Beautiful Weather, Ain’t It?

Last week, the air conditioner broke.  Well, it didn’t break, but something was causing a puddle underneath the air handler.  I make it a regular practice to make sure the drain is clear, but went ahead and checked the pipe as far as I could (even using a plumber’s snake), and found no obstructions…at least from the inside.  So, I inspected the exterior of my home, and could not find the drain anywhere.  After a little digging, it was revealed that the drain was completely covered with dirt!  But wait, it gets even better…As I cleared a space for the drain to work properly, I discovered that…get this…a tree root had grown up against the foundation of my home, and pinched the drain line shut!  It took over an hour of cutting and drilling to open up the line, while being careful not to puncture the refrigerant tubing, which had also been enveloped by the root.  The question comes to mind, “Why was this not discovered during the pre-purchase home inspection, or when the compressor was replaced three years ago?”  Of course, now that the drain is working properly, temperatures have been such that the heat pump has been switched off ever since.

September was a hot one, though.  I am glad there were no hurricanes nor tropical storms to add to the mix.  Actually, this year’s tropical season was rather mild, for which, I am certain, we can all appreciate.  If you missed it, on September 1st, Florida Film professionals attended a town hall meeting with several legislators to discuss the state’s film incentive…a program that brought lots of business for many industries in the State of Florida over the past decade, but also a program which has been enhanced by other states, now drawing the same business away from Florida.

I had an audition for a home improvement direct buying club, and the president of the company sat in on the auditions.  Although I was “familiar” with the product, I wasn’t prepared to discuss his service in much detail.  After-the-fact, I noticed most of what we talked about can be found on his company’s website.  Usually, I do a much better job of knowing about the product or service.  Murphy’s Law is still upheld:  “When you don’t prepare…”

There were several chances throughout the month for me to redeem myself, as there were auditions for an Orlando attraction, a couple major motion pictures, as well as a general audition for this year’s film students at Florida State College.  I took extra care to know as much detail about each project while also learning the scene, including searching for a period costume piece for one, and felt much more confident before and after each audition.

Although we completed shooting my character John Grable for Daniel’s Lot, I was called upon a couple times to stand-in for Father Mahoney.  Interesting concept:  Since some of the scenes were shot in Connecticut, and it would be financially prohibitive for a low-budget independent production to transport the entire cast between locations, we used stand-in/doubles at each location, and backdrops were duplicated for a consistent look from scene to scene.

Football season has started, and my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars got off to a slow start.  Well, when you put it into perspective, they lost to 2008’s AFC Southern Division Champions by only two points, and the NFC Conference Champions with the aid from a referee error.  Fortunately, a serious team showed up ready to play in Houston this past weekend, which (I think) has brought back confidence in some fans.

Half-way through the month, I found myself pulling double-duty:  I had scheduled a taping of First Coast Journal with Goldie from Mike’s Dog House (the animal rescue I made the short film Save 2 Lives about over the summer), and was also cast in a PGA Tour Charities commercial for the same day.  Fortunately, my wife is also involved with Mike’s Dog House and volunteered to participate in the Comcast Local Access program, while I fed her information for the interview via text message between takes from the PGA Tour green screen set.

As I “Tweet“ed a couple weeks ago, “With all the trips I make to Orlando for auditions, the one time I’m in Orlando for personal reasons, I get an audition in Jacksonville!”  I was accompanying my wife to the Orlando launch of a new business for which she is a provider, when I learned that an independent film was seeking Jacksonville talent.  I had hoped to audition prior to the trip, but due to their busy pre-production schedule, that was not possible.  I found myself driving back to North Florida while the conference was ongoing, and returning to bring Layla home that night (I think I can do I-95/I-4 with my eyes closed now!).

Qivana is described as “a practical health regimen created with world-class natural products.”  It is a pro-biotic supplement, composed of no synthetic substances, but natural roots and herbs used for centuries in Eastern countries where good health and longevity are the norm.  Layla is very excited about this new business opportunity.  Qivana has chosen to distribute through a network marketing program, and is backed by a Dream Team of executives and scientists.

As with anything that is new, we were cautiously optimistic about this product, but after only a few months of taking this regimen with no other changes in diet or activity, my diabetic wife has reduced her dependence on insulin by almost 20%, and her A1C dropped from 6.6 to 6.1 for that same period (may be “gobblety-gook” for most of you, but other diabetics know that is huge!).

I also took some time to update my website.  I noticed that the pages with the highest traffic were the Videos page and the Blog page.  Rather than requiring visitors to “click through” to their destination, I decided to place my demo reel and blog on my home page for quick access, and moved the image slide-show to the About Me page.  Although the Social Networks page still exists, it is no longer in the main navigation, and is replaced by icons that appear alongside my most recent “Tweet” at the top of each page.  This is work that I can also offer to other artists, small businesses and non-profits from

I finished the month with a wonderful learning experience:  Casting directors Richard Futch (Army Wives) and Kathy Laughlin (Independent Casting) welcomed a couple hundred Florida actors during a forum hosted by the Florida Theatrical Association.  The first half of the evening was an open question-and-answer session, followed by cold-read auditions, with feedback provided by this fantastic duo.

I almost didn’t make it.  Looking back on it, this has all the makings of a sit-com plot (…and if you use it, be sure to give me creative credit!).  At the time, I wasn’t laughing, as it made me late…something you never want to do when meeting a casting director.  It started early that morning:  I was concerned that my car had been running a little rough, so I took it to the dealership, and advised them that if they could not complete the work by 5:00 PM, not to start, as I was leaving for Orlando no later than 5:00 PM.

As I arrived that evening, my car was not ready, even though I called the dealership several times during the day, and was reassured each time I had nothing to worry about.  My service adviser apologized profusely, and offered a complimentary rental car.  Given no alternative, I accepted; however, the rental agency is not on-site, so I had to wait for a ride to the location a couple miles away, and, of course, the process of renting a car is never expedient.  As the associate prepared my rental car for departure, he just then noticed the air conditioner didn’t work, and insisted he process a different one.

At this point, I was already twenty-five minutes behind my personal schedule, and I declined the offer.  After all, the temperature had dropped below eighty degrees by this time, and there was no higher temperature forecast over the next twenty-four hours.  Not five miles down the road, the on-ramp to I-95 was backed up.  Although this was rush hour, the traffic was considerably worse than expected.  Twenty minutes and one mile later, I discovered the problem was a building had become detached from the trailer upon which it was perched, blocking two lanes of the five-lane highway.

I had plenty of time to consider turning back home, but since the last meet-and-greet with Craig and Lisa Fincannon was so good, I did not want to pass up an opportunity to meet other casting directors in this setting.  Forty-five minutes late departing Jacksonville in no way can be made up before Orlando.  I had only planned to be early by about twenty minutes, so I could stop by an ATM or grocery store to get “cash back” for the cash-only event.  When I finally arrived at my destination, I had to drive four miles, and visit three banks, before I could find a drive-through (or even walk-up) ATM.

At last, as I arrived at the venue (about a half-hour late…made up “some” time), I was so distracted by the impression I was about to make walking in, exacerbatedby the fact that the entrance into the room had me walk directly in front of the speakers, that I had forgotten to turn off the ringer to my cell phone.  Murphy’s Law strikes again…I received a call!  Despite all the heartache of the trip, I learned a great deal, and had some very valuable face time with both Richard and Kathy.  I certainly hope the tardy faux pas doesn’t come back to haunt me. 

Scott J. Smith

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