Friday, April 28, 2006

Freelance Season Begins

This is my busy time of the year. And because one of my clients is seasonal, this becomes my REALLY busy time of the year. I had a project on Monday morning that was due by the next day at noon. That took me over 12 hours to finish, in addition to my regular job! So, doing the math, I'm not getting much sleep.

This morning, arriving by FedEx, I just got another 80 pages to look at. Friggin' A!

But as much as I whine and complain about it, I really don't mind the extra work. It's always been my thing to get my own raises.

This afternoon, I got a call from a Japanese company that distributes household products. They want me to pick up some of their products and rewrite their instruction manuals. Oh boy...

Oh, and I think I forgot to mention that a plastic surgeon I sometimes hang out with wants to do a trade for some copywriting. That's right. I'm thinking of pimping out my services for some Meso body sculpting and laser blemish removal.

What's Meso body sculpting? Well, apparently they stick you with needles and suck out the fat from your cells. It's like liposuction, only they leave the fat cells in your body, but remove the fat. Unfortunately, you have to go through about 6 treatments before you finally see some good results. Yeah, I know. I should just go to a friggin' gym, but damnit, if you got it (copywriting skills), you might as well flaunt it.

Actually, doing stuff for barter isn't a bad idea. I mean, I could probably get massages, facials, manicures, haircuts, dental work, and car repairs for the stuff I do. I know that Craigslist has a site for bartering services, but I bet there's a better way of making some deals.

Anyway, I'm way too overworked as it is right now. I should just work on getting some sleep.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Murder Mystery Dinner Over

The whole thing was a mystery. The storyline, my character, the crowd, my accent, the singing performances (it was built around an Asian American Super Idol show), and whether or not I could pull it off with only one meeting (I missed two scheduled meetings).

I should say that the only thing that wasn't a mystery for me was that I knew I'd be asking some perverted questions. It was the most inappropriate thread I could pull off, and I'm pretty well practiced in it, both in my writing and in my improv. Yes, it's a crutch, but it sure plays well with audiences that traditionally aren't too open about those things.

So, from the get-go, I had people EXPECTING me to say inappropriate stuff. Anything from "Are you wearing underwear?" to "What's your bra size?" to "How big is your penis?" Asian folks see that kind of comedy as cutting edge, not a crutch. And, boy, did the older ones in the audience love it. There was one woman (who actually might be reading this right now since I advertised this site in my bio) who was great and actually interacted with my dialogue. She was one of those gifts for improv actors that you can't plan ahead of time for. But she showed people it was okay to respond to sexual, uh, intercourse. (Sorry.)

Judging from the spontaneous laughter and the nice comments at the end, I think we all pulled it off nicely. I even went to a karaoke room with a small group of them afterward and I think the whole night opened them up. One of the girls said all sorts of guys were asking her what her bra and penis size was, which I think is kind of cute.

As for my Bruce Lee characterization, I think I'm over it. Done deal. It's all out of my system now. Plus, I don't think many people got it. They just thought I had some weird accent.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Went to a Party

Last week, a close friend was thinking of having a small birthday party. For the past couple of months, he was the First AD on "Alias," the canceled TV show starring Jennifer Gardner.

About a year before he worked on the show, we were watching a few episodes and noticed how fast the action moves from scene to scene. For instance, if she needs to go from the U.S. to Russia, they will do it in a matter of 2 scenes, with an action sequence taking place on the plane. No need to waste time on boarding and getting off the plane. Just put her on, have some action, then she's in Russia.

Anyway, he said the show was one of his most difficult, but it certainly paid the bills. He went to a wrap party and, of course, Ben Affleck was there to meet and greet the crew.

So last week, we went to this restaurant in Pasadena called Bar Celona. It's actually a combination of 3 restaurants, but it's new and the decor and ambience are pretty well done. We know one of the bartenders and met the manager. So, with a little encouragement, I got my friend to agree to spending his birthday at Bar Celona.

On Wednesday or Thursday, we started sending emails out, and by Friday, got a small group of about 20 for dinner. But of course, once dinner started happening, about 20 more showed up and we had ourselves a little party going on.

One of the guests was an old acquaintance of mine named Eric Byler. He directed Charlotte Sometimes, which I used to be a producer of when it was still called Better Than Sex. We got into talking and he said he had quoted me in a couple of interviews. It was something about writing characteristics, not based on what you desire in yourself, but ones which you wish were not true. This would always have to pass the litmus test of self-honesty, thus making for a more interesting story. He said I told him to write 10 of the worst things about himself that he wished were not true, then base a character on these things.

Anyway, he told the small group we were chatting with that my little bit of writing advice changed his whole career as a storyteller and filmmaker. That's a pretty major statement. When I mentioned that I had read his interview on the Internet, he apologized. I guess he wanted this ackowledgment to be more special to me. It was still special. Anytime someone quotes you and says you changed their whole career is pretty damn special.

This weekend, I may be going to a Lodestone play called The Golden Hour, written by Philip Chung. Eric said he thinks Philip's writing changed also, after they got into discussing my little advice.

I've written a couple of novellas and showed them around to people. They all would say things like: "You got played!", "You know, this is a lot like you!", "You don't know how much you are this character." And so on and so forth.

The stupid thing is, I know that I'm writing from my own experience, but exaggerating it to the point where it hurts to be this character. But people don't understand how a writer would want to paint themselves to look so bad. Truthfully, I don't like doing that, but it's the only way I know how to write. And as the saying goes, when it bleeds, it succeeds.

Fortunately, I have a lot of things to be embarrassed and shameful about, so there's a lot of material left in my repertoire.

Friday Already?

Can't believe it's Friday already. I spent 3 days in Austin, but I spent about 15 hours in planes and airports. Usually, I stay at this quaint old hotel called the Driskill. But it's been hit or miss. This last stay was a real miss. I swear, they must've put me in the room they reserve for employees. They told me the place was fully booked, so I couldn't book an extra day, which it turns out I needed to.

The next morning, I started to take a shower and realized they didn't give me any shampoo. I ordered a breakfast of coffee and oatmeal, which was fine, but that's because I paid for it, along with the mandatory 18% gratuity. But dangit, they didn't deliver my newspaper. It was my 3rd stay there in 3 months. They even ask you, "Do you want your newspaper?" So much for Southern hospitality.

Because they couldn't book my extra day, I had to book a room at the Radisson. It was a last-minute booking, but the room was just what you expect in a hotel. It didn't come with free Internet like Driskill, but I found a wi-fi signal in the area.

Yesterday, I took calls for more freelance work again. I told someone about my freelance career. First couple years are tough. You have one really difficult year. Then things pick up and you get the hang of freelancing and start to make a decent living. Then one of your clients hires you full-time permanent.

Haven't heard anything from the commercial auditions I had last week. All of them were for national network TV. Nothing on the print auditions either.

Tomorrow night, I'm performing in one of those murder mystery dinner things. I'm playing a detective. I was supposed to do a CSI-like character but I don't think they make good comedy. So, I'm doing one of my characters. Actually, I'm combining two of my characters. All I can say is, imagine Bruce Lee as a horndog. The dialogue is mostly improvved, so I plan to ask all the suspects some personal information. You know, like bra and penis size.

That oughta make for good dinner conversation.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

One of Those Weeks Again

I'm going out of town again to Austin, Texas. Wish I could spend more time there and look at the real estate. Not that I could afford anything just yet. But it wouldn't hurt to look.

Today, I had two auditions, both of them same-day appointments, meaning they call you that day and want you to go audition, wearing whatever clothes you happen to be wearing.

Fortunately, I was wearing something that fit both auditions: a pair of beige slacks and a short-sleeve polo.

The first one was for T-Mobile. If you recall, I've had a few auditions for them before. Apparently, they requested me for this one. Not sure why. But I guess I'll take whatever compliment I can squeeze out of that one.

For some reason, I was the only Asian guy there, among a bunch of white and black guys all going for the same role. It happens like this for me a lot. But I've never booked any of them. Yeah, sometimes I wonder why I bother with it.

Regardless, I think I had a good audition. I was pretty loose. And this reminds me that I had another audition just the other day for a Verizon commercial. Yes, they are competitors. But that ain't the half of it. I shouldn't mention it here, per my rule about not talking about my current job, but one of my company's clients just happens to be another competitor in the telecom market. Oh well. They're not hiring me.

On Monday, I'm flying out to Austin from the John Wayne Airport. I usually fly from Burbank or LAX, but I have a meeting in the OC on Tuesday night when I fly back in. So, out of convenience, I booked it down there.

Just before I drive down there, though, I have another commercial audition in the morning. I don't know who it's for, but it's a national network spot. Sometimes, I get auditions for companies that don't want to disclose their information over the Breakdowns.

Well, sorry if this is a little dry. I'm just having one of those crazy weeks again.