Being “On Go”!

From Dictionary.com

Go:

3) to keep or be in motion.

22) to move or proceed with remarkable speed or energy.

48) energy, spirit, or animation.

59) to proceed without hesitation or delay.

Word origin: Old English gan “to go, advance, depart; happen; conquer;”

I love these definitions! How will you be “on go” this week from Monday May 22nd to Sunday May 28th? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll share my status report with you all on Sunday, May 28th!

Let’s push our careers forward!

Sleeping With James Franco Part 2

Dear James Franco,

I haven’t forgotten about you! I know, I know! The last time I wrote you an open letter was on July 15th, 2015. It was titled, “Sleeping With James Franco For 8 Months”. For those of you who are interested in reading that blog entry, here is the link:

https://chasingthegeorge.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/sleeping-with-james-franco-for-8-months/

Rest assured that I haven’t forgotten about you! I am implementing the next phase to seal this deal! And to make it up to you, here is a song I want to dedicate to you from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd”. Lyrics appear below the picture.

james-franco-smile-computer-wallpaper-52853-54571-hd-wallpapers

“Look at that face –
Just look at it,
Look at that fabulous face of yours.
I knew first look I took at it,
This was the face that the world adores.

Look at those eyes –
As wise and as deep as the sea.
Look at that nose –
It shows what a nose should be.

As for your smile, it’s lyrical –
Friendly and warm as a summer’s day –
That face is just a miracle.
Where could I ever find words to say.

The way that it makes me happy
Whatever the time or place?
I’ll find in no book
What I find when I look
At that face.”

ShondaLand Update!

So in last Sunday’s blog entry, “Yale + Harvard = ShondaLand?”, I shared with you all an assignment I received to read challenging material out loud for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night for one full month. The objective was to train myself to pick up material cold, on the spot, and read from it with confidence and fluidity. This practice will help me with procedural auditions (cold readings in particular)

I decided to tackle articles from the Yale Law Review, the Harvard Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine. I want these journals to be one of the tools I use to understand and get myself into a procedural world like ShondaLand.

Lord chile! I stumbled through all of the journals for the first fews days. I think I had a 70% success rate of ease and comfortability. The remaining 30% of challenge came from law and medical terms I was not familiar with. Or a series of large words that require effort and thought. Every time I stumbled, I would read the section over and over again until I nailed it.

DEFIBRILLATOR!

AORTIC!

UNILATERAL HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION!

Critics of the criminalization of aggression adopt the same understanding of the internal normative posture of the law, but object to its classification alongside the other international crimes precisely because it privileges sovereignty over humanity. (Yale Law Journal. “Why Have We Criminalized Aggressive War?” by Tom Dannenbaum)

The cool thing I noticed was that I read each article as an actor. Meaning that even though I stumbled over unfamiliar words here and there, I still had a strong sense of storytelling. I understood setup and payoff with certain sections. I added emphasis in certain sections to drive a point home. I felt like I was delivering a speech to an assembled audience of doctors or lawyers and I wanted to make sure that my communication landed on them. That I was impinging them. That I was connecting to them.

One week down! Three more weeks to go! At some point, I’d love to film myself reading one of these articles cold and then sharing it with you all.

Yale + Harvard = ShondaLand?

I recently did a cold read audition in class. I had 10 minutes to prepare for this procedural type material. I was playing a character who was one of the top heart surgeons in the city. I quickly started making strong choices, but I found myself tripping over the medical terms. I realized that procedurals are an area where I need more strengthening. By the way, “procedural” is a term used to describe a type of television series: medical, law, cop/detective.

I did my cold read on camera and it went very well. When I watched my audition and assessed my work afterwards, I said that I was happy with what I created in 10 minutes. However, I could see that my attention was on making sure that I delivered the medical terms correctly first and that my performance came second. I was more focused on getting the words right then focusing on my performance.

So my teacher, Richard Lawson, gave me an assignment. Actually, he gave the entire class an assignment. Over the next month, he wants us to pick up and read challenging material out loud for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night. In this way, we build certainty and strength in picking up challenging material and reading it cold out loud.

Like anything else, it’s about the reps. It takes practice. Some people are just naturally at ease when it comes to procedural terminology. For others, like myself, it takes practice. If I go in for any procedural show like Scandal or NCIS New Orleans or Chicago Med, I need to be comfortable with saying their words in a clear and confident way. Picking up challenging material and reading it out loud for the next month is going to be very helpful.

So I decided to read articles from the Yale Law Journal and the Harvard Medicine Magazine. I’ll also read articles from The New England Journal of Medicine.

In a month, we’re going to do cold read auditions again and he’s going to give us sides from procedural TV shows. It will be great to see how much I improve in picking up challenging procedural sides and reading them cold with more certainty and confidence.

Will Yale and Harvard lead me to ShondaLand?

Stay tuned!

Sending The Elevator Down

I recently met with a talented actor and friend to help them with his business plan-or DOIN’ as we call it at the Richard Lawson Studios. DOIN’ stands for Declaration of Independence. We only focused on his raison d’être (which literally means your reason for existence. Your reason for being.) In other words, purpose. What is your purpose as an artist and as a person? Why are you pursuing this particular career and not another one like law, medicine, etc.? We only focused on this part because the raison d’être is the engine that drives everything. It colors and influences everything that comes after it in your business plan.

It was great to hear his raison d’être and then ask the next question so that it could be a little more specific and personal to him. What he had already written down was great! I just asked questions to help him take it to a higher level of specificity and personal resonance.

And there was one part in his raison d’être that really struck me. He mentioned “sending down the elevator” to others when he reaches a certain level of success. “Sending down the elevator” meaning that he’s reached a high level of success and now wants to give back to others in the same way people have supported him in his journey. He wants to pay it forward to others who are just starting out, who need direction or help, etc. He took the elevator up to the top and now wants to send it down to others and help them make it to the top as well.

It’s interesting because I’ve heard this similar desire in others who have shared their raison d’être with me before. They too want to help and inspire others. And what I told my friend is that he can send the elevator down NOW. Through small, simple, meaningful actions of GIVE, he can help others now.

Now, as he becomes more famous or wealthy, his sphere of influence and give will increase. But he can take actions now. He loved that perspective and it opened up his eyes to the fact that he can give now. He’s excited in what he can do now to help others and I can’t wait to check in with him to see what actions he’s taking.

So, you don’t have to wait until you “make it” or become famous or rich in order to send the elevator down. Your raison d’être exists in you now. That’s what drives you every day to be who and what you are. So give now.

For those of you at home experiencing a similar situation as my friend, here are some simple, doable actions of give that I’m going to quickly throw out as they pop into my head:

Offer to help someone do their first scene in scene study class.

Offer to help someone with their film shoot by being a production assistant or first assistant director or running craft services, etc.

Support someone by attending their comedy showcase.

Help someone out with their audition.

Be a buddy or mentor to a new student in class and show them the ropes, the ins and outs.

Offer to help someone out at their headshot session.

Share someone’s weekly blog entries with your contacts and on your social media 🙂 🙂 🙂

Introduce someone to your agent or manager.

Introduce someone to your friends.

Volunteer at a shelter.

Donate money or time to charities.

Donate money to a fundraising campaign to help bring a person’s passion project to life.

Offer to listen and provide helpful advice.

If you see an opportunity for someone, let them know about it.

Go to the movies with someone.

Take someone out to lunch.

Share someone’s weekly blog entries with your contacts and on your social media 🙂 🙂 🙂

Write someone a note of thanks and appreciation.

Do research for someone in a particular area they need help with.

Donate items to someone’s yard sale.

If someone is looking to repaint or redecorate their room, offer help.

If someone needs help moving out of their old place and into their new one, offer help.

What other ways can you think of to pay it forward and give? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below!

How To PICK Your New Headshots

Okay! So you’ve had a successful headshot shoot. Hooray! Congratulations! You did it and you’ve celebrated all the hard and fun work you put into having a wonderful headshot shoot experience.

So, now what?

Depending on the photographer you’ve shot with, the length of time you spent shooting with them, the number of characters you shot, etc., you could end up with anywhere from hundreds of shots to choose from to over a thousand to choose from.

For a lot of actors, this is an agonizing process. How do I choose my favorite shots out of hundreds? Out of thousands? YIKES! YIKES! YIKES! The horror! The stress! Bite your fingernails, tear your hair out, run to a corner and sob violently!

“Not today, Satan, not today!” (Thank you Bianca Del Rio for creating that phrase!)

Actually, this process doesn’t have to be agonizing or painful. It doesn’t have to consume weeks of your life. Choosing your favorite shots can be a very easy process.

I want to share with you my process for how I made my final selects from the headshots I took on February 25th.

1) I go through each photo with a forward and intentional pace. I don’t linger on each photo for five minutes. Move with intention because the photos will either hit me on a gut level or not. Our instincts are incredibly powerful. We know what we know. A photo either hits me or it doesn’t. Those that hit me, I move them over to a new folder. I continue this process until I get to the last photo. Once I get to the last photo, see number 2.

2) I repeat the process to see if there are any other possible photos that hit me on a gut level.

3) I go to the new folder and call it “Selects”. I then go through each photo a little more carefully and make note of things that would disqualify the photo from making it into my final selects. For example, is the photo blurry? Do my eyes look a little dead in the photo? Is there a shadow across my face that maybe can’t be fixed in Photoshop? Am I blown out? I go through this folder to examine mistakes.

4) I weed out the photos that contain mistakes and I’m left with 56 photos in the “Selects” folder (By the way, we shot a total of 463 photos.) I go through the 56 photos to start narrowing down my personal favorites. I look at the subtext of my characters. I look for a secret in the characters’ eyes. Whenever I choose a favorite photo, I tag them (I work on a Mac, so I right click on the photo file name and choose “Tags”. Then, I choose a color to go next to the file name. I chose red.) The photos I don’t tag as my personal favorites are still kept in the “Selects” folder because they are still strong contenders and I want to have options to present to my community and to my agent. They may see something I don’t see. Once I’ve tagged my personal favorites, see number 5.

5) I present these 56 photos to my small group of classmates (These are people I trust and respect.) It’s important not to have too many cooks in the kitchen because you will only become confused!!! So find a handful of people you trust to share your photos with. When I presented my photos and went through each one, I took note of the photos that received the biggest reactions. If my community was responding powerfully to certain photos, then those were keepers and I later tagged them in red as well (and it was nice to see that my class and I matched on several photos I already tagged.)

Now, for the photos I already tagged as a personal favorite, but didn’t receive as big of a reaction as others, I looked them over to see why they didn’t impinge my classmates. I ended up removing 4 personal favorites from the “Selects” folder. So now, I have 52 photos left in this folder. Again, some are tagged as my personal favorites, while the rest are un-tagged photos that are still strong contenders.

6) I sent the 52 photos to my agent to see which ones he liked. When he emailed me his list of favorites, I tagged them in a different color. I chose blue. And it was great to see that he and I matched on several photos. He also chose a few photos that I didn’t tag as a personal favorite. However, I took those photos into consideration because his job is to field the entertainment market place 24/7. He knows what’s out there. He knows what’s selling and what’s being bought. I want this to be a collaboration between the two of us and include his picks as well.

7) The photos where he and I matched (Red and blue tags) were definite keepers. For the photos where he and I didn’t match, I chose a few photos that had a blue tag (his personal favorites) and a few photos that had a red tag (my personal favorites) In this way, I’m including both of our personal favorites and respecting both of our opinions. I create a final folder called “Winners” and put these final photos in it.

And that’s it! A pretty easy, painless process!

I have 20 photos that I will upload across Actors Access, LA Casting, IMDB, etc.

Let the new chapter of submissions begin!

See you all later!

Sleeping With James Franco For 8 Months

For the last eight months, I’ve been sleeping with James Franco (a.k.a. writing a screenplay in which I envisioned him at the antagonist.) Writing is an intimate, personal process. Just you and the computer. And so it felt like I was in bed with James Franco for 8 months. Keep reading, it gets better 🙂

That being said, with writing, there are times where I would rather eat glass. Or jump off a 100-story building. Writing is one of the most confronting things out there. So much more than acting in my opinion. I have decided to take numerous “power naps” when confronted with the arduous task of starting a writing project. The mere action of starting a new story with the famous/infamous words, “Fade In”, have led me to become an expert in many areas of life.

For example, I am now an expert chef. I am now an expert mechanic (although I still want to give a HUGE shout out to Sam and his crew over at Express Auto Shop on the corner of Pico Blvd. & La Peer Drive in Los Angeles!) I sit on the boards of 17 charities and I have raised millions of dollars in one year for various causes I believe in (Bill Gates has nothing on me) I have figured out complex mathematical equations for fun and read a book about the Higgs Particle in the area of particle physics FIVE times. This is one Latino who is definitely not mowing your lawns or cleaning out your pools.

Okay, okay, I embellished above…

…well, not really though, because it’s amazing how many things would actually “come up” for me to tackle or how often I would get engrossed in many other things the second the computer beckoned me to write on it.

Cut to (Get it? Cut to…) November 2014. Richard Lawson challenged us in his Professional Development Program 2.0 class to create a feature film treatment in two weeks and to use Jeffery Schecter’s amazing “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story” as our guide. This is a book that clearly breaks down how to write a screenplay from start to finish, from Fade In to Fade Out. Jeffrey uses plain old English and humor to explain things in a very clear and direct way. I love people like that. Richard gave us this assignment because writing is one of the dynamics taught at his studio. Understanding the structure of writing not only helps us to become better actors because we understand our function and purpose when playing a particular archetype within a story, but it also empowers us to create our own evidence and product in the form of short films, feature films, TV series, web series, etc. Richard’s assignment would push us to continue developing and growing as writers.

However, the first reaction I had when Richard gave us the assignment was to throw myself out of a window. The last thing I wanted to do was to create an entire feature film treatment. But a few seconds later, I got over my initial reaction and I was excited to tackle the assignment. It was an opportunity to create a story from scratch. When I got home that day and started going through Jeffrey’s book, I started to hate the assignment again: “I can’t believe I have to create a whole treatment from scratch. This is so much work!” Ahhhhh, there’s that beautiful word again, “work”. “Fine. Fine! FINE! I’ll continue moving forward with this assignment.” Although, to be honest, I did so with some hostility and a “whatever” attitude attached to it. The premise I created for the treatment was ridiculous because I just wanted to fulfill the assignment and return to my life.

At the time of my treatment, I had a crush on James Franco. And so I made him the antagonist. God honest truth. I wish I had a more profound reason for my casting choice, but again, I was just throwing in these arbitrary elements just to fulfill the assignment. I was blasé and had no attachment to it. “More explosions! We need more explosions!”

But ironically enough, this attitude allowed me to construct a fully-realized treatment in a few days time. Because I wasn’t precious with it, I wrote out the following components with ease: The four stages the protagonist goes through (orphan, wanderer, warrior, martyr), the formula/log line, the four questions and the central question for the protagonist, other character archetypes and 44 plot points. In a few days, I completed a treatment for a horror comedy. And when I looked it over, I realized I had something potentially viable and delicious over here.

Two weeks later, I presented my treatment to class and they loved it. They loved how it was a departure from the dramatic, edgier stories I normally write about. The loved the premise and the fun of it. They loved that I had James Franco as the antagonist. And they loved WHY I made him the antagonist. They loved that a WOMAN was the protagonist. Fueled and inspired by their support, I started writing the dialogue for Act 1. I was on a roll. I was on fire. The dialogue flowed very easily. I posted updates on Facebook and Twitter. My affair with James Franco began and it was hot and sexy. I knew a lot of people were jealous of our explosive relationship and I didn’t care.

However, by the time the holidays rolled around in December, I stopped writing. 2014 was a very challenging year for me and by the time December rolled around, I was burnt out. I spent the last two weeks of December not wanting to do anything for my career. I had no desire to act. I had no desire to write. I had no desire to dance. I had no desire to create. James would call me to join him in bed and I would always say, “No”. I felt awful because I knew we had incredible chemistry. We even talked about remaking the television series, “Moonlighting”. He would reprise the Bruce Willis character and I would reprise the Cybill Shepherd character. But I had to be strong. I did not want to be an artist anymore for the rest of 2014 and beyond. So I walked away from James Franco.

Even when I watched his film, “The Interview”, on Christmas Eve 2014 at my best friend’s place, I could feel him staring at me from the computer screen. I could see him looking into my eyes and begging me to get back to my script. Even when he sang “Firework” by Katy Perry in “The Interview”, he was singing to me. I mean, come on, read the lyrics and tell me he wasn’t singing about me:

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, "Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y"

And right as I was about to join him in an orgasmic-filled second verse, I exclaimed, “No!! Now hurry up and kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un!” When the movie ended, I walked back home. It was a chilly, windy night and not a soul was around. Just a white plastic bag being blown around in the distance. Wait, are we still talking about Katy Perry’s “Firework” or the white bag in “American Beauty”?

Cut to January 2015. Class was back in session from the holiday hiatus and I was re-injected with a new fever to create…on the acting side. Fuck writing. I was done with writing. However, by May 2015, I had amassed and completed a series of wins on the acting side and I was hungry for James’ big white–errr, to write again. I was hungry to WRITE again.

So, I located the latest Final Draft copy of the script and immediately got back to work again. I had stopped near the end of Act 1 and had to create dialogue for two or three more plot points before I would launch into Act 2. I could hear James speak my words and I became a giddy school girl again. James and I were back and our relationship was re-kindled.

I wrote with intention and focus. I became an ambulance in emergency mode again, cutting through traffic with direct precision. Chasing The Ambulance. Chasing The George! Nothing stopped me from writing! For example:

**I didn’t have a computer anymore by the time I returned to my script. Luckily, one of my best friends bought me an iPad and I wrote on that…with one finger…agonizingly typing each word one. letter. at. a. time. Then I discovered that my iPad had a dictation function. Sometimes the dictation worked accurately, other times it didn’t. Either way, it forced me to speak much more clearly LOL. I even went to the App Store and found the app for Final Draft, but the less-than-stellar reviews did not leave me with the confidence to purchase it. So, I copied what I typed into my iPad and pasted it into the body of an email that was addressed to me. The following morning, I would arrive an hour early at Richard’s studio so I could copy the content in my email and paste it into Final Draft. Then, I would spend that time formatting the content according to industry screenwriting standards. I did this process NUMEROUS times. Every single time I came early to the studio to format new scenes, I wanted to pull out the little hair I had left because I was basically doing twice the amount of work. And formatting can take a while depending on how much I’ve written…and I tend to write a lot as you can see from this blog entry LOL. I sometimes joke that I’m from the school of Quentin Tarantino. However, sans my own computer, I still wrote.

**When I would take the train AND the bus to work on days I didn’t want to drive, I still wrote.

**When I came down with a fever that started on a Wednesday night and lasted till Tuesday night, I still wrote. Even at 11:30pm on Saturday night, at the height of my fever, with me nodding off in front of my iPad, I still wrote.

**After my required periodontal flap surgery and frenectomy, which left me with stitches in my top left gums, pain, occasional slight bleeding and a swollen upper lip that made me look like a reductive Kim Kardashian, I still wrote. Reductive Kim Kardashian? Isn’t that redundant or an oxymoron? English majors, where are you?

I kept writing because I felt I had something great and fun on my hands.

When I started writing Act 2, I studied specific trailers and films in the horror comedy genre in order to find the two films I could compare my film to. In this way, I could say, “It’s this meets that.” In my research, I stumbled upon the genius of Edgar Wright and fell in love with Simon Pegg’s character in “Shaun of the Dead”. My research list of films was specific to what I was writing about and the tone of humor I was using. I borrowed and integrated a few story devices that these films all used into my own script like voice overs, set up and pay off, and most importantly, their unapologetic sense of IMAGINATION. The writers of these films created their own worlds and rules within the horror comedy genre. Each writer had their own voice and take within this particular genre.

Doing this research, I loved how grand, how preposterous and how ridiculous my story was. As long as I created the rules of my world and the logic of what was going on, my premise was plausible. And by following the structure laid out in “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, it would keep me on track while also enhancing my insanely wonderful ideas and voice. I had the freedom to create the rules of my very own world.

By July 5th, I had completed the first draft of my screenplay at 109 pages. When I typed “Fade Out” on the iPad, I exhaled deeply and I felt lighter. A big smiled formed over my face and I did a dance of joy…naked. It’s better when you’re naked. For anyone who has written anything, you know what I’m talking about and how I felt.

Some things to leave you with:

**Write about things that interest you or that you have a passion about. And just write. Let it all out like vomit. Don’t get stuck in “it has to be perfect”. You can always go back and edit.

**Structure helps me to play, to have fun and to experiment within it so that I can enhance my own voice. Structure gives me freedom. By doing all the work in “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, I wrote with more confidence because I knew what had to be fulfilled and achieved every step of the way in my story.

**This is a first draft. A few scenes are not great and would make me question my abilities as a writer. But the most important thing was that I was on “go” and didn’t allow judgment or perfection syndrome to stop me and my creative flow. Instead, I created placeholder scenes that I knew I could come back to and flesh out later. In other words, I knew what I wanted to say and/or see happen in those particular placeholder scenes, but I just couldn’t articulate them at that specific point in time. So, I just regurgitated everything I could and will come back to them later and make them more crystal clear. And that being said, there are a several scenes that are really well-written!! Like “Hot damn! That’s good!”

**Yes, I wrote a part for myself and…spoiler alert…he lives!

**And yes, James and I make amazing lovers and are still very much in love.

“Moonlighting” reboot, here we come!