You might think I have been too lazy to write in this blog, being that I am no longer in New York City. You may think that I have been avoiding it, or that my time has grown less interesting. You may think that I am some insane, crazy person who is only after the adoration of his peers. Whatever you think, for some strange reason you're here, reading. And you're probably right.
My time in LA has, thus far, been no where near as fast paced and full on as my time in New York was. In fact, there have been a couple of days now where I've been almost at a loss of what to do. I turned my car around and came home today, for fear of shopping, just because I had nothing else to do. What am I talking about? I'm in a foreign country! That being said, I have to leave in about an hour to go and hang out with Phillip Noyce, acclaimed Australian director (Salt, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Bone Collector among others).
I don't think I've done this yet, but the tune today also provides the title for the entry. Hollywood Swingin' by Kool & The Gang (and this particular version features Jamiroquai).
My time in New York City came to a seemingly abrupt end. I felt like I was settling in, that I had made a home. I've probably made enough point of this, but man, I love that city, and it will forever have a special place in my heart. Truth being told though (as I've made a habit of doing on this blog), because I had accepted my departure as innevitable, I was just hanging to leave. I actually have to keep reminding myself that when I get home, I'm gonna be longing for these times back over here, because I keep wanting to be home already.
So I packed up my room, called a car service, got to the airport, jumped a plane, jumped off a plane and was greeted at LAX by my Auntie, with whom I would be staying for the duration of my LA leg. This being last Wednesday. Most of the morning and afternoon was spent doing car-related activity, I picked up my car, dropped my auntie off to pick up hers. Getting back behind the wheel was a pretty awesome thing to be doing. Although everything seems to be on the wrong side of the road here. And people keep flipping me off.
It's been pretty great to have a big room to live in. And a bathroom that I don't have to share. And some real cupboard space.
That night, I had my first home cooked meal in over 2 months. When I say home cooked, I mean a REAL home cooked meal. Sure, I cooked while I was in NYC. But it wasn't a massive feast, with the best ingredients. After that, I went and saw my buddy Damo for the first time in a few months. He's just moved over here, and it's been great to have a mate here. I know I've harped on about being on my own, and making friends over in NYC, but there's nothing quite like finding a piece of home in another part of the world. Funnily enough, we did more car related activity, going to drop his rental car off, as he'd purchased a new car.
Thursday was spent going and visiting a favorite shop of mine on Melrose, which has gone down hill significantly. I also went into a shoe store and checked out some boots. I really liked the boots, but the salesman really put me off. Why am I telling you this? Where are all the life changing metaphores, and existential philosophies? Well, over here, everyone works on commision. I think this dude owned this store, but he was so pushy and aggressive, that it just made me not want to spend money in his store. There seems to be a very fine line between selling yourself & coming off as being arrogant, intense and pushy...
Thursday night, I went out with my family for dinner, to a very swanky place called Craft. Apparently the head chef there was some top chef winner. It was delicious.
Friday morning I went with one of my cousins to the Tim Burton exhibition at LAMCA. I have to say, it was weird going to see an exhibition that had been on in Melbourne, but we'd both missed it there. It was a pretty cool exhibition, although was mostly just his sketches. If I'd paid $20 to see it, I'd probably have been disapointed. That being said, it's pretty cool to see where this imaginative genius has come from.
Friday afternoon I had my first meeting with a manager. It was at a pretty cool cocktail bar in Beverly Hills. This is where the real LA experience began. This meeting was with a manager from The Schiff Co, she was a lovely woman. I was feeling pretty relaxed going into this meeting, feeling like I really had nothing to loose and everything to gain. The whole concept of pitching yourself to a manager, to an agent, to a casting agent, is a very diffcult thing to wrap your head around. I was hanging out on Saturday night with my buddy Andre (a fellow 16th Street graduate), and we were discussing the ways in which we'd both approached the pitch. What I've learned to this point is that you want to give them a good combination of sell, confidence, light heartedness and likability, mixed in with some integrity and intelligence. I don't mean change who you are to accommodate them. That would be foolish. But it's probably best not to be that intense salesman, who comes off as being pushy & arrogant. No one's gonna want to buy your shoes.
Well, that's my 2 cents anyway.
Know what you want & why you're having the meeting.
Above all else, it was just pretty mesmirizing to be having a meeting with a manager in Hollywood.
Friday night, I jumped in a cab & headed to West Hollywood. I met Damo at his work buddies place, and we headed down to (formerly) Johnny Depp's Viper Room. Apparently, this is where River Phoenix died. Damo stood in his ghost. It took a while to get it off his shoe. So Damo's mate, Casey, had some friends who had a gig on at this place.
We watched the gig before, and Damo made friends with a lady, and Casey was also hot on the prowl. So there was a nice portion of the night where I was left stood by myself at the bar, listening to some pretty average music. But, when in Rome...
Damo actually said he was heading off with his lady, I gave him my blessing and he took off. After the gig was finished, Casey & I went and bought a bottle of whiskey. We were ready for a night of bonding over bourbon. As we came out from buying it, Damo emerged, with a story to tell.
While we were waiting outside, Casey overheard one of his mates saying they were heading to someone's house for an after party, so we all jumped in someone's car, I have no idea who they were, and headed to this party. It felt like we were in the car for an hour before we stopped, and I was pretty worried about how much the cab home was going to cost. But hey, it was all part of the adventure. And I hadn't really had a real adventure like this since I'd been away.
Turns out we'd ended up at some chicks place in Downtown, surrounded by the creme de la creme of LA's Tranny hookers.
The after party, as it were, was more like 10 people gathered in some chicks house, hanging out, drinking and talking shit. They were pretty cool people, people I'll probably never see again, but for one night they were my buddies. Funny how that happens when you're over seas. You can have the most amazing experience with a group of people, or even just one person, it might last a 6 weeks, or it might last 6 hours. And then you say "nice to know you", and you're on your way.
As Damo & I were readying ourselves for the most expensive cab ride in the history of the universe, one of the guys at the party, a lovely gentleman by the name of Beardy (the keys player from the band) insisted on giving us both a lift home...
Saturday... I don't think I did very much during the day.
Saturday afternoon, Andre picked me up. Another piece of home, found abroad. We had a pretty epic car trip together, took us some time to get from my place in Brentwood where he'd picked me up, to his place in West Hollywood. That being said, we did make quite a few stops. But we spent the whole time sharing war stories, talking about acting classes, visas, plans for the future, managers, agents... Was pretty amazing to be able to share the whole thing with someone who was having a similar experience.
We got back to his place in Cresent Heights, and his girlfriend Kate was there. The three of us hung out for a little bit, enjoying the amazing view that he had, before he & I headed down to Barney's, a sports-bar, where we met up with Damo & my mate from the Batson weekend, Stefan.
Andre taught me how to play shuffleboard, wasn't that exciting. Actually we challenged these 2 American dudes, and beat them. They were not happy loosers, particularly when they were losing a game to one guy who'd played once and one guy who'd never played before.
The four of us sat around, talking about life, love, acting, film making... I really enjoyed having 3 mates from different parts of my life all with me in fucking LA of all places.
Stefan gave me a ride home, and we continued our conversations of life, acting, truth, working with Susan. He's an American dude, he met Susan a long while ago, and his insight was pretty cool. Gave me some really interesting things to think about.
Sunday... I woke up at 9am... Got in my car... Picked up Damo... And off we went.. TO DISNEYLAND!!
Upon our arrival, whilst waiting for a shuttle bus from car park to theme park, there was a Disney employee asking anyone if they were having a special occasion - first time visit, anniversary, birthday. For some unknown reason, Damo just pointed at me, and I said "Uh... Yeah, it's my first birthday". The gentleman proceeded to pull out a badge that said "Happy Birthday" and wrote my name "AL" on it. I guess it's part of their training, as literally EVERY employee wished me a happy birthday. It just added to the magic.
We started off at the California Adventure park, which had some cool rides, and some pretty lame ones. The highlight was the California Screamin' rollercoaster.
After a good few hours there (mostly spent waiting in line), we crossed over to Disneyland, as the Star Tours had just been re-opened, having been done up in 3D, with new video and so forth. The line wait read: 90mins. So we walked around and discovered that the Captain EO (Michael Jackson) attraction had also just been reopened. I was super excited. To put that excitment into context, that is about the only thing I remember from going to Disneyland when I was 4 years old, and the last time I went there, it was gone. So we thought we'd kill a bit of time by watching that.
Half an hour later, and the line for Star Tours still read 90 mins. By this time it was already about 8pm, and we were both pretty tired. I decided I'd go and ask the girl at the Fast Track line if it was in fact 90 mins, or if that was just a really long estimate, as we'd seen signs that said 30 mins, and it was more like 15 mins. Anyway, she looked at me, pulled out 2 fast track passes and handed them to me. I thanked her, with a massive grin on my face, and she said "Happy Birthday...". I handed one to Damo, and as we walked in, he said "WTF just happened?" to which I replied "This badge paid off!".
It was a pretty awesome ride. Although in this humble blogger's opinion, nothing is worth waiting 90 mins for that isn't going to change your life. Well, nothing that lasts for 2 mins.
So if you ever go to Disneyland, be sure to tell them it's your birthday. People greet you with a bigger smile, are super happy to see you, and push you to the front of really long lines if you're lucky (and charming). Good thing I'm lucky.
Monday morning I went and met with a casting agent from CBS. I felt like I was getting the hang of the pitch, got into a pretty good groove with this guy. He had a wall full of head shots, with qutie a few Aussies on there. I mentioned that I had studied at 16th Street in Melbourne, and HE KNEW ABOUT IT. Said he'd been in Sydney recently, and all the talk was about this new school down in Melbourne. I thought that was pretty god damn cool.
That afternoon I went and had my first agent meeting, with my mate Liam's agent. They were really lovely people, and I felt very humbled by the fact that they would see me, just on Liam's word. After the meeting, I went home and sent them a copy of my reel & SHOTGUN!, but they passed. It was my first taste of rejection here in Hollywood. If I'm being honest, after my meeting with them, my confidence had taken a bit of a beating. I had put too much pressure on myself, and had perhaps gone into that salesman mode that will only ever hinder how we're percieved. Funnily enough, that morning, I had been reading Death of a Salesman, and had read the part where Willy talks about how all you need is to get people to like you, to want to be around you. Now, that's not to say that you should be walking around trying to get people to like you. But if I keep going back to my earlier point, about trying to find that right mix of all the ingredients in yourself, I think people will be naturally drawn to you.
So, in the morning yesterday (Tuesday), I went to another meeting with a casting agent. It's probably worth pointing out here that on the phone, and when people can't understand my accent, I slip into my general American accent. It's been pretty good practice, actually. So when I arrived at the Warner Brother's lot, and the security guard couldn't understand my accent, I put on my American accent and it was all good. Then there were another 2 security guards I had to pass, before I even got to reception, and by this point in time, I just had the accent on. I got into the meeting with the casting agent, and one of the first things he said to me was "Woah, may I say, you don't really have any accent at all!", meaning my US accent sounded really good. Suddenly, my confidence was back up from the previous day. We joked around, talked at length about both our pasts, and spoke about the potential for the future. It was a really great meeting, and I thought a pretty good pitch.
As it happens in life, it never ceases to amaze me how such little, seemingly trivial things can seriously boost or dimish our fragile little egos/confidence. Andre & I talked a bit about how, as an artist, and probably in any profession, you can go through massive waves of being full to the brim of confidence in your ability, and then equally massive troughs, when you think you are just rubbish and not sure why you're doing whatever it is you're doing. But you just gotta remember, the confidence is just around the corner. And it is. All it might take is someone smiling at you, or complimenting your socks.
Tuesday afternoon I headed down to Santa Monica, to 3rd Street Promenade, to meet my big, tall & goofy buddy Doug. Doug is an American, he's an actor, and in the time that I've known him he's gone from being a relatively small, not so well known actor, to being one of the leads in films like Hellboy, Pan's Labrynth & The Silver Surfer. He has the most amazing energy, probably of anyone I know, and you can't help but be put into a good mood by his infectious affection and love for life. It is honestly quite remarkable. We caught up, walked up and down the promenade and went down to Santa Monica pier, which I had never been to before. You know, where that ferris wheel is. Yes, that one. No. Oh, just... Forget it.
And then I went home and finished the last 2 episodes of Game of Thrones. I was always taught to never start a sentence with the word "And". But here I am, breaking all the rules. In your face, whoever my grade 2 English teacher was. Anyway, I had been savouring those last 2 episodes.. And it was worth the wait. Only problem is, now I don't have any more to watch. That was seriously one of the best first seasons of a TV show I think I've seen. If you haven't already, after months of me harping on about it... Well, there's probably no changing you now. Enjoy whatever mediocrity you are watching then.
And now, Wednesday, a week into LA, and a week out from Auckland, I'm sitting here, typing my blog, trying to finish it off, as I have to leave to try and avoid the fucking traffic in LA. Seriously, what is with the traffic here. It makes no sense. You just get congestion, at random times, in random places, with no explination. No accident, no parked cars, no police or anything. I dunno. I'm just saying.
Off to see Mr Noyce I go, continuing my hollywood swingin'!
On my last day in New York City, I went to see a movie at the local IFC. I saw a great film, British film called The Trip. Check it out. At the cinema, they sold David Lynch made coffee. Yes. He makes coffee too.
My empty room, with my number 1 fan all on his own.
My first car.
Me being all LA cool.
My new diggs. Is diggs home? Or is it clothes? There were probably new clothes in there too.
Sunset BLVD. Traffic.
Food Trucks outside LAMCA. Apparently this is a big thing. I had a hot dog.
LAMCA. Yes, that is my finger. It's part of my composition. I was trying something new, OK.
Crazy street light sculpture.
Tim Burton Exhib.
Driving to my first meeting. A girl was perched up on the street sign. I think she had exceeded the limit of speed.
First LA meeting.
Where River went down.
The view from Dre's Cresent Heights.
DISNEYLAND!! (California Adventure)
So I pulled up in a 7/11 to get some gum on my way to one of my meetings. And when I returned to my car, I looked across the road, and this is what I saw.
This one also had a red door. What's with acting schools & red doors.
Just a lazy meeting at the Warner Brother's lot.
Little Al & Big Dougie.
Santa Monica Pier
A person getting a mold done of their face. Presumably to be hung up in their bathroom.
3rd Street Promenade.
Al & Otto. The men of the house.