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Star Wars and Me

 

A Day in the Life

 

Rules for Casting Notices

 

A Train Wreck of a Commentary

 

Sickness and Sacrifice


Night of the Crappy Subway Ride

 

The Blood, Sweat, Tears (and More Blood) of a Low Budget Horror Actor

 

Putnam County Film & Video Festival

 

Chiller Theatre

 

Editing No Trespassing 2: No Exit

 

Diary of a Cattle Call

 

Diary of a Make Out Scene: An Actor's Perspective from No Trespassing 2

 

Glen Baisley

 


Star Wars and Me

Since the Star Wars saga is over (at least in movie form . . .for now), I thought I’d share some Star Wars anecdotes and reveal the direct effect it has had on me and my acting career. 

If you haven’t seen the movies . . . what the fuck is wrong with you?  Have you lived in a cave for the past 30 years?  Anyway, there are spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution. 

Written not too long ago, in a galaxy relatively close by . . . 

Star Wars and Me 

As a child I grew up LOVING Star Wars.  Like many kids my age (I was born in 1976), I owned a crapload of paraphernalia including action figures, toys, trading cards, read along books with the 33 1/3 RPM records inside them, clothes, drinking glasses etc.  I also think the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater was The Empire Strikes Back (it was either that or Popeye with Robin Williams – my memory is as fuzzy as a freakin’ Wookie).    

I watched the original release of Return of the Jedi at a movie theater that contained ONE theater.  There were no multiplexes back then.  Imagine that?    My family and I waited on a line that literally wrapped around the place.  We even ate lunch on the line in order to get tickets.  There were no advance ticket sales back then either. 

Once in the packed theater, the crowd roared when the opening crawl came up and yelled “SIT DOWN!” when someone had the nerve to stand up to let people squeeze down the aisle into an empty seat. 

I also remember screaming “Nooooo!” when the Emperor zapped Luke with Force lighting towards the end.  The rumor, at least in my neighborhood (there was no Internet), was that Luke was going to die.  When Vader saved Luke from the vile clutches of the evil Emperor, I, along with the rest of the audience let out a rock concert like cheer.  

Once VCRs became the “in” thing, I watched the original trilogy over and over and over to the point of memorization.  And even though I was still very young, I wanted to bang Princess Leia.  I was advanced as a youth. 

After Return of the Jedi, I still enjoyed Star Wars.  However, as I got older, my interest waned a little due to Heavy Metal, new movies, football, lacrosse, alcohol, drugs and most importantly GIRLS!  I still loved the movies, especially when my younger cousins saw them for the first time, but I never really “devoured” as I did when I was younger. 

Enter May 19, 1999 – release date of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. During the hype I was excited about seeing the movie but not completely hell-bent like a lot of other fans.  I was still in college (my fifth year – hey, I transferred and changed my major so I lost a lot of credits - I was a good student who never failed a class so don’t rush to judgment dickwad!) preparing for a career as a record label executive and focusing most of my attention on getting drunk and trying to hook up with chicks.  While I enjoyed interning at record labels for the past two years, there always seemed to be something missing. 

While in the multiplex, I was enjoying Episode I.  My brother even turned to me during the first 45 minutes and said, “I can’t believe we are actually watching a new Star Wars movie.”  I smiled and agreed that it was pretty cool.  The lightsaber duel at the end along with composer John William’s “Duel of the Fates” were definitely my favorite parts.  However, what comes next is a watershed moment in my life and I have never told anyone this. 

At the very end I saw young Anakin, played by Jake Lloyd, with a new haircut to signify the beginning of his Jedi training.  Jokingly, I thought, “Wow he looks like me.  Maybe I’ll play Anakin in the next movie.”  

After that thought zapped through my mind, something happened.  I believe I had an epiphany.  Try to follow this logic.  My thought process morphed from, “Maybe I’ll play Anakin in the next movie” to “Maybe I should try to play Anakin in the next movie” to “I want to be an actor.”  

Now I know there was no chance for me to play Anakin.  At 5’6 I am over a foot shorter than the actual height of Darth Vader.  But looking at Jake Lloyd, a kid who looked like me was the trigger for a chain reaction that concluded with, “I want to be an actor.”   

For those who are new to reading my commentaries, articles and/or interviews, let me give you some background. I had acted sporadically as a child and as a teenager in some skits and movies for elementary/junior high/high school classes as well as many of my own home movies for years.  I enjoyed acting immensely but never really thought of it as a career.  At that time I convinced myself, “You can’t do anything like that – you don’t want to starve.  Get a real job for God’s sake you schmuck.”  And for years I listened to that stupid inner monologue.  Until I saw Star Wars Episode I.   

And since Episode I I have, once again, become a really big Star Wars fan who buys most of the books, comics and scours the Internet for different interpretations on the saga.  So “the circle is now complete.”  I really need to get out more. 

So let’s review my thought process – Anakin looks like me – I can play the next Anakin – I should be an actor.  This is how my mind works.  Lucky me. 

In my life there aren’t too many instances that I can single out as being my “best day” to quote the movie City Slickers.  I don’t think I have one.  If I do, I don’t know what it is.  Nothing stands out.  While May 19, 1999 is not my best day, it does represent a turning point.  My life has never been the same after that day.  I had a new direction.  A new purpose.  Fuck working my ass off to promote the latest band.  I want to work my ass off to promote ME!   

Star Wars follows a “Hero’s Journey” based on the writings of Joseph Campbell, a huge influence on George Lucas.  While I am no hero, my “journey” has been full of many ups and downs filled with struggle like most of you.  However, a goal is there.  I am doing what I want to do.  I am living by my rules (albeit with no money and time) and not the rules of some douche bag boss from a job that I can’t stand. 

Would I have had a similar epiphany if I didn’t go see Episode I?  Probably.  I’m pretty sure another situation would have spawned the exact same realization.  But I like that a saga which represented so much that was good in an otherwise so-so childhood was the catalyst for this important change.  

The movies also stand for making a difference by actually doing something and not staying on that desert planet while the galaxy is in danger.  I also find the whole Star Wars influence on my life somewhat poetic.  My life’s direction has been triggered by a story that’s about a struggle against overwhelming odds filled with sacrifice (welcome to the acting world) that ultimately leads to success and victory.  

Hopefully all of our journeys end with a victory.  Unless you’re a serial killer. 

In conclusion, I would be remiss not to write one legendary phrase to start all of you back on your own hero’s journey: 

Give me money. 

Come on, did you really think I’d be that clichéd to end this with May the Force Be With You?  Oh wait, I just did.

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A Day in the Life 

I have been asked by quite a few people what I have to do as an actor to find work.  Two of those people (who kind of look like this – create your own captions and send them to mikelaneact@yahoo.com) pondered, “How can HE not have free time?  What can he possibly be doing?”  This commentary answers what I do during an average day.  By an average day I mean a day without rehearsals, auditions, gigs, social outings etc. 

I constantly explain to people that acting and especially looking for acting gigs are full time jobs.  So including my survival job, I work around two full time jobs.  However looking for acting gigs doesn’t pay anything.  If it did, I would be rich. 

I wake up between 6-7 am and leave for work around 7:30 to get there at 9.  I’ll usually leave work at 5 and get home by 6 after an hour of traveling which is either standing in a crowded subway or sitting in traffic trying not to fall asleep at the wheel.  When I get home, I try to wash the dishes and grab a quick bite to eat.   

Still weary from work, I sit at my computer, check my e-mail and begin.  All my searching for gigs comes from the Internet (or as President Bush calls it: “Internets”).  I visit about 30 acting websites that have casting notices.  All of them are free except two.   

Backstage.com, the website for the well known acting resource, Backstage, charges $11 a month.  ActorsAccess.com charges $2 for each e-mail to a casting director.  I would rather these websites not charge people but I understand they have to make money.  There are other sites which charge as well but I have found these two to be the most credible.  If you have heard any different, let me know. 

For the ones that don’t charge and put up casting notices to help promote their or other people’s business . . . I LOVE YOU!!!  Don’t ever change! (now I feel like I’m writing in a high school yearbook).  Please! I don’t mind sifting through notices that much!  Please stay free.  Christ do I need money! 

I also keep a file called, “Last Checked,” which helps me keep track of the (duh!) last notices that I’ve checked.  This prevents looking at the same notices and wasting more time. 

The biggest part about looking for work are sifting through notice, after notice, after notice, after notice (don’t even get me started about Craig’s List – Oi Vei - do they have a lot of notices) to see if a gig is paying (I only audition for paying gigs).   

Now in a perfect world the notice would list right at the top, “Pay” or “No-Pay.”  Unfortunately this world is far from perfect.  Looking for paying gigs through all these casting notices is like trying to find a diamond in a lump of crap.  I look to see if producers will actually pay their actors instead of just working for exposure, experience, meals, credit etc.  I plan to write to the websites to recommend they put whether a gig is paying right on the top of their notices.  The most frustrating part is that most of the audition notices are for no pay.  

Some notices don’t even list whether or not they pay.  This leads me to e-mailing them to ask if their production is paying.  I even have a special e-mail saved to the “Draft” section of my Yahoo e-mail since this comes up so often.  Most people don’t answer.  The ones that do usually don’t pay. 

I search through these notices a lot of times for nothing.  And each day that I don’t look for work, the longer it will take me to search the following day.  So my work is never done. 

I finish searching the websites at around 9pm.   

Okay, let’s now add another 15 minutes due to bathroom breaks and phone calls.  I am not even halfway done. 

After the websites, I search some FREE (Yay!) Yahoo groups.  Searching through the Yahoo groups still requires the same amount of effort as the websites.  However, this time I search through ads for Viagra, low cost pharmaceuticals and dating services.  I also skim through internet arguments called flame wars.  This brings me to a slogan I once saw that stated, “Arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics: Even if you win, you're still retarded.” 

I’m done searching the Yahoo groups.  The time is around 10:30pm.  I have resisted taking a break and lying down because if I did I would fall asleep until 6:00 the next morning.  It has happened before and it will happen again.  You still think I’m done?  You’re wrong pal!  

Whilst searching throughout the mass of useless notices, I sometimes stumble upon gigs that (gasp!) PAY ACTORS.  Whoa!  With these bastions of hope I either e-mail them my headshot and resume (this is great since I don’t have to pay for envelopes, paper, stamps, staples, headshots, printer ink, etc).   

On a side note:

TO ALL CASTING PEOPLE: Please have the option of e-mailing headshots.  It saves me a lot of money. $$$$$$$$$ 

Anyway, I e-mail my headshots and resumes first.  Then I start to “snail” mail (regular mail) my headshots and resumes.  I type each address on a label file I have saved to my computer.  Next, I print out the labels and stick them on 9x11 envelopes.  I electronically cut my addresses from the label program and paste them on to a spread sheet file I call “Saved Addresses.”  This is so I don’t send packages to the same address twice.  I print out a corresponding number of resumes and bios each at one page.  After that I staple the resume to the headshot, cut off the excess paper around the headshot so everything looks nice and neat.  I put the bio and stapled headshot and resume into the envelope.  Finally I seal the envelope with some tape, stick on a return address label, a PHOTO DO NOT BEND label and a 60 cent stamp.  The time is around midnight and I am woozy.  I shut down the computer, brush my teeth and collapse on my bed and joyfully (sarcasm alert!) look forward to this day to start again. 

Let me restate that I don’t do this everyday. If I did, I would jump out a window.  I TRY to get this done everyday but each day brings up a different circumstance (gig, audition, plans, writing massive commentaries, too tired etc.).   

I have faced the reality that when I get home from my survival job there is just more work to be done.  I envy a person who just goes to his/her job, comes home and watches TV or a movie and doesn’t have to do anything except relax.  I don’t have that luxury.  Not yet.

I have officially turned into my father.  When I was growing up, my dad would come home from a full day’s work only to go upstairs to his office and do more work until very late.  At least my work after work is for something that I enjoy.  Luckily I don’t have as much responsibility as he did back then (I can’t even be responsible for a plant right now).  Thankfully he doesn’t work that schedule anymore.  I can attest that he is a better and healthier person now than in the past. 

If a need for a survival job didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t mind looking for work all that much.  I would have something to do in between watching DVDs, sleeping and partying. 

So let’s tally up my time devoted to making money to live and looking for acting work: 

7am – 6pm: Work to pay for food, rent, cable, electric, drugs, alcohol, cheap whores etc.

6pm – 12am: Looking for acting work so I can stop living like this. 

Oh look.  There’s a wall.  Let me bang my head against it.  Ah, I feel better.


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Rules for Casting Notices

This is an addendum to my commentary A Day in the Life.  Today was an especially bad day of sifting through casting notices trying to find auditions for projects that pay.   

So in an effort to try to curb this epidemic of “pain in the ass to read casting notices,” please follow this template if you plan to post one: 
 

Type of project: 

Pay or no pay – if there is pay, state how much: 

Character breakdown: 

Contact info: 
 

It’s simple.  We all have lives to live.  Time is a terrible thing waste.

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A Train Wreck of a Commentary

On Saturday, September 3, 2005, I participated in the recording of the commentary for a special edition of FEAR OF THE DARK

The crazy cast of characters on this commentary was as follows: 


Glen Baisley

(writer/director/producer/actor/crew/editor/likely to die from stress etc.) 


Diana Baisley

(caterer/crew/actress/wife of Glen/red head who pronounces “talk” as “tawk”/one of the funniest people I know) 


Brian Spears  

(special effects artists for new insert scenes/owner of the house where commentary was held/creative consultant for the new version/likes to barbeque in the snow) 


Ed Shelinsky

(composer/actor/crew/angry video game player extraordinaire) 


Mark Yonick

(crew/actor/ intentional and unintentional stunts /cock blocked me going into a shower with Danielle Russo) 


Michael Gingold

(actor/creative consultant/managing editor of Fangoria magazine/hates having a goatee/has seen almost every horror movie ever made/mentions the weather more than once during the commentary)


ME

(actor/creative consultant to the new version/all around great guy who when made fun of by Glen during the commentary, comes back with a joke about his mother) 

This commentary was very unique to say the least.  It consisted of seven people mostly talking over one another.  However, this might be a positive quality since you can hear something new every time you listen to it.  All you would have to do is drown out one conversation for another. 

The insults (all in a friendly manner . . . I think) flew through the air like snot from a sneeze as we all tried to be heard.  Many tangents were made from pointing out product names that were easy to see to malfunctioning microphones. 

Speaking of malfunctioning microphones, Glen gave himself and Ed wireless lapel mics thinking they would be the best quality.  After playing back the commentary we all realized they were the worst as Glen’s voice especially sounded like he was coming from another room.  Ed’s voice sounded fine probably since the stationary mics picked him up.  The stationary mics by the way, sounded great. 

After listening to the playback of the commentary I became overwhelmed by all the noise and chatter that my head almost exploded.  What can be heard is pretty funny though.  Just think of it as a group of friends who got together to talk about (and over) a movie.  There was really no order as to who was to speak and what should be said.  We just all let it hang out (as I did by accident during the bedroom scene with Danielle Russo – listen to the commentary to find out more). 

So I implore you, once FEAR OF THE DARK gets re-released don’t forget to listen to the commentary.  Or as I call it, “a train wreck of a commentary.”  While it may be ugly, even a train wreck attracts a crowd.

 

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Sickness and Sacrifice

I dedicate this to Brian Spears who waits with baited breath for commentaries like this one. 

On a dreary Saturday morning, I was at an open call which, like many open calls, was an unorganized cluster fuck. The sign up sheet was ignored and people just started cutting the line which lead to some arguments, complaints and overall bad moods. On top of that, we were in a narrow, hot apartment building, and were admonished by both the tenants and the people running the audition for being too loud.  

The worst part was that I was under the impression I had an appointment. I was contacted a few days earlier and given a 2:30 p.m. time slot. Much to my chagrin, I walked into the mess at 2:00 thinking I was early.  

After about 25 minutes of waiting at the back of the line (which had not moved), I walked up to the front to see what was happening. When I got up to the front, I was told to line up by the front door if I had an appointment. So I lined up by the door. All of a sudden some actors started claiming they had an appointment, were running late for work and/or had to be somewhere. They were then given special treatment and told to move up to the front (this is when the arguments started). There were people behind me who said they had 1:00 appointments. I didn’t know if they were telling the truth. I even lied and said I had a 2:00 appointment instead of a 2:30 appointment.  

At that point, I didn’t care. I was up since 7:30 that morning (giving up a Friday night out) and in the city since 10 a.m. because of ANOTHER open call.  I was drained due to the lack of oxygen in the hallway and the fact that I was wearing a heavy jacket so I kept my mouth shut and stayed at my place in line near the front door.  

Was I wrong to do what I did? Yes. Let he who is without sin blah blah blah blah. The “organizers” should have kept to the stupid sign up sheet and/or not had an open call on the same day that there were appointments. Besides, I DID have an appointment! 

I was in the room and auditioned at 3:00. After my initial audition (which was a monologue), I was given the script, told to look over the first four pages and come back at 3:30. I was given a call back. Yay! Call backs usually happen on a different day. So now there were people responding to an open call, with appointments AND call backs all on the same day and at the same time.  

I was lucky. There were some people there since noon. I assumed they didn’t have an appointment and were there before me. By 3:45, I performed from the script and was done.  

The average audition lasts around 2-5 minutes so I was originally expecting (due to my 2:30 appointment) to be out by 2:45. I ended up leaving at 3:45. All in all, it was not bad for an (unexpected) open call. 

After seeing the disorganization, some actors left. Most, like me, stayed.  I have been at open calls where I have waited up to eight hours. This leads me to ask, “Why?!?” Why do we put ourselves through this? Why don’t we just leave? 

In his book, IN THE PIT WITH PIPER, professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper writes about a “sickness” that pro wrestlers tend to have where they punish themselves physically and mentally for a business that treats them like garbage. According to Piper, “It [wrestling] was the perfect career for a misfit who for once in his life could fit in. I depended on wrestling for boosting my confidence, making my mark in life. It gave me honor, respectability and pride.”  

I also think that Piper was addicted to the adrenaline rush of performing in front of a crowd and the instant gratification that occurs when a job is well done. Perhaps to actors, the feeling of performing live, receiving praise after a movie screening, or being asked for an autograph is too good to miss as well. 

With aspiring (broke) actors, there is a question that lingers in the back of his/her mind that I call the “Dreaded What If.” For example, “What if this production is a hit? You never know. The few hours of uncomfortable madness would be all worth it if it’s a hit. This could be something I write in my memoirs or talk about on ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT while laughing about it in hindsight.”  

I would also be kicking myself if I had a chance to audition but didn’t for a show or a movie that later became a star-making vehicle. That God Damn BLAIR WITCH PROJECT! I wonder how many actors saw an audition notice for a movie that was to be shot on cheap digital video in the woods for three days and didn’t audition thinking it would not be successful. 

So the “Dreaded What If” latches on to my brain like the crusty barnacle on an old ship. THAT’S why I stay.

Chances are, more often than not, the movie/play won’t hit or even get made. But there’s always that chance that it does. THAT’S what keeps me staying.  

Even if the production is not successful, I still have a good credit for my resume or even better, a good piece for my demo reel and/or maybe some money in my pocket that I earned doing something I love. See the logic? Sure you do!  

That’s why I have driven hours and hours away from my home just for an iota of hope that this sacrifice of time and money would be all worth it. A lot of times it’s not. But sometimes it is.  

And I learn to cherish the ones that do work (me with Light and Dark Productions), and hope they lead to more work that will start the ball rolling which would result in, “The Big Break.” Oh yes, the one part that leads me to the point in my career where I don’t have to temp or bartend anymore. Then it would all be worth it. Right? 

I was all set to go out one Friday night to Coyote Ugly with Mike “The Cheese Man” Valenzano. Before I would meet him at the fine establishment, I was to go and drop off my headshot and resume for a staged reading. I was running about a half hour late due to my work schedule on Long Island. I called Mike and let him know I would be late. He was a little perturbed that he had to wait at a bar by himself but he understood.  

I get to the studio to drop off my headshot and was immediately asked if I wanted to audition. I paused and thought to myself, “Oh crap. This will make me VERY late. (Duh)” For about a second I thought maybe I should leave and meet my friend to do what we had planned for a week. And then the sickness took over. The “Dreaded What If” made its presence known.  

I found out that people who had appointments were also on their way so I was told that the wait would be at least an hour. Double crap. I begrudgingly called back Mike and told him the bad news. After a few minutes of, “Oh Man. Son of a bitch,” Mike insisted that I audition. You see, Mike is an actor too. He probably has a little bit of the sickness as well.  

Mike understandably didn’t want to wait any longer so he ended up going home. I felt horrible for not hanging out with him. He was at Coyote Ugly and the surrounding neighborhood for over an hour by himself. He probably felt like a loser being there by himself. I know I would. 

Usually, in the normal world, people make appointments and give notice to not play with and wreck people’s plans. Not in this business. I have seen this business bring out the worst in people. Maybe it’s a power thing. I don’t know.  

A lot of times this business is totally last minute. I have received calls from my agents which would say, “There’s an audition for a print ad that pays $10,000. Can you be there in an hour?” Like a trained lap dog I bark, “Yes!” and head back into New York City after a 45 minute subway ride and a half-mile walk back to my apartment. 

One time I missed the ending of my brother’s surprise 30th birthday party so I could get back into the city from central Long Island (about a two hour commute) to complete a movie that subsequently was never finished.  

The plans to shoot on my brother’s birthday were made last minute due to the crew being unorganized and not finishing all the shots on the original day of shooting. Everybody from the crew to the other actors could make this one day (my brother’s party) except me. I sacrificed the tail end (and the most fun part) of my brother’s birthday so this “movie” could be finished.  

We shot and wrapped the rest of the movie that day and I never heard back from the producers of the movie again. Fuckers. They just didn’t care. They only cared about themselves and their horrible movie that will never be released. While I’m especially angry at this point, I would like to mention that some the crew members were drunk one of the days of shooting. Real pros huh?  

Nowadays, if I have plans, I try to stick with them. I still need to have some sort of life. My five-year-old cousin is playing Mrs. Darling in her school’s production of PETER PAN soon. Unless Lucas, Spielberg or some life-changing career move comes calling, I am NOT missing it. I’ve got to have priorities. 

There are dickheads in all walks of life. This business seems to thrive on being a dickhead. I have met a lot of them and I have only been doing this for five-and-a-half years. I observe these dickheads and try to make myself a promise that I will not turn into one. I only ask for people like you to point out to me if my head does start to resemble a penis. 

So if you or someone you know is involved in the decision-making process regarding auditions, films, plays, etc., just remember that behind every actor, there is a human being who is trying to have a life just like you, you selfish prick (just kidding J ).

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Night of the Crappy Subway Ride

 

3/16/05

Hello boars and ghouls and welcome to another fun filled commentary.  This one takes you into the metropolitan bowels (huh, huh, bowels) of the Big (Cr)Apple, New York City. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love this goddamn city.  I grew up in one of its suburbs on Long Island and now live in one of its boroughs in Queens.  New York City is so unique, diverse and welcoming while being unforgiving, brutal and honest all at the same time.  What’s not to love?   

Since I love it so much, I have decided to point out some of its qualities to the people of the world who have yet to experience the city that never sleeps.  Kind of like a bad stage mom.   

So hang on to your hand rails and ignore the stale smell of urine on the platform.  I call this one, “Night of the Crappy Subway Ride.” 

I wrapped up a principal role in a Gap industrial (training video) for RuMe Interactive and LearnIt Solutions.  I played a shoplifter and, along with two accomplices, I stole a bunch of shirts (women's shirts - pink ones - fabulous!).  And I didn't get caught!  Hahahahahahahahahahahah!

The real story, however, begins with the ride home.  The subways in New York City don't run frequently during late night hours (the industrial was shot after the store was closed).  After waiting about 15 minutes, I realized (by looking at a sign above the platform) the train I was waiting for (the R train) did not run late at night.  So I began to walk towards the F train which was the alternative to the R.

I actually almost missed the F since it arrived as I reached the escalator.  Like Indiana Jones evading a huge boulder, I ran down the escalator and jumped into the train.  The doors should have closed before I reached the platform but a woman's heavy luggage was blocking the door.  So realistically, I should not have been on that train.

The car I ran into was pretty crowded.  While listening to the conductor complain over the loudspeaker to, "C'mon people!  Stand clear of the closing doors!  We all want to go home tonight," I landed a much coveted seat.  After sitting down, I realized why my side of the car was ESPECIALLY crowded. 

While reading the latest issue of Rolling Stone, I started to hear shouting from the other side of the car.  A woman's voice was yelling something like, "What?  Are you gonna spend time with this woman?  Are you gonna be playing with yourself?  No!  I'll beat his ass.  You gonna be playing with yourself?"  Forgive me, I'm paraphrasing.

I turned to the source of the noise expecting two people fighting.  The time was around 1:30 am and sometimes there are drunk people at this hour disturbing every good hard working person on the stupid subway! 

Anyway as I looked to see what the hell was going on, I noticed there were plenty of seats on the other side.  "Okay," I thought.  "Who wants to be around people fighting?" I said to my tired self while at the same time wondering how I was supposed to wake up in a few hours for work.

When I discovered the origin of this infernal yelling I wish I could say I was surprised.  I wasn’t.  This is New York Fuckin’ City Motherfucker! (I have to write Mayor Bloomberg to see if I can get that trademarked.)

As my eyes locked on (not too long though, you should NEVER stare – it’s impolite – plus you could get your ass kicked) to the source of the racket, I noticed that the noise was coming NOT from a couple of people, but from one person.  And Holy Crapoli, what a sight!  I was looking at an overweight woman, with Don King like hair, wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt and an unzipped ski jacket.  She was face down, leaning on her elbows, taking up about three seats.  While she was yelling, AT HERSELF, she proceeded to rip up pieces of paper and throw them on the subway’s seats.  In all fairness, she wasn’t yelling at herself – she was yelling at the ripped pieces of paper.  The yelling didn't stop either.  I’m no doctor, but I’m assuming she was a schizophrenic or a multiple personality case.  Regardless, a subway was one of the last places she should be.

I tried to get up and go into another car but the doors were locked.  I could have ran out of the subway while it was stopped at a station and get into a different car but I didn’t want to risk being locked out on the platform.  If I was locked out I would have to wait a long, long time for the next train to arrive.  I was freakin’ trapped.  Just like a horror movie, I couldn’t get out of this undesirable situation.

The best course of action I could take was to just keep on reading and try to ignore the mad woman.  It was a good try.  I couldn’t concentrate on a Bob Marley article while there was an obviously insane person not too far away from me.  She could start swinging punches or have a weapon for all I know.  Luckily, there were some people in front of me so maybe she would get them first.  Nevertheless, if she did get to me, I would have to defend myself and that means I would have to touch her.  Can you imagine the last time she took a shower?  Ewwwwwww!  My hand would probably smell for days if I had to grab this woman in self defense.

So as I tried to get back to my article, I started to hear a loud banging sound.  Maybe somebody dropped something heavy.  I heard the banging noise again.  “Just ignore it and it will go away,” I told myself.  Unlike the crazy woman, I didn’t say this out loud.  The banging started to get louder and more frequent.  I looked over to Sigmund Freud’s wet dream and found out the banging noise was coming from her.  However she wasn’t using the typical items in which to bang something like hands or feet.

She was using her head.  I don’t mean “using her head” like she started to actually think.  I mean she was using her head to make the banging noise.  With FULL FORCE, she was banging the back of her head against the wall of the subway.  While sitting upright, she bent over forwards and slammed her head into the wall.  Each bang was followed by a scolding to no one but the voices in her head.  I’m assuming she was trying to get rid of them. When I’m frustrated, I always joke about, “banging my head against the wall,” but this woman was really doing it.  Wow!

As soon as she started to bang her head against the wall, the subway stopped.  Not at a station but in the middle of the tunnel.  The conductor gets on the PA system and states that there is a train in front of us and we will be moving shortly.  At two o’clock in the morning the sucky subway is delayed.  This happened TWICE!

If there were a bunch of strippers on the subway giving out free lap dances, I’m sure it would have been at super speed.  But since there is a schizo on board, life has decided to be funny. Well hardy friggin’ har har.

Around this time and in between the banging noises I noticed my other surroundings.  I am sitting across from a dirty Santa Claus looking guy who's grinning at the whole experience as well as a bunch of people also yelling (at least to each other) in some foreign language.  I just want to read my magazine and go home.

The looney woman is now starting to cry.  I wonder why?  Do you think it’s from banging her head against the wall?

The subway FINALLY gets to my stop and I get off to transfer to ANOTHER train to make my way home.  The end of the F line was about another 10 minutes away.  At the end of the line, I think the men and women of the Metropolitan Transit Authority check the cars, make sure they’re clean of garbage and people etc.  It must suck to be an MTA worker and find this crazy woman yelling and crying.  Good thing they can contact the police. I would lock myself in a safe place until the great men and women in blue came to my rescue.  Hey, that rhymes.   

After about 15 minutes of waiting, I get on the subway to travel one stop to walk home.  As I walk on, I notice about three people lying across the rows of seats and one guy trying to shine his purple leather boots with his hands.  I remain standing and get off at my stop feeling sorry for the “normal” people I have left behind.  

I walked about a half mile back to my apartment in the freezing cold.  While walking in my winter coat, scarf, hat and gloves, I fantasize that if I ever become very rich, I will take a cab or even a limo back and forth to my acting gigs.   

I take the subway because it’s cheap.  A cab back to Queens can cost up to $20 while the subway is still only $2.  I’ve read some stories about famous actors who take the subway to observe or feel equal to us “lesser beings.”  Wow.  They are soooo brave.  I wonder if these famous people would take a subway at 1:30 a.m., in the middle of winter, wait a long time and then be surrounded by potentially dangerous wackos who bang their heads against walls.  

As I reach the warmth of my apartment building, I look back on the subway ride and remember what two nice Spanish speaking women said while the maniac woman was screaming.  They said, “Ay yai yai.  Loca.”   

Loca indeed.

 

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The Blood, Sweat, Tears (and More Blood) of a Low Budget Horror Actor

Reprinted from Blood Moon Rising #25 Winter 2005

Written by Mike Lane

I recently finished acting in a horror short by Light & Dark Productions called No Trespassing 2: No Exit.  I vividly remember sitting on a couch at the Inner Sanctum Haunted House at the Canopus Country club in Putnam Valley, NY, getting ready for my death scene-an axe to my head. 

During rehearsal, director Glen Baisley explains the cue for the killer (Gene Mazza) to burst through the door and kill me.  The cue will be a certain line that I say.  I must have my head in a marked spot on the couch so Gene knows where to strike with the axe.  The “axe” is made with a balsa wood blade and a wooden handle.  The fake weapon will actually be hitting the back of the couch that I am sitting on and not my head.  I also must not move my head.  If I do, I will mess up the framing of the shot.  Gene, as any good killer would, is wearing a gas mask.  Unfortunately, the gas mask has an obstructed view. 

Glen yells, “Action!” and the scene begins.  Gene bursts out of the door and wields his mighty axe.  Since his viewing is obstructed he misses his mark and hits me square on the back of my skull with the unpredictably hard balsa wood.  The blade goes flying off its handle towards Glen.  The back of my head begins to sting and throb.  After apologies from Gene, the axe is repaired and Glen eventually gets what he wants after a few takes.  During those takes I was nervous about the axe hitting me again but I couldn’t show it, because my character wasn’t feeling nervous.  My death scene, however, is not yet finished. 

Gene, who is also the makeup effects artist, prepares for the next shot, which is the axe being pulled out of my head while blood runs down from the impact wound.  I am proceeded to be covered in dyed corn syrup (the perfect blood FX) from the top of my head all the way down to my chin.  The scene is filmed successfully but I will be needed for another scene later … about two hours later. 

Since I can’t walk around the location drenched in fake blood for fear of staining everything I touch, I do my best to wash the stuff off my face, chest, shirt and pants.  The fake blood is incredibly sticky and messy.  I wash my stained shirt with water from Canopus’ rest room sink and hang it up in front of a heater to dry.  A few hours later I change back into my wardrobe (which has become stiff and crusty because of the sticky corn syrup and intense heat) and Gene pours a fresh bottle of blood all over me again.  My final scene is shot and I get to clean up and relax.  Soon after, I find out that I have to play a masked character since the original actor had to leave for work.  As the masked character, I have to stand perfectly still and make pretend I’m a haunted house prop.  That particular shot only took about fifteen minutes.  Eleven hours after we started, the day is wrapped, another day for a low budget horror actor. 

I started to seriously pursue acting after graduating college almost five years ago.  I always wanted to be an actor and working behind a desk for a living was something that had grown very unappealing to me as graduation approached.  I had acted sporadically throughout elementary, junior high and high school, putting on skits for other students, and also performed, produced and directed movies for my high school film and TV classes as well.   

In addition, I also appeared in movies and skits made with a VHS camcorder for about four years.  These movies and skits were mostly improvised.  My friends and I made these movies for fun.  We just started recording and tried to see where our improv would take us.  I now have hours of footage that I am honestly scared to watch (mostly since I had a mullet in junior high and high school). 

I have been fortunate enough to stay busy acting-wise throughout the past five years working on everything from drama, to comedy, to horror, to “how to” videos.  Horror, however, is one of my favorite genres in which to work.  I grew up loving horror movies.  One of my favorite movies of all time is the original Dawn of the Dead.  I’ve had lead, supporting and principal roles in over 60 projects that include movies, theater, television, commercials and industrials. Twelve of those projects have been horror related. 

I enjoy horror movies not only from a fan standpoint but from a business standpoint too.  Most horror fans are very loyal.  If they like a certain movie they will let everybody know about it.  Since the fans are so loyal, horror movies are usually the easiest low budget genre in which to land a distribution deal.  As a matter of fact, Light & Dark’s latest movie, The Tenement (in which I have a lead role), recently landed a distribution deal with Brain Damage Films. 

I have also met some great people through horror.  Horror fans, as evidenced by horror conventions, are almost like an extended family.  Most of them are very nice people who are not quick to judge others by appearance even if they are full of tattoos, piercings and made up to look like a demon on crack.  I’ve seen horror fans of all ages, races, and creeds happily socializing with each other.  

I have been shot, stabbed, beaten with baseball bats, buried alive and eaten (all make believe of course) since I started acting in horror.  The application, shooting and clean up of a death scene may take hours while the scene itself may last only a few seconds.  An actor having latex, fake blood and other types of horror make-up applied to him/herself cannot be impatient, claustrophobic, allergic (very important) and afraid to get messy.  If the actor doesn’t mind getting a little dirty, acting in a horror movie is usually a very fun experience. 

However, being a low budget horror movie actor (as well as any type of low budget actor) is not always great.  The pay, if any, is usually minimal.  I have to work “survival jobs” like bartending and office temping to make ends meet.  My acting career does not allow me to work a regular job.  My survival jobs must be flexible enough so I can take off at a moments’ notice in the event of a last-minute audition or acting gig. 

Enduring huge cattle calls, rejection, broken promises, working hard on a movie that ends up being erased, a movie that is never finished, never receiving a copy of a movie, a producer/director who doesn’t do anything with their movie once it is finished, nepotism, politics and liars are just a few setbacks of working in the low budget world. 

Remember when I wrote that I’ve had lead, supporting, or principal roles in about 60 projects?  Well, out of those 60 projects, I have received 20.  My “payment” for some of those projects is supposed to be copies of the projects themselves.  If not for the learning experience, the time spent on these debacles is completely wasted.  I only audition for paying gigs now, but I have also worked on movies that have promised to pay me but never have. 

The crap-flavored icing on the very smelly cake is that acting is extremely competitive.  There are only a small percentage of actors who actually make a living only from acting. 

A person who wants to be an actor must deal with these (and many more) setbacks, learn from them and move on. 

After my 11 hour shoot, I take a quick nap and drive an hour and a half home to get ready for work the next morning.  This survival job requires me to literally make thousands of photo copies for the whole day.  I am college graduate with a degree in marketing.  If I had decided to get a regular marketing job after college, I would easily be making a lot more money than I am now.  But I know wouldn’t be happy.  In fact, I would be miserable and full of regret, and that’s really no way to live. 

I can comfortably state that I would rather spend another 11 hours on the No Trespassing 2: No Exit set than work any permanent office job.  So, when you see me on screen covered in fake blood, and playing dead with a shocked look on my face you will know that on the inside I am smiling because I’m doing what I want to do, which is living my dream. 

www.lightanddark.net/MikeLane.htm 

http://www.lightanddark.net/pr110.htm - No Trespassing 2: No Exit’s webpage.

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Mike Lane on the Putnam County Film & Video Festival

11/11/04

 

        One Easy Job (supporting role of Angelo) took home an Achievement Award for a comedy/narrative at the Putnam County Worldwide Film and Video Festival.

        At the awards banquet, writer/director, Damien DeMolina received an inscribed gold plated plaque. After he received the plaque, he answered questions by presenter Marianne Arrien about the experience of making the movie. He began to tell a story about a fender bender that took place while filming. He went on to mention that I was the driver during the said fender bender. Someone from the crowd then yelled that I should get up and tell the story. Damien called me up and I, quickly (so as not to take up too much time from Damien), spun a yarn about the scene. Here is a summary, a piece of lint if you will, of that yarn:

        I was driving, Damien was in the backseat filming and two other actors filled out the rest of the car. After I stopped at a red light, we all heard a screeching noise and were hit from behind by another car. After wondering what the hell happened I got out of the car and surveyed the situation. I noticed that there was no damage to the car (None that I could tell anyway. The car was a piece of crap). The driver apologized, I said, “Don’t worry about it,” and everyone went on their merry way. Since Damien was recording, the incident is on the “Outtake” section of the One Easy Job DVD.

        So that’s basically what I said. I’ll see if I can get Glen (Baisley that is. He co-ran the festival) to run a clip of me telling the story. Oh, when I mentioned that the car was a piece of crap, Damien’s Aunt (the owner of the car) stood up and started yelling at me (All in fun of course. I think). I also urged the audience to buy the movie since it was being sold in the lobby.

        I believe Damien will really start to push One Easy Job once he has a webpage built. I’m going to contact Damien soon and see if there is a way to buy the movie before his webpage is set up. One Easy Job is a funny short (about 45 min.) about a beauty salon robbery gone wrong…very wrong. The movie played to good crowds at the festival and was given great reviews by the audience (including Bill Diamond- www.diamondproductions.com). There were plenty of belly laughs heard throughout the two showings. If you like a lot of yelling, arguing and cursing in a movie, do yourself a favor and buy One Easy Job.

        Aside from One Easy Job, I was lucky enough to have another movie showing at the fest. The other movie was No Trespassing 2: No Exit. The movie was shown as an exhibition meaning that it was not entered into the festival for competition. No Trespassing 2: No Exit, which will from here on out be known as NT2: NE (wow, that’s like, so futuristic and hip when I make it an acronym kind of like H20, AVP, MIB or ID4-if you can guess all those movies, I’ll give you a prize-no I won’t-I have no money-buy some fruit or something), since I don’t want to type that much, is a horror short made by the great people of Light and Dark Productions (www.lightanddark.net).

        The movie played right after Bill Diamond’s Monster TV (http://www.billdiamondproductions.com/monstertv), which is fun for the whole family. NT2: NE is not. It is filled with lots of gore, murder, monsters, an almost topless chick (cock blocked-damn it!) and low brow sex humor by yours truly and Nicole Berlingeri (http://www.lightanddark.net/images/AT7.jpg). Is there such thing as high brow sex humor?

        Glen and I were a little nervous that the crowd for Monster TV would not accept the content that well. However, the movie was met with a good response and if anyone was offended, they did not tell us. I’m glad the movie was shown because it was fun to do and it may not be showcased until the Fairview Falls DVD is released, which probably won’t be for another two years. I was a creative consultant on NT2: NE and I guess I co-wrote it considering most of the script was improvisation.

        The Putnam County International Film and Video Festival was a great experience. The fest was very inexpensive ($5 a day for about 12 hours worth of movies per day), laid back and most of all cozy. Yes I wrote cozy. The fest wasn’t empty but it wasn’t too crowded either. There was a Q & A at the end of each movie where the audience could ask the filmmaker questions. The festival also did not seem rushed. All the questions were answered and there was plenty of time left to show the subsequent films. The filmmakers were very accessible as well.

        I also want to point out my good deed for the year. Glen asked me to help out with some behind the scenes work. I was to be Head of Video Operations during the awards banquet. That meant I had to press the Play and Pause on a video camera to show clips from the different movies. I even had to change a tape in the middle of the presentation. But hey, I am a seasoned pro. I took two years of audio engineering in college you know. Let me tell you the work was excruciating. I was pressing the Play and Pause with a hang nail too. But I stuck through it. I could have sat at a table and ate my dinner with the rest of the attendees but no, I toughed it out in the tech crew. I am truly hard core.

        I didn’t mind sitting behind all those wires because I was doing my good friend Glen a favor. I also got to see him eat not 1, but 2 pieces of chocolate cake. He gave me the thumbs up and smiled while eating. I was glad to see Glen in such bliss. He really likes to eat (http://www.lightanddark.net/images/FF278.JPG).

        The festival even had a vegan alternative (no meat, chicken, fish or dairy) for dinner. I appreciated this since I am a vegan. Glen used his pull weeks before the festival to request a vegan meal to the chef. On behalf of myself and the other vegans there, I say “Why didn’t you make the dessert vegan too?!” But seriously I say for everyone attending (I’m speaking for everyone-BWHAHAHAHAHAH), “Thank you!” not only for the vegan meal but for the good time that the festival brought.
I can only hope to be in a film that’s accepted for next year.

        Check out the fest’s page at http://www.putnamvalleyarts.com/FilmFest.htm

 

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Mike Lane on Chiller Theatre

 

11/02/04

 

        Another Chiller Theatre convention has come and gone. The October Chiller conventions are the most crowded since they fall on Halloween weekend. This one was VERY crowded.

        I had a dealer bracelet since I was working at the Light and Dark Productions table (www.lightanddark.net). Since I had a dealer bracelet, I was able to bypass the many different lines that lead to different places. The regular convention goers weren’t so lucky.

        Convention goers first had to wait on a long line to buy tickets. After tickets were bought, people had to wait on ANOTHER line to get into the convention rooms. So, in a nutshell, people had to wait on line to wait on line. There were two other long lines formed to get into tents that housed celebrities and more merchandise. And let’s not forget the line for the lone ATM machine (them most important line of them all).

        I had to work from 8am-5:30pm on Friday. After getting home from work by subway, grabbing a quick bite to eat and driving up to New Jersey I got to the convention at 9pm. Glen and Diana Baisley from Light and Dark Productions were there early so Glen told me to just show up when I can.

        My job at the table is to sell the Light and Dark merchandise—especially the movies. I greet and talk to everyone who takes the time to stop by our table. I try to amuse them with interesting and funny anecdotes about the movies and do my best to sell them something. The Tenement is the priority since it’s the latest release. The table is loaded with DVDs and video tapes of all the movies, publicity photos and press, a monitor showing clips from the movies, a mailing list signup sheet and assorted props from all the different movies.

        We also let our actresses sell their merchandise at our table. A pretty woman in a skimpy outfit sitting at the table tends to attract customers so we are more than happy to let them sell their stuff so we can sell ours. The actress we had for most of the weekend was Kerri Taylor. Check her out at http://www.lightanddark.net/KerriTaylor.htm and http://www.onemodelplace.com/member.cfm?ID=39743. If you don’t want to see pictures of a voluptuous chick with barely anything on then don’t click on the links. Consider this my disclaimer. For everybody else—Hubba Hubba.

        After the convention center is closed, the real fun begins. There are many parties and events that happen throughout Friday and Saturday night. What’s cool about Friday and Saturday night is, well, THERE ARE PARTIES GOING ON! This means that there are people at the hotel bars, lobby and rooms who are partying their brains out. There are no shortages of elaborate costumes and high jinx that take place over these two nights. I feel sorry for the hotel employees and non-Chiller guests since the partying goes well into the early morning and lots of messes are made. I’ve seen sofas in the elevators, Bibles that are included in the room being EATEN and passed out naked people being carried to their rooms from the hotel pool. There are also the usual sprinklings of sex, drugs, rock and roll, horror, alcohol, more drugs, bondage, more alcohol, lesbianism and more drugs and alcohol. In other words, a good old fashioned time was had by all

        Another cool aspect of Chiller is the networking opportunities that happen. I have met some great contacts that will hopefully bring more attention to me and Light and Dark. You’ll (and me for that matter) will just have to say tuned to find out what happens.

        On my way back home from New Jersey on Sunday I had to stop for gas at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. There were really long lines to get gas and since New Jersey does not have self service, I had to wait in line in my truck for gas. I was so tired from the weekend that I fell asleep in my truck while waiting. Fortunately for me the woman in the car behind me got out of her car to wake me up. I got home at around 6pm on Sunday to give out candy to trick or treaters. I passed out around 8pm and didn’t wake up until 6:30am just in time for freakin’ work. After a weekend sleeping at a hotel I looked forward to sleeping in my own bed. However I never reached my bed since I fell asleep on my couch.

Here are some highlights from the convention:

-Glen’s sister in law, Judy Burrett (http://www.lightanddark.net/pr14.htm) and her friend being incessantly hit on by a pro wrestler.

-Hanging out most of the night with the great Bill Diamond. Bill is a very successful prop and puppet maker who has worked on The Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and The Muppets to name a few. Bill gave me, Glen and makeup man Brian Spears (http://www.lightanddark.net/gandsfx.htm) indispensable advice regarding the entertainment business. Please check out his webpage along with his and Sara Karloff (daughter of Boris Karloff) new project called Monster TV at www.billdiamondproductions.com.

-Seeing Martin Kove (the evil Cobra Kai Sensei from The Karate Kid) on Saturday night dressed in a Cobra Kai karate uniform with his face painted like a skeleton.

-Annoying Glen by reading excerpts from the book The Mindbody Prescription by Dr. John E. Sarno, M.D. (www.healingbackpain.com). I only did this when Glen annoyed me first.

-Glen, in our hotel room on Saturday morning, said something that annoyed me so I began to read from my Sarno book. After I read excerpts from my book, Glen attempted to grab the book from my hands and rip it apart. He made a big mistake because he tried this unwise move without his glasses. Glen is almost blind without his glasses. After I moved out of the way using my super human speed, Glen (still without his glasses) attempted to tackle me. He made the funniest faces (since he could barely see) trying to attack me. Since he couldn’t see, I kept slapping him over the head with my Sarno book (www.healingbackpain.com).

-Buying Glen’s wife Diana (http://www.lightanddark.net/pr18.htm) drinks called Red Headed Slut and Red Devil. Diana has red hair. She rarely ever drinks alcohol so I had fun watching her get a little tipsy.

-Passing the worst smelling gas in Glen’s car. The smell was so bad that Glen veered onto a one way street, stopped the car and almost vomited out his window. I also turned the heater on in the car to make the smell more unbearable.

-Selling copies of The Tenement. Even if only one copy is sold (we did sell more than one) I feel that we have succeeded. Watching people spend their hard earned money to buy a movie that I was a part of is a great feeling. What’s even greater is when those people come back to say how much they like The Tenement and then buy Fear of the Dark or vice versa.

-Watching Glen network and schmooze to bring more attention to Light and Dark. He is one of the most determined people I know.

Thanks again for sticking with another long diatribe. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings.

 

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Mike Lane on Editing No Trespassing 2: No Exit

 

10/28/04

 

        I helped Glen Baisley edit a small part of “No Trespassing 2: No Exit” last weekend. I liked the process of piecing together the puzzle that is a movie. Glen gave me free reign to offer any suggestions. I had fun arguing with him over what angle should be used, when to cut to a certain scene and where to use music. Glen told me to be brutally honest and brutally honest I was BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH! However Glen did have final say in what was to be used. But that didn’t stop me from being brutally honest again and again-BWHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAAHAH!

        The editing process is a long, repetitive but CRUCIAL part of moviemaking. Since I started to seriously pursue acting, I’ve always been told to try to make each take look the same with dialogue and body position. Assisting in the editing process hammered home just how important keeping continuity is to a movie.

        For example, an actor could have his sleeves rolled up in one scene but then in the next scene that takes place one second later his sleeves are rolled down and a cigarette miraculously appeared in his mouth. Now realistically, those two scenes could have been shot months apart but in “movie time” the scenes are one second apart. The job of the editor is to make the audience believe that the two scenes were shot on the same day and time. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

        I know people who look for these mistakes too. What a bunch of nitpickers! Seriously though, keeping in continuity will only make a film look better. The film could still suck but at least there aren’t any continuity errors, right?...Where was I? Oh, editing…

        Like I typed above, I helped with the editing for only a few hours. I believe those few hours of editing pieced together about MAYBE two minutes of the movie. And that’s not including sound and music. Two minutes!?

        I honestly don’t know if I would like to spend such huge amounts of time editing a movie. Maybe that’s why I’m not an editor. I can act during a twenty hour shoot without a problem but I think I would start to go crazy sitting in front of a monitor for that amount of time. That’s probably why I’m an actor. I also like the surprise of seeing one of my finished movies for the first time. If I’m editing a movie, the surprise is kind of taken away since I will have looked at every scene a thousand times over and over and over again. Actually I probably wouldn't mind if all the scenes involved looking at ME ME ME over and over again

        Helping with the editing made me better understand the technical side of moviemaking. And learning more about any aspect behind the camera can only serve to make me better in front of it.

        So if I had a hat I would tip it to all the editors out there. And keep in mind that the editors of low budget films are, more often than not, also the writers, directors, producers, caterers, bouncers, guidance counselors etc. So have a drink for these hard working people!

        To see pictures from “No Trespassing 2: No Exit” go to http://www.lightanddark.net/pr110.htm

 

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Diary of a Cattle Call

 

10/22/04

 

        Today I auditioned for the TNT Dramatic Audition held in New York City. This is almost like an American Idol type show but with actors doing monologues. This is considered an open call or “cattle call.” I prefer the term cattle call since the people who attend these modern day inquisitions are treated like cattle. We are corralled into different lines and are forced to wait for a long long long time for a chance at auditioning for a role that is open to a few out of the tens of thousands of people that are trying out. At least cattle are given food.

        I HATE cattle calls with a passion. They are counter-productive and inefficient to the casting process. One reason why cattle calls are held is that the casting directors don’t want to flood their mailboxes with headshots. Another reason is that the movie, play or show gets free publicity from the line that is created. The movie, play or show gets free publicity that is built on the backs of the starving actors who are waiting on long lines in inclement weather. I’ve been approached by a lot of nosey bystanders who ask what the line is about. That is called free publicity and a “buzz” may start. And the actors aren’t even paid to advertise for them. Now that’s the best advertising a company can ask for.

        A good amount of cattle calls I have been to were called off due to the crowds and fire hazards that are made. So after the cattle call is called off, the casting people just collect the actor’s headshot and resume and kick them out. This makes no sense because the headshots and resumes could have been mailed anyway without the actor having to waste his/her time waiting on the freakin’ line.

        I’ve helped run a cattle call too and it’s not that much fun on the other side either. I helped run the cattle call as a favor to a good friend and because I wanted to try to make the experience the least painful for the actors who were there. I tried to talk this good friend out of having one but he still wanted to have one.

        Now I knew that the TNT cattle call would be absolute hell. The breakdown (what the casting directors are looking for) is for all types 21 and up. The grand prize is $50,000, a furnished Los Angeles apartment for a year, transportation, acting classes and a publicist. Not to mention a bunch of publicity and a huge springboard for a career. What this means is that almost EVERYBODY over 21 who is an actor will show up.

        I get at the end of a very long line that wrapped around the Tribeca Grand Hotel. For the next six hours I was subjected to the very cold weather and a bunch of actors. I am not a big fan of the personalities of most actors. A lot of them are self-centered and self absorbed people who always want to be the center of attention. Maybe they didn’t get enough attention as a child, who knows but a lot of them fall under the, “Hey look at ME! Look at ME! Watch ME Mom! Watch ME Dad. ME ME ME ME ME ME ME! It’s all about ME!” If someone did random psychological profiles of actors, the results would probably be downright scary. I should know. I’m an actor. So for most of those six hours I was listening to some very LOUD people who were consciously or unconsciously trying to get attention. From the idiots singing like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera with all the Ohhhhhhhh Owwwwwww Ohwaawawawaawas mixed in to some dickhead doing a monologue imitating Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march on Washington speech. I love the King speech but I don’t need to hear some shmuck reciting it on the sidewalks of 6th Ave. Then these mental midgets started singing and imitating King AT THE SAME TIME. I was in the fifth circle of Hell. Thank the fucking Maker that I had my walkman. I had to turn the volume almost all the way up to drown these wastes out. I also want to thank the Howard Stern Show, Air America Radio, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone for helping me isolate myself from these cretins. These people even TALKED loud. What’s alarming is that what I just typed about personalities of actors probably describes me at certain points in my life. However I do my best to try to have some sense of decorum especially in a professional situation. But if I’m at a bar or with friends and family, I probably fall into what I described above. Hell this probably describes me now. At least I admit it. Damn it!

        On top of all that I saw Nicole Richie…TWICE. She was walking to and from her chauffer driven town car. I’m assuming she was staying at the hotel where the auditions were held. For those of you who don’t know, Nicole Richie is the adopted daughter of Lionel Richie. Her claim to fame is that “reality” show, “The Simple Life,” with another hard working girl Paris Hilton. Now I don’t fault the young lady. I’m sure she’s a nice chick. If I was in her position, I would be doing the exact same thing she is. But the fact that she will NEVER have to do a tenth of what I or anybody else on line has to do to try to make it in this business all because of her wealth and last name basically makes me want to vomit. Her two dogs make more money than I do.

        So after the six hours OUTSIDE I am ushered inside. I had to wait about another two hours until I got to audition but at least I was warm. So for those many hours plus two weeks leading up to the audition I went over the monologue that I chose to recite. I had a chance to choose a monologue that was given to me on TNT’s webpage. I went over this monologue ad nauseum until I had it memorized.

        When I got inside I find out the first round of auditions is to say ONE LINE from a certain movie. I understand this because if everyone on line got to do the one minute monologue I’d be on line until next year. I will find out the ONE LINE when I go into the audition room which makes this a “cold read.” If I make it to the second round I get to say the one minute monologue from the webpage. So I was called in along with twenty four other people to say the ONE LINE in front of two judges. The line I said was, “You make me want to be a better man,” from AS GOOD AS IT GETS. I thought I said it all right. It’s kind of tough to judge someone after just ONE line.

        Anyway after about a half hour after the first round I find out if I made it into the second round. My number wasn’t called. I suck. I knew I should have said the “Show me the money” line.
I’m not that hard on myself for not making it. I would have liked to make it but with the THOUSANDS of people on line and TWO judges deciding your fate to move into the next round after saying ONE LINE of dialogue it was pretty much a crap shoot. I felt a little better after watching people do the one minute monologue on a closed circuit TV. I know I could have done a better job than some of the second round people. Some people were reading right from the script without looking at the camera which is an audition no no. So the almost impossible task of judging after ONE LINE is not without it faults.

        I left the audition like I do all auditions which is think about what I did right and/or wrong for five minutes and then forget it ever happened so I don’t bash my head against the wall agonizing that I should have done this or that. How’s that for a run on sentence?

        I got right on the subway back to Queens and fell asleep until I woke up almost at the end of the subway line. I missed my stupid stop. God Damn It. Luckily this only put me back around 15 minutes. Oh, the stop where I woke up is call Sutphin Blvd which is sounds and is spelled a lot like “Shtuppin.” All of you who know Yiddish know what I mean right? Heh Heh. If you don’t what it means, ask someone. For any women (who I’m not related to) who don’t know what it means give me a call and I’ll show you.

        Anyway now that I’m home I think that I will bash my head against the wall anyway. Hey it’s fun. I will also prepare for my big role tomorrow as a freakin’ costumed character for that great drug company Pfizer. Yippee! Wait I have to type my mantra now:

        I am a college graduate.
        I am a college graduate.
        I am a college graduate.

        This is the life that I have chosen. Ugh. Mom, Dad, send money fast!

        You may ask why I do this to myself. My answer is…because I’m a moron. No, my real answer is because I’m a putz. No, my real real answer is because this is what I want to do and acting is an aspect of life that makes me happy. So why not try and make a career from something that makes me happy? Unfortunately what makes me happy makes a billion other people happy and is a very competitive career to pursue. Oh well.

        I’m not bitter…oh wait yes I am. But I will use my bitterness as my fuel to try to make a living in this stupid business if it’s the last thing I do. If not, there’s always porn.

        Thanks for reading again. I hope you found this informative. Just remember whatever doesn’t kill you only serves to make you…ah whatever.

 

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Diary of a Make Out Scene: An Actor's Perspective from No Trespassing 2

 

10/19/04

 

        I wrapped up acting in a movie within a movie that will appear as an extra feature on the Fairview Falls DVD.

        I played a guy who, along with his girlfriend, breaks into a haunted house attraction.  Little do they know that someone else is in the house.  Oh No!  

        One scene called for a make out scene with a good looking actress.  I'll give you some perspective on what it's like to do a scene like that.  

        I'm not going to lie and say that it was unpleasant and that there was so much technical stuff to remember and I was surrounded by so many lights and crew members that I actually did not enjoy it.  Hey, I'm a guy and making out with a cute chick was definitely an enjoyable experience.  There are however, some technical issues involved.

        I did feel a little apprehensive because I didn't know if the actress felt comfortable doing the scene with me.  If an actress does not want to (but has to) do a make out scene with me I begin to feel uncomfortable because she's uncomfortable.  I'm such a caring guy.

        Here's a tangent: I had a love scene once with a married actress while her husband was outside the room [in Fear of the Dark].  This sounds like a porno movie.  Anyway, the married actress wasn't into doing much of a love scene so shooting the scene wasn't that much fun.  Thanks to some creative editing, the scene turned out fine in the finished movie.  I had heard that the actress from yesterday has a boyfriend.  Uh oh!

        I don't know if the actress from yesterday was comfortable or not since I was too scared to ask her.  I also would have felt very awkward if I did ask her.  Anyway I think she was at least okay with it since we got along fine before and after the scene.  

        Also, there was no tongue involved in the scene.  Glen mentioned this to me and I was not surprised since a lot of kissing scenes usually don't involve any tongue usage anyway.  If a tongue does slip in and the parties involved don't care, hey, why not keep the scene going?  However I am a professional (I AM!) so if Glen says there's no tongue then by God there will be no tongue.

        Here's the technical aspect involved.  During the making out, the girl notices something outside the window and pulls away to show the guy what's outside.  So the directions were to first kiss for five seconds.  After five seconds the guy would proceed to move down to the girl's neck.  Yes I typed "neck" you perverts!  The girl would then turn her head and look out the window, interrupt the guy kissing her neck and start the dialogue.  So there were some actions, cues and lines to remember.  At the same time we have to make the kiss seem passionate.  So I can understand how remembering all those cues could take some of the fun out of the scene...SOME of the fun (for me anyway).

        To make sure that the kiss looked passionate on camera I opened my mouth wider than I normally would.  Sometimes motions do have to be exaggerated for the camera to pick it up.  I had hoped I didn't exaggerate too much but after seeing the footage Glen said it looked good.

        After about 165 takes--Glen owed me a favor (just kidding, it was less than ten takes and Glen's a professional too) the scene was over and we moved on to prepare for the next scene.  I guess that's the moral of this long and drawn out story.  After a scene is finished, move on to the next one.  Maybe not. I don't know.  I've barely had any sleep and I still have to spell check this monstrosity.

        I hope this gave you a cool behind the scenes look at a make out scene.  If it didn't...well reading is good for you.  You should read more often.

 

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Glen Baisley

 

5/02/04


        Glen puts his every fabric of his being into everything that revolves around his films. He is absolutely dedicated to making sure as many people as possible see his work (and the work of his actors and crew). He will work himself past the brink of exhaustion to ensure that his art is the best it can possibly be. At the same time he is a husband and a father. He is truly a machine.

        If you, my dear reader, have the great opportunity to work on a Light and Dark film, you will be comforted with the fact that the film WILL get publicity and exposure. I know this by the MANY MANY articles and reviews that have appeared after The Tenement's release. My career has benefited greatly from this exposure. There have also been many people who have moved on to great success due to their work with Glen.

        Glen is always evolving as a filmmaker. Each new film marks a progression and an improvement over his last. He hasn't even begun to reach his full potential.

        I know there are many filmmakers on this board who share the same characteristics as Glen.  As an actor I feel extremely fortunate to be in this type of company.

        Making movies IS Glen's life. Without his films, Glen would have an irreparable hole in his existence. Movies are his oxygen. He doesn't make movies because he wants to, he makes movies because he HAS to.

        I hope this post gives justice to a truly great filmmaker and friend.

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