I am loving this steady audition prepertory process with Yvette Edery’s Foretoken Collection. After an exceptional 2 hour meeting and preread, she has invited me to the group audition in mid January. She has also requested a list of 50 favorite things- no people or ideas, just places & things. See as I am reveling in the post Thanksgiving pre Christmas bliss, it is as good a time as any to reflect on what makes me giddy.
50 Favorite Things:
Well, they also asked me to provide photos of me mid production. And since everything looks better in color and in digital, here is a gallery of me on some of the various sets I’ve had the pleasure to work on…
I am submitting my short film, Ex Vitro for consideration for the Roy W. Dean Film & Video Grant. They asked for hard copies of my proposal, but since this film is intended to reach out for additional support in the future, there seems no harm in posting the proposal in full right here. Let me know what you think!
Ex Vitro: outer glass : A darkly dysfunctional couple interviews for an adoption.
My short film Ex Vitro focuses on the biological yearning to raise a family, and how it can contort judgment in romantic relationships.
The story follows Cait & Joshua, a young and seemingly happy couple, as they conclude the second portion of their interview at an adoption agency. They present themselves as ideal parents, answering with clarity and conviction, but we learn through a series of flashbacks that abuse of all forms permeates their romance and marriage, from the initial flirtation to the ultimate betrayal. Together, they are crippled and mated by the shared dream of the all-American family. Despite Cait’s infertility and Joshua’s indiscretions, they passionately pursue parenthood rather than risk separation to find a healthier match. The social worker is convinced by their answers and endorses their application. As they leave the office, Cait spies a pregnant teenager through the waiting room glass before being escorted off-frame by Joshua. We are left dismayed that these two will soon introduce a child into their tragic lives.
This film aims to unsettle on multiple levels. I want to upset those who may have unconsciously put their parental aspirations before career, personal happiness, or marital equilibrium. Whether from a natural instinct or nurtured socialization, I want my audience to meditate on the familial impulse that they have acted or intend to act on. This is a monumental action that is not often second-guessed, and when undertaken lightly can have dire consequences. Ex Vitro also puts domestic violence in the setting it is most commonly found in-young families. I want my audience to relate as closely to Cait & Josh as any couple featured in a standard romantic film, but then glimpse how ambiguous domestic abuse can be. Why do women stay with someone who beats them?
Though inspired separately, I see the potential to fictionally portray the arguments of Leslie Morgan Steiner, drawing from her amazing work Crazy Love. This is my unique contribution to society. Abuse can happen to anyone, and is rarely as black-and-white as one expects. Ex Vitro is a tale of caution targeting my generation of Millennials, who like myself are facing the potential and pressures of parenthood.
Ex Vitro is in the very early stages of pre-production. In the interests of cost efficiency, I intend to produce this short film in Seattle, where cast, crew, and locations are cheaper. I am including a preliminary budget and links to my film portfolio. Battleground Productions is a new film company assembled for the immediate purpose of supporting Ex Vitro‘s completion. Under this licensed umbrella, I will be seeking fiscal sponsorship through Seattle’s Shunpike Group in order to qualify for grants to non-profits, as well as seeking funding as part of an ensemble. While the Roy W. Dean Film & Video Grant is the first grant I am submitting my film to, it will hardly be the last. Promotional photos were very recently shot by Seattle photographer Gabino Malably and storyboards are scheduled to be illustrated by New York artist Zachary Brunner.
I also intend to raise funds through my personal & professional networks in Washington DC, NYC, LA, and Seattle. It is my intention to raise $5,000 through individual donors, grants, and live events promoting both Ex Vitro and the cause it highlights. I hope to gain the endorsement of Leslie Morgan Steiner and other high profile advocates against domestic abuse. As March marks Women’s History Month, it is apt timing to campaign for the remainder of the budget on Kickstarter.
In terms of distribution goals, Ex Vitro will be first submitted to various film festivals, particularly Seattle’s International Film Festival and LunaFest’s Shorts for Women. But ultimately, this film is meant for the larger public, and as a cinematic aid to the various advocacy groups across the country. Unlike PSAs and documentaries on this subject, Ex Vitro is a concise narrative fiction that presents the complications of domestic abuse in the immediate rather than anecdotal. This accessibility will provide a different kind of impact to anyone currently in a similar relationship.
I wrote Ex Vitro in April. It is my hope to shoot next summer. I am dedicated to a long winter to bring this dream off the page and onto the screen.
On Wednesday, I zipped up to Seattle to 1) surprise the boyfriend 2) attend the premiere of Norm Owensen: Medieval Mercenary, the pilot episode. Yes, apparently webseries pilots of 10 minutes length can have their very own premiere. It was a rather fancy affair at the Central Cinema, an independent theatre that served food & booze in house. We actually had quite a cute turn out of 60+ people, all of varying shades of geeks, nerds, ren faire afficianados, tech, art, and film. Classic Seattle audience you could say. Ron & John gave speeches of thank you’s and pleas to get the work out as they wander down the path of fundraising and producing the rest of the season, now independent of the former Hostile Work Environment. I won’t call it too soon, but there were some interesting post show discussions over drinks about future co-productions. But then again, it was over drinks.
Hello! This past weekend I shot the pilot of Norm Owensen: Medieval Mercenary. It was produced by Hostile Work Environment, the pet production company of Peter Adkison, founder of Wizards of the Coast (a company of major geek cred). Since being cast back in April and working variations of the script both in LA & Seattle, it feels a little weird to have wrapped the project for the time being. While the rough cut trailer is here on live across the interwebs, the final cut will be shown at GenCon in a matter of weeks, leaving our poor editor Andy Gills with quite a task on hand to peacemeal together our 5 scenes, including a outdoor park scene shot during Seattle’s seafair Sunday (ie- airshow and a nightmare for sound) and a boffer sword fight featuring yours truly. I wish the fight could aptly display my sword skills, but alas it turned out alot shorter and simpler than I would like. There’s only so much you can do with boffer swords, which are weighted in such an unusual way I found it almost unwieldy.
I don’t know where this will go. While it has more viability than the failed Last Reel Cinema’s webseries, it’s anybody guess whether Peter or anyone else will want to shell out the 80K to produce the rest of season 1, which I know will feature some car stunts, barroom fights, and a new crop of comedic characters. So when the pilot premieres in Seattle’s Century Cinema on September 25, show some love! In the meantime, I guess I have new footage for a developing fight reel.
Though not a categorical nerd, I tend to obsess on a selection of subjects not directly related to my acting work. I’m a health/fitness junkie, a sampler of many movement styles, and am researching all things motion capture. I both need a place to store my findings as well as a soapbox to publish my weekly workouts and other accomplishments. And this wordpress is not quite the place for it. Here, I want you to find my finished products, my involved and insightful commentaries, my professional face as a working actress. So here I announce my new side project: joiningtheserkis.tumblr.com
There you will find me a work in progress, aspiring from multiple angle to join the top ranking performer in the medium- Andy Serkis. I’m trying to combine my research in the technology, industry contacts, as well as performance training to be in fighting shape when the opportunity presents itself.
Nothing really more to say here. It’s all there.
As an actor, I get it. I’m on a career path that has no set path. But consciously pursuing work in Motion Capture? That has no set precedent.
In anticipation of my move to Los Angeles, I have attempted to do my market research on the local Motion Capture industry. Just as a commercially inclined actor will stock up on information regarding commercial casting directors, agents, companies and find social media solutions to begin networking with these potentail employers, I intend to arrive in country with an intelligence on my target list. Game directors, agents, mocap technicians, animation directors, MoCap & VFX houses- these are the people I need to know. The trouble I keep finding is that these people are not so easily approached on the internet. In the more traditional venues of entertainment industry, casting directors, agents, directors expect an influx of actors to professionally engage with them and have various methods of making themselves accessible. To receive, find, sell actors is part of their job. Yet this expectation is not put upon the employers of mocap performers, to my knowledge. This has overwhelmed my remote search.
And it’s not like I have any leads from following the by example of other mocap performers. In this post by the ManyMotion blog, Oliver Cooke delves into the different kinds of mocap performers and what to look for from a casting perspective. Aside for the athletes brought on for sports games, there are character actors and stunt performers. What Oliver doesn’t quite touch upon is how these actors get brought into the audition room in the first place. From the character actor perspective, none of these actors are developing their careers or specializing in the medium. Even Andy Serkis was name talent from the britisth stage and film before he even came to motion capture. To achieve character actor status on Motion Capture project seems to require an extensive resume in Film/TV or complete luck of the draw. In an interview with Heather Gordon of Bioshock: Infinite and Woody Schultz of Polar Express, both of them didn’t even know what they were auditioning for. But they had both received some phenomenal broadway and hollywood credits. As for the stunt work side, you are a stuntie applying a previous career of skills to the medium, not skills accrued for the medium. And getting onset as a stuntperson has its own separate channels of proving skills to coordinators and local crews.
So I currently conclude that I can’t directly pursue the performance format that I am so enthusiastic to engage in. I must become both an accredited actress and stuntwoman. I must be literally at the right place at the right time, which seems like a passivity on par with career suicide. But after a couple days of circuitous research and online deadends, I think my time might be better spent beefing up the typical skillset, honing the craft, than knocking on front or back doors well everyone is using the side entrance…
I’m going back to the gym.
So I guess I’m going to come clean about something. As suggested by Flight of the Concords, I’m a part time model. But at 24 years old, 5’7″, and 130 some odd pounds, it’s unlikely you’re ever going to see me on a billboard, on a runway, or in a magazine. But since 2010, I have been quietly making some odd paychecks working as a model… an art & figure model. This generally means sans clothes, which generally raises eyebrows for many, both inside and outside the entertainment industry. If my parents ever read my social media soapboxes, they’d probably faint and after they came to, shrug their shoulders at my contining circuitous path in performing arts. However, the question arises in various actor circles- does being caught in your birthday suit negatively affect your acting career?
I personally think it has everything to do with context and attitude.
In my freshman year at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, our december design “midterm” was to draw two full human figures, preferably from life. This assignment had evolved through the school’s tradition as “the naked party”, in which each respective design class would reserve sometime together in which everyone who strip to the extent of their comfort level and draw each other. The assignment served many purposes. We got to draw figures from life, which beats out any sculptured likeness or photograph. We bonded as class- note that these people were my only classmates for the year in a discipline that demands intimacy. And we got over ourselves as these precious physical beings. I can’t which acting teacher blew my mind when they said, “In that moment, acting truthfully is both the most important thing in the world and no big deal”. When you get over the huge hurdle of being comfortable with your body in space– your objective self full of imperfections, inseamed into and yet bifurcated from your subjectivity– you can begin to use it artistically as a tool. This is something that seems ingrained in dancers, athletes, other movement specialists that sometimes lost on actors of a certain training. Point is this experience allowed me a second look at “those” kinds of roles for “those” kinds of girls. When a play called for an inexplicably naked woman to recreate Le Dejeuner sur L’herbe, I was game to use my instrument to serve the story.
In any project, whether theatre, film, photograhy or other studio arts, I have the right as a collaborating artist to question, does the _______ (in this case nudity) serve the story and is that a story I want to partake in telling? I’ve heard this gamut of questioning apply to so many storytelling features, from singing to violence to special effects. But let’s stay in the buff for now. When at the encouragement of a friend who saw Le Dejeuner I began developing a portfolio, I was and continue to be extremely protective of my “story” (ie- brand) as a figure model. I want to lend my nudity towards the expression of beauty, of the female form, of light & color, not of smut or debased sexuality. There’s a keen difference between Kate Winslet stripping for Titanic or Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and the girls playing prostitutes in Smokin’ Aces.
As I continue down this sideline of work, I keep finding new & intriguing insights. Recently, I started more seriously pursuing the more steady gigs as an art model in studio drawing sessions at various art schools. I have never been so pleasantly Asexually objectified in my life. Holding a static pose for up to 20+ minutes, it’s not about me as a person or an actor or something with tits, ass, and a cunt. It’s about a living human body in space available to teach these artists to accurately depict the 3D form with 2D tools. And some of the images, stories, art they render from my body as a platform make me proud to be part of that collaboration. And it is a collaboration. I am providing a skilled service to hold unsual shapes for extended time frame, to know my body well enough to create interesting angles, to give the other artist what details they need to express their part of the story. Maybe I’ve been lucky or smartly selective, but I have only been treated with this kind of respect during these situations, caught on camera or sketchpad.
Now all this being said, you’re not going to easily find my naked self plastered over the internet. But if and when you do, it won’t be a sexual scandal. It’ll be like the above, interesting, classy, well done, and above all, a good story.
If you should run mad like a hot January and embark on a massive rerun campaign of both Inside Acting Podcast‘s 100 episodes and Emily Grace’s Build Your Own Buzz marketing for actors, you may sympathize with my plight. Inspired to such an overwhelming explosion of actions, I’m left singed in the sooty blast remains like an ACME cartoon with nothing actually achieved. Time and again the ubiquitous, omniscient, and alluring they advise to focus career aspirations towards one end and along that way, tailor your brand as a creative product to a specific and sellable description. “Who am I?” is less of concern than “What product/service as an actor/perform do I fulfill?”
It would be so easy if I only were obsessed with one niche of the entertainment industry. But the combination of classical acting with an emphasis on high levelin’ language, combat & aerial stunts aimed at action genre, and use of MotionCapture (which is its own pandora’s box) leaves me at an odd crossroads wanting to take all the roads less traveled by at once, layered like an accordion by parallel universes, slightly eschewed.
I may be able to connect these dots by simply owning up to the geek culture I have tripped and fallen in with. Always never quite nerdy, geeky, techie enough, I have tiptoed those “alternative” societies, now swiftly becoming mainstream. I always seem to come to that coolly uncool party late, brought as an uninvited guest but friend of a friend. But since September, I have been actually quite closely affiliated with Seattle’s Steampunk. Though it never got off the ground, I was the heroine of a Steampunk webseries pilot. I attended SteamCon IV & SteamPunk Ball. I shot off historic firearms in interbellum costume with the NW Gentlemen’s Adventure Society. I’m dating a future steampunk novelist and occasionally attending his Bartitsu classes. This is all rather involved for someone supposedly not of the genre. Breathing it all in, I’m encouraged by all that Steampunk encompasses as an aesthetic– basically everything I want to do as a performer. It has sex appeal, class, refined language, cut throat action, and gizmos to get the job done. Looking back to the future, I wonder, could I successfully brand myself as a Steampunk actor? What would that even look like?
For those later to this party than I, Steampunk is an aesthetic born out of literary scifi/fantasy subgenres in the early 1980′s. Drawing from Victorian Science Fiction, Steampunks imagine alternative histories and futures without the invention of the internal combustion engine and everything that proceeded. Looking for relevant examples, I fall into the geekgasm of Felicia Day of The Guild and Kato of SteamPunk Couture & SteamGirl. Hella late, I know. Both these women are doing it, connecting the disparate streams of artistic expression into something cohesive. While I’d not dare compete with Kato for the title of hottest steamgirl ever (worth the subscription fee btw), why can’t I shoot to be Lara Croft of steampunk?
Anyone got a spare corset and winchester in their closet?