It's one thing to write something as your bio on Twitter and another to actually do it. I've spent the last two and half years after The Bannen Way release, developing projects for me to star in or direct. The journey at times has felt like I was going to the same well only to find no water. I've pitched shows, shot sizzle reels, spent umpteen hours taking meetings around town and developing and reworking projects. And yet during that time, I've worked like crazy as an actor and director on projects that include web series, shorts, features, commercials and even a guest spot on Showtime's Dexter. So things have definitely changed since Bannen. I've also been fortunate to work with some of the most talented, prolific and successful actor/filmmakers in the New Media space including Felicia Day, Mystery Guitar Man, Jon Lajoie, Taryn Southern, Yuri Baranovsky and Wilson Cleveland. This group of actor/filmmakers inspire me to keep creating, keep shooting and not to give up.
I was recently asked by a friend of mine, Marvin Acuna to create a twelve week online course to help screenwriters break into Hollywood through New Media for his awesome screenwriters site The Business of Show Institute. The idea was that it would be a version of my web series workshop broken up into twelve 7 to 10 minute videos that dovetailed with each other, so by the end you'd be able to go out and shoot your own project. I was to come up with the videos and assign a homework assignment for each week. At first I thought this should be pretty straight forward. I'd just take the workshop syllabus and break it up into twelve sections. Easier said than done. So many things came up as I was working on this, the first was my own bullshit that I didn't actually know what I was doing and that I was a fraud. The aforementioned struggles selling another project were looming in my mind. Did I just get lucky with Bannen? Was I a one hit wonder? If I knew what I was talking about, I should have hit it again. All of these things you can imagine were keeping me from actually being productive and doing me a disservice.
I turned my attention to why I did the workshops in the first place. I like helping people. I love inspiring people, sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. After Bannen was released I had over 40 'coffee meetings' with aspiring filmmakers and actors who wanted to create their own web series. I realized that after even a two hour chat, most people left with more questions and felt overwhelmed. I thought if I did like a six hour course where I walked through our process of Bannen and shared about all the things I learned with others, I could save people from the mistakes we made as well as all the stuff we learned along the way. I hooked back into that purpose and started from the beginning of the process.
patience 1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay:to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience. persist
1. to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc.: to persist in working for world peace; to persist in unpopular political activities.
2. to last or endure tenaciously: The legend of King Arthur has persisted for nearly fifteen centuries.
3. to be insistent in a statement, request, question, etc.
1. a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
2. something used to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.
3. mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.
4. a state of bodily equilibrium: He lost his balance and fell down the stairs.
SPOILER ALERT: I don't have the magic formula for this.
I don't, I wish I did, but sadly it's something I struggle with all the time. I recently had several conversations with actor and filmmaker friends on the subject and realized one of of us was talking the other off the ledge. Am I supposed to be patient and let go of the results or am I afraid of doing the next step to achieve my goals? And am I enjoying my life and the journey or just focussing on my career and not being present.
It reminds me of the John Lennon lyrics "Life is what happens to you. While you're busy making other plans."
When I first started acting, I felt like I did when I first got sober, I was ashamed and embarrassed to say that I was an ac... act... actor. Like the Fonz in Happy Days trying to say he was wr... wr... WRONG. God forbid someone would ask me what I'd been in or why I wasn't on TV like the other guy that looks just like me. Several years in acting class did not fix it. Doing plays, short films, even a scene in Ocean's 11 opposite Brad Pitt didn't fix it either. I still could not help but feel uncomfortable about saying I was an actor. What I've come to see now is, I'd been focusing on what I thought it meant to be an actor. I thought, to be able to say you're an actor, you had to be a "Successful Actor" -- meaning someone who made a living from their acting. My mentor, Milton Katselas, didn't bother with the psychology of the whole thing when I wanted to quit acting and just direct. He said to me, "You haven't given the acting thing a hundred percent. What you're not confronting in your acting will block you as a director. Do twenty scenes for me, I'll pick them out, and then you decide if you're done with acting." (You can read more on this in a previous blog, TO ACT... OR TO DIRECT... THAT WAS THE QUESTION) He knew that I couldn't think my way into confidence as an actor, I had to actually push past my shit and build the confidence.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 15:29
Blog Post - "To Act... or To Direct... That Was The Question
NOVEMBER 30, 2010 I've mentioned this in a couple different interviews but wanted to expand on it a bit in a new unit of time. I think it was mid 2005, I sat down with my mentor and teacher, Milton Katselas to discuss my decision to QUIT acting. I was very frustrated. I wasn't enjoying acting, the business mostly, but it affected my desire to improve my craft in class. So I was going to tell Milton that I wanted to quit acting and pursue directing. I sat across from him in his incredible house and pleaded my case, "I don't enjoy acting anymore. I love directing. I realize when I assist you Milton, I'm watching you as a director, seeing how you discover what the scene's about, work with the actors and tell a story. When I watch a movie, I'm thinking as a director, as a filmmaker, not as an actor studying their choices. I am a director!" I sat back in my chair, I felt good about what I just spewed. Sitting next to me, was Art Cohan, the Senior Stage Manager of the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Milton's right hand and one of my best friends. I looked over to him for reassurance as Milton began writing on his notepad in broad strokes. He wrote the words ACTOR and DIRECTOR and drew a line between them. He turned the pad to me and said, "You have to make a decision today, ACTOR or DIRECTOR... you can only do one... which?"
The Original Sheet from Milton
Without hesitation I pointed to DIRECTOR... "did he not just hear my case just now??" I was thinking. He turned the pad around and circled ACTOR and DIRECTOR and at the bottom wrote the word "BOTH". He turned it around one more time and showed it to me. He said, "YOU... can do BOTH. But you have to give a hundred percent to the acting or you'll never succeed as a director. You have to confront what's blocking you in your acting or it will block you as a director. You need the skills as an actor, you need to kill that and then you'll be able to do both... with success."
Blog Post - "Fear Sucks - Until You Go Through It"
I know I need to do something when it scares the shit out of me. Wait... that's total bullshit. I only know that once I'm in it. In the beginning it usually starts with a thought like, "Hey, I want to do a workshop to help people get started on their own web series.' That thought is usually followed quickly by my wonderful critic who says, "why would anyone come to your workshop? there are so many panels and workshops already, why start another one? you're a piece of shit and don't know what you're talking about..." Those thoughts freaking suck. They paralyze me and make me want to curl up in bed and not do anything. This last couple months have been filled with several of these moments, shaving to a mustache on THE TEMP LIFE...
I guess it's usually misquoted, people usually say, "If you build it, they will come." But in Field Of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character hears "If you build it, HE will come." I guess, in a way, it actually works the way it was said originally. I'm realizing that I am a BRAND, a BUSINESS. I'm no longer just an actor with a 'B' job. I think as artists, it's hard to think of us as a business and well, to even think with a business mind. I just overheard a make-up artist on set say she'd never worked in an office. She said that the joke with her fellow Emory classmates is they're not good at math. "That's why I date Jewish men so they can figure out the tip." But what I heard was, that she's an artist, she doesn't do the 'business thing' it's not her strength. I also saw a tweet from Felicia Day today, mentioning digging up W-9's and getting credit reports and that the business stuff takes longer than the creative at times. I'm rambling a bit, there's a lot of stuff rolling around in my head lately.
One of my teachers, Richard Lawson talks about the misconception of an actor and as a character. He'd take two tapes (before digitally recording critiques at The Beverly Hills Playhouse) and hold them up. He'd say, "This is you as the actor, this is you as the character. They look identical, but they are different. You have to learn to let that character go. You created it, put it out there and now it's done." I took that literally and said, well my 'acting career' is that over there, disconnected from me, Mark, the person.