"None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.- Gail Goodwin
Day 365: Took a final pass at my goals & action plan after reflecting on the last 364 days. I reviewed my audition tracker and saw that I've had 24 auditions, 4 callbacks, 1 avail and 2 bookings this year. What does that mean? I don't know. Some would say that's a great callback ratio, others would say it's horrible, either way I'm absolutely certain 2012 needs to bring in more bookings for me! Coincidentally I also attended 24 networking events this year which is really quite paltry for someone who absolutely LOVES to be social, meet new friends and reconnect with old ones so that number needs to at least double in 2012. I'm very thankful for all that this year has brought me {especially new friendships & colleagues that I adore} and all that this year has taught me in my role as a wife, mother, actress, writer, producer and friend. I'll roll out my 2012 goals to you all next week but in the meantime much love to you all and have a very Happy New Year!
Day 364: I'm attempting to do the Couch to 5k program since it's hailed as a running program for people who hate to run, i.e. ME. I actually started this a few weeks ago in a crash diet attempt right before the Houston wedding but since I only completed the first day I'm starting over. Running is considered one of the best forms of cardio and a fantastic way to lose weight which is the only reason why I'm attempting to do this. I must say, though I don't know if this will change my lack of desire to run, this program does seem like something I can get into it since I don't have to run for long periods of time. This is a 3 day per week, 60 day program so it will be something I will carry with me into the new year. And the best part about it is that there's a free phone app that keeps track of how long to run, walk, jog, etc. as well as a record of all your time.


Day 351- 360: Took a little over a week off to spend time with family for the holidays.

Day 361: Returned to submitting myself on Actors Access. The breakdowns are very slow right now but there are still a handful.

Day 362: Met with the director of the Mitrice Richardson documentary to discuss our goals for the upcoming year and the things I need to set in place to make sure we meet them.

Day 363: Researched nutritionists to consult with in the new year that are near my side of town and won't set me back $1000 bucks like many of them. I've narrowed it down to either Healthee Life or Learn 2 Eat Right. Both have a nice variety of services that I'm interested in, including body testing to determine what type of foods don't work for my particular body & blood type and both have excellent reviews on Yelp so now I just need to choose between the two.
Day 348: Commercial Agency Holiday Party. It was nice to see a handful of familiar faces but by and large there were lots of folks I didn't recognize. We all had a nice time though. Who doesn't like watching a dance battle? Seriously, I thought I was in a movie as it unfolded before me.

Day 349: Girls Night Out at Dillon's Irish Pub. Good food, good people, good times.

Day 350: Last private session of the year at SKS where I worked on a comedic scene. This studio has really given me a boost of confidence and makes me feel like I should be going out on TV auditions NOW.  Later that night I attended the SKS Holiday Party where I had too much fun!
Day 344: Cardio Hip-Hop class at Your Neighborhood Studio.

Day 345 - 346: Refined my 2012 goals and monthly action plan. Just need to type them up and possibly create a vision board to go with it.

Day 347: Follow up phone call to one of the Atlanta agents. She didn't answer so I left a voicemail. Since many of her clients have gotten co-stars and recurring spots on multiple shows out there I'm going to continue to pursue this agency.
Day 340 - 343: Read a few scripts of the TV show Modern Family at: http://www.zen134237.zen.co.uk/Modern_Family/. I was actually laughing at loud while reading these episodes which lets you know just how funny the material really is.


Day 336: Caught up on TV via Hulu. Watched Modern Family, Glee, Once Upon a Time, Revenge and New Girl.

Day 337: Cardio Hip-Hop class at Your Neighborhood Studio. LOVE this class! 

Day 338: Commercial audition at Kathy Knowles Casting. This was one of those auditions where you're not really an actor but a "real person" so they asked me questions about being a mom and it went so/so.

Day 339: Last Power Group of the year at TAN and it was a good one. There were lots of great accomplishments to close out 2011 and inspiring goals to start off 2012.
I'm sooooo behind on my updates but I have been keeping track of them and I wanna get caught up before the year is over so here we go...

Day 315: Got to be a reader today at the casting director's office where I intern and it was AWESOME!! The casting associate (who has now been promoted to full casting director) said I did an excellent job especially since it was a cold read. What I appreciated more though, were the compliments from the actors I read with. Can't wait to see who gets the part.

Day 316: Rehearsed sides with Y'vonne.

Day 317 - 318: Emailed 24 managers and Atlanta agents

Day 319: Sent an email follow-up to the program director of KETP. Will call in 3 weeks if I don't receive a reply. Really don't want to start the arduous task of looking for a new job if I'm still in the running for this. {Found out the next week that I'm not. Boo!}

Day 320: Attended a free agent seminar held at Actors Comedy Studio with a hilarious agent from Metropolitan Talent Agency.

Day 321: Gave editing notes to the director of my "Promotion" scene.

Day 322:  Mailed a thank you postcard to the manager I saw 2 weeks ago, the agent I met on Saturday and a CD who brought me in for an audition awhile back followed by a private session at SKS and a cold-read audition for a voiceover gig (I booked it!)

Day 323: Emailed 13 theatrical agents here in LA.

Day 324: Mailed a hardcopy submission to 2 of the Atlanta agents I emailed last week.

Day 325: Took Thanksgiving off and enjoyed time with my family.

Day 326: Actually saw a movie in a theatre! Do you know how rare that is? Stephen & I saw Tower Heist and it was funnier than we expected.

Day 327: Met with Greg & Lex to do voiceover for episode 6 as well as the commercials then had lunch afterwards.

Day 328: Updated my production resume since I plan to start looking for a new survival gig.

Day 329: Met with my PG Buddy and he gave me a Starbucks gift card for Christmas. Unexpected and appreciated. Thanks Tom!

Day 330: Joined WIF after discussing it with a TAN Power Group member who is a member of WIF already and loves it. Very excited to see what new networking opportunities this organization will bring.

Day 331 - 335: Off for my Houston trip. Didn't submit to anything or even look at any breakdowns. Completely took a break from acting and enjoyed time with my brother and my friends as I was down there to be a bridesmaid in a wedding. I had a ball catching up with my college besties though I really REALLY missed my 3 guys, especially since Stephen's 30th birthday was during this time. Thankfully I have a very laidback husband who didn't give me a hard time about being gone. He didn't even want me to plan anything for him despite my best efforts to get him to do it up for this milestone. Instead he just wants an iPad 2 and he'll be happy. I told him to wait until tax refund time since the darn thing costs over $700 but I'm gonna surprise him with it for Christmas. And no he doesn't read this blog so he has no idea. Shhh....
Day 311: Went to Power Group at TAN followed by coffee with Y'vonne. I swear there are some people in this world who always make you feel better when you're in their presence, she is one of them.

Day 312: The block schedule I created isn't working for me so now I'm trying something new. Today I took my monthly goals that I shared in Power Group and divided them up week by week to make sure I do the tasks needed to help me meet those goals.

Day 313 -  314: Updated my regional rep target list by using IMDb Pro to find all the agents whose clients were on the last few episodes of VH1's Single Ladies, CW's Vampire Diaries and BET's The Game, Let's Stay Together and Reed Between the Lines since they all shoot in Atlanta.
Really?


PRIMAL BEHAVIORS
Documentary
NON-UNION
Documentary Series for Animal Planet

 
SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY

SUBMISSIONS DUE BY 5PM THURSDAY 11/24
 
IF POSSIBLE, PLEASE SUBMIT ACTOR'S ONLINE DEMO CLIPS ALONG
WITH EACH ACTOR SUBMISSION.


This is not a role for actors. Please only submit if you have a real story
that you can share. 


PRIMAL BEHAVIORS:

PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW AN EXTREME DIET OF RAW MEAT ]
Do you eat rats, rodents, squirrels, or other road kill? 
***** Casting currently casting a docu-series for Animal Planet, featuring
people who follow an extreme diet of raw meat that they hunt, search,
and kill as part of their daily diet.

PEOPLE ADDICTED TO ANIMALS ]
Are you having a monogamous relationship with your animal? Have you
become addicted or attached to one or more animals? 
***** Casting is
currently casting a docu-series for Animal Planet, featuring people whose
lives have been impacted because of your animal addictions?

PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY WERE BORN AN ANIMAL ]
Do you feel that you were born an animal and living in the wrong body?
Have you tried to alter your physical appearance to look like an animal?
***** 
Casting is currently casting a docu-series for Animal Planet featuring
people who know they are living in an animal's skin and not their own.


PEOPLE WITH ASBURGERS ]
***** Casting is looking for people who deal with asburgers disease.
If you are a clinical psychologist - we will be questioning your knowledge
on animal affection and primal behavior.


PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING IN DOGHOUSES ]
Do you use live in a doghouse for shelter? Do you inhabit the space of a
dog in either your own backyard or the backyard of someone you know?
***** 
Casting is currently casting a docu-series for Animal Planet featuring
people who are living in doghouses.


PEOPLE WHO HAVE A NEED TO LOOK/FEEL LIKE AN ANIMAL ]
How far have you gone to feel like an animal? Have you lost relationships
and friends because of your need to feel primal. 
***** Casting is currently
casting a docu-series for Animal Planet featuring people who are have a
need to look or feel like an animal.



Who in the world submits to this stuff?!?
Day 310: Edited my reel using iMovie {thank goodness for my MAC computer at work} and added it to all my sites: You TubeVimeoActors AccessLA CastingCAZT and my personal website. Now don't get me wrong, this is not a fancy shmancy reel like what Lex can do but it will suffice until I have all my scenes ready to go for her. I'm waiting on the "Promotion" scene that should be edited by the end of the month and I still need to shoot one more scene with my classmate Y'vonne. So till then, I'm very proud of my newbie attempt to edit this thing!
Day 309: Performed a scene from Private Practice at an awesome manager workshop with Melanie Sharpe put on by casting director Billy DaMota and Actor Rated. I really wasn't even supposed to be able to go but Tara worked her magic to get me on the list at the last minute. I ended up leaving in the middle of work since it didn't start until 9:30 with a coworker of mine named Liz who was also on the list and we had a great time. There were a lot of really nice and really funny scenes and everyone was prepared as requested. Afterwards I exchanged contact info with a few of the other actors whose work I liked and vice versa. Then Liz and I headed back to work a full 2 hours later where we didn't get off until 4am due to our acting excursion. 


Day 308: Privates with DaJuan at SKS. Since I can't afford to take class right now {mainly due to the expense of finishing DWP} I've decided to take half-hour privates with DaJuan twice a month. Now it's not the same as getting the full class experience, especially since I am a visual learner who can pick up on things when I see other people do it but at least it gets me back working on sides, breaking down scenes and practicing my craft. 


Day 306: On a very last-minute crew hunt for a Boom Operator {does sound}, Still Photographer and Makeup Artist since all 3 of my normal people are unavailable for our shoot this weekend. Thank goodness for both Mandy and Craigslist as I found what I needed at the very last minute!!

Day 307: Shot the bakery scene in episode 8 of DWP along with 2 web promos for the shop that let us use their space- Cordially Invited & Southern Girl Desserts. The nice thing was that I was able to cast a couple of my friends in the promos so they'll have a nice addition to their commercial reel.  
Day 304: Held callbacks for episode 8 of DWP and it was so much fun! We paired up the actors we loved and had them mix and match so that we could see who had good chemistry with each other and with each change we saw something new. It's going to be super tough to pick our 2 leads as all of the guys did a really fantastic job.

Day 305: Wrote a promo for Southern Girl Desserts as part of the trade-off since they are allowing us to shoot in their shop this weekend.
Here it is: 3rd Tour, the scene I shot with Claire, Greg & Lex a few weeks ago.


Love it!
Day 303: Reviewed Eco-Cast auditions for DWP Episode 8 along with those sent directly to my email. It's interesting to note that less than 10% of actors who were invited to submit a self-taped audition actually did. This means those who did take the time to tape themselves {and yes most were home videos without bells & whistles} had a much higher chance of being asked to come in for callbacks and some roles were even offered outright. 


Day 301: Wrote a promo for Cordially Invited as part of the trade-off for allowing us to shoot in their shop.

Day 302: Casting session for DWP Episode 8 held at CAZT. We saw some HILARIOUS actors! It's always nice when you have a handful of people who do such a great job that you know you'll have a hard time making a decision. This means callbacks!


Day 300: Got to act today! Woke up at 6:30 am {when I usually get to sleep in on the weekends} in order to drive to my colleague Jamie Fishback's office so we could shoot a scene I wrote titled "Promotion." His office was the perfect setting and we had the entire floor to ourselves, though we ended up only using the lounge area as written. Jamie was a great scene partner and we were shot and  directed by the very easy to work with Jared Hoy.
Day 298 - 299: Selected actors on CAZT and Actors Access to audition next week. For the most part I find it incredibly fun to watch actors reels but there were a few that either bored me to pieces or were just flat out weird that made me wonder why in the hell they'd spend their hard-earned money to upload it on these sites in the first place. On the other hand, there were definitely some that had me cracking up and made me excited to call those actors in.
Very excited to get the news that my blog has been featured on About.com. Here's an excerpt from the post...

"Ms. Ford has really put a lot of time, energy, and creativity into this project. First of all, she has been keeping an up-to-date record or her professional endeavors, detailing the highs and lows of being a working actress in the Los Angeles area. Secondly, when she isn't going from one audition to the next, she is busy creating her own comedy web-series, Diary of a Wedding Planner."

Check out the rest here!
Day 297: Birthday lunch with Tara where we ate yummy red & blue velvet pancakes at Larchmont Bungalow followed by a commercial audition for Nature's Valley Snack Bar. I pretty much bombed this one. First of all it was a last-minute same day audition and I got the notice right as I was on my way out to see Tara. I had to completely change my hair & outfit only to discover when I got there that it said the wardrobe was "Hip & trendy business casual." Somehow I only saw "Hip & trendy" so I was the only one in jeans in a room full of slacks and blouses. Then once in the room I followed directions but the whole time I was just going through the motions and wasn't really connected at all. Truth be told, I was thinking about how I really wanted to go home instead of going to work and so my focus was way off. Definitely not getting called back for this one.


Day 295: Shot the last scene for episode 6 then had lunch with some of the crew at Denny's. Being on USC's campus made me wish for my college days when bills and real life were of no concern. Anyhow, here are some of the pics...






To see all the pics of episode 6 go here.

Day 296: Put out a breakdown on Actors Access and CATZ for episode 8
Day 294: Office hours - Updated my website and went through my notebook of story ideas expanding on the ones that seem viable and discarding those that no longer interest me.


Day 292 - 293: Worked on the outline and the first few scenes of our feature film. Tara & I are using Google Docs now, making it easier for us to see the changes that the other has made.


We had a fun Halloween this year. In the past we've always taken the boys to a "Hallelujah Night" or "Harvest Festival" held on church grounds but this year we decided to take them Trick or Treating. I thought it was Jayden's first time until I remembered he went once when he was 3 years old and we were living in Houston. This was definitely Stevie's first time and they both had a blast! Only had my phone to take pics but next year I'll be more prepared.


What you don't see is the both of them running and crying when we knocked on the door of a house and one of the "props" came to life banging on the door and scaring the crap out of ALL of us. It was hilarious once I caught my breath but they didn't really think so.

Once we got home I made them star in this video for their grammy {Sorry if it's still sideways. I keep trying to adjust it on YouTube but it's not working.}



Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!
Day 291: I had a coaching session with my acting teacher DaJuan Johnson followed by the audition itself- a lead role for a webseries called Luck & Baby Dust. The CD actually recognized me from DWP which was kinda cool, ok really cool.


Day 290: Today we shot 3rd Tour, a scene where I play a military wife who's tired of her husband's constant deployments. Here I am with my co-star and classmate Tom Lind as he tries to convince me that everything will be okay. 


Claire directed us. Greg did the lights & sound and Lex was our DP. Plus they brought over some of Greg's military clothes to make it authentic. I heart them so much!!
Day 288: Sent a thank-you note to the administrator of the Kaiser Educational Theatre Program.

Day 289: Rehearsed a scene for my reel that I'll be shooting tomorrow. Went over sides for an audition on Thursday.



Day 286: Renewed my TAN membership. Picked up 2 wedding dresses for future DWP use that was donated by an actress who knew I needed one to complete shooting episode 6. Thanks Cheyanne!


Day 287: Visited USC's United University Church to make sure it would work for the location we need to finish episode 6. It looks great online but you only see bits and pieces of parts of the church rather than a full photo of what it looks like as a whole. So I'm glad it's going to work out as we're planning to shoot on Monday. 



Day 285: Auditioned for Kaiser's Educational Theatre Program. It started off rocky but then ended on a great note. If I had to bet on it I think they'll pass but if they do have callbacks then I'll hopefully get another chance to make a better impression as this job would be a really great opportunity to take advantage of. If I don't, I can't blame anyone but myself since I waited until the last minute to find material which is why it wasn't nearly as strong of an audition as it could have been.

Day 284: Went to Power Group at TAN followed by 2 back to back coffee dates. Later on I went back to TAN to listen to Twinkie Byrd {casting director of films such as Jumping the BroomNotoriousStomp the Yard and the upcoming Sparkle} speak and it was AWESOME! As you know, she's one of the main cd's on my target list and despite not wanting to go because I was exhausted and knew that if I went I'd have a really late night at work, I silenced all of those nagging, non-helpful thoughts and went anyway. I'm so glad I did! First of all, there were only about 10 of us there {crazy!} when really every black actor in TAN should have been in the building. Second, she was hilarious because she's so real. She gave no-holds barred answers to all of our questions and even counseled a young lady who just moved out here who needed some guidance. All in all I felt like I'd went to church by the time it was over. Very glad I went, especially since I learned a few ways to get on her radar and get in the room with her that I hadn't known before and that's really what it all boils down to.



Day 283: Bing callback. This was one of those auditions where you're performing right in front of all the people from the ad agency who are making the hiring decisions. It was 5 of us who auditioned in the group and about 8 or 9 ad agency folks so it was a bit claustrophobic and hot under those lights. Didn't feel as good as the audition did but I still had fun when they made us dance again. Oh well, on to the next.



Day 282: Wrote a scene for 2 of my classmates called "Woman to Woman" that I love! So much so I almost kept it for myself but I feel good knowing they'll do a great job with it. I'll post it here after they shoot.



Day 279 - Day 280: Tied up loose ends for last minute stuff needed for our upcoming DWP shoot. Greg & Lex saved me a huge amount of time and headspace by handling craft services so I was able to focus on simply acting for once.

Day 281: We shot most of episode 6 of DWP today and it was an awesome shoot! Everything literally went as good or better than expected and I couldn't be happier. Here are a few stills from our shoot...

 
 

 


 


I think it's safe to say there was a LOT of laughter on set which is why I love working with these people. And by the way, that invitation was GORGEOUS! Made me wish I was planning a wedding with a real bride who would be sending it to her guests.

Still have one more scene left that we'll take care of next week and then episode 6 will be wrapped.


Day 278: Commercial audition for "Bing" at ASG Casting. Got to put on a rainbow colored afro and do some dancing in this one. Later that night I had a great time at a much needed Girls Night Out (GNO) at Den of Hollywood. We've decided to do this once a month {at different venues} since it was such a nice night. 





Day 277: Monologue search for an upcoming audition for a high school educational theater program. Perusing YouTube I found "Reasons to be Pretty" by Neil LaBute for my dramatic piece and "Promedy" by Wade Bradford for my comedic piece. Since it's on YouTube I run the risk of both of these being overdone but since I'm on a time crunch that's a chance I'll have to take.


Day 276: Visited the invitation shop to finalize our shoot and our trade-out and make our location agreement official. We will be shooting part of episode 6 at Cordially Invited and part of episode 8 at Southern Girl Desserts and guess what- they're in the same shop! Major score for DWP!


Day 274: Coffee with Aisha Lomax at a very quaint cafe called Larchmont Bungalow. Always good to catch up with a friend. Hopefully we'll have a chance to work together in front of the camera soon. In the meantime, we're both racking our brains to find 2 contrasting monologues from published plays that are appropriate enough to be performed in front of high school students {that takes The Mercy Seat off the list} without being overdone. Not so easy when you don't read new plays on a regular basis. I'm sure my New York colleagues would find this task a breeze but since most actors out here are reading screenplays instead, it's a little daunting. 

Day 275: Audition for www.christianeducation.com. This was held at the ad agency's office rather than with a casting director. The session runner was really sweet and it's always nice to have an opportunity to audition for something faith-based. Afterwards I went to my internship where I'm continuing to build relationships with the people who work in that casting office.
Day 272 & 273: Caught up on my staple screenwriting blogs. If you're at all into writing or think you might want to be or even if you just want to learn more about story to become a better actor, check out the following...


And if you have a favorite writing blog please let me know in the comments below so that I can take a look.
Day 271: Lunch with Lisa Nicole Bell. She's truly a force to be reckoned with {check out her upcoming speaking engagements to see what I mean} and I love it because she's the giving type who always asks what she can do to be of assistance to you. Moreover, it's always interesting meeting with her since her role in the industry is more behind the camera than in front so her perspective on things can be refreshing.
Day 270: Decided to find a dramatic monologue to add to my arsenal so I hit up YouTube and started wading through a mixture of greatness and pure crap. Eventually I remembered seeing a scene back in my college debate team days that really gripped me. It was from The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute and it's about a rocky relationship between a mistress and the man she loves who is finally given an opportunity to leave his wife guilt-free*. Since I really didn't feel like making the trek to Samuel French to see if they had it in stock, I searched for it on YouTube and found 2 that I liked. Warning- the language is explicit in the first one...






Now I have to actually buy the play (it's worth it) so I can comb through it and see if there is any other way I want to piece either of these monologues together for future use.

*No of course there is no such thing as leaving your wife & kids guilt-free but you'll see what I mean when you read this play.
Day 269: Had a lovely lunch with Rayshell Curtiss who then invited me to the New Media Vault Mixer later that night at the W Hotel in Hollywood. I was really excited to go but once we got there we both quickly realized it wasn't our cup of tea. Luckily since I work practically next door I was able to go right back to work without regretting wasting my time. And at least we snapped this picture of us and cute pics are always a win!


Day 268: Internship at the casting office in the morning followed by me firing the director of episode 6 of DWP at night. You know, I hate letting people go. I really do. I tend to hold on to relationships {both romantic and platonic} for far too long after they've shown themselves to be in disrepair and this was no different. I knew months ago that our working relationship wasn't working and yet every step of the way I fought myself on firing her because I really wanted to make it work. I even took it on as a personal challenge at one point. Ultimately though, it was like fitting a square peg into a round hole. It just wouldn't fit, period and  I didn't want my show and my crew to suffer because of it so she had to go. As soon as it was done I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and all the anxiety I had about our upcoming shoot was gone. So I knew I made the right decision instantly and my intuition thanked me for finally listening... even though it was months after the fact.

P.S. - I replaced her with Claire Wasmund who's picking up the dropped ball already. :-)
Day 267: Had an excellent coffee date with my TAN power group "buddy" Tom O'Leary. When you join a power group you're assigned a buddy that acts as your accountability partner. You check-in with each other once a month and it must be in person rather than doing the email/phone thing that can be so easy and impersonal. Since he's in Long Beach we met in a little cafe right off the 405 only 15 minutes away from me that was convenient for him as well. It was a great meeting- truly! I learned a lot more about his background {he's a middle-aged actor who has retired from his civilian career and is returning to his love of acting} and about the goals that he has for the near future. It's a great balance because there are some areas that I'm more experienced in {new media and producing for example} and others where I can really learn from him {the world of voiceover and singing}.


My Jayden in the middle
Day 266: Today we celebrated my son Jayden's 7th birthday. Can you believe I've been a mom for 7 years? I can't! So while dealing with 15 happy, energetic, rambunctious 6-8 year old boys, the only thing acting-related I did today was ACT like it was totally, freaking, awesome, cool, super, amazing as Jayden opened all his presents from his classmates that each seemed to have 20 or more pieces in each one when really I was thinking WTF? This is gonna be EVERYWHERE around the apartment. Oh well. He had fun and loved his gifts so that's all that matters.
 
Day 264 - 265: Read the "Good Will Hunting" screenplay that Tara let me borrow. I thought I'd seen this film before but apparently I've only watched bits and pieces because everything seemed new to me. I understand why they won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay- it's a very easy read.


Day 263: Met with Claire & Lex for coffee. We discussed DWP since Claire is directing eps 7 & 8 and Lex will be the DP and we'll also be shooting a scene for my reel in the next couple of weeks as well. Time flies when I'm with them and though we had a lot of laughs, we also got a lot done. Afterwards, since we were on Wilshire {aka agent-mecca}, I decided to pick up a dozen mini-cupcakes from Hansens {not the best flavor-wise but super cheap when you're in a pinch} and brought them over to my agents to thank them for all their hard work. They've been sending me out quite a bit and although the callbacks are nice, I really wanna book and show them that they made a good decision signing me. I was only there for maybe 15 minutes tops but I had a nice chat with both of them and then went on about my merry way.
Day 262: Met with Latice Sutton, the mother of Mitrice Richardson at the cemetery where Mitrice is laid to rest for an interview. I always try to put on the "professional" face but listening to her tell her story can be very  difficult sometimes, which is exactly why this story needs to be told over and over until this case is solved.


Day 261: Outline for a new short film- something with a dark undertone that explores the issue of sex and rape and where exactly that line is crossed.


Day 260: Location meeting with Cordially Invited. We are officially shooting scenes from episode 6 and 8 here! Yay! Major victory for me. Tea date with Tara at my favorite cafe: Bricks & Scones, and last minute PSA audition at Plaster Casting.


I really haven't felt like blogging about my day to day journey lately. Rather, I've been kind of taken over by my feelings and emotions about everything. Life, marriage, friendships, money, jobs, kids, goals... Sometimes I feel like there are multiple people living inside of me and they all want to do something different than the other. One wants to run away from all these responsibilities that seem to be piling on top of me. Another wants to keep pushing forward with each audition, hoping someone gives me a break. Another wants to be the dutiful wife and mother who whisks her family away to a better quality of life. Yet another wants to say f*ck it! And do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it and not care what ANYONE thinks, family included. And finally there's the one who always seems to prevail who says, hey, if this is really what you want to do then put that "S" on your chest {Alicia Keys "Superwoman" reference for those who don't know} and suck it up gotdamnit!

Feelings. Oh god they can take you on a rollercoaster ride if you let them.

*Sigh* I really need to act in something soon to help get all of this pent-up, conflicting, emotionally-charged energy out of me.
Day 258: Received an Eco-Cast audition invitation which is a way to submit an audition tape of yourself online. This is actually for an event that needs impersonators from the 1920's. I'm auditioning for the role of Josephine Baker.  Yes I saw the film The Josephine Baker Story but that was like a decade ago so I had to brush up on my research. I watched lots of clips of her on YouTube as well as read her biography on her official website.

Day 259: Wrote a 1 minute monologue using some of her quotes and choreographed a quick little dance to jazz music as requested by the casting director and submitted my Josephine Baker audition tape via Eco-Cast. I really wanted to find a wig with finger waves but since I couldn't, I bought a flapper wig and fascinator hat instead. I'm not gonna show the dance clip {sorry!} but here's the monologue I sent...

video

I also watched the Emmy's. I really need to renew my Netflix subscription so I can order Mad Men and see what the fuss is about already, especially since they beat out Game of Thrones which I loved.
Day 257: Commercial audition- Signed a nondisclosure agreement so I can't talk about it AT ALL but it would be great to book it!


Day 256: Coffee with Issa Rae, the creator of the webseries Awkward Black Girl. She gave me some great marketing tips that I plan to use to promote DWP after we finish these last 3 episodes. I also told her about the Mitrice documentary and she was more than willing to help put the word out when we start our fundraising campaign.

Even better news is I FINALLY BOOKED SOMETHING!!! YIPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!

I booked the Epson industrial shoot and we filmed it today. It was a small cast & crew and a nice easy gig. Hopefully more to come before the year is up.


I was recently offered a free one month subscription to the new Los Angeles Auditions submission service offered by CAZT in order to write a review. The owner, Moses Kagan, seemed very interested in receiving completely honest feedback in order to ensure the site is something that actors can benefit from using. That said, here are my thoughts...

Pros
*There seems to be an abundance of student films and indie films that are using this service. This is FANTASTIC because each time one of them puts their project on CAZT, that's one less project that is casting out of their apartment complex because you know as a woman I don't do those auditions AT ALL #notworththerisk.

*Their submission service allows you to upload your pictures, not for $10 a pop like Actors Access and certainly not the outrageous price that LA Casting charges but for Free99.  Yes 100% free which is a major money saver, especially if you change your photos on a regular basis. This goes for your reel(s) as well.

*The facility itself is in a central location with free parking in the Target lot right around the corner or free street parking a few blocks over if you're inclined to walk.

*And of course the strongest perk they've got going is that you can see your auditions afterwards to analyze how you did and hopefully learn from each one. In addition, you're supposed to get feedback from the casting director and when that does happen it's invaluable.

Cons
*The pricing, while arguably low, is still not low enough for me to justify the expense as some of the postings I submitted to were also found on Actors Access. Personally, until these casting notices become exclusive to CAZT, I can't see myself forking over more than $5.00 per month. That may not be profitable for them but that's my honest opinion. Then again, at 5 bucks a month they may get a slew of actors to sign up who otherwise wouldn't.

*No submission report feature. To be fair, LA Casting doesn't offer this either but Actors Access does and it's one of the main features that all actors LOVE because it allows us to see the details of the casting notice after it's been removed and it also allows us to see which headshot we submitted. Most importantly, at the end of the year it's a good tool to help us evaluate how many opportunities we actually received from this service. I must say, though, when I initially mentioned this to Moses before even using the service he seemed really open to adding this feature so hopefully it's on the horizon.

*Feedback is hit or miss. Sometimes casting directors leave it and sometimes they don't. As a company that uses this as a part of their main advertising, this needs to change.

Suggestions
So all things considered, here are my suggestions that I think will improve the services that CAZT has to offer to increase its value to actors...

1. Consider lowering the monthly fee. As the new kid on the block going against 2 already very established submission services, your pricing shouldn't be anywhere near their's at this point. Actors Access is $65 per year (though I do understand that they don't include photos & reels like you do) so at $9 per month, your site is almost twice the cost of their's. That needs to change.

2. If feedback from the casting director will continue to be advertised, then it must be given. I know you can't force a person to do anything but since they're not being a charged a dime to cast in your location, there needs to be an agreement that they sign that holds them to their word. In addition, holding their money hostage certainly helps most people make more responsible decisions. I propose you have a copy of the casting director's credit card on file or you receive a check from them that you hold onto as a security deposit if they are new to your facility. Once they post feedback they're given back their check or their cc is never charged. However if they don't post feedback within a week, there's a fee. Plain and simple. If someone is planning to uphold their end of the bargain and actually provide feedback then this shouldn't deter them in the least.

3. Give actors the ability to select which headshot they want to send. Many of us have a variety of looks so it would be incredibly helpful to be able to choose which one is the primary photo that the CD will see. I've heard from a few actors that this is in the works but at the time I used this service that was not an option.

4. If you're interested in finding another way to bring in revenue that won't ruffle actors feathers, have one room that is dedicated to self-taped auditions. Since the lighting is already pretty good in most of the rooms, all an actor needs to do is bring a friend or pay a CAZT employee to be the camera operator. Seeing how most places cost more than $100 to do this {madness I tell you!}, this would be a great way for you to make extra money while at the same time offering actors a much more affordable alternative.

So there you have it folks. My 2 cents {well more like a $1} worth on CAZT as both a submission service and casting facility. My hope is that you'll check them out for yourself and weigh in with your feedback as well. As I said in the beginning of this post, the owner is incredibly receptive to feedback, even if he may not necessarily agree with it. The fact that he's open to discuss it though, is very much appreciated.
Day 255: Rehearsal with Yvonne. Although I'm not in class this month (sad face) we worked on her scene together. I also attempted a drop-off at the Culver Studio Lot. I use the word attempted because when I got there, the security guard automatically thought I was there to audition for a particular role on the new show Ringer- apparently black girls my age had been there all morning. But foolish me, I asked how to get to the office which made him ask for my name to see if I was on the list. Why oh why didn't I just smile and walk away, finding someone else to point me in the right direction? Oh well. I know better next time. If someone lets me on the lot from now on I'll just go with it.


Day 254: Today I've decided to give myself a block schedule. I read about this years ago when I was still a wedding planner, as it was touted as a great way for entrepreneurs to organize the many things they need to do on a daily basis. Since I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed lately, I'm going to give this a try. You basically break up your week into categories of tasks that need to be done. See example below...


block schedule time management

While the schedule shown above is that of a photographer, my categories as an actor/writer/budding producer are as follows:
Coffee Dates & Meetings
Writing
Marketing {E-blasts, mailings, drop-offs, social media}
Rehearsing
Producing {Scheduling, locations, etc.}
Admin {Processing email, answering email, updating websites}
Blogging

I'll let you know in a couple of weeks how it's working out for me.
Day 253: Met up with Tom Lind, a classmate of mine, to run through a scene I wrote called "3rd Tour" that we're going to shoot for my reel in the next few weeks.
Day 251: Caught up on reading one of my favorite TV/Film blogs- Shadow & Act.

Day 252: 10 years ago today our country was attacked in a way that no one could have imagined would ever happen in our lifetime. Like most people, I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard the news. So today, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I went to church where we prayed for the loved ones of the victims of  this attack, then went home and watched multiple programs that gave updates on some of the families who were affected by this.
Day 250: Audition at Jane Doe Casting for a TBS promo. The audition itself was fine but it was the hour and a half long wait that killed me. I thought I was gonna go to work early today and I ended up being lucky that I didn't get there late. On a good note though, I'm on avail for an industrial {those videos that your employers make you watch} so it would be really nice to book it.
Day 248: Finished writing the last episode of DWP. It feels really good to wrap this up and close it out in a way that I'll be happy for it to end. Now it's time to start planning the shoot!

Day 249: TAN Power Group. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this monthly meeting is AWESOME! There's nothing like being around other actors who are DOING things, not just talking about it. It literally lights a fire underneath me every time I go. Besides that, it's also such a great way for us to help each other out. There's this segment called "Issue Time" where we can talk about whatever issues we're having to get feedback & assistance from the rest of the group. Sometimes only advice is given but other times actual tangible help is provided- like the actress who needed a cheap/free mansion to shoot her webseries at, yeah apparently one of the members in our group has a friend who owns a mansion and he actually let her film there. Actors helping Actors- I love it.

Afterwards I headed to Blank Spaces to view their offices to see if they'll work for 2 of my reel scenes that I want to shoot and they absolutely will. The price was low, the parking's good and the customer service was fantastic so I can't wait to get this done. This is the first thing on my agenda for next month.


Day 247: Internship. Today the casting director started complaining about Obama and I had to bite my tongue. No he hasn't gotten us out of the crappy economic hole that we're in but he also inherited most of this from his steal from the poor and give to the rich predecessor. That's what I wanted to say but I didn't. No talking politics to CD's who aren't your actual friends- especially when you have an opposing view.


Day 246: Location scouting for DWP. I visited a new cupcake shop called Southern Girl Desserts {they have a DELICIOUS sweet potato pie cupcake by the way} since we'll need a bake shop for episode 8 and to my surprise the shop also houses a paper company: Cordially Invited. Since we need an invitation store for episode 6, this may be a way for me to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. I spoke with the owners of both companies and they seemed open to the idea of allowing me to shoot there. I made sure I sent them a detailed email later on and now I just have to wait to see if I can afford whatever they charge. Fingers crossed!


Day 239: Wrote a procedural - CSI, Criminal Minds, Law & Order type scene for Yvonne and I and I love it. Now we have to find a place for us to shoot and someone willing to shoot & edit it for a free lunch or a low cost.

Day 240: Casting Internship, sent an eblast of DWP updates to hundreds of real wedding planners as well as family/friends/colleagues and mailed the From The Heart proposal.

Day 241: Wine with Greg & Lex which ended up being a 4 hour conversation. Between the wine and the time, I had to completely give up on going into work but it was so worth it!

Day 242: Documentary meeting. There have been lots of rumors regarding the possible settlement in the Mitrice Richardson case. Though any settlement will probably hinder some of our film efforts, it was nice to learn what is fact and what is fiction from her mother.

Day 243: Rewrites- edited 2 scenes in episode 7 of DWP.

Day 244: Worked on episode 8 of DWP. Added one scene and rewrote an outline for the remaining scenes of this episode.

Day 245: Watched another interesting documentary: Hot Coffee. Remember that multi-million dollar lawsuit some lady won against McDonald's after she spilled coffee on herself? Yeah, this film is about that. It's all about tort reform and it was very enlightening.

Day 238: Fine-tuned a proposal on the Mitrice Richardson documentary that I've been working on all week to submit to From the Heart Productions {Thank you Lex & Hollie for the heads up!}. They offer a grant for films that fit the criteria of what we're trying to do: make something that sparks change that will not only benefit Mitrice's family but society as a whole. Created a Facebook page for the documentary as well. If you are at all interested in her story, please consider liking the Facebook page so that we have as many supporters as possible when the time comes for funding.



Day 237: Continued reading Save The Cat 2 and renewed my LA Casting subscription. I've always had it so that my agents could submit me and my reel was hosted for $5 per month but I'm now paying $15 again (yikes!) to submit myself as well. Hopefully this will bring me some more auditions.



Day 236: Location scouting for episode 6 of DWP. I have a quick scene that needs to take place either in the lobby or right outside the front door of a wedding venue so I visited The Sportsmen Lodge Events Center in Studio City and The Albertson Wedding Chapel in Mid-Wilshire. And speaking of DWP, we released episode 5 earlier this week. Here it is...

Day 234: Today I let Stephen have the car so that I could get extra some sleep since I didn't have plans to go anywhere. Lo and behold, while Yvonne and I rehearsed our class scenes in my apartment, I got an email and a phone call from my agent for a last minute commercial audition. I needed to be there in an hour and I had no vehicle. I was just about to tell her I couldn't make it when Yvonne offered to take me.  How sweet is that?!? She totally put aside her plans for the next few hours in order to take me, bring me home and then head back to her place to chill before class. She doesn't read this blog but if she did this would be my big shout-out to Yvonne moment.

Later on I had an evening audition for a new reenactment show on TV One {it was so/so} and then went to class.


Day 235: Laser tattoo removal treatment. Why does it seem like it hurts more this time around?

Day 233: Emailed manager who offered me rep to move forward but would like to amend or remove some items in her contract before signing. This is what I wrote...


Hi xxxx,


I would love for us to move forward! I did look over the contract and there were a few items that I'd like to amend or remove before doing so.


Would you be willing to start off with a 1 year term with the option to renew for 3 upon completion? I know that agents have a 90 day clause where either party can walk away if they feel it's not a good fit. I also know that as a manager you may need longer than that to see the results of your hard work so are you willing to have a trial term for less than 3 years?


Section V.a-  I have a pretty good commercial & print agent who are sending me out on a regular basis and have a good rapport with commercial cd's so I think they have this area covered. That said, I'd like to change the commission section to reflect 15% for theatrical work only and remove anything regarding commercials, print or publishing since I'm a writer as well. 


Section XVII-    I'd like to remove the automatic renewal clause at the end of the contract. I definitely think the amount of income I generate is a great way to help us both evaluate whether we'll continue our partnership in the future but I don't want that to be the sole reason. 


Those were the only changes I'd like to make. Let me know what you think when you have a moment. Feel free to call or email at your convenience.


All the best,
Brandi

The purpose for me posting this email is to hopefully help anyone out there who may be uncomfortable with a contract you've been asked to sign. You don't have to accept it as is! Obviously I wasn't okay with some of her terms- which by the way were all a part of the standard Talent Managers Association contract so it's not like she's only manager out there asking for this. The important thing to remember is that you can negotiate whatever terms you'd like until you can come to an agreement that you're both happy with. Many times managers & agents will work with you but unfortunately in this case she was unwilling to do so which meant I had the choice to accept her terms or walk away... I chose to walk.

No representation is better than being stuck for 3 years in a contract that makes me feel uneasy. No hard feelings though. We wished each other the best of luck and kept it moving.
Day 232: Went to a TAN Q&A with commercial casting director Danielle Eskinazi. I've spoken with her via twitter over the last 2 years so it was nice to finally meet her in person. Hopefully I can get called into her office one day soon.


Day 228: Coffee date with Surafel Tesfaye, a filmmaker who cast me in a graduate thesis film last year that I was really excited about shooting only to have the funding fall out. I randomly saw him as an extra in a webseries which lead me to search for his contact information and shoot him a text message to say hello and touch base. From there we decided to catch up at my favorite Larchmont Village cafe. He's been in Ethiopia for a few months so he's ready to reconnect with others and get to work now that he's back and done with school.

Day 229: Quick brainstorming session via telephone with Tara to complete our outline. Finished reading Save The Cat- though I checked it out from the library it will be a book that I purchase for my own. 

Day 230 - 231: Started reading Save The Cat 2: STC Goes To The Movies
Day 226: No internship today. Stayed home with Jayden since he had a stomach bug and submitted on Actors Access and CAZT {Yep they have a submission site now. I'll write about it in a later post}.


Day 227: Rehearsed a few hours before class with my beautiful classmate Yvonne Truong. We've decided to do scene together for our reel- something in the vein of Law & Order/Criminal Minds/CSI, you get the picture. At some point in the next 2 weeks I have to write it. It'll only be a page so it shouldn't take too long.



Day 225: Today I decided to email a handful of managers on my target list while I take a minute to decide whether or not to move forward with the manager who offered to sign me. Since I have a week to make a decision, this is what I sent out to the managers on my list...

Subject: Meeting this week?

Hi *****, 

I've recently been offered representation from another management company and would love to meet with you before making any decisions.  

7 quick tidbits about me:

  • I wrote & starred in the webseries "Diary of a Wedding Planner." You can view the most recent episode here.
  • In my last 7 commercial auditions I've had 3 callbacks and 1 avail. Almost there!
  • I'm currently producing the official documentary on the Mitrice Richardson story.
  • I'm continuing to study audition & on-camera technique in an ongoing class at Stan Kirsch Studios.
  • I'm staying in shape by returning to my former love of hip-hop dance at Your Neighborhood Dance Studio.
  • Have a versatile look- rocking my natural hair for commercial auditions & long curls for anything theatrical.
  • Have a stable night job in production that keeps my days completely free for auditions. No golden handcuffs!
If you have room in your roster for an adorably sassy mid-20's black chick who values training, I'd love to meet with you at your earliest convenience.

Cheers,
Brandi Ford


Notice what I didn't have on there? Something that says, I recently booked... because I HAVEN'T BOOKED ANYTHING SO FAR THIS YEAR and we're about to be in SEPTEMBER!!!! AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH$*%&^$%$@$#@$!!!!!

If you can't tell, it's frustrating. I'm frustrated. *Sigh* But I had to write something so I called attention to what sounded good in my head.


Well, these were the 3 {mildly depressing} same day responses I received:

  1. Who is the other company followed 5 minutes later with I saw your reel. This is a pass for me. 
  2. Thank you for your interest.  I do have a couple of clients who would be a direct conflict and it would not be fair to you or them to meet. Best of luck.
  3. Hi Brandi: Take the rep offered! I can't take on another actor at your level right now! 
After eating some ice cream {doesn't that make EVERYTHING just feel better, at least temporarily?}, I soaked in what the first manager had to say and resolved to shoot some more footage for my reel. I already knew I needed to add some dramatic scenes to it but this highlights that need even more.

Bottomline: Gotta get this taken care of and until I do, no more submissions to representation.


Day 224: Reviewed manager contract and made note of 2 sections I don't understand, 1 section I want to amend and 1 section I want to remove. Going to ask around for entertainment lawyer referrals and will hopefully find someone who can review & amend this contract for $150 or less.