Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who's going to Hell now?

This new decade has brought what I hopped it would, inspirational energy, thought provoking situations, new beginnings, and most of instilled a New State of mind…or New York State of mind.

As the clock struck midnight and I sipped the tiny cocktail, as I made it a point not to get sloshed, at a friends house party I immediately jumped into my car to attend another shindig thrown by other friends and acquaintances when the Jay Z and Alicia Keys New York song blazed on the radio and with that came a smile that just popped out of nowhere. The same kind of smile that smirked from my face, which was a type that had not been present in a long while, very similar to a protagonist who solves a mystery in a classic thriller or love triangle romantic comedy film. I wondered what it was about New York that brought so much joy to my mind. After all I had never traveled to the city before and had been itching to travel more. I have good friends in there who are more than willing to open up there homes for me to visit and it is the biggest city in the nation. Being in showbiz too it was a major market I had not traveled to as well. For the time being however I am still in the Alamo city and now it was time to pick up and see what was in the near future for me in this market.

Finally I was finished with what I called my quarter mid life crisis. Being twenty-five and going non-stop since high school led to this inevitable moment in my life. I guess being an agent for five years, producing close to ten short films, one feature, a film festival, and trying to make sense of it all finally came to a crossroads and instead of signaling my car I decided to just turn it off for a few months. As mentioned previously in the blog before the time was spent well and presented myself with a new found focus and determination which had been lacking due to the consistent movement in my career and personal life.

It seemed that the first few weeks were spend running from hospital visit to another for family and am glad all worked out in the end and most were false alarms but that itself can take a toll especially when you find yourself being a pillar in many people’s lives. It may sound cliché but all of those moments can help one realize not to take any for granted but luckily that had been instilled in my for a long time which is why I tend to speak my mind. Speaking my mind has been put on the spotlight so far this year.

So let’s go right into that. I will assume that those reading my blog know who I am or at least have a good understanding right now but if you are just stumbling onto this then I will try my best to be descriptive without singling anyone out. Although when you do not mention any names guilty parties tend to speak the loudest. Yes, I was a talent agent in this market and took that job really seriously. I left the agency I was with on my fourth year and it had been a rollercoaster prior to my involvement and surely after. Although I considered it to be a legit agency some business practices were questionable but I always plowed through those and focused on getting the actors the best opportunities and working hard and keeping the work here in our market. I have had many affirmations during and since my departure and continue to value my relationship with the actors who I have worked with and continue to producing or promoting in the films or programs I continue to work on. Two main issues came up. The first involved an industry practice which was abusing a service needed from time to time which is putting actors on tape for auditions. While typically videographers or people in house would charge anywhere from $25.00-$35.00 depending on the time and prep and turnaround for the said service when actors are feeling obligated, although not forced at gun point, to be put on tape and charged upwards or $75.00-$300.00 for this service than that raises some concerns on top of paying higher costs for other services. Now in my position actors still come to me for my advice and I do not mind voicing my opinion on say my facebook or blog however I am not going to forget my tact and not mention names yet it still sparked some interesting dialogue. I believe my Facebook quote stated, “ If I hear about one more local agency charging there talent to be put on tape for auditions for there financial gain I am going to scream, thank you to all of you agents with integrity and all you actors who found them.” It did not take too long for one of the “local” agents to speak out against my posting. That of course caused me to post a note which stated that “local” agents violations from the state ranging from not paying talent on time to operating without a license. That website has since been flagged by that “local” agent making it harder for facebook users to see those said violations but they will always be available on the states Department of Licensing and Regulation website. I did not feel personally attacked because I felt I did not wrong expressing my opinion. An opinion actors seemed fearful of voices either since they feel that they would not be able to obtain other representation or because they do not know how to stand up for themselves. I do not mind being the cheese that stands alone as long as the truth is being said. This was back in October and seemed to die down until a few weeks ago.

I was told by a colleague of mine that an actor who I used to represent and who I still worked with on films I have produced and events I put together removed me from his facebook account. I was curious to know why since I had done nothing to my knowledge to warrant this action. He is currently represented by that “local” agent who raised so many eye brows and kicked up so much dust previously by calling themselves out but in this case I could sense they were behind the action the actor took to me and a few others in this industry. This was all confirmed in one phone call with that actor. It was unfortunate he choose this action but I did mention that cutting me out would mean I would not be able to work with him no matter in what capacity I participated in weather I was casting a project, producing a project, promoting, and or suggesting actors for a project all of which I get called for on a local basis. Why now though? Well my lack of calling anyone out cause even more dust to rise up not by the “local agent” but now with her actors as her warriors of words as I call them. My status stated “I miss the good ole days when agents just submitted actors for jobs and did not control who they were facebook friends with…yup she strikes again.” This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo but if my good friends and film colleagues wanted to know what the meaning was I was more than willing to fill them in. If anything they need to know so they wont be surprised if I don’t work with certain actors based on there actions. As I mentioned within a two hour period the next day I got attacking comments from the actors, all of whom I worked with, and many who I considered friends, all stating the same biased opinion coming from there agency owners mouth. If you want the play by play feel free to look back at my Facebook late January. I made one general statement which I think summed it all up and my good friend Jenna followed up with a nice statement which was my opinion from the start which was If you don’t like it then don’t read it! DUH!!!!! There were many times during the exchange of words when my close circle of colleagues suggested I back down and how dirty it was getting. I needed to stand my ground. I never drag someone elses name into the mud and based on those two postings no names were ever mentioned.
I do think if others wouldn’t be afraid to speak there mind I would not always be the cheese to stand alone and these places of business would be forced to change and adjust there practices more often. It also is disheartening when those close to you “do not have your back” out of fear of what people perceive of them. I am only referring to those I am invested into professionally and it’s a small number but if the same actions had been placed on them I would not think twice to honor there wishes and not communicate with those who hurt my business associates. I don’t expect them too since there are a few that will not be afraid to stand up for what is right. It was unfortunate the actors who I still am social with choose to fight using there agency owners words and therefore severing what ties I had to them. Behind the scenes many high fives and kudos have been given to me for not being afraid to speak out. I don’t consider that bravery…its just honesty and when your honest and have no evil in your actions you can do no wrong. What financial or personal gain to I have to benefit I continued being an agent after that job and continue to help actors get the representation they need as a service of kindness so I know actors are taken care of. I do not earn one cent when I do something like that which takes time and energy and stress. I do it cause it is what I would have wanted if I needed the same advice or guidance in my career. It does a hurt a bit I am not going to lie. I am human and despite believing in my actions, or lack thereof, and having tough skin, it is disappointing watching my peers not be able to think for themselves or in this case be led be evil and misuse. I learned though you can’t save everyone and those who you can need to listen before you open your mouth and give advice. Actors are people but not all people are actors…thank god for that! : ) j/k On a final note there was a sermon I remember my mom and I listening to as a mass a few years back. It mentioned how there were a few out there in the bible who could stomp scorpions and evil. My mom and I looked at each other and realized yes that was true. Some scorpions may have or may not have dreadlocks but either way they can be squished.

Let’s just say karma is a bitch and the wheels of justice are in motion and when all comes back around there will be a big celebration with lots of martinis and love!

So all that happened before entering the month of February, the month of Valentines and all that hallmark Jazz! Speaking of valentines it seems that side of my life has turned a new leaf. I changed my facebook relationship status from “single” to “it’s complicated” now many congratulated this in my life which I have yet to understand. However it does mean there is a lot of promise in that area. First off I had been social during the quiet time in the last half of my year and the new year brought that same kind of energy and then some. Although I am not in a relationship I am enjoying the art of dating. It’s for a romantic like me but taking a step back and not diving in like the inner Aries in me wants to so bad has been interesting to say the least. There is one person who although I do enjoy his company tends to take me for granted when I am 100% available so I did what I felt necessary and asked if we were friends or more….and it fell of deaf ears. Two days later I met someone who is amazing and attentive and attractive and whom everyone around me calls a “keeper”. It is weird seeing someone who is giving like me and is a gentleman and is easy going and easy to communicate with. Of course we are not jumping into a relationship as he is still licking the wounds of past relationships as am I from being put through the ringer. I learned what it takes to raise the value of your social stock and that is having one person like you as it turns out now three to four people want to vie for my attention. I do not have any alterior motives with any of them but like many people I am just getting to know someone and spending quality time together. It is very much like middle school dating but being that I did not start dating until recently the timeline seems about on track with that. Maybe when I am in my thirties I’ll date like a college boy and so on.

Film Classics is still moving forward with the international film festival and marketing to sell Doctor S and marketing of new projects. We decided to participate in Empire Magazines Jameson Film Festival 60 second remake competition. This is where filmmakers make a film in 60 seconds that is a remake of any feature film and we choose JAWS. We cast Cambell Westmoreland, Gabi Walker, Michel Janse, Quinn Leifer, and Ben Baxley. Cambell and Gabi had worked with us in previous films and are family as far as I’m concerned. I saw Michel at a showcase PrimaDonna Productions hosted and placed Michel with her current agent. She booked her first audition out of the starting gate. Quinn was booked off of his headshot and Ben was a referral of Collin my intern last year. I love working with these teen actors for many reasons. They all come from good families and I click well with there parents. They are well trained and work often for Texas teen actors many have been in feature films by prestigious directors. They also work well under time constraints and adapt better than some adults actors with far more experience. Work is kind of slow in this market for them so any opportunity for them to work on a film is fun for them and helps add to there reels and lets there agents know they keep busy in between auditions. The shoot and rehearsal took place at the Cameo Theatre. Dave Cortez was nice enough to let us use the space despite being in rehearsals for there new production, “Five Course Love”. We rehearsed on the Thursday before and shot on the following Saturday. The shoot was one of our quickest so far. We had seven scenes to block and shoot totaling the sixty second length. We staged it on a theatre and with the teen actors playing the adult lead roles including JAWS. I was happy with the finished project and now online votes will decide the five finalists and the finalists will be voted on by a jury panel which includes Edgar Wright, which is why we choose to participate. The winner will be presented at the festival in London by Steven Speilberg. Shooting for the stars is fun but the film for our catalogue will be nice too. We did not get into SXSW this year but I still would like to see all the films this year. One year we will get a slow I’m sure!

This month is all about the live theatre. I got invited to over seven productions which mean every weekend is packed with a new production at all the local theatres in town. It is a treat to see a lot of” my peers on the stage and see how far they have come in there careers thus far. I saw “The Hard Bargain” at the Overtime Theatre directed by my good friend Andy Thornton. I also saw “Five Course Love” at the Cameo. The other productions I plan to see are “The Boys in the Band Play” at San Antonio College, “Fire on the Bayou” at the Woodlawn, as well as the productions at San Pedro Playhouse, UIW, The Vexlar, Shakespere Theatre Company, and more if I can squeeze them all in.

Last night was a treat to see Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar winning screenwriter of MILK and other projects. I was able to sit front row and was able to ask him a question. I do appreciate his role being an activist and speaking through is work about the GLBT rights which are at a turning point in our lifetime. Something important brought up was how “Invisibility Equals Death”. This comes from how Obama’s camp barley mentioned the GLBT movement and Republicans did not at all. It is a clever tactic to ignore the issue and try to just make us invisible. It was discussed the similarities between prop 6 and prop 8 in a twenty year span. I do love how Harvey Milk’s message is sent to give people hope and forming alliances with everyone and despite one’s flaws not to be afraid to fight for having the rights every one is entitled to. That helped me reflect back on the comments thrown my way weeks earlier. Its not just about the GLBT movement but the movement of life. Dustin mentioned a quote said to him “Good things do not come to those who wait, they come to those who adulate.”

The timing of this lecture parrelled where I see the next few months. I am not going to be producing the 48 hour film project in SA this year and wish whomever gets the city producer job the best of luck but I am proud of upping the numbers almost doubling them and having six theatres sell out and hope that the numbers only rise this year with new blood in the position.

I decided to give New York a try. Either by spending a month later this spring or to explore the area this whole summer and see what dreams may come. I am putting my resume together and producer reel and going to attempt to land an entry level position at a major network or studio while writing my screenplays and prepping my own productions and continue to market the films I have produced and explore being a producer in a major market.

This is also early but I am partnering up to start a local acting school and network. Networking is important so I want to provide monthly mixers for actors and filmmakers to meet up and exchange information as well as bring high quality acting coaches and casting directors to this market as well as teach beginning on camera film and commercial acting for actors starting out in this medium and refer out the coaches to continue there progress. I plan to teach this spring before my New York trip and continue to allow the other coaches to teach the students from this school and to network.

I am excited at seeing how far these aspirations take me. If anything maybe New York will provide more opportunities for me to explore and which I can take back home with me to San Antonio or just maybe things will work out for me to be able to achieve my goals in the largest market in the world. Dreams come true and I still believe in mine.

You know you have to laugh at the situations in life to continue to make sense of what cards have been dealt to you. After the facebook lashing went on with the actors who felt the need to comment on my free speech one of them, who I consider a friend, despite what transpired, instant messaged me and said, “ I’m going to hell.” I responded by saying “At least I will be in good company.” Ain't that the truth?

I have Gia Carangi’s quote posted on my facebook profile and that mirrors the many obstacles in my life which continue to help define the actions which shape my life.
“Life and Death, Energy and Peace….It was worth it being allowed to where I walked which is Heaven on Earth, Hell on Earth, Back Again, Far, Into, Through it, and Above.”

Amen Sister!

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