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I miss being a smoker. It’s been 10 years since I quit. It’s not the nicotine I miss… not the act of smoking… although blowing smoke rings was always fun. No, what I miss is the smoke break. I miss having a reason to go outside every couple of hours to just breathe. Breathe toxic fumes mind you, but breathe nonetheless.

The smoke break is a lovely thing. Two or three times a day. Five or ten minutes. Go outside. Breathe. Laugh. Shed yourself of the many annoyances of the day. And then get back to work. I think I should start taking five minute no-cigarette smoke breaks in my day… Who wants to join me?

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I met with a Pastor friend for Coffee recently. We had an awesome conversation. At one point he said:

“The most important person in the world is the one in front of you.”

And please note that I, Anthony McLean, was the person in front of him when he said that.

He went on to say, “When I am sitting here with you, I am not thinking about where else I have to be and what else I have to do. I am fully here. Go through life thinking about what’s next and you’ll miss the significance of the moment in front of you.”

That hit me. I told him that I live my whole life wondering what’s next. I feel like I am on the verge of a breakthrough in my career. But instead of focusing on each project and person in front of me, I tend to wonder “How can this help me get to that next place?”

He nodded like a Doctor who knew this symptom all too well. With a smile he said, “I think you need to stop and smell the roses. It’s not like there are more important people somewhere else. The people in your life right now are the most important people in the world. Enjoy them. And enjoy your projects too. If you see your current projects as merely rungs in the ladder of success… you won’t really put your heart into your work.”

I thought of every acting coach I ever had who said, “Be in the moment. You have to be in the moment or you will miss the magic.”

You know those times when what you are learning in your spiritual life intersects perfectly with what you are learning in your career?

Walking with God is the adventure of a lifetime. It is like having an invisible friend who sets up all these cool “aha” moments for you to discover.

Be in the moment. Aha.

Death by Audition

I didn’t get the part. It is Saturday. The Sabbath day. Time to let it rest. It has been 5 days… it is dead. There will be no funeral but I will wear black for the next week. I searched istockphoto for the saddest picture I could find. This is me. A broken man. If by chance you are a Casting Director or a Hollywood Producer… call me. One phone call can change an actor’s life.

The worst part of being an actor is waiting to hear whether or not you got a part. It is agonizing. I had a big audition today and- gulp- I think it went well. Now I am trying not to think about it which is what they tell us we should do. I don’t get it. You have to want a part badly enough to spend hours rehearsing for a 30 second audition. But then you have to be detached enough so that if you don’t get the part, you won’t wallow in a pool of self-deprecating pity. I haven’t figured out how to walk that line…

What makes this even worse is that if you don’t get the part it’s not like you get a phone call letting you know that you didn’t get it. You just don’t hear anything. And sometimes you are still waiting a week later… 2 weeks later. There’s no closure. It’s like being in a relationship with someone when you’re not sure of the status of the relationship.  People ask you how that special someone is and you aren’t even sure if they are that special someone. You’re up in the air like George Clooney. It’s awful.

Please pity me. And please don’t ask me if I got the part. Unless I look really really happy. Then you can ask 😀

On second thought… even then. Don’t ask.

Blockable Goals

I have a big audition coming up this Monday. I am not going to tell you what it is for because I don’t want to jinx anything. I really want to nail this audition so I am setting some goals for myself…

I heard a teaching once about blockable goals. That’s when you set a goal for yourself when you are not in control of the outcome. Blockable goals lead to anger and frustration. “My goal is to get this role” is a decent rhyme but a blockable goal. And it has led to plenty of frustration for me in auditions past! So the goals I have set for Monday are:

– I want to arrive at the audition 60 minutes early
– I want to know my lines inside and out
– I want to be the most prepared actor at that audition

That last one might not be a perfect goal but it does inspire me to practice like crazy so it works.

If I get the role I will let you know. If I don’t get the role, forget that you ever read this. Except maybe for the part about blockable goals… that stuff really works.

My Oscar Speech

As an actor, I have practiced my Oscar acceptance speech every year for 12 years. This is normal. I’m pretty sure every actor does this. But one thing I haven’t prepared is how to react if I am interrupted mid-speech by a belligerent red-head. I guess I should have an audible ready just in case…

That said, the terrorist attack has resulted in a whole lot of positive publicity for the Oscar-Winning film Music By Prudence. “All things work together for the good” as the scriptures say. So kudos to Roger Ross Williams and his team. I’m sure this Oscar experience has been a dream come true… that turned into a nightmare, and back to a dream.

I love the Olympics. I really do. But this year it’s just not the same. You see, I recorded a voice-over for a commercial that was to air in the Olympics. Well, I recorded a “demo” of the commercial. A “demo” is a low budget mock up that an ad agency makes to show the client what the full scale commercial would look and sound like. Then the client can say “Yeah we like it let’s make it” or “No scrap this.” The great thing about demo’s is there is no audition process… the ad agency has heard your voice somewhere and they just call your agent and book you. It’s great! And often the ad-agency will keep your performance and use it on the official commercial which is where the real payday comes in.  So after recording the commercial I was watching the Olympics with double interest.

Somewhere in between the bobsled and the biathlon my commercial came on! I recognized the voice of another actor who was in the booth with me when we recorded together. They were keeping our original performances- yes! There were 6 of us that day and one by one I recognized all of their voices. But there was one voice that didn’t seem familiar. No… I had not heard this voice that day. And this voice was reading my words.

I had been booted off the commercial. Like a 4th place finish in the Olympics… I was forgotten. It really crushed my Olympic Spirit.

But then Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first gold medal and everything was OK.