From Frustration to Fiction (Pt. 1)

“I solemnly swear to keep long stories short…” Yeah right. Who am I kidding? But I do swear to keep them interesting.

Come June 16th, I’ll be joining ranks with the thousands upon thousands of self-published authors on Amazon. It’s not something I ever planned on doing. In fact, the last thing I said before starting Chapter One was, “I will never write a book.” Four years later, here I am.

I’m not an expert on self-publishing — or anything, for that matter — but I have been gaining experience, which is a step in the expertise direction. Good or bad, for instruction or entertainment, I want to share that experience to help others realize that 1) They can do it, too or 2) They should stick to their day job. I’ll let you be the judge.

Becoming an actor has been the best and worst decision I’ve ever made — second to getting a COSTCO membership and watching IT, THE CLOWN. Ask any actor who wasn’t discovered fresh off the plane, and they’ll tell you entertainment is the hardest path they could have chosen. But it’s not the acting part that’s difficult — no, that stuff’s easy. It’s the succeeding in acting part we struggle with. Look, I’m not going to get into the whole philosophy about what it means to “make it,” because we can bullshit about that all day. I’m going to get into what it feels like to not make it — and what I did (and am doing) with that. Hence, the title of this post…

For me, it all started with something called casting. I’ll assume the majority of you are not in entertainment and keep my exposition simple. Casting Directors (known to actors as CDs) are the gatekeepers to auditions. Producers hire CDs to find actors to audition for projects they are going to produce/film. So if an actor has done his networking properly and has forged great relationships with CDs, they theoretically have an advantage to being called in for more film and TV auditions. #itsnotwhoyouknowbutwhoknowsyou

But here’s the Catch 22 of acting: You need credits to get an audition, and you need auditions (which lead to roles) to get credits. To overcome this, actors seek reputable agents and managers to represent them and pitch them to CDs in order to procure auditions. “But what if an actor doesn’t have an agent or manager? Can they still audition for CDs?” Yes, Susan, they can!

When I first moved to LA, Casting Director Workshops were all the rage. Actors would pay to meet CDs in a professional group setting and practice mock-auditions to help them get the feel of a real casting call, and at the end of the night, there was always a Q&A. This provided two opportunities for beginning actors: 1) Practice and 2) Networking. It also meant an actor didn’t need an agent or manager to meet the CD of a major television show.

“Awesome!” you’re thinking. “If I were an actor, I’d take crap-loads of Casting Director Workshops and meet as many CDs as possible and audition all the time without an agent or manager!” Yes you would, Susan — theoretically. But you’re forgetting one key piece of information: This is Hollywood, and theoretically does not exist. Enter Fernando…

It’s no secret I have the television taste of a fourteen year old girl, and when I first moved to Hollywood, there was a very popular vampire TV show in production. So I took six workshops ($$$$$$) with the show’s CDs to get on casting’s radar. Take a wild guess at how many times I got to audition for said show. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the number of times any man has asked to get donkey-kicked in the testicles. That’s right, ZERO. The reasons why are arbitrary and not the subject of this post. The subject of this post is how it made me feel — and what I did with that.

I got mad. I got vulgar. I got frustrated. But most importantly, I got productive. “Screw them!” I thought. “I’m going to make my own vampire series, and they’re not invited.” So I started plotting the outline of what was to be a feature film called The Afterliving, and little did I know four years later, The Afterliving would become the next best and worst decision I had ever made.