Actors Are Weird

Photo by me. The cool kids’ club that I want to join.

“This is so fun. And this cider is so good. And I really love my friends. We’re really good actors. We should make a movie. And I’m so happy he came. He’s a good one, right? I think he’s a good one. And I’m happy.”

 That was the genius opening of the post I considered writing last night. 
It seemed like an idea brimming with creative merit. 

The sort of idea you get after drinking this:  

Vegan tofu hotdog and Arsenal cider at Franktuary.


And then this:

 

Cider courtesy of Atlas Bottle Works


Luckily, more reasonable heads prevailed and I saved the writing for the next day. 

In my defense, it had been a hell of a day. 

Those of you with any passing acquaintance with anxiety or depression know they can be sneaky bastards. They can keep quiet for days, and when you’re not looking, one can jump out from behind a door, scream ‘blegha blegha bleu’, jump right on your back and stay there for the season. 

That was the cramp-inducing dance that anxiety and I had been doing all day. It interrupted my  treadmill that morning. Well, anxiety and my creaky, busted, broke-ass knee also interrupted my run. But mostly anxiety. When you jump off to check the toaster cord and your recycling, really, it’s not your knee’s fault.  It cornered me in the bathroom at work. 

Anxiety was generally being a slimy bag of grossly adherent donkey vomit. 

It wasn’t the audition. I don’t get weird acting jitters. I had prepped my piece. Did my work and made my choices. I had her. Done this many times for many years. But, when it comes to emotions, head games, traffic and sick kids, it all comes into the room with you to get its time on camera. 

For me, if it’s coming, it better damn well be ready to work. Because it was absolutely character appropriate and something I had already picked for the girl I would play for the next ten minutes, anxiety was going to be infused in this girl. Big, pushed boluses of anxiety. (I looked it up. The plural of bolus is boluses. Boli is the accepted plural for scholarly work. I don’t think we’re there yet.) 

I went with it. Big. She was twitchy, and scattered. There was a fidget and tremulous energy that I pushed to the limit with my first line. My initial hesitant ‘hi’ was replaced with a giant, forward-leaning, up-on-toes and nervous high-pitched ‘HI!!’.

I really didn’t have much choice. Anxiety was there in me as an actor. I could not shut it off. So, I was highlighting it in the character, because on this day, it was going to be in there as a whisper whether I liked it or not. So I made it a scream. Might have been totally wrong based on the sides I had seen. But it felt all kinds of right. 

Didn’t hurt that it turned out to be a really good room. I got to see and give big hugs to a director/friend before I went in. One of my dearest girls was reading before me. More with her and cider later. 

Inside, I had friendlies. Another rad lady friend of mine is on the show’s team and I got to read with her. Love. 

 (Note, films that have ladies in the room as part of the core crew and not just outside collecting head shots, give me warm southern tinglies. Keep that up.) 

I knew the writer from a lifetime ago. And the director is an awesome dude, a skilled director and just generally great because he previously cast me in another film. I had a blast in there. Nights like that make you remember why you keep coming back to this art that can be so cruel. Because sometimes, it curls around you and takes you somewhere where magic lives. 

After that, to say that I had a “little” residual manic energy would be like saying Adele can hit a “few” notes. 

Thus, the tour of pints and the earnest attempt to drink all the things in all the bars in the city. 

Because, also, when you live in a house as the only one of legal voting age, and you get only a a handful of nights off,

 EVER,

you make them count. 

So it was me and my actors. Loud and gesturing and possibly jumping onto chairs and/or the bar. Borderline harassment-level hugging. And kissing. And I’ll call cut there before anyone gets in trouble. 

Best of all, there was planning. Diabolical planning. Of us girls and a script and a project. And it was all delicious. 

Here’s where we ended our night. Hours later. Because actors can draaaank.

 

Cider courtesy of Hambones.

  
Maybe it is weird. Maybe it’s not normal in most industries to hang out and drink and love with the person you just tried to beat out for a job. And you’re deluded if you think they weren’t gunning for you. But it’s okay. There are snags. I missed beats in my scene that I kicked myself over. A lot. And I got a vibe that the part I read for might be pre-cast. But, it was still nice to be invited to the party. 

The next day, I was still smiling about it all. Another brief chance to do what I love. Even physically. My morning run was the least painful I’ve had in weeks. And my brain was quiet and content for at least five minutes. 

And I need that. 

Especially because I have to be involved in a meeting this weekend. With my kid. And his dad. In a church. 

See how fast the bloom dies? I’m not precious about my tenuous optimism. It’ll all suck again soon enough. 

Until then, after the night, I think have a new screenplay to start 

Anxious now. But in a good way. 

Actors are weird. 
 

Cider and Coco

Remember FAME ?

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Not, actual fame. Because just no. The movie. Debbie Allen ‘Fame.’ Poor exploited-by-that-industrial-douche Coco ‘Fame.’ Loved that movie. Wasn’t allowed to see it and loved it all the more because of that.  You know what stuck for me in movie? The hurt. The real hurt those kids learned. The scene where the acting teacher tells them that they better really like themselves, because no one else is gonna? Woof. Harsh. But so, so , so true.

One of the hardest things about making your way and not drowning as an artist is liking yourself. Which is hilarious, because so few of us do. But, really, you have to like yourself. So much so that you can sell yourself. To total strangers. That hate you. Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. Probably.

I doubt myself everyday as an actor. And doubt as a  writer? Yeah. Lots more doubt where that came from. So aside from improving my skills/technique/general stuff as a writer and actor, the biggest hurdle is becoming a become salewoman. And sitting here right now, I’m a really lousy saleswoman. I’ve experienced enough of this world of film and stage and show business to really see just how monumentally important the BUSINESS end of it is. Truly. It is so much business compared to the sliver of show. It’s a glitzy, shiny, shimmying teeny  sliver of show. But still. You can have the most amazing, script and eventually film. If ain’t nobody seeing it or buying it, that doesn’t make it any less of an amazing project. But it don’t get the next one made.

Tonight, I went out to take a step to get the next one made. In small markets like this, sometimes filmmakers screen their stuff in bars. Which is okay. Wine and cider with my movies? Yes. Because I’m really into cider right now. It might be a problem. I’ll get back to you. But, being the middle-aged mom I am, and being friends with a cohort that is the same population, means sometimes you go to film things in bars alone. Which takes some moxy. Usually more than I have. But tonight, I gathered up what I had and tried.

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That’s about as far as I got. I sat at the end of the bar with my cider and waited for the films to start. The crowd was small. Tiny even. Not just numbers, I’m talking jean sizes. These boys did not know their way around a box of doughnuts. Especially the cherry glazed. But back to the films. I don’t know much about any films or trailers. I can’t speak to the writers, actors or filmmakers I met  there representing their hard work.  I won’t be sending out a pile of head shots, resumes and reels today. Because I failed.

The purpose of the night was to engage. I did not. The smart, BUSINESS minded actor, would have stayed. Watched every trailer and short. Tracked down every director, scripty and grip. Talked. Bought drinks. Offered space on collective social media dance cards. I was no where in that fray. I was still tucked in a corner at the end of the bar. At least I was. Until I bailed.

Not a total loss. I did see a trailer for an upcoming locally made horror film, Brew House. It was filmed in a crumbling building here on our city’s south side. I acted in a series of stage plays there years ago. A fantastic experience. The site was spot on for the dark theater we were producing. Not to speak ill of the dead, but that pile of bricks and metal was made to double as an abattoir. Such an astute move for these filmmakers to use this location to its fullest. Was anyone there from the film? I have no idea. I didn’t step outside myself long enough to ask. I did, however, send a message to an actor that I had previously worked with who also appeared in this film. I hung on to see that trailer. I’m glad I did. It was good.

I know. Lame. How do I go so far out on the edge of my own comfort zone?  Sit quietly. Then leave. A self-marketing strategy that boggles the mind and slays the competition. And I know.  Still lame. This technique of hiding at the edges does not get the cream in the cupcake or myself first ( or second, or seventh) on the call sheet.

It’s more than that. Ladies like me of a certain age and of a certain situation, we would do well to learn to be in a space alone. Leaning in, boss lady and all the catch phrases aside, I know I need to become okay by myself. Because it is okay. And being out to see and experience in any way, only promotes growth as an actor, a writer, a mom, and oh, yeah, as an actual person.

Outside of the world of make-believe, and maybe inside it as well, does being able to be alone make you better when you are with someone? I suspect. You’ll have to ask the adorable man I left home alone on the couch while I went out to sit and fret and stare for confirmation.

But, for tonight, I tried. I didn’t do well, but I didn’t do too bad for me. I only walked past the joint twice before having the courage of my conviction and getting my ass in the door. Maybe eventually, I’ll be the girl that walks up and says hello. The actor that says with full conviction, “I am the best choice. Hire me.” And almost mean it. Maybe I’m getting there. Maybe I’m building a lovely and elaborate ruse which will find me this Saturday night fully encamped under my blanket with pumpkin pie and episodes of Charmed. Or just maybe, I’ll keep trying to like myself enough to just keep trying.

Trying what? More writing – maybe new fiction here soon. You heard it here first kids, so now I have to do it. More acting work. Please by the blessed boobs of Juno, more acting work. Maybe learn how to use this site/platform/general tech so it looks like something…other than my kid sending me a stream-of-consciousness text that ends with an ask for “choking car mole pop car” or as you know it, chocolate caramel popcorn. I’ll fail. Miserably on all fronts. But I’ll keep trying.

 

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Coco would be proud.