Well, the weather in the Southeast United States this past month has been less than exemplary: it’s either drought or flood around here, and the past couple weeks, it has been mostly flood. The first couple weeks of May, I didn’t mow the lawn, because there wasn’t enough rain to make the grass grow. The last half of the month, it has rained so much, the ground hasn’t been dry enough to put the lawn mower to it (and boy, is the St. Augustine getting high!).
I can draw a pretty strong analogy to the film industry here on Florida’s First Coast: the phrase “feast or famine” rings a bell (and yes, I can already hear mentors screaming as they read this, “you can only be as busy as the effort you put into getting your name out there.”). Granted, I can do plenty more to promote my personal “brand,” and if this month can be used as a barometer, I am definitely moving in the right direction.
On the second Monday in May, I was called to audition for a US Navy video to be shot later in the month. This audition had a panel of eight individuals, most of whom were looking for an actor who shared the most physical charactersitics with the actual person he will be portraying. Although it would be great to be cast in a role based on more than just my physical appearance, I appreciated the opportunity when offered the part.
I had another audition on Tuesday. I have participated in auditions that were one or two days before the shoot, but never the same day. Each of the candidates received the script about a week before, then on the morning of the shoot while the crew was busy setting the scene, the director pulled us to the side, one-by-one for the audition. Although I was not cast, I received some very positive feedback, and the director expressed a genuine interest in casting me in a future project. I was impressed by the efficiency of this crew, and I look forward to working with them.
On Wednesday, I received a notice for a regional commercial audition in Orlando Friday afternoon. The drive down was as relaxing as can be, knowing that the return trip would be during rush hour (blech!). Fortunately, the location was on the east side of town, which allowed me some time to wind down prior to the audition, and skip most of the traffic that clogs I-4 through the rest of Orlando on the way back.
For the Navy Personnel Command shoot, I portrayed sailor John Crabtree who lost his sight due to an IED explosion in Iraq. The production focused on the Safe Harbor service, which “provide a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of our Shipmates’ recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.” I had hoped to meet the real Chief John Crabtree and his wife Marshell; however a family emergency called them away, which initiated a few changes to the scenes shot that day.
I have practiced acting with various disabilities in workshops before, and the most difficult, I believe, is blindness. Although with enough concentration, you can ignore certain sensory inputs, or not use a limb, it is another thing to prevent your eyes from tracking or locking onto any person or object. Fortunately, I was wearing sunglasses for half the scenes, which helped me to divert my focus. During other half of the scenes, my head was bandaged, so I was truly blind, for all intents and purposes.
I am writing this month’s blog on a flight to Columbus, Ohio for my maternal grandmother’s funeral. My paternal grandmother passed away in December. I am glad they were such a significant part of my life, and helped shape me into the person I have become. It will be nice to see the family together again, even under these sad circumstances. Holidays will be difficult this year, and I am sure will make me appreciate my family even more.
As I was packing for the flight, I checked my email one last time, and there was a message from my agent for a direct booking on Friday. Fortunately, I will be back in town to be able to do it. The challenge will be getting home around midnight Thursday night, then jumping right in my car, making a 3-hour trip to the location, and being ready to shoot at 6:00 Friday morning. I will see how much “quality” sleep I can get on the plane.
This coming weekend is Jacksonville’s turn at the 48 Hour Film Project…a competition where over 40 teams create, write, rehearse, shoot, edit and produce a 4- to 7-minute short film in under 48 hours. Friday night, the team leaders will receive the required elements, and we will shoot on Saturday (so be on the look out!). The final product is due at 7:00 PM on Sunday. Stop by the Jacksonville Landing Friday for the kick-off or Sunday for the drop-off, and see who makes the deadline, and who doesn’t!
You are welcome, and cordially invited, to attend the screenings of these films. A dozen or so films will be presented each night next week, Tuesday through Thursday, at the Florida Theater at 7:00 PM. This is a fun way to spend an evening — seeing a variety of stories told from multiple perspectives, representing many genres. My team’s project will be presented on Thursday, but if you are interested in seeing the films on all three nights, the festival is offering a discounted “All Access Pass” : http://www.48hourfilm.com/jacksonville
If you happen to miss the screenings for whatever reason, you will have other opportunities to see all the action. On Wednesday, June 24th, the films voted “Best of Jacksonville 2009” will be presented at the Florida Theater at 7:00 PM. Last year, the “Best of” series was later broadcast on a local television channel, and I expect they will do the same this year. After that, all entries will be uploaded to the www.48.tv website, along with submissions from all over the world. Also, I plan to post the film on my website in the near future.
Thanks to all of you who follow these posts. I appreciate the feedback, and I sincerely hope you find this blog of value. Often, the entries read like a journal, reflecting on my personal encounters and sharing plans and expectations. From time-to-time, you may also find a nugget of knowledge gleaned from an experience I had, that you may enjoy and wish to share with others. If you do, please let me know. The “Comments” feature on this blog is intentionally disabled, but the “Contact Me” feature on my website is available for your input.
Scott J. Smith