Most of you know by now, if I don’t write you in the first week of the month, I have been a little busy. Second week: a lot busy. Third week: well, let’s just say I am already jotting notes so I can get a jump start on my November log once this one is published.
September began with a blessed event, our son Kiefer’s Baptism. The church congregation has gotten to know him pretty well by now, since he has been attending the services with us since August. July was a time for all of us to stay home and recuperate. Each Sunday, he quietly enjoys mommy or daddy’s shoulder, and tends to “drift off” sometime around communion. He loves looking around at all the people, and listening to Pastor Bob’s voice. The overhead lights and stained glass windows grab his attention, and the Sunday before his baptism, he was intensely focused on the Cross (Good Boy!).
There has yet to be a need to “excuse ourselves” to the parlor or nursery. Only twice has he vocalized the need for nourishment, which the well-prepared parents would quickly provide. I can’t say we’re “old hats” at this…who is, anyway?…but we’re holding our own and enjoying every wonderful minute. During the baptism, Kiefer was calm and content, as if to demonstrate to the other infants, “Hey kids, this is how it’s done!” Thanks to Pastor Bob, Mom, Dad, Carissa, Trey, Jo Ann, Phil, Sam, Michael, Nancy, Ian and Paula for sharing this special moment with us.
After a celebratory luncheon at my folk’s house, we went home, changed, and then made our way to Dave and Buster’s Restaurant to celebrate my brother-in-law Sam’s 21st birthday. If you have never been, D&B is a place filled with activity: pool tables, table-top shuffleboard, video games, carnival-style games, skee-ball, a sports bar and a casual dining area. This is also where I directed murder mystery dinner theatre productions for about ten years. Kiefer slept quite well during dinner, but once he was awake, the noise was a bit much for him, so he returned home with Mom and Grandma, while Sam, Phil and I played a few more games.
Speaking of mystery dinner theatre, Layla and I were invited to a special presentation by Christ United Methodist Church. Peggy Adolphson, a friend of ours, requested our input for the event. She had seen shows we produced at Dave and Buster’s and wanted to do a similar event as a fund raiser for her church. We consulted with her, sharing tips and suggestions regarding layout, rehearsal and character ideas, understanding that most of the performers would not be familiar with this particular format. The evening of the show was very enjoyable. Kiefer played in the church nursery, while Layla and I investigated characters suspected of stealing the Great Kiss-Kiss Diamond.
We also attended a huge event presented by the St. Augustine Airport Pilots Association, which welcomed the Florida Sport Aviation Antique and Classic Association and the North Florida Corvette Association. Dozens of aircraft and Corvettes (some from every decade of production) filled the general aviation ramp on the south side of the airport. The Corvette group, celebrating the local organization’s 35th anniversary, arranged their vehicles into the number “35,” and SAAPA member Sue Upchurch flew a photographer in her helicopter for an aerial shot of the attempt. A couple hundred like-minded individuals enjoyed checking out the cars and planes, and eating some excellent food (a necessity for large events, eh?).
September also seems to have been the month for direct bookings. It’s kind of nice being requested for jobs based on the merit of your past work, I must say. I hope my efforts today continue to contribute to more bookings in the future. The first commercial, I will admit, I was actually an emergency replacement, and not the director’s first choice — but these are the opportunities one must take advantage, right? I received a call just before dinner asking if I could be on set within the hour. After asking Nancy nicely to help Layla with Kiefer for the night, I drove off for a late night shoot.
The following week, I was requested for another commercial shoot, working with familiar faces Phil Parham, Chip Lane, Desiree Markella, Amanda Ayres and Anthony Paderewski. Anthony and I did that plumbing commercial last month with Michael Hancock, and would also perform together later in the month for a government agency training video with Nicholas Barrera and Julius Golden. Devlin Mann of The Backlight Theatre Group also requested my help shooting the pilot of the Jacksonville-based situation comedy In The Pits. It is a quirky romp about a theatre company that takes extreme measures after facing multiple setbacks, and currently appears on Jacksonville’s CW affiliate Saturday nights.
September concluded with three auditions in three cities on three consecutive days. Well, truth be told, the audition for a motion picture filming in Atlanta was self-taped here at home. The next day, Layla, Kiefer and I traveled to Savannah for my next audition. They came along in hopes to spend some time in Historic Savannah, which eventually was limited to a whirlwind drive along the waterfront before my call time. We’ll definitely return soon to enjoy the city’s offerings. Then, it was off to Miami to audition for a regional grocery store spot. It was my first appearance before casting director Brad Davis, and I look forward to our next meeting.
Of course, when making long business trips like this, the concept of time weighs heavily when planning the trip. As a professional, tardiness is inexcusable, regardless of the distance you had to travel. I have heard it from casting directors and producers: “If you are going to be late to an audition or a shoot, there had better be blood…preferably yours.” The film and television industry is no different from any other: timeliness is sacred, and those who do not respect that will not be in that industry for long.
My twenty years experience as a commercial-rated pilot probably helps with my trip planning. I understand that delays are inevitable, and it is best to plan an extra “buffer” of time and be early, than to have wasted an entire trip due to poor planning and arriving “just a few minutes late.” Years ago, I came across a great resource, Traffic.com. It was one of the first online resources that presented traffic delays and construction on online maps. Now, most mapping services provide some sort of traffic display, but Traffic.com also would present multiple alternate routes based on current traffic conditions (along with estimated travel times for each).
That was sufficient for trip planning, but the features that site has now should make every actor (let’s say every traveler) keep Traffic.com in their trip-planning toolkit. I especially appreciate Voice and Text alerts. Here, you can set a time for your trip, whether it is a one-time drive, or a regular commute, and Traffic.com will email, text and or call you with traffic alerts during your drive time, and offer alternate routes! When you may be on the road for 4-6 hours, something could happen after your last online map check that could affect your arrival time.
I prefer the voice alerts myself; that way, I am not looking away from the road to check my SMS messages or email. If there are any doubts, I can call 1-866-MY-TRAFC for free at any time to get updated travel conditions. If there is a possible delay, I can say the word “Alternates,” and Traffic.com will read to me a new route. Here is where I might want to pull over, log on, and check out the route on a map, but this tool, well, the whole website, provides peace of mind, and might just save actors a gig, sales professionals an account, and keep you from missing that concert, wedding, graduation or other personal event.
There are also mobile applications available on the site you might find useful, as well. No, I am not a member of any affiliate program (wish I was!). I know this is a tool you can appreciate. I think we can all benefit personally and professionally by occasionally sharing tools, resources and concepts that make our lives just a little bit easier. It is important to be innovative to be successful. For instance, I had to laugh when Layla pointed out this sign (at right) to me, but then I had to marvel at the thought that someone found a potential business opportunity in an otherwise depressed housing market.
You can also use innovation to make your daily life more manageable. Whether it is rearranging a room to be more efficient or more appealing to the eye; or upgrading your computer, entertainment system or other home technologies to help you complete regular tasks; or maybe developing a new way to approach something you do every day; I hope you make the time every day to enjoy the time you have every day.
Scott J. Smith