K.L.'s Bog: A Diary of Artful Things

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Sun Jan 4, 2004

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MUSIC VIDEO:

Reshot the lip-sync performances for the music video. One version has me in all black, in front of a black backdrop, with floor lighting. The second has me in all white, with a white backdrop and a lot of lighting. A third has me sitting at a table, wearing phones hooked into the multi-track machine, singing the song. Also shot the four-track player -- footage of the LED volume pulsing the rhythm of the song.

Earlier today I arranged to borrow a mike and mike stand from my friend Lou Lala to shoot yet another version of the lip-sync. That will be done probably next weekend.



Wed Jan 07, 2004

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MONITORING A CLASS:

Sat in on the first session of the video production class. It was the usual first day of class orientation stuff. Did come to understand that the class students won't be shooting video for a few weeks, so I will have a good chance to use a mini-DV camera in the next couple weeks without causing problems for the students.


MY OWN DV CAMERA:

Thinking about dropping into a pawn shop to get a cheap DV camera in the short term until I go after the big toy in the spring. Would use the cheap one for my own little training games. I'm not going to have unfettered access to a campus DV camera for much longer.


ABOUT MY "JOB":

Want to clarify the statement in the Oct 19, 03 entry about the value of my employment. That my job has no value to my life, save for paying the bills, is really narrowly focused on my position and not on the fact that I work on a university campus. I do recognize the direct benefit to my spirit and the true essence of my identity of being in the vibe of a place of higher education. Also, my status as a staff member makes the chance to sit in on the video production class and also allows access to other resources. It's my job that is the problem -- it's the mundane eight hours at the less-than- creatively challenging chores. It's not completely intellectually numb, but, only in some very rare cases are my true talents ever brought to bear; very rare cases. Besides, showing up at a certain time, working for eight hours, then leaving for the day at a set time -- goes back to the point that I really am not wired well to be an "office worker," yet, I have allowed myself to pretend to be one for almost one-forth of my life.


SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?:

Also, a bit of catch-up, or an addendum, if you will: another decision I made on October 19, 2003, was that I need to move to a cheaper place. I love my current location, though it's still a bit too urban for me; and I live in a village. But I'm ten minutes away from several great wilderness parks and close to some great bike trails and pretty much surrounded by farm land. But, I probably need to shave $100 or more off my monthly rent as I start financing the movie (it won't hurt on the loan for the camera, for one thing). I am paying a bit of a premium where I am now. I'm looking in the same area; I don't want to move out of these surroundings. I've only found one possibility, but there seem more cons than pros. My lease is up at the end of February, and I've lived in my apartment long enough that it'll be some real work to move. So, the move may not happen -- there is a big part of me that doesn't want it, despite that it seems logical it should happen, just for sake of the extra cash flow, if nothing else.



Fri Jan 9, 2004

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DEVELOPMENT MODE AS A, AH-HEM, "MOVIE PRODUCER":

Yesterday, at the Student Union gym, I asked the assistant director of the campus recreation facilities, Andy Corbett, if it's possible for me to shoot in the fitness center on a Sunday next summer -- the center is closed on Sundays in the summer. He said that was not a problem at all. We didn't discuss if there is a rental fee. I'm not sure I'll even have a scene in a gym; but, if I have easy access to a location and can fit it into the script in a logical manner -- in the "producer" role I ought to take advantage. A gym scene would likely need to have some amount of extras, and I am not sure about using a lot of extras; at the moment a small cast in total seems like the best idea.

I still don't have a finished first draft of the movie treatment. I plan to spend some time, staring at my lap top tomorrow morning, in hopes of getting a lot more than the short, vague bit of copy I have right now, which was written early morning, Dec 24. I haven't ignored it since, then; I have been mindful of it. Nothing has hit me though I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for some germ of an idea or situation that looks ripe for development. But I need to sit down and brain storm with my fingers pressing letter keys.


MUSIC VIDEO:

Picked up a mike stand from Lou to shoot a lip-sync for the music video. Realized I don't need a good mike, since it won't be live anyway. So I'll use the broken one I have at the apartment. But I need a mike stand.



Sun Jan 11, 2004

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MUSIC VIDEO:

Today, I shot a lot of footage, long, medium and close-up shots, lip-syncing with the mike and also several different shots of me at the multi-track machine. Also shot silhouette on the wall of me lip-syncing at the boom mike.

Should be picking up a copy of FinalCut Express Monday or Tuesday at the Mac Depot. Owner will call me when the new shipment comes in.


MOVIE DEVELOPMENT (PRE-PRODUCTION):

On Saturday I stopped by the house where Cindy lived when we were in high school. The family does not live there now.



Wed Jan 14, 2004

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FEEDBACK -- NOT THE AUDIO SORT:

George Frey looked at a copy of the short-short, Muse. His feedback was that it's five times too long -- IE: the seven minutes should be edited down to one and a half. Haven't had a chance to get specifics from him, but, hope to be able to sit down sometime soon and see what he has to say in particular. He say it ought to be re-edited from the beginning. Of course, the movie is new enough that I haven't let go of that little darling affection for it; but, I'm trying hard not to clamp my mind shut. Still think seven minutes down to ninety seconds is overkill -- at least at the moment I do.


AND...:

No call yet from the Mac Depot people, so I guess the supply of FinalCut Express isn't in.



Mon, Jan 19, 2004

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AUDITIONING FOR A PLAY AND SHOOTING A MUSIC VIDEO:

MID-MORNING

Auditions for The Cripple of Inishmaan are tonight and tomorrow night at the Dayton Theatre Guild. I'm auditioning today. First, since I have the day off from the paycheck job, I can spend some good portion of the day with the script, preparing myself. Besides that, I won't go into it with all the aggravations and stresses from the office, as I would tomorrow. I still won't have the lines memorized but I'll be warm to them which will make it easier for me. I am anxious as it is.

Have shot more footage for the music video this weekend. Shot several different angles of myself in a chair, lip-syncing the song. Have been trying for a few weeks to get exteriors of myself on a bridge at John Bryan State Park, but the weather has been less than cooperative. Got one exterior of myself yesterday at the pond at Yellow Springs Park -- it's a wide shot of me from across the pond.

Was up pre-dawn this morning to try and get that bridge footage. My vision was a good shot of me in silhouette in front of the morning sun. But, it was overcast and it also began to lightly snow. I had a plastic bag for the DV camera, so I decided not to scrap production this morning. It was still dark when I got to the park and, flash light in hand, I couldn't find the right trail to get me to the bridge. Amazing how different the forest looks in the dark. Got back to the car, relocated to an area I know is closer to the bridge. Was able to get to it just after daybreak. Didn't get the shot I had envisioned, but still got nice footage. The shots have that grayish pallor of early winter mornings and it will suit my purposes just fine. I'm thinking I'm finished shooting tape but between now and next weekend I may have conceived some final shots to get. Need to nip it soon though; I have an hour and a half of footage, already, for a four-minute video.

I also must say, that walk in the winter forest along the river was a beautiful way to start the day when I audition for the first time in more than twenty-five years. The river was still flowing yet there were long icicles hanging from cliff edges off the gorge, and the slight white powdered snow had just fallen into a blanket. The air was crisp and the thick, deep gurgling mantra of the river was spellbounding. There were no other sounds but the rushing river, my crunching foot steps and the occasional goose or crow (and once, I'm pretty sure, the cracking panic of a deer as it snapped fallen branches in its flee).

Walked around in that, doing the work of an artist -- I am centered. This is a good day to audition for a play.

LATE EVENING

Went over the doctor's scenes all afternoon. Didn't exactly perfect my reading but I did improve it greatly. Still, I left for the audition with that little pang of doubt.

The audition did go well, but, of course, the director, Greg Smith, had me read lines for another character. Fortunately, it was one of the doctor's scenes so I was familiar with the lines. I delivered them pretty well. Since he knew I was trying out for the doctor he had me read the same scene again as the doctor, and I did it better than ever. Seems like he wants as many actors as possible back tomorrow night for the second audition, so, I'm going back. I wouldn't mind the other role (in fact it's a bit bigger), except that several other actors read more than once for that part tonight. Also, I have the germination of the doctor's character and personality stewing in me now, so I really want to go back and nail it so I am cast as him.



Tue, Jan 20, 2004

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SECOND NIGHT OF AUDITIONS:

So, I went to the second audition for the play tonight, and at the moment I think it was a mistake. To be kind to myself I'll say that I wasn't on my game tonight. Last night I read well, very well. Tonight I was mediocre at best. Greg had me read for that other role (which, by the way, is Johnnypateenmike, the island gossip). I wasn't as familiar with that scene, though I have read the whole play. I read badly. Worse, I asked to read the second doctor's scene and was lackluster at it -- last night I nailed the doctor; tonight, not so much. Greg switched me out with another actor right before we got to that part of the scene I was most interested in reading. That's probably just as well. Greg assured me, and I think honestly, that I read well. I told him point-blank that I thought I sucked tonight and to just remember last night's audition and forget about my reading tonight.

Felt like yelling in frustration on the drive home.

Well, I wasn't assuming I was a lock last night, but, now I feel much less secure about being cast. I'll know sometime tomorrow.



Wed Jan 21, 2004

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WELL I'LL BE DAMNED.....

Much to my amazement, I didn't kill my chances last night of being cast. The director contacted me today to offer the role of Johnnypateenmike -- which surprised me a tad. I read Johnnypateen well enough Monday, but, last night I was god-awful. I still think my best reading was the Monday night scene as the doctor, but, as I said above, the Johnnypateenmike role is a good one, and even a bit larger than the doctor. He's also going to be far more fun to play; he's an animated buffoon, which will allow me to go a bit over the top -- which is always a gas. The table read, and the first of a few dialect coaching sessions, is this Saturday morning (though, if I do say so meself, I'm already moore th'n halfway to a decent Irish brogue).


ON ANOTHER NOTE:

My copy of FinalCut Express has finally come in. Was going to wait until tomorrow to pick it up, but, George Frey was sick today; he cancelled his video production class, so, I was free right after work. So, I am off now, to install some movie makin' software.



Sat Jan 24, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Thursday I left my copy of the play on my desk at work, so I only had last night to go over Johnnypateen's lines in prep for the read-through this morning. That Irish syntax and the run-on sentences both make getting to a natural delivery a challenge. In Fact, Johnnypateen has a little monologue in scene one that is a bear. I had to retype it, breaking the paragraph into separate lines of sentences or sentence fragments, just so I can start getting a handle on a logical way to get the words out. Practiced all Johnny's lines a for a couple hours, and really went after that monologue.

I suppose I can say I did all right in the table read this morning, but, Johnnypateenmike isn't alive yet.

Dialect coach Rocco Dal Vera worked with the cast after the read-through. We're going with the thicker (if you will), more specific brogue of the Inishmaan area. There are a lot of vowel shifts that are more drastic than on the dialect tape I've been working with for the last few weeks. There are also a few consonants in certain words that are dropped or changed. I have a concern that the mid-western American audience we will be performing for will have trouble understanding some of these altered consonant sounds, but Rocco says they will adjust their ears. We have another session with Rocco tomorrow. My homework tonight is to practice some of the dialect exercises -- in fact, that will be intensive homework for the next week, and will continue to be homework, to one extent or another, for the duration of the rehearsal period.


MOVIE BOY:

On another subject, I have only done some preliminary playing on my FinalCut software. But I do want to start the edit on the music video as soon as I have time to spare from early play prep. And, of course, I am still trying to wrap production on the two virtual chapbooks of poetry for the web site.



Mon, Feb 2, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

No rehearsals for the play until tonight. Spent all of last week working mostly on getting the Irish dialect down. Listened to tapes endlessly and even typed all of my lines phonetically (actually, just the process of typing them helped to greatly imbed the dialect).

Tonight I went through a blocking rehearsal for the first time since the spring of 1977. I was a little rough on the edges but I think it'll come back quick. One of the other actors has been doing a certain amount of film work in Ohio. She's just finished a regional commercial. Asked her how she's been getting film work; she has an agent in Dayton and Cincinnati. I will be talking to her further about it.

Back on the play, proper: I had decided to take the voice up in pitch and play my character in his sixties as the play book puts him. Greg wants my voice in my chest and for me to play Johnny in his forties. So I am now redesigning my interpretation -- not that I had a solid one, already.



Tue, Feb 3, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Blocking went a smidgen better tonight, though Greg did point out that I was meandering a bit. I mostly stopped it after he pointed it out, and finally halted it altogether. I think some of that has to do with the fact that I don't have Johnnypateen's mannerisms down, since I don't have him down, yet. Greg has given me one good bit of business, Johnny will rock on his heels a lot.

I am being too impatient about the process of getting to Johnny and him coming to me. I want him alive right now. I did not like my reading tonight. I suppose it was okay for so early in rehearsal, but I am dissatisfied. I want to know him, now, so his words are real, now. I am remembering more and more that it is a process getting to the character; I also am remembering that I've always gotten to the character much later than I like. The process, of course, is what will win the game -- it is in control. I'll use the energy of my impatience to perfect Johnny; I have no intentions of being anything less than excellent in this role.



Wed Feb 4, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

The cast is supposed to be off-book by the twentieth; I intend to be pretty damn close to off-book this coming Monday, the ninth. My reason is simple, I need to be able to concentrate more on who Johnny is rather than stumbling over half-learned lines. This week, with blocking, book in hand, I am just too damn distracted. I may have the book in my hand next week, but, I want it to only be a reference tool.

This weekend is all about getting Johnny's words and personality down in a substantial way. Of course, tomorrow night and Friday night, as we finish the blocking, Johnny will amble himself closer to me. But, this weekend, I grab him by the neck and pull him much closer.



Thu Feb 5, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Rehearsal has been cancelled for tonight, due in part to impending nasty weather. I'll use tonight to get a jump on the line-work I have planned for the weekend.



Sun Feb 8, 2004

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THISIS & THATS:

After rehearsal Friday night, I stopped by a coffee shop I used to frequent in East Dayton, and ran into a friend, Steve Devol, who is now involved in a group of production artists though Dayton Access Television (DATV). He has offered me a chance to be involved. Of course, at the close moment I can't be. But, when the play is done, it seems to me this is a smart move to take. Steve also has expressed interest in helping with production of the movie (and you know, I can't be principal talent in the movie and a major camera operator; though there are many other roles, including A.D. to fill). Steve even talked about accompanying me to Sundance 2005. Hey, I'm game. He also pointed out that I probably ought not wait too long to book a hotel. Isn't that an interesting affirmation of the commitment?: book a room in conjunction with the contest for a movie I haven't even written yet. Hmmmm.

Yesterday I finished off production of Edward Jason Maxwell's chapbook for the site and have spent a few hours working on the site today.

It's 2:00 -- the rest of my day is dedicated to getting Johnny's lines down. Though I suppose some food ought to enter into the picture at some point. Yeah, I'm one of those people who forgets to eat when I'm occupied.



Wed Feb 11, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Well, Johnnypateen's coming along to a certain extent -- but I still ain't got 'em. I think he may actually be alive a week from now. Greg's given me some great direction on him. Between his vision and mine----



Sat Feb 14, 2004
modified Feb 18

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Toward the end of this last rehearsal week I had a rather awkward experience. And here's where I censor myself by editing what was originally here so I don't needlessly hurt someone's feelings over something that isn't as big a deal as the original entry made it out to be. Still the incident in question brought me to this: that the bottom line is that the ownership of the performance must belong to me. I should take the director's vision and collaborate with that, build on that to breathe life into Johnnypateen with my breath. If I don't own Johnnypateen, then he will not live. The best I could do in that circumstance is "act" -- I don't want to be an actor on stage doing Johnnypateen; I want to be Johnnypateen. That won't happen if I allow the process, that I'm getting back in the groove with, to be interfered with. And, if I can't have the ownership of him, then there will be no joy or satisfaction in even doing this -- so why would I want to?

Moving on about the play, I spent most of today working on lines; it's memorizing, and the whole working to blow that breath in Johnny. It's coming along quite well. And I'm not done for the day. It's a little after 10:00 pm as I key this in. I'll going for a couple more hours tonight, then all day tomorrow. No TV, no radio, no CD's, no videos. Just me and the script and Johnny Pateen Mike O'Dougal. And, of course, those pesky meals that I guess must enter into the day at some point.


ON THE MOVIE FRONT:

There are a couple alterations needed. First is that it seems pretty obvious that I will not be able to go to Sundance 2005. It's just going to be too expensive. The entry fee for the movie won't be the problem; it's the expenses to be there. It'll be several grand and I am not going to have the money by January of 2005. I am now looking at the Ohio Independent Film Festival. I've contacted them and they want a final cut by mid-August. That means I really ought not wait until mid-June into July to shoot. That would give me only a month, or less, for post production, and that is not going to work, unless I didn't have to go to the ol' paycheck job eight hours every day. I'll eat up a lot of vacation time during principal production (and maybe some pre-production), plus I'll need some for the festival in November. So, I need to cut the thing in the evenings and on weekends -- and thus need more than three to four weeks. So now I'm looking to late-May to start shooting. No pressure though -- just because I have no script, no locations, no crew (though a few tentative volunteers) no cast, no camera, no other production equipment to speak of.



Tue, Feb 17, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Johnnypateen's coming along much more, but, he isn't fully alive yet. I was virtually off-book last night and that helped. Greg has me playing Johnny a lot bigger, in some instances, than my instincts tell me -- but, it's his show. I think playing Johnny bigger when he's in "orator mode" is a great idea. I haven't gotten him there just yet. There are a couple places where I think Johnny ought to be much farther down than what it seems Greg wants. I think it gives him more nuance. For instance there is a place toward the end of the play where I think Johnny ought to be a little more tender and intimate than it seems I am to play him. But, like I said, Greg's the director.

As for things I clearly need to work on: don't have a walk for Johnny yet, and since Greg has decided to go ahead and have Johnny be in his sixties rather than in his forties. Which is fine with me, I think I'll do better playing him sixty-something. I also don't seem to have my blocking smooth yet. I know where to go but it looks like I'm going where my blocking says to -- IE: it isn't looking natural. Twenty-seven years is such a long time.

As I've said before, we are off-book this Friday. I spent the weekend on about first half of my work. No rehearsal tonight. I've taken the afternoon off from work and will spend the rest of my day working the rest of the play, plus a little refresher on the first part. Probably will take part or all of Friday off from work, too. And may try to get off an hour or two early tomorrow and Thursday.


IN A RELATED NOTE:

Steve Devol wants to shoot a short-short documentary about the play for Dayton Access Television (DATV). I've forwarded his request to Greg.



Wed Feb 18, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Well, Greg seems to think Johnny has pretty much arrived, in terms of character. I'm not as sure. I think I have a little ways left.

Still have the natural movement problem. I just don't know exactly his body and movements, and I'm still scraping a lot of rust of my stage presence; in other words, the blocking looking like blocking and how I am subconsciously keeping myself in unnatural stances.

One little change, we only have to be off-book on Act One this Friday. We have the weekend to get Act Two down. Which means I don't have to take as much time off from the pay-check job.



Sat Feb 21, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Took the day off yesterday from the paycheck job to work on the lines and my movement in Act One for the Friday rehearsal. I must say the run of Act One went pretty well last night, all around, though we stopped before we got to the last scenes of the act. I was mostly pleased with my acting. I did stumble over some lines in the first scene and I know I dropped some lines in another scene. And in the three scenes I was in I was more in character for the last two, and my timing was better in them, too. One good thing concerns a bit by Barb Jorgensen, the actress who plays my mother, Mammy O'Dougal. Mammy's a ninety-year-old drunk and there's a scene we're in together where she's singing "Danny Boy" in the background while I and Jim Lockwood (Dr. McSharry) are verbally jousting. It's absolutely hilarious. The other night when the bit was introduced I couldn't make it twenty seconds without cracking up. I'm proud to announce that I kept my head Friday night, stayed in character and made it through. But, it was difficult.

Rocco Dal Vera was there to listen to our accents and give us notes. It's amazing how much we've lost from the coaching a few weeks back. Of course, we also lost some accent work we're usually up on, simply because we were completely off-book for the first time.

Overall, I'd say we are all coming along and I am starting to be closer to pleased with my Johnnypateen.



Thu Feb 26, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Tonight will be the first run through of the whole show, and the last night the cast may call for lines. I pretty much have my lines, so I'm not worried. I do have some fine tuning to do, but, I know my character's intent enough that I can paraphrase if it comes to that. I want to avoid paraphrasing, though; as Dodie Lockwood (who plays Aunt Eileen Osbourne) pointed out, we'd be more apt to use American idiom and syntax, rather than those appropriate to Inishmaan. I also need to be sharper on knowing some cues for my lines. I occasionally step on some lines by others -- I keep not letting them get that last sentence out. Or, I start to talk, realize they aren't done yet, and stop to wait for the other actors to finish; it gives my performance that look of anticipation, which looks bad. I also have a couple lines that I keep dropping, for some reason, and there are a couple words I keep getting wrong. Usually it's a synonym that comes out, which makes this a smaller problem, but, it's still something I want to eradicate. One that isn't a synonym and which bugs me a lot: I occasionally refer to the "London" rather than the "Dublin" stage. Did it the other night and it irritated me so much that I dropped the next line in the dialogue -- I also broke character for an instant. I'm trying hard to stay in character at this point. Seem to mostly be getting better at this, but, I flubbed a line last night and lost character. My goal is to not break character from this point forward.

One thing I know without a question: my craft is lagging behind my talent. I suppose that's better than the other way around. Still, it's the major issue on the table before me. I need to keep careful of where my eyes point -- this is a practice I had down before my twenty-seven-year break; now I have to regain that level of skilled stage presence. I'm also apparently into some hand gestures that seem to be redundant to the point of distraction. Greg wasn't there last night, but, I did try to be conscious of this problem, which he pointed out. So I need to sharpen my skills back to where they were. In all fairness, I have been. And I know by next Friday night, March 5, I'll have it all worked out. But I do want to get back to the level of skill and craft I once was at, so I can move on from there.

*March 5 is opening night! Is that cool or what?


AUDITION FOR SHORT MOVIE:

I'll likely be auditioning for a small role in a local indy film -- just one scene at the beginning of the film. Looks like the audition will be Saturday morning or afternoon on March 6, the day after Opening night. Haven't finalized with the producer/director, yet, but the audition seems likely. Since it's only one scene in a movie with principal photography in late March or April, it's not going to interfere with my own movie's pre-production at all, or at the very least to such a small amount that it won't be a problem.



Fri Feb 27, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Here's a quote from me on the highway on the drive home after rehearsal last night. Hear a tenor vocalist in a power rock band as you read the quote:

    "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!"

To elaborate, last night's rehearsal was awful. It was the worst night for me for just a host of reasons. My ego, my pride -- my sense of pride, forchristsake -- all took major punches. Let's start with how I mangled scene one. I flubbed and forgot lines I'd never gotten wrong before. I missed cues, too. It all angered me to no end!

It's also clear that I'm still not moving right on stage. Which threw me a little when Greg pointed it out. I thought I was doing better. Clearly I was wrong, and that frustrates me, too. Greg had me completely ignore the regular blocking in another scene, done on the same set as scene one. He wanted me to actually rev up the impromptu movements more than I did, but, I felt too awkward about it. That awkwardness disturbs me a little; I should have been able to be freer, despite that I really don't buy that the exercise will help, least not directly. If it is of benefit it'll only be because it helped drive home that I don't have the natural movement down yet. But, honestly, a conversation we had later was more effective and would have been just as effective to drive the point home without the bit earlier.

I also still anticipated things on stage last night, but, despite that Greg apparently sees it differently, based on our conversation, I'm sure I have improved on that score. What is disheartening to me is that he's pulled back on his position that he's happy with my character development. I have been somewhat dissatisfied with Johnny, myself, but, really have felt I've been improving in good measure as we move on. When Greg changed his feedback about my success at getting the character, I have to say, I felt quite discouraged by that. It's as if I'd been thinking I was coming along very well with character development, and all of sudden, I'm told, "No, you're not."

I was already incredibly mad at myself, right after scene one was over. I felt like bolting -- something I would not have honestly entertained, yet, the flight feeling was there and real, and there's no sense pretending I didn't feel it. By the end of the night, after all the further developments I was in a pretty dumb, morose, self-pitying, major-flight-risk place.

I really felt like quitting, surrendering. I don't just mean that I felt like quitting the play, I mean I felt like chucking this whole damn little scenario. Screw the play! Screw the movie project! Screw this asinine idea about acting! Of course, I have no intentions of quitting any of this. I owe myself more than that. And I certainly owe all involved with the play more than to be such a coward. Sure, I've no doubt whatsoever that I am nothing close to indispensable in this play -- especially considering that I haven't arrived yet as even the actor I used to be. Still, it'd be pretty crappy, terribly irresponsible, inexcusably disrespectful of all the cast and crew, and a betrayal of them and myself if I were to bail. And I sure as hell am not walking away from the whole concept of my return to acting.

As I've said in one form or another before, my intent was to ease back into acting. I wanted to wade into the shallow end with a smaller, less demanding role. But Johnny Pateen Mike O'Dougal has me treading water in the deep end, with legs and arms that are out of shape (apparently both poetically and in a more literal manner). So this role is, to use another well-worn metaphor, baptism by fire. It's as if God said, through Greg, Okay. You want to act, then, act. Make it real and do it big, else don't bother with it. Johnny is a big, ol', hairy-ass challenge for me. He's a reality check. He's showing me, in no uncertain terms, how much skill and craft I have to regain, and, more importantly how much skill and craft I have yet to ever get to. Right now I meeting heavy duty obstacles to overcome. They've shaken my confidence some, but, I think more emotionally than intellectually. I just have to suck this all up and get on with it. This is classroom time and I have to take the value of the lesson for getting better. I want to be an excellent actor. I know I can be. I was on the verge once before in my life; I refuse to believe I can't get back there, and then get on to arriving at "excellent." It does look like it ain't going to be as quick as I want, though.

I'm also wondering if some of what's going on with the play has to do with some communication problems between me and Greg. Maybe I don't always get the direction. I say this because I have taken things the direction I thought he wanted me to go (Johnny's story-telling mode, as an example), only to have him later indicate I'm not giving him what he wants. The thing about that is that it seems he's now telling me to head down the road I was originally going down. I'm not sure if I misunderstood the changes he wanted, or if he's revised his vision, or if it's something else.

He seemed to coach most of the cast, in a general talk at the end of the night, last night, by saying things which suggested to me I should go back to the portrayal I originally had in mind, or something close to it. So, tonight I am going back to that. Like I said just above, it may have pretty much been where he wanted me to be all the time, and I just didn't get the signal right.

I also think some of the movement problem has to do with the fact that I was under the impression that in some places Greg may have wanted something more deliberate from Johnny than perhaps he really did. I think it's probably only a small part of it, even though my ego wants it to be a big part of it.

I have a week to get this right. Obviously, both Greg and I think I'm behind schedule. I am bound and determined not to be a half-rate, amateur moron in front of the people who came to see actors take them to a story.


INDY MOVIE AUDITION:

As for the small role in the indy movie, I've scheduled an audition for mid-afternoon, a week from tomorrow. Set it up after I got home last night, despite how close to believing this whole acting deal was a big joke I was playing on myself. I guess that's the climb over the hurdles part.



Sat Feb 28, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Last night's rehearsal was pretty damn good. I went with the Zen approach (I guess that's a fair word to use) that I more-or-less outlined in yesterday's entry. The decision to go ahead and go with my instincts with addition of letting go of whether it would work or not, did the trick. There were still a few places where I either did anticipate my lines or looked as if I did, but I will change that.

I am much happier with the character now that I am going down the road I wanted to. Clearly the changes Greg wanted were, as I had began to think, not as I had originally interpreted. He did not seem to object at all to what I did last night. Not that I got high praise. "Much better," I think was the exact quote during notes.

Oh, and by-the-way, I stand behind the assertion that the little impromptu blocking exercise from Thursday night gets extremely collateral credit at the absolute most for what happened last night -- and I believe I am being far, far more than generous in that assertion.



Sun Feb 29, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Today was the cue-to-cue tech run, then a full run of the play. Weird thing is that Greg was pretty-well pleased with the run, including me. He did have a couple notes for me, but, I was far less pleased my own self. Especially with the first act. My timing was off. I have sore throat today, too. When I got up this morning I could barely talk. I went over my lines at home very quietly. Got a tickle in my throat during my second scene that just got more and more irritating. Eventually I lost a word in a line because the tickle just got too intense, and I coughed. Then I broke character for a moment, when I said, quietly, but, still in my own south-west Ohio accent, "Excuse me."

The whole cast and crew went out after for pizza. Bonding, bonding, bonding.

I still have a few things to adjust in my character, but, maybe this is going to work out.



Wed Mar 3, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Monday and Tuesday rehearsals went reasonably well. One scene, that I'm not in, imploded Monday night. Both actors usually have done the scene great -- it was just that thing that happens. I suppose I was all right. Again, others seem to think I'm doing better than I do. I played with my blocking a little in scene one and got something I'm much happier with. Did it the same on Tuesday and I think it works better. We also had an actor missing last night. Greg had to do his part, so, with Greg needing to follow in the book, etc, some timing got understandably thrown.

Overall the play seems to be shaping up nicely, though.

Tonight and tomorrow night are the two final dress rehearsals. I have invited a number of people to attend either (or both I suppose). Sort of urged them to buy a ticket for an official performance, too, though they aren't obligated. But, the cast still gets a service from having audience members before opening night -- so I wouldn't discourage attendance tonight or tomorrow night, regardless. In fact, if you're reading this and you live close to Dayton, the rehearsals are tonight and tomorrow, with curtain at 7:00 pm. The Dayton Theatre Guild is at 2330 Salem Ave. One block east of Good Samaritan Hospital, on the other side of the street. There is an iron gate into the parking lot. And, I know you'll be so dazzled by our brilliant performances, that you'll buy tickets for the actual run!



Thu Mar 4, 2004

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Tomorrow is opening night!!....

....and I am surprisingly calm about it. But, then, as I write this entry, the opening curtain is more than thirty hours away. We'll see how I'm doing tomorrow afternoon.

Last night's full dress went pretty well. John Spitler, the actor who was out sick Tuesday night was most exceptional last night, under the circumstances. He was still pretty sick and yet, he was up and very much on top of his lines despite having missed a rehearsal. I was damned impressed. An effort had been made by many in the cast to get guests there, but, there were none. I know of only one person I've invited who plans to be there tonight.

By the way, I hadn't thought to do this yet -- for some unknown reason -- but here is the cast of our production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, in order of appearance:

    Barbara Coriell       Kate Osbourne
    Dodie Lockwood       Eileen Osbourne
    K.L.Storer ???       Johnny Pateen Mike O'Dougal
    Matthew W. Smith       Crippled Billy Claven
    Craig Roberts       Bartley McCormick
    Natasha Randall       Helen McCormick
    John Spitler       Babby Bobby Bennett
    James Lockwood       Doctor McSharry
    Barbara Jorgensen       Mammy O'Dougal
    Greg Smith       Director
    Jocelyn Kandl       Assistant Director

There are pictures, from a rehearsal earlier in the week, at The Guild site: www.daytontheatreguild.org/current.htm. There's also a link to cast bios on that page. There are more pictures, and I am seeking permission to post them here. I took some at a very early rehearsal and may post some of them, too.



Fri Mar 5, 2004

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TONIGHT IS OPENING CURTAIN!

It's about 11:30 as I write this (on lunch at work). I still am not nervous, apprehensive, etcetera. Afternoon's not come and gone yet either. Last I heard there were between sixty and seventy seats reserved for tonight, for about three-quarters of capacity. Tomorrow's show is sold out. A friend from work and her husband will be there tomorrow. I am not aware of anyone I know who will be there tonight. Most folks I know -- who are coming in support of me -- are coming later in the run, especially March 13 and 20.

Only two guests at the last dress rehearsal last night. I knew neither of them. Overall the rehearsal went pretty well; very well in some places. There were a few critical cues not jumped as they should've been, especially in a scene that has to have a fast pace to it if it's to work right. But, I remember Chuck Scott telling me a long, long time ago: "That's what rehearsal is for." I thought I had blown an entrance but it turns out that someone on stage dropped a line. That line is in between two virtually exact lines by the other actor on stage. With the middle line absent, I somehow thought I'd missed it and the second actor was repeating my entrance line. This is the kind of error the audience isn't going to even know happened -- so, except for our own pride in presenting the play as it was written, it's not even a little deal.

There were no notes from Greg or Jocelyn Wednesday or last night, in fact, Greg had to leave shortly after the rehearsal started Wednesday. Greg, as director, is in the letting go process, which any stage director likely needs to do else he or she would go nuts. I remember how William Peterson, while on Charlie Rose, said that the theater is the actor's medium, because once curtain is up, what happens then belongs to the actor. That's obviously not a great new revelation, but, I think it explains where Greg is at. After the rehearsal last night he did share what might be considered informal notes to a couple people, but, that was really it. As for notes -- well, you best believe we each gave ourselves notes. I can guarantee you I gave my own self notes. I will continue to do so after each performance, too, except maybe the last one. Nah! Probably the last one, too.

I have permission to use any of the photos of the show at WriteGallery. So, look for them soon. I have my own, as I said, from a few weeks back, and I took more last night. I may try to squeeze a few more out, too.

I still am on for the audition tomorrow for the small role in the local movie. That happens in the afternoon, then, show number two of The Cripple of Inishmaan in the evening.

Jeez. I'm starting to feel like an actor or something.



Sat Mar 6, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Well, opening night went pretty damned well! There were about sixty-five people there and they were a good audience, ready to laugh rather than challenging us to make them laugh. Johnny Pateen didn't get a lot of laughs and certainly with a few lines I thought were sure to get laughs. I was concerned all night that the audience wasn't believing me, that my performance was terminally flawed. Got nice response during the reception, however, so it may be that he's coming off as such a cad that he doesn't get the laughs -- I'm not sure. I did stumble over a few words, which does interfere with the audience's suspension of disbelief. They were words I never have stumbled over before -- guess it was opening nights jitters, except that I really didn't feel any jitters. I guess it was more a mental thing, an overcompensation on concentration. But the audience did love the play and at least one person found it hard to believe I hadn't acted on stage for twenty-seven years -- which, is a nice complement.

A few mishaps for me. I have a scene with John Spitler (Babby Bobby) where Bobby is sewing his curragh (a canvas and hide covered boat). At one point my hand intersected with his hand while he pulled up on a stitch. The needle pricked my hand just a little. The audience couldn't help but see that one. But, we both stayed in character, even though there were a couple gasps from the audience. Actually I think I may have broken character for a split second or so. Later, during a conflict he grabs me at the throat, by my scarf and I am to grab his hands in defense. Well for some reason he had the needle in his hand -- he told me later he did know for the life of him why he'd picked it back up. That time the needle put a little gouge in my finger. My next scene comes up so quick I couldn't attend to the wound. I spent that next scene with my thumb pressed up against the bleeding wound. I don't think the audience was aware at all of the second needle incident. Natasha Randall (Helen McCormick) also grabs my hat in another scene and then tosses it down in front of me. Helen tossed it too damn far and, as the scene takes place mostly in the dark, I had to let it go and do the rest of the scene without it.

But, overall it was a good opening night. And despite some flaws in my performance I was mostly satisfied.

I haven't been mentioning it but I have that sore throat all week and though I had it last night, too, it's on the mend and was not much of a factor, though I think it interfered with my voice projection in a few places.

I have the audition for the small role in the local movie this afternoon. It'll be a cold reading, the first I've ever done, so that'll be interesting. I'll spend my time between now and then getting into the proper character, even if I don't know any lines. The director did give me an overview of who the character is.

Stay tuned, I hope to post pictures from the play tomorrow.



Sun Mar 7, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Yesterday's and today's performances were both better than Friday's. And the Saturday audience was so willing to laugh. Chuck and Kate Scott were there Saturday, and both praised my performance. Chuck praising my performance is high praise to me. Got a lot of good comment from audience members after the shows, both days, too. Today's audience was good but far more reserved. They didn't laugh out loud much but did chuckle a lot and gave good applause at the end of the scenes. So we're off for the week, though we're running lines on Thursday.


MOVIE AUDITION:

I have a neutral feeling about the audition yesterday for the movie. It went well enough but I couldn't say whether I blew it or nailed it or something in between. I was lucky enough that an actor came to audition for the role opposite me in the scene. The director will let me know by Tuesday at the latest about the role.

I can't get the play pictures posted now. But, within the next day or so.



Thu Mar 11, 2004

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MOVIE AUDITION, PLUS:

Did not win the small role in the indy film, but, really, it seems not getting a part will be more the norm than getting one. Being cast in the very first thing I auditioned for, after all those years, was a case of happenstance.

Click here for a picture of me at fifteen (just shy of sixteen) during "With A Little Bit Of Luck" from My Fair Lady, Spring of 1974. I am the long-bushy-haired kid on the far right. The big guy is Jim Rittenhouse, from whom the picture has come, and in the middle is Mike Schiwitz. Jim was Alfie Doolittle, Liza's daddy. Mike and I were his two Cockney drinkin' mates.

The Cripple of Inishmaan pictures are on their way. I am creating a virtual tour, of sorts.

We're doing a line run tonight, so we'll be fresh for this weekend's run, which starts tomorrow.



Sat Mar 13, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

Last night's show (number four) went well enough, though I felt off my game. Cast and audience seemed to think I did well. I did stumble over a couple lines but it was minor. My friend from work, Phil, came and liked the show.

We got a great review in the Thursday, March 11-18, 2004 issue of the Dayton paper, The Dayton City Paper. Critic Russell Florence Jr. gave us great praise. Of Matt he said he "splendidly carried the show with quiet dignity and mannerisms that never wavered. He effortlessly gave an endearing performance that commanded attention, whether he was shuffling along in character or gazing into the audience with eyes teeming with endless possibilities. His pensive Act Two scene in Hollywood was particularly well done and emotional...."

Of Barb and Dodie as the aunties, Kate and Eileen, Florence wrote that they were "delightful as Billy's overprotective aunts. [Barb's] dry humor and [Dodie's] exceptional subtlety was a perfect match...."

The critic also singled out another cast member of whom he said "epitomized an actor you loved to hate. [This actor] was wonderful in his obnoxious, annoying, gossipy role...." And, I assure you that particular actor was not type cast!

He praised the entire cast, in fact, calling us an "excellent and humorous cast." And he called our accents "top-notch" and gave Rocco the appropriate credit for getting us to them.

About Greg as director he said, "Greg Smith created a great sense of community and tone. The wackiness...was never played strictly for laughs. Smith wisely remembered the The Cripple of Inishmaan was a dramedy at its core, and the drama remained prevalent amidst the constant chuckles...."

How could you pine for a better review than that?

One of my best friends, Dave Sims -- my spiritual brother, is coming over from Indianapolis for today's show, along with his two sons, Bryan and Aaron -- my spiritual nephews. His sister and mom are coming, too. Barb Jorgensen, Mammy O'Dougal, is throwing a cast party after today's show. I'll arrive late as Dave, his family and I are doing dinner first.

The virtual tour of the play is coming. It's become a little more elaborate than I had originally envisioned -- not terribly elaborate but more so, still, than originally planned. I've had a lot of photosto process. Plus, I'm not done taking shots. I plan a group shot of the cast and crew today as well as pics from the cast party. Though I would like to get the tour up by the end of day tomorrow -- even if it gets added to later. For instance, Dodie is having a cast party next Saturday, plus after next Sunday's show, we will strike the set, and I plan pics of these, too.



Tue, Mar 16, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

The second weekend still went pretty well. But in all three shows I had what I consider a few moments of bad performance. I slipped up on lines, in the sense of throwing the wrong word out, and in one case, of switching two words. They were all situations where it was necessary to correct myself for the sake of the story. These moments disturb me because -- as I said earlier, somewhere above -- such blunders remind the audience they are watching an actor who has lines; it interferes with the audience's suspension of disbelief. So I find it a disservice to myself, the rest of the cast, the playwright, as well as the audience. There seems to be a level of focus I need learn to get to. It clearly needs to be the featured goal of my growth as an actor (at least on stage, where there is no "next take").

People seemed to have been pleased with my performances, but, I can't afford to overlook the flaws. I know I've done pretty well in this show -- but, to not recognize that I could do much better, that I can do better in these last three shows next weekend, would be to cheat myself.

We are not doing a line run this week, so, Friday we all go back on stage after four days of being on our own with our lines. I ran my lines twice last night, with myself, and that's the plan for tonight, tomorrow and Thursday. Plus, I always run them at least once right before each show. Just have to get that "focus" thing going now.

Was nice to see my friend Dave and his sons from Indianapolis. What great support that he'd travel two hours to see my show! Love to see the boys, too! His sister Marian and his mom, Mary Jo, came, too. We went out for dinner and had a lovely time after the show. Then Dave came with me to Barb's cast party. Barb gave out certificates. I got one for "tellin' shitey-arsed news," which is obviously a reference to my role in the play.

Been working on my gifts to the cast and crew. I'll post an image here after I've given them out.

And, I swear, that virtual tour of the play is coming!

Oh, and one more thing: I was made aware that the review of the play, from which I quoted from in the last entry above, is on-line. Here's the URL (for as long as it's good, anyway):
www.daytoncitypaper.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=622.



Fri Mar 19, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

The last weekend for The Cripple of Inishmaan starts tonight. I have a little group of friends from the paycheck job coming to the Saturday show -- as well as my sister, brother-in-law, niece and her husband, my brother-in-law's mother, and perhaps his cousin. Some other friends may be there over the course of the three shows, too.

I pretty much have my office to myself at work today, and I get to do a lot of less mentally-demanding work; it's a great opportunity for me to do my lines much of the day. I am bound and determined not to repeat the silly line blunders from last weekend.

The virtual tour is still coming -- I swear!



Tue, Mar 23, 2004

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THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN:

The run of The Cripple of Inishmaan is the biggest box office in the history of The Dayton Theatre Guild and one of the most overall successful shows in the Dayton area in quite a while. Seven of the nine shows were sold out, and the other two were at close to ninety percent sold. We even had a sell out on the final day, which was a Sunday -- unprecedented to sell out either, the last show or a Sunday. I think the two not sold out were the first two Sundays.

I must say I could not have asked for a better return to acting than this. To be cast in this play, in the role I got, with the fellow cast members I was privileged to work with, and, the director we had. Looking back it was just magic!

As it says in various entries before this, I did not expect to be cast in such a big and demanding role my first time out. I am glad it happened that way. It forced me to scrape as much rust off my acting mechanism as I could and it got me right in there in the midst of the lyceum of acting craft. I learned from this and that is always a very satisfying thing for me in all my artistic endeavors. I also proved to myself that this isn't some damn joke I was playing on myself. I do belong on the stage, or in front of the camera. I can still act! Had I won the role of the doctor, instead of as Johnny Pateen, I would have done well, yes, but succeeding as Johnny Pateen is far better success, and I am the better off for having been placed there.

Don't misunderstand, where I am pleased with my performance, I am not completely satisfied with it. I don't have any reservations about the character I became, the Johnny I brought to life, I have some craft-type criticisms of myself. The big one: flubbed lines. Now I know everyone does it, and in live theater it's unavoidable, but, I did it far too often for my own sense of professionalism. The obvious reason is my long absence from the stage and the fact that I had such a big role with so many lines and with the accent and the vast difference between Irish and American syntax. That being true, I still owe it to myself to pay attention to the flaw.

I was accused on various occasions by a couple other people associated with the play of "beating up" on myself. Nonsense. These folk think differently than I, and really don't understand me or my approach to art. I never am willing to overlook those things that I am unhappy about with my craftwork. That I speak of them or discuss them does not mean that I am dwelling on them or some such silly notions. I take this stuff seriously, and by god I'm going to examine what I see as my flaws. This is not me taking the fun out of it. I will acknowledge my mistakes, note, them, examine them and as the result learn from them and get better. There are times when these well-meaning comments by people frustrate me; it feels to me -- and I'm sure not rightfully so -- like they are taking my love and care for the art and craft (in this case of acting) too lightly. But you know what? They are well-meaning and I need to keep that in mind; just let them approach it as they do and ignore that they may not understand my take at all -- actually it's not that they may not, it's that they do not understand my approach. Oh well. I still know what it is I need to work on, and that is my focus next time.

It was bittersweet Sunday but I'm happy to say that the Cripple experience is not completely over. We will perform the first two scenes of the show at the Ohio Community Theater Association (OCTA) conference in southern Ohio the last week of June. Looks like it needs to be June 26, as one cast member has a firm commitment on Sunday the 27th.

I am working on the virtual tour of the play this week.


AS FOR FUTURE STAGE ACTING:

The Dayton Playhouse is doing Little Shop of Horrors in September. I'm mostly not interested in doing musicals, but, I'd loved the role of the dentist! Greg Smith has also suggested I audition for A Walk in the Woods at the guild, for the part of Russian arms negotiator Andrey Botvinnik. I just started reading it today and I already am in love with the play and with Andrey. There's going to be a dramatic reading from each of the guild's 2004/2005 shows. This will be next month, for all the current season-ticket holders. Greg has enlisted me to read Andrey for it. I already have the Russian dialect tape. Plus, May of 2005 the guild is doing O'Neil's Long Day's Journey Into Night, and I guarantee you I'll be at those auditions. Plus, there may be other things coming up I am not yet aware of. Plus I'm still up for auditioning for other local film makers. Heck, I'd even audition for a commercial if I could get in.


AS FOR MY MOVIE(S):

I may push production back. First of all, it's still not written. Second, I think I want to up production value in terms of the sound. I was going to hook a good mic into the camera, but, now I think I'm going to use a separate sound recorder. I need to know more about it all. I don't know for sure production will be pushed back, but, I'm okay with shooting later at a higher production value, even if that means principal photography isn't until Spring of 2005, or later.

On a related note, I bought a 1CCD DV camcorder cheap last night, just so I can have something to shoot footage, which I then can use to get to know my FinalCut software. Still have the music video to edit and the short-short movie, Muse, to re-edit, as well.


NOVEL IDEA:

I'm also thinking about re-writing the first few chapters of my first novel, to tighten it up a bit.

And yes, I am back on my odd up at four am, to bed at eight pm schedule.




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