Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Welcome BACK, Mexico

It's been since JANUARY of LAST YEAR that I've mentioned you visiting, so I apologize for NEVER HAVING WELCOMED YOU.

Lo siento mucho. Perdoneme. Bienvenidos.


ideas are brewin'

and I don't want to leave y'all hangin', but now that my schedule is a little more regular AND I'm in training, I have to be sure to get all my homework done before I come back to the blog.

Probably Thursday or Friday of this week, I'll have plenty to say. Please be sure to check back!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oh. Em. Gee.

***** This post was written on Friday, but it didn't get published until Saturday due to "reasons". *****

They say that, if you're going to do background work, the real money's in commercials. They say, "just do commercials, and you'll get upgraded to a principal contract most of the time". They don't say how to break in to that portion of the industry, any more than they'll tell you how to break in to any lucrative industry. I've gotten some training and plenty of positive feedback and cut a demo reel for voice acting work, but I still don't quite know how to break in to that portion of my industry either. Needless to say, I don't make much money in commercials or voice acting. Whatevs.

Yesterday, I was on set for a television show that's set in the 1960's. I got there early, with my hair in rollers, and discovered that there was no hot breakfast waiting, nor would there be a hot lunch in six hours, and I'd be lucky if I didn't have to buy my first cuppa coffee. Had I known that I needed to eat a bowl of cereal and prep my cuppa at 6 o'clock yesterday morning, I'd have done those things. Instead, by the time I made it in, I was starving and sleepy, and by the time I got my cuppa, I had to throw my ass in the hair and makeup chairs to get beautified. Some hot breakfast did arrive, but since it was from Craft Services rather than Catering, there wasn't going to be anything I wanted still hot by the time I had access to it. No worries; live and learn. Find some protein and move on. #FirstWorldProblems are not actually "problems". I'm blessed.

There were twelve of us booked as a specific group, and early in the day, we were informed that we'd be chanting, in unison, some scripted lines. We'd not been given the script ahead of time; most of us do consider ourselves actual actors, but we weren't being paid to speak something we'd have to learn, and the question arose whether what they were asking of us fell under the guidelines of our "background" contract.

We had discussions with our PA about the best way to provide the production with what they needed without screwing ourselves. The PA had discussions with higher-ups. They came back with solutions that we were all willing to follow-through on, but we still had questions about our contracts. So we made a few phone calls to the union. A union rep just happened to show up to set in time to hear us doing the bit, and during our "walk-away" lunch, he got the scoop from the folks he was representing the union on behalf of: us, the background actors. (I know, it sounds like that should have been a "we" but I'm pretty certain that the background actors are the object rather than the subject of this sentence, so I'm going with "us".) An email or two were exchanged. We, the background actors, continued to provide the production with what they'd requested, and we hoped for a positive, equitable outcome. The final phone call with the union indicated that we, the BG actors, would need to inform production that they'd breached our contracts or file a claim with the union after we'd received our payments, and wait potentially two years while it all got sorted. More emails were exchanged with the site rep. By the time we wrapped for the day, the site rep reappeared and asked US, the background actors, whether we would allow him to take up our case with production. This meant none of us had to risk being classified as a "ringleader" or rock the boat, as it were. We gladly accepted his offer.

We wrapped out for the day having no idea what would come of it. It was great to be on set, as always. It was frustrating to think that a big-budget production would try to cut corners by going a certain route, or even change the route to get into what could possibly be considered "gray areas". We had an advocate, but we had no idea how effective he might be. It made the whole experience less than what any of us had expected, going in. Still, I decided to just leave it be. I'd done what I could to get an answer, and there wasn't anything left for me to deal with. Worst-case scenario? I'd be paid for my background work, and the union would inform me that the speaking bit did in fact fall under "Omni" guidelines. No harm, no foul.

*****

At 9:12 this morning, I received a call from the production. I was expecting an email from the union site rep by Tuesday, not a phone call from production TODAY. So at 2:30, I grabbed Stephen from his walk home from work, and the two of us headed back over the hill. At the end of the next set of errands, we stayed on that side of the world to dine with friends we'd not seen in awhile. A lovely end to a day that hadn't really started out particularly "productive" or special.

Here's what "going with the flow" and "allowing" and "due diligence" got me: an upgrade from background to principal contract, with a much fatter "mailbox money" paycheck when it arrives (posted by Thursday of next week, according to union guidelines, I think), and the potential for residuals on down the road.

I. Am. Blessed.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Regarding that new Barbara Stanwyck biopic

... when they settle on a script and start the casting process, you know who to send 'em to:

I'll play her from any over-20 age up to her death in 1990. Just gotta be sure to bring along the fabulous hair-and-makeup ladies who did me up today!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday is for Wardrobin' (and other tasks)

I'm booked tomorrow on a "period piece" so I had a fitting today. I was the first fitting of the day, and the wardrobe lady was as nice as she could possibly be, and because I brought great energy to her, she thanked me for starting her day off right. We talked about doing what we love, and being smart about it, and being grateful for all of the opportunities. It was a great fitting.

The main reason I hadn't been putting myself "out there" for "period work" is my hair. I haven't been maintaining my color of late, and the last time I cut it, I just took the razor to it with the 1" guard, so it's still pretty short, although "even"... and I just wasn't sure if I could even GET rollers in it.

But yesterday there was a notification that they were looking for my "type" for a fitting today and work tomorrow. I start my new job at Warner Brothers next week, and in the meantime, I need to just keep working anywhere I can pick up a gig. So I called to submit for the period piece.

It only took thirty* phone calls to get through, and after a brief discussion regarding the length of my hair, I got booked! So this morning, I went to my fitting, and when the hair lady saw me (after the wardrobe chick was finished), she took a couple pictures of my head to shoot over to the guy on set, saying that she'd be recommending that they set a wig for me. She was unhappy with my roots, more than anything. But we also talked about the possibility of me setting it in rollers, and she gave me a few youtube links to watch, but really, my primary concern was not burning my fingers trying to wrap this short length around an iron or hot rollers, which is how I always did it back in the day on Mad Men.

So I left there and headed to Target, to see if there would be an instrument that was a small enough diameter for me to get the job done. Came home with a full set of velcro-type rollers, did what I could to set it, and then proceeded to launder our normal wardrobe while my hair set.
"Before"



I think the hair people should at least be happy that I'll arrive in rollers, and that the big hair shown below is what they'll likely have to work with (at least to start). And my call time's not until 9:00 a.m., which means I don't have to get up at Dawn's Tramp Stamp just to set my hair! Win-Win!



Once all the laundry was mostly complete, I took the rollers out. Stephen got home and gave me a funny look, because he hasn't seen big-haired me in quite some time (like, since before we got married).

Now, we've just got to figure out some dinner, and our Wardrobin' (and other) Wednesday will be complete!




"After"
*If thirty calls to book work seems excessive to you, let me make you aware of a sad truth about our industry: since having gotten our new phones and our "unlimited" plans on SATURDAY (of last week), I have made 107 phone calls to one casting director before reaching the "thanks for calling, but I'm fully booked" message, and then 221 to another before being turned down, and then got through on the first try to a third CD before being rejected. There is a lot of rejection in this industry. Most of the BG actors I meet in holding on set are spending all of their free time calling the lines and calling the CDs. It's not uncommon for an individual to call ONE casting director 500 times before finally getting through. If you want to do what I do, you gotta have a thick skin and be tenacious. Without an unlimited calling plan, it is impossible, and it's probably the main reason I wasn't booking as much as I would have hoped to, back when my minutes were limited and I was resting on my laurels, as it were, knowing that I'd book the work based on my past relationships with those casting directors. It certainly ain't all glamourous fun and games! But I do love it, and I am so grateful for the new job and all of these day-player gigs.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

working in film & television

Today, Mad Men airs its series finale. I had the privilege of working in the background of this show during the first three seasons. I'm everywhere, if you happen to watch the show... as long as "everywhere" really only covers the Sterling Cooper ad agency. I'm the secretary who looks like Marilyn Monroe (well, ya know, if a secretary could look like Marilyn). I took on the responsibility of teaching the other gals how to embody a 1960's secretary "vibe" - how to sit, walk, file, smoke, and answer the phone with the sole intent of landing a husband. Type? Fugeddaboudit.

Here's an album of behind-the-scenes pics I posted on Facebook today, to mark the finale. The only reason I'm blogging about this "momentous" occasion is that I've realized that my career in Los Angeles has been lovely and lucrative and educational and fun and varied, and over the course of the last dozen years or so, I've only had two "big" gigs. One of the two was Mad Men. I worked, on average, three long (14-hours, typically) days per week, for three or four months, at union background wages, with smoke bumps and meal penalties and overtime. Mad Men was a good gig while it lasted, and those of us who worked those first three seasons are incredibly grateful and blessed!

The other "big" gig I've had was behind the camera, as a Script Supervisor. The first season of East Los High shot during the summer before we left California for our North Carolina "hiatus/reboot". And I just happen to be wearing my "parting gift" today, of all days!
I LOVE working in the film industry. In single-digit days, I begin training as a Studio Tour Guide at Warner Brothers. It won't be a production job, but it's still in the film industry, and I'll get to act again, with scripted lines! It's gonna be fun!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Friday Fictioneers, busted.

This was this week's pic. I didn't make time to write a 100-word fiction to go with (altho a little story did gel somewhat in my brainpan, it never made it here).

Snotty Saturday

So, I woke up at 7 this morning to a hang-up call, after not getting to bed until almost 1. I've been having congestion issues of late, but usually, once I get up and eat something, I'm okay. Not today.
Two-And-One-Half Hours Later, and the dripping Just. Won't. Stop.
Seriously? The webcam worked? I've been blogging for a year and a half, now... and I've TRIED so many times to Vlog... ¡IncreĆ­ble!
banana... cuz I'm a hungry Minion... juice & generic claritin so MAYBE I can breathe soon?
See, I've just figured out what the problem's been... I didn't do the juice, claritin, and banana at SEVEN when I first dragged my ass outta bed! Stoopid.

So now I've figured out the secret to posting these videos (as long as they actually post): Record and Select. Do NOT try to "preview" what's being posted, or you'll "lose the network connection" and no matter how brilliant you just were, no one in "the world" will ever see it (including "you", the person who recorded your own brilliance)!

Gonna do some stuff now. We'll be switching our cellular phone carrier later today, more than likely, and there are a few steps to be taken prior to that event.

UPDATE: The videos don't play on MY computer when I look at the posted blog, but right now as I'm updating, the second one seems to be playing a Vine version of me, here in the "write" screen. Never seen that before. I don't know what the issue is; whether I'm supposed to upload to YouTube first, or what. Since it suggests that I record it here in Blogger via my webcam, I assume that it should just work. Am I wrong in thinking that?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

on set again today

and on hold for Friday, and am probably doing some personal assisting tomorrow.
In "holding" ... I'm a NURSE again! In Purple scrubs today, Yee Ha!
For obvious reasons, I can't tell you what the show is, ever, until after it has aired. And when I "day play" like I do so much lately, especially as a NURSE, I'm not likely to remember what the show was by the time it airs. Not that I ever get to work on shows that I watch anyway, so even if I wanted to look for myself on a show, I'm not really going out of my way to find a particular episode to put in my DVR.

Did that make sense? There's a newbie here, and his constant dialogue about this show or that one that he's worked is a bit distracting. He's talking to veterans of this biz as if he's got something new to contribute to the conversation, and it's starting to get on my nerves.

Not that I hold anything against newbies. I was a newbie once. We've all been so green we were an insult to the color green. But this dude seems to think that his 7 month tenure makes him educated about the system and the industry enough to talk about them, or that any of the rest of us have any interest. Go back to Craft Services, little man. Go 'way, kid... ya bother me.

Can we please just go to set already, so I can act like a nurse already? Please?


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

work, work, work...

I'm working tomorrow! YAY!

This is a really strange economy we're in at present. Stephen's been applying for this, that, and the other job ever since we got back, and when the pet supply store hired him on part-time hours, he continued looking for something full-time. He's had a handful of interviews, some in person and some over the phone, and they've mostly been pretty discouraging, because he keeps feeling baited-and-switched ("full-time" postings that turn out to be strictly part-time). I've had to encourage him to keep applying, and keep following up when possible, because in this economy the old rule "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" really seems to be highly in play.

Today he went in to work early, which meant he got home from work pretty early, which allowed him to go apply in person at a restaurant that will be opening in the next few weeks. It looks like a "burger and dog" joint, but at the interview, he actually had to take a "fine dining" test, as well as interviewing with one of the managers. So who knows? He left that one in much better spirits than others of late, and he walked around our old neighborhood to see if we maybe need to move out in that direction, once our current lease is up and/or when his mother starts her process of relocating from South Carolina.

Meanwhile, my industry keeps posting gigs for me to apply to (or not, because I definitely don't "fit" what they're looking for). And between the service that books me and my personal submissions, we're finding that I'm actually getting to work twice a week or more, doing what I love and being paid nicely for it.

Yesterday, I was a nurse. Tomorrow, I'll be a nurse. On Thursday, if I'm not booked on set, I'll be back at the personal assisting gig. And one of these days (sooner rather than later, I'm really hoping), I'll get an email or phone call from Warner Brothers asking me to begin my training as a Tour Guide. Work, work, work... YEAH, BABY!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Musings

Last week was busy. On Monday, we both went over to Universal Studios Theme Park for the “Speed Dating Interview” to be Tour Guides. No idea what exactly they were seeking in their new employee pool, but neither of us was it.

Tuesday, I was booked as a nurse on one of those new (?) cancer-themed hour-long dramas. It was an easy day, and I networked with some of the crew, to see if I couldn’t get asked back as either a background nurse or as a Production Assistant. It’s not a short distance from home, but it’s an easy drive for a decent paycheck.

On Wednesday, I sat in Craig Ferguson’s audience and then went to the Warner Brothers Studio Lot to take the “VIP” tour. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny, both from the POV of a tourist and that of someone doing “research”.

Thursday night, I was booked as a “government employee” pedestrian on another hour-long drama, on the backlot at Warner Brothers. During my tour the day before, we’d seen members of the crew dressing the set, and we weren’t allowed to get close (can’t interrupt actual work going on).

Friday morning, I was back on the WB Studio Lot, interviewing and auditioning for the temporary/seasonal job of TOUR GUIDE. It was scary and nerve-wracking and fun, and according to my friend who was also there, I pretty much aced it. After lunch, I was called into a room where I completed my “background check” forms; barring some unexpected glitch in that system, I should receive an offer of employment within the next two weeks! My friend only had a one- or two-minute interview before she was sent into the “background check” room – so I gave her a ride home, and in the next couple of weeks, we’ll likely be doing a carpool thing for our training! Woot!

Had a couple of free movie passes (that had lived in Stephen’s wallet for the last three years, since they were for a specific theater chain which didn’t exist near us in North Carolina). On Saturday, we walked over to the mall and saw “Cinderella” – the passes were still good (the bar codes were still legible) – YAY!

  • Our review: very nice take on the story that we all know. Hadn’t seen many trailers beforehand or had any knowledge of the cast beyond Cinderella herself, so we were quite frequently pleasantly surprised by the appearance of this actor or that one in particular roles. Beautifully done. We’ll likely own the Blu-Ray when it comes out, because I imagine there will be plenty of special features on it, and I’m willing to watch the flick numerous times.


Yesterday, I went downtown to “set-sit” at a soundstage that belongs to some friends of mine, while a small electronic-strings instrumental girl band was shooting their music video. Easy gig that I will feel badly about invoicing my friends for, if they ask. I did nothing related to the shoot or the soundstage while I was there. The production was pretty self-sufficient, and they even fed me a huge burger, just because I was there! I’d always thought being a background actor was the easiest job in this industry, but I guess there’s one job that’s easier: liaison for a small production to the location owner, as long as you’re not actually expected to know or do anything. Caught up on my internets. J

Got back in last night to watch Reese Witherspoon guest-host Saturday Night Live. The new cast (or possibly the new writers, if they are not one and the same) are abysmal. No wonder we don't watch anymore. After that wasted hour, we started Call the Midwife. That one's going to help us recover when we lose Downton Abbey.

TODAY, I’m on set as a nurse again. Same hour-long drama as last week. Got recalled! Shazam! Have spoken with the PA who checked us in and out, and he’s planning on leaving after today! The rest of the industry is officially on “hiatus” but this show is only halfway through its season, which means… they just might need another PA. Which means, I could possibly pick up an occasional day here, at least until I know what the schedule at Warner Brothers will look like.

This was an official “short” day on set, and I’m already home. Since the weather has warmed again, I’m going to hit the pool now, and then check my internets once I’m back upstairs.

In other “news”, we’re getting ready to dump Verizon for a MetroPCS plan that’s half the price. If you live in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles, what has been your experience with dropping “the best” wireless coverage (with rapidly declining customer service) for a smaller, cheaper company? We have until Saturday to make a decision.


What do I get to do tomorrow? And what have you been up to all week?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Fictioneers

I'm trying something new this week. Maybe I'll do it on a regular basis (maybe not). 100 word fiction, based on the photo prompt - I'd like to thank Kimberly Lynne for introducing me to this linkup, offer thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting, as well as thank you for stopping by. My entry is 99 words! Woo Hoo!

Drought


I remember. Sometimes it would run blistering hot, but usually it was ice cold (or pretty close).

Little fingers and a high-pitched voice, calling up, "it's 'lefty-loosey, righty-tighty', right, Daddy?" "That's right, Princess. Do you want me to help you turn it left?" Thick fingers would send forth the water, and that little mouth would be all over me, and there'd be a surge of giggles when her dress got all wet. Then that strong grip would slow it to barely a drip. The voices would fade, and I'd be left with nothing.

I miss water. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Today

I watched a coupla cool celebrities help a few handfuls of contestants try to win $20,000 on a fun game show. I laughed, I danced, I clapped, I walked away with some cash in hand. Good times!

Then I went to Warner Brothers to take their VIP Studio Tour. If you ever find yourself in a touristy position here in Hollyweird, I highly recommend it. And I'm not just saying that because I hope to become a VIP Studio Tour Guide on Friday. I'm saying that because... it's a great touristy thing to do that doesn't involve huge groups of other touristy folks standing in lines for amusement park rides or other attractions like that. Each tour is limited to twelve people, and of those twelve, you might actually know one or two (if you book the tour together, of course)! I was one of only eight, and my guide and myself were the only "locals" - the others were all from countries across the pond, like Romania, Germany, and Italy! Coolness!

It was really a great tour, and I learned a lot, and I feel much better about Friday.

Got home to a lovely meal prepared by Stephen... came online and got BOOKED for tomorrow! I do have some time for personal assistance, but that particular boss-lady doesn't want me to have to rush out, so she's got me postponed until next week.

So again... GREAT GOINGS-ON THIS WEEK! W00T!

Yesterday

all my troubles seemed... no, that's not it.

YESTERDAY, I had a day, and I was going to blog last night, but I got in from my day, and after catching up on all the internets I missed, and filling Stephen in on my day, I neglected to tell YOU.

Yesterday morning, I watched a man on a motorcycle pull over a white cargo van. The man was dressed like a security guard more than like a cop (I'm not sure exactly what the LAPD uniform looks like in comparison to what this man was wearing), although he did have on his utility belt ALL of the accoutrement one would expect of a police officer. His BIKE, although labeled "POLICE" on the gas tank and outfitted with flashing red and blue lights, looked like a barely-street-legal dirt bike. There was no license plate, and it was definitely not the standard-issue BMW bikes that I've seen "normal looking" LAPD motorcycle cops riding. Something was "off". But did I stop, too? No freakin' way.

Then I did a teensy bit of grocery shopping and went through my old neighborhood. The connection between the (highway) 170 onto the (I-)5 now has a designated carpool lane all the way! That didn't used to be there, and it pleased me immensely. Not that I'm likely to get much use out of it - I know it will help with that merging congestion during rush hour.

Got to set early-ish. Got directed to "holding" but did not get checked in until my call time at 12:30. Went back to holding with my new friends, who'd all been waiting outside in the breeze. Turned on the laptop and attempted multiple times to connect to the internets. No dice, so I spent my considerable downtime playing Minesweeper and Solitaire. Broke for lunch. Had a great meal, and recognized the 1st AD from two previous gigs I'd worked with him in the past. Struggled to remember his name... eventually got it (it's LANGSTON, not Langdon or Landon or anything remotely easy like Leonard), and had a brief conversation with him as he was heading back to set. He vaguely remembered me, by association with the instances we spoke of. The rest of us went back to set and waited to be of use.

Eventually worked a bit, and then we all went back to our cold, dark holding area to wait to be used again or wrapped. Paid for eight hours but didn't work that long, and didn't have to fight rush hour traffic to get home. Before I left, gave my contact info to the PA who checked us in and out, in case they'd like to recall me for any gig (remember, I'll do PA work, and this was an excellent crew, so I made that fact known) - networking, Baby!

Did not get submitted for any work today. Did not get a callback to audition today for the Universal Studios Tour Guide gig (that Stephen and I both attended the initial "Speed-Dating Interview" for on Monday). Did not have time in my internets-checking to remember to submit for rush calls. Oh, well.

I'm going to go sit in an audience and laugh, clap, cheer, and dance as soon as I walk away from this post. And then I'm going to take a Warner Brothers Studio Tour so I can have an idea of what that gig is about before my all-day interview/audition on Friday. Maybe I'll book some real work for tomorrow, while I'm doing other things today. Or maybe I'll just go do some personal assistance, as that's what's currently on my docket (for tomorrow). No matter. This week's a full one!

And it really all started with the day before Yesterday...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Welcome, Sri Lanka!

I don't even know where you are on my map, but if you came back and visit me like crazy, maybe I'll see a dark green spot on the map so I can find you. Thanks for stopping by; I'll have a longer, more "me" post at the end of the day today. Until then, won't you peruse the archives?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

For Grown-Up Girls Who Can't Remember

I'm not really a "reader". You know this, I've said so before, and I'll likely say it again. But in one of the blogs that I read, I saw a link that was reviewing books, and even though THIS book is not the one the link was linked for, I don't think, I did see the review and the title stuck in my mind. Then I went on with my life, not intending to BUY a book to READ.

Fast-forward a few weeks. I did some bookkeeping for the friend I do that for these days, and while I was making a few copies of some bill or other, I discovered
THIS
 in a stack on the table. I carried it back upstairs with the pages I'd copied, and asked my friend if it were HER book (as in, not belonging to someone else). It was brand new; the cover was pristine. She answered in the affirmative, telling me that her friend had written it. She seemed pleased when I asked to borrow it, and replied again in the affirmative. We'd already made arrangements for me to not return to her bills for a month, so I knew I'd have time for the non-reader that I am to actually read it.

*****

OMG, y'all. My sister, the InnerHippie, had posted on her Facebook wall some meme about crying when a fictional character gets killed, and I was only able to "relate" in that I cry at movies, over the deaths or heartaches or whatever of the fictional characters onscreen (since I don't read). THIS BOOK made me cry. Not that anyone dies or anything. It IS a work of fiction, I think. It reads perfectly autobiographically, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. When I have, in the past, found time or inspiration to read published works, I tend to head to the autobiographies at the library. It doesn't matter who the author is; I want the voice of the person relaying the stories to be the voice of the person who experienced them in the first place.

Anyway. "Chasing the Beatles" made me laugh and cry. I am not a "girl who remembers" chasing the Beatles - I'm not old enough to be. But I did relate to the girls in their quest, and when one of them gets her heart broken in the third act, I cried and cried and cried.

If you're at all inclined to read a fiction piece that reads like an autobiography, or
If you ever liked the Beatles, or
If you were a hippie kid during the first British invasion, or
If you need to write off another short novel as "research", or
If you appreciate my reviews of anything and therefore trust my judgement,

Then you should somehow acquire a copy of this book and read it! I don't see them turning it into a film. 'K? Go out now and DO IT (or order it online, so you can be expecting a great piece of mail)!