From Sacrifice to Confidence: My Journey on a Movie Set with A-Listers

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Most of you know that I moonlight as a SAG actor. And if you’re in the business of acting, you understand that it’s really up to a lot of other forces out there to determine how often you work. Nailing auditions rarely leads to actual bookings. Sometimes it’s a look thing.

I used to really work hard on trying to “make it,” even living in LA for a few years to learn more about the craft.

Back in 2014, I forced myself to write a piece of comedy every day and I actually stuck to it! I went back to my blog and found this daily rant (which is what I called the blog). I’ll let my 2014 self take over from here…

Rant #37 – November 9, 2014

This week’s rant deals with sacrificing and confidence. Obviously not the type of sacrifice a cancer-stricken child makes or a soldier in the trenches. Those are REAL sacrifices. But not all of us are tested to the limits of life like those brave souls.

Still we must make our β€œsmall” sacrifices in our day-to-day routines to accomplish our β€œsmall-scale” goals of life.

Mine happened this week when I had to travel to Atlanta for a gig as a bartender in a new Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe movie and PAY MY OWN DIME. Ugh.

So I traveled there on Saturday for a fitting, and the knowledge that I would be shooting on Monday. Ok, so the total cost is 2 nights at a hotel, some taxi rides, some meals, and the plane. So far, I would break even with my set payday.

Then Monday turned into Wednesday. For those in the entertainment business, it’s understood we’re not dealing with scientists, we’re dealing with artists. So scheduling isn’t the utmost of importance. When I came to set Wednesday, I sat. And waited. And sat some more. And waited some more. I waited for them to tell me at 1:00 AM that I was pushed to Friday now. OK, I get it. But crap, more sacrifice. More time away from the wifey and more dents in my wallet (I had to cancel my flight for $200, get another flight for another $200, buy more meals without per diem, and a couple more hotel nights). Small-scale sacrifices.

But when I finally got on set at 10:00 PM Friday, it was understood I would be shooting that night. And after waiting 4 hours, it was my turn. Here we go. Fuck sacrificing, now is the moment to get prepared and turn up the confidence. This was my turn to act with 2 Hollywood A-listers. Now it’s my time to shine so that I could allow them to shine in their scene. After all, audiences are paying to see them succeed, they don’t care about the 3rd bartender with 1 line.

Confidence. Now I can see people who don’t act or don’t encounter opportunities to act in front of stars feel uncomfortable when hanging with the celebs.

Not me. I’ve only had a handful of times that I could actually be in front of people with clout that could intimidate me. But this time I wasn’t uncomfortable hanging with Gosling and Crowe. I don’t know if it was being away from my wife for a week, paying my own way, and knowing I had to just get this project done so I could get home or knowing that this should be β€œfun,” and not nerve-racking, but I had a sense of calm when I was on set playing with these bigwigs.

I just went in there and acted as myself in the bartender part I played.

The most nerve-racking was when Gosling told me to drop my line and say some other stuff to advance the scene. Wait, what? Improv! Oh crap, now another level of my brain kicked in. My comedy part. This was something I can hang with, this was something I could do.

But this worked out well because now I went from 1 line to 3 lines! Score! Thanks Gosling!

So when it was my turn to start β€œimprov” riffing with the Gos, I made it happen. And as we got farther into the rehearsal and shooting, I got more and more cozy with my delivery. At one point I made a joke about Amish people packaging up bee’s urine to sell at a premium and had the whole crew and extras laughing after the director yelled cut. And then the director proceeded by telling me I did a great job. Even Gosling winked at me and said nice work. Wow, now I had some clout going forward with more improvising on the next takes. It really worked out well and I did my job. I had the confidence I needed to get the job I was there to do done and done correctly.

Sigh of relief. And then once I was officially wrapped, I was on cloud 9. I was able to leave knowing that I was headed home and I performed a successful day of shooting.

I can’t wait to do that again. I can’t wait to get back on a big set to deliver. I know I’ll have the confidence again, because of the sacrifices I made leading up to said gig. Practice makes perfect, but when you don’t have opportunities flying your way to practice this consistently, you must have that confidence to perform at a high level and squash all the nerve-inducing shit that goes along with it. Hey, you made it this far so you better slay it so you can gain some clout to get back on set.

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