Happy New Year!

Really.  Looking back, 2009 was very turbulent for many of us.  How did you weather the storm?Last year, I shared my intentions for the year.  I said I was going to push myself harder as an actor.  I attended several workshops, including two led by Miami casting director Lori Wyman, to hone my audition and performance technique, I signed with a couple new agents, and I added my resume to a few premiere online casting directories.  As a result, I am seeing an increase in auditions and bookings.  I know I cannot rest on my laurels…a fire will only die, unless you continue to add fuel to it, which I plan to do throughout 2010.I also mentioned I was going to obtain at least one new aircraft rating for my commercial pilot’s certificate.  On this task, I was rather unsuccessful.  Since I had to strongly invest in my career without the financial support of a “survival job,” the seaplane and glider training has temporarily been postponed.  I continue to fly as often as I can, which is not nearly as much as I would like, and look forward to improving my aeronautical aptitude this coming year.

The website design business is continuing to bear fruit.  One obstacle that was mentioned during a professional consultation at the end of last year, is that my “creative” company name might be impeding progress.  I always thought “WebMage” was kind of a cool name, but now is the time to put aside personal preferences in order for the company to grow.  If you have any geographically-neutral suggestions (please, no “JACKSONVILLE Web Masters” or the like), please let me know.  In the mean-time, feel free to review the website I created for Valiant Aviation Maintenance, a full-service shop found at Saint Augustine / St. John’s County Airport.

I have noticed that many people actively disengage from social contact (Yes, even we “social butterflies” are guilty of this, too!).  We have allowed modern technology to become a proxy for actual human interaction.  While email, texting and social networks have facilitated our ability to connect with more people in more places more frequently, it has unfortunately trivialized the notion of real human interaction.  No “LOL,” “BFF” or “IMHO” can come close to the power of a simple handshake, hug or direct eye contact.

Watching people pass each other on the street, most suddenly become fascinated by an inanimate object rather than interact with the approaching human being; we stare at a receipt, rather than look in the eyes of the hospitality associate or cashier who provided a service to us; and eye contact on the road is practically extinct.  Shamefully, I have caught myself doing this on occasion, and am currently making an active attempt at correcting this unwelcome behaviour, and hopefully, this will become a growing trend.

I certainly hope the world will also consider eliminating the phrase “in these…times” from their lexicon. This term is used excessively to acknowledge the challenging state of the economy, joblessness, foreclosures and the like. Everyone in the world today is well aware of how the current state of the world affects us personally, as well as our community as a whole. Not only is stating “in these…times” redundant, it is reminding people of a condition we are all trying hard to correct.  Let’s stop reiterating where we are, economically and culturally, and start focusing on how we will improve the world!

Last month, I was asked to return to shoot a second commercial for the League of American Voters, a conservative political group whose intent was to sway the vote concerning the National Health Care plan.  According to polls, the television campaign made a significant impact in the states where it was shown, but the overall effort “missed it by THAT much!”  I hope that there are more opportunities for that character (similar to “PC” from the Mac commercials), that possibly I will be “recalled” again.

I currently appear in a Lifestyle Family Fitness ad.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Don’t laugh.  I know it is being shown in North and Central Florida.  I am not sure if it is being played in their other markets or not.  I also performed as the victim for Murder Mystery PlayersEngaged to Die;  it was great to finally perform in one of their shows, after having spent ten years directing them.  I finished the year as a “human statue” for the Gator Bowl / New Year’s Eve party.  Thank you, PRI Productions!

In addition to furthering my career, I have also been blessed with the prospect of becoming a father later this year.  We surprised our families by sharing this announcement on Christmas Day, which required a trip to the Florida Panhandle over the weekend, so we could share the news in person to everyone.  Mark Floyd, the photographer who shot our bridal session and wedding, took a few pictures for the occasion.  Prints were included with Christmas gifts, letters and cards this year.

As they say, the best offense is a good defense.  Although our current house was purchased with the intent of sheltering a growing family, we have decided that much of the space, along with typical landscaping and maintenance, are really unnecessary.  I am spending some time each week making improvements to the house, which should aid in the sale of the home to help guard us from getting into “dire straits” as many families found themselves last year.

…and speaking of finances…

A friend of mine referred me to Abundance Bound:  It gears money management concepts towards the life of an actor, artist or any creative professional.  If you get the chance, sign up for the free teleconference when offerred.  I didn’t have time to participate live, but was emailed a link to the archived teleconference, and the 90-minute MP3 is chock-full of very valuable information (Not like other teleconferences out there, which are just sales pitches).

Thanks, everyone, who has visited ScottJSmith.com in 2009.  We finished December with the second highest number of visitors ever!  (Missed the June 2009 count by only three visits!)  I hope you find the information of value, and if you have any suggestions how I can improve the layout, design or features, please let me know.  I am open to your input.

Scott J. Smith
www.ScottJSmith.com

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