NOTE TO SELF

Image

You probably won’t remember this blog entry when it becomes most useful to you. And probably neither will I…


There’s something I’ve discovered about myself which gets more acute over time and that is, that I’m extremely impatient. That’s a benefit as well as a curse.

But because I get impatient, I get into a weird situation regarding work.


The cycle begins like this:

I get a lot of work, I’m in production, I’m not concerned in the least about generating new assignments, everything looks rosy… then of course at a certain point the work runs out and I find I now need to concentrate on promotion to generate more work.

I’m very familiar with that phase. That’s pretty easy. All part and parcel of being self-employed.

So, I get nice and busy and I PROMOTE, and soon bring myself to a point where that flow is reversed and I’m no longer worried or anxious about things, and it’s all going in the right direction, (OUT) and very soon something will respond and come IN.

Then…

THEN there comes a period when I have truly HAVE promoted enough and work SHOULD by rights be coming in… but as yet the lag of the physical universe is in effect and I find I am becalmed in that dreaded thing- a WAITING PERIOD.


I then have to ENDURE that waiting period. Which is hard.

So then, since I’m an impatient person, I get a little bit frustrated that all my promotion hasn’t had an impact INSTANTLY, resulting in jobs coming in. (My calendar is still bare.)

So then I get a little more anxious and do the only thing that makes sense to me: I promote MORE…

and THEN…


And THEN I go through a period, (which is really the period I wanted to draw your attention to) which is a kind of ennui, a kind of “it doesn’t matter anyway, I’ve tried everything I know and nothing has changed, therefore everything I know is wrong” (to quote the Firesign Theatre.)

But what I HAVEN’T recognized during that time where I was experiencing that ennui, was that the laws of the Physical universe were still in operation, but they were just not quite as impatient as I was.

And so, I don’t realize it, but it’s all about to hit me like a tidal wave, and the work that is about to come in, (now that I am in the depths of apathy about the whole thing) is going to present me with a LOT of problems, including that cliche: multiple jobs come in all wanting me to work the same DAY.

The day I was trying to fill maybe WEEKS ago. Back when I had nothing at all on the horizon.

And now the horizon is FULL of silhouettes of ships and vehicles and animals from strange lands…

All wanting ME. And no one else will do.

And so at that point I am faced with the emergency of having created a TIDAL WAVE of work that is really going to be challenging to pull off. And that becomes my problem.

But it’s a problem that I find much more delicious, and so it doesn’t really bother me nearly as much as NOT having anything to do and WAITING.

This cycle has happened to me so many times –just happened again, in fact– but I still get caught up in the sad, pathetic period before the deluge when I think my destiny is completely out of my hands and that I am a total loser.

Which turns out not necessarily to be true.

Maybe it’s happened to you.

 

Published in: on May 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , ,

What I Believe

Image

As of May 13, 2014…

I believe that mankind is good. Far more good than evil.

I believe that life is enduring.

I believe that everything moves forward and on and on.

I believe that help is possible.

I believe that everyone gets another chance.

I believe that friendship and creativity are the real rewards of life.

I believe that there is always a solution.

I believe anyone can do better, especially me.

I believe that, tough as it is, it’s all eventually going to work out right.

I believe that life is never-ending, (which is the good AND the bad news.)

And I believe that people are motivated by a desire to create a positive effect on others.

I believe that playing is sometimes very honorable.


I believe laughter is one of the best sounds in the universe.

I believe that the arts are a great way to learn about the true and timeless things of life.

I believe that, despite appearances to the contrary, it’s always better to be nice.

I believe that everybody is capable of being useful to mankind, and when they figure out how to do it, and get busy at it, they will feel much better about themselves and life.

I’m generally pretty skeptical. Over the years I’ve believed quite a few things that turned out not to be true. But these are a few of the things that have stood the test of time and that I really do believe.

How ’bout you?

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , ,

Good News About The Impression Guys

Image

Thanks to our friends at SoulPancake, and the overwhelmingly good reaction to our first six episodes, you’ll be seeing 7 more episodes of The Impression Guys!

We’re calling it “Season One- Part Two.”

I’m delighted to soon be working again with the brilliant writer/director Ben Shelton, Ross Marquand, Piotr Michael, Dana DeLorenzo, Angela Kinsey, Amy Castle, and although it’s premature for specifics, we will have some new impressionist/actors guest starring on The Impression Guys.

So far the response has been very encouraging; I’ve met people wherever I go that love the show. Tamra and I were up in Santa Cruz in March and were both recognized when we walked out of a store by a guy who had just been watching one of our episodes! I think we blew his mind.

If The Impression Guys were a big network show, I guess they would put our faces on bus signs and on kiosks, maybe a blimp… For now we have to rely on word of mouth and social media to find our audience, so thank YOU for watching and helping us get the word out.

It’s very flattering, frankly, that SoulPancake has felt so confident in our show to keep us in production. I’m so glad to be part of this project, especially for its positivity, which is a SoulPancake hallmark, and which generally doesn’t mix with YouTube comedy sites. The high level of creativity and of course, remarkable impressionists doing what they do best are two more reasons I feel very fortunate indeed.

I’m sure you’ve already seen all six of our current episodes, but if not, here’s where to start catching up on all the episodes so far: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsZBaDaW7Nc

 

 

 

Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

WHAT STARRING IN A WEB SERIES TAUGHT ME

Image

My fortune cookie tells me all the important stuff…

As anyone incautious enough to read my emails knows, I star with Ross Marquand in The Impression Guys, a comedy which can be seen on the SoulPancake Channel on YouTube.

Here’s that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsZBaDaW7Nc#t=331

Over the course of the creation of this series, I had some experiences worth sharing, and from which I learned some important lessons.

PARTNER WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE DECISIVE

Ben Shelton, who writes, directs and also edits The Impression Guys is always under the gun to get things done, and yet he makes his deadlines and never seems rushed.

His secret: be decisive.

I think it comes from his experience as a basketball player.  I have never played much basketball, but I notice there isn’t a lot of time spent in a huddle. Most plays seem to happen in about a fifth of a second, too fast for any discussion, or even to take a quick vote.

If you’ve worked with professional people, you’ll know that they share Ben’s method; they quickly make a decision, which makes room for the next thing to happen, and the next quick decision to be made. Pretty soon, a lot of progress has been made.

This doesn’t mean they are always right, but they adjust quickly, too. Their rate of decision is just running at a higher velocity. It’s very refreshing. It’s a symptom of that rare condition, “Confidence”.

We’ve all experienced the discomfort of being part of a show or an activity where the people in charge can’t seem to choose. Even the simplest of assignments drag on indefinitely. It’s one of the things that makes the modern world so frustrating.

Of course, many things in life should be exhaustively worked over and over, with care taken to make the right choice. If it’s a murder trial, sure. Defusing a live bomb, definitely. But please, not entertainment!

USE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIMENT

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing my name first on a callsheet lately, so it was nice to have something to do in nearly every scene of The Impression Guys.

With that fact came a lot more responsibility. Since our crew was limited, Ross and I had to wear extra hats, like doing our own makeup, hair, wardrobe and continuity.

In a big movie shoot, there are people reminding you all the time what shoes to wear, dabbing at your face with brushes and puffs, and straightening your collar when it gets flipped up in the back. Sometimes you have three people all doing things to your body at the same time, while you are trying to concentrate on the next take. Here, we didn’t have that luxury. Although Ross did flip my collar down a couple times for me.

To maintain continuity, we had to have a very clear idea of what was going on at any point in that whole first season, since we were shooting out of sequence; we had to think with what had just happened BEFORE the scene we were about to shoot, even if we hadn’t shot that prior scene yet.

That’s something that all big movie actors have to think with. For me it was a rare opportunity to dive in and see what I could do to take responsibility for creating the illusion of sequence in time, and to support the story.

By being responsible for all the action of my character, plus the wardrobe, prop handling etc, it helped me get deeply into the character’s viewpoint in the scene.

Also, since I was in front of the camera so often, and not waiting in a trailer somewhere for my one scene to come up, I was very comfortable with experimenting, which isn’t how I feel on a big budget shoot where I’m not going to be there very long, and don’t want to be remembered as the guy who tried something offbeat and slowed everything down.

It’s actually easier to have more to do than less; doing one little scene is much more stressful than doing an entire day of work– it’s the only chance to score!

Without the stress, I got more playful, and that in turn helped my performance.

LET IT BREATHE

It’s a kind of a hallmark of amateur actors that they seem to be in a big hurry to get their lines out, even to the point of cutting off the lines of the other actors in the scene. In The Impression Guys, we could take our time to play each beat and didn’t have an eye on the clock.

The important thing is, of course, telling the story believably and entertainingly. Since we weren’t in a big frantic rush, we could explore the moments more and really let the scenes breathe. That was something I quickly got used to.

I should mention at this point that the whole cast are all really terrific and honest actors that naturally strove to make the most of the material. I learned a lot from working with Ross Marquand, Dana DeLorenzo, Matt Jones, Piotr Michael, Amy Castle, Angela Kinsey, Christina Bianco and others in the cast and seeing the level of their involvement as characters. Pretty inspiring for me.

ALWAYS BE READY

Being physically prepared was a major factor in our shoot. Our shoot days weren’t murderous, but they were a good eight-plus hours. We had a lot to cover every day, and doing multiple takes due to fatigue would cost us.

By getting enough sleep, vitamins, and good food, and by keeping prepared with studying the script, rehearsing, (and in some cases, continue to write material for my celebrity impressions) I was able to accomplish what I needed to without crashing.

Again, decisiveness was a factor; Ben would drive us hard, but not beyond a point that was practical. Can you tell I’m a fan of his work ethic?

Mainly, pacing myself and getting food and rest were key things that helped me get the job done.

TELLING THE WORLD

It’s no good doing a wonderful series if you haven’t gotten the word out. Thankfully, our producers at SoulPancake have done a wonderful job of letting their subscribers know about The Impression Guys and spreading the word.

But there is so much product out there that you really have to get fast, clever and busy to get attention. I’ve done everything from contact radio, press and blog people to Tweeting to Shakespeare societies, inviting them to have a look. Happily, I had some success and we have a growing fan base of pretty passionate viewers.

I posted a lot of daily videos from the set of The Impression Guys so that we could share the experience with others.

I’ve had postcards made and am sending them to casting agents. These people I definitely want to know about this show.

And even then, it’s a struggle to let more of the world know, at least the English speaking world, who have Internet access.

So, how much promotion is too much? I’ve never even come close. You have to make noise when you have something to make noise about, right? 

And with the proliferation of digital filmmaking technology and a renaissance of ideas, it’s only going to become more competitive.

Have YOU seen The Impression Guys yet? Here’s that link again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsZBaDaW7Nc#t=331

Will we have a Season Two? I hope so. It sure looks good right now.  Hope some of this was helpful to you.

Image

 

 

Back to Santa Cruz

Image

This weekend I had the good fortune of being invited back to Santa Cruz again, where I spent most of my college days.

The UCSC Alumni Association was kind enough to hire me to come MC and do some of my JIMPRESSIONS at an evening of music by local alums at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, one of the nicer jazz clubs in Northern California.

The performers were: Ebony Lewis, a gospel singer who sang a joyous a capella set, a group called The Uke Ellington Quartet, featuring ukelele’s, bass and vocals, a very gifted guitarist named Carl Atilano who created an amazing guitar version of the Radiohead song, Everything in its Right Place (which is impossible), Kendra McKinley, a recent grad who is a marvelous singer/songwriter, and lastly, two guys (Casey Dayan and Sean Campbell) that make up a band called Moo. 

So you can see how an impressionist fit right in there.

I had a wonderful time.  There were alumni from across the decades of the University’s history, from the 70’s to present day.  Everybody enjoyed the terrific music from the performers that were there, and I had a great time introducing them, doing comedy and bits from my show.

Thanks to my old roommate, Bruce Leshan, for forwarding my videos to Allison Garcia of UCSC, which lead to my being invited.

The weather was uncharacteristically warm and dry, and it really was a perfect little getaway.  Afterwards, Tamra and I watched “The Wolf of Wall Street” and we laughed and laughed… who knew it was a comedy?  I guess I missed that. 

The next day we took a few hours to enjoy the natural beauty of the seaside, and local redwood forests.  Man, it’s a lovely place to visit.

We just made it home later that day to go to the Parks & Recreation season six wrap party, which was nice.  We didn’t stay long, but got to see everyone I know on the show. 

Busy little weekend, with a lot of variety, so it seemed longer than two days.  Which is good, since they stiffed us an hour this weekend due to Daylight Savings Time.

Hope you are enjoying The Impression Guys on YouTube.

Published in: on March 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jim Meskimen Interview

meskimen:

Very kind article here, and a link to a recent interview… nice to know I have at least one fan in Wales!

Originally posted on Rhys L Griffiths:

I’m a big fan of Rob Paulsen’s podcast Talkin Toons. For those of you who don’t know, Rob Paulsen did the voice of Yakko Warner in Animaniacs, Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, Raphael in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and now he voices Donatello in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. He has voiced hundreds of cartoon characters. He also does a podcast called Talkin Toons where he sits down and chats to other people who make a living out of doing silly voices. One day I was listening to his show and he was doing a live version and his guest was Jim Meskimen. Now a lot of the time with voice actors you don’t know the persons name but you certainly recognise their body of work, so not knowing the interviewee doesn’t put me off the show. Anyway as he spoke to Jim I…

View original 392 more words

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  

The Impression Guys Series on SoulPancake is LIVE!

Image

The Impression Guys Series is LIVE

I have to say, it’s been very heartening and unexpected to get such nice remarks from my friends and fellow actors about The Impression Guys.

Wayne Brady, Jenna Elfman, Maurice LaMarche and others have Tweeted their approval of Episode One, which was very kind of them.

In fact, people have been going out of their way to let me know that they found the show especially enjoyable.  Man, that’s great to hear.

For me, it’s so autobiographical, my life thru a kind of funhouse mirror, that I don’t really consider the content all that remarkable; beautifully produced, edited and presented, but not very far off from the little comedy I inhabit every day.

Of course, there are tremendous variations on life as I know it; my wife Tamra plays someone else in my life, Angela Kinsey of The Office inhabiting Tamra’s real life role of Jim’s long-suffering wife (nice of her to bear the burden for a few days!)

But no matter the coincidences and variations on the theme, it’s great that so many are going along for the ride.  Happy to have the audience to play to.

I think if you liked Episode One, you will like the remaining story even more.  The uber-talented Ben Shelton wrote and directed; it’s an adventure he dreamed up, with a little input from me and my co-star, Ross Marquand. 

The Impression Guys is beautifully developed with a lot of surprises all the way along.  You will be impressed, I promise.

And SoulPancake, Rainn Wilson’s company, is responsible for green-lighting the project and getting it made and hosted on their popular YouTube channel.  If you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe.

Let me know what you think of the rest of the show!

Episode Two will launch today, Monday February 17 at 4 pm pst.

WRAPPED ATTENTION

Image

This week we completed five days of shooting MORE material for season one of The Impression Guys this week, and I came away feeling really wonderful about the project.

Finishing up work a show can be bittersweet, you’re exhausted, spent, your clothes are all over the inside of your car, you’ve drunk too much coffee for too many days in a row, and you feel that you can’t stand to be with your fellow actors a second longer. 

Happily, in this case, only the part about clothes and coffee were true.

The Impression Guys is the brainchild of filmmaker Ben Shelton, who I met through mutual friend Skyler Caleb.  Ben has thrown himself into this project with incredible energy, balanced by hard-won knowledge of film, and sprinkled with a terrific sense of humor and fun.

My other half in this series, Ross Marquand, is a brilliant and facile impressionist on one side of the ledger, and a strong and convincing dramatic actor on the other.  I’m very lucky to have him to play beside, and I’m always impressed by the reality, and the choices he brings to his role.

The other cast members have entered this process with the same enthusiasm, and their performances are top notch.  Piotr Michael, Tamra Meskimen, Dana Delorenzo, Amy Castle, Angela Kinsey, Christina Bianco, Skyler Caleb, Tom Ayers, Tiffany Hutson, Dylan Mooney… you are doing to love getting to know them.

The crew are… just delightful.  I’m crazy about them.  They work really hard, they know their business, and they keep it light and fun.  How the heck they do it, I don’t know.

But that’s all behind the scenes.  All you need to know is that the show is fun, funny, has many surprises, excellent guest stars, and a ton of impressions.

When can you see it?  I’m reluctant to say… today.  There have been a lot of strategy meetings and changes in the release schedule.  But I will let you know as soon as it is confirmed.  Believe me!

In the meantime, just know that we have a fun series from SoulPancake for you to binge-watch very, very soon.

Thanks again for reading!

GRACED

Image

I’m just taking a brief breath between days of shooting some additional material to flesh out Season One of The Impression Guys, our soon-to-be-released web series, and I’m marveling once again at the serendipity of my life.

We are very fortunate in this latest set of scripts to have some really amazing guest stars, which are bringing the quality of our story and the general mood way, way up.  First, Erika Christensen agreed to do a funny cameo, and she is wonderful.  I have known Erika for years, and she graciously made time in her busy life, in between shooting the popular TV show Parenthood, to play with us.  She may not be an impressionist, but she always leaves a memorable impression.

Then, feisty, funny and talented Christina Bianco happened to be out here from a break in her busy Broadway career and accepted our invitation to play–what else?– an amazing impressionist!  I’ll be singing with her in various voices in an episode we will shoot tomorrow, (you can see us rehearsing part of it when you click this LINK.)

There is another very exciting bit of “stunt-casting” coming up… but it’s too soon to let that cat out of the bag.

But with Erika and Christina, plus our current cast which is already top-heavy with talent, including Dana Delorenzo, Matt Jones, Melissa Villaseñor, Angela Kinsey, Angela Hoover, Eamon Brennan, Jason Lewis, Tom Ayers, Tamra Meskimen, Portis Hershey, Piotr Michael, Amy Castle, Skylar Caleb, Dylan Mooney, Brandon Routh and others, The Impression Guys is shaping up to be an embarrassment of riches.  Which is my favorite kind of embarrassment, frankly.

I’ll keep on keepin’ you posted.  Thanks for your patience.

Back In Production

Image

Well, the new year is already speeding ahead like a car you left in the driveway of your old house (after you’d been drinking) without putting the emergency brake on, and it rolls down the driveway until it piles into the bushes of the house across the street and… not that I’ve ever DONE that.

Anyway, we are about to launch into ANOTHER five days of shooting for season one of The Impression Guys, a new web series that I have been told will launch in the beginning of February.  Of THIS year.  So that’s very exciting, because I think, based on the edit I watched last year, it’s pretty doggone entertaining.

As usual, the writer/director, Ben Shelton, who works best under mammoth pressure, has pulled off a miracle and given us some scripts that are full of marvelous opportunities for myself, my talented co-star Ross Marquand, and an amazing group of guest impressionists, actors and even a few celebrities to really have some fun.

I’ll be taking lots of photos and posting them to my Facebook page, so you can keep tabs on us.

The Impression Guys is produced by Rainn Wilson’s production company Soul Pancake, which has its own very popular YouTube Channel, and where I speculate you will be able to watch the entire eight episode season of the show in the comfort of your own laptop or 76” Smart TV. 

I can’t say much about the show, except that I really think it will show off both my and Ross’s talents very well, it will be very entertaining, and… there will be Shakespeare.

Please help us spread the word, if you like.  Here’s a link to the pilot episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4RGvLnhvfo

If you enjoyed it, pass it along to others in your world.

Little by little, we build our massive following… Or not.  But we ARE having fun.

Thanks!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,675 other followers