Sunday, 25 March 2012

“Life in New York: An Awakening of my own that is a SMASH!”

January 16, 2012 to January 26, 2012

Just two days after moving to the city, I went on my first EPA (Aka: Equity Principal Audition.) Walking into the audition, which was at Ripley Grier Studios, I felt like I was walking into a slaughterhouse. There were so many people (both Equity and the non-equity people hoping to be seen) and with this being my first Equity audition, I felt to stupid and like everyone who watched me walking in knew just how dump I was to all of this. I put my name on the list and sat down. I didn’t get to the audition super early so I was placed on the alternate list at #28. I started talking with an extremely sweet girl named Kristen and she spent some time explaining to me how everything with Equity worked. She was alternate #18… meaning she was totally going to make it into the audition during the EPA. At first they thought that they would get to me before the time was up for the EPAs but they ended up only getting to #24. Right after the EPA was the ECC (Aka: Equity Chorus Call) so I was bumped to the back of the line that was forming for the ECC… #398. For the ECC, you can sign up one week in advance at the Equity building, which basically starts placing you in line. All those on the list are at the front and all those people that just showed up the day of the audition go to the back of the line…everyone still being Equity that is. Luckily, not everyone that had signed up was there so I was bumped up to #70. I spent most of my waiting time playing games on my phone but soon became bored. I went over my music, talked to some people who also were waiting in the ECC with me, and finally back to the phone. After the phone died, I did some people watching. It is extremely funny to me how bitchy and catty the waiting room can be. I mean, aren’t we all here trying to do the same thing? Shouldn’t we want to be encouraging to each other instead of judgmental and rude? I mean…we all have to start somewhere, right? And with the theatre world being so small, why start being a little bitch now? (…anyway…done with my venting for a little while.)

Once I finally got into the room, I had already been waiting for almost seven hours. I was ready to sing, that was for certain. I walked in, sang my 32 bars, had a short conversation with the casting director about my time in Dallas with Spring Awakening, and left. I find it funny that it was a seven-hour wait for a two-minute audition. While ultimately I didn’t get the job, I was happy just to have my first audition out of the way. It was nice to be able to just audition and officially start my journey of auditioning in NYC! J

As my auditions went on…I found that the waiting rooms never seem to get any better. I find two or three people that I seem to be able to carry on a nice conversation with while others continue to bitch and act like they are more important than they really are. I have also found that I sort of enjoy auditioning. Even when I don’t get cast, I still enjoy the fact that I sort of have a performance opportunity with each audition. My nerves spike just a little, by hands start to sweat, but then I walk into that room, I start singing and just enjoy being able to belt the shit out of my song. Unlike at home or college where I could just sing wherever and whenever, I don’t really have a place here that I can belt. I don’t have my car, I have roommates and neighbors I shouldn’t disturb, and I don’t want to just belt it out right there on the street…awkward. So I’m doing my best to just enjoy audition. Lord knows that if I stay in this career I’ll be auditioning more than actually working. Lol.

Courtney Chilton, a friend that graduated with me from TU, has been in the city and audition for musicals, tv, and film for a few months now. Upon my arrival, we met up for drinks and starting talking about life. The audition process, if chartered by yourself, can be a very lonely one. Now that I was in the city, she started giving me some advice on TV extra work and the in’s and out’s of finding them. With a helpful lead from her, I booked my first extra work for a new show on NBC, Smash.

The morning of my first extra work was an extremely early one. While I technically didn’t have to be there until 9AM, I wanted to make sure I was early. You see there is a little rule that we go by in the theatre: “Being 15 minutes early is being on time. Showing up at the start time means you’re late.” Since I was already leaving at 7AM and I wasn’t sure of where I was going, I had to be up at 5:45 to get prepped and ready for the shoot. I arrived about thirty minutes early, checked in with appropriate people, and had a seat to wait for further instructions. The first thing they had me do was check in with wardrobe. They had asked us to bring several options so I had two different outfits for them to choose from. They said that they didn’t have a lot of the guys in much color so they placed me in a purple, polo button down and a yellow tie that Jeffrey let me borrow.

As I waited, I started up a conversation with a guy who just moved into town as well and who looked just as lost and confused as me. David went to Michigan and moved to the city for musical theatre. He moved from Vegas where he just finished a run with the hit musical Jersey Boys. We talked for a good thirty minutes or so about life and how we were both adjusting to the city.

The lady in charge came out to welcome us and give us a few “Golden Rules” about being an extra as well as some explanations of some filming lingo. Thank God she was helping us out a little! I mean, most of them are common since but you take help from wherever and whoever seems to be giving it freely.

The 5 Golden Rules of Extra Work:
1.     No talking on the set.
2.     Cell Phones must be off or on silent. No cell phone should be pulled out and/or seen on set.
3.     Do NOT fall asleep on the set.
4.     In case of an emergency, talk only to the person in charge of the extras. Do not go to anyone else!
5.     Do not ask when the wrap will be. You will be told when the wrap happens and not a minute before.

Filming Vocabulary 101:
1.     Rolling: They Start Filming
2.     Background: When the extras should start their business/action.
3.     Action: When the principals start their business/action.
4.     Cut: Filming Stops, Actors stop, you don’t say anything, and wait for the next direction.
5.     Reset: Go back to the start of the section you are filming.

After our little session on rules and vocab, we were walked to the set. Located only a few blocks from our location, we where in Vinegar Hill (in Brooklyn) at a very nice bar. While David and I were trying to stay together so we could keep talking and actually sort of know someone else during the process, we were separated during the placement process as they placed us on set. The bar had two levels and while he was on the first, I was on the second. This business can be so lonely. I felt sort of like how I felt while at the Spring Awakening audition. None of my friends are here to share this with. Nobody to sit in the waiting rooms with me and “shoot the shit with.” But I guess that is just all part of it. I knew moving here that I was one of the first from my year heading this direction and parts of this journey would be lonely. I guess I just need to find better ways of passing my time. Being on the second level also meant that more than likely I wouldn’t really been seen that much. UGH! First exciting extra work and I would either not make the shoot or be thrown on the cutting room floor.

Once on the set, they announced that today I would be on set with Katharine Mcphee and Uma Thurman! Uma Thurman? Now, I’m sure that those of you who have been keeping up with the show are a little confused. How could Uma be on here and what was her character? I guess that’s just one of the plot twists yet to come in the show! Our time on set was just a lot of hurrying up and waiting. You just find ways to pass the time…without your cell phone (Don’t forget out the 2nd golden rule!).

At lunchtime, there was a feast!! Is this for real? Is this normal? If so, I want to do more extra work! Mom and Dad don’t worry!! Smash is feeding me extremely well. Lol. From salad to steak, there were a lot of options and a lot to go around. While of course I, along with the rest of those that weren’t union with a TV or Film union like SAG or AFTRA, had to wait and go last in the line, there was still plenty of food to go around. 

After lunch we sat around for several hours waiting on the crew to get back and get ready for us to be back on set. During this time, I realized that everyone should be prepared for situations like this. In general you should have some sort of audition bag that includes a good book, gum, audition material, headshot and resume, a writing pad, a black or blue pen and a pencil, chapstick, a water bottle, a power bar, and possibly a magazine to go back and forth with between the book.

Once we got back on set, we recorded a few more shots that they missed the first time around. They moved on to another space over by the bar and pulled a few people over for specific action while the rest of us just sat by doing nothing. Once I had finally given up on actually having a chance to be seen in the episode and became satisfied enough with just getting a paycheck, they moved to the dance floor in the bar where I was chosen to help. Unless they completely cut this shot, I should totally make it into the episode. I am standing right behind Katherine Mcphee and Uma is within my arm reach. It was so weird to be that close to these people. I mean, I knew that I would see people on set but never would I have imagined that I would be this close. This ten-minute shoot was totally worth the other 9 hours of sitting around, shooting, and waiting.

In the end, it was a great day and a wonderful experience. I hope to do more in the future! While they are extremely long days, the pay isn’t too terrible.

***Please tune in with me to see if I actually make it into the episode! J It will be Episode 12 and should run sometime in May. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know exactly what date as soon as I know!

After working for the casting company that hired me for Smash, they also hired me for extra work on Person of Interest. I have never seen this show in my life and apparently it is my father’s new favorite show of the season. I find that sort of funny that I ended up working on the set of it while not knowing it and my father loving it.

One really interesting thing about working this gig was meeting a guy there who was also from Tennessee. While we were pulling out our Drivers Licenses for paper work, he noticed that I was from Tennessee and explained that he was from Nashville. We sat talking about how he just moved here as well, life in the city, and of course the south.

Overall, it was a very chill day that was very organized. I only spent five hours on set and was paid for ten…that’s always a good thing!

My episode of Person of Interest has already run. It was Episode 16: Risk. I only found out that it ran because I had a friend’s mother from Memphis actually message me to tell me that she saw me. It is very quick and during the fight scene, but you can see me for a hot second. 

“…If I Can Make It Here…”

January 14, 2012 to February 14, 2012

WOW! I can’t believe that I have already been here for a month! It seems like just last week I arrived in the city. But looking back over this past month, I’ve already had a lot of amazing opportunities and I wanted to share a few with you now.

On my arrival to the city, I moved in with Jeffrey and his wonderful roommates Liz and Avery in Brooklyn. They live by the Parkside stop on the Q train. They have generously allowed me to stay on the couch for the past few weeks while auditioning, job hunting, and apartment searching.

Audition wise, I’ve only hit up a couple of auditions here and there. While I of course want to audition and work towards something I actually have a degree in, I also needed something at the moment that is stable and allow me to pay the rent in order for me to stay in New York. While here, I’ve auditioned for several shows for all over the country including Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde, and Book of Mormon. Also in the performance realm and as many of you know, I’ve also had the opportunities to do some extra work on Smash, Person of Interest, and a couple of audience pieces. (More to come on these experiences in my next blog)

Concerning a job, it has taken me a while to find something…really anything. I applied at over forty places, walking up and down the streets of NYC and stopping in whatever stores that were hiring…that is a retail store. I decided that since I really wanted to enjoy my time in the city, I didn’t really want to wait tables. So at first, I was looking for anything besides the food industry. Unfortunately for me, most stores weren’t hiring until late February or March since most where currently still letting go of their new holiday hires. Finally, after two weeks of searching, I finally heard back from NY Kids Club, a premier children enrichment center renowned for creative and innovative kids classes, day camps, birthday celebrations, and special events. I went through training with the company and have become a part of their Special Events Team. It means that I am only really working Fridays at 3pm to Sunday at 6am. This is a great job where I get to work with children, only work on the weekends, and allows me time to still audition during the week. The NY Kids Club also guarantees me work when I come back to the city if I get a theatre job that needs me to leave the city for a few weeks/months. It is a great job! Now I just need to work my up in the ranks so that I can become a more permanent part of the team and get more hours.

Apartment wise, my findings were similar to that of my job hunt. Looking for an apartment that met what I wanted out of a place was difficult to find. Not only was I looking for a place for myself, I was also looking for a place that I could share with Cynthia, a friend from TU that is moving here in March. In looking for a place, I just wanted something that had a good and safe location, that had enough space for the two of us, and that wouldn’t break my bank account each month. I realized very quickly into my search that I could only have two of the three!! My ideal situation would be something that I could sublet for 6 to 10 months, wouldn’t be more than $800 a month (including all utilities), and enough space for Cynthia and I not to kill each other. Lol. After about 3 weeks of searching, sending about a hundred emails to different sublets, and actually going to see 4 or 5 potential places, my friend Jessica called telling me that she had a room opening up at her place March 1st. You may remember me talking about Jessica during my Seussical blog. She went to TU but graduated before I got there. She and her fiancĂ©, David, were looking for someone to start renting one bedroom in their three bedroom apartment starting March 1st. And, to add to this already amazing opportunity, they need someone else to start renting in April since their other roommate will be leaving then. That extra room is perfect for Cythia!!! Why Cynthia’s original plan was to move here in March, the new opportunity sort of forced her to wait until April instead. That just gives her more time to allow herself time to prep for the big apple.

Job: Check. Housing: Check. Now I just have to wait for March 1st to move in and continue to audition…