Freudian Slips: August 2008

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

August 30, 2008

Septa See Me

-Will the real ham and egger, please stand up.


Septa See Me

-Joseph Tornatore down and dirty for his Septa commercial.

I got booked for two Septa commercials that should air regionally on the major stations this autumn. Each commercial is a thirty second spot. Each commercial has one lead actor supported by about a dozen featured extras. Casting decided on two general types of actors to be represented in each commercial -extraordinary attractive actors and everyday middle class blue collar people.
When the wardrobe person lifted a dirty apron over my neck before the first frame of filming, I knew what side of the ledger my acting fell on for this gig. I was separated from the attractive elite and put on a hot dog cart to play a street vender. Surrounded by low hanging tin on wheels, I knew where I stood. Thankfully, the hot dog cart is integral to the plot as the lead actress ends her Septa commute to interface with me at my cart for breakfast.
In the second bit, wardrobe dressed me in a blue mechanic shirt over a grungy white tee and blue jeans. The props girl uncorked a grease gun and did not let me report to the set until my clothes were lubricated with grease and faux dirt was thrown on me like pixie dust. When the sentiment settled, I was a slick car mechanic working on a 1969 puke green Ford Thunderbird amongst the anonymous row homes in West Philadelphia.
If anyone dare say my acting isn’t pretty, that is what I thought they wanted from me.


August 26, 2008

Alarming Acting

I waited ten hours indoors in a holding tank before they called me to the set. As a production assistant briskly walked me to the set, my eyes squinted at the darkness. We walked by city police officers, who closed the four corner streets with barricades and worked crowd control. Present was a throng of people who had nothing better to do then watch the movie film at 1am in the morning in South Philly. Huge spotlights illuminated the street corner. I was taken back by the number of film crew members and production equipment but I tried to look like I belonged like an act within an actor in an act.
The director, James Quattrochi, approached me. He warmly shook my hand, asked me my name, then informed me that I would be playing a bar bouncer. The props girl came over and unbuttoned my shirt then used a water bottle mist sprayer to make my chest look like a lathering sweat. The director then introduced me to the other actors in the scene to be shot - William Forsthye, Leo Rossi, Tony Luke Jr. and Billy Gallo. My chest was indeed out.
The set location was a corner bar in South Philadelphia. The humidity in the air hung like pea soup in the deep night. The grime of the city rested on the double step of the bar’s front door, where two Panavision cameras pointed. The bar stoop was a full step that gave way to a half moon arc only big enough for one average sized man, present company excluded. My worn soled black shoes made footing treacherous and the physical scene unfolding reminded me that you cannot carry enough shoes in your emergency wardrobe.
The director had different intentions about the maximum occupancy on that bar step in terms of the look he wanted to capture on film. He wanted to put both William Forsthye and I on that top step to overlook a fight scene, to capture our venting emotions with the fight spilling before us. The first few takes were practice to work out blocking and timing. I began to keep my feet in the bar leaning outside it to overlook the fight. This seemed like better spacing between Forsthye and myself but every take seemed to take the fight more around the corner, which caused me acrobatic stretching and a crooked neck to accomplish vigilance as a bar bouncer. I needed something better to hang onto to lean outside the door. Much of my acting seemed to concentrate on measuring my steps, hitting my mark, and not slipping in my worn skidding loafers, so when I found the perfect anchor it was golden moment that pulled everything together for me.
We finished a perfect take in my new hangout. The fisticuffs looked authentic and I hoisted up the beaten fighter from the sidewalk without being asked for an adjustment in my acting. Carrying a pep in my step from hanging out with the big boys, I walked back in the bar to see what my fingers hung onto that was so sturdy…it was the fire alarm. I almost pulled the fire alarm on a movie set. I accidentally almost sent fire trucks. I never said a word to anyone but this not ready for prime time player knew enough to never yell fire in a crowded movie set.


August 23, 2008

The Art of Parting in Parenting

My oldest daughter left for college today to start art college as a freshman. While she is only a short commute away, the distance could not feel further. Even though she has not lived with me since the divorce to her mother a decade ago, I got emotional at the send off. I did not want to leave her dormitory room and would have paid top dollar to buy just one more Ikea product to slowly assemble.
Alas, I was not expecting quite the reaction after we hugged goodbye. My feelings surfaced like a punch in the jaw. As I took to the dormitory steps, tears clouded my vision. I was happy for her declaration of independence but sad in a natural way. Leaving the college, I realized that the art of parenting is now only to the extent she wants and allows. She is considered an adult and living on her own in the big city. It was time for me to hit the pavement with both tears running.

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August 19, 2008

Ipod Rejects

Since I outgrew my 30G Ipod in 2007, it took me awhile to wiggle free enough greenback to buy an 80G Ipod without feeling guilty spoiled. The time came. I am now looking to borrow the music collections of friends again to round out my music library on the new gadget. I will be more selective this go round because I have some bad memories of rumaging tactifully through other people's prized music and winding up disappointed.

One time I dead lifted a 200 count box of music CD’s to my car. When you borrow someone else’s CD collection, it is a telltale sign of their tastes in music appreciation. The following albums were on the top of the heap and there for the taking. I sampled none of them. Monster Movie Themes…Why, to cue the B movie scream queens? Bill Withers Greatest Hits…Who? One Hour of Sounds of Horror…I don’t like to be scared for a second, an hour is overkill. Mortal Combat Original Motion Picture Soundtrack…since when does fighting bring out the best music? Science Fiction Movie Themes…..too way out there for me. Music from Greatest War Movies…..Every VFW post should own this CD for the jukebox. Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen CD…..a summertime classic for dermatologists only Christmas with the Brady Bunch….enough to make housekeeper Alice quit her day job. Wedding Favorites….I think Zsa Zsa Gabor filled this CD. Music from The X-Files…the theme song is catchy and iconic, an entire CD of actual music is downright scary. 50 All Time Favorite Themes…I just can’t see jamming to The Beverly Hillbillies intro on the freeway. Meditative Gregorian Chants…humm..humm...humm Tubthumper CD by Chumbawamba…I can’t even pronounce the name of the album let alone artist. 1955 Billboard Hits…Nothing like before you were born music for your collection. More like dartboard not billboard music. Best of Joe Stampley…Didn’t he world tour with Bill Withers? Sounds of Christmas The Van Trapp Family Singers….if it sounds like a Trapp, it is. Electrifying Thunderstorms…just wouldn’t enlighten me by the sounds of it The Ultimate Chick Flick Soundtrack…music for all the movies I wanted to skip but couldn’t get out of not even with a free dinner first.


August 16, 2008

Say Cheese!

-Actress Tracie Thoms and Joseph Tornatore on location

By invitation only, I wound up as an extra on the popular TV Show Cold Case for two episodes. I was only one of eight non-union actors on the set so I considered myself lucky. Rolling thunderstorms meant lighting challenges for the film crew. A break in the inclement weather meant resetting the filter lens on the A and B cameras. Actors were told to take five.
On the break in the action, I wound up near Tracie Thoms, who plays sassy character Kat Miller in the television series. She won an ensemble nomination for her role as Joanne Jefferson in Rent and played Lilly in The Devil Wears Prada. A man wearing a baseball jersey approached holding a handheld digital camera.
I suggested, “If you’re planning on asking for a picture with Tracie, I can take it for you. Maybe you can take one of me with her too.”
“Dag, I don’t need another picture with Tracie, we’re cousins.”
I was foiled again. My itchy camera remained stuck deep in my pocket. So I regrouped, “She looks fantastic. She reminds me of actress Holly Robinson. Do you think your famous cousin would mind if I asked her for a picture? I’m a star struck fan.”
“Holly Robinson, huh?" He turned to his kin shouting, "Hey, Tra….homey here thinks you look fly as Holly Robinson. He is cheesing for a cozy picture with ya.”
This was an embarrasing first impression with an actress to say the least. When the picture was being taken by Cuz, I did not have to 'Say Cheese.' To my cheesy chagrin, it had already been said in so many words.


August 13, 2008

Let's Get Ready to Bubble, The Sequel

I guess I am hanging around movie sets too much. Here I tried to take movie making to another level with this You Tube video showcasing my other side business.
This little number took about 20 hours to compile and edit. It is the sequel to my first movie with the same title. The previous version was online only 5 months but it had over 1,200 views and ranked fifth in the world under a You Tube search for its subject matter. I pulled it in favor of the sequel simply because I knew I could make a better movie about a better product. Starting over is always a gamble but by keeping the day job risk taking is that much easier.


August 11, 2008

Nailing Stupid Down

After a fistfight on film between actors Billy Gallo and Tony Luke Jr, my bar bouncing scene called for me to pick the rendered unconscious loser off the ground like he was a piece of trash. The director yelled cut with me hoisting the lifeless body from the sidewalk. However, my acting partner put his hands to his knees and began to vomit after the fight scene.

Playing the bar owner, William Forsthye,(Dick Tracy, Halloween, Devil’s Rejects) stood to my immediate right standing on the bar stoop. Since we were in frame together in the scene, I turned to him for an answer.

“Did I grab him too hard or was it my acting?”

More concerned for the ill fellow thespian, Forsthye did not answer me.

“Those punches only grazed him.” I said confusingly. “What do you think is the matter?”

William Forsthye gave me a quizzical stare. “You ever tasted a blood pack before? They are nasty.”

My acting scenes to date featured more inertia then action. I had never even seen a stunt man on a set before doing this movie. It was good to be in the thick of things even as a cleanup man but I was feeling my oats. I answered, “Well, ugh, no, I haven’t.”

Following my answer, Forsthye’s next look at me confirmed the following negative summation: Non-union naïve bit actor with no faux fight experience on a set. My words proved all too forgettable but his look was unforgettable. It was like I needed a good punch in the mouth, on the set of course.

The prop and wardrobe girls came rushing to the scene. Crew called for the medical doctor assigned to the set to render opinion. The director and first AD left their posts to come to the scene. A huddle formed.

Veteran actor Leo Rossi did not need to troubleshoot either. “You think they could have bought flavored blood packs.”

“Yeah, I agree.” I pretended, not even knowing if there was such a thing.

Over two hundred film credits and enormous talent surrounded me. Sometimes it is better to try and pretend to fit in as an actor than asking the wrong question. Judging William Forsthye’s stunned expression, I knew my acting made more sense then nailing stupid down.


August 08, 2008

Bad to the Bone

Called to audition for a low budget independent movie, I sat down with the director at a round table. She passed me a bound copy of the screenplay. Another actress sat across from me ready to read lines in tandem from her own copy.

The director asked, “Do you know what this movie is going to be rated?”

My eyes lifted from the thick script that I was busy digesting. Incorrigible violent jailbirds on the run, I gleaned. I looked at her deadpan. “I have a pretty good idea.”

“Just so you know what you are getting into.”

While studying the script in preparation for my first read through for a policeman’s role, a small dog appeared out of nowhere to brush the side of my leg and pant.

The director remarked, “Our dog doesn’t like anyone. This is a good sign.”

As I leafed my fingers through the dog’s fluffy fur, he faithfully sat by my feet. I hoodwinked, “Maybe I should just audition with the dog.”

“Don’t get too attached. A convict eats the mutt in act one scene 6. You’re looking at barbecue dog.”

“Like I said, I have a pretty good idea what this movie is rated.”

The director got back to matters at hand. “Let’s take it from the top. You’re interviewing a high school girl in provocative clothes and you don't believe a f#c%ing word she is saying…”

Forty minutes later, the copper role was awarded to me. My part has 13 lines, four scenes, two interrogations, a chase scene, and I am scripted to deliver the first and last lines of the movie. If nothing else, this should definitely expose me for the actor that I am or am not.


August 05, 2008

The I in IMDB

After submitting three times to the powerful academy over at the Internet Movie Data Base, I finally received a hardworking credit for my small role in the movie The Happening. Trust me, this is is a big deal for a little actor. You can find me under The Happening or my personal IMDB page located at Oddly, it says that my Starmeter is up 36% since last week. It must be all that fan mail that has yet to arrive.
Alas, I needed some wind into my sail heading into tomorrow. I got invited to an audition to cold read for a role as a police officer in a movie. I have been eating a lot of donuts lately so anything can happen.


August 02, 2008

Wall To Wall Fun

Here I am looking chipper as can be on my vacation from work a couple of weeks ago. My attentive wife promised that it would be a rip roaring good time removing the 60 inch tv that had been built through the garage and replace it with a hang on the wall sleek flat screen tv. For the first fiveteen minutes it was wall to wall fun.
After demolition, all I had to do was remove captioned tv from wall interior, build wall with all the wrong tools, buy tv on credit, hang tv on faith, configure components on curse words, and get the family room painted up to honeydo specs.
It's good to be back at work. I miss you, dear.


Fixing a hole where a Tv got in!


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