Carl AKA The Creeper. Awkward auditions. Part 2.

It’s about 6 months or so into my LA experience – a casting comes through for a short film about a white girl who’s never dated a black man. This character has a love of hip hop, and figures it might be time to go beyond her usual dating preferences and try something new. It said it was a paid comedy, and I thought it had the potential to be quite a laugh.

I submitted, and not long after the phone rang. A Russian sounding man introduced himself, “Hey, I’m Carl, I’m the producer on the project you submitted for”. We had chats about the film, and he explained at the audition I’d be meeting with a guy who was playing the male lead, we would interact a little to see what the chemistry was like, and then go into the work. I was told to dress nicely, like I was going on a date. OK, seemed pretty straight forward.

Come audition day, I had no car, so was on the bus in all my dressed up glory. High heels, full face of make up at midday and a tight-ish dress. I didn’t have too far to go, but once off the bus, the street I needed to get to was blocked by a fence of sorts. The only option to get to the street without doing a massive detour (which would result in me running late), was to climb the damn thing! Picture me, in heels, hoisting myself over this waist high wire fence, whilst attempting not to flash myself at any passing cars. What was I thinking?!

I get to a gritty looking prefab apartment complex and walk into the dusty looking courtyard. I hadn’t anticipated it being a private residence, have no apartment number and start to wonder what to do. Did I save Carl’s number? My instincts are screaming dodgy, but I’m here, so I wait it out for a minute or two, looking up to the landing that squares the courtyard, when a tall black man in black slacks and a white shirt slinks into sight, and comes casually down the stairs.

He shakes my hand, introduces himself, confirms I’m here for the ‘audition’ and we proceed to stand there and banter a little. It feels somewhat awkward, but I’m just trying to go with the flow.

Then he asks me, “So, what do you know about this project?”. I tell him I spoke to the producer Carl and he told me a bit about the production. He queries “Ohh, you spoke to Carl did you?”. “Yup, yes I did. He was a Russian guy, I think”. His face lit up. ” He sounded Russian?”. “Mmmhmm”, I responded.

THEN, he does the BIG REVEAL!

“That was actually me! I was testing out my accents, and that’s so awesome you thought I sounded legitimately Russian”.

Cue, back up against the wall. “Whha, whaa, WHAT!? Are you being serious? Because right now you’re starting to freak me out.”

He goes on, “Oh, I don’t mean to freak you out, it’s just I’m not having a lot of luck with online dating, so I thought this would be an interesting spin on meeting girls and doing something different, ya know..!?”.

I can’t believe my ears. I feel frozen, stunned to my very core. At this point, I’m grateful a neighbor walks through with his child, providing me a flash of security it what now feels like an out of this world scenario.

I proceed to tell this guy what an ass he his, deceptive, dishonest and a waste of my time. I turn my back and start walking away when he says “Noo, but I seriously do have other projects I’m working on, there’s a bunch of stuff I’m doing”. I keep walking.

I call Actors Access – the reputed website where the casting originated, and report this scumbag. Then comes the email from ‘Carl’, apologizing, asking for another chance and sending me a link to his current project – him reciting poetry over moving black and white footage of naked women by rain stricken window panes – suggesting maybe this is something I’d be interested in!!!!!

Jesus wept.

As they say, the rest is history – lesson learnt, the hard way. And, thank goodness I’m still alive to tell the tale…

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Friday February 27th and I’m chillin’ in my new apartment. YUPPPP!!!! NEW. art deco. (I LOVE art deco) studio apartment!!! Having lived in the one spot since arriving three years ago (Ardmore ave), I have ventured out on my own and am now in downtown Korea town, or K-town as the locals call it.

It was a weird transition, moving from a big 2 storey, 5 bedroom house with a yard, drive way and bunch of housemates, to a studio apartment of medium size, on-street parking that’s like a nightly competitive sport, and coming home to just little old me. I’ve never had my own place. Always found myself in share houses, or before that, living with my Mama.

There are sooooo many yummy places to eat in walking distance, it’s ridiculous! Mexican wood fire rotisserie chicken, Pho noodles, Malaysian, Japanese and more Korean BBQ houses and karaoke bars than you can poke a stick at. Not to mention the foot and body massage spots on every other corner…starting at $20 for a one hour session.

It’s a different feel from Harvard Heights – my old hood. It’s a real mash-up of Korean, Hispanic and young artsy peeps. This area is busier, more apartment buildings, beautiful historic architecture. One breathtaking building around the corner has great turrets that reminds me of something out of a Disney movie.

It’s been super nice decorating, setting everything up, and putting pot plants on my window sills. Slowly my tomatoes, lettuce, basil, eggplants, nasturtiums, swiss chard and various other flowers are growing. I’m taking on what feels like a more ‘adult life’. Creating a home exactly the way I want it. I’ve been here for 5 days and the initial state of disorientation has passed and I think I could get used to this arrangement. Now to work out the best parking ninja moves!? Hmmm.

Life in LA has grown and grown. It’s been a fierce journey my friends. But ultimately satisfying. Brilliant. Lots of lessons learned.

I have had a super busy last 6 months. In fact much of 2014 was ripe, and stuff started to sprout. I had more auditions and bookings last year than I have had EVER! So, that was great for a start.

I just wrapped a week ago an independent feature film, titled YOU based around the Sandy Hook, Connecticut 2012 shootings. Directed by dynamic Sri Lankan, Linton Semage, it was not your everyday kind of film making experience. We rehearsed over the course of 2 months every Saturday morning. It was like collaborating on a stage play. Very physical and theatrical. Our director only spoke basic English, so everything was translated back and forth adding an extra challenge to the equation, AND we were dealing with an abstract and symbolic story line, something non linear, with poetic sounding language. Ha! It was hard to get my head around at first. What does this all mean? But part of the process was trusting and allowing the director to show us his vision through rehearsals and the creation of this piece. And, it was fascinating!

The shoot went great. I played two roles – both the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza and a general symbolic representation of a mother who has lost her child.

20150220_073917One of my favourite days shooting was at The Big Sky Movie Ranch, where Little House on a Prairie, Django Unchained, Saving Mr.Banks and numerous other productions have been filmed. It was soooooo pretty and remarkably green, with wild flowering lupins as far as the eye could see. A 6000+ acreage of rolling hills and beauty.

We shot a very moving scene under a huge, lone, ancient oak tree. Under this tree was a shrine with candles and flowers in memory of the children who were killed. It was so quiet whilst shooting. Just the wind and us. It felt very powerful.

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Chillin’ with Bill Nye.

Now, back to 2014. I shot two ‘pilot’ projects that were super fun. One was with the ‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye,  playing a wacky intuitive. It was an NBC production called The Science of Attraction, that never came to light.

The other was a hilarious parody of ‘The Bachelor’ called Green Card for Love. I played the rural Russian hoare, naturally. This production didn’t make it beyond initial filming also (the nature of the beast). BUT! You can watch the trailer here.

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About to go on stage. The Vagina Monologues.

Then there was some theatre opportunities. I was a conservative British woman talking about the discovery of her clitoris in The Vagina Monologues, and in Suite V a free thinking and liberated mother with two mixed race sons in 1970’s Los Angeles. I did comedy, drama, and even got to have a boogie on stage. Voila! What more could you want?!

I shot a print and video commercial for Megafon – a Russian mobile carrier. It was a super easy days work; lying on a couch reading a magazine with my ‘boyfriend’. If only days like that rolled around more often!

I helped make a short film called Only on Mondays with some LA friends and was stoked when it was accepted into The Hollywood and Vine Film Festival and took out the Best Acting in a Short Film Award! It’s a cute and quirky film about a community of women who have alcoholic others and meet once a week to relax and get their drink on!

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In the studio with Chuckii Booker.

I even had the opportunity to record with producer/singer/songwriter Chuckii Booker. This cat is crazy talented and has been Lionel Richie’s musical director for eons. I was introduced to Chuckii through a friend who asked if I’d write and sing a hook for his track that is still in development. I also wrote, rapped and sang on a hip hop track with my old housemate, Marty. We’ve got a film clip coming soon.

And just to round things out nicely – I was training twice a week for 16 months at Playhouse West in the Meisner technique. It was unlike anything I’ve studied before and I LOVED it. Created by an American man named Sandy Meisner, the school breeds a superb work ethic and emphasis on living and breathing your craft every day, reading plays, educating yourself, rehearsing and remaining inspired.

I got to flex lots of creative muscles in 2014.This here is an incomplete log, but some of the highlights! I’ve had truly wonderful experiences, met some great people and collaborated on exactly the kinds of fun, fulfilling and interesting projects I’ve dreamt of.

Right now I’m sitting on a wide open slather.

It’s time to rise and shine!

PRE LA DEPARTURE…

As always a last minute dash to get bags packed and the current bedroom restored to it’s former glory. I’ve been staying at my Mum’s and she’s been the ultimate host, as always. I’m the guest of honour, and now it’s time to go.

Rolling clothes tightly. Positioning them just so in my 14 year old backpack. The backpack that I bought at the age of 18 to take with me to Europe. This could well be it’s last ride -as the zips have grown weary and seams bulge and fray. A little panic- how’s everything going to fit???  What if it’s overweight?

Somewhere in the middle of this I finally connect with my beautiful English boyfriend. It’s been perhaps 2 weeks without real communication. On skype we have ‘the’ conversation… One that has been  brewing, one that unfortunately has to happen and breaks my heart (though in the mayhem I hardly have time to feel it). We no longer reside in the same city OR country…and the idea that we would be together forever has crumpled and the logistics have become too complicated. It feels all too rushed. And just like that…after a year of magic, it’s over. I love you Philly Benoir xxx

Next thing you know Mum and I, we’re in peak hour traffic going to collect my best buddy from town as she’s kindly offered to come out to the airport to see me off.. Mum’s stressing and I’m quietly anxious.

Eventually I am on my Air China flight. But! I am not flying direct to LA – I am going via Beijing. 11 and half hours worth of detouring. I’m in the aisle seat, someone sat next to me and no visable spare seats to sneak into for a little lie down later. The phone rings – it’s my mate Bianca, and Mum – saying a final farewell on speaker phone….awww, bless their cotton sox. I indeed feel loved.

The sun sets – a massive orange orb wrapped in thin Melbournian clouds.

Having flown Air China previously I have very low expectations, so when there is a digital touch screen on the back of the headrest in front, I feel a rising sense of  joy. Not the greatest selection of flicks and tv episodes…but it’ll definitely work for the journey ahead.

Read, eat, movie, read, tv, tv, tv (Bear Grylls-yeahh), eat, sleep for 2 hours, arrive.

Beijing – I was here just under 6 weeks ago on my way out from London (my former home) to Melbourne (my original home) for holidays. It’s clear and hazy. Long grey stretches of tarmac sail towards the horizon whilst multi layered plastic wrapped boxes strapped to whizzing cars deliver goods to planes.

Through immigration and the transit area to the next terminal.Now to find my hotel where I am going to spend the next 10 hours until my continuing flight departs.

I have been given a travel voucher that entitles me to 2 meals, a bed and a shower in a hotel – or so I think. For a 6 hour stop over or more this is a granted priviledge, I am told. I get to terminal 31 – hotel found, elevator, reception. “Lounge or hotel” I am asked upon presentation of my voucher. “What?, What??” I reply. “Sleep in lounge with snack, or hotel room four hours” she offers. These are the options and not what I was told to expect at the Air China Melbourne office. After much to-ing and fro-ing, a trip across the airport to the Air China desk and this ‘hotel’ receptionist is not backing down. I take the 4 hours in the hotel room.  The room is not much bigger than a closet, but I am truly grateful to see a bed at this stage and in the to-ing and fro-ing, combined with immigration, I’ve managed to kill an hour and a half.

Before you know it, I am back in the airport and hungry. Air China did not provide the 2 meals promised on my ‘hotel stay’, but I must admit I’m quite excited to explore the eating options. I am somewhat obsessed with Chinese food, and the following feast did not disappoint!
Starter – pork and radish steamed buns, followed by fishball and wintermelon soup, beef steamed dumplings with a main of chicken, veg and rice…it’s lunch, breakfast, dinner combined (God only knows what time of day I am on!) accompanied by steaming mugs of jasmine tea – and I am in heaven (:

Onto the next plane – it’s packed with hundreds of Chinese school children between 12-16 years of age on their way to America. I swiftly discover the plane has no inflight entertainment system, just a large sized TV screen for communal viewing in each plane section. Soon after I also discover my seat struggles to stay reclined for more than five minutes. I’m down and the next thing you know I’m back upright. Oh no… this is not looking good. I try to connect my headphones into some bang  bang action film now showing on the communal screen and despite flicking through multiple channels; there’s absolutely no volume. I find a friendly, fluent, English speaking airhostess             ( now this is a first on Air China) who takes my head phones and tries other seats for volume. Nothing. She apologises and explains she’ll go and reset the entire planes entertainment system whilst my fellow travellers are locked into their Ipads playing computer games and oblivious to my current pain. Boom, just like that and we are back on the airwaves. I take a moment to thank my friendly air hostess, but also express my disappointment in the lack of personal screen and viewing options on this flight. She apologises and explains the plane will be updated in a month or two (no good to me as this is the last Air China flight I’ll be taking) as it is coming up to being almost 20 years old. At this point I have a vision of one wing falling off, balls of fire and our plane plummeting into Eastern Siberia never to be heard of again.

The next thing you know there is a jamboree in the aisles. I’m trying desperately to sleep. I’m being knocked, my chair is still up to it’s old tricks, I’m deep breathing, I’m pacing, I’m counting the minutes and wishing for LA in a big way.

The sun rises. The west coast becomes visable. The ocean shimmers looking diamond studded. Tiny islands pop. The water turns golden. A wave of excitement and anticipation trembles. We’ve touched down. I’ve finally arrived. I’m sleep deprived, but oh so ready! GOODMORNING LALALAND! Buenos dias to you, to you, the City of Angels xxx