Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No longer an extra

Thanks to a friend who recommended me, I auditioned for and got a speaking role in a short, low budget SAG film. Which means union actors can be in it, but won't get paid unless the film makes money, and non-union actors like me can work with SAG actors. Basically the plot revolves around 18 actresses who interact with one of the main characters. His two friends comment on the action.

The holding area was at the house of the female lead, a few miles north of me. At first my call time was 7:00 AM, then fortunately got changed to noon.

I was to be the last one filmed. I spent an enjoyable afternoon talking with some of the other actresses and the hostess. As time went on and the other actresses completed their parts and left, it felt a bit like 10 Little Indians. Finally only the hostess and I remained.

My turn came. The crew was small but efficient, and the director knew exactly what he wanted. My off the cuff fast-talking skills had amused him and the main actor, so that's what I did...he'd suggested and I'd planned the subject matter but each take was improvised. After only a few takes for two short scenes, my part was, as they say, in the can.

The film will be entered in festivals and used on the director's reel to help him get larger projects. And when I get my copy, I can use it too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Princess Passion Fruit

Recently I invested in a professional microphone, studio headphones and some piece of equipment to make both work with my computer, in an effort to be more marketable for voiceover work. The time had come to record and submit auditions.

I responded to a post seeking a female to do animated bonus episodes for a website, promising I had my own setup to record. They asked if I could record a few lines of dialogue for Princess Passion Fruit.

Naturally, when I sat down to record into a free software program called Audacity and convert it to MP3 format, nothing worked. Couldn't hear myself in the mic. Nothing was recording. Aargh. I tried everything...replugging stuff, clicking on this and that. Finally I restarted my computer and, like magic, everything worked.

After sending in the recording, was informed I'd gotten the gig. One short online rehearsal via a fun, free Internet phone service called Skype, then on to recording the final version. The minute I started to record, the phone rang. And again. Believe it or not, the phone rang yet a third time. I could have turned off the ringer, but one of the calls was the director of a SAG independent telling met I'd gotten a speaking part! More on that later.

Have now submitted all the dialogue for two five minute episodes. Waiting to hear if it's approved....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Helping a Friend

Have you ever gone to an author booksigning?

On Saturday, I spent the day in Champaign, IL helping a friend at a booksigning on Homecoming day. She picked me up at 7:30, we drove 2+ hours, had a quick lunch and went to the bookstore. From before 12 to 5pm, we manned a table near the store entrance.

The book: HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, a young adult novel by Simone Elkeles about a girl who has to travel to Israel with her estranged father. 100 copies were stacked high, ready to sell.

The football game was being broadcast throughout the store. A few shoppers wandered in...some didn't even look our way. Simone bravely asked any girl who looked like she might be a teenager if she liked to read and adults if they knew any teenagers.

By 3:30, the game had ended and the store was packed. Simone's cousin bought a book. An author friend bought 6. A friend of mine bought 3, and a friend of his bought 1. The store kept 6 that she signed. That's 17 sold to people we knew.

She (we) sold 37 books in approximately 5 hours. That may not sound like a lot, but from what I've heard is great for a first time author. Many who didn't buy took bookmarks advertising this and her two upcoming novels.

Got home at around 9pm.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Stranger than Fiction

No, I'm not talking about my dating life today, it's a movie filmed in Chicago with lots of famous stars and Chicago actors in the cast.

Got to see the world premiere of STF at opening night of the Chicago International Film Festival. Stars Dustin Hoffman and Will Ferrell were there (complete with red carpet crowds and hoopla), and each spoke briefly.

Anyone interested in life choices, novel writing and love should enjoy this movie, one of the best I've seen in a long time. Both LOL funny and touching.

I spent 4 days working on this film...though for one I never went to the set. There is a scene with Dustin and Will in a college hallway, with me as a "professor" and another woman as a "student". We are the only two extras, and D & W walk right by us. But due to the tight shots, you can only see the side and back of my head for a second. Behind me at the movie sat a fellow extra, also a professor, who had even gotten a line. Can't see him at all. An acquaintance had several lines in a key scene, couldn't see him either.