The Dreaded Cell Phone Headshot

CellPhonePhotoThere seems to be a new trend right now of casting directors asking you to take a photo on your cell phone to send to them; it’s happened to me twice in the last week.  Both casting directors said “please take a photo of yourself on your cell phone today, so that we can see what you look like right now.”  In the past, I had a couple people request a “recent photo, not a headshot and not retouched,” but it wasn’t this specific.

Both of the gigs that requested this were booking directly from submission, without auditions.  I can only assume that both casting directors ran into problems in the past where they looked at a headshot and resume, booked the “talent,” and then when the actor showed up on set, looked drastically different than their submission.  And this can cause obvious problems when you’re on set, ready to shoot with an entire crew in place, and the person you thought would be showing up only exists under perfect lighting, an extra hour or two in front of the mirror before arriving, and a little bit of Photoshop work.  And for a reenactment show–and there are tons of them shooting right now– where you were cast because you look like an actual person, you’re letting down a lot of people.  And often, the production has to go on, so you’re left with a pissed off director who doesn’t have time to recast because the shoot is happening already.

While playing auditions, I’ve seen these very people who barely resemble their headshot.  Often, they don’t look as put together as their headshot, but sometimes, they are actually more radiant in person.  Either way, when a casting director is going through 150 headshots at the end of a casting call, they’re flipping through the photos and reading their notes, trying to decide who is getting called back or getting cast.  If you’re a brunette but decided to try out red hair, and they didn’t note that on your photo, they might not put the pieces together when they’re looking through everything, and you could miss out on a great opportunity.  Same goes for drastic weight loss or gain.  Or anything that significantly alters your appearance.

So for the television and commercial gigs I was asked to submit a cell phone pic for, I totally get where they’re coming from.  The only problem is, I can’t for the life of me get a flattering one.  While my headshot isn’t heavily retouched, just a little skin smoothing to blend my pores, it’s taken at a great angle for my lazy eye.  If you ask me to look
“straight down the barrel” of a camera, it’s going to be pretty prominent, so I have to look just to the right of the lens.  With a nice glass lens opened wide, this can do the trick.  But with a pinhead lens on an iPhone, I run into trouble.  So I kind of have to try and do the angle that suggests I’m not looking at the lens at all, I’m just looking at myself on the screen to make sure everything is in view and in focus.  You’ve seen those images, where it’s obvious that the guy taking the photo is clearly not looking at himself, only his own image.  I’d rather be able to look right at the camera, and flash a warm, friendly, and inviting smile, but I can’t.  So I just try and keep it pretty straight laced–although I generally look slightly confused doing this–and I just hope for the best.  If they want the look in my headshot, they’ll see I’m the same guy.  I just hope that they don’t focus on the alignment of the eyes and change their mind.  And since I don’t submit for any kind of hosting or testimonial roles that tell you you’ll be delivering copy “to camera,” hopefully it’s not a problem!

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Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid

casablancasamIt’s 5am and I’m just getting up to get ready to shoot “Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid,” a short Casablanca spoof I booked off of Actors Access.  I initially submitted because the breakdown said they were looking for someone to play Sam, the piano player.  The casting notice also said “Please be familiar with Casablanca.”  I wasn’t–shame on me–but I pretended I was.

The day of the audition I decided to watch the movie, in case the director started talking about it; I wanted to play along.  Well, I was a little surprised to see that Sam was black!  Had I been familiar with the movie as asked, I never would’ve submitted!  Usually breakdowns are pretty specific about race, but there was no mention of it for this one.  Luckily for me, the director was more concerned with finding someone who could actually play piano than she was with race, so my ignorance was bliss.

We’ve had a couple rehearsals so I think we’re in pretty good shape.  I was up until 1 practicing because, as usual, I lost track of the days and thought I had more time than I did.  So I panicked yesterday when I realized I had to memorize bit and pieces of “As Time Goes By,” “Knock On Wood,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” (not in the film) and “La Marseillaise.”  I just ran through the pieces again after ironing my suit (another thing on my to-do list that I forgot) and I think the last-minute cramming paid off.  We’ll see how the memory holds up when exhaustion hit!

Knock on wood!

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It’s me, on IMDB!

IMDBAfter working my tail off, auditioning for every role under the sun, I’ve finally got my own page on IMDB!  Two years ago, IMDB was merely the site I would use to look up information about celebrities, usually when I was watching something and I’d think “I know I’ve seen that person before.”  So I’d look up the page for the current move I was watching, find out who the actor-in-question was, and then click on their profile.

I then had a couple friends posting on Facebook about their IMDB pages, and thought “wouldn’t that be so cool?”  Well now, dear reader, if you ever find yourself wondering who that handsome fella is who’s guest starring on the season premiere of Modern Family, you can look him up!  And while you’re there, you might as well look up that other guy you can’t get out of your head: that haggard creeper who keeps popping up on your favorite true crime reenactment show.

So what are you waiting for?  Check me out!

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The Adventures of Keith and Kevin

country-musicToday started with a great audition for Soho rep.  They’re doing a production of Marie Antoinette and were having an EPA, so I decided to give it a go.  There wasn’t anything in the show I was particularly right for, at least from reading the breakdown, but I wasn’t really wrong for it either.  And they’re a great company that does shows all year, so I figured it’d be great to be seen by them.  I did one of my favorite monologues by Bekah Brunstetter, and as usual, they loved it.  Not because they loved me, but her material is so damn good!  If you haven’t read her stuff, you need to!  I have a couple of monologues of hers in my back packet, and they always get a great reaction!  They’re not overdone, and if I don’t introduce the piece, giving her name, the casting directors always ask me what the piece was from because this woman can write!  She’s definitely on my Caffeinated Confabulation list (coffee confab, for short).

And the night ended with something that might just turn out to be new and exciting.  At the very least it’s new, so we’re halfway there.  My buddy Keith and I had our first rehearsal as a …ready for it…country music duo!  “What?  You’re into country music?”  Yup.  Time to come clean.  My mama raised me on John Denver, and while I don’t admit to it often, I’m a closet country fan!  People that have known me forever can attest to it, but anyone in the less-than-ten-years category might be a little shocked.  I mean, I live in Manhattan and I’m in musical theatre so it doesn’t exactly come up in conversation.  But behind closed doors, I “thank God I’m a country boy.”

I met Keith when a mutual friend suggested I coach him before he had an audition for the musical Once.  Believe it or not, he had an appointment, and it was his first professional audition!  He has a great job, a real job that pays you in money, and benefits, and other things I’ve heard of but can’t really grasp the concept of.  He’s not looking to quit his day job, as the expression goes, but he’s really talented, and our friend Kristin saw it, and submitted him for Once.

Long story short, we hit it off, and a year later, he starts a text conversation one night asking my thoughts on country music, and if I’d be interested in putting something together with him.  The next day, we had a list of the first ten songs we were going to cover, so tonight we got started.  He plays rhythm guitar and will take lead vocals, and I’ll be on piano and backing him up with some harmony.  And his girlfriend is a bartender for the Pig ‘n Whistle chain so the networking game might go faster than planned, and lead to an actual gig or two.  The initial goal is to work up 45 minutes so that we could open for one of the bands that regularly plays there, and just see where things go.

So who knows?  But I’m excited!  It’s definitely a refreshing and welcome change of pace!

 

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Third Time’s A Charm

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 10.14Looks like my dreams of becoming a reenactment TV star are coming true!  I was just offered a role for a show that will be shooting at the end of August, and it’ll be my third show for this network!  I mean, let’s be honest, the title of reenactment TV star doesn’t really exist, but in my twisted world, this is the stuff of dreams!  I mean, what’s more fun than spending a couple days playing a lunatic who actually lived, and acting out all the weird things that garnered him a spot on true crime television?

I don’t want to send off any Google alerts for the network or producers, so I won’t say more until it films and I’ve made sure I know what exactly is kosher to share, as far as the social media clause.  And I know that secret and vague announcements like this generally mean something huge is about to happen, like naming the next actor to take on the role of Batman, but rest assured, dear reader, this isn’t to distract you from anything bigger and better.  It’s just me, a little too enthused to have convinced another casting director that I can play disturbed and creepy pretty well.

According to the casting notice, this guy is a dedicated drug addict, father of six, and because of his addiction, he can’t provide a home for his family; they live in tents and cars.  And they chose me!  At first I was thinking I should probably be offended for someone thinking I look old enough to have six kids, but then I saw that the notice also said “very thin frame,” so I’ll forgive the initial offense and go with flattery! (Is it weird that the fact that I could pass as a dedicated drug addict didn’t even register on the personal offense scale?)

Oh, and the scary photo at the top of this page?  That’s me playing a murderer as he was being interrogated.

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The Bonus Army

Layout 1Tonight was my second rehearsal for The Bonus Army, being presented in “The Gym at Judson,” Judson Memorial Church.  I haven’t posted anything about the show yet because, well, I don’t do a lot of things I plan on doing.  The best laid plans…

The Bonus Army is a fantastic piece of theatre, originally produced in 1976 with the Judson Poets’ Theater.  Rather than summarize the show myself, here’s the description printed on the show’s website:

In the dark early days of the Great Depression, in the spring and early summer of 1932, tens of thousands of unemployed World War I veterans and their supporters marched on Washington, D.C. They demanded that Congress, which had voted the war veterans a cash bonus to be paid in 1945, redeem their bonus certificates immediately, when they desperately needed the money. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force, but were known as the Bonus Marchers or the Bonus Army.

I auditioned for the show because they were looking for actor/musicians to play soldiers.  For the initial audition, I performed “Tell My Father,” from Frank Wildhorn’s The Civil War.  It’s a beautiful piece that I performed and over-performed any chance I got while in school at Ithaca College and Elmira College.  It’s not one I use often for auditions because it’s so damn depressing.  But since this play had “army” in the title, I figured I’d give it a go.  Oh, and mainly because the guy who auditioned right before me sang Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” which was my first choice.  So I made the director and musical want to commit suicide with a song so drenched with sorrow that they asked for a second piece–never a bad thing–that was an up tempo.  So I did “Louder Than Words” from tick, Tick…Boom!

I was called back to read sides, but since I couldn’t make the scheduled call, the director was kind enough to see me at his home in the Village.  We’re just getting started, so I’m sure I’ll be posting more soon, but let’s say we’re already having a lot of fun, and I can tell you that it’s going to be an incredibly unique and environmental theatre piece which the audience is going to love!

 

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