Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spoke Too Soon?

Whoops... sorry about not doing a WIP Wednesday yesterday. Though I did have an invited dress of Alice, I also had a cancelled class, so I don't really have an excuse.

I do have unfortunate news. I was talking to the head of the theatre department yesterday about submitting my piece. As I was filling out the form earlier that day, there was a part that asked that, if you were chosen, would you be at the festival? "Do you have to be there to submit?" I asked him. "Yes," he said. "They work really closely with the playwrights and the whole workshop process is part of the package. Not being able to go will really lower your chances of being chosen."

CRAP. As excited as I am to go to England, it's stuff like this that makes me sad I won't be in America. And the worst part is, I'm only missing this festiva by about two weeks. But I just keep reminding myself of all the great opportunities over there.

Anyway, the point is, since I can't go to th festival, it would be smarter to hold onto my script until next year. That way, not only will I not be teasing them with it, should they want to choose it, but if I DO get chosen next year, I won't have to endure the heartbreak of turning it down. I already almost cried when I heard I had to attend the festival in order to be considered.

But what I need to remember is a) there is a festival next year, and the year after that, and so on, b) I'm not a senior this year, c) I can submit peices up to two years after I've graduated, and d) not being able to submit this year should not detract from the exitement of just being asked to do so; I'm thrilled that my teacher thought enough of my writing to ask me to submit it to a huge competition like this.

That said, he hasn't answered my e-mail about this topic. I could call him- I have his number. But I don't want to break it to him or hear him disappointed or hear whatever I'm going to hear. I'm going to work on the piece until he says stop, just in case there's some way for me to enter.

In other news, I'm testing out the new Scrivener for Windows Beta. I've wanted Scrivener for years, and though it took me awhile to figure it out, I'm loving it so far.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


More excitement!

I was super early to Play & Screenwriting today because I'm a nerd, and when I got there, my teacher handed me my six-week evaluation. First, there were surprises- like that he liked my first terrible piece more than I thought he had (I was literally in tears over it), and that he didn't quite understand the last piece I submitted (which wasn't exactly a blow... I was never too enthusiastic about it myself.)
And then there was the awesome- when he wrote about my first ten-minute piece, he said he wanted to send it to this great theatre fesitval that my school took part in last year, and will be again this year. AHHHH!!!!!! I am so excited, because he'd already offered it to another girl in my class and I had wished that I could do that- and now I am!

Now the challenges begin- all submissions are due THIS week, and I need to get it down to ten pages (it's fifteen at the moment, though in the original draft, it was ten.) It's going to be hard, mostly because Alice shows begin tomorrow (invited dress... eek.) However, since we don't officially open 'til Friday, I have a whole night free on Thursday, so though I had thought I might go see a show, I think I'll stay in and work on this script. I'm so excited!

(And a little fact about this scene that I think is cool- I began writing it at last year's theatre festival, sitting in the middle of an auditorium surrounded by my fellow artists.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Awesome Day!

This morning, I rose at six to get ready for my day. By eight fifteen, my group and I were on the road. The road to where, you ask? The road to a workshop for my new job!

If you don't remember my news, I got a position as a teaching theatre artist assisting a teacher in helping kids K-12 write and produce their own plays! Unfortunately, I'll only be there half as long as a lot of other people, since England is pulling me away. But I'm excited to do what I can.

So today's retreat was a ten-hour workshop where we did ice breakers, practiced the teaching methods we have the options of using, brainstormed, improvised, wrote, presented, read, and lots and lots of other stuff. It was so much fun! Though it was tne hours, it certainly didn't feel like it (well... there was one point right before lunch where I found myself not paying attention, but that's just my childhood habit of getting grumpy when I'm hungry. And I had an awful headache. But once they fed me, I was good.)

There's a lot to write about the workshop, but here were some of my favorite parts:

-Using imaginary binoculars to spy on imaginary people and relaying their thoughts to the rest of the group.

-Yelling during an improv exercise: "BUT GOD WANTS ME TO GO ON THE SKI TRIP!'

-Brainstorming a list of important events/occasions that included the return of the dinosaurs, the apocalypse, Wear a Wig to Work Day, parent/teacher conferences, and birth.

-The amazing pizza at lunch.

-Getting 45 minutes after lunch to write a complete scene.

-Presenting said scenes to a group of teachers, teaching artists, and a professional playwright, all of whom gave me great feedback.

-Having one of my group members say that her love for my scene was so great, she wanted to use it for her acting class. I'm revising the scene for her now.

-Being pleasantly surprised at the quality of 98% of the scenes. I don't know what I expecting, but WOW could the people in this workshop write!

-Meeting amazing and talented people that I want to get to know better.

It was, in a word, awesome.

I've also been utilising my new writing journal. I've always written in notebooks, but never in ONE notebook just for writing. Usually I just write it on a page, rip it out, then hope I don't lose it. But now I've got a beautiful black writing journal and most of my pages look like this:

Last night, I traveled into the city to see a show for school. Usually on the train, I listen to music, but my Zune is currently being repaired. Instead, I wrote. I wrote 2,410 words while on the train! Maybe my Zune being broken is a blessing in disguise!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Plotting and Planning

So not only is NaNoWriMo fast approaching (11 days and counting), during which time I will be asked to produce at least 1,667 words every day or risk falling behind on the ever-important word count, but I'm working on two shows AND I have all of my writing classes that will be going strong in November as well.

I know you know this; it's the purpose of this blog. But I thought I would just reiterate just how much writing I'm doing this semester, and especially in November. It's crazy. It's great. And it's going to be really hard to keep up.

I'm having kind of a moral crisis about NaNoWriMo. It centers around the fact that I've already begun the novel I'm going to be working on. I feel like I'm in one of those angel-and-devil-on-the-shoulders type of situation.

DEVIL: If you fall behind on your word count, it's TOTALLY acceptable to count the 14,679 words you've already written in for the day. You're busy, it's understandable. Besides, it's not like you're writing this in a blog or whatever- NO ONE WILL KNOW!

ANGEL: Are you doing National Novel Writing Month or National I Wrote Most of This in a Month But I Cheated Because I Was Lazy Month? Do you think you'll really feel fulfilled if you take teh easy route? You know if you don't compose 50,000 BRAND NEW words this month, you won't let yourself count it.

DEVIL: She can't do math anyway, so why not make it that much easier?

ANGEL: Yes, but starting her wordcount from scratch will push her to explore her characters and situations more deeply, especially if she's short on words for the month.

DEVIL: What do you think she's been doing for the past several months? Exploring characters and situations!

ANGEL: (sing-song) Cheating, cheating, cheating...

DEVIL: It's not like she didn't put work on what she's written for the past few months-

ANGEL: (putting her fingers in her ears) La, la, la, I can't hear you!

DEVIL: Aren't you supposed to be the good one?


Anyway, in addition to continue to work on the plot of my NaNo novel, I spent this afternoon sorting out the plot of my Peter Pan play. I'm so, so excited that this is going to be my final project because it's going to push me to finish it. I also found out, as I was filling out the breakdown table I made in Word that technically, I have the most of the first part of the assignment done. If I wanted, I could call the first act (of, I think, three) done. Wow... It's still going to take a lot of work for me to finish this play in a way that my Type-A personality will accept as "good."

Speaking of well-written plays, I just bought my ticket to see Time Stands Still (by Donald Margulies) for a second time. The writing in it is just incredible, so great that I was willing to pay through the nose to sit in the orchestra section (I was in the very very last row last time- they actually had to give my friends and I booster seats to see.) Also, Laura Linney, one of my favorite actors, is in it, along with Brian d'Arcy James, who I also love. They're electric onstage. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I wrote this monologue for Play & Screenwriting. I had planned on composing something completely different- a not-so-great experience from my life that caused me to make a few choices I still hold fast to today. However, as I was writing it, I realised that, though it had actually happened to me, it sounded convoluted and over-dramatic. Plus, I thought I would be okay with people reading it, but in the end, it was too personal.

So in the end, I wrote this. It's kind of surprising to me that I did because, as an actor, I LOATHE monologues like this- where the delivering character is listening to someone who's not there. There are other parts that I like though, so I'm all right with that.

HANNAH: I was actually on time for class, Mrs. Collins, but honestly, I’m lucky to have made it here at all. See, this day has just been terrible. I mean, awful. It’s like that- that thing you were talking about a couple of classes ago, the whatsit… some guy’s law about things going wrong. (Beat) Yeah, Murphy’s Law, exactly. Well, it’s been like that.

I got up this morning and things immediately went downhill as soon as I looked in the mirror. I don’t really consider myself a vain person, Mrs. Collins, but seriously, this morning, my hair decided to stage a mutiny. I won’t bore you with the sordid details, but suffice it to say that scissors and an excessive amount of gel were used. It wasn’t pretty.

I knew I was running late so I literally ran to my car because there is nothing more important to me than your English class, as shown by the hours I spent finishing up that essay last night. (Beat) Well, I don’t actually have it on me… that Murphy thing again, it’ll kill you, right? (Laughs, but gets no response) Anyway, I ran to my car, turn the key and what do you know, the battery was dead. Unbelievable, right? I thought so, too. Luckily, after a good twenty minutes- that believe me, Mrs. Collins, were spent in tears on my part, I was so distressed- my dad found some jumper cables and brought good old Sammy the Saturn back to life. (Beat)

Well, yes, you would think that that would have been it, but as I was racing here, I realized that I hadn’t had any breakfast. You may not understand this, Mrs. Collins, due to your slender frame and will of iron, but when my stomach asks for something, I have to oblige. Otherwise, things get ugly. Plus, you know by my outstanding academic record that I am nothing if not a rule-follower, and I would not want to cross the United States Department of Agriculture if they found out I had skipped the most important meal of the day.

But did I stop at my favorite cafĂ© for a delicious croissant and fragrant cup of coffee? No I did not. Because making it to your class is worth the health risk of fast food. Unfortunately, today McDonald’s seemed to be operating under a… oh, that thing you talked about when we were reading A Tale of Two Cities… a paradox! Am I using that right? Well, anyway, what I’m trying to say is that today, it was slow food. I mean, how long does it take to make a freaking breakfast sandwich?

Eventually they finally coughed up my food- not literally of course, that would be gross, and then I would have had to wait for another sandwich. So then I jumped back into my car, pulled back onto the road, thinking I was going to sneak in right on time… but I hit every single traffic light. Like, all fifteen. (Beat) Well, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but I’m not lying when I say I hit all of them. (Beat) Okay, I hit both of them. Then I pull into the parking lot, stumble out of my car, race into the building and I’m practically to your classroom when Principal Harris demands to see me in his office. Can you believe him? Denying me the pleasure of attending your class to have an impromptu talk with me? And the subject of the discussion was completely ridiculous- he claims that my file includes several more tardy arrivals. I told him I resented the slander to my reputation, but he just kept talking.

He finally let me leave, but when I got out of the office, I saw that the janitor had just washed the floor, and I don’t believe in disrespecting our maintenance staff by traipsing across the spotless floor and undoing all of their hard work. So I had to go down the language wing and then up the mathematics wing, and that was slow going because numbers make me dizzy and I was concerned that I might faint and then not make it to class at all.

So Mrs. Collins, I just wanted to return this detention slip to you because not only do I believe it’s unnecessary due to the unforeseen circumstances that prevented me from arriving to your class in a timely manner, but the thought of a tree dying for a mistaken gives me a pain in my heart… although that may be the breakfast sandwich. So here you go. I’ll turn in my essay tomorrow.

There are a few changes to be made- my class gave me some awesome suggestions.

In related news, I got permission to write the complete adaptation of my Peter Pan prequel. My teacher's a little skeptical about whether my main character (Mrs. Darling as a child) is interesting enough, but nevertheless, I'm jazzed that he's allowing me to explore that- in a full script. I've got what accumulates to about half of it (40 pages), but I think he wants me to write the first act first... eep! I'm not a linear writer at all! Thankfully, I have the advantage of knowing my project pretty well already.

Hm... I think someone's smoking under my window... gross.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What to Workshop?

During Thursday's class, my Poetry & Fiction teacher informed us that there was a writing workshop happening on campus in November and if we wanted a spot, we had to submit our material immediately. I looked on jealously while my classmates with computers fired off e-mails to the organizer.

Thankfully, I sent him an e-mail right after class and got a spot in the workshop. Hooray! But now I have no idea what to submit. I need to give them up to six pages of double-spaced prose (or some poetry, but, er... I don't have any), and I have NO idea what I'm going to turn in. I have six pages of fiction that I really like, but it's six pages single-spaced and once I work on the suggestions given to me by my classmates, it'll be longer. What am I going to submit?!

In other news, I completed my rewrite of my second scene for Play & Screenwriting and I'm really happy with it. It went from ten pages to sixteen pages and I had to add two more very minor characters, but I'm still pleased.
I have a two-page monologue due for that class tomorrow... though I've been thinking about it a lot, I haven't started. But I think that may be for the best- then I won't over-think it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Writer on Campus!

Tonight, I went to an awesome talk through the Writers Return to Campus program at my university. The YA author Frankie Mallis spoke tonight about the publishing business, the process of getting an agent, networking, and a few other things. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and took pages of notes! It was inspirational to see someone from my own school doing so well! Frankie, if you're reading this, thanks for coming!

In other news, I'm sorry about being so lax with posting lately. I've been super busy with the start of rehearsals for my next play and continuing rehearsals for Alice. But still, I don't want to be slacking, considering that I'll be doing both shows during NaNoWriMo- which is only two weeks away! Ahhh!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Wow... so remember back in August when I was talking about how my free, easy schedule would make NaNoWriMo super easy because I'd have all of this free time?

Yeah, that was before I was cast in two shows that overlap each other. Alice in Wonderland runs from the end of this month until the first weekend in November, and then yesterday I was cast in another show that starts rehearsals tomorrow and runs from the end of November to the beginning of December. And since we're getting started so late, pretty much every day from Wednesday to Sunday is a rehearsal day.

As an actor, I'm not complaining- I'm jazzed that in the next four days, I have seven rehearsals. But it IS going to my NaNo really difficult because not only do we have rehearsals, but I am playing one of the leads with A LOT of lines and I have to have them all memorized by the last day of Alice performances.

But I shall pulol through. In the end, I may have to compensate for lost words with the 9,000 or so I already have written, but I hope I won't have to. I just have to reexamine my plan of attack.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Exciting News!

I got some amazing news this afternoon when I went down to the theatre office. The "office" is a triple-wide trailer where they stick all of us theatre types, and when I arrived there to sign up for tomorrow's feild trip to NYC, my teacher told me something exciting- I'd gotten the job I applied for on Friday!

The job entails working with kids of various ages (from elementary up to high school) to create their own plays which will then be performed by professional actors, or so I've heard. Thirteen of us applied and they were meant to only take seven, but in the end, they liked all of us so much that they hired all thirteen!

I'm really excited. Though I have no actual aspirations to be a teacher, I do like working with kids and I love playwrighting, so this will be great! As I was working like a crazy woman on my writing resume two weekends ago, I couldn't figure out why I cared so much. Only then did I realise just how much I wanted the position.

So now that I am embarking on this new adventure, expecting to read my chronicles of being a playwrighting TA!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Planning Phase

I've started into the novel planning again. I'm very excited about this novel, and I've been discovering a lot about my characters these past few planning days. It's exciting.

In working on a scene that will come at the end of the novel, Lyddie is discussing an issue with her mother, a similar hardship they both faced at almost the same times in their respective lives. When I first thought about her mother, I saw her as a much different person than Lyddie. She is, in some ways- she's not as abrasive, a little less ambitious. But they're also incredibly alike- overconfidence is their weakness, as is taking on too much. It was so cool to find this out as I was writing a semi-monologue for Leah (Lyddie's mother.)

Sorry for the random post... I'm just excited :p

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday

This is a piece I wrote very quickly for an English assignment last week. It's semi-autobiographical up to the point after her agent calls. To the actors who might read this, I apologise if the film stuff is incorrect. It's shamefully been years since I've been on a real film set. Enjoy!

When people think of actors, they think of movie stars- Tom Hanks, Kate Winslet, Steve Martin. Or sometimes they think of Broadway performers- Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Hunter Foster. Who they don’t think of are people like me- those at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. Today, however, is my first step toward changing all of that. I plan to knock today’s audition out of the park, nail the role, and get my name in lights… or at least in the credits.

I locate the office of the Gilmore Group, a brand-new casting agency here in town. It’s very small, but the interior is like most casting offices I’ve been to: sparse and stylish with posters of past projects on the wall, usually signed by the leading actors. The posters here are for movies I don’t recognize, probably small indie projects filmed somewhere in Colorado. But hey, I’m not knocking it. I would give my left arm to be doing one of those. In order to do that, however, I need to focus on today’s audition.

What everyday people (as we term them, “non-actors”, or sometimes just “normal people”) don’t understand about films is that every single little part is laboriously auditioned for by people like me. In a huge movie, when the main character enters an office building and asks for the office of Mr. Smith, the woman behind the desk who says only, “Just go down the hall and to the left,” had to come to a casting agency just like this and sweat over how to make those nine words interesting enough for the directors to choose her. It’s not easy. The amount of time I’ve spent pacing around my tiny apartment saying single lines like, “I’d recommend the salad special,” and “She came by a few minutes ago,” over and over, trying to get just the right inflection, is embarrassing. But it’s also necessary for the reason that I see when I walk into the lobby of the Gilmore Group.

There, sitting on the various couches and chairs, are twenty girls who look exactly like me. I tried to mix it up this time- the character description said that the role I’m trying out for (Girl Walking Dog) could be either funky or conservative, and I went with the former, thinking that the cool red blouse I got would be perfect. Apparently, however, every other 5’5” not-as-slender-as-we-should-be dishwater blonde in the city also had the same idea, and we’re all sitting in the same room. I should have gone conservative…

I try not to let it bother me as I go over to the sign-in table. I find my name on the list, write in my arrival time and the title of my agency, and hand over a copy of what is my only identity in this world: my headshot and resume. In the picture, I actually do look pretty. The hair and make-up lady easily tamed my hair in a way I never seem to manage and my blue shirt brings out my eyes. I should have worn blue today! That would have made all the difference! Well, no going back now. I see the assistant on the other side of the table reading over my resume. Hm, a raised eyebrow. Is that her being impressed by my long list of theatre credits, or is she silently scoffing at the fact that my “big” TV appearance was as “Mennonite Girl” in a Lifetime movie?

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. My resume is my resume and I’ve worked hard to get it in the shape it is now. I take one of the few remaining seats among my doppelgangers and fish around my bag for my script. It takes a second as my hand selects, then rejects, the emergency make-up, the extra headshots and the cell phone, finally locating my lines. I pull them out and skim over the words highlighted in yellow. I have to get this right. This is the kind of audition I’ve been waiting for since I started acting ten years ago. Because this isn’t a try-out for a one-liner. No. No, this time, I have five lines. Five! That’s enough to pass as a “featured” role! It might seem paltry, but this is the stuff of dreams for people on my level. I can’t screw this up.

While some of the girls around me are sitting quietly- some reading over the same lines, others listening to music- most are doing that actory thing that I detest: “chatting” with their competition while slipping in the titles of companies and people that they’ve (supposedly) worked with. Personally, I don’t think any of us has much bragging to do, because if we did, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now, waiting to prove just how naturally we can speak. I try to block out the inane one-upping game and turn my attention back to my lines.

“Taryn Kinsley?” We all fall silent as a casting director’s assistant opens the door to the audition room. “Is there a Taryn Kinsley here?” No one responds as we all look around for the absent actress. Who on earth would miss this opportunity? Finally, a girl across the room, who has been listening to music, starts and pulls out her ear buds. “Did you say Taryn? That’s me, that’s me, I’m coming!” She drops her iPod in her bag, takes her script from a side table, and hurries over to the assistant. “Emily Davis, you’re on deck!” the assistant calls just before the door shuts behind Taryn.

Upon hearing my name, I sit up a little straighter on the couch and make sure that my hair is not frizzing out. Taryn will spend approximately three minutes in that room and I need to be ready for my respective three as soon as they summon me.

It passes both too slowly and too quickly. When the assistant opens the door to dismiss Taryn, I stand, the script shaking in my hands. I should have memorized it, then my nerves wouldn’t be so apparent. Oh, well, they know I’m nervous anyway. We all are. And not just today; the fact that we’ve basically chosen a life of unemployment makes us all perpetually anxious.

I step past the assistant and into the small room. Squeezed into it is a big TV monitor, a camera, a table and three chairs, at which the casting directors are sitting, a cameraman, and also a potted plant, which I guess is supposed to make us feel more comfortable but only makes the space even more cramped.

The assistant reminds the agents of my name and one of them reaches her hand across the table. “Hello, Emily. Thanks for coming in today.” I shake her hand, hoping she can’t feel it shaking. “If you could just take your mark, we’ll get started.”

My gaze automatically drops to the floor as I seek out the tape that will show me where to stand. There are a variety of markings, each meaning something different, and finally I locate today’s: a blue ‘T.’ I step over to it and place my feet on either side of the T’s base. That film acting class might have cost a fortune, but I’d have looked like a moron just then if I hadn’t learned stuff like this.

“Okay, Emily, you’ll be reading with Frank today, so whenever you’re ready.”

I look down at the script and for a second, the words look foreign to me. But then I take a deep breath and remember the time I put into this. I practiced these lines. I gave my character a name. I even gave her a backstory, for God’s sake! I probably know more about Girl Walking Dog than the people in front of me. Now I just have to prove that to them.

Frank and I read through the short scene in less than two minutes. It’s not exactly plot-furthering material, but I get a laugh on the third line about the pigeons from the guy sitting to the right. That’s something, at least.

“Good.” It’s the woman talking again. “That was great, Emily.” There’s a pause, something that usually indicates that a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” is forthcoming. But just as I start to utter the requisite “thank you” that comes before an exit, the man on the left- who didn’t change expression during my entire read- sits forward.

“Can I see that again… Emily?” he says, his eyes straying to my resume to check my name. “But can you do it with a French accent? And maybe make her a little more dead-pan?”

I say “Sure!” as I give myself a second to internally celebrate. Getting direction is like gold. Direction is like getting a “maybe,” and a chance to turn that “maybe” into a “yes.” But my inner party dies down when I recall what he just said. “You wanted a French accent?”

“Yes,” the man says. “We were thinking it might be funnier if she weren’t American, and I see that you have ‘French accent’ on your resume.”

Crap. I knew I should have taken that off. I used to be able to do a great French accent, but the last time I used it was years ago. I don’t even want to know how rusty it’s going to be if I haul it out now. But there’s no saying no at an audition. Fake it ‘til you make it, as some say.

I clear my throat and hold the script up a little higher. ‘Think Marion Cotillard. Think La Vie En Rose!’ Why didn’t I watch that movie more closely? Well, can’t fix that now. Frank says the first line and I respond with mine. And to my surprise, my accent isn’t too bad. I slip into something that sounds like British/Spanish at one point, but overall… not cringe-worthy. At the last minute, I remember that the casting director wanted it more dead-pan and rather than giving my pigeon line the usual comic nudge, I just say it without inflection. The guy on the right chuckles more heartily than last time and as the reading comes to a close, I’m delighted. I did it! And they liked me! Sally Field, I understand your speech now!

“Nice job, Emily,” the woman says as the cameraman. “We’ll let you know.” And then I’m escorted from the room. This is a little disappointing; I had been hoping to be offered the part then and there, but again, I’m not Kate Winslet. But as I pick up my bag and head for the door, I feel great. I did what I came here to do. I give the girl behind the desk a cheery wave as I breeze through the door.

* * * * * *

I didn’t get it. The audition was two weeks ago and my agent hasn’t called. This is so disappointing. No, cut the professionalism- this just sucks. I worked so hard. I thought they liked me. But I guess one of my identical competitors was what they wanted.

I’ve been on a few auditions since then, but none of them went as well. Maybe I’m just not cut out for film and television. I’ve always considered theatre my strong point anyway, although I haven’t been getting any of those parts either. I used to get parts all the time! I used to be in three shows at once! What happened? Did I peak in my teens? Oh, God, that’s depressing.

I return to the spreadsheet I’ve been making for my boss. He always tells me how good I am at my job, so I guess I could just keep doing this for the rest of my life… But I don’t want to! I’m trained to be an actor! I want to do that- I have to do that, I don’t have any other skills (making spreadsheets doesn’t count.)

On the floor, my bag starts to vibrate and my heart can ‘t help but jump. Could it be-? No, it’s ridiculous to hope that it’s my agent about the audition after two weeks have gone by, but try and tell that to my heart. It pounds as I frantically dig for my phone. I finally pull it out and look at the screen. It is my agent! I press the ‘answer’ button too many times in my hurry and worry that I’ve hung up on him.

“Hello? Hello?!”

“Emily!” My agent, Bill, sounds cheery as always. I feel like he uses that voice to counter the cutthroat business we’re in.

“Hi, Bill,” I say nervously. “Do you have an audition for me?” That can be the only other reason he’s calling.

“Actually,” Bill begins and my heart tries to pound out my chest. “I’ve got some good news for you. The Gilmore Group just called and they want you to be their Girl With Dog.”

“Really?!” I squeal, abandoning all pretense. “Oh, my God, that’s great!”

“It sure is,” Bill says. I can hear his smile under his bushy moustache. “You’re filming tomorrow. Be at the Paramount lot by five a.m, and make sure to bring that accent. They loved it! I’m having a messenger bring over your pages and parking permit tonight. Great job, kid, and have fun tomorrow.” He hangs up.

My hands are shaking. I did it! I’m Girl With Dog! Me! I immediately run to my boss’ office and ask for the next day off. If you wonder why actors are always working boring paper-pushing day jobs, this is why- we won’t be missed should be actually get to live the dream for a day or two.

The next morning at 4:45 a.m., I pull into the Paramount lot. I feel like a star as I flash the guard my permit and pull into a parking space. I feel even cooler as I sit in the hair and make-up trailer with a cup of coffee, trying to wake up as they powder my face and style my hair.

Before I know it, I’m standing in the middle of a backlot park, surrounded by trees and benches. I’m wearing a stylish jogging suit, my hair swept up in a simple yet somehow flattering ponytail. When we start to film, the animal trainer will hand over “my” dog, an adorable huge, friendly Golden Retriever named Boris.


I turn and my mouth immediately goes dry. Because standing right in front of me is Brian Greene, a new but wildly famous actor and the star of this movie. Though I read with Frank at the audition, today I’ll be exchanging lines with the real thing.

“H-hi,” I finally stammer.

Brian smiles perfectly. “Have you done much film work before?” he asks as a make-up artist swoops in to take the shine off of his forehead.

“Uh… a little.” No need to bring up what the roles were.

“It’s great isn’t it? Nothing like it.” He smiles again, but before I can answer, the director shouts, “Quiet, please. Actors to places!” Brian and I situate ourselves over our respective tape marks. “Okay, we’re going for a take!” The animal trainer hands me Boris’ leash as another man snaps a slate in front of the nearest camera. “Scene thirty-four, take one.”

“Background action! Sound!”


“And… action!”

Brian leisurely speaks his first words and I respond, accent and all, while patting Boris head like he’s my own dog. Since I only have a few lines, the scene is over in just a few seconds. The director pronounces it fine, but we do another one for safety. This is thrilling- my dreams are coming true!

But every thrill must come to an end, and this one does much too quickly. Before I know it, Boris is being led away by the handler and Brian is giving me one last smile before he goes off to get ready for his next scene. I’m quickly escorted to wardrobe to change into my own clothes and then it’s time for me to go. I’m told that the movie is expected to be released in seven months and to watch out for it.

Ten months later, I’m watching TV and suddenly, there’s the trailer for the movie. I sit bolt upright and immediately call my best friend and make a plan to go see it on opening day. Maybe it’s narcissistic, but I want to see myself on the big screen!

At the cinema, we settle into our seats, soda and popcorn at the ready. I have only a vague idea of when my scene might be, as I never saw the full script. But as soon as I see Brian jogging in a familiar-looking park, dressed in the same suit he was wearing when we filmed together, I nudge Chloe. “This is it! This is it!”

Brian jogs around a corner and I know that any minute, he’s going to approach onscreen me. But then he makes his way over to a police officer, exchanges a few words with him, and jogs off. The next shot is of him unlocking his car and climbing in.

“Where were you?” Chloe whispers. “Did I miss it? Is it coming later?”

I’m so confused. “I don’t get it… we filmed in that park. He was wearing that same outfit…” I trail off, realising that my scene has met the dreaded cutting room floor. I shake my head at Chloe and sigh. I had always known that the scene could suffer that fate, but I’d hoped that my incredible and Oscar-worthy performance (I’m kidding, of course) would make it worth keeping.

“Well,” Chloe says. “At least you got to film with Brian Greene. And hey, maybe it’ll be on the extras!”

“Yeah, maybe,” I say, taking a handful of popcorn. I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to see myself onscreen, but Chloe’s right. I got to exchange real and fictional words with a major movie star- who proved to be a nice guy. The $1500 check didn’t hurt either. I make a plan to buy the DVD as soon as it comes out. If anything, I can put the scene on my reel. I smile, sit back in my seat, and watch the rest of the movie. One day- one day for sure- I’d see myself up there.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Wonderful Problem

Today I got tired of working on all the school-specific things I had to do (study abroad applications, resume for a job interview, etc. etc.), so I decided to return to my Peter Pan script. I've been working on it off and on this school year, but my two writing classes have been demanding all of my writing attention, and so poor Peter and Mary have been neglected for too long.

I touched up a few scenes here and there, put all the completed scenes I had written into a document (24 pages so far), and jotted down some plot ideas. I really want to use this script as my final project for Play & Screenwriting, though I'm not sure if I'll be allowed to- the teacher doesn't seem too pleased with my writing, so who knows if I'll get the special permission necessary to compose the 90-page script for credit.

As part of my work, I decided to look over some feedback from the class that had seen and performed in the first drafts of my scenes. One of the strongest ones was simply asking what would happen if one character did a certain thing, and it's something I'd been wondering myself. A few minutes later, I found myself beginning on a scene that would answer that question.

At first, it was just kind of a 'Let's see where this goes' thing. But now I've got a good-lengthed scene and... I really like where it's going. The problem? The one reasno I hadn't written the scene already is because I knew I could never use it in the play. To put this scene (and, if it's going where I think it's going, yet another scene) in between the two it's meant to, it'll slow the pace way down, and I don't know if I want that. But what I do want is this scene. In my play. Now. Unfortunately, there's a 99.9% chance that it won't work, and that's making me sad.


Oh well. Best get to bed- early rehearsal tomorrow, then I'm heading home for about twelve hours. Yay, broken teeth and dentist appointments :p