2015: Looking Ahead

2015So, as I wrote earlier, 2014 was a great year for me.  And the year before.  And the year before.  But that’s because I’m pretty easy to please.  It’s a great problem to have, but it also places me in my own way sometimes.

I’m like a little kid.  It doesn’t take much for me to feel like “this is the most awesome thing ever!!!”  When I’m doing extra work, most of the people around me are complaining about the lack of variety in the catering, or how it’s such a long day.  I just look around and think “but guys, we’re working on a real mooooovie!”  Same for reenactment tv.  And student films.  And shows.  And concerts.  I guess the great news is I haven’t become jaded.  When it comes to focus, though, that’s where I have a problem.

When people get to know me, or at least get me involved in conversation about everything I’m doing, they inevitably ask me what my dream job is.  And I always struggle to come up with an answer.  Again, the good part is that there isn’t only one thing that I’d be happy doing.  The bad part is that with so many options on the table, I never really put enough focus into any one of them.

In a city like New York, if you want to get to the top in any field, you’ve gotta work harder than everyone else around you.  And while a lot of people will tell you that I’m one of the most driven people they know, that drive lacks focus.  What they see is that I’m always on the go, always working, and usually have something fun to post about on Facebook.  But I don’t really have a master plan.  I just submit and apply for everything that interests me, and if I can squeeze it into my schedule, I do it.

I usually only have one day off a month where I’m not running from one thing to the next, and on most days I’m working more than one job.  If you look at the last two weeks before I left for the circus, I worked as an admin assistant for The New York Pops and Actors Equity, I acted in a short film, was the rehearsal accompanist and sang in a concert with Essential Voices USA, recorded a voice for an animated film (which I also composed the theme song for), taught one workshop for Disney and two for A Class Act, directed and accompanied a benefit concert, worked as a church organist and choir director, photographed a press event, and hit up a few auditions.

Insane, right?  That’s literally the two weeks before I left New York.  Was it a blast?  You bet!  Was I sleeping enough?  Not a chance!  Did I get sick because of it?  Of course, silly.  But that’s just what I do!

Now here’s the thing.  I’m finally getting to a point, at the ripe, young age of 35, where I’m starting to realize that I need a plan.  Sure, I’m doing a lot of fun stuff and getting loads of random crap on my resume.  But if I really want to take off, to really excel in one of these areas, I’ve gotta let people know that’s what I do and that I’m damn good at it.  Of course you can do as many things as you want, and I don’t believe that you can only be really good at one thing.  But, it’s a little harder for people to take you seriously if they don’t really know what you do.

Look at it this way, if you were going to hire a wedding photographer, would you hire someone who has a legit wedding photography business with hundreds of weddings in their portfolio, or would you hire a photographer who has shot a couple weddings, some fashion shows, a little bit of travel photographer, who has also catered weddings, worked them as a dj, and baked a couple wedding cakes?  I think the answer is clear, and I think you know I’m the metaphorical photographer/caterer/dj/baker.

The ball’s gonna drop in a few so I’m gonna take a break, but I’ll be back next year with more on my 2015 plans!

Happy New Year!

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2014: The Year In Review

2014-new-yearAs 2014 comes to a close, I can’t help but take a little time to think back on what an awesome year it was.  I always try to be optimistic, so I’ve never looked back on a particular year and said “well, this one really blew.  Let’s hope the next one is better.”  But this year in particular was really exciting.

I had a ton of fun, I got to do a lot of cool things and meet a lot of cool people, and in general, I was just loving what I was doing…most of the time.  (I’m sure if you talked to my roommate, she’d be able to point out a few times where all I did was bitch about what I was doing.)

RIght now, I’m in Ft. Myers, Florida, having a breakfast sandwich and a hot cup of black coffee at Panera Bread, one of my favorite places to just sit and relax.  I was thinking of going through, month by month, with my Google calendar open, but that just seemed obnoxious, so I’ll just shoot from the hip.

To start, I’m a teaching artist!  At this time last year, I didn’t even know what a teaching artist was (or that I had been one without knowing it); I had heard the term thrown around a lot but thought it was someone that had a masters in education who went into schools to do special programs.  Little did I know that a teaching artist could also be someone who dropped their education major after the first day of Classroom Instruments in college (though I don’t advertise that when applying for jobs).  Fast-forward to now and I’m working as a teaching artist for Disney Theatricals, Broadway Classroom, A Class Act NY, and starting in two weeks, The New York Pops, all which happened in 2014.

At the start of the year, I took a little cruise with Jim Brochu, playing piano for his show Character Man, which took us to St. Barths, St. Maarten, Jost Van Dyke, and San Juan.

I got to photograph a ton of celebrities I adore including Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, Aaron Tveit, Matthew Morrison, and Debra Messing.  And my favorite shot of the year was at The New York Pops gala honoring Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman, when I was able to get “the three Tracys” in one photo: Ricki Lake, Nikki Blonsky, and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

With Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA, I had the privilege of singing with the chorus two more times at Carnegie Hall, once in March and once in Novemeber.  A small group of us also spent an evening with John Bucchino, singing through an arrangement of his piece Grateful that my friend Jeremy created.

For film and TV, I shot (acted in) an episode for Discovery ID and another one for The Travel Channel, I did my first voiceover work for Lucky and the Pirates, shot a short film, and recorded a little music for a web series I acted in last year, but finished up with the music this year.

And at the piano, I was a rehearsal accompanist for Broadway Backwards, musically directed Warp Speed for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, accompanied a couple cabarets, and had a blast working with Will and Anthony for several concerts.

And now?  I’ve run away and joined the circus!  I could not be more grateful for everything that’s been going on.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t take some time to be thankful for all of the blessings (and insanity) in my life!

Another reason for this list is to segue into my next post, which will be all about figuring out what my plans are for 2015.  I still want it to be wacky and exciting, but as you can see, I tend to spread myself a little thin.  I think I’m going to hone in a little and put more energy into fewer things.

What will they be?  Patience, my child.  I’m still figuring it out.

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Barking, Growling, Panting, and other things you do as an actor

photo (8)Today was my last day working on Lucky and the Pirates, and as is always the case at Moon Lab studios, it was a blast. We were a little short on time on November 9th, as we were recording the script, so Lane Banning, recording genius, was able to carve out some time today for me to finish up. Basically we just needed to get some more dog sounds so the animators have some more options in the toolbox.

When I got to the studio, I asked Lane to play me The Lonely Pirate song, the piece I wrote for the film, because I was so curious what the finished product sounded like, and it was great! When we recorded a couple weeks ago, we did the instrumental track first; I played accordion and Johnny played banjo. Later, when we were all there, we recorded the vocals, so I was never able to really listen to what everyone else was doing because I had to make sure my own vocals were lining up with the track. And now that I’ve heard it, I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like when it’s set to animation!

After listening to the song, I was telling Lane how I had been watching shih tzu videos on YouTube so I could make sure my barking and growling sounded legit. So just for kicks, he loaded one up while I was in the booth so we could both listen to the real thing, before I started shameless attempt to mimic. And away we went.

I was panting, howling, barking, and growling like a champ. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when I realized I was biting my finger like it was a stick, while growling and playing tug-of-war with myself. If I were doing this anywhere else besides a recording studio, I’d be on my way to an institution. All in a day’s work, I guess.

Hey, mom! Aren’t you glad I went to college for this? (That poor lady. Today her son is imitating a pooch, and in 36 hours, he’s running away to join the circus)


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Lucky And The Pirates: In The Studio

Kevin B. Winebold at Moon Lab Studios

In the booth at Moon Lab Studios

Today was our recording day for Lucky and the Pirates and I realized something today: I love doing voiceover work!  I only had one experience before, doing a radio play for an NYU student, but today was the real deal.

We were at Moon Lab studios, run by my buddy Lane Banning.  I met him when we were recording the performance tracks for Warp Speed, and we loved him so much that we went back to record a demo of the show when it was finished.  It wasn’t anything the production team had planned on, but working with Lane was so much fun and such an easy process that the producer decided it’d be a shame not to bring in the whole cast to record the show as a keepsake when we were finished with the run.

For Warp Speed, the first day I was at the keyboard all day laying down the tracks, which was great because I was right there in the room where Lane was working, so I could get a little glimpse into the whole process.  And when the cast came, they were in the studio, while I stayed with Lane and just listened and gave notes, since we recorded with the tracks I already played.

Today, I got to be in the studio myself. I had my own little booth where I could just talk, bark, pant, and go nuts, and I loved every second of it.  I had never done any kind of work before where I couldn’t see the other actors, so it was really interesting.  It really makes you listen so you’re truly reacting, because that’s all you can do.  I didn’t get to see the physicality of the other actors because of the setup, so I just had to trust my instincts and it was so much fun!  And I could be as weird as I wanted to in the booth, shaking my ass like I was wagging a tail whenever I spoke, and no one could see me to make fun of me!

Before we dove into the script, I had to lay down the instrumental track for the Lonely Pirate song I wrote.  I played accordion and Johnny, who plays one of the pirates, played banjo.  We did a couple takes of the song, and then brought the cast in to lay down the vocals.  Karen and Lane figured it’d be better to get those out of the way first, so that the remainder of the time could be spent on the dialogue.

I raced from my church gig in Queens to the studio in Brooklyn, recorded the song and the script, and then had to get an Uber so I could race from the studio to a rehearsal in Manhattan with Essential Voices USA, since we have a concert coming up.

Oh, and the Uber driver and I had a fantastic conversation.  He asked where I was coming from and where I was going.  When I mentioned what I was doing with Lucky, his eyes lit up.  Several of his passengers have told him he had an amazing voice and should try and get into voiceover work but had no idea where to start.  And I’ll admit, he did have a fantastic voice.  I told him I was new to it myself, but was at least able to give him a bunch of internet resources that I have used myself.  Just another one of those great NYC moments that happens when you open up and talk to strangers!

I’m about three seconds from passing out, but luckily I’ve got a pretty relaxed day tomorrow with only one class and one rehearsal.

Sleep tight!


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Mnemosyne Technique and…the circus?

Circus backgroundToday was supposed to be my first day filming Mnemosyne Technique, but unfortunately we didn’t to shoot.  I met the director, Brett, and the actress playing my wife, Pooyah, at Starbucks.  Brett gave us some cash so Pooyah and I could get lunch and get to know each other, and it gave the crew a little more time to get set up.  Pooyah and I found a Shake Shack, which was a first for both of us, and had a blast getting to know each other.

When we arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, where we were set to shoot, we hit a snag.  Brett got clearance to shoot at the hotel a while ago, but when he showed up and started setting up the camera, someone came down to the cafe area and told him that we had to wait for him to get clearance someone someone on the national level.  Apparently whoever gave Brett permission before didn’t have the authority to give permission.  And obviously, shooting a scene in the cafe of a hotel in Brooklyn was pretty low on the priority list for anyone that might check the voicemail the hotel manager left.  So we didn’t get to shoot.  But that’s not what this post is about.

I got a text from my buddy Danny saying “dammit Kevin, are you available or not?”  I had no idea what he was talking about until I remembered that I had an unheard voicemail from him. (I have the terrible habit of saying to myself “I’ll check it later.”)

Anyway, Danny is the bassist on the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Gold Unit, and it turns out, they need a keys 2 sub for a few weeks!  Months ago, thanks to Danny, I interviewed for the Keys 1 position, but after learning about the necessity to know synth programming, I told the conductor that I was pulling myself out of the race.  I was pretty sure he’d find someone more qualified, since I have yet to program a keyboard.  But apparently I made a pretty dandy impression, because Danny said that Robbie, the conductor, asked him to check in with me to see if I was available.

I just got off the phone with him, got some preliminary info, and now I’ve got to circle up with the conductor and chat a little more.  And obviously, look at my schedule and see if there is any possible way to make it work, which usually seems unlikely.  For some reason, though, I have a pretty good feeling about this!

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The Katra Film Series

film-projectorTonight, I finally got to see Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid on a screen larger than my laptop.  I wasn’t able to attend the initial screening, and sadly couldn’t afford to catch it at Cannes, but thankfully Karen had been submitting the film to festivals in NYC.

The Katra Film series screens shorts by New York directors and then invites them up to chat a little about their film.  We had a couple drinks and then it was time to start watching.  There’s just something so exciting the second you see your film show up on screen. And of course, when you’re sitting with your cast, everyone around you just so happens to love the film and responds the way a perfect audience should…since they’re all in it.

But the most exciting part came not from the screening, but a conversation I had with the writer/director and dear friend of mine, Karen Goldfarb.

She told me that he next projects is going to be an animate short called Lucky and the Pirates, and she wants me to play Lucky, the shih tzu.  I’ve never done animation and I’ve never played an animal before so I’m already really excited and the script isn’t even finished yet.  But if there’s anyone that came make something happen, it’s Karen.  I mean, Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid was her first script, her first time directing and producing, and she got that baby in Cannes.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Lucky!

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The Girls On The Ground Floor

Kevin B. Winebold and Charlotte Munson in Master Class

Kevin B. Winebold and Charlotte Munson in Master Class

I got to wear my composer hat today, for the first time in a long time (like a really long time).  Last May I filmed a web series called The Girls On The Ground Floor.  A friend of mine got together with another friend to create the series, then her friend Blayne wrote the script while my friend Abby acted as producer and SAG/AFTRA liason.  It was an all-hands-on-deck process, which I love.  When we weren’t in a scene, we were holding a light for the director, who was also DP/Camera Op, or we were moving furniture out of the way for the next scene.  We kept joking anytime someone did something besides act, saying “I’ll make sure you get IMDB credit for that.” Blayne mentioned she wanted music for the episode while I was there, and Abby told her that I was a musician, and I could write something.  And that was that, a composer was born. Me being me, though, I kept dropping the ball and forgetting to write anything, so I was sure I’d be replaced.  Luckily, the director/dp/camera op, who just so happens to be editing the project, added the title of husband to his resume since we filmed, so he hasn’t been rushing to finish Ground Floor. Blayne called last week and we made an appointment to get together today so I could play through some ideas for her.  She wanted something Randy Newman-esque, so I tried my best.  I came up with two theme song ideas that could also be broken down into five beat chunks (I’m sure there’s a better term for that) that could be used for transitions. The melodies were really catchy, at list to me, so I was excited to play them for her.  But I was also incredibly nervous!  If I was suggesting public domain music that I played for her and she didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be personal.  But I wrote these, and I was so afraid that I’d proudly play her the songs, and she’d just look at me and say “no, that’s not what I had in mind.  What else can you come up with?” Luckily, she loved it!  She hugged me, hugged me again, and then once more for good measure.  So with the nerves gone, we broke the songs down, deciding what pieces to use for which part of each episode.  All I’ve gotta do now is go to a studio in midtown to record them into Garage Band; I could do it at home, but I’d rather use an acoustic piano. Hopefully it won’t be another nine months for me to remember to get to work! (and in case you’re wondering, the photo above is from Master Class.  but it’s kind of what it looked like today with me at the piano, and Blayne standing behind as I nervously played)

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SVA: Cop Vacation

I was back at SVA (School of Visual Arts) tonight, this time for a “class shoot,” working on a short film script called Cop Vacation.  I got a call last night around 7, asking it I was available to come in tonight for the class.  I confirmed that I was available, and around 9:30, I received the script over e-mail.

It’s a funny little comedy about two cops, one a detective and the other a captain, trying to work the system to get forced vacation.  I was playing the detective, trying to convince the captain that I had caused so much controversy in the department that they must be giving me “mandatory vacation so I can cool my heels.”  The captain, who was played by John G. Gallagher–and actor I recognized from TV–plays along, letting me know what a great detective I am, and how they couldn’t possible lose me until I finished the case.  In the end, when I tell him it should all be wrapped up next week with a major takedown of the D.A. and police commissioner, he says “great, I’ll still be in Hawaii at that point.”  He then stands up, revealing the below his jacket, shirt, and tie, he is wearing Bermuda shorts.  Turns out he outsmarted me, and convinced the “uppity ups” that he, himself, was the hothead in need of some time away from the office, and was on his way to the airport.  As he leaves, I sit there, dejected, and phone my girlfriend to tell her our vacation plans are off.

It was a great script and really fun to work in class.  It was a class for first year students, taught my Sal Petrosino, with a woman named Martha as the guest lecturer.  What I love about these projects is the free education I get from these superstar instructors who are actively working in the field, and it’s great to know what the next generation of filmmakers are being taught.  I was there an hour early, so I was able to sit in and take notes–probably more than some of the students–while Martha was teaching them about the role of a script supervisor, something I knew nothing about!  Not only am I learning a ton, but it really makes me appreciate everything that goes into the production aspect of a film.  I understand how theatre works, and could tell you what most of the major players do on the production team, but film and television is still a foreign language to me.

It also keeps me on my toes as far as acting and memorizing!  In theatre, we have the luxury of rehearsing and rehearsing until it’s “go time” and the audience is there.  In film, for the most part, you look at your script and go.  I had the script right before I was heading home to bed, and after working a few hours at the Equity office today, I had just enough time to grab a coffee and cram these lines so that I could have the script memorized and ready to shoot, and with an actor I had never met.  John and I were able to shake hands, chat for a couple minutes, and after one run through, it was time to start rolling!

This was my third time at SVA and hopefully the work will keep coming.  The students there are great, the faculty members are incredible, and the education I get, along with the acting experiences, have been stellar!  And you never know, one of these quiet, start-of-their-career students, learning for the first time how to really make a movie, could turn out to be the next Scorsese!

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The Twins Film: Photo Shoot and Rehearsal

Today started with another great monologue class with Chelsea.  I presented a monologue from the play “Cock.”  It went really well, and I got a ton of helpful feedback so that I can really get the monologue in a great place for auditions.  Next week, for our showcase in front of casting director Michael Cassara, the class and Chelsea agreed that I should do my pieces from Next Fall and To Ninevah.

Random side note, when you’re at the Drama Book Shop and you’re trying to Google the name of a play to find out the playwright (since they’re listed alphabetically by last name), be careful.  For my monologue last week, I was there and googled “To Ninevah Play” and the information I needed came right up.  When you google the title of this week’s monologue, followed by the word “play,” you might get a few thousand matches you won’t want to show your mama.  I can’t believe I didn’t catch on to what I was searching for until the results and images came up!

Tonight I met with Bob and Tina for the film I’m shooting this weekend, which I still don’t know the title of!  I keep forgetting to ask Bob, the director, if he has one and just didn’t give us the title page, or if he’s waiting to see the finished project to put a name on it.  So since I’m playing twins, sort of, that’s what it is for now.

The first thing we had to do was a quick photo shoot.  There’s a scene in the movie where my girlfriend, Lizzie, runs into a woman named Karen.  They bump into each other and some photos fall out of Karen’s purse.  Lizzie helps he pick them up and sees all of the pictures are cute, lovey images of Karen and I, or so she thinks.  She confronts me about it, and then I start to explain.  So we had to meet to take the photos that they’ll use as props, and then we had a blocking rehearsal for our scenes.

Tina, who plays Karen, is awesome.  While we were chatting, we realized that we both spent a year in Seoul, one year apart, so we had lots to talk about!  The one thing I learned is I don’t have a “wicked smile.”  In the last scene, Karen is coaxing me to get in bed with her.  The script says that I watch her walk to the bed, straight-faced, then flash a wicked smile, and then a normal smile.  I’ve got the normal smile, or at least what I think is normal.  But a wicked smile?  Totally lost.  I couldn’t stop giggling, thinking of how stupid I must look, being totally out of my comfort zone.  Bob kept saying, “you know, it’s that really sexy, I-know-what’s-about-to-happen-and-it’s-gonna-be-wild smile.”  Oh yeah, I flash that one all the time!  So I’ve got some awkward practice time in front of the mirror planned for the next couple days.  And it’s a tight close-up so there’s no way around it.

Time to go seduce my reflection!

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That’s A Wrap: Professionally Single

Today was our second and final day filming Professionally Single, and it was even more fun today than it was yesterday.  Since we were all new yesterday, the early hours were spent with the usual and somewhat awkward small talk where everyone is just getting to know each other and feel each other out.

Today it was handshakes, hugs, and familiar faces as soon as we arrived. The cast (talent) was called at 12:00, but the director knew I’d be late coming from my church gig.  I got there just in time to snatch a bagel, a cup of coffee, and a seat on the couch.  It was a couple hours before I was needed, so I got a lot of work done on a new monologue, as well as marking up some changes for a new domain I just bought (more to come).  And then it was time to have some fun!

My character, Billy Bob, has two lines: “Well, if someone tried to rape me, I’d just sh*t on them,” and “Now I’ve really gotta sh*t.”  If I didn’t spend 7 years in college preparing for this day (you read that right), I don’t think I’d ever have been able to deliver those lines with the conviction that I did today.  I mean, it’s such a meaty role and a pivotal plot point!  (seriously, pick up on the sarcasm)  But I have to admit, I loved the reaction I got when I first delivered the lines.

And then it was time for more sliders, so all was well in the world.  I was “wrapped” at 7:30, and the rest of the shoot was over by 8:00.  Within the next month, I should have a copy of the project, so I’ll be able to share it here, or at least put in a YouTube link.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a monologue class from 10-12, rehearsal for an audio drama at NYU from 12:30-2:30, an audition at 3 for a TV show called “Most Likely To Be Murdered,” and then an audition class from 7-9:30.  I’m obsessed with days like this, where I just go like mad all day, but everything I do is fun and creative.  I mean, where else could I perform a monologue about a gay guy whose boyfriend prays for forgiveness after sex, then do a voiceover as a lawyer who helps victims of zombie attacks, improv a monologue about murder for a casting director, and then get great advice from an incredible acting coach all in one day?  I ♥ NY

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