Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nov 12

There are certain days I definitely feel my age here. Not so much age but definitely experience. I see these young kids with such eagerness and optimism and I'm jealous to the core. I remember being like that. I still am at times. But I'm definitely tired too. And sometimes too realistic.
Before the last curtain call of The Pajama Game, I was telling a few friends I always take a deep breath before the final bow of a run of a show and take it in because who knows if it's the last bow I'll ever take, especially as a lead role. I can remember doing that for the past 10-12 years. Luckily it's never been true. They said that was a sad way to look at it and I said it might be, but it's absolutely true. There is no guarantee that I'll get cast again. The world doesn't owe me anything. I could get in an accident today and never perform again. Who knows. I look at it as somewhat optimistic to take in a final bow and be thankful for being born into this life and having the opportunity to allow my talents to affect people. I wouldn't want to leave the stage with the idea of "screw this show, I'm ready for the next one", cause I'm sorry, there might not be another one. I went 5 years without getting a show. Sometimes months without getting a callback.
I look at the university setting and realize how damn easy it is. Here are some main stage shows, most likely you'll get in one. If you don't, here are a whole bunch of studios you can do a show in if you put it up yourself. (Oh, by the way, if you want to do that in NYC, it'll cost you at least 1200 dollars). Want to act every day? Ok. Want to sing everyday? Here are some practice rooms. (If you want to do that in NYC for an hour, that'll cost you too). Want to write something and have actors all over the place to act in it? Go at it. Need a professor to look at some of your material and give you feedback? I've never had a problem. (NYC? acting sessions can run you up to 100 dollars).
So yes. I realize I might be over eager in my not taking things for granted, but it's so God damn easy here. It can only be as hard as you make it. Unfortunately, I make it very hard for myself. I think it's because I know what's on the other side. But according to a few of my professors, it's better that I keep those stories to myself. So I will. To those in NYC who are reading this and nodding, I won't let you down. I've received some very angry texts from you that hate that I get to go to class every day and play. I know it, and I'm sorry. I promise I'll still look back in a couple years and regret not doing more.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nov 5th

Ah, one blog post a month. Nice. Today was my first complete day off since...let's see..... when did school start? The day before that. Nope. Had auditions that day. A few days before that. I am now one semester and a few weeks away from being done with my class work at UCF and sadly, I kind of feel I'm just getting warmed up. The word that has been on my mind for the past few weeks is.... drills.
Never liked drills. Drills remind me of the dentist. Hate the dentist. Drills remind me of oil drilling. That leads to Chileans being trapped for a long time. Drills remind me of shop class. The class from 7th grade I had my first crush on a girl that I was paralyzed so much that I couldn't form a sentence around her. Drills remind me of basketball practice when I was growing up. We did something wrong and we were punished by doing suicide drills. These are drills that sucked so bad you literally wanted to commit suicide instead of living one more minute in your 13 year old physically awkward life. If I could have gotten out of suicide drills by talking to my 7th grade crush, I would have been married to her by now.
But drilling an exercise over and over again is what makes you better. No one can argue with me on this. Doing the same thing over and over again until you want to pull your hair out and it becomes so ingrained in your body that it's hard to fail. I know basketball players who shoot 500 free throws a day. I know golfers who hit 3 buckets of balls a day. I know baseball players who spend 2 hours in the batting cage. Shot after shot. Until it's as easy as going to the bathroom. Why do we not practice in the same way when it comes to acting?
We're learning in theory class that there are some countries and old acting techniques that require the student to work on their eye movements and facial movements 4 hours a day. 4 hours a day?? I think I have spent four hours in my whole life working on my eye movements. But guess what? When that person is asked to do an eye movement. They will make me look like I have no control over my eyes at all. Why is this not the standard? Why do we look at acting as something you can show up for 4 hours a week and be as good as the people who are practicing 7 hours a day? This is true. I have 4 hours of acting class a week. I have other classes that help my acting but a true acting class only 4 hours a week. Now in those 4 hours I listen a lot and take notes but I'm really only up and working about 40 minutes a week. As I say to my students, you can't learn how to swim by reading about swimming. I'm at the age where I've realized no one in life will ever give you everything you need. In college we expect everything to be handed to us because we've signed up for the classes, they give us a professor, they give us a time line, they give us projects, we have vacations, we have weekends, we have an end stop to all of this. But not in the real world. You get your degree and that piece of paper should really say "Congratulations Jason Nettle, you've made it to the real world, and it fucking sucks. You're on your own. Goodbye."
The repetition of something is what we need to succeed. People come back from basic training in great shape because they are forced to do something over and over again. Of course they want a break, but they keep pushing. As actors, we take those breaks. We plan those breaks. We arrange our schedules so we have many many breaks. That's why I was an unbelievable bartender and waiter. Because I did it over and over again and did it so many different ways that I never doubted I could and nothing that was thrown at me was too much. I bartended 40 hours a week for almost 10 years. I was damn good at it. When could I ever say that about acting and acting is 100 times harder!! I should be doing it 80 hours a week in hopes to figure out how good I could actually be.
I imagined school being a 14 hour a day job because even if you don't like what you're doing, the act of repeating a movement or muscle or thought again and again and again, you will no doubt get better. Our job as actors is to perform tactics to our partner, to get what we want, to overcome the obstacles in the given circumstances, and make it look fresh and entertaining every time we do it. We need to be storytellers and entertainers and to even be remotely successful in this business, we have to be damn good. BUT, for some reason, as actors, we have convinced ourselves that knowing a little bit about a whole bunch of things and showing up and half assing it and just trying to get by is enough to call ourselves artists. Sadly, our society and education system allows it. Imagine what kind of actor I would be if I did tactic exercises and vulnerability exercises 8 hours a day? Everyday for 2 years? I could probably walk back into NYC and have my choice on what role I wanted anywhere on Broadway. But as an actor I have more important things to do during my day. I need to watch tv, get on facebook, gossip, judge others, etc.
I guess what I'm saying is I know what it takes to get where I need to be and if I'm in school, it should be thought like that. Wake up and act, act, write, read, share, challenge yourself, explore, expand, fail, succeed, act, memorize, research, and act. But I don't. And I know I'm going to punch myself in a year or two from now because I know I won't have the time like I do now.
Why are actors who perform in porn considered porn stars? Really? Stars? You get in one film and you're considered a porn star. I wish it was that easy for actors getting into Hollywood. We like to believe so. "I'm amazing! I have worked at being an actor AT LEAST 5 hours this week. Give me your production contracts!!"
Porn stars. That's funny.