... the other 3 lose. But you better be DAMN sure you can rock it.
Which brings up a good point. Are you a good actor? What makes you think so? Are you booking stuff? Why? Or why not? You have to brutally honest. Not only is brutal honesty the key to becoming a great actor, but its also crucial to your mental and emotional health as you navigate the tough terrain known as your career in the entertainment industry.
So I got up nice and early on Saturday morning and I drove over to West LA, registered and took a seat in the audience. The morning session was a Q&A with casting director Ronnie Yeskel (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Dude Where's my Car?). She had some great stories about the casting process on Pulp Fiction. One story that stood out to me was that Samuel Jackson almost didnt get the part in Pulp Fiction because his audition was terrible. TERRIBLE, she said. Sam L Jackson read for Quentin Tarantino and he sucked. She said he was flat and auditioned like he just didn't care... didn't prepare. But I guess they gave him a second chance and he auditioned again and got the role.
Even someone like Samel Jackson... at that level... at that stage in career and artistic life... can have a crappy audition. I mean, your average person probably wouldn't get a 2nd chance after a really crappy performance, but it's somewhat encouraging to know that even a big time player like Samuel L can totally screw up an audition. It happens to the best of them.
Ronnie told stories and answered a ton of questions.... and this is where these workshops ca start to get on your nerves. 75% of the questions are stupid. People juts kept spouting off.... left and right.... actors who are either VERY VERY inexperienced or don't know what they want to ask but HAVE to say SOMETHING... so they end up saying something stupid.
(To be continued)
That's Right.... Rockin the Technicolor Corduroy...
Prissy was a good dog.
Great clouds rolling through Southland today, which will probably make for a stunning sunset. Too bad I'll be sitting in traffic....
(Shot from the top pf the parking garage at the Arclight Hollywood.)