3.29.2008

2-for-1

It's been a busy 24 hours! Last evening, after a nearly-two-hour MBTA ride to a town only 6 miles away (thanks MBTA!), I met the Fate Scores ensemble for a rehearsal of the short film score fALATIMI. I was a bit hesitant because, despite my practice, I was concerned about my part. Especially mm. 18. (Damn measure 18!) However, after meeting everyone, I was pleased to find out they, too, were concerned with aspects of their parts. With that sense of communal relief, we got down to business.

Fumito (Marimba), Christian (Piano, Composer), Me, Hannah (Violin)

Count, ladies!

Rehearsal was efficient and we wrapped in good time. There are assorted other smaller rehearsals between now and the recording session. However, I am confident I can solve my musical challenges before the session. Oh, recognize that outfit? Yep. I was dressed for Surrogates callbacks.

This morning, I joined Albert for an early morning road trip to another audition for industrial video work. These particular videos will be part of an educational video system for science training, which is right up my alley. We used Hugh to guide us to the audition location. Hugh has some strange quirks. For example, directing the vehicle off the freeway, only to direct the vehicle back on the freeway immediately, and doing so for multiple consecutive exits. Odd. Anyway, we arrived at the location in time, but the location was closed. I watched as Albert (whose audition was first) trekked around the building knocking on doors and peeking in windows. We had to whip out the computer to make sure we were in the right place.

Wait...where are we?!

Well, we'd just arrived first. The client arrived soon thereafter and we went in. We each auditioned on the same copy with props conveniently available for use. The studio was cold. Hopefully I didn't appear cold on camera. The teleprompter had some funny quirks: too slow, then too fast. But, it's all part of the game, right? I just play along.

3.27.2008

Unorthodox Practices

Yesterday was a day of unorthodox practices. Remember that Surrogates audition I had a hankerin' for? Well, I got one--sort of. After some emailing with individuals with connections, I learned that auditions were taking place yesterday afternoon. I really wanted to audition, but I hadn't exactly been invited. But, I did get permission to crash the auditions. So, that's exactly what I did.

After much frantic reading of sides (entirely too many, if you ask me) and the printing of resumes and the applying of make-up and the ironing of clothes and the pinning up of hair, I hopped in a cab and was off. I arrived to find an eclectic potpourri of individuals in the waiting area: two students; three models; a man in a business suit; a really buff exercise instructor; a bike messenger; and a small gang of decorated guys from Southie. And then there was me.

Now, it should be noted that one can crash auditions, and one can do so without asking permission. However, since I still wanted to remain in the good graces of this particular CD and the CD's team, I opted to play it safe.

They were running behind. That happens. I was cool. I ended up reading for the part of the "Female Lawyer", which is the role I felt I fit best and the role I wanted to read. (Never for a minute did I believe I would be considered for the part of "Busty Assistant", so I didn't bother preparing that.) This is the lawyer look I hastily assembled:

Oops. That was the first shot. Makes my hip and butt look really big.
This is the litigator look:

Not perfect, I know. But, I thought it captured the austere nature of the surrogate counselor on her mean mission.

Once that was over, I ran home to prepare for another audition. You see, at Noon yesterday I received an email from another CD--this one in Rhode Island--who wanted me to come audition for a part in the upcoming flick Tell Tale. The caveat? I had to go to Rhode Island. Yesterday. Before 5 PM. Since I'd already worked it out to crash the Surrogates audition, I couldn't exactly be in both places simultaneously. I inquired if I could record the side and send it in. The CD wrote back, "why not?". So, that's exactly what I did.

There was more reading, more ironing (yes, much of my wardrobe is wrinkled, but only at-home wrinkled) and, of course, the setting up of the camera. This role is for a museum docent. There was one paragraph to prepare (with some tongue-twisting words) and a few short lines. My friend Albert agreed to stop by and be my reader. (He played a 10-year-old.) Four takes and one mistake later, I was done. The docent look:

Yes. I wore a name tag. Docents have name tags, right?

How did I do? I don't know. I got the video footage sent for the Tell Tale audition and I think the takes I sent (not all four) are good. It's a one-shot audition, with no callbacks. The audition for The Surrogates I am uncertain about. They were running late and feeling harried. I sensed that, but hopefully I didn't appear too flustered. They gave me two takes, which is better than one. The callbacks should be later this week. My fingers are crossed!

3.25.2008

I've got a hankerin'...

...for an audition! Yep. No big surprise there. The Surrogates has held some recent principals auditions and there may be more to come. I have it on the d-l that there are several roles that still need to be cast. I've hinted around with my connections that I'm interested and I'd love to be considered for any part, really, but I've been informed that there are currently no new auditions yet confirmed. There is an open casting call this coming weekend but the description of what is sought could be a bit discouraging.

They're really looking for non-human humanoids "who are distinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans primarily by their physical perfection." Well, I'm not perfect. I know that. I've also heard it tossed about that they'd like "Calvin Klein-esque" physiques. I haven't got that either. I'm cute and petite but not Amazonian in height, and I don't look like a walking stick. The posting also states that "All Actors who wish to be considered for SURROGATE Roles should look their BEST. That means Men, clean shaven and Women having done their make up and hair to the very best of their ability, and dressed to impress! [sic]" This I can do.

I suppose if I'm not called in prior to the open call I'll go. It can't hurt, right? The graphic novel is quite good and I would be more than happy to be in a sci-fi flick. (I'm kind of nerdy that way.)

3.24.2008

fALATIMI

I've been hastily trying to learn some challenging music. It's not so difficult, but it is dissonant. The piece is fALATIMI, a single-
movement work composed by Christian Coleman as the score to short film Fate Scores (I was AD!). It's a silent short and, as such, it does need something to jazz it up a bit. So my good friend, Albert (the director), called on his good friend Christian to compose something appropriate. May I just say how nice it was for Christian to compose a part for voice and ask me to sing it!

The piece is written for soprano, violin, cello, marimba and piano, and is clearly designed to enhance what the viewer is watching on screen. We're slated to record on April 15 and the ensemble has two rehearsals scheduled before that. In a exciting twist, we may actually get to perform it at Longy School of Music on April 9, which means I need to get my act together more quickly. I'll be sure to give you all the details about this performance once they are confirmed.

In the meantime I will: practice, practice, practice, listen (to a MIDI production of the work), practice, practice, practice.

3.18.2008

Just call me Soccer Mom

Today I auditioned for a television public service announcement (PSA). I'm actually kind of perplexed by this label because the client appears to be loosely touting a health care-related product. So, while there seems to be sound advice dispensed in the spot, the message is being financed by an entity that provides health care products. But, whatever. I don't make the contracts nor the contract language. And I certainly don't claim to understand any of this, either.

So, last week, when I was asked to come in for this audition I was told, "Casual mom." Knowing the client's image and having seen other spots by this client, I figured I would go the soccer mom route. No, in fact, I am not a soccer mom. I'm not even a mom. And, I seem to only like soccer when I'm in other countries (read: football). Nevertheless, last evening I assembled my best soccer mom-ish outfit while dozing off. (Assembled it in my head, you see. I ironed out all the wrinkles--literally--this morning.)

I arrived early to the casting office--20 minutes before my scheduled audition time. If I were ever to profess a love for a casting agency, it would be for this one. The team is professional, efficient, friendly and relaxed. I have nearly no worries when they call me because they always give me the information I need without me having to ask. The sign-in sheet is always in an obvious location, along with the storyboard, copies of the script and any other paperwork that needs to be filled out. Plus, there are pens readily available. At other agencies, very rarely are there writing implements. It's hard to complete a size card without a writing implement, and I'm not about to fill one out in blood. Yes, I always have a pen on me. However, it is a thoughtful gesture for there to be a full jar of pens ready and waiting and begging to be used.

Anyway, I arrived early, signed in, reviewed the storyboard and took a copy of the script out in the hall with me. I feel less conspicuous pacing around muttering lines to myself when I'm in a public place. Am I less conspicuous? No. But that doesn't matter.

Quite soon thereafter I was called in to read. I sat on the chair provided, slated my name when instructed and commenced my read. I felt really "on" today. I haven't yet pinned down what it is that causes me to not be "on". Part of me thinks arriving early and, thereby, providing "too much" preparation time can prompt me to psych myself out. At any rate, after the first read I was instructed to read again in a "not so serious" way. "More friendly", I was told. So, I did. I was more perky, more personable, and I was sure to reference my invisible child, too. The whole audition was superfast; eleven minutes from the time I walked in the door until the time I left.

Truth be told, I didn't look like any of the other moms there. (This is a commonality among my auditions, not looking like the other people in the waiting area.) And, yes, the other women were all really moms. One of the casting associates was talking to various people, asking questions like, "So, Susan, how old is Brian? Seven now? Okay. Seven." And she would make notes on her pad. (Clearly, they are casting for a child, as well.) The other moms I saw had that very put-together "city mom" look--fitted jeans, a heeled shoe, a cute top, nicely coiffed hair. I can do the "city mom" look, but I had opted for soccer mom--flat shoe, casual pant, untucked top and a hoodie, hair clipped back in a seemingly haphazard way. Slightly frumpy, I guess. It's never my primary intention to stand out from the crowd, but it is what it is.

I don't feel I'll get this audition. To date, I've never been cast as a mom. Perhaps I don't have that "mom look" about me. This is not to say I don't feel good about my audition, for I do. I gave two good reads, and I was personable and prepared. This is all I can really do and be. The rest is up to serendipity.

Gap-esque Soccer Mom.


Slightly J.Crew Soccer Mom.


C'mon and take the picture Soccer Mom.

(Thanks for the pics, Diana!)

3.15.2008

Addendum

I totally forgot to tell you about the cab driver that drove me to the Adobe voice over gig! I only had $12 in my purse, so I walked up to the first cab at the stand, leaned in the window and inquired if he could get me to Soundtrack for only $12. He thought momentarily and then said, "Sure. Get in."

Once in the cab the driver said in accented English, "Do you see my turban? I am Indian."

"Mm-hmm. I see your turban."

"I am from Northern India. From Punjab."

"Oh yes," I remarked. "I like Northern Indian food. In fact, I just ate some yesterday." This was, in fact, true. I just didn't tell him it was Bengali and not Punjabi.

"Did you make at home?"

"No. I went out to lunch."

The driver then proceeded to soapbox me for four or five minutes about how homemade Indian food is always tastier, fresher and better for you when compared with restaurant-made Indian food. He also explained that his wife cooks from scratch for him daily. I listened politely. He completed that train of chatter before moving on to ask why I hadn't taken the T in lieu of a cab. I was incredulous that he would ask. After all, I had already committed outright to giving him $12. I explained that a cab is more efficient than the services provided by the MBTA. He appeared to nod in understanding.

He dropped me at my stop without further chat.

3.14.2008

Funny business

Yesterday I spent a little more time with the guys from the Barbarian Group recording voice over for an upcoming Adobe software campaign. We recorded at Soundtrack. With the guys and the engineer ready, and me set up in the booth, we got down to business. And what funny business it was.

This session contained some of the best copy I've ever had the opportunity to read. It was well written with a very clearly-defined character established. This wasn't your typical ad copy. I wasn't hard-selling a fruity floor cleaner. Rather, the copy was designed to create a first-person experience for the viewer that just happens to feature some cool software. The most unusual experience for me, I think, was looking out of the booth to find the guys cracking up during or after many takes. That doesn't happen often when recording voice over. Most of the time the client is hunched over the table, brow furrowed, pencil at the ready, making visibly perceptible mental notes about the next comment to be made once the take at hand is wrapped. Okay. Could you do it again, but this time say 'dermatologist' going down on the end, like you did on take 17? I must admit, there were two or three times when I lost it mid-take simply because I could see them laughing.

For some reason I had total Attack of the Crud mid-session. Big phlegm. Throat-clearing. I hardly ever have crud. Why yesterday? Who knows? Not enough water? Not enough sleep? They were cool about it though, which was kind. There were also a few more takes of "ambient" noise: coughing; muttering; laughing; mild cursing; sniffling; talking back to the computer. Don't be perplexed. When the spot is cut together, it will all make sense.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this project completed. When it's posted, I'll let you know.

3.11.2008

Schemin' and Dreamin'

So, as many of you read, I had requested a reimbursement from the MBTA for having to take a cab in lieu of the bus, for which very purpose I fork over a hefty monthly sum so I may have unlimited ride-age on a variety of transport. (I suppose that concept is applicable only when the vehicles show up. I digress.) Well, I actually received a rather timely email response today, which I find somewhat surprising. The majority of the text is below, strange symbols and all. It seems to be mostly a form response with some "personalization" for appeal's sake. Can you spot it?

Dear Ms. Batson:

Thank you for your e-mail. We appreciate hearing from you and we
sincerely apologize to you for the inconvenience you experienced due to
delays on bus route Xxxxx. .

The MBTA expects employees to run trips on time. There are
occasions, however, when unforeseeable delays may occur due to
construction, heavy traffic, accidents, adverse weather conditions, etc.
We make every effort to adjust service to minimize these delays. I
will have a chief Inspector up there Sunday to monitor this route so I
can forward something to our Service Planning Dept.

(If you experience a delay of 30 minutes or more, you are
entitled to a round trip refund. To request a refund, please submit an
“On Time Reply Form.” The forms are available online at
www.mbta.com. On the home page, click on “Contact Us,” then
scroll down to “On Time Reply Form.” Or, the forms are available on
all MBTA buses and at all MBTA subway collector booths. For more
information about refunds, or for the status of your refund, contact
Xxxxx Xxxxx at -----@mbta.com or 617-222-xxxx.

Also the 9am trip was disable. And you was correct
they do have radio on the buses.

Again, we extend our apologies. Thank you again for writing.

Xxxxx Xxxxx
Superintendent of Transportation

I'll be keeping an eye out for that "chief Inspector". And, indeed, I am still out the $7.00. Ellen was correct--the T is a few dollars in debt. Surely that's why they cannot reimburse me $7.00 for my inconvenience, but can still afford to pay Mr. Grabauskas his salary.

3.10.2008

Music and the MBTA

Yesterday morning, as part of a special Sunday service, I did some solo work on Chris DeBlasio's The Best Beloved with Old South Church (and some of you were there!). There had been a rehearsal Saturday morning for which we trekked through much rain so we could rehearse certain pieces with a string quintet, a horn, and an excellent harpist with a gorgeous instrument. All the instrumentalists are students at Harvard, I believe. The performances went well, with a variety of featured musicians and singers, and very interesting repertoire composed by three fascinating composers, all of whom died as a result of complications of the AIDS virus, including Kevin Oldham and Calvin Hampton.


Prior to the service, though, I spent quite a bit of energy unnecessarily, waiting for the bus. I live in a metropolitan area and I try to take advantage of the public transportation that is provided, as it is reasonably priced when compared with car ownership costs, it's better for the environment, and I don't have to worry about remembering where I last parked. These are a few reasons why I use a CharlieCard. One flat monthly fee and as many train/bus/ferry rides per month as I wish will get me just about anywhere I need to go. No, it's not as efficient or glamorous as the Tube or the Metro, but it works.

Typically, I get to the bus stop about 10 minutes before it is scheduled to arrive, to ensure I've provided an adequate window for not missing the bus. Well, this particular morning, in 20 degrees and a gusting wind I waited for 18 minutes. Somewhat fed up and freezing, I called the MBTA to find out where the bus might be. I spoke with "Karen" who told me that the bus "should be on time", and that it was "only 8 minutes late". (Only 8 minutes late? Why bother having a schedule?!) I asked her if she could contact the driver to find out where the bus was currently located. She told me "no such technology exists". I guess the MBTA has not been enlighted about the wonders of radio, nor the advent of cellular phone technology. I thanked her for her time and ended the call.

Where was the bus? Who knows! Perhaps it was one of those buses that had been arbitrarily cancelled despite the posted schedule. I didn't have time to wait around and find out. Instead, I hailed a taxicab with a very nice driver (he offered to drive me to NYC for a fare of coffee and a doughnut!) and forked over $7.00 for the ride. Later, I emailed the MBTA requesting a reimbursement be mailed to me in check form. I'll let you know how this scheme turns out.

3.07.2008

More Barbarianism!

Last month, I spent some time doing voice over for an upcoming Adobe campaign. It was a fun experience with some very creative copy for an inventive aspect of the campaign. I had hoped it would lead to more opportunities, and it has! They'd like me to come back and do more for this campaign. I am quite pleased to do so. :)

3.05.2008

Green, shiny, grungy and fun

This morning, I spent some time in a studio outside Boston shooting scenes for an industrial video. Upon arrival I went straight into makeup, quite literally. In a span of about 45 seconds, I walked in the door, said "Hi!", hung up my skillfully ironed outfits and sat down in the makeup chair to a super-nice artist. While seated, the client walked in, we made introductions, and she went to peruse my outfit options. After makeup, I went to the wardrobe room to find the client having selected my outfit (Not to be the final one, though. I changed three times.) and chatting with another actor who had just arrived--with a rather rumpled wardrobe. Hasty ironing was encouraged.

Once all talent was ready, we waited patiently while the set was dressed and the lights were set, and then we were underway. Shooting went quickly and efficiently, but wasn't too stressful or serious. (Always a plus.)

I have what I refer to as Shiny Face Syndrome (SFS). In many ways, this is good because my skin is always moisturized and I should have fewer wrinkles as I age. However, when on set, this is not so good. It can reflect light. It can make the shot look too "hot". It can mess with the white balance. Consequently, makeup is applied frequently.

Slightly blurry photo where makeup is being applied between takes.

Evidence of SFS the night before.

This also means that a post-shoot face washing can be simultaneously refreshing and grungy. (Refreshingly grungy? Grungily refreshing?)

Refreshing grunginess.

Did you notice that bright green wall in the back of that first photo? All the scenes today were shot against a "green screen". This way, a secondary image--presumably a background--can be inserted in post-production. We could end up on a beach, on the slope of a volcano, or in an office. (The latter is most likely, I think.) When doing green-screen work, no extraneous dangle-ly or floaty bits on the person are desired. So, my hair was quite plastered to my head to avoid frizzy little hairs sticking up, not unlike this.

Self-portrait of the actors where my little frizzy hairs are visible.
(Sorry, Mercedes.)

Today's shoot was productive, fun and informative, and I think conveyed the content of the scenes (i.e., how to interact in business settings.) Will this bring worldwide fame? I think not. I did meet interesting and entertaining people, though, and hopefully this experience will lead to other, even more beneficial opportunities.

3.04.2008

On a dark and stormy night...

What do I do on a dark and stormy night prior to a shoot? Iron, of course!

Well, at least for an industrial shoot I iron. In many cases, the client asks you to bring some wardrobe items that fit the "look" they seek. That way, they don't have to worry that much about finding clothing to fit you. So, I wanted to touch up the items I planned to bring so as not to be too wrinkled.

As you can see, I'm bringing a veritable of closet of items. No green, though! We were strictly instructed to not wear green as we'll be shooting against a green screen. No one wants to look like the weatherman with a high-pressure system moving in over his tie.

I'm also bringing along four pairs of shoes. I should probably bring five, but I'm limiting myself to four. They'll go with all the outfits I brought. (I think.) Whew! I think I'm done. Time to wash my face, review my lines and go to bed!

3.02.2008

Sprinkles on top

So, it seems my industrial video audition was a success. The company has asked me to come and shoot a few scenes this coming week. And, if it goes well, they could hire me for further work in coming months. Hooray! Time to learn lines and dialogue.

Also in the realm of good news, some astute Web hunting has turned up a Dairy Queen that may actually be open and serving Blizzards to order. Quite exciting! Should I choose Mint Oreo? Or perhaps M&M? Georgia Mud Fudge? Such decisions...