Shooting on Location; or 4 days away from my toddler

 I woke up early the first morning, and got to walk on the moody gray beach. The solitude was so lovely. 

I woke up early the first morning, and got to walk on the moody gray beach. The solitude was so lovely. 

A few weeks ago my husband took the week off work to be home with our daughter. He'd told his co-workers he was being a solo parent for the week because his wife was shooting a movie on the beach. That made it sound so much more glamorous than it was, but technically it was true. Our childcare provider was on vacation that week, so he stayed home, and I was in Seaside, OR filming.

Last year I was in a senior project film up at Western Washington University in Bellingham called BAILEY. It was co-directed by Penelope Kipps and Tristan Olson. Earlier this year, Penelope emailed me to offer me a role in her first post-college film--KELP. This would be unpaid, but she would reimburse me for gas, and there was an Airbnb for out of town cast and crew members to share, so we didn't have to pay for a hotel. 

I've been focusing on on-camera work only for the last year or so and decided to accept this unpaid opportunity. Penelope (and Tristan) were enjoyable to work with and gave me good footage in a timely manner. For CCM (Copy, Credit, Meals) tier work, getting the copy of your work, which looks good, and arrives soon(ish) after filming is unfortunately rare. 

 We shot in a John L. Scott real estate office for the mayor's office scenes. 

We shot in a John L. Scott real estate office for the mayor's office scenes. 

This was the longest I'd ever been away from my daughter. We'd done a night apart before, but this was 4 nights away! I thought I would be aching with longing for her, but I was surprised to feel...free. 

Of course, I absolutely loved getting to FaceTime with her and wished I was there to hug and kiss her, but the rest of the day, while I was working, I was pretty focused on what I was doing, and it felt good. There's part of me that feels like I should have felt bad about being away. Why was I so okay with not seeing her? Is it because she's 2 and in full tantrum mode? Is it because she's developed a habit of smearing her poop on the floor of her bedroom? Is it because being away from loved ones once in a while is OKAY? 

 On the beach with two or my cast mates. Can you see how windy it is!?

On the beach with two or my cast mates. Can you see how windy it is!?

The filming went pretty quickly. On the first day, we shot three scenes in the morning, then I was free the rest of the day. I had gotten an audition for a TV show that shoots in WA, scheduled for Tuesday, but wouldn't be in town for the audition. While I was bummed not to be able to go in person, they did accept self-tapes, and Penelope offered to film it, and one of the cast members offered to be my reader! 

On Tuesday, we shot a beach scene, which I was NOT prepared for how cold it would be down there! It was June and pretty nice up in town. One of the extras offered me a thin sweater, which was lovely, but I still was pretty chilly. The wind was out of control too, so it's possible my hair will just be whipping in my face for that whole scene. 

 Spent a good deal of time in the drama/theatre section of Powells in Portland, OR. 

Spent a good deal of time in the drama/theatre section of Powells in Portland, OR. 

Wednesday I was off, so after my shots were done on Tuesday, I drove to Portland to stay with some family friends. It was nice to explore Portland by myself, and spend hours in Powells! Thursday we had one more scene (indoors this time!) and while it was a big group scene, it all went smoothly and I was able to hit the road. 

Getting home was a rush of excitement and warmth--getting to see my husband and daughter flooded me with joy. I'm so grateful to have a supportive family, who allow me to take opportunities like this, which I hope will benefit my career. Though, it may be a while before I'm away from them for that long--hopefully, I can book some local on-camera work soon!

What's My No Line?

In college, spring of my senior year, we took a class that was about planning your life as an actor.

  • Where were you planning on moving?
  • Who are the casting directors in that town?
  • What is rent like?
  • What kind of day jobs you can have?  

I remember our professor also asking us to define our "NO" line for work BEFORE we are desperate for a job, and strapped for cash. Will you play a character who smokes if you don't? Will you eat meat if you're a vegetarian? What's your comfort level on nudity?

A few years out of college, I was offered an extra job on a Taco Time commercial. The crew needed people to stand in while they were lighting the scene, so I happily sat in a booth and chatted with the person next to me. The director came up to me and was like "Would you be interested in being promoted to a principal in this commercial?" "Sure!" I said. "You have a face for high def!" Well, thank you Mr. Director! They took me to the principal trailer, updated my wardrobe and makeup and I shot in the very spot that I had been sitting as a stand in. They handed me Mexi-Fries, then beef burritos to "bite and smile" and then spit into a bucket. Spitting out the food is done to avoid filling up, and to cut time on chewing and swallowing. At this point, I hadn't eaten beef in 6 or 7 years. I had seen Supersize Me, and decided I was done with burgers, but in that moment, I figured "what the heck, I'm not swallowing it." (insert naughty joke here).

Check me out at the 21 second mark in the upper right corner! www.tacotimeNW.com Directed by LEONARD CREATIVE Music by Elijah Honey (feat. Charlotte Henry)

Recently I discovered I have a new no line...at least for the moment. I can't even audition for anything with a dying parent. Or something with someone dying of cancer. Or caring for a parent. (Even though I not his primary caretaker. His wife does an amazing job at that) 

A theatre company did Wit recently, and while I know it's a wonderful play, we're coming up on the 10 year anniversary of my mom's death, and she died of ovarian cancer. So that was out. Another company posted auditions for an adult daughter taking care of her father. That one is out too. My dad now has stage 4 cancer, and initially was given a 50/50 chance of making it to a year. It's been 2 1/2 years, and that whole time, I've carried a weight of "any moment." I already know how hard it is to lose a parent, and I have to do it again. Any moment now. Or not. Maybe it'll be weeks, months, possibly a year, but that seems unlikely. 

I'm currently rehearsals for Charlotte's Web. Pigs are my favorite animal, and the director is a friend of mine, so I thought it would be a fun show to do.

The show is about death.

Wilbur is threated to be killed in the first 2 pages of the script because he's a runt, then it's all about fattening him up to kill and eat. The very reason Charlotte spins the web is to try to prevent his death! And I am the one at the end of the play who says, "Charlotte died." 

Now, I did read the play before accepting the role. In that moment I thought, "Wow, what an important responsibility to have for this play." But when rehearsals started, I couldn't make it through that passage without crying. I've figured out how to get through it, but am crossing my fingers that my dad stays stable through the run of the show. 

Perhaps in the future, when it's not so raw, I'll be able to use this life experience to deepen my connection with a character, but for now, I think it's okay to protect myself a little from doing something too close to home. 

 Me and my dad, after his diagnosis in 2016. Photo by Danielle Barnum

Me and my dad, after his diagnosis in 2016. Photo by Danielle Barnum

How I Prepared for my New Headshots

 My very first headshots taken by my mom.  This is me at  12 years old!

My very first headshots taken by my mom. 
This is me at  12 years old!

(All photos pictured in this blog are un-retouched). 

I know some actors groan and roll their eyes at getting new headshots taken. I love it! It helps that Seattle has some spectacular headshot photographers that I've gotten to work with. My recent session was with John Ulman Photography.

I love what Bonnie Gillespie says about headshots--it's not a photograph, it's a marketing tool. They are the first, and sometimes only point where a casting director will see you and consider you! It should be something you give thought and consideration!

 Here I am with my friend and photographer, John Ulman! 

Here I am with my friend and photographer, John Ulman! 

 

What am I selling?

A headshot should look like you. Period. You also should hint at what kinds of characters you might play. You don't need a costume, but can to lean-in to how you should be getting cast. If I'm not the drop-dead glamour model type, I don't need the deep V, dark makeup, sexy look. I'm also not a doe-eyed ingénue, so I had to stay away from looks that read too young, or vulnerable.

I targeted the looks I wanted, based off of my actor brand. My type words are Confident, Approachable, Fun-Loving, and Trustworthy.

 From my previous headshot session, with the  Amazing   Danielle Barnum . I love this photo, but always had to crop it because the tank top is just not working for me! This was a year and a half ago, and I look...24? 

From my previous headshot session, with the Amazing Danielle Barnum. I love this photo, but always had to crop it because the tank top is just not working for me! This was a year and a half ago, and I look...24? 

 

WARDROBE RULES

I am trying to represent myself as a 30-something woman. I noticed that while I love the look of tank tops on other, they tend to make me look younger than I want, so I had a strict NO tank top rule for this session!

(NOTE: This "rule" is for me, I know other women over 30 can rock this, no problem).

Because Fun-Loving is part of my brand, I chose bright colors, rather than dark, to reflect the approachable/fun-loving side, even if I wasn't doing a big toothy grin. (Expect for my one edgy look).  I previous headshot I had, I wore black, and that doesn't represent who I am, and who walks into the room in a casting session.

 

Research phase:

With all that in mind, I also like to see what's our there - trends in wardrobe, backdrops, etc. I look at the headshots of my agency, other agencies, tpsonline.com, I google headshots, I look them up on Instagram. I try to find people similar to my type-- do they have similar hair, coloring, or energy? I screenshot it, so I can find what I like about them, and see if there are elements I can incorporate into my shoot.

Back to Bonnie Gillespie and her article on headshots.  She recommends have a line you think in your head as the character you want to come across as.

Some faves from my recent shoot:

ENJOY Yourself! 

At one point I started telling my photographer about Porn for Women--You know, the stuff where guys are photographed doing chores? So we had a good laugh about that being what I was thinking about. Do you think that showed up in one of my shots? That's my secret!

IMG_2479.JPG

Special Thanks to my makeup artist, Shyn Midili, for my fabulous makeup. Shyn haS done makeup for previous headshots, my best friend's wedding, and my own wedding. She always makes me Look lovely, and is fun to hang out with!