Supervising the integration of all elements.

Directing is hard.

Throughout my career thus far, I have encountered (for the most part) really amazing directors.  In film, television, and theatre, I’ve been pretty lucky.  However, I’ve also learned the differences between a good director and a BAD director.

Good directors:

-make sure you know what the script is about

-ask you a lot of questions about your character

-let you find the character for yourself

-give you actions

-help you find your objectives in a scene

-trust you

-give honest feedback

 

BAD DIRECTORS:

-give line readings

-direct by result.  Example “Be more angry!” PET PEEVE PET PEEVE PET PEEVE

-say things like “Well, we don’t really need this scene I guess.”

-sugarcoat or, conversely, throw salt on wounds

-tell you your character is “just different from the other characters.”

So as some of you may know, I am co-directing an original work titled, “Blessed Event,” written by Jim Hetrick.  He is co-directing the show as well.  As a whole, I like to think with me focusing on emotional content and how to suck it out actors, and him focusing on the overall arc of the show, and characterization, that we can somehow direct it well.  Of course, it’s more than that, and certainly isn’t black and white.

Here's a picture of Jim Hetrick, the man himself. We first met back in '04 when I played Dromio of Syracause to his Antipholis of Syracuse in "Comedy of Errors."

However, on the VERY first day of rehearsal I found myself saying things like, “Yeah, you really wanna be like, ‘LINE READING HERE.'”  Suddenly, I had become my own worst enemy.  I hated myself in that moment. HOW DARE I.  I just betrayed my actor friends.  So since then, I have made sure to carefully choose actions rather than say things like “Yo, do this.  Like I do.”  No way!

Sometimes, though, I like to yell things like, “BE BRILLIANT!  Like THE LIGHT!”  Just to confuse everyone and sound pretentious.

It’s been interesting directing with Jim as well.  It’s strange because sometimes we open our mouths to say the same thing at the same time!  At least it’s good to know we’re on the same page about our actors and where they are taking their characters / the scenes.

This play is hilarious.  But it’s also so terribly sad in certain parts.  It’s been wonderful to see the actors go to really vulnerable places, and then experience it myself on the outside.

http://www.windhamtheatreguild.org  for more info about the show.  We have a one-weekend run: March 4th-March 6th, 2011. BE there.

Verdict:  Directing is fun and awesome.  But I’m an actor, baby.

P.S. I cast my ballot in the SAG Awards today! HELL YEAH.

 

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Filming with Friends.

Today, I was on set with friends.  I am almost always on set with friends.

The entertainment business is unique in many ways.  The first is the way that you have DOZENS of “job interviews” in a year, where the average person only has maybe  one…every ten years?! Actually, in this economy that’s not true, but my point is that most people have one or two jobs that they work at for an extended period of time. Actors are bouncing around constantly (filmmakers are too for that matter) seeking the next gig.  Sometimes we are employed anywhere from several hours, to several weeks,
or months at a time.  And then it’s on to the next big thing.
There’s an upside to this, however. You meet a TON of people!
You meet friends on sets, at network events, at auditions.  It’s great.  And if you’re an actor, it’s important to keep a few actor friends around.  Actor friends always understand.
“Hey, I’m in the city.  Wanna get a coffee? I have an hour.”
“Yeah, sure, I have an audition at 3 anyway so that’s perfect.”
When it comes to non-actor friends and FAMILY, it is important to compromise.  While actor friends know you aren’t blowing them off when you say “No” (sometimes repeatedly) non-actor friends might think you’re being a haughty, neglectful jerk. An example of how NOTt to come off this way:
A text I received from my sister 18 minutes ago:
“Matt and I are going to see “True Grilt” if you want to finish it with us you can” *
My text back:
“I was actually gonna see if you want me to bring over The King’s Speech screener tomorrow.  I’m staying in, I was filming all day, plus I downloaded a movie lol”
Sister’s text:
“Ok that sounds good!”
*Note – I went to see “True Grit” on Thursday before rehearsal with my SAG Awards movie cash and the movie stopped halfway through. I did get two free passes
to come back.  Now I still need to make time to see it.
What’s cool is that no matter where you audition, you are likely to run into people you already know. Hopefully friends you already know.  Seeing friends is of course awesome because it immediately dissipates any nerves you may have been experiencing on the way over due to running late, or finding a parking spot, or crappy weather,  tripping on the stairs, etc.  My friends and I call auditions “mini reunions.”  If you have been keeping up with my blog so far, you know about my rule when it comes to auditions: have something fun to do afterwards.  So, if you have friends hanging out and auditioning for the same project, you guys can plan something FUN TO DO when you’re DONE.  I know, you love acting more and more, don’t you?
Recently, my friend Dave Neal and I both found out we were being cast on the same new web series. Then, I found out that a bunch of other actors are being cast in the series too, who I have worked with before, but haven’t seen in ages.  It’s great to work with people who you have ALREADY worked with for obvious FRIEND reasons.
But when you know a person well in life, outside of filming, theatre, etc. it only enriches the experience you share when you’re working later on.
Linda Hamilton once said to me, “If you’ve ever acted, you’re an actor.  Life in between each performance is research for the next role.”
She’s so right!
So today I worked in Boston on a web series about a cult. With my actor friends!  (And director friend).
I get paid to play make believe with my friends.  My 4 year old self is so giving me a high five right now.
Here in NYC with my friends Laura, Jess, and Eli.  We all worked in the Berkshire Theatre Festival together.  Aww…mini-reunion!
PS  I saw “Conviction.”  Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell had wonderful chemistry as brother and sister.  And what an nice surprise to see Minnie Driver again!  She was great. All very convincing, with lovely character arcs.   Hillary Swank’s “conviction” makes you believe that she’s going to clear up her brother’s “conviction” the whole time.  I definitely recommend this film.

Auditions.

Actors supposedly hate auditions.
I.  LOVE.  AUDITIONS.

It wasn’t always this way.
Let’s go back to high school.  I was…an overachiever.  National Honor Society (secretary), the yearbook editor, newspaper writer, a member of a ZILLION clubs, and I would start hyperventilating if my GPA dipped below 3.95. (I won 16 awards senior year. Not that I was keeping track).
So when I went to college for acting (surprise, Mom and Dad!), I approached it the same way.  Like a psycho.  Before auditions I would tremble and have trouble breathing and get into the room and just feel the judgment leaking out across the floor, slowly suffocating me like the watery depths that drowned Ophelia when she succumbed to insanity.  Luckily 2-3 minutes for a monologue is not nearly enough time to asphyxiate from acting.  Ya know, I always really had to pee after auditions.  Oh sorry TMI.
Awww…Here’s a picture of my UCONN Acting Class.  Here we were about to rehearse for “The Bacchae.” I played Dionysus  with two other ladies in my class. HOT.
Anyway, after graduating college and spending a few months training at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, I came back home to Connecticut and started to realize that I needed to “get out there.”  That meant…AUDITIONS!
So I went crazy (do you notice a pattern here?) I auditioned in state out of state here there and everywhere.  I began to realize something.  I was auditioning for people.  You know?  People who have dogs and cats and eat breakfast in the morning and laugh at shows at tv and have families and spouses and children and you get the idea.
They were friendly.  They were calm.  They were not evil villains.  They were not going to shoot me in the back after I said “Thank you,” and walked out the door, laughing meniacally.  Nope.
THESE PEOPLE WERE AWESOME.  I realized auditions were SO FUN.
Why Casey Thinks You Should Love Auditions, Too

1. You get to Act.
2. Think about it THIS way:  The CD’s, producers, readers, etc. are stuck there listening to you for 2-5 minutes.  It’s YOUR TIME.  See?  You already have the upper hand and that should make you feel good about life.
3. You probably won’t have to do a monologue.  Like I’m 99% sure you won’t. Give me a high five.
3A.  You get to do a cold reading!  I love cold readings. I love improv. If you don’t love these things then skip to 3B.
3B.  You get to look at a few pages of a script at a time.  You’re so awesome and classically trained (or naturally brilliant) that I bet you could *gasp* memorize it if you really want to, and pick a few really strong choices and rock it out like Vampire Weekend.
4. After the audition, you get to do what you want!  Or at least, that’s how I play it.  When I have meetings or auditions in different cities around New England or the country, even, I make a point of always making sure I have something really fun to do afterwards. I call up friends in the area and just chill out.  I always give this advice to ANYONE who is nervous about auditions.  This takes some of the pressure off, or can even motivate you to think, “I’m gonna kick ass at this audition today, and then I’m going to celebrate by calling up so and so and going out for lunch.  or a snowball fight. Or something epic!”
Example:  Drive down the 101 in Los Angeles and take a horrible photo, like I did!
5.  With every audition, you get better at auditions.  In effect, you get better at getting jobs. SWEET.
Five isn’t really a reason to love auditioning, but it is a result of loving it.  Also, five is one of my favorite numbers, and it seems like a good amount of items for a list.
FIN
PS.  Black Swan – STUNNING.  So disturbingly beautiful.  And the ending was exquisite.  It made me sigh a huge breath of relief.
And 127 Hours!?  Disgusting!!!  Okay beyond that, such a touching film really.  Wonderful soundtrack.  I love that James Franco is always trying new roles and going against the grain….or bedrock?  HA…ha.
Good night!

Let us begin.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Oh, Semisonic.  How profound of you.
 
Can you believe that lyric was printed as an inspirational quote from my tear-off calendar at work?  The tear-off calendar was a gift.  Well…it was given to me by a coworker at Connecticut Public Broadcasting who said, “Here, have this. I got it in the mail.  Or throw it out, I don’t care.”  So naturally I placed it on my desk cause..YEAH! Woot!  Daily inspiration! Why not?!
 
So 2011 is here.  And yes, I have new calendars. Several, actually.  There’s something about opening up that wall calendar to the first month, tacking it up on your wall…or cubicle..or..tackboard above your desk? and marvelling at all of the days ahead of you. New possibility.  New Beginnings.

I’m not talking about just calendars to hang on the wall either. I’m talking about personal planners. No, no. Not palm pilots, ipads, iphones, blackberries, or computers. You know, personal planners. The kind that you open up (with your hands, not with an application) and inside, you write. 
 
This is my personal planner:
 
 
It’s almost like a book.  It’s bound, it’s blue, it has GREEN LETTERING. Neon green, even.  It’s canvas.  What a good vegan. No leather-bound planners for me!  Ew. I already got it dirty, though.

  • Here’s what I have penciled (I still use pencils. Not because I’m being whimsical or ironic or something, but because my plans constantly change.  If you are my friend you know this and secretly kinda hate me for this) in for 2011 thus far:
     
    Ahem:
     
     
  • auditions (New York, Boston, Providence)
  • FILMING! YAY!
  • rehearsals for the show I’m co-directing!
  • shows for said show.
  • movie nights*
  • birthdays
  • rehearsals for another show, “Crimes of the Heart.” I’m playing Babe. So excited.
  • shows for Crimes of the Heart.
  • yoga classes
  • shows for Deana’s Educational Theatre.
  • SAG meetings.
  • bills. bah.
  • program development meetings for Deana’s Educational Theatre
  • salons (harriet beecher stowe house, book discussions, etc).
  • *SAG Awards

I also write little smileys and stars and hearts and doodles on certain days to remind myself to DO something great or BE optimistic or have fun, really.
 
So, along with new calendars and a new year, there usually come NYR’s. NEW. YEAR. RESOLUTIONS.  Over the years I’ve come up with the same old boring resolutions, (last year, one of them was to drink more water on a daily basis) and usually I’m great at them…because I’m an overachiever and I need to prove that to myself for some sick reason.  But eventually it becomes too stressful and I convince myself that the new part of the year is over, and my resolution has expired.
 
THIS year, though, is quite different. I’m resolute to basically be more awesome.  Like blogging, for instance.  Instead of boring, wimpy, “updates” on my website page, I’m actually going to write. 
 
I’m also going to accomplish goal of being more awesome in other ways:  directing with mad skills, trying new things, perfecting my French on a daily basis, reading every book I am interested in this year,writing more in general, and acting so hard / fantastic that I momentarily knock time into a slow-motion warp in the audition room, leaving producers and casting directors in shock for 2-3 minutes (the standard time for a brief, contemporary monologue).
   Sigh.  It’s a good year. ALREADY.  
  
P.S. I saw “The Town” last.  Ben Affleck can act, so THERE harterz!  Mad props to those friends who made it in the credits, too!  Great work 🙂