THE BIG NEWS (In Story Form!)

For those that can’t be bothered reading this story I went out of my way to create- there’s a TL;DR right at the bottom. ūüėČ

My office chair won’t bend backwards and I frustratingly push against it with all my might as I search the casting calls for this week on various social networks. One immediately catches my eye: SHAKESPEARE TOUR. WOW! What a wonderful gig that would be- travel around, bringing the bard’s words to life.

PAID?! Holy crap! Sign me up!

IN CHINA!

Huh?

Don’t get me wrong, I love China very much- I’d visited before on a different tour in fact! Love me some toilets that are essentially holes in the ground-

china trip 2Featured- Me In China. That’s not a hole in the ground btw, that’s The Great Wall. Kinda the opposite. Anyway.

That wasn’t the source of skepticism. It was the classic gut feeling of “This seems too good to be true”.

I’m a professional actor, and one of the first things you need to accept if you want to go down that path, or the path of any ¬†artist, really- it’s that people are going to take advantage of you.¬†If they can get away with it, they will use you and never compensate you for your time and effort.

And this? To me it legitimately sounded like a spam email .

COME TOUR SHAKESPEARE IN CHINA. ALSO SEXY SINGLES WANT YOUR DICK AND NIGERIAN PRINCES WANT YOU TO HAVE THEIR MONEY.

With this in mind, I cautiously put my name down to be considered, and a few emails later, there I was, sitting with other young and a few mid 40’s hopefuls. It’s not crowded, but it’s certainly not an open space to do your voice trills either– but I do my best to go over my lines and shoot the shit with my fellow performers. There’s always a temptation to not talk to ‘the competition’- don’t be that guy, dudes. If they hire the other guy, they do, and you feeling tense and giving the side eye to everyone else in the room will help your case not a bit.

After a time, I’m the only guy left in the room¬†and I begin to play my warm up music. The entirety of KISS: ALIVE! A live album I’ve always got on my phone to psyche myself up.¬†Yes, I know. Egh- KISS- what a bunch of posers. But to me they are the epitome of my values on stage- work your fucking tail off and give the audience what they paid to see. Every. Time. It’s hard not to feel invincible when I have¬†Let Me Go Rock N’ Roll going- and I just let loose.

It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you warm up to these dudes.

Just as I’m really getting into it, letting my hair down and doing some air kicks- Chris- the co director and the wizard behind the curtain of this production, tells me to come in. I’m a little embarrassed- normally I use headphones- but since I was alone I was playing it full blast. I shake it off and walk in with confidence.

Entering the room I meet another director- one who’s very friendly- the good cop to Chris’ aloof persona. I introduce myself and get going performing the famous “All The World’s A Stage” monologue by Jacque from As You Like It. This along with my go to contemporary monologue (there is no record of it as it’s from a play I did in my university days)- make me feel pretty confident, I shake hands and leave.

An hour later- I get an email¬†“CAN YOU COME BACK TOMORROW”

Um? Hell yes?

r2d2 beeps happily

The day flutters by quickly and there I am again with Chris and his codirector- they greet me and say “Are you ready to perform your Macbeth piece?”

“…Huh?”

Turns out they hadn’t sent me the email with the piece they wanted me to learn for the audition that night- meaning I was already handicapped. They said it was fine, I could just do Jacques’ monologue again.

lenny focus

Terror enters me. “It’s FINE? I don’t want FINE. I want GREAT! BRILLIANT! AMAZING! GODDAMNIT!” This flashes through my head in a split second, but I smile bravely and try not to let uncertainty enter my bloodstream- to be uncertain is death.

I take a deep breath, put my Jacques skin back on and this time I hold nothing back. I am sultry, I am slinky, I am sad at the state of the world- so sad I have to laugh. I see a stage in my peripheral vision and I RUN for it at full pelt- it’s at least 20 metres away, every second of silence gnaws at me, but uncertainty is not on the menu tonight.

Impressed, the codirector asks me to deliver the same monologue, as an older professor, tranquil. Still. Well, anyone who knows me knows who I wanted to emulate in that moment.

So I channel my inner Jean Luc/Patrick Stewart and I imagine myself behind a podium, restricting my movement and act like I’m teaching at a lecture hall, my voice as deep as I can achieve. I click my fingers at an imaginary chatterer-¬†pay attention! I say with my eyes as I continue irritably with my lecture- and I laugh as an old man with experience as I talk about the¬†lover, sighing like a furnace, my students comfort be damned.

I think that’s what did it. They smile. The codirector asks me- “Where did you study?” and I have to be honest- Griffith University in QLD- and he responds with “I can normally tell instantly what school people come from- WAAPA, NIDA, VCA, but your style is so unique.” I grin, I thank him. I shake hands- I walk out.

I wasn’t certain of course. You should never be 100% certain in these things, always looking forward in case it doesn’t work out. Plus, it saves you from utter heartbreak. Every time I ignore¬†that rule, it reminds me hard why I should always follow it.

But it seems this one was meant to be. I got an email- many moons ago now- confirming my involvement in two plays for¬†the month of April 2017- Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and character unconfirmed (GO BENEDICK!) in Much Ado About Nothing. I didn’t want to make a fuss about this until I signed the contract, but now I have.

I will be touring for a month, fully paid, all expenses paid through the tour- and I couldn’t be more excited. I can now consider myself a professional even more than I did before. I am so grateful, and thank you to everyone for your support while I’ve been biting my knuckles trying not to tell everyone. Thank you.

Now I’m off to play some Witcher 3! TEAM TRISS!

-Jack

TL;DR: I auditioned for a Shakespeare show and I got it, I’m touring China in April for a month and it’s paid and its awesome. YEEHA!

 

 

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

 

Don’t Take The Personal Experience‚ĄĘ 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. ūüėČ

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!

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!