Sunday, April 25, 2010

BOOM! Headshot.

The picture above is one of the two headshots I ended up with. It ain’t too shabby, if I do say so myself (although friends and family have, of course, vehemently disagreed.) And I’ll admit--it went through a professional “retouching” process to make it look better than it normally would. The results are impressive, especially when you consider that this was the original.

I had reservations about the entire process, as I mentioned in a previous post. I’d been told I was an actor, which was a fishy proposition from the get-go. But getting headshots was a whole other level of insanity. I was already part of the hordes of aspiring Hollywood writers infesting LA’s bars and coffee shops. Did I really want to add aspiring actor to the mix?

But ultimately, I decided to accept the very real risk that I was being a rube and just go with it. For a little variety, I brought a couple of my best-looking shirts (i.e. clean ones, with buttons).

So, at six o’clock on the dot, I took a deep breath and stepped into the studio. Seven faces stared questioningly back at me.

“Uh…hi,” I said, clutching my shirts closer for protection. No one said anything.

“I’m here for the…” Headshots? Photo shoot? Pictures? What could I say that would make me sound knowledgeable? Like I knew exactly what I was doing?

“…To get my…um…” 


“Oh, we’re having a crazy day,” said the receptionist, indicating the rest of the people in the room who were also waiting for headshots. “We’re running about an hour behind. Can you come back at seven?”

The last thing an indecisive person needs is another hour to think about it. But I came back. They were still behind, and so the shoot actually started somewhere around 7:30.

I told the photographer that I had no idea what I was doing, and he explained that there were basically three types of headshots: serious, grinning, and smiling. So we’d do some of each. The problem was the white undershirt I was wearing. It was too reflective, and it’d be distracting.

“Can you pull the shirt down and put an arm on the table, so you look relaxed?”

The answer was an unequivocal no, but I did my best. One arm was on the table in front of me—the other was desperately clutching my shirt, trying to pull it down.

“Great,” said my photographer as he took shot after shot. “That’s great. Very nice. Pull your shirt down.”

We took about 250 shots. The entire process took about a half hour, but at least ten of those minutes were spent struggling with my shirt. We boiled those shots down to the best two. No one seems to like the one I posted above, but I think it’s better than the other “grinning” version.

Interestingly enough, I did get a chance to ask the studio about my shady casting company. I asked if they’d ever heard of them, and to my surprise, they said they’d had. “They’re not a scam,” I was told. “They’re just not very good.”

Fortunately I have other options. There are a couple casting websites I can put my headshots on, and there are other agencies out there. So who knows? One day, you might see me on TV! In the background. Probably trying to pull my shirt down. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Things I Don't Understand" #2


That's right. I'll have this conversation. 

Captain America's power comes from a "super-solider serum" that enhanced all of his physical abilities to the height of human potential. He's the "perfect" human. 

Spider Man, however, has SUPERhuman abilities. His strength, speed, reflexes, etc. are all superior to Captain America's by definition. So why on Earth do people think he'd go down?

...That is all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

So, I'm an actor now.

Yup. My meteoric rise to stardom happened over the weekend. Frankly, it was long overdue. I’ve been sitting in my room in Los Angeles for two years now, waiting patiently to be discovered. I thought it would be for my incredible whistling ability (true story!), but it turns out I had to answer a craigslist ad first.

I was doing my daily criagslist job search, which has never yielded me any actual jobs, but it’s quick and easy so I do it anyway. The closest I got to a paying job was, I think, getting scammed by BetSoft gaming. (I wrote them a script for a video game and they never paid me. I wanted to sue, but they’re a Canadian-based company, and dealing with international law sounded a little intense. It wasn’t that much money, so I let it go. Fortunately, I can have my petty revenge by mentioning them on this site. Mwahaha!)

Ahem. Anyway. I answered an ad from a casting company looking for extras. The fact was, I’d been living in LA for about two years, and I hadn’t once tried to be an actor. It was ridiculous.

So I called the number, made the appointment, and was kind of surprised when I realized I was going to go through with it. Because in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of the camera. I’ve been on stage before, and I’ve even been on film. I was “Gannon Acolyte #4” in a web series once—or at least, my hand was, as it was the only part of my body that wasn’t completely covered by a brown robe. It was a nerve-wracking experience. (See picture below. I'm the hand in the top-right.)

I convinced myself thuswise: Extras, known as “background actors” when they’re trying and failing to be taken seriously, typically work in the background. I could sit in a cafĂ© chair for a few hours while the real actors do their stuff in the foreground. No problem. All I’d need to do is look the part.

So, imagine my surprise when we auditionees were handed monologues to read. Oh-em-gee, I thought.

I debated running out of the office and forgetting the entire thing. I quickly thought through dramatic escape options, such as falling to the ground and faking vague stomach pain, or yelling “fire!” and running out. (Of course, to avoid the illegality of yelling “fire” in a public place, I’d need to start one first.)

But before I could put any of these fine plans into action, I’d already signed the sign-in sheet, and by then it seemed too late.

But all in all, it was actually a very easy process. I went in, I said hi, I read the little monologue, trying to emote as much as possible as improvise as little as possible. (“I thought doing it as a space alien really sold my character’s fear of relationships.”)

They gave me a number to call the next morning—which I did. Apparently, I did well. So well, in fact, that they think I could potentially handle a few speaking roles. (I’d be the guy who bumps into Nicholas Cage and mutters “excuse me,” or something.)

My feeling, however, is this: Any place that tells me I’m an actor is probably a scam. I’m doing my research on their organization as much as I can, but I haven’t been able to find very many red flags.

So, I might be getting headshots later today. Best case scenario, I get work as an extra. Worse case scenario, I get some really awesome facebook profile pictures. I guess it's a win-win.

I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yup. I Preed myself.

I recently got my first “smart phone,” by which I mean a phone that I'm not a little embarrassed to use in public. It's a Palm Pre. We’re talking a whole new level of obsessive email checking, here. I already can’t live without it.

I was trying to decide between the Palm Pre and an Android phone. Aside from my obvious concern that the Android phone might gain sentience and kill me in my sleep, I also didn’t like the “virtual keyboard”—typing on the screen itself. I’ve never been able to do that very well. I’m not really sure why. I don’t think my fingers are overly chubby, and I’ve been honing my hand-eye coordination by beating my brother at video games for years.

For whatever reason, virtual keyboards and I don’t get along. So I chose the Pre, with its physical keyboard. Now, granted, the thing is so tiny that it’s apparent it was designed with smurf users in mind, but I seem to be able to make do.

But the apps! (Short for “applications.” (Short for “programs that have little practical application but are fun and shiny.”)) I haven’t really delved too far into the Pre’s app store yet, but I’m certainly excited by the possibilities. First, it’s a way to get even more video games into my life, which is always a good thing. But they also provide a way for me to avoid doing math, which is even better.

You see, my math abilities are not quite as good as my virtual keyboarding abilities. I’ve come to accept it. It’s just a matter of developing other skills to compensate.

For example, let’s say I’m in a restaurant with a few friends, trying to calculate a 20% tip from a $87 bill. Instead of calculating the tip using traditional methods, I’ve developed the ability to leap through the nearest glass window, Jackie Chan style, and flee into the night. There’s minimal scarring involved, and you’d be surprised how effective it is.

But now, with the Pre, I have a whole new set of options. I can download a tip calculator and do my tipping right there at the table, which will save me a bundle on first aid kits. But why stop there? What if I want to calculate the cost of groceries without counting on my fingers? I can use the built-in calculator for that. If I want to get fancy, I can download a scientific calculator to figure out the cosine of any given angle, and then search Wikipedia to find out what, exactly, a "cosine" is. Right there, in the palm (ha) of my hand. It's pretty awesome.

So, until the Android phone wreaks its terrible vengeance upon me for choosing its competition, I’ll enjoy my Pre. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Things I Don't Understand" #1

I'd like to introduce a new feature on this blog--"Things I Don't Understand." The posts will primarily be about things I do not understand, such as "dark chocolate" and "Scotland." But we'll take it slowly at first.


"I love this song so much I just have to shove someone to the ground!"

Nope. No dice.