Last looks on 2017

2017's wrapping up.

  • Best part of the year was being best man at my twin brother's wedding. Here we are attending at the season finale for Soon By You earlier this month. 
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  • We wrapped the first season of Soon By You. We've received close to a half a million views in our first five episodes. Earlier this week I did I live Q+A with fans of the series over social media, you can watch it on my facebook page if you'd like.
  • Pickings, a feature film I have a supporting role in, won Best Cinematography, Best Lead Actress, and Best Director at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter posted the trailer a few days back - if you don't blink around the 30 second mark, you can see me getting my face bashed in on a bar after being a prick.
  • Scenes From The Underground progresses. We submitted our working cut to Tribeca and continue to pare down the edit. We're sitting down this week with a CPA to go through the tax incentive paperwork.
  • I had multiple health issues that required minor surgery, which took me out of work longer than I would've liked. Thankfully all is resolved.
  • I've gotten a lot more into writing. Since co-writing Scenes, I've now written a miniseries pilot, which after some sage advice, I adapted into a short film. Wrapped up the second draft of that yesterday. After raising some initial funds, I'm now reaching out to potential members of the creative team to try and get it ready for filming by the first half of next year. I'm also over halfway on the first draft of a feature film, which admittedly has been dragging on about a year longer than intended. At least I've locked the main location for that. I also have a treatment for a webseries which has sat on the backburner for a few months, so looking forward to getting back to that.
  • Having been unsuccessful in securing representation in New York, I've started to look at other markets. I've decided to give New York at least one more year. During that time, I'll continue to make my own work. I don't want to leave, but I think it's important to be aware of when a city doesn't want you as much as you want it. I have family and friends in LA, so that's somewhere I'd like to check out. No decisions made yet, but it's on the table for the first time.

There's a lot of things that don't make it on here, largely because I think it's important to keep a strong separation between personal and professional. What I will say is that this last year has been the most difficult I've had since moving to New York five years ago. I'm looking forward to hitting next year running, so that if I do leave at the end of the year, I can do so with my head held high, knowing that I've given it all I have.

Have a great end of the year. Here's to 2018.

Soon By You Season Finale

Had a blast at the JCC for our Episode 5 premiere party last week. Some pictures from the night:

We had a full house of great fans. Check the episode out here if you haven't already. It's got over 20k views in less than a week, so we must be doing something right.

Got a great shoutout in the Times of Israel article

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As well as a complimentary (albeit depressing) one in The Forward:

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That's all for Soon By You at the moment.  As for the rest? Getting all our ducks in a row for festival deadlines on Scenes. Looking forward to being able to share more on that in the next few months. Polished a few scripts, booked an industrial and a short, and still working on my own projects. That's about it. Happy holidays!

September 16th

Just received the script for Soon By You's 5th episode. One of the strongest comedy scenes I've ever been given, very excited to shoot that in a few weeks. First read through is tomorrow.

A feature script I helped workshop was just accepted into the Blockbuster category at the Oaxaca Filmfest screenplay competition, excited to see how that plays out. Way to go David Power!

Pickings, a feature film I have a supporting role in, was just picked up by AMC Independent and will receive theatrical distribution in select theatres in LA, New York, and Austin in March 2018.

Sound designed a play that opened last week at Roy Arias Studios.  Brilliant Traces, by Cindy Lou Johnson. Directed by David Newer.

Taking the pilot I've been working on in a new direction, ditching the procedural element I sort of forced on there in favor of something more character driven, if perhaps less commercially viable. Hard to say at this point, but I'm satisfied with the changes.

Locked the location for the horror feature. A farm in Camano Island, WA. Some pictures:

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Finally put together a press page on this site, happy with how that turned out.  

That's it!

 

Early August updates

Soon By You has received some good press.  There was this piece in The Jewish Standard that gave the cast an opportunity to talk about things we care about, which is always nice.  And then there's this, which I'm just going to assume is good press?  

Google Translate doesn't quite cut it.

Google Translate doesn't quite cut it.

Somewhere along the lines, I was made into a GIF: 

It's a good one, second only to this GIF:

Almost, though.

Had a great series of screenings of the fine cut of Scenes From The Underground, and are using the feedback we recieved to help guide us to picture lock. It was great to hear from people who are seeing it for the first time.

Head back to Seattle tomorrow to location scout for a feature, attend a wedding, and finalize details for a pilot. Short but sweet trip.

 

Happy birthday, America.

On the most prestigious of holidays, filled with BBQ and explosions, let's look back at the last few weeks.  

  • Soon By You was featured in the New York Post, our biggest press to date.  Check it out here.
  • Received a short film back from post, have some fun stills from it here.
Worst. Scene Partner. Ever.

Worst. Scene Partner. Ever.

Don't be creepy, don't be creepy...

Don't be creepy, don't be creepy...

  • Finished the first draft of that pilot I'm working on with James Challis, locked it in with the WGA so it's protected, sending it around for feedback.  Looking forward to posting more about that when it gets closer to pre-production.
  • Looking at flights to head out to Seattle, do a location scout for All Who Wander. 

That's about it.  Off to go enjoy some BBQ. Happy Holidays, from your boys Smith and Goldblum.

Welcome to Earth.

Welcome to Earth.

Q+As, Podcasts, and some Big News

It's been a good month.  

A podcast interview went live that I did a month back. Topics include, but are not limited to: Scenes From the Underground, Soon By You, Magic the Gathering, and Mariners baseball.  Check it out, c/o Michael Scott and The Great Scott Podcast.

A Question and answer session from the JCC premiere went online, you can view it here.

Finally, biggest news of all, I booked the lead role in a feature.  Titled "The Dark Path", it's a vampire thriller taking place in modern day New York. I'll post more on that as details flesh out.  All good stuff.

End of May Updates

Episode 4 of Soon By You premiered at the JCC last night, and was an absolute blast. The episode is up on youtube, you can watch it here. Photos below c/o Fiona G photography.

Finally got to watch the first cut of Scenes, currently in the notes process on that. It looks spectacular, can't wait to share it with all of you when we're done.  

Wrote a pilot that's in the process of getting feedback for a second draft.  Hoping to shoot that late fall. Still trucking away on the script for All Who Wander.

Turned 28.  Was presented with one of the best birthday gifts I've ever received, c/o the fantastic Colleen Slattery.

Yeah, that's me as Batman. Check out David's other work here, he's amazing.

Yeah, that's me as Batman. Check out David's other work here, he's amazing.

May have some more big news on the horizon, but going to wait until things are set in stone before jinxing it.  That's it for now!

 

Soon By You, Del Valle, and more

2017 has been going pretty well so far. I was best man in my brothers wedding down in New Orleans, which was a blast.

Came back right after that to shoot out the 4th episode of Soon by You, should be going live sometime in late may. Always a blast to work with that team. A few stills from our central park scene, c/o Fiona G Photography:

The day after we wrapped, we had a photoshoot for some new promotional material, c/o Abbie Sophia Photo.  

Probably shouldn't have gotten into the matzoh. 

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Scenes is still chugging along in post. We submitted to IFP, will post more if/when we hear back. I have a good feeling about it.

In addition to acting, I do sound design for theatre. Ned Van Zandt, a good friend of mine, has been workshopping his auto-biographical one man show Del Valle for the past few years, and it's going up tonight in Marfa, Texas. Here's an interview about it on NPR affiliate KTEP - worth it for the stories alone. I was fortunate enough to do the sound for it. There's plans to move it to London's West End. Ned's a brilliant performer, it's a pleasure to see someone so present and in their element. Growing up on Mike Daisey's and John Leguizamo's solo shows, I've always been fascinated by the solo performance element, especially when based off of true events. It was wonderful to see it come together firsthand.

What's next - still chugging away on the script for All Who Wander, going slower than I'd like, but it's quality stuff. Still auditioning, still looking for representation.  Helped my friend KC Arora with his pilot presentation, currently developing a pilot with one of my closest friends James Challis we're aiming to film in the fall.  That's it for now!

Updates, a long time coming

It's hard to say everything that's happened in nine months, but I guess that's how long it's been. I could bullet point, but that wouldn't do justice to the slog that's been the better part of the last year of my life.

The crowdfunding campaign for Scenes ended.  We raised the remaining funds  for principal photography through private investors, and calling in more favors than I thought possible.  We amassed an incredible team.  We went through countless rewrites, looked at over 5000 actor resumes, and cast 59 principal roles for the premiere feature film from our production company, First Circle LLC.

Had some small things here and there.  More stuff with Discovery ID, a couple SAG-ULB featured and supporting roles.

Took a few great classes here and there, trying to stay sharp.

Had a bit part on the new Emily Blunt vehicle, The Girl on the Train, directed by Tate Taylor.  Wonderful team, and informative to me to see how films function on the highest level of production.  

Sound designed two full length off-broadway plays, one at The Paradise Factory, the other at The Robert Moss Theatre.  

I've been lucky enough to have been taken under the wing of an experienced producer, who has been acting as a mentor of sorts.  His advice has been invaluable.

Acted in a webseries about young orthodox Jews looking for love.  It blew up and has surpassed any expectations I may have had; the first episode went live three weeks ago, we've gotten over 55k views in that time.  The second episode has since wrapped principal photography.  I was featured in Backstage magazine where I gave a little blurb about it.  

As I'm writing this, PM has turned to AM and we have entered the final day of principal photography for Scenes From the Underground.  Unbelievable.  I don't know what to say.  I've never worked on something so hard for so long.  When all is done, I will be the executive producer, as well as one of the leading actors, on an incredibly ambitious feature film.  It still hasn't hit.

Auditions come and go.  Sometimes I book, sometimes I don't.  If I could see myself now from where I was five years ago, I would be proud.  

I've learned a lot.

Already trying to line up the next project.  Next steps.  Momentum is powerful, so I'll do my best to stay out of the way.

It's happening.

The amount I've learned over the past two years is ludicrous.  Between graduating Esper, taking a film from an idea to reality, making my name mean something in a new market in a new city - it's been intense, but worth it.

Please, check our our website, follow us on social media (FB, Instagram, Twitter) and spread the word about this film.  It's going to be spectacular.

Updates

It's been a while.

I graduated the two year program at Esper.  I'm part of the 50th anniversary graduating class from one of the top drama schools in the world.  Awesome.

Been involved in a few short things - lead actor in a music video last month, acted in a short film last week.  Here's a still: 

Obnoxious law student threatens girl outside bathroom.  Standard, really.

Obnoxious law student threatens girl outside bathroom.  Standard, really.

Finished up our final round of general callbacks for Scenes From The Underground, sending out casting notifications later in the week. It's shaping up really well. The script is on point. So far no snags with contracts/legal/any of that.  Researching grants, working on the day to day with the production company, setting up SAG stuff.  All good learning experiences.

Still auditioning, though keeping it to film until Scenes is finished with principal photography, since I don't think I'll be able to give the proper time commitment to theatre.  It'll be good to get back into that world.

Excited to see what the summer brings.  

Through our second round of generals

Of the last 60 hours, I have spent 26+ of them watching actors read.  Probably another 14 emailing, writing, scheduling.    The audition room was small and warm.  I wore the same pants for three days.

Totally worth it.  

I head back to school tomorrow after a spring break spent grinding on a project that once existed only as a series of pictures, small pieces and ideas floating around that have started to form into a larger whole.  At times it pisses me off, because everything is happening now, right as school is at its absolute hardest, and time is stretched thin and I'm not as patient with myself or others as I would like to be.  But I'm really hopeful, and I love the momentum we're moving on right now.

There are still a few specialist roles we'll have to call in for, and we still need to send out the prompt for the video auditions, but we've seen enough actors to narrow down for callbacks for most of the core cast.  Big stuff.

An actor came in Saturday night that really reminded me why I started this journey in the first place.  I was deeply moved by an audition, and it didn't matter that I was in the same room I've been in all day, or that I was running on coffee and wishful thinking.  Everything fell away, and I was completely caught up with this person.  A good reminder that I'm on the right track.

 

 

New Website up!

C/O Elizabeth Goodspeed, graphic designer extraordinaire.  Check her out.  Way more manageable, user-friendly, and polished than the last site.  Plus, URL.  Pretty thrilled. 

 Let's see:

  • Scenes From The Underground coming along nicely.  First few round of auditions under our belt.  Writers coming together.  Have to figure out various guild restrictions/possibilities, but overall very promising.
  • About to get my demo reel touched up with some of the test footage from Scenes.  Will update once I have it.
  • Found a teaser online for Good Dads.  
  • Like everyone else in January, I'm back in the gym for the first time since getting hit by that truck.  Humbling.  Looking forward to getting back to my ideal performance shape.  

School + Scenes taking up most of my time.  Not bad problems to have.

Thankful

  • I am thankful to be living in a city I want to live in pursuing a career I want to pursue.
  • I am thankful for being involved with a project where my input is valued.  Scenes From the Underground is taking shape in ways I could never have imagined, and I'm truly grateful.
  • I am thankful for dogs.  They make my life better when I walk past good ones on the street.
  • I am thankful for the emotional honesty that has worked it's way into my behavior.  I credit this to my training, a concerted effort on my own part, and surrounding myself with emotionally honest people.  This has, for better or for worse, given me a heightened "bullshit meter". I am no longer capable of having extended conversations about the weather. I can no longer feign interest nor apathy.  My behavior reflects how I feel, and I feel more unabashedly myself than I have in a long time.  This makes me a more polarizing of a person.  My highs are much higher, my lows far lower, but I am feeling in a way I thought I lost as I grew older.
  • I am thankful for the good people in my life. I have family and friends who want me to do well.
  • For the first time in my life, I feel respected. I have always felt liked, loved, cared about - but never before have I truly felt respected.  For this I am incredibly thankful, as it begins to fill a hole in my self-worth I never fully understood.
  • Good food is wonderful.  Poignant art helps me breathe.  

 

Long time

Well, it’s been a minute.  The past few months:

- Finding myself more drawn to chakra/energy work as a system for releasing blocks in the body and voice.  After working privately with a teacher for one hour, my voice was incredibly resonant and about a half octave lower.  There was an openness and emotional availability that I’ve been searching for in my work for some time.  For a while I’ve had a lot of apprehension to energy work, what I used to perceive as foo-foo hippy garbage that no intellectual could possibly blah blah blah.  I’ve come to realize that chakra work, for my purposes, is a labeling system for areas where tension is stored in the body.  The less tension, the more responsive the instrument.  If chakra work is a way to get there (and it’s looking like it is), I’m willing to investigate it deeper.
- Subway project resumes after a month lag.  Both the director and I found ourselves busy, and lost a fair amount of momentum, but we return to location scouting tonight, along with some test shots.  Amassing more and more actors, writers, etc.
- My boy James Challis should be coming to town around Christmas with his lady, it’ll be good to catch up with them.
- Assigned scene work in class.  We’ve been working on impediments (injury, drunk, accents), and I have multiple in my scene, so I’m excited to explore that part of the technique with a script.
- I’ve been doing good work in my Alexander, Voice, and Script Analysis classes.  Struggling some with Movement and Acting at the moment.  It’s humbling to realize I don’t have all the answers, I’m not always going to put on a brilliant performance, and that that’s ok.  I’m a student.  Trying to give myself more permission to learn.
- I’ve been sent two scripts to critique and return to their respective playwrights, and have proceeded to completely blow them off – should get on those sometimes next week.  Alex, Charles, I’m talking to you here.
- I’ve noticed that people in my life have started to take me more seriously as an actor.  It’s a good feeling, having people bounce ideas off you who are genuinely interested in your feedback.

It’s looking like the coming months are going to be more Underground pre-production and more class.  We’re getting closer and closer to casting for the film, so that’s exciting.  Possibly have leads on “named” actors, so that could help.  More will be revealed.

Fame

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of fame.  One of the reasons I moved to New York as opposed to LA last year was that I’ve always felt that theatre was a better training ground for craft than film.   Multiple teachers whom I respected recommended I go to NY, that there was more emphasis on art than acclaim, on creation rather than reception.  So I came here.

I’ve been asked more than once why I’m pursuing acting as a career choice.  I was told multiple times that if I can do anything else besides act, that’s what I should do.  For every talented actor sitting on the fence about whether or not he’s making the appropriate career choice, there are ten hard working actors who know what they want and are willing to go to any lengths to get it.  It is not enough to be good; one must be hungry, and be driven from that hunger into action.   The act of creation cannot be a means to an end, but must itself be the end.  If I focus on the art, the rest has a chance to fall into place.

I was thinking of signing up for an audition service a few months back, and I received a phone call – it came off as scammy, they were asking me to pay to create a profile, and when I balked at that, the voice on the end of the phone said:

“Don’t you want to be famous?”

That bothered me on a variety of levels.  1) It presupposes that the reason for pursuing a career in the performing arts is solely to become famous.  It implies that fame is something to be strived for, without elaborating on the hassles that occur from constantly being in the public eye.  2)  It takes a special breed of vermin to prey on the hopes of those seeking to express themselves through art.  It preys on the naivety of kids who are brave enough to have dreams.  To exploit hope and wonder by dangling this false carrot is a most disgusting act.  This exploitation has the power to kill those sacred dreams, and too often an actor becomes disenfranchised with the business and the bullshit and moves on to other ventures.  It is more than a dream deferred – it is a dream suffocated by the callous nature of the uncaring.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s the rare actor who, even in passing, hasn’t dreamt of delivering an awards speech.  Everyone hopes to be recognized as successful in their particular field – in an art as subjective as acting, it’s nice to know that what you do resonates. While my delightfully nebulous reasons for acting are my own (creative freedom, personal fulfillment, the realization of ideas etc), I imagine it would be pretty fantastic to thank my family in a speech while holding a statue. But this picture is not, and cannot, be my sole motivator.  If this picture is ever realized, it will be as a byproduct of the creative process, the pursuit of artistic freedom and fulfillment.  That and plenty of luck.

Other things that have been going on:  Went home to Seattle for two weeks.  Got a preliminary press junket + actor and writer submission forms for the project with Scheme.  I’ve been officially signed on as a producer, which is huge.  Shot something for a demo with Robert Agis, a buddy of mine from Miss Longview.  Scheduled to rehearse on the 17th  and shoot on the 20th a scene to generate funding for a friends project.  Got a callback for the lead in a feature for either the 15th or the 16th, should hear back today or tomorrow re: the exact dates.  Saw Just Jim Dale at Roundabout, that was a blast.  Signed on as a lead in a B horror short filming the first weekend in September.  Things are going well.  I’m hoping I get the lead in the feature I’ve got the callback for, I think that that’ll ensure I’ve got enough work to keep me busy for the summer instead of a series of stop and go gigs  where I’m either swamped or bored.

That’s it for now.

Post London

Currently in Heathrow airport waiting to catch a flight back to New York.  It was a blast visiting my grandmother and extended family, caught a play, ate a ton of food.  I was fortunate enough to catch up with an old mentor of mine, an actor by the name of Leo Wringer, who was a professor of mine during the time I studied in Oxford at BADA in 2010.  He’s been a constant source of inspiration to me over the years, and it was a delight to meet up for brunch and talk about life and art and everything else.

Good Dads has wrapped, I’ve attached a promo photo below.  Trying to organize the feature with the boys at Scheme Engine late this summer.  Was given a script for a feature that a Good Dads cast member, a guy by the name of Jesse Lowell Anholt, wrote and is hoping to film a trailer for in July.  A delightfully dark piece.  Also in talks to help an old castmate from The Miss Longview Texas Drag PageantRobert Agis, film a project, should be hearing more about that in the coming weeks.

Headed back to Seattle for a bit in a week, will be good to catch up with family and friends.  That’s it for now.