What The Heck Do I Want?

In which Jack wonders whether he’s juggling too many balls in the entertainment industry circus.

Another short one, and spoiler alert, this is depression/lack of self worth speaking.

So recently I’ve just gotten back into seriously giving acting a go. And in all seriousness, I’m doing kinda well. I have four auditions this week, some paid, some not and I don’t even have an agent. I’m trying to empower myself to write every day and try to get words on paper in regards to a pitch for a pop culture related TV show. In short:

I am doing many things.

So why do I feel like shit about it?

My partner Issy listed a concern that has been plaguing my mind since- “I think you’ve got your fingers in too many pies.”

This isn’t news to anybody who knows me.

I do kids parties:

kids party bumblebeeWhat’s that? My instagram? Follow me if you want. :3

Film

20150302_122427
Find the product placement!

Educational Performance

racq docudrama
Well he called me chicken! NOBODY CALLS ME CHICKEN!

Comedy

comedy still
That place isn’t a comedy venue anymore. I blame myself.

And Voice Acting

voice acting anti hero

Today I have an audition for a radio serial with other creative comedians, and I’m super excited. But I yearn for results on paper. Real, tangible success, ideally in money form.

Remember that Beyonce article I wrote? It still holds true. But the problem, I’ve come to realize- is I don’t know what I want. I’m 24. I’m good at writing stories, I’m good at making voices, I’m good at making people laugh and I’m good at pretending to be someone else.

Which begs the question? Am I doomed to live a life of mediocrity because I can’t “get focused enough”? Do I really have to plod through who knows how much mediocre film scripts or uninspired comedy shows because I’ve got to pick one thing?

My desire for respect says yes. But my creative urges say Fuck. That.

So what do do? I guess it’s just a long journey of me growing to accept that it might not get me to the position I want in life (at least not any time soon), but I can’t give up any of these things I do that make me happy, anymore than I could choose which child to abandon.

I’m with these shitty, unprofitable kids to the end. I just hope they’ll start help paying the rent soon.

Update: I got the gig! I’m gonna be in a radio serial! Hooray!

Snapshot_20160117_2

-Jack

 

Individuality vs The Entertainment Business

So I’ll keep this short, it’s 3:52 AM and I’ve been playing Freddie Mercury interviews because right now apparently I don’t feel sad enough. I wanted to discuss something, potentially with likeminded creatives/actors and you, no matter what you do, if you’ve got something you want to say about it.

As we all know, we’ve lost many greats in this month alone. 2016 is shaping to be a pretty grim year, particularly for fans of British anything (which I am, massively). Bowie, Lemmy, and Alan Rickman and we’re all crossing our fingers that that’s all for one year, thank you very much.


Word.

But the thing about these people, despite the fact they’ve no doubt influenced your childhood/life/taste in one way or another- is they’re freaking mad. No really. They were renegades in their fields. People who didn’t fit in the playing field so much as dig a man size ditch, jump in and responded anyone trying to shove them out with a hearty FUCK OFF and a poke of the shovel.

They were absolutely folk that we responded to for that reason. We wanted to be as happy as they were to be themselves. I did too. I do too.

But, I consider myself a performer first and foremost (I used to call myself just an actor, not so anymore- that’s a story for another day)- and as such I work* in the entertainment industry, and they do not  encourage renegades.

There was an article I read about what it took to be cool, and, pompous as that concept was, it did raise an interesting point about how people buying out the entire radio business essentially killed music movement as we used to know them: 60’s psychelics, 70’s punk, 80’s electronic, 90’s grunge- countercultures, the article argued had effectively died with this move, and it shows in the entertainment industry. Every new young and hip ‘rock’  embraced by mainstream culture looks like Mumford and Sons.

This isn’t just in music though. More than ever before, folks are looking for strong men to lead the charge in acting. It’s no surprise Chris Hemsworth is the face of Australian tourism- like it or not, it’s what people want on their screens now more than ever.

And here I am- the birth result of a troll and a lorikeet, growing out my hair and wanting tattoos… and I really don’t feel like I belong. And I know, I know, I should follow the people who’ve passed this month’s example- dig my ditch and defend it.

But honestly? I don’t actually know if I even have the ability to dig my own ditch anymore. I fear our need for safe entertainment and reality TV on public channels has removed my chance at even getting a grip on the shovel.

Still, if they’ve locked it up in the shed, I guess now’s as good a time as ever to try and find me some bolt cutters. God knows that I can’t give up now.

First photoshoot in the morning. My first real step back into acting in about a year. Wish me luck.

Good night/morning.

*when I get paid

Don’t Take The Personal Experience™ Personally

Well, hi!

So with my last bit of writing, I seemed to strike a chord with people in a way I secretly hoped, but didn’t expect to. Gaiman said it best when he said that your work is like a little message in a bottle put out to sea, amongst thousands of other little bottles, hoping yours gets picked up by someone, and they too will make a message saying they liked it, put it in a bottle and send it back to you. Often, it just isn’t to be.

On that note, I’m fairly sure I referenced that exact same Gaiman speech in my last entry, so let’s move on.

gaiman judging me.jpg
I can’t even be original when I’m quoting other people. *judgmental Neil*

I started writing this article yesterday with the idea of talking about my despair with social media, and while this is very relevant to me, personally- it’s not a new idea, and it’s certainly one I’ve ranted about in the past.

To friends who have heard this from me before? Bear with me.

Older folks will be the first to say that we’re too connected. That we don’t take the time to be outside anymore. I guess they’re neglecting the time they spent with TV/Radio/Newspapers/Pulp comics/nudie mags, but I digress.

Recently though, I can’t deny that facebook, the epitome of ‘personal social media experience’, is getting the better of me. I often find myself on two trains of thought.

1: Wow, what a useful tool for my career!

2: Fuck this fucking thing, all it’s doing is making me miserable-CAN YOU STOP REMINDING ME ABOUT HOW I WAS FRIENDS WITH THAT PERSON TWO YEARS AGO?!

Today, I’m on #2. It’s not pleasant. Facebook is this weird bubble, worse in a way than any social media network that’s come before it, at least for me.

It’s all about ‘friends’.

It’s not ‘followers’. You can lose a follower. It’s not about ‘subscribers’, that’s their business if they don’t like my content. It’s about ‘friends’, and fuckalmighty does that make it sting when relationships crumble.

Stand By Me, the hit film of 86, made a point with 10 year old me that I’ll never forget. “Friends move in and out of your life like busboys at a restaurant”.

Thanks for the wisdom Wil Wheaton!

That’s natural, it happens. Friends move on. Even in the more dramatic situations- you were a dick, they were a dick, or you were genitalia together, you’re allowed to make mistakes. But on facebook, your failure is there to see. Unfriended. Over. Done. *Dead Pacman Noise*

Enjoy your ‘personal social media experience’ dry heaving in grief over your keyboard, you pathetic mess!

But even worse for me personally? The professional contacts. I feel like this is the social media version of high heeled shoes. Cool concept, but painful as hell to execute.  You don’t know them, and more than likely after the professional thing you had is said and done, your facebook friendship lingers on way past its expiration date.

But you won’t cut the tie, and you know why? The potential of something. A close professional relationship where you have each other’s back- maybe something more…?

What a witty gif you just posted. Be here in 20 minutes. 😉

THEN they cut the tie on YOU.

WHAT?!

WHAT?!

Slow down, bud. Think about it for a sec.

They didn’t do anything wrong. They just saw what you didn’t. They were more self aware than you- they knew your relationship with them was strictly professional, so they decided to trim the fat on their ‘personal social media experience’.

After all, facebook is just for friends! Don’t take it personally!

Huh? Why did we add each other in the first place then…? Good question.

I’l give an example from my own life- I did a show one time with a girl, she was kinda cool, we were bros for a while. She asked me acting questions after, we did another show together, bro relationship went down a bit but still okay.

Months pass.
No talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a one woman show!” “Sorry can’t make it.”
No talking no talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a comedy show!” No response.
No talking no talking-

UNFRIENDED.

That right there? Is the definition of “don’t take it personally”. Even if she had a problem with something I had done, she didn’t have the guts to confront me about it, so what can be done? It’s not personal!

Don’t take it personally!

But how can I not?

That’s what Facebook is FOR  after all. A personal experience. I’m an actor. I need to keep contact with people that might give me work. I’m also a depressed person, and judge myself most harshly of all. Every time I have someone deleted me, it’s a little knife wound I can’t deny.

Obvious image use is obvious. Still, if it ‘aint broke.

This makes me question the whole idea of personal connection to our technology. I miss the days of vague hand gestures when someone asks “Are you and Carol good?” Because you legitimately didn’t know.

That’s not a bad thing, either. Hell, by the time you see Carol again, maybe she’ll have forgiven you for not cleaning up the piss you left on the toilet seat you disgusting heathen.

But in this ‘personal social media experience’, there is no grey. There is only knowledge that that person is not your friend anymore, carol is not your friend, and your piss staining ways are not in her life anymore.

“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”

Sound familiar?

Remember saying that exact phrase?

“YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!”

Yeah you do.

You were a ton shorter at the time and couldn’t go outside without a hat.


I SAID DON’T POST SPOILERS! YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE! 

We’ve been downgraded to the squabbles we had at four years old. And no, you’re not invited to my birthday party. These ‘personal social media experience’s are, in my opinion, making it harder and harder for us to trust one another and build healthy relationships.

Where does this leave me? Should I become a hermit in the woods Perhaps. But not today. There are some positives to our technology, and ‘personal experiences.’

Today I did a little bit of research on the new phase of gaming that will be entering our consciousness in a big way in the next few years- Virtual Reality gaming.

Ghost Busters meets GI JOE. I dig it immensely.

Long story short, we’re gaining the ability to walk around a warehouse space and shoot zombies. AND you can do it today, in Melbourne! Incidentally, if that sounds like a good time, hit me the hell up.

This is really cool. It’s amazing in fact. Our technology seamlessly integrates with our lives to the point where we can spend an hour walking around deaf, blind and by the end, sweating our tits off- and all in the pursuit of a fictional goal. We are so connected to our virtual selves in this moment that gamers who stereotypically are seen as lazy exercise haters (and rightly so)- will actually exercise, because these people have created a seamless ‘personal experience’.

Hell, in my work, in anybody’s for that matter- aren’t we trying to make something that connects with someone? To make them feel engaged? Can I really fault Facebook for what is clearly my own personal issues projected by a feature that the social media forum could not function without?

In reality, the only way I can make it better for myself is to slowly extricate myself from Facebook, maintain my page, and cross my everything that it doesn’t cost me too many opportunities. But even today, before writing this, one of the first things I did was lament the loss of above bro I did two plays with.

Whatever you choose to believe though, you can’t deny the power social media holds over us now. To the point where if I saw Carol who had unfriended me over the piss stained toilet seat, I would assume we’re not friends anymore. Because of a button pushed.

But maybe Carol was still open to being friends if I just apologised?

I would know nothing of that. I would simply ignore her, because I would think that’s what’s appropriate to do with someone who doesn’t like me. Damage done. From there, Carol would see me ignoring them and ignore me too. A friendship dead.

Where as before this fucking social media took hold, I could see a world where I, awkward as I am, would go up to Carol, and awkwardly apologise for being such a dick, and she would laugh, and I would laugh, and she would hand me a roll of toilet paper as a truce and we would ride off into the sunset together.

A likely scenario even then? Nah. But now it seems nigh impossible. The social dance has 12 more steps thanks to social media, and we don’t quite know how to dance them yet. In the meantime, we will squabble like four year olds, and end friendships that could’ve lasted much longer in another age.

And on that note, I’m gonna go play Tomb Raider. Another age? Eh?

(I really wish I could say every piece I do won’t end with a lame joke. I really, really do.)

-Jack

TL;DR: If you’re not quite mentally stable, social media can be a bitch, and video games are fun.

You can find me on my website or my twitter!

How Beyonce’s Dad fucked me up

The following is less an article with a coherent point, and more a stream of consciousness from a man who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing and certainly doesn’t know who to ask about it anymore. So he’s telling the internet. How droll.

Recently, I took the time to read a little article which described the experience of Beyonce Knowles washed up dad running workshops on how to be successful. This man, for all his faults, helped create of the biggest stars in the world, and was subsequently dumped by her when he became too unbearable.

Happier times

This man, who I really shouldn’t be taking advice from, not just because his success is based on questionable practises, but because by all accounts he’s a pretty terrible human- said something that nonetheless stuck with me.

“You gotta focus on one thing or you’ll never make it.”

Well, fuck.

For those who don’t know, I’m the antithesis of sticking with one thing. I make a point to do that. The reason is two fold.

1: I can’t stand standing still. I loathe it. If acting isn’t working out, I do a comedy show, if comedy is making me too vulnerable, I’ll try to write, when I discover that my writing’s crap I give acting another go. Repeat ad nauseum.

2: I suspect, and I have evidence to believe this, that I’m an irritating person. I’m dramatic, I’m easily hurt, and I don’t trust easily. This cocktail means I can be a bloody nightmare to work with. Let’s not even get started on my personal life.

If I had to guess, I’d say no one would presume to tell me what to do with my career, because they assume I have a plan. A set of steps. Something. But they’d be wrong. I, like in Neil Gaiman’s famous address to the University of the Arts, like to head towards the mountain, the mountain called “Entertaining for a living”

Sounds vague? That’s cause it is.

Two years ago? I would say I’m an actor. I act. That’s what I do. Have done. Will do. Continue to do. I have changed a lot since then. Comedy entered my bloodstream.

My show- The Brain Room:brain room screenshot.jpg

 

Comedy is something I never knew I had a passion for- but it’s there. I love making people feel. In this case, I love making folks feel joy. If I can land a joke- I know I’ve done something good.

Why the move from acting to comedy? In a word, patience. As in, I have none. Acting is a waiting game. From waiting for the phone to ring, to waiting for the 9th round of auditions to waiting for your shot to be placed, it’s all about waiting. That’s fine, I’ve known it for years, but it’s harmful to the ego. I remember the faces of friends when I told them I’d landed another unpaid gig. “When was he going to be successful?” I heard them think.

So comedy was my answer. Put on a show. Put your own money into it. Make your own content, get people interested in you as a performer. Somewhere along the way though, the comedy bug bit me and now I want to take my show on the road in a shitty punk van, entertain the people in backalley pubs.

All this meant that I hadn’t done acting in about 8 months, which was the time I allowed myself to do The Brain Room. It made it’s money back and then some, I was chuffed. Then, I had to update my resume for future agents. I’d done nothing but this one show. Nothing.

No big deal, right? I had loads in my resume.

Then I came across that goddamn Mr. Knowles, with his vitriol of anyone younger than him, and I began to doubt. Or rather, question what I think I always feared.

Patrick Stewart in the remarkable documentary The Captains (which is on netflix if you want to give it a watch), said “my work is everything”, and as anyone who’s watched his performances knows, his focus is incredible. This is, as revealed in the interview, something that he prioritized beyond his own family.

Another hero of mine, incidentally.

And here I am contemplating whether to just go to sleep after I finish this or just play Fallout 4 for 12 hours before work. Clearly, clearly, I could be doing more.

Arguments could be made. My mental health, my deserving of a life away from my work and my drive. And as far as not focusing on purely acting anymore, it’s a good thing to have many feathers in your cap, right?

No says, Mr. Knowles. Nonono. If I keep going down this path, I’m fucked. I will not reach the celebrity status I could.

Is that all to life? No. Should it matter to me as much as it does? Absolutely not. Does it matter to me, despite all internal screaming and headbashing? Yup.

I want to be recognized. I want to be recognized by my peers, but beyond that, I want to be recognized by the people. The people who have no reason to bullshit you, the people that will give you 1 star on youtube if you’re talking to slow. I want people to come up to me and say “Your work helped”. I want so much to make a difference, to inspire.

And yet, I can’t even inspire myself. My website is stagnant, and I have no desire to fill my twitter or facebook pages with pointless wank. I want my work to speak for itself, and yet I have no work.

I want my relationships to be strong. And yet, here I am in a strange city with no close friends and no idea where to start.

I want so very badly to get up and jog in the morning, eat right, work on a script before lunch, do adult stuff before 3 and then go work. I’m just not that guy yet.

At 24, that’s a pretty sobering thing to admit. In my personal life, I’ve said goodbye to many people who seem to have given up on me without warning.

2016 looms, and Mr. Knowles words are ringing in my ears. Am I focused? Can I make it work? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I can’t quit. All of this, from friends abandoning me, to work eluding me- are setbacks, hurdles to overcome. Until I figure out something better, I’m gonna keep plodding towards my mountain.

Besides, I probably shouldn’t be taking advice from a mean egotistical wash up anyway, that sounds like a Trump voter to me.

10401065_36595676638_4243_n.jpg

This is me by another mountain. Ah? AH? Geddit? Yeah, you get it.

You can find me on my website or my twitter!

Actors and amateur auditions

Hi there! How are you? You’re looking dashing next to your shmancy keyboard. For those who just randomly found this blog and don’t know who I am, I’m Jack! I’m an actor, comedian, writer and general whatever I can do to avoid a 9-5job-er. So, with that in mind, I’m going to take a moment to talk about student and independent films, feature, short or otherwise.

First off, this is going to be a blog about all the professional things I do, so if I’ve auditioned for you, you can be almost certain that I’m not talking about you specifically (unless you were a real jerk, in which case, kudos to you for recognizing it, now go away). I’m talking in general terms.

Also, I swear. So, you know. Be prepared for that.

I’ve been a professional actor since 2009. By this I mean that I have been paid for jobs. Everyone’s definition of this is going to be different. Some will state you’re not professional until you’re with a certain agency or a TV series of note. Personally, I live in Australia where professional jobs go to the same 5 people and our idea of a film industry is laughable at best. So, quite frankly if you’re making ANY kind of scratch, you’re a pro in my books.

Sadly, having to be a part of student and Indie films is a part of life. It’s incredibly frustrating, because it feels like you are making no progress as an artist, but the sad fact is that if we didn’t do free gigs we would be doing nothing for months at a time. Free gigs fill your portfolio, and a large portfolio makes you more desirable. It’s a metaphorical dick and you better limber up yer jaw.

Student and indie film makers meanwhile have the less than glorifying task of having to create these projects and make them as awesome as they picture it in their heads on a tiny budget. Sometimes the films you work on as an actor are the first ones these folks have ever done, and it’s not a great end result. Not only that, but they have to fund this gorram picture somehow. Yes even the students. Do you ever wonder why there are kickstarter campaigns for student films? It’s because universities offer the equipment and nothing else. Zippo. All the production design you see in beautiful student films often comes from students own pockets.

I get that, I understand that. I’ve made a few flicks myself on a shoestring budget, and they’re hard to make. There’s a reason Hollywood flicks costs as much as they do. We’re all in this together in this boat filled with holes.

So is it too much to ask for you to maybe have your shit together in your audition? Let’s create a scenario, shall we?

It’s 9 AM. You’re a tired student and you’ve got your first audition of the day. Your director is not all there and your actor arrives. It turns out your director hasn’t given one bit of thought on how they want to direct the actor, and so your actor tries his best to act to a vision they cannot possibly be as aware of as you, the production team. More than likely, the actor doesn’t get the gig. But let me ask you. Is the actor really to blame there?

Let’s try another one. An actor shows up and you are the director. You know what you want, but you can’t communicate it. The actor does his best with the material, but he doesn’t do what you want him to do. Another pass.

One more. An actor shows up and you want him to attempt his scene with different energy, or an accent, or with stooped posture. But you don’t tell him this.

A variation of all of these has happened to me in indie and student productions, and let me tell you, it isn’t just infuriating, it’s incredibly sad.

Here are the facts:

You are film makers.
They are actors.
They have traveled, possibly a great distance to audition for you, if not for free than for a promise of money IF the film is successful.
They have (if they are worth their salt) taken many hours to memorize your script, make artistic choices on who the character is, some even meticulously plan how they’re going to sit, whether to bring props, etc.
You want a successful film.
They want a successful film.

So why is it so hard for you to have your shit together?

You are the face of your film, and reputation is everything. Actors want just as badly as you to make something amazing? Are you kidding? Imagine the awesome that could be created with you two at your creative peaks? Freaking rainbows of awesome fly off the monitor, man. WE WANT THIS SO BADLY. Why do you think we’re there? We can see the potential in you! We wouldn’t show up otherwise! No one likes having their time wasted. Actors are literally the best dumpees in the world. We will keep coming back to you with a mug of hot cocoa and a DVD of The Notebook if we think you’re worth it.

So please, make us want to want you. Just follow this basic structure in the audition.

Have all the scripts you’re going to need.
If the director isn’t a good communicator (I would ask why he wanted to be a director but anyway) get someone to communicate for him.
Know what you’re looking for, be organized.
Finally, for the love of god, bring your A game. Actors are typically insecure people and they will not appreciate a unorganized crew, this will make them lose confidence, and someone who could have been perfect for you will be unable to deliver the goods.

I know this seems like simple stuff. And here’s the dirty, dirty secret. It is. We all want the same thing, to be recognized by our peers as the best at what we do, and ideally make money out of it. It’s the easiest thing in the world to get actors to trust you, if you know what you’re doing.

Hell, even if you don’t, just have your scripts in order, a solid idea, a keen eye and constructive criticism and we’ll never know.

Oh, and compliment us. We dig that shit.

Cheers!
-Jack
http://www.jackinaction.com

PS: Actors are kind of like “nice guys” in that we’re quick to jump on the “I’M NOT LIKE THAT” train. If you can handle what I’ve written above, bully for you. That’s why I used the word “typically.” Everybody is different. Constructive comments however, are welcome.

PPS: Students and indie film makers, I love you. Without you I would literally have nothing but maybe 10 items in my portfolio. You are amazing and you can do amazing things. ROCK IT!