Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Year in Los Angeles

About a year ago, as many of you are already aware, I uprooted myself from Nashville, Tennessee and traveled across the US to Los Angeles. That trip was a huge adventure, as was the idea and meaning of the move.  I wanted to move out to Los Angeles to act.

Sure, acting is available in plenty other states and cities.  Chicago, New York, "Atlanta", and others are all booming mecas for actors and their skill sets, but Los Angeles was where I chose to be.  Film is what I wanted to be a part of. Don't get me wrong, I love the stage and would work gladly there, but film was what my overall idea was when I traveled those many miles out to plant myself in Los Angeles.

So, I did just that.  With some savings, I moved out here.  I bounced from couch to couch, using my savings as a lifeline while I did nothing but build my reel.  I've worked on about 28 films since I've been out here in Los Angeles.  Some of them I've never seen (and probably never will), some of them are completed and online, and a couple are supposed to be making circulation through the festival circuit.  I've been in music videos, a few commercials, and short films galore.

Now I've been out here a whole year.  I've met good friends, tasted good food, found a  place to live and call my own (albeit its pricey to live out here and I'm eeking by) and I've even got my survival job at a coffee shop.  Life is going, and I'm planning on making sure it keeps going, as smooth as possible.

Here are 3 rules I've learned about Los Angeles this past year that has helped me maintain my trajectory as well as my financial well being.

1) This city kicks you when you are down, so it's best to get up as soon as possible.
What I mean is, if you lose your job, your car will break down.  If your bike gets stolen (which inevitably, it will)  you'll find it for sale at the pawn shop a month later.  If you're cast in something too good to be true and pays well, or something you're excited about, it will almost always get canceled last minute.  These are things I've learned.  Los Angeles takes no prisoners. You got to have a thick skin to make it through this place, and a good idea of why you're trying so hard.

2) For every actor in the city, there are two people trying to separate actors from their money
This one is self explanatory.  You need to keep your eyes on the prize, but also on your wallet.  This entire city is built around an industry  of film and television.  Thousands of people flock to this place to every day to be a part of that industry.  So, it makes sense that, thanks to the millions of "actors" in this city, there would be a sub-industry devoted to preying on them. Classes for $300, headshots for $500, that "showcase" for $150, the actor's "symposium" for $300, UPDATING headshots on all the websites cost you about $15 each (with 6 new headshots you need to update) and those websites yearly fees which run you between $79-$150.  These numbers are all within the reach of someone working a low paying job, but they're not cheap.  And they add up. You need to be smart with your money out here.

3) There is ALWAYS something happening
This rule is much more fun.  Somewhere in the city, every day, at any time of the year, there is something going on.  A masquerade, renaissance fair, the County Fair, movies in the park, and s forth.  This city contains so many people and is so big that there is no end to the activities available to be had.  You need to keep your eyes open and your group ready if you want to get to them. (Traffic is another whole post) but, if you're willing to risk traffic, you can find something to do daily! And oftem times, they're free.

I miss home desperately.  I find myself wishing I could have some home cooked meals with my family, some Nashville hot chicken, a night at the Sounds stadium, or a Monday night swing dancing with my friends back home.  I want to sit on the patio of Tennessee brew works and relax with a Basil Ryman.  I want to see all my friends and family I've left there in Nashville, but I moved out here to act.  If there was enough work back in Nashville, I would have stayed, but I go on more auditions here in LA in a week than I was going on in a year in Nashville.  This is where the work is, this is where I need to be.

I miss home, but I'm making another home here, surrounding myself with friends, establishing my own space, and working on making a name for myself in this industry.

So, readers:
Thank you for all your support this past year!  Thank you for believing in me and wanting to hear more out of me.  Thank you for finding my life interesting.  It is both humbling and a massive ego boost to know that my life out here is something worth reading about.  So, I will try to keep living a life worth reading about(and hopefully worth watching on the big screen).  Lastly, I'll try to keep writing about it so you can keep reading about it!

Thanks for your support!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Treading Water but Still Moving

Sometimes you feel like you've been working very hard, and sometimes you don't.  Sometimes (and often this is how I feel) you do a whole lot but you still feel like you've gone no where.  You feel as though you have accomplished nothing, that you should be doing more or should be constantly working on things when you are taking a break.

I have trouble with finding that balance between work and play.  I used to believe I was above having an addictive personality, but the older I have gotten the more I believe that is not the case.  I OBSESS over things for a long time, then... I'm done.  Off to the next project, the next game, the next thing.  I draw a lot, but then I don't draw for months, I work non-stop then I'm done, I read 3 books then I won't read another for months, my brain works like this.

It can be beneficial.

If I set my mind to something that I want, I'll often achieve that in short order due to this obsessive character trait.  But, I also get into slumps.  With some of my hobbies and pass times, I feel fine obsessing over them.  Dancing, for instance, is something I never feel guilty doing even if I am obsessing.  It's inclusive of others, its a skill I'm developing, and it is something that, most of the time, elates me. Video games I view as a valuable hobby.  I love it, its been something that I've done for years and years, and I have no issues with putting time and money into it because it is a hobby.

However, video games sometimes consume me.  A new game I've been wanting to play can eat away days of my life in a short period of time.  Granted, I would most likely spend that much time in the game eventually, but I've been known to sink a days worth of hours (that is 24 for you who don't know) in a matter of 3 days of playing.

Once I realize this, I pull away from these things, these hobbies.  I focus solely on work, on finding a job, on things that are supposed to be "grown up stuff".

On my most recent trip to Nashville, which was wonderful by the way, I was speaking with my momma.  She always has words of wisdom for me, truths she sees that I often overlook.  Usually, these are hidden amongst the other conversations.  Its funny what your brain latches onto.  She mentioned that I have hobbies too, and that booking roles and being in films wasn't my only thing.  There is more to life than that.

That is the dumbest, most simple thing and yet... I forgot.  I simply lost site of fun and games and hobbies and almost all other aspects of life because I've been so hung up on booking roles and being an "actor" when what I need to be is a person, a human being who happens to excel at acting.  Its so simple, but sometimes you lose sight of important things in your own life that are, if you were looking from the outside, glaringly obvious.

Food for thought.

My trip to Nashville, my home, was absolutely wonderful.  I hung out with my brother, drank my body weight in beer from Tennessee Brew Works, and played video games.  I saw some great friends that I always love to see when I'm in town.  I danced at The 5 Spot, watched Harry Potter with my sister, and played board games with my family (something we hate/love to do. Much bickering during, but everyone remembers playing fondly).  My dad made me pan fried chicken, fried in lard (that's something I can't get out here in CA because everyone here is a peasant when it comes to proper cooking. I haven't tried "every" restaurant though, so maybe...) My momma and I had great conversations and I even got to see my grandmother while I was in town.

I can honestly say, the hardest thing about living out here in California is being loved by my family so much.  It is positively heart wrenching every time I leave Nashville to leave them.  The plane ride is me questioning my decision of leaving Nashville, of leaving my friends and my family, and every time I wonder if I made the right decision.

So far, I think I have.  I hate missing parts of their lives.  I hate being so far away I can't be there for them in person, I can't see them and eat with them and simply be there.  I'm days late on news of their lives and the happenings in them and that is terrible.  However, I would be bored living there for long.  I've always wanted to adventure out, to see the world and live a different life than the one I was living.  I can think of nothing else that I want to do with my life than act.  To survive on this would be beyond wonderful, to thrive would be beyond asking, but I'm still here.

I've left almost everything I love in Nashville to work in this city of Los Angeles.
Thanks to my trip home, I will try and keep in mind that I need to play here too.
Being a person is more important than being an "actor".
My momma taught me that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Orleans from That Old Trip

Many of you followed me across the country as I posted daily things about my life on the road as I moved out here to Los Angeles.  Well, I did videotape some of it as well.  I had intended to get more footage than I did, but I was more interested in the experiences for myself rather than filming them so I could remember them late.

However, I did manage to film quite a bit, and I made something of a highlight reel for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy the video!

As an update to last week.

I was committed to eaking out a living doing this acting thing, and I for sure still am.  However, the well has all but run dry.  I was working quite prolifically and then... nothing.

I like eating, sleeping, and having a place where I can do both in comfort.


I've been job hunting.  I dare say, it is much more difficult out here than I anticipated, and while it is a shitty, dead end job I hunt for, I'd rather entrench myself here and work on getting more gigs than crawl back home.

I love home, I would love to be home, but home isn't for me right now.  

Sticking this one out, even if I have to crawl through some shit to do it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Moving, Filming, and Financial Insecurity

I realize feigning like I'll write another post soon and on a time schedule is probably not my best move, people don't like to be jerked around and it seems that's all I do when I make promises.  So, no promises, but a statement.  I'm going to work on making these normal again.

Kate and Lauren at Blues Liberation Front
I'm no longer roaming around the city, a vagabond with no home.  I moved in with two lovely people.

Joey, a fellow from Nashville and a friend of a mutual acquaintance between us,
and Megan, a sweet heart from Chicago who has sailed the world and seen it's wonders.

Megan comes with a +1 named Zoey who is an absolute treat. She has hair all over her body, she's always excited to see you, she's mellow, and she never makes a peep.  Honestly, I'm worried Joey and Megan might kick me out and then just give Zoey my room.

Feb 14th I was to be out of the apartment I had in Glendale.  I met Megan and Joey that day on the 14th to ensure that all 3 of us were not shit faces and could actually room together.  Happenstance brought us together, and it turns out that none of us are crazy

(I wouldn't say that Kevin, a lot of signs point to you being...) 

Nasty chair out in the desert with The Hundreds
Once established, we were off to the races finding a place. Unfortunately fortunate of me, I was filming all week, from the 15th-21st.  I had a shoot that went from Sunday to Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon I had a UCB class, Wednesday evening I drove out to the desert with a bunch of strangers and we filmed there until Friday evening when we drove home and got in late.  Saturday I worked on a show and Sunday I did that show at UCB Franklin... it was a busy week.

 During that time, Megan and Joey hunted for, found an apartment, and put in the applications.  I needed a place, I trusted them to make a good judgement, my judgement was not misplaced.  Our apartment is better than I deserve.  Wood floors, my own room, nice kitchen, closets upon closets of storage, large bathrooms, washer and drier, my own parking space...  this place is very nice.

So, now I live in North Hollywood, and I will until next Feb.  Hell, I might keep living here next year, who knows. That's a long ways off.

Courtyard of the Apartment

Megan and Joey on the "balcony"

Of course, it dawns on me that I've been living out here for 5 months.  5 months I've been out here.   I have seen many sights, walked many places, done many things, and I've still got savings left.
Everyone, you may applaud.  
I made a budget, and then I tossed that budget and did what I wanted, and somehow I kinda stuck to that budget.
Of course, those savings I have left are dwindling rapidly now that I've got bills to pay. I am avoiding getting a "real" job like the plague, but its getting to the point that I may need to...

Here is my reasoning behind not getting a "real" job.

Nashville is great.
I love Nashville, I love the people in Nashville, I love the things in Nashville.
I could live in Nashville and work a shitty, dead end job and have a pretty good time.

L.A. is fine.
The people I hang out with are great, but most other things, while fun, are things that can be trumped by Nashville.  

I love Nashville, I think L.A. is fine.
So, if I love Nashville and I think L.A. is fine, I am not going to live in a city that I think is fine and work a shitty dead end job when I could live in a city that I love and work a shitty dead end job.

I moved out here to act and damn it I am going to!

I've met so many actors out here who are all doing what I'm doing.  They are working at getting in and making it, but I know a lot of them are bogged down with their shitty dead end jobs.  They are consumed by them.  "I can't, I'm working tonight." "I couldn't make that audition because no one would cover my shift." "I'm a server and every night I'm working on the threshold of hell."

Not to mention I worked the food industry in Nashville where the vast majority of people have manners and they seem to forget those manners when they are at a restaurant.  I've met a lot of people from here.  Manners are not something people are into here, nor is common courtesy a large thing. 
I don't need that... not in my life.

So, I'm scrambling around, hunting for paying gigs and jobs around town.  Picking up shifts here and there, working on keeping my head above the ring of debt that acts like a black hole for so many people.

I'm an actor, I'm living in LA, and I'll be damned if life gets in the way of me doing what I'm here to do.

What could go wrong?


Megan and Munchkin, board game night #1
Photo shoot with Jamie. Tim Burton themed
Pink's Hotdogs are quite good
Squirt is a big deal out here. Squirt is a big deal, period

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Improvising Life

I've started taking classes at UCB, or Upright Citizens Brigade for those not in the know.
Improvisation out here isn't a suggestion, its a requirement.  It seems mildly daft that EVERYONE be required to have training in Improvisation, but I suppose when you have 5 million people claiming to be actors and you want to thin the herd, you pick up on some useful skill and toss the ones without it.  I get it, but for some people its just not their cup of tea.

Luckily, I am not some people and I think its wonderful!  I've been wanting to take classes on Improv for a while now, and even attempted (and failed) to start a small Improv group in college.  Finally, 2 books and plenty of dreams and ideas later, I bit the bullet and got myself started down the path of learning, in a controlled environment, the craft of improvisation.  Here are my thoughts of the process.

Imagine believing in yourself and knowing you are going to be good at something, then getting into the class room and picking apart every single thing you say and do.  Starting out Improvising, in the fashion taught by the UCB, is like distilling embarrassment and then pouring it on yourself in front of everyone.
I want to be good so bad, but I also know it takes time, and the classroom environment as a good place to do that because everyone else is on the same page.  Also, many of the "students" there are fun to be around, so we've been to a few shows outside our class together.  Its been a nice place to plant myself and meet some new people, and I think I'm beginning to understand the basics of what I need to do on stage.  Like I said, it takes time like anything else.

Photo by Jamie Hanson Photography

 I got new headshots done.  Not because my old ones were bad. They are great.  I got new headshots done because they were beardless, and I was lazy and didn't want to cut my beard.  Also, beards are in so I wanted to get in on that action.

Mostly I was lazy.

I had an idea of how I wanted the headshots to look, and I definitely wanted to get them as close to "Me" as possible.  I think this one screams my name, and so I chose it.  I have some others that are close, but my gut reaction had me stop on this one mutliple times. Narcissism has its moments, and looking at 200+ photos of oneself for half an hour can pay off.

Who says Facebook doesn't teach you anything?

I've been busy filming things!

Discovery ID has a show called Cry Wolfe, a recreation show about PI cases.  That is about the extent of my knowledge of that show, save that I ALSO know you can see me in an episode sometime in the future, most likely in the fall of this year.  I won't give you details or anything, but I'll be sure to keep you posted when they tell me it will air!

I ran into a friend from high school randomly at an audition, which is rather strange being so far from home.  She invited me out that night, I met her friends, turns out they are in the Graduate Directing Program at UCLA.  One of them has a film she is making next week.  I auditioned. Now I'll be filming next week.

On top of that, I've been cast, just yesterday, in another shoot happening next week, and that one is going to be paying the bills somewhat, so I am thrilled about working on that set and getting some money to help pay for that fun thing called rent.

I'll be homeless this coming Saturday... again.  Alone and homeless on valentines day. (Don't Capitalize a capitalized holiday)  Should be fun.  Not sure if I need to be OUT by Saturday, or if Saturday is my last night...  I should find that out.

At any rate, I'm working on finding a place to stay. Again.  I'm tired of moving all my stuff around. I want to find a place, move in, and plant myself for a while.  I feel like when moving out is on my horizon I am so distracted.  I'm not nervous about moving, or worried about where I'll end up, but it occupies my mind constantly.  I toss and turn in bed while my brain says
"I have to pack my room up, shove it into my car, and find a place... I guess I'll stare at my ceiling all night and think about that."

Like I said, I'm not worried. Things work out, and its all an adventure.  I'm happy to be able to have such an adventure.  I've got nothing and no one tying me down, holding me back, and a multitude of people, many of who will read this blog, supporting me along the way.  I'll be fine because this is all part of it!  I'll be fine because I choose to be that way.

Sorry for the delay readers.  While I'm not worried about moving, it has occupied my time in the form of hunting for a place to stay.  I'm still doing that, but I needed to post something for you.  I needed to post something for me.  Its nice to have this in writing: Therapeutic, cathartic, another synonym of those previous words.

Thanks for reading, thanks for the support, and I'll be a better, more diligent writer in the future.
Promises promises

What could go wrong?

Found this out and about in LA

Monday, January 26, 2015

Business, Bars, and Kosher Food

I apologize for my absences.  I was stricken with a fever a week ago and have been wallowing in it ever since.  I haven't felt particularly excited to write, not sure why that is, but here I sit. Writing and eating a large bowl of off-brand Honey Bunches of Oats (like, $3 cheaper for twice as much, count me in).  I've discovered, after giving Almond milk a second chance, that almond milk is shit and I don't like it.  It tastes funny and has an awkward consistency.  Coconut milk is that way to go, if you happen to be going that way.

A had dinner with friends!  A potluck of sorts. Pasta and bread and Italian dishes, a side salad, and I made a meager sampling of some garlic chicken thighs.    I got to see the ladies who posted me up when i was homeless, so that was nice, and we all hung out and talked and there was a cake of some caliber. A birthday was celebrated, and friends were present to celebrate.  There was much rejoicing.

There is a barcade in town called 82. Old school towers and hipsters as far as the eye can see, and food truck parked inside the place, and a line that takes about half an hour to get through.  All of these things are great (except for the line).  Lauren, Josh, and Sean, the roomies I stayed with the first week I was here, were all present for this trip.  We had fun playing the Dirty Harry Pinball Machine on someone's quarters, then we moved on to Space Invaders. 
In the center of the game hall was a Street Fighter Tower which was connected to the projectors over the bar.  You got to watch the competitors beat the shit out of each other on the screen.  Needless to say, it was pretty cool.

Lastly, there was TRON.  I love TRON. I love the movies, I love the games, and I loved that they had them there for our enjoyment.
After a few hours there we decided to call it quits, and we said our farewells.  I headed back to my car which was parked a ways away as the rest of the crew decided to hit up Taco Bell.  I told them to enjoy crapping their pants.  They laughed, but deep down... they knew I was right.

I'm here to act.  I keep telling people that, then they ask what else I do, and I say... nothing.  Of course, I do other things, but If they are asking about how I'm making money, I'm not.
 What I am doing is spending money.  Spending a lot of Money.  I recently spent the hellatious amount of money required to sign onto an Upright Citizens Brigade class.  I am now $400 lighter of pocket, but if you plan on doing anything out here whether it be commercial, theatrical, or a job as a low level employee at McDonalds, you MUST HAVE IMPROV EXPERIENCE!

If you are laughing, you think I am making that up.  I am not.

Improvisation is the thing to have here.  You must be trained in it, extremely experienced in it, probably spending something like 2 years and $10k on training of improv before you can be even considered for this job you are applying for...

Oh, and it's a non-paying gig.

I have been workign out.  I have a small workout room in the complex I currently reside and its been nice having access to it.  Problem is, I got sick and decided to not move for a week.  So, I boosted my metabolism, lost 6 pounds, and now I'm just sitting here like a barnacle on the futon in my room being skinny as hell. Not my best move. I need to get back at it.

 I finished a shoot for Benny Friedman last week.  Here is one of his videos, not the one I am in. Three days of shooting with a good crew and team.  Timing may have not been their strongest strength, but they were nice and a lot of fun to hang out with on set.  They fed me as well, so that was nice.  Everything was Kosher food and it was wonderful.  I prefer bacon in my life, but kosher food cannot have meat and cheese together so I never had to worry about dairy in my food.  Well, except for the pizza they had one day, but it had no meat, so they won that round.

We filmed and ate at a place called MexiKosher and it was wonderful.  Even met the chef that started the place, something of a celebrity now thanks to Top Chef.  Its worth the drive if you are ever here in LA, and they have a Kosher Bacon Sauce for the food that is out of this world good.

Lastly, I finally played Settlers of Catan, a board game I've been wanting to play for a very long time.  If you get the opportunity, play it, its quite a bit of fun!  I also went to The Bearded Men West's Dungeons and Dragons Improv.  That is one of the greatest improv shows, and that crowed was huge!  You have to go.

All in all, I've been a mix of busy and lazy.  I'm conscious of the laziness and forget that I've also been busy.  It never feels like you've done enough.  Guess I'll keep moving... well, not moving too much.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas, New Years, and Where I'm at Now

I left Los Angeles on Dec. 21, 2014 and headed home.  I was very excited to be home.  The hustle and bustle of Los Angeles was miles behind me and I could finally breathe and be at peace for a bit.  I found inner peace through lots of home cooked meals, mindless hours in front of the TV, and heading home to Illinois for the Holidays.

I'm lucky to have parents who have stayed together for all these years of my (an their) life.  I'm even luckier that they grew up in the same small town and that you can walk between their parent's (my Grandparent's) Homes.  That is just great!

We had Christmas Eve dinner and presents at my dad's place, late night mass, then off to bed for Christmas morning at my Mom's.

Best shirt ever
I'm 25 years old. A man in the world's eyes.  I can't for the life of me sleep on Christmas. Have never been able to.  Its like I've got all that magic stored up in my little noggin, but my worldly and calloused heart doesn't receive it like it used to, so I'm just stuck, awake, left with my own thoughts as I lay wishing for sleep on Christmas Eve.

That got dark.

On a lighter note!

I'm 25 years old. A man in the world's eyes.  Luckily, I am no such thing to my mother who bought my brother and me Pokemon for Christmas!

As they say, giving is way better than receiving so, here is my master gift. One gift to rule them all.

Back in the 90's there was board games. One such game of board was called "Forbidden Bridge", and it was good.  It was so good, in fact, that we played it til the pieces ran away. We were left with on broken game and multiple broken hearts.
Since then, each family member, at one Christmas or another, has searched far and wide for this game.  You could buy pieces of it till you had a full set again off of ebay, but that would cost you upwards of $300. (We loved that game, but come on)

Kevin, the favorite son and best sibling (that's me), during his journeys came upon the fabled "Forbidden Bridge" by a chance acquaintance back in Nashville.  Bryan, keeper of all things that are both board and game, happened to have a pristine copy of the game, "Forbidden Bridge".  Kevin purchased this game and hid it away until the time of the great unveiling known... AS CHRISTMAS!

It was good.

Moral of the story: 
Play board games cuz they dank as hell bruh!


Christmas always seems to come right before New Years Eve, and the same was true this year.  I had no plans. Ended up in a cabin with my brother and some friends. Drank, ziplined, burned stuff, drank.  It was a blast!  Thanks Kathleen for the cabin Trip!

I also went dancing when I was home. It was great seeing all my dancer friends again and hanging out at the 5Spot again.  I missed that crew.

Nashville Rainy streets
I also got to see Jack, Blythe, Sean, and Natalie when I was home. You have no idea who they are, but I do, and they do. Hey guys! Thanks for the great time. You made an excellent case for me to just stay in Nashville and hang out FOREVER!

But... now I'm back in LA.

Looming on the horizon is that omnipresent force known as "Responsibility", and my only tool for stopping its crushing embrace of anxiety and fear is Motivation.  Sadly, Motivation seems to be missing right now.  I miss home already. I liked being a couch barnacle and having to do very little.  I like eating good food and doing nothing with my time. I like not having rent to pay.

More importantly, I like my friends and family being so close.

Damn, being an adult is hard. Even harder when you move away from home.

I suppose I'll get my feet under me soon. Hopefully my writing will improve when I do.