Thursday, January 27, 2011

changing life

Pursue dreams - check
Move to California - check
Get rich and famous and do lots of good things to make the world a better place - pending...

I've been in LA for almost a month now and I think my brain is still catching on to the fact that I've moved here. I mean, I realize I'm here. I'm doing things and meeting people, and taking steps and all that, but I don't know if my brain fully comprehends that I've moved here. Ya know? If I had my own apartment I'd be sleeping on an air mattress and using constructible metal grates as shelving. It's a bit different from my pillow-top mattress and kitchen table back in Salt Lake. It's just weird for me to think that I can start building a life out here. Buying a bed, and finding a permanent-ish living arrangement, and changing my driver's license, and getting to a first-name basis with the local baker. It just hasn't really sunk in yet. But, when I moved I told myself I'd give it 5 years. So, for better or worse I'm in LA for the next 5 years at least. And, though it may be a good idea to get an actual library card, and perhaps transfer my gym membership, I don't know that I'll be picking up paint swatches anytime soon.

On a semi-related, somewhat somber note - (I apologize, I'm not generally a somber person, so I know this is a major downer for everyone) I'm feeling a little lonely out here in LA. Though I'm pretty good at making friends, I think what most people don't realize is that I'm really good at making friends with a specific kind of person. Generally I don't find those people in school classes, or at church, or wherever else people generally accumulate friends. I think it took almost 25 years to build the kind of friendships and friend networks that I had living back in the SLC. "Finally!" I thought. "This is what everyone's talking about!" And then what do I do? Move 2 states away where I know all of 3 people. *sigh* But this time around I think I've got a few things figured out that I didn't before. And I'm sure budding friendships are around every corner...until then I've got Natty and her bird. *lonely sigh*

Perhaps it's time for a trip to the Glendale branch of the Hale family...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

where to lay my head...

The housing quandry has been solved. At least for the time being.

I was rejected by the management company for the Chinatown place. Not enough proof of income - which I'm 100% resulted from a lack of effort on the part of the management company. I'm perfectly capable of paying monthly rent and have been doing so for nearly 10 years - which they would have discovered if they'd bothered anything beyond a cursory glance of my application. But that's neither here nor there. Apparently Chinatown didn't work out for the other guys either.

After two days of searching for an apartment I discovered that any place that is within my current budget is super sketchy. Not wanting to live in constant fear I determined to see if Natty (that's what I'm naming the lady I'm currently staying with) would let me live with her for an indeterminate period of time. She said yes. So I'm paying ridiculously cheap rent, and helping out with projects around the house etc. It's a little out of the way, but it's safe and kind of a great situation.

I think I'm going to buy a scooter to save on gas money since I'll be traveling quite a bit. With the money I'll be saving from cheap rent, no utilities, and gas savings, it should pay for itself in a matter of a few short months. After some initial research it seems that not every street-legal scooter is legal in the great state of CA where they seem to have a way of doing everything their own way regardless of the rest of the country. I infer that I also have to get a motorcycle license. So, it may be a process, but I think in the long run it'll be worth it. I'll keep you posted. Start thinking now of pretentious European names for my vintage scooter.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Secret Agent Man

Someone's looking out for me. This much I know.

I don't know if my first meeting with Vinnie could have gone worse. Well, conceivably it could have gone worse. Nazis didn't appear or anything, but overall it was not the most positive experience of the last 3 weeks.

To start out with the maps on my phone will occasionally - usually when I'm trying to get to a meeting or something else more important to my career than a bakery - ignore the numbers in an address and just give me the street. When this happens it is invariably on the other end of the street - miles away from where I need to be. So long story short, I was almost an hour late for my meeting.

Once I got there, I didn't really know what to do. Dotty had said to me, "Remember, you're interviewing him, not the other way around." So the interview consisted of him verifying some things and asking me a few questions about myself and my acting experience etc. I asked him a few questions about the agency and what I could expect given I were offered representation, he asked me to send him my reel, and we were done. About 30 seconds after I left the ultra-swanky, 11th floor, downtown office I thought of about 15 things I could have done or asked to make the experience more beneficial. Hindsight's 20/20.

At that point I was pretty much ready to chalk it up to a good learning experience for next time. Nothing like a lack of experience and knowledge to make you feel SUPER green.

I sent him my reel the next day. My reel consists of clips from the three film things I've done. It's nothing super impressive, but it's all I have.

Fast forward three days. I'm trying to navigate the complicated series of 1-way streets that is downtown LA on my way to pick up a friend for dinner. I get a phone call from an unrecognized number.

Me: Hello?

V: Hello, is this Greg? (Imagine the kind of voice you'd expect to hear if Anthony Hopkins were to call to inform you you were his next victim. Almost unsettlingly calm and soothing.)

Me: Yeah. :)

V: This is Vinnie Torino (name has been changed to protect the innocent) How are you?

Me: I'm doing well, how are you?

At this point the robotic voice of the GPS on my phone started to tell me to take a left on 6th street in 800 feet

Me: I'm sorry, what?

V: I said, do you know who this is?

Me: Oh, yeah, I know who you are.

V: Well Greg, I've been thinking a lot about you, and ... the voice tells me to take a right on 6th and continue for 1000 feet.

Me: Sorry, one more time?

V: I said I'd like to offer you representation.

Me: Yeah, that would be great!


Well, there's more, but it was just details about timing etc. At this point I'm freaking out a little bit. I have essentially no experience, I've been in LA for two weeks, I'm not part of any union, and as far as I know Vinnie thinks I'm about as reliable as a Pinto.

One more week passes and I'm sitting back in Vinnie's office signing my life away. It felt like signing the mortgage papers. Lots of signing. Sign sign everywhere a sign. I saw the sign...and...SCENE!

Vinnie told me that he's never signed anyone that's not part of a union. So, despite the fact that on paper I'm not a very good risk, Vinnie apparently saw something in me that he thinks is worth it - in fact he said, "I hope what I think that I saw is really there." Oh it is Vinnie. Believe me it is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

almost famous

So blah blah blah, friends of friends, blah, the point is this: On Wednesday night I got to attend a semi-private, highly exclusive Elton John concert - FREE! I know, right?

So, here's how it went down. This organization called AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) along with Rob Reiner...and other people...put together this benefit fundraiser concert to help raise money to, as their website states, overturn prop. 8 and obtain marriage equality. I know. Though I love my gay and lesbian friends/neighbors/acquaintances/colleagues/family members etc. I don't support gay marriage. But going into this I wasn't really thinking, "Yes! Finally the liberal agenda will be realized!" My thought process was more along the lines of "Yes! Free Elton John concert at an ultra-swanky Beverly Hills mansion!" And so it was!

I could probably go on for days about the absurd details of this event, but long story short is this: I saw Jane Lynch (actually had a short conversation with her - she's SUPER nice), Jason Mraz, Rob Reiner, Elton John, JJ Abrams, Matthew Morrison, sat two feet behind Adam Lambert, and ended up at one point being in Will Farrel's way (ironically it's because we were staring at Matthew Morrison). Plus we got to go inside the mansion thanks to my friend Kas and her BFF being in charge of the whole event. The bathroom I used was pushing 400 square feet. This place was INSANE! It's the kind of place that has a name (Green Acres). There were at least 2 basketball courts, a tunnel, spacious, verdant lawns, 3 dining areas, and enough room on the lawn for two huge tents - one for the concert, and one for food and cocktails. I don't know that I'll ever get used to that kind of thing. I honestly can't imagine living in a place like that.

Also, today I was supposed to be an extra on the TV show "How I Met Your Mother." This is kind of a funny story. Another example of why you need good self esteem out here. They called me into be a nerd in a bar scene. I'm cool with that. But they only needed 2 nerds, and they brought in 5 guys. Apparently I wasn't nerdy enough. So, they were going to use me as part of the group of people there to make the bar look more "average" because they had lots of pretty people playing extras today. In the end they didn't end up using me for anything, so I was done after sitting around reading my book for an hour and got paid for the whole day. Plus, I got to see Neil Patrick Harris up close and in person. least in person, he was kind of on the other side of the set, but it was him!

So, steps. I'm not sure if they're steps forward, but I certainly couldn't have experienced either of those things in SLC, so good things!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I have since discovered that the paperwork I signed was for a manager. Therefore, meeting with the Big-time agent man - henceforth knows as Vinnie - is not a big deal, and in fact is encouraged by my manager (HKA Dotty). So, I have a meeting with Vinnie on Tuesday. Prayers are welcome. :)

In other news, I have now watched 4 movies on my "to-watch" list.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - great movie. I really liked it, and that old Jimmy Stewart was quite a guy.

The Royal Tennenbaums - Hi-larious. Some questionable material in parts, so don't go out and rent it if you're...ya know...pretty much anyone I know that hasn't already seen it, but still - funny stuff. After this and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I am officially a huge fan of Wes Andersen.

The Graduate. I love Dustin Hoffman. Seriously. That aside, I really didn't understand why this movie was such a classic. It reminded me of Catcher in the Rye.

Out of Africa. Meryl Streep is unbelievable. Just, in general, really.

Next on my list - Dances with Wolves, and who knows what after that? I'm at the library copying movies onto my computer. Shady, I know, but I only have a temporary library card until I can give them some sort of official proof of address, therefore I can only check out one item at a time. Being that I live with an old lady, and really have no friends to hang out with, I'm spending my Saturday tackling my movie list - which is hard to do when one is poor and allowed only one movie from the library. So, I'm copying them to my computer, and when I'm done watching them, I'll delete them. :)

I have also decided that, though it is good to have a backup plan and certainly good to have work-type things to fall back on, I didn't move to LA to be a substitute teacher, private tutor, babysitter, waiter, or extra. I came here to be an actor because that's what I am. So that's what I'm going to do. Again - prayers are welcome. And thanks for any you may have already sent my way.

Mucho love to one and all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The next 3 days...

Who knew I'd have new information after 3 more days? Well I do. I'll try to keep this short:

Still no word on the shady Chinatown apartment. But living with Sis. N is a treat.

It appears that very few of the surrounding school districts are hiring subs - and the ones that are require California Certification, so I think I might stick to extra work and private tutoring.

I've called the extra line a few times to get some work, but to no avail. The days I have available to work only have jobs for truckers in their 50's, people with bar tending experience, or drag queens. Who knew being an extra was so type-specific?

Now for the good stuff:

The Casting Director (henceforth known as CD) that came and saw Drowsy hooked me up with what have proved to be very good contacts here in LA. One of them is Steve Nave who runs an acting workshop twice a week. He brings in Directors, CDs, Producers, Agents, Managers etc.

So Monday he brought in a CD named Cathy Henderson (look her up on imdb, she's done a TON of stuff - including UHF!). She does lots of indy stuff and is apparently going to be casting some things for Hulu. Here's what she said, "I really enjoyed your work last night, and it was a pleasure to meet you and find a new actor that I know I can bring in who will make me look like I know what I'm doing! I appreciate your talent."

Wednesday the workshop guest was an agent from the Daniel Hoff agency. I know that doesn't really mean anything to you, and frankly doesn't really mean much to me at this point either, aside from the fact that they're a legit agency. The day after the workshop I got an email from the agent saying, "I'd like you to come in for a meeting." WHAT?! Crazy. That doesn't happen to people. (I know, I just signed with an agent, so I'm trying to figure all of that out...)

THEN - Steve - the guy who runs the workshop - called and said he'd recommended me to a manager he works with. He (Steve) has apparently helped a bunch of people launch careers (Eva Mendez was the one I remember him mentioning), so I guess he's a really good connection to have and he said he wants to help me out.

So, there's my life. Of course one shouldn't count chickens and all that, and really all of this is just talk at this point. But as far as I'm concerned, it's really good talk. And I think I can celebrate a little bit. This doesn't really happen to people. Hopefully I'll be working in no time. Ellen here I come!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Last 3 Days

WARNING: This post will probably not be very entertaining for most people. Its purpose is to inform those that might be interested about what I've been up to since moving to LA - i.e. the last 3 days. And it's kind of long, so...there's that...


I potentially have a place to live. It's looking pretty good. A friend of a friend is looking at a place in Chinatown with a guy from his ward. 3-bedroom condo. Cheap rent. Mormon roommates. It's a little out of the way from where I'd ultimately like to be, but again - cheap rent. And it's better than living in a mobile home with Ms. Italy (Who doesn't have the most creative name for a transsexual, AND who I just discovered no longer has a listing on Craigslist, so I can only assume she found a taker.) Plus, a friend of mine is *most likely* moving down here in a few weeks and we'll be getting bunk beds, making rent even cheaper! I feel like I'm back in college... Until the Chinatown place comes through I'm living in El Segundo - a quaint Mayberry-ish town south of LAX - with a lady from my Grandpa's old ward. She's extremely nice, rather fuss-budgety, likes rugs, wears a moo moo, and is something of a clutter collector. I have a king sized bed, my own TV, heat lamps in the ceiling of the bathroom, a shelf in the fridge, and free-reign of whatever bikes I find in the garage. I might actually be sad to move to Chinatown in a couple of weeks.


I went to Central Casting - which is the main service in LA for providing background artists AKA extras. After standing in several lines for nearly two and a half hours, I am now registered to work as an extra. I call the workline and pick which jobs I might be suited for and go from there. I checked it out this morning just to get an idea of how it worked and twice I had to move immediately to the next job because the AD (assistant director) who left the message used the phrase "very very attractive." I wonder if I'll start to develop a complex after a while. And I wonder what kind of person says "Oh yeah, that's definitely me." But I guess if you are one of those chiseled beautiful people you kind of have to have an attitude bordering on arrogance if you're going to make it in this business eh? More on that as things develop.

I also signed all the paperwork with an agent, so I'm set there. I was a little concerned upon coming down here that that might not happen because it was sort of only loosely implied that I would be with the agency when I visited a few weeks ago. I've left emails and messages since then with no result - much to my chagrin. So I was in the neighborhood in my travels and decided to stop in. Good thing too. I signed on the line and my soul is now owned by Whitaker Entertainment. Let's hope that's as good a thing as I think it is. She - my agent who will henceforth be known as Dotty - says it's gonna be an uphill battle because I don't have lots of experience - which I knew coming in. I asked about pilot season and she said that basically because of my lack of experience, I don't have a chance this time around. I guess we'll see. She also asked what sorts of things I'm willing to do. Meaning - I'm mormon, so what are my boundaries? She said, "I mean, they obviously aren't going to ask you to take your shirt off..." see what I mean about getting a complex? I have a little more sympathy for those psychotic drug addicts Hollywood tends to produce. But only a little. I'm pretty level-headed and have a healthy sense of self awareness, so it's all good.

And since I brought it up, and I know you're now all dying to know - my boundaries are pretty loose. Meaning pretty much anything you'd see on network television I'd be ok doing. I'm not going to compromise myself, but as an actor you have to accept those kinds of things. I don't think it's any different than under-cover cops having to drink and smoke, or CIA agents having to do shady things. It's not not me involved in those things, it's a character I'm playing. And that's kind of where I stand. But don't worry, I'm definitely going to try to steer clear of anything too much in the gray area. I'd love to do family films and educational TV for my entire career. But if I end up as some sociopathic killer on Criminal Minds - so be it. And for those judgy Mormons out there who gasp in horror at the thought of me endorsing something like alcohol or pre-marital sex, just remember someone has to play Fontaine in Les Mis, Potiphar's wife in Joseph ATATDC, and Judas Iscariot in "The Lamb of God." I see no difference.

As a way to pay the rent until I'm larger than life (figuratively speaking, of course, I exercise daily) I had looked into substitute teaching with the LA unified school district, but to no avail. They're not hiring subs. However, it looks like there are numerous, i.e. 30-ish, smaller school districts in the area, so I'll be checking into that this coming week to see what I can accomplish there. I'd almost rather do that because subbing pays upwards of $150 a day depending on the district, and being an extra only pays $64 for an 8-hour workday. That's minimum wage.


Since I'd rather not wait for things to happen - and because I'm a firm believer in making your life what you want it to be rather than letting life happen to you - and because I personally believe that God is more willing to help out when we put in a concerted effort first - I've got some other things going to help speed up the process. I'm in an acting class on Tuesdays with this guy. His students apparently book stuff (industry terminology meaning "get jobs") all the time - of course, he wouldn't tell me they didn't or I wouldn't take his class, nevertheless... He's a super nice guy and has been around for a while and is on a first-name basis with lots of big wigs (which is still a bit disconcerting at times) and I sat in on a couple of classes when I was down here and they seem like good times to me. Any advantage is, in the end, an advantage.

There's also a workshop I will be attending from time to time as I can. Steve Nave is the director - not that that should mean anything to you, that's just his name - and brings in Casting Directors, Producers, Agents, Managers, Directors etc. to facilitate and students of the workshop often book with these people. It's probably the best way to get into the business - networking with Casting Directors. Now I just need to figure out exactly how to do that. Suggestions?

So, that's pretty much it for now. I have my Disneyland Annual Passport - which I used last night to celebrate my my wearing of the big boy pants. I wandered around the park and enjoyed the atmosphere, then ended with fireworks and a fresh, hot churro. I'm going to get a library card as soon as I can; I'm thinking about buying a scooter, but I'm holding off until I'm more established in my living circumstance; I'm waiting to hear back from the USF, and the church's New Testament project for possible acting work this spring/summer; I know four people in LA and will hopefully know many more soon; I'll be going to a single's ward - though heaven only knows why (I've been in them for almost 10 years, and they haven't done me much good yet); I have a list of 238 movies to watch, and 294 books to read; Trader Joe's is here; the weather's gorgeous, and life is good.

As fate would have it, I kind of fell in love with a girl and then moved to LA (and people say God doesn't have a sense of humor), but for whatever reason I don't really feel worried about it. She's kind of perfect, and she makes me beam. Plus, I figure if I have a career as an actor there will mostly likely be times when we'll have a long distance relationship - should things work out - so maybe this is good practice.

All of the above is completely awesome and I'm seriously living the dream out here. Thanks for all your love and support, and keep the prayers/good vibes/happy thoughts coming my way and I'll be sure to return the favor. We'll make the world a better place yet!