Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Smattering:

I got a call from the background agency I registered for, which was in itself shocking because they never call people.  The person on the line was a desperate agent:

"We need someone who is able to go to a studio and play a young prostitute-looking-part for a photo."

"oh...Um...okay."  Interesting.  Being stereotyped is pretty unavoidable when it comes to casting, but this was certainly a first.

"And it's today."

"Oh, I might be able to do that.  Am I supposed to provide my own clothes?"

The agent laughed.  "Um..probably not?"

One last thing crossed my mind. "Wait!  You did see that I checked no nudity, right?"

"Oh yes! You'll just probably be scantily clad."

"Okay, let me check with my manager."

Well! I had already been an hour late to work because somehow I had turned off the 2 alarms I set for myself, and was grimacing at the idea of asking my manager to leave early.  The woman said it would all work out and gave me the number for the tape.  Every casting director sets up their own line, tape and extension number with the directions to the shoot, where to park, what to wear, how long to expect it to go.  After listening to this tape, I determined that yes, I was supposed to bring my own clothes, 2 outfits even, and I was supposed to have my hair and make-up done.  Seeing as I had just spent an hour driving to work without these things, I had to decline.  

It would have certainly been an interesting experience, and something fun to blog about, but all I could picture was me showing up to set unprepared and getting in trouble.  So instead, I spent the day at work doing research for a new possible series by watching an awesome 3-part documentary on Car Crashes. Although this did not make driving home later fun at all.  

Because of the things I've been doing in the developmental department, reading books, contacting specialists, watching documentaries.  I have a lot of information to share.  Here's some of it:

1.) Swimming - If you fall over a cruise ship, try to keep your clothes on as you float because if you get sunburned, you're in big trouble.

2.) DO NOT take a nap/put your iPod on during the safety instructions and do not get drunk before the plane ride.  There is a Rule of 11 on a plane where the first 3 minutes, and the last 8 minutes are the most dangerous.  Stay alert during these.

3.) Planes - Actually listen to the safety instructions.  You CAN survive a plane crash, so learn how.

4.) Planes- When the flight attendants are saying "hi" to you at the beginning, they are really checking to see if you seem alert/able-bodied and ready to help during an emergency.

5.) Planes - When you are reaching your seat, look for 2 emergency exits.  Count the number of rows until that exit, so that if the plane is engulfed in flame, you can count until you find the exits.

6.) Planes -In the case of an emergency water landing do NOT inflate your life vest early.  This is because you still might need to push yourself out of a very small space to actually get to the water where you can float.

7.)Planes- Car crashes - WEAR A SEATBELT.  A man by the name of John Stapp took a really big risk, and let himself be seatbelted onto a rocket sled.  He went over 600 miles per hour in 1.4 seconds and he survived, thus demonstrating how much you can withstand if properly seatbelted.

8.) Car crashes- Put your kids in the back until their old enough.  Because most Americans aren't intelligent enough to wear seatbelts, the airbag has to be deployed with enough force to stop an average sized adult going through the windshield, and can instantly kill a child.

9.) General- If you find yourself in any sort of bad situation, remember the Rule of 3 that they teach at Armed Forces Survival camps:  you canot survive
                                                3 minutes without air - 3 hours without shelter
3 days without water - 3 weeks without food.
3 months without companionship

10.) Car Crashes- It is an unfortunate fact of psychology that people separate themselves from victims of accidents.  The car-human relationship is one where people act as though they are getting into an "immortality machine."  The reality is car crashes have killed more people than all of the people who died fighting for the U.S. in all of our wars combined.  

11.) Car crashes- when people hear of new safety features installed in cars, they tend to drive more recklessly, thus misappropriating safety features as performance features, and basically canceling out the benefits of the safety features.  If you have a car with improved safety features, you still need to drive safely!!!

I'm sure I have more, but that's everything I can think of now...don't you feel better prepared!  For a lesson on the history of the car and it's development, tune in next week! 

And now it's time for that wonderful game:  guess where Laura started crying during Brave!

Trick question!  I started tearing up during the short beforehand.  When the dad and grandpa gave the little boy his cap, and welcomed him into tradition.  Beautiful. 

Seriously though, if I hadn't been at the movies with 3 people I didn't know that well, I probably would have sobbed recklessly throughout the whole movie.  First of all, it was gorgeous, and secondly I was so moved to see a female protagonist up there that I also wanted to cry.  I both loved and was annoyed by this movies, both in the name of feminism.  

Pros: It was starring a girl, she practiced shooting to get good, she wasn't just innately compassionate, finally there was a positive mother-daughter relationship portrayed in a fairy-tale-esque story.  Usually the mothers are the monster, the villains, the step-mothers who grow jealous of their new children.  

Cons:  The message is still, archery is a boy thing, but don't worry girls, if you take a liking to boy things, and practice enough to be mind-blowingly proficient at it, then we might respect you as a rare bad ass.  

Damn it, if I have a daughter and the daughter wants to be the best seamstress or cook or stay-at-home mother as opposed to a doctor or a venture capitalist, I'm going to love and respect her equally. That's the point of 3rd wave feminism.  

This is one thing that bugs me most about some women my age.  I cannot tell you the amount of conversations I have had with college-aged girls where they will defend themselves to be bros, make sure everyone knows that they enjoy watching sports. distance themselves from any kind of "girly girl" association, claim that they don't want to have daughters because raising daughters would suck, make sure everyone knows that they have more guy friends than girl friends, had to be convined to live in their sorority because...a house full of girls...everyone knows how terrible that is,  I even remember someone wanting to join a certain sorority last year because that sorority was just "a bunch of girls who like, hate other girls." I swear these were all real conversations that I have had multiple times.  Many of the women I have spoken to are either subconsciously or consciously aware that to participate in girl-culture, that to somehow seem as though we actually identify with our own gender, is not as cool or desirable as identifying with male culture.  

Other cons:  It was about family....which is good....but, as someone else I was discussing this movie pointed out, Up was about infertility and loss, Wallie about like saving the world from global warming and consumerism, Toy Story about testing friendship.  So to have the first Pixar movie starring a female also be about family...just feels a little disappointing which leads me to my final point that I read in another blog.

None of the other movies are ABOUT being boys.  Brave is decidedly about the unfortunate lot of being born a girl.  As another friend pointed out, we need those movies too.  However, the movies that we also need, that are so rare and hard to find, where the female character exists not as an anomaly as Merida does in Brave, but just exist with the merit of being human.  As the Geena Davis foundation has calculated, only 17% of the people shown on television and in movies are women.  Not surprisingly, women hold  about 17% of the available leadership roles.  People are comfortable with what they see.  

On a lighter note... my work had great cupcakes at a party on Friday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday -

The only real difference between Miley Cyrus and I when we wake up is that she's holding fiance Liam Hemsworth, and I have a fluffy pillow that I borrowed from my aunt because I didn't have room to pack any stuffed animals.

Surprisingly, that thought has popped into my head a few times when I wake up in L.A.  Miley and I are both waking up under the same, gloomy June sky, just trying to live the dream. (Of course, that's only if she's in L.A. I don't really follow this stuff) I find that I sleep less here, because no matter when I go to bed, when the first light of the day I feel through the piece of white and black paisley fabric my roommate, Shirley, has tacked above the window, I remember where I am and my mind starts to race.

I love my internship.  I work in West Hollywood in a dark blue building with bright red arches, gates covering the doors, and a sign that hangs like a flag over the sidewalk proclaiming the production company I work for. The inside has high ceilings and long stretches of hallway, with chairs and tables packed into every available space.  Freelance producers work in in the main room, their desks covered with posters of past shows and movies they've worked on, as well as post-it notes and images inspring their next projects.  Everyone has a Mac.  Down the left corridor, a small room holds the development team, the department for which I intern.  Ravaged for ideas, post-it notes stick-out from books that nearly consume the room.  Entire episodes of shows are plotted on post-it notes plastered on a window that glares into the next office over.  The two people I directly work for are about 15 years apart in age, but the same in disposition, incredibly hard-working and smart but also laughing through most of the interactions I have, like they are always laughing at some underlying absurdity that is the television/film/entertainment business.

My desk is tucked in a small loft above some of the "editing bays."  The company provided me with post-its, pens, highlighters, a legal pad, a light, a garbage can and a someone to work in the loft with me. Greg's a young associate producer for the show who spends most of his time looking up images for art direction purposes and filing out the incredible amount of paperwork networks demand, such as questionnaires on the racial composition for each episode aired.  There's a third desk that I'm told is for a third employee, but a new PA, Jeff, sits there from time to time blasting a wide variety of music in his headphones.  They're from Ohio State and Penn State respectively.  Greg has a bottle opener hanging from a wire that hangs from my desk to his, and I have taken up the habit of send him notes the two feet length of the wire.  I explained to Greg the "Call me Maybe" phenomena started by the Harvard baseball team and yesterday he sent me this is an e-mail saying " think you'll like this" a hilarious Second City rip-off.  

As excited as I was not to work at camp again, the desk-job has a whole new set of challenges.  I leave at 9 to get there by 10 and after the battle to find parking, ascend to my loft where I will remain, until 1:30 when  I take my lunch break.  Because I'm not getting paid, no one's really breathing down my neck to make sure I only take an hour, but I feel obligated to be back after 60 blissful minutes outside has gone by.  The two guys brought me first to a fancy sandwich shopped where one might sample rare cheeses and wines and olive oil, and when I found the sandwich I ordered on a bold whim (something with bree and figs) to be really appalling, they proved what nice guys they were by offering their sandwiches in exchange.  

Even though I promised myself I would just bring my lunch, the next day they were going to a pizza place, so of course, I wanted to go.  Here, I knocked pink lemonade all over the Greg and his pizza.  Between the spilling, and the forcing people to give up the food they ordered, I'm a pretty charming lunch companion.  

Sitting at a desk all day is hard. The mornings are easier as I feel like I'm barreling toward that 1:30 lunch, but when I return for the second shift, the post-food sleepiness starts to invade and I curse the U.S. for not culturally adopting the siesta.  Somehow three o-clock turns to four, and after another eternity of somehow, four o'clock to five, then five to six.  Then I battle traffic home down Santa Monica Boulevard.  

It's not that the work isn't fun or interesting.   I'm trying to find experts to speak on camera for a show my company's making, and I wind up youtubing a lot of fun things like "Virginian endocrinologists."  My favorite video I have stumbled upon so far is this: a very odd promotional video for a personal trainer in Richmond.  I have already learned a lot from being there, it's just the constant computer use that gets me down.  Staring at the screen all day, trying not to go on Facebook or write, it's a difficult call to focus that I haven't necessarily been able to do. 

Yesterday, Jeff and I headed back over to the sandwich place.  I wasn't going to tempt my fate by ordering anything, I just wanted to go outside.  We wound up sitting next to a man that the Jeff recognized: "Excuse me, man.  I just got to ask.  You an actor?" 

The man, big arms, sunglasses and a dog, bit into his sandwich and said, "Yes. I am."

"Super Troopers?" Jeff asks.  

"Yup.  That's me." I felt silly because I had never seen Super Troopers, but apparently the guy we were talking to was in one of the most highly quoted scenes, "literacola" : the kid in the pink shirt behind the counter many years later.  Jeff, who I've learned is an expert conversationalist, kept the conversation afloat.  "So man, you been in anything lately?"
"Eh...commercials usually.  Selling things for McDonalds isn't that glamorous but it pays the bills."
           "Totally.  Do what you gotta do."
"You an actor?" Charlie Finn (Illinois local) asks Jeff.
            "No.  But this one is."  He points to me, who, not really in the conversation, has just been watching it grinning like an idiot.
       "I'm Laura."
"Laura. Nice to meet you.  Charlie."
              "You have any pieces of advice for her?"
Charlie thinks. "Get a dog." he says.  The three of us laugh....I internally panic.  Get a dog?!  That's how to make it in this other words....there is no surefire way to make it, which I've always known, but the realization of the sure luck of it all was somehow all compounded in this completely obscure comment.  
              "Yeah? Keep you grounded."
"That's right."
               We eventually left Charlie and his dog, an adorable French Pug named Wilbur alone, and I went with Jeff as he went to get coffee.  I tried to explain to Jeff why that conversation worried me.  Jeff shrugged. 
             "You've gotta just try.  Besides, you're not the typical actor type like him."
             "How was he the typical actor type?"
             "Aloof.  You're smart."
Another instant of panic, that was never my Great Aunts' conclusion at all of my second cousins bar mitzvahs.  The one word they chose to describe to me was "aloof".   In fact, that word has been used to describe me multiple times throughout my life, and I have yet to really figure out what I do that comes across that way.
           "You ever see David Cross to his standup about LA?" Jeff asks.
          "You should.  He just talks about how everyone's out here trying to be "the one" but there can really only be 13 'one's' in a year, so everyone else is just trying to reconcile it and make it work.  Like that guy...the guy from Modern Family just walked one cared.  I did a double take, but that's just the way it is out here.  No big deal."
            I of course missed him, but it was Jesse Tyler Ferguson.  
            We walked back to where I work and Jeff noticed that I was panicing about life in LA as an actress, the chaos of it all. 
            "Hmm.  Well, I'm sorry I don't have a calming effect on you."
That's the odd thing is that usually the people who are calmest, who are just going with the flow, confident that whatever is happening at that moment is enough, and something will happen in the next moment that might even be more than enough, those people panic me the most.  Because they represent an ideology I can't grasp yet, but feel I absolutely need to to feel satisfied with life.  So much to work on.  

On a lighter note...I've started liking celery more. 


Sunday, June 24, 2012

My First Weekend

I'll report on my internship once I've had a little more time there.  This is a post about my first weekend in LA :-)

Friday night, Katie and I tried to see that Pixar adventure I've been pining after since I found out about its first female protagonist: Brave.  Using Fandango as our guide, we were sent to a fancy shmancy mall with the craziest underground parking lot I have ever been in.  There were a dozen different colors each encapsulating their own set of the alphabet.  Some parts of the parking lot had right away, there were arrows pointing to different spots, it was crazy.

Most malls in L.A. seem to be made by this one guy's who drew all inspiration from M.C. Escher.  We wound our way up to the movie theater to find that a lot of other people had wanted to see Brave on its opening night - enough people to fill a theater, even.

So Katie and I sat on a strange cushioned bench and contemplated how to ease the awkwardness of transitioning from one place to another.  Unfortunately, Katie and I still haven't quite gotten over the idea that California is not warm after sundown, and returned to the car pretty quickly to get home, where we instead watched Larry Crowne.  I was so disappointed that I didn't like that movie because I love Tom Hanks, and want everything he does to be successful.  It was just trying so hard to create a lovable band of misfits and failed so much.  The one good thing that happened during that movie was I recognized Chet Hanks as the pizza delivery guy and as a consequence, Katie thought I was cool for having been in an elevator and a callback with him and will hopefully be my friend longer. Thanks, Chet!

Saturday was incredible.  Woke up 4 hours before I had set my alarm to go off and watched as Katie left to go for a run and I stayed to work on my script.  When she got back, she asked if I wanted go join her and her family friends that she hadn't seen in many years to "go to some library."  Seeing it as an opportunity to see some new place in L.A. and fulfill every college kid's dream of maybe getting a meal, I agreed to go.
When I said "yes", I had no idea the magical day that was in store for me, Katie, Bob and Gail.

Bob and Gail are relatives of Katie, but of a relation that she is not really fully aware of....somewhere on her dad's side they exist under some degree of cousinhood.  They told us to find their "cinnamon colored car" and soon after we met, we were underway following their MapQuest directions to The Huntington Library.  Gail was a recently retired 1st grade teacher, and we both discussed what a great, cute age that was for kids.  Bob was a doctor originally from Chicago who had done his residency in LA, and decided to stay here permanently when he could drive his convertible with a top down in December.  Gail had a habit of telling Bob, "Well, you blew it." when we didn't make turns at exactly the right moment, but after a while, we nearly ran into the enchanting Huntington Library Entrance.

Student I.Ds at the ready, the Nopars kindly bought us tickets and then we strolled through the rose garden, awaiting our reservation time at the tea room.  I think the grounds speak for themselves here.


After strolling around, we were fortunate enough to have reversed lunch at the Tea Room, easily one of my favorite dining experiences of all time.  The waitress, Ana Maria, was exceptionally sweet as she explained the workings of The Tea Room.  You could call her over at any time to order your tea.  The scones were yours at the end of the meal, but while you were here you should try them with their fresh butter, mixed berry jam and marmelade.  You could get up at anytime to eat a small yet mighty square buffet table. (My words not hers.)  I started with kiwi and strawberry tea, and was delighted to receive a whole pot of it to myself while I tried the jam and fell into a passionate obsession.  I went so far as to ask Ana Maria if the jam was carried in the gift shop, and it wasn't.  This was, perhaps, more disappointing than it should have been because the visceral response I had to this jam was as intense as my love for Girodono's pizza....which is saying a lot.

Then came the "real" food. Sandwiches of carrot and ginger cream cheese and cucumber and mint.  Salads with chicken and sesame salad.  Small bricks of cheese, green cheeses and munster cheese and peper jack and cheddar and white cheese, and huge chilled bowls of fresh fruit.  Plate after plate, Katie, Bob, Gail and I enjoyed the bountiful plenty - not an exaggeration.  For dessert, brownies, and lemon bars and mini whipped chocolate cupcakes and sugar cookies and more fruit.

It was incredible.  As we wrapped up our scones, I begged Ana Maria to let me take home the remaining jam.  She apologized that there were no containers to carry the jam home with me.  The only blemish on an otherwise perfect lunch.

We continued walking around the Huntington estate, most famously the home of Blue Boy.

On one of the "kid-friendly" cards they had about Blue Boy trying to engage children in thinking about the art asked "Try to describe the brushstrokes!  Are they thick or thin?  Are they large or short?  Are they galloping or gliding?"  The idea of galloping brushstrokes really tickled my fancy, even right now it does, galloping!  what a silly thing for brushstrokes to do.


Got home after getting cultured for about 6 hours with a promise from Bob and Gail to bring us to see the star-studded production of The Producers at the Bowl, which is very exciting and generous.  We thanked the Nopars about two dozen times before the day was through, and I feel like that still wasn't enough.

That night, one of my roommates invited her friends over before going on the Bruin Party Bus, which is the awesome UCLA based business where students over 21 can pay a flat fee for a party bus and access to a local club.  I met her dainty friend, Shawna (popular name around here), and one of her guy friends who had brought two other guy friends along.  They were an interesting trio.  One was partner in his father's landscaping business, who asked me what a subletter was.  I told him it was time to demand "& Sons" was added to his father's company's title.   Another guy was a week away from entering his third boxing tournament for a local radio station.  "Oh!  Is this going to be another one where you guys are all tied together?" the third friend asked, sipping straight Petron.  "No," the boxer replied "This one is called "Death Musical Chairs."

They left for the club and Katie and I hopped in our swimsuits and headed over to a local party with Northwestern kids.  Katie was shocked by how many people were out here, apparently the Michigan State --> L.A. internship rate is way less.

Sunday we woke up and went to a thrift store called Jet Rag.  They had heaps of clothing on the floor all for $1, but I made the mistake of wandering inside the store.  It was a dress-lovers paradise.  Dresses  were sorted into decades, and once I thought I had stumbled through all of them longingly, there was a sign on an entrance to another room that said "More dresses this way.  Remember to feed your parking meters until 6 p.m :-)"  How well did that sign know me.

I bought a pair of boots under the promise that I buy nothing else for a month.  Hopefully I can do that. The thrift store was not really that cheap, an incredibly tattooed salesman explained to me that the $2,000 jean jacket hanging on the wall was handmade from the 40's.

Afterwards, Katie showed me where she was living - the USC Co-Op.  A dumpy plaid couch and a trampoline stood guard in the white house's front yard.  When I walked in, I immediately burst out laughing.  Bicycles and posters of every sort hung from the walls, stairs, anything with a surface.  There were no lights turned on, just a few people sitting around a kitchen table beneath ceilings covered in sinking blankets.  Katie explained there were probably 20-30 people living in the house at a time.  There was a lot of couch surfing.  A huge pile of clothing upstairs was the "recycling bin" from which anyone could take.  Downstairs and outside, there was a pen with 4 chickens.  Behind them, a small garage covered in blankets where three people lived.  The backyard was also full of an orange tree, a graden and stray cats.  Parked 7 cars back on the driveway was a car sporting a spray painted "SAY YES" amongst other designs.   As we walked back through the kitchen, I spotted another hallway, where someone had taken the time to construct 7 ten-foot cloth mushrooms and tacked them onto the walls.  The trunk(?) of each mushroom acted as a timeline of current political events.

We walked back into the kitchen.  A messy room with an on-the-floor cabinent full of spices.  Two girls carried steaming bowls into the dining room "one-two-three- DINNER!" they yelled.

"Can you eat dinner?" I asked Katie.
"No.  You have to sign up to cook to be able to eat."

Afterwards we head to Katie's local haunt to write on the weekends, where her roommate works.  The owner of the cafe, like everyone else in LA had a dog that wandered around the eating area.  Later, Chloe's boyfriend and a friend and "horrorphile" showed up and were appalled to learn that we were not scary-film enthusists ourselves.  Chloe and Casey are both ridiculously talented musicians.  Check them out!



The best part about sitting at the cafe in West Hollywood was seeing almost a constant stream of adolescent Orthodox Jewish boys riding their bicycles and scooters in full suits, in and out of our view from the cafe.  One large group passed and  a few minutes later, a kid came running after them.  "Wow.  That sucks.  He doesn't have a bike or a scooter." I said.

"But he has his faith." Katie retorted.  I wrote it down to use as a punchline later somewhere down the road, but thought it a very good closing thought for myself, a girl who less than a month ago, didn't have any plans for the summer, only to find myself on this Sunday with my very best friend, writing a script in West Hollywood, eating a very good piece of cheesecake.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday was the 
Ultimate Cliche L.A. Day.
The Arrival:
I drove on a highway bisecting mountains to reach a company whose sole job is to cast background actors in movies and t.v shows.  I parallel parked for the first time out of necessity and at 12:30 I was the first person in line for the 2:30 registration time.    
There were a few adults gathered a few yards from the premise.  
What I asked them: Where does the line start?  
What they heard me say: I'M NEW HERE.  SELL ME THINGS.  
A woman named Seana approached.  "Hello!  Are you an actress?"
                "Um...kinda...I mean...yes."
Seana laughs.  "Oh my God, girl!  If you're here you have to say I'M AN ACTRESS.  You have to have that kinda confidence where people believe you."
                  "Oh right, well yes! Then I'm an actress." I said, eyeing the stack of papers in her hand.
"Of course you are!  Look at you.  You're so pretty!  And look at you, you have such an up-personality.  We up personality people, we just attract one another, you know what I mean?"
She then proceeds to tell me about a workshop that is happening that of charge.  I thank her, and after she tells me about her R&b/gospel career, she walks away as more people arrive.
Three other people approach for another class, a woman representing a call-in service (after you register to be an extra, you have to call the company to see if they can use you.  People pay the call-in service to do it for them.) $20 off if you go directly there after you register for the company we were all in line with, and a man selling $300 headshots, but assures us that he has celebrity testimonial.  
The Line:
The man who showed up next was a short, 40-something bald black man with a bum leg.  His name was Sean and when the man approach him about needing headshots, Sean was genuinely thrilled.  He figured that since so many people had approached him about getting headshots, there had to be something attractive about him that made him cast-able.  We chatted a lot, and when he charmingly declared he needed to “drain the weasel,” I watched his things for him.
The third person in line was a 30-something Chinese woman, wearing garish glittering eye shadow, two huge black cross earrings, and a white suit under a white and red dress with dark blue socks and brown flats.  She seemed very confused the whole time.  As she wandered between her spot in line and the Sushi food truck that had pulled into the adjacent parking to make a buck feeding us, she repeated the same few questions in broken English to anyone who would listen.  It became obvious to Sean and I that she was either “not all there” or perhaps, incredibly high.  Both were a possibility.  
While I wasn’t speaking to Sean, or fending off the Chinese woman’s questions about whether or not I had driven here and could give her a ride, I took some time to read short stories from Flannery O’Connor’s: A Good Man is Hard to Find, a Christmas present from my brother.  There was something very ridiculous about reading such an accomplished author in that line, but I was grateful I had thought to bring it as the California sun beat down for two hours.  As more and more people joined, they too were approached by Seana and the selling things crew.  It was a depressing time, knowing that the 100 of us who eventually gathered to register to be extras all give off a collective aura of desperate, naive, easily bought.  
The Orientation/Registration:
Eventually, it was time to enter, and to go through our registration, which consisted mainly of filling out a packet.  There were 4 row of 25 chairs each.  Those of us who had showed up first were treated to fat rolling chairs and a table, and a prime view of the tripod on which the instructor placed the blow up representations of the sheets in our packet.  
The Chinese woman showed Sean and I her headshots.  They were unprofessionally done and posed.  One shot was a from-below shot of her cupping her face in both hands a few feet away.  Another was a close up of her with one finger draped across her cheek.
The man registering behind me turned out to be a ’97 Prospect High School graduate, which was both kinda cool and kinda terrifying. 
Our instructor was a young woman in a bright yellow dress with a perfected speech.
“Okay everyone.  Welcome!  At our company, we refer to all of you as background actors.  We don’t like the word ‘extra’ because it implies....well, it implies being extra.”  And so began the most insightful two hours of my life.
          We learned where and how to write our full names: “for example, if you’re name is Michael, but you go by Mike, write down Michael.”
          We learned not to fill out anything marked FOR OFFICE USE ONLY: “how many of you have already filled it out?....Ah yes...well, we’ll have to get you all new first pages, don’t worry.”
         We learned how not to screw up our date of birth: “This is where we get a lot of problems.  Don’t write todays date.  Don’t write your birthdate with today’s year, and please don’t lie about your age!”
          We learned how to correctly identify ourselves ethnically.  “Now, I once had a man who was Mexican, like real 100% Mexican, but he had blonde hair, and paler skin than mine, and bright blue eyes.  So what do you think I had him mark down? ...Caucasian exactly.  Because it’s about what the camera sees, what you look like, on the outside, what you appear to be.”
          We learned how we shouldn’t lie, because they once had a juggler who couldn’t really juggle and the stars were not happy that they had to keep redoing the take.  We learned that you can’t tell any of the shows secrets, because a “background actor” once got sued for millions by a company when she revealed the finale secrets.  
          We learned that if we write down we play an instrument, we have to be able to site-read, causing half a dozen drummers to protest.
           We learned that you make $64/8hrs (less than minimum wage), and time and a half after that....most shooting days are 12-14 hours. 
          We learned that they're aways looking for "deads," the industry term for dead bodies on the many criminal shows, but if you wanted the chance to play one, you almost always had to mark down you were okay with partial nudity to be filmed beneath the thin white cloth in the morgue.  

I learned that no one really listens.  The instructor said we were missing a sheet from our packet that we would fill out later.  Sean raised his hands after a few minutes and started to ask about where the sheet was, I whispered to him that we were getting it later.  Another hand shot up in the back.  He was “just wondering about where the extra sheet was”.  The woman explained to him he would get it later.  I was getting cocky about being one of the more intelligent people in the room, but then I remembered that I spelled “Sweden” wrong in my last blogpost....
I hurried to get my picture taken and get out of there, because Sean had been poking around trying to get a ride home.  Luckily I had contemplated that he might ask that and had earlier prepared “I have to meet my aunt for dinner!” I half ran to my car as he was distracted trying to use a laminated social security card to register.  
The Take Away:
My lesson of the day came from watching the Chinese woman register.  Almost everything on her form was circled, and the person registering her sighed and responded: “Ma’am, you can’t play all of the ethnicities....  You have to pick one.”  
“Oh..” she said, “Chinese then.” 
I can only be Laura.  If I’m going to try to be an actress in this town, I have to be okay with being reduced to 5’8, size 4-6, brown hair.  No half inches, no larger size range to reflect differences that occur due to various clothing qualities, not even light brown, or dirty blonde, because those weren’t options in this company’s scroll down selection system.  Beyond understanding it, I have to be okay with it.  The world is full of people who can play the other ethnicities and heights and hair colors, and the only choice I have is to rock what I’ve got.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Travelling Day went well, I only managed to write 20 pages of screenplay, read a few Flannery O'Connor stories, and apparently, my funny faces were not funny enough for any of the children in the waiting room...but! I did have myself a pretzel because "I got good grades this quarter." Nice!  The ride to SanFran was productive, the ride from SanFran to SNA was so short that immediately after they served us our drinks, it was time for us to land.  There was a yelling baby on the first flight, but once I got up to go the bathroom and saw how cute he was, I stopped being annoyed.  I sat next to a woman who had been up for like 25 hours flying from Sweeden, the land of her dual-citizenship.  She went to UCD and had never heard of Northwestern.  Sigh.

But today was: 
Move in Day!

But what's a move in day without you and your aunt working out at the JCC first?

Woke up at 7:50 to attend an 8:30 "Burn and Firm."  The woman leading the class was a kind no-nonsense woman with an accent who seemed rather used to some of the older women gossiping when they should have been keeping their heart rate up.

Class composition:
         30 women between 35-60, 
         three 20 year olds wearing sorority t-shirts

As a member of the latter category, I am willing to admit that some of these older women were kicking my ass.  It turns out the work-out routines I've been making up for myself at Spac and Blom don't exactly cut it when compared to a professional trainer's.  Not shocking, but definitely disheartening.  

Showered, lamented that I couldn't stay longer at the Miller's home, and then packed up the Ford focus to move into my apartment, which brings me to:

My first few encounters with LA driving: A Farce Part 1 

The first image: trying to follow Aunt Ellen down a street full of stop signs.  Four blocks in a row, she crossed the street, only to have other cars go in front of me, so so she swerved to the side and waited for me to get across.

Image 2: People mercilessly cutting me off on the freeway.

Image 3: A snipet of freeway with small white construction markings for the lanes instead of yellow lines, me turning right at 65 mph between a truck and a van yelling to myself "YOU'RE OKAY, LAURA!"

Finally got to the apartment, which is lovely and large! It's the size in between H&G and R&D for NU people, with a dining room, living room and hardwood floors.  Met one of my roommates who goes to UCLA and is very sweet.  

Then I was reunited with one Ms. Katherine Nopar, which was very surreal and amazing. Then out to Fat Sal's to lunch with Katie, Aunt Ellen, and one of Danny's friends from home.  Fat Sal's was an awesome sandwich place whose dining was all outdoors, something my Chicago-weather-sensibilities can still not fully grasp. 

At Fat Sal's, you can buy a 27" sandwich for $50, but if you finish it all in 40 minutes, you get the sandwich for free!  Needless to say...we all got something else.  

Came back and unpacked to some Eminem which was too angry for my mood and Sara Bareilles...which was a little too sad.  Turned off the music altogether when I decided to get my eyebrows done at the Benefit situated in a Bloomingdales at the Santa Monica  Mall...which leads me to:

My First Few Encounters with L.A. Traffic: A Farce Part 2

Image 4: Me trying to start the Ford, only to have the alarm go off and the steering wheel freeze up.  Me calling Danny, Aaron and then reaching Aunt Ellen to have her teach me how to turn off the alarm.  

Image 5: Backing out of the incredibly long drive way, and running over the 6 inch concrete wall on one side.   Screaming while picturing myself having to call for a tow truck, threw the car into drive and got back on the driveway.  Tried not to look at couple observing as I finally made it to the streets.

Image 6: Getting to the mall and being too far away from the parking ticket meter.  As I start to unbuckle, a kind gentlemen gets my ticket for me.

Enter: Bloomingdales.  All the sales associates wear black.  They smile at me as I walk by.  I pretend like I'm seriously contemplating the things on the sales rack, each still priced over $300.  But I do not go home empty handed.  The lady at Benefit gave me this:

if you can't read it.  The bottle says: Bloomingdales Water.  Ridiculous.  

Getting up early tomorrow to try and register as an extra!  We'll see how that goes



Monday, June 18, 2012

Day of Travelling!

In a few hours, I'll be off to O'Hare to a connecting flight in San Francisco-where, unfortunately, I will not be meeting up with my brother- and then finally John Wayne Airport in Orange County, where my Aunt has generously volunteered to pick me up.

There's nothing quite as freeing as travelling alone.  When I'm strolling around the airport with my bright blue backpack strung with camp counselor landyards, beat-up dark red cowgirl boots and Northwestern sweatshirt, my mental response to anyone looking at me is: you don't know me! you don't know my life!  However, one of the great parts of the airport is that you don't have to worry about anyone looking at you, because most people are too busy either enjoying their own day of solitude, or sprinting half a mile to some other ORD terminal.

For better or for worse, I always look at a day of travel as a time to accomplish things.  So here are my


1.) keep trying to make this happen with my hair:  Fishtail Braid

2.) befriend a child in the sitting room area by making silly faces

3.) using the "reward" mentality of eating bad food, buy self Auntie Anne's pretzel

4.) Determine what I am rewarding myself for when buying Auntie Anne's pretzel
      ----> Jim Gaffigan- Cinnabon (I too, often feel this way about waiting in the Auntie Anne's line at the airport)

5.) Write an essay about food to submit to an online magazine:  the Magazine asking for submissions
                  Possible Titles:
 Fending For One's Self: Growing up in a Home Where No One Cooks
 My Mother, the Microwave, My Father, the Frozen Pizza: The Cultivation of a No-Cook Culture

6.) Finish another 30 rough draft pages of screenplay

A serious interference with the AIRPORT GOALS might be my new habit of falling asleep as soon as the plane takes off.  It may be upsetting that I don't finish everything on my list, but I consider this napping trend as a sign of my mature state of adulthood. 

What upsets me most about travelling is that my experience probably won't be as funny as any of these trips:

30 Rock

Until next time <3

P.S. So close to seeing this girl....casual identical rompers 4 years ago.