It was just a couple of years ago when everything came crashing down. Life. My life in particular.
After having worked for years on end – developing a screenplay, getting talent attached, raising money, shooting the proof-of-concept trailer, offering a pay-or-play to an A-List actress, and attaching one of the most revered casting directors – it all came to a sudden halt. I was fighting for my dreams like a warrior, securing this, tackling that, controlling every aspect of what I thought I was driving forward. Driving so hard that “feature film” ended up on the floor in bits and pieces of creative carnage.
I searched and scoured for the enemy stopping my dreams from becoming a reality… and realized it was me. My own past returned to teach me a lesson.
“You may be done with the past, but the past isn’t done with you.”
I felt annihilated to the point of a creative purification… a letting go… a forcible universal cause and effect, a cleansing.
All told I was spent in every respect of the word. My most prospective script, my last and final hope to launch me into my dream role, was instead off the launching pad and stored away in a mausoleum… cremated… dead.
How could this happen? And why? So much blood, sweat, and tears. I looked in the mirror and wondered, “Now what?” And that’s when I realized I had been down this road before, a number of times. I needed to take another path… into the unknown… the uncontrollable, the unpredictable…
I had to exit off the freeway into new terrain and start auditioning again. This is my craft, and I am an actor. This is all I have ever known and everything I trained for.
My friend Ron said to me,
“Sometimes you gotta pull yourself up by the bootstraps.”
I never forgot that, and it certainly spoke to me.
A couple of months passed after my last dream’s funeral. I finished mourning and it was time to go hunting for my creative yearning. I met with several agents and quickly got a pulse on the present day marketplace for film and tv. I was aware of the industry climate, but I was so involved in producing that it didn’t really affect me.
Everyone is an actor now or destined to be, in every town around the world with YouTube. This is what I wanted to avoid; by producing my own films I thought that I would hop, skip, and jump past the reservoir of actors and the endless competition.
I remember asking an actor that I worked with in the play Death of A Salesman, “What is the method?” He said,
“There is no method. When you’re standing at the edge of the abyss, you don’t know what’s going to happen but your instincts will save you. In that fleeting moment, JUMP! And it will catch you.”
Well, seeing that I landed face first on the concrete, I realized, “oh, it caught me alright… head first.” But I had it in me to stand up one more time, one more time. I secured an agent and a manager, thinking this would support the cause.
I started submitting myself along with my reps on the breakdowns. I was excited to audition for a couple of great films and got callbacks but didn’t book. Running into the holiday season, things got slower pushing past Thanksgiving and into Christmas. And then to my surprise, I was submitted to a film that would end up changing my life and faith.
Persistence in the eyes of defeat persevered. I remember when I got the audition sides I thought, “If I don’t get this part, I should give up acting.” Again, totally oblivious to the hundreds of actors that were submitted for this project.
At the initial audition, the director and casting agent seemed very responsive to my first reading, so they asked for me to read it again with some small adjustments. After the second reading, the film’s director was silent and turned to the casting agent looking at her for what seemed an eternity and said, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” The casting agent said, “Yes, I am thinking what you’re thinking.” I thought to myself, “Is there a hidden camera in here, is the joke on me?”
The director turned to me and asked, “Would you be interested in reading for another role? You can come back another day, or we can read you today if you want to take it outside and look it over and decide.”
They gave me the audition sides, and I went out into the waiting room. Instantly the new character resonated with me, it was as if these were my words. I decided to read for it that day because I wanted this part. And I needed this job, even though I had no idea what the film was about. I only knew the writing was exceptional based on the audition sides.
The part I initially prepared for took a lot of effort as the character used medical terminology and symbolism to describe drugs and their effects. For the second reading, I only had 10 minutes to create a persona in my mind’s eye before returning to read. The response was unanimous: they reacted positively to my readers. They said thank you, great job, and nothing more. I left.
This is not abnormal for an audition in Hollywood as the competition is stiff. But I knew in my gut this was a purification in the making from all the defeat I experienced from years of attempting to develop my own scripts. I couldn’t sleep while anticipating a callback. Christmas came, along with the new year, and I heard nothing.