Business, Life, Money, Movies, Television

Baby, You’re A Star


Sunday was a nice, blustery day so we decided to get out of the house and do a little bit of shopping – mostly window-wishing – at the local outlet.

As is the case with most outlets these days, the walkways are riddled with independent vendors trying to push their wares to anybody that passes. I had heard it said that these guys are the modern-day equivalent of pop-up ads and it’s true: they just keep pestering you.

But one booth wasn’t selling tennis shoe polish, laser-etched iPhone cases or fidget spinners (and I swear if I hear my kid say that one more time, I’ll scream). And unlike most of the booths, it was unmanned when we passed it.

What they were selling was a Hollywood dream to make it big in television and movies. It was a casting agency that specialized in recruiting children and teens for studios like Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. or so they say.

And it wasn’t until we were ready to leave when we were approached by the person who was running the booth. Apparently she thought we looked like a bunch of pigeons as she walked up to us, taking particular interest in Anthony.

She first asked if we were local. I confirmed her suspicion. Then the spiel began about how she was looking for teens age whatever-to-whatever to cast for shows on the aforementioned networks. That’s when I started to grin and then dropped the mic on her.

“Nah, that’s okay. I used to do background acting and…”

At the mention of “background acting” I swear that woman left a puff of smoke behind her and disappeared faster than Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.

Why is that?

There are a few reasons for her to not take interest in me or Anthony.

First, casting agencies in general. When you’re selling Hollywood to some slack-jawed yokel that doesn’t know any better, they will of course shovel out whatever it takes to make their kid a star. And that’s the problem: legit agencies will NEVER ask for money up front, and you can bet that this one was going to ask me for my wallet in order to get Anthony a few headshots that would be stuffed into an album of hundreds of others that already got bilked and still haven’t been cast for anything. For my casting file, my headshot was taken with a digital camera at the agency. That’s all they need especially if it’s only non-union background work. Speaking parts require SAG-AFTRA union membership and that costs money, something that you pay directly to the union and not the agency. Only then will you make decent money. Until then it’s minimum wage, baby. Except may for the monetary bumps for exposure to smoke, water, or the studio using your car in the background as well. Living the Hollywood dream? Hardly.

Second, I’ve seen what kids have to go through in this industry. For adults, it’s no big deal other than hustling for more jobs during your downtime between shots and there is a lot of downtime. For kids, however, it means having their parents on location with them, going to the on-set “school” between shots, and just long days that nobody that young should be put through. There’s never guarantee of when the production will wrap and if they have another shoot the next morning or get a callback for the current one, it’s a lot of stress for parents and kids. Kids also get hungry and antsy. This is why they are so hard to work with. It’s a miserable existence and a life I would never wish on any child. Believe me, it’s nothing like what you see on the screen or social media.

I can say quite confidently that those last two paragraphs are exactly what went through the mind of this woman as she ran away from me. She knew I had an inside track about the industry and didn’t even want to mess with me.

So sorry, kid. You’re not going to be the next big thing.

But you’ll always be our star.

Photo May 07, 5 28 41 PM

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jobs, Life, Movies, Television, Work

Good and Bad News


First, the bad.

I got yet another rejection letter today from another potential employer. I’m beginning to think I’ve got the plague or something. Maybe it’s because I’m not shifty enough to be a car salesman (which was the job I applied for) but meh, I’m still out there trying for anything. With just a few unemployment checks left, I’m *this* much closer to flipping burgers for a living, provided they even want me.

So what could possibly be the good news?

I was booked for my first role as an extra! I will post no details here but the call time for the shoot is very early and not too close to home. That means going to bed very early the night before and waking up very early the day of the shoot. At least this will show that I am working–or making an effort–so that California doesn’t get all pissy and whatnot about my unemployment status. All income has to be reported so it will be deducted from my next unemployment check anyway.

During the interview with the Casting Director, I was asked if I would be opposed to shaving my goatee to play the role of a sheriff. I had no problem with that but replied, “Excuse me?” just because I was feverishly taking notes–a requirement for these kinds of jobs–at the same time. Instead I was cast as a protester so no big deal. I really wouldn’t have had an issue with shaving it off but in hindsight, it was a good idea I didn’t because:

  • One of the requirements of the job is that you must update your photo whenever your physical appearance changes, and this can only be done in person not online. So I would have had to spend my day in line again at the agency just to switch photos. Nah.
  • If I had shaved, I could have just waited for it go grow back and not change my photo but then I wouldn’t have gotten any work because nothing matched. Figured it would be easier to maintain my look and keep looking for work than change it, take a new photo, then if I decided to let it come back, take another one. Too much.

This will definitely give my note-taking skills a test because many, many notes need to be taken for each call. But it’s work.

So instead of sitting around wondering what those yellow signs are for and what’s being filmed, I will now be on the inside looking out.

Fuckin’ eh, man. I’m gonna be in a movie or TV show (it wasn’t specified). How odd is this?

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Life, Movies, Television, Work

Ready for My Not-So-Close-Up


It’s been over a year full of flaming suck for me.

In addition to being laid off, I have had very few interviews for all of my efforts. Two of them, including one for the position of Publications Editor at my former employer, turned out to be a bust and I’m still waiting for the word on one that I went to over two weeks ago. And it’s not like I haven’t been trying–I’ve submitted applications all over the place for positions that did and didn’t pertain to my previous positions as proofreader and writer. One of them, in fact, was for a local grocery chain that was in need of Team Leader, a position that I believed I as more than qualified.

The result? Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail I received from them:

We have considered your application carefully and unfortunately at this time we will not be progressing it any further. We will keep your application on file for one year to consider for future opportunities.

So despite my management and retail experience, I wasn’t even qualified to manage a small group of people or even stock pineapples at a grocery store. Well, fuck you and your fucking pineapples, man.

And that’s pretty much been the way things have been going all year.

As you can guess, at this point in my life I’m pretty frustrated with it all, but not to a point where I was planning to jump off of a bridge or anything. That would just be stupid, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling any more useful on the employment scene, although I have to admit that it sucks to be unwanted.

And just as I was about buy a bunch of oranges and start selling them at freeway exits from a Target shopping cart, a thought came to mind. I decided that if things weren’t going my way, and they damn well aren’t as of now, I was the one who had to start making things happen. My unemployment benefits are running out very soon and I’m not quite sure if I can get an extension so it is indeed desperate times for me.

In addition to still applying for jobs that I don’t seem to be qualified for in any capacity (at least in the discriminating eye of the employer), today I decided to take a step in a direction I thought I’d never go: that of an actor. Or in this case, an extra.

Continue reading “Ready for My Not-So-Close-Up”