I have neglected this blog for far too long so much has happened in my life and career since last posting. One of my daily actions will be to contribute useful information for myself and others here, stay tuned it will be amazing…..a daily journey with a close look at my incremental actions resulting in fulfillment of my bigger goals and dreams. This is what I teach and this is what I practice. So looking forward to viewing this site a year from now to analyze and re-examine the path, the journey that led me into the future allowing me to accomplish some goals and move closer to others. Glad not only to have this space for myself but for others to explore as well. There is a feeling of both intimidation and inspiration when your inner life is exposed to others. Along with that exposure is a positive pressure to be accountable, to perform and to grow that is difficult to achieve when you are on your own working with and for yourself. My goal is to allow myself to grow under the watchful, critical and demanding eyes of others to “practice what I preach” to feel a part of a collaborative ensemble of others even when I am working on my own strengths and weaknesses failing miserably at times and succeeding wildly at others. Thanks for stopping by and being part of this year long experiment. I welcome your feedback, inspiration, criticism and collaboration however it comes to me.
Consequences are often viewed in a negative light. Currency in the world of childhood and misbehavior “There will be consequences!!” Truthfully however consequences are merely a result or effect of an action or condition. If I touch a hot stove the consequence is a blistered digit. If I follow through on a thought or idea the consequence is completion. If I play the consequence is happiness because play is defined as an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. If I work the consequence is a result of physical and mental effort that delivers income or a practical useful end. How do you merge the two obtaining the results of work from the joy of play? That is the answer every Actor seeks.
When does the struggle end and where is the “prize”? Just as Kevin Spacey says in the attached video the “prize” is inside. The process and journey as you move toward your own unique success will be the reward. Sounds great but what does it actually mean? If the consequences of your conditions or actions RIGHT NOW serve as tools and inspiration to fuel the journey toward Artistic and Economic fulfillment then you are on the right track. Each action you take in the present moment is an investment toward your future success as a result of these actions your condition will change and evolve bringing you closer to your ultimate goal. Right now you may feel a lack, living in oblivion unknown and undiscovered in a profession where fame and notoriety defines success. Use this time to create a foundation, a platform for success build your skills, your brand, your point of view and your purpose.
Work diligently to create relationships that will encourage and nurture your artistic, spiritual and creative growth. Prepare yourself for that moment (or series of moments) where the oblivion you blissfully worked in itself falls away and the spotlight you dreamed about and aspired to shines on you. Only then will you truly appreciate the anonymity and purity of the solitary struggle. If you spend your time conscientiously preparing yourself then when the fame and fortune you seek finds you, you will be prepared to embrace it, enjoy it and live fully in it. Until then enjoy the journey you are on and make sure to explore and enjoy all of the rewards that the process has for you.
When did life become so complicated and serious? I remember those early days of school plays where we got to put on costumes, play characters and get the adults to laugh, cry and clap at the end. We had power we had never felt before …the power to make the grown ups listen to us, to hear what we had to say and to change the way they think about the world. As I sit in my children’s elementary school theatre watching them on that stage laughing, crying and clapping for the stories they share I smile inside and out about the circle coming around.
Watching them “play” I realize that although I am in a position of wisdom and authority I still have much to learn from teachers of all ages. My children and my students teach me to embrace the joy of the journey, the delight in discovery and the importance of pure imagination. The worry, the frustration, the impatience, the feelings of inadequacy and all of the other forces that block the pure joy of creativity are like weeds in the creative Garden of Eden choking the life out of the simplicity of imagination and creativity. Experiencing the unfettered free form of children lost in their imaginary Magic and totally committed to living with their character and the circumstances that character is in inspires me to tap into the “play” part of Acting.
Time to get out of my head and into my heart……… living in the euphoria of nonsense, the bliss of ignorance and the ecstasy of silliness. The only harm that might befall me is that my stomach may hurt too much from laughing. These Friday blogs will be dedicated to the fun factor, the silly side the trouble free kid’s stuff that we locked away as adults. Time to find our six year old and let them out to play !!
If you are an Actor starting out or jump starting your career the Commercial World is a fantastic place to work your craft, earn enough money to “make a living” and learn valuable practical lessons that will shape and form your entire Acting career. The commercial world is really no different from the world of Film and TV as far as the basics are concerned. The same pre-production, production and post production work that goes into a theatrical project goes into a commercial. In fact if you extrapolated the budget for a national network spot or even a regional spot for a large company it compares to working on a huge Studio Film. Hundreds of Thousands and on occasion a Million or more dollars go into creating thirty to sixty seconds of story telling enticing you to become emotionally attached enough to the story about the product, service or cause to part with your hard earned money to buy, subscribe or support it.
More often than not unless you are a celebrity or the official spokesperson for the endorsed entity the Actors role is big in terms of storytelling but small in terms of budget and payment. The halcyon days of huge residual checks and home run commercials that set you up financially are over. Don’t get me wrong it is still possible to make a living as a commercial actor but the number of spots you shoot determined by the number of auditions you go on and the juggling act of not being over exposed make it exceedingly more difficult than it was in the past. The formula of cable, wild-spot and national runs is skewed in favor of the company, Ad-agency and Production entities rather than the Actor. Even though the talent payments comprise a small percentage of the overall budget they will still give it their best effort to pay you as little as possible, it just makes good business sense to do so.
There is the myth out there still hanging on from the days when companies shot one or two commercials a year and ran them hundreds of times on three networks that Actors are buying houses and fancy cars with their residual checks. The truth is even booking a few successful and popular commercials a year after taxes and commissions paid out it is still a struggle to pay the basic bills. Combining your commercial career with a few roles in films and an occasional Network Television appearance then you have a career you can hang your hat on and live a middle to upper middle class life. The truth is that a commercial career is a lynchpin in your total career as an Actor tough to stand on it alone but when combined with other Acting opportunities allowing you to work exclusively and full time as an Actor. If you aren’t firmly established as a commercial Actor then how do you “crack the code” and get in to audition consistently and work steadily. Come back here next Tuesday to find out how to get yourself into the game.
Why act? Why go through the tortuous trial of too little work, too little money, so much work just to get work, the roller coaster ups and downs of feast and famine with work, money and security? What motivates the need to tell the story in a public forum using your body as the instrument? It is a primal urge that began in the early developmental stages of human evolution and it is shared with other species. Using our bodies to communicate through movement, voice, energy and intuition is practiced by every human being in one way or another. We are all Actors in our lives with our families, friends, co-workers, strangers, pets and at times even ourselves. The unique skill that Actors posses is that they have the desire and capability to create and re-create mythological situations and stories as characters in a fictitious setting that, with the co-operation of the audience and their suspension of disbelief is (for the moment) real. Any person who has been “bitten by the Acting bug” understands the allure of being part of this ancient ritual of story telling in a public forum. Being on stage, in front of a camera creating the myth and telling the tale satisfies a primal urge for power and control. The power of being the focal point of the group, separation and isolation. But with that power comes vulnerability the possibility of death if the performance falls flat. Death in modern times is metaphorical but in the earliest years if you strayed from the group without success true death was a real possibility. There is an intrinsic and deep rooted reality linked to the feeling created by the phrase “all eyes on you”. While most people do their best to avoid that spotlight (wedding toasts and eulogies excepted) Actors crave the moment to weave the tale to audiences far and wide. Through plays, movies, television and all types of emerging media the mythological and documentary stories that are told by Actors shape and change the society we live in and the world view that exists. Whether by direct communication, metaphorical conveyance or predicted paradigm Actors have served as the soothsayers of society since the first communication occurred.
Acting is big business. The story tellers that attract the most eyeballs (which are attached to and willing to part with their money) are rewarded in turn with money, recognition and power. Most Actors seek this elevation very few however climb to the top of the mountain. It is easier than ever to see the lop-sided equation that makes up the community of Actors. A study of ImdbPro will show you in no uncertain terms the reality of reaching the ranks of royalty as an Actor. The handful of top tier “name Actors”, the few hundred that support the truly elite some of which will move up as the one percenters move down or die and others that will forever be the “B” listers, the thousands who occasionally get to participate as day players, co-stars, one day guest stars, the tens of thousands who work as atmosphere crossing around the principle players or muttering “peas and carrots” while pretending to sip a drink, the hundreds of thousands just starting, patiently working on their craft or allowing blocks and distractions in their life to keep them from moving forward in their careers. The same paradigm exists although in smaller numbers in the world of live theatre. In fact there are quite a few sub sets in the Acting world Stunt-players, Voice-over, Commercial, TV, Film, Puppeteers and on and on. Each subset has it’s own pecking order and degrees of success.
While the goal of superstardom is somewhere in the consciousness of every Actor, you are just as likely to reach it as scratching off a million dollar lottery ticket. What does Superstardom represent? As a true Superstar you will be universally recognized a “household” name, choose the projects you want to work on and make more money than you ever imagined. Although the result of “universal Superstardom” is far reaching and next to impossible, degrees of superstardom are within your reach. How are you extraordinary and exceptional right now? Who are you surrounding yourself with? What steps are you taking to become the best that you can possibly be where you are at right now while preparing to move yourself to the next level? Are you building the best foundation for yourself to support the growth for your future? While planning for the future is important the present is what you have. The exciting aspect of living in these technologically advanced times is that you are in more control of creating content and telling stories in a universal platform than ever before. This is a blessing and a curse. The blessing…. you have the capability of creating right now. The curse….you need your content to be exceptional. Find exceptional, talented and capable people to work with and create. Become a superstar in the group you choose to work with and watch it ripple out into the world, attracting more and more people who want to work with you. Enjoy the journey.