Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Big Fat Media Whore

I’ve just returned from entertaining myself with …. ME.

I think any artist creates just to make himself (or herself) happy. Whatever else happens after that – fame, fortune, career – is incidental. In the act of creation, the artist’s first goal is to satisfy himself. I know it’s true for me, inasmuch as I'm an artist. When I’m writing or shooting and editing video or playing my drums or whatever the hell it is, I’m doing it because I enjoy it. I write to make myself laugh. I produce little home movies to move me. When I’m done, if there’s an audience (and if there is, you’re awfully low profile) and you laugh or you’re moved too, then great. But I really did it all for me.

If I write one more time how it’s been a long time between posts, I’m going to puke. Because it’s too much of a recurring theme around here. A whole year and more have gone by since my last acting job (Trailer Park Boys – which movie I have still not seen) and I’d be hard-pressed even to think whether I’ve done an audition. My agent and I have had a bit of a row. I’m separated now from my wife and there are new contact numbers. Three times now I’ve passed them on. After two tries, audition notices were still being sent to my Z-wife (“zed” because it’s the end, but it’s not quite “ex”). So there might have been auditions except notices went where they shouldn’t have. Finger-pointing and accusations have followed.

The sun continues to rise and set.

So I’ve had this mini-post in mind for a couple of weeks and I’m finally getting around to crafting it. Immediately before opening up MSWord, I was on the blog site re-reading and, yes, enjoying the earlier posts on the main page (with little frets about spelling; perfection is the enemy of the excellent).

(Heh. In the last sentence I spelled “enemy” wrong and Word suggested “enema” which I thought was sort of a cool alternate word choice for that phrase….)



There has been stuff happening and to be rid of the vacuum, I’m posting about it.

The first thing has been the release of the Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day. Gleefully now, free from the constraints of the confidentiality agreement, I tell everyone that I shot Randy! Even though I was aiming for Julian.

“Do you have any lines?”

*sigh* No. No lines. I was an actor, had my trailer and a screen credit and made good money for only a day’s work. But no lines. “Security Guard #2”, that’s me. Not number one, number two. We try harder.

When I filmed it, a year ago this past July, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. Around this time I resolved I was going to get trimmer and that very month (I remember because it was the last family vacation) I started running. I’ve since finished two half-marathons and lost over 22 pounds. But there I am in the movie at my fattest, saved for all posterity. If in fact I made the final cut. Like I said, I still haven't seen it. But I saw the first trailer and I was in that, although I'd have to get it and freeze frame it and point out that tiny person in the background, yeah that's the guy that just fired the shot, that's me....

Also this summer, the Halifax Mooseheads called and I ended up on a billboard with my son.

Three years ago, Santa was very cool in bringing my son a jersey, the white, home jersey for the Mooseheads with #20 on the back (the number of his favourite player, Jakub Voracek) and his name on the back, “IAN”. The next year, Santa brought and left for me the Mooseheads third jersey, white with “Halifax” scripted across the front, the number 9 and my name on the back: “IAN’S DAD”.

We’ve been season ticket holders for the last couple of years (the 15-game pack) and apparently our jerseys were noted because when I asked the Mooseheads' marketing guy why we were called, he replied, “Everyone knows Ian and Ian’s Dad.”

Really? That’s pretty cool.

So we’re on a billboard. And a fridge magnet.

When my zed-brother–in-law invited me to Newfoundland to play drums with his band, I figured this was the hat-trick and should at least be worthy of a note in the Blog, even though it technically runs outside the theme of this journal. Or maybe not.

After all, what extra doesn’t dream of becoming a big, fat media whore?

Just keep in mind I’m down 22 pounds.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mirage or Oasis?

After an era of inactivity, a flurry of auditions (is four a flurry?) resulting in a job.

The job is with the Trailer Park Boys. They're shooting a 2nd feature film.

The original audition was a couple of weeks ago, fraught with its own drama; I had arrived with something extra and something missing. The missing bit was the first page of the audition script which was very vexing and leads me further down the path of believing I need to change agents. I had received two pages, but one seemed not to have anything to do with me or any character that I might read for. My inquiry to my agent about this suspicious second page went unanswered. I arrived for the audition and saw that the page I had learned was really the second page of two. Fortunately the auditions were running a little behind (they often are) and I had about ten minutes to memorize the lines from the first page. It gave me a different appreciation on how I wanted to play the character. In fact I changed my mind about three times before I went in and consequently suffered a significant crisis of confidence during my performance. I came out feeling not very good about my audition, not very good about my agent.

The extra I brought was an improv.

Remembering previous auditions and knowing how Mike C. likes to shoot his scenes, I thought about what kinds of things the character might say if we were told to improvise anything following the read-through. Sure enough, the two of us doing the audition were told we would have to get ourselves out of the scene and I used the two “improv” bits that I’d come up with.

Despite my own evaluation of how the audition went, I got a callback a few days later.

Turns out the script we read was a fake script. I had an inkling it might have been, since the title on the top of the pages I got read: “Trailer Park Boys Fake Scene”. For the callback I was told that there would be scripts available either early on the day or at the location for a cold read, but of course, no there weren’t. It was to be completely improvised.

I don’t consider improve a strength of mine. I generally am very reliant on the written word. Back some years ago as an extra on the set of “Blackfly”, Ron James was doing a scene were he was trying to make up a line that echoed the “My name is Joe” ads for Molson Canadian. Remember? “My name is Joe and I AM CANADIAN!” Well, Blackfy was set in the pre-Confederation days and Ron and the director and the other actor in the scene were trying to come up with the word that would substitute for “Canadian”. They didn’t get one so that particular bit wasn’t used. Later, I saw him outside and I told him, the word you were looking for was “Colonial”. My name is Blackfly, and I AM COLONIAL!” Ron says, “Why didn’t you say something?!?!?!” I told him truthfully because I’d just thought of it.

See, I’m funny but I’m not quick. That makes for good writing, but bad improv.

So I’m sitting in the conference room at the Lord Nelson Hotel in a suit and tie, having just come from another audition about an hour previous in another part of the city. I’m the second guy to arrive. The first guy to arrive won’t sit down. He paces. And paces. And paces some more. I’m feeling pretty relaxed and calm despite the looming requirement to improvise some scenes (in a suit and tie remember, for the Trailer Park Boys, remember) but all that pacing is starting to drive me bat shit. Two more actors arrive. One of them invites Pacing Man to sit down, but the guy declines. This is how he works, he tells us. Thankfully, he’s the first to be called in and I tell the other two guys how the stress level in the room suddenly has gone WAY down. “My God!” the guy says. “He just wouldn’t stop pacing!”

“Fucking actors,” I say and we laugh.

A couple of days later I get the call that I’d won one of the roles. Do I have to add “Improv specialist” to my acting résumé now?

The role is for a Brinks Truck driver. He’s dropped off his partner and surreptitiously detouring to the liquor store at the end of the day. Getting out of the truck, Julian runs up and breathless asks if he has a gun.

“Yes,” I said carefully, “but I’m off duty…”

I like to think this was the line that won me the role. It could have been that Mike remembers me from our Channel Ten days of pre-glory. Either way is okay with me.

As for the day of shooting, well, I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement, so you’re going to have to watch the movie to find out what went on. We were out in public, right in the core of downtown Halifax and had a lot of people around watching us. Many figured I was part of security for the shoot and approached to ask questions about what was going on. THEM I told because I hadn’t signed the agreement yet. Also, it was kind of all happening right there in front of them.

Would it be telling too much if I told you we were shooting guns?

It was pretty cool and a lot of fun. I thanked Mike at the end of the day. He let me know that there’s a shot that features me prominently. He doesn’t know that I’m very comfortable toiling away in obscurity. I’ll have to send him a link to the blog.

With a note of gratitude, of course.

(Posted much earlier than the date shows; re-posted to remove a link to a sex site. Sheesh.)