Monday, April 12, 2010
Making It Happen
Wow, good morning. What a whirlwind this past weekend turned out to be. From having two dates canceled two days in a row (yes, mr-he-who-must-not-be-named-for-now scored again on Sunday), to birthing this blog, to seeing huge number spikes on my Facebook Fan Page and spending so much time on my computer I think my fingers have meshed with the keypads.....well, it's been crazy and fun.
I did promise shorter blogs than my initial entry so I shall try to stick to that promise.
Today I wanted to talk about "Making It Happen". Making it happen for YOURSELF. It’s what you want to achieve in your career. It's the waiting around vs. doing, the passive vs. active. There's a whole lot to discuss here so this keeping the blog short thing? Wish me luck.
First, though, let's recap a bit on the last blog and let's start with my Fan Page. Yesterday, I checked the numbers right before I went to bed and it was at a respectable 947 at 2:07am. By the time I woke up, we were at 1,075 - a jump but nothing spectacular. However, over the course of the day, we gained about 500 members to bring the numbers up to 1,506 as of right now. 500 people in 1 day? That's pretty awesome. Thank you to those of you who joined the page and for spreading the word. Let's keep that momentum going.
This blog: of course I started out with zero readers. I posted the link to the blog on all my various Facebook pages and anxiously tapped the refresh button. I'd like to say I did so every few hours, but that's so far from the truth it would put Pinocchio to shame. I refreshed the pages every few minutes and sometimes more often than that. What? I was excited! I am excited. And I'm a bit Type-A personality. What of it? Zero followers, zero followers, zero followers. And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I had my first follower and my first comment. Jerry Ying of the blog, "It's A Dad's World" was following my blog. How freakin' cool is that? He's an actor and a father in LA blogging just like I am. Jerry Ying, I officially thank you for being the first. And, mom, well, Jerry Ying beat you to that punch. But I suppose you get a pass since you sent me a really cute cell phone video of the shirts you bought me at your favorite shopping destination. My best friend from college, Nupur Pal, was my 2nd reader and follower. Nupur - thanks for taking the time out of your crazy day with Sophia and Ryan to read my blog. And, thanks for the very Nupur-like crazy comment you posted for the entire world to see. Thank you to all 14 followers I have so far. We all have to start somewhere and soon enough, when my blog numbers enter the exponential stratosphere, I'll look back at my first 14 from day 1 with pride.
Mr-he-who-must-not-be-named-for-now: Sunday rolls around and I check in to make sure we're still on for 1pm. Not sure what to expect and having set my expectations much lower, I get a text, "Hey ya, boo….would u be interested in comin over here? I'm a tad wiped out........" So we went from hiking in Malibu on the cliffs to hanging at his apt (and he has 2 roommates). Granted, it was a cloudy, chilly day and watching a movie on the couch and chillaxing did sound very nice. However, this was going downhill faster Bode Miller. Trying to go with the flow I at least suggested hanging at my place where we could actually be alone and not tripping over his cats and roomies. But, nope, he wanted to stay in his "cave". Not the Sunday I was interested in. So I asked what was up. How did he go from a fun Saturday dinner/Sunday hike to refusing to move off his couch? And I got THAT answer that seems to be drawn from the "How Not To Date Book" that far too many people read: paraphrasing - "I really like you, you're one of the nicest people I have ever met, you're really cute....but I just want to be friends. I just got out of a long relationship, I'm really weird about dating, it takes me a long time to warm up to people....blah blah blah blah blah." Whatever, dude. Save your breath. If you don't want to hang out, it's all good. Why people can't just be honest and UPFRONT is beyond me. Save us all the time and trouble and don't make plans if you don't want to actually hang out. It's stupid, right? Oh, but, of course, he does want to be friends and thought I should still come over and watch a movie. Mmmmmmm, no thank you. I am able to enjoy a relaxing cloudy Sunday on my own couch with somebody who WANTS to hang out with me....ME. Game ender. Ciao.
Okay, the drama is out of the way, the sun is shining, I'm on my jungle like patio sitting amongst my beautiful plants and flowers, drinking my "Holiday Tea" from Harney & Sons Tea Shop in Millerton, NY. It's quite possibly the BEST tea I have ever had and I order it buy the pound and have it shipped from NY: www.harney.com. Okay, let's talk about Making It Happen before this blog turns out to be longer than the first.
I've never been one to sit on the sidelines. I jump right in, no reservations, no questions asked and do what needs to be done. Sure, sometimes that gets me in trouble and sometimes that puts a huge target on my back. But, most of the time, it allows me to get things accomplished, to be at the forefront, and to be a leader. I don't mind making waves and I don't mind fighting for what I believe in. I have a lot to say, which I'm sure you can already tell, and I enjoy using my loud, strong voice to say it with. In college, at Syracuse University, I joined the SU Ambulance on one of my first days on campus. We had a 100% student run and student operated EMS service with 2 ambulances, 2 non-emergency transport vehicles, with our own version of a 911-dispatch center. We had a board of directors - all students. It was pretty amazing. Over the 4 years I volunteered there, I got my EMT certification, got cleared for all field positions including driver and crew chief (did I ever think I would drive an ambulance? No. The wrong way down a one-way street to get to a "man down"? No. But I did). And more importantly than that, I took on multiple administrative positions on the board and helped shape and run the future of SUA, which is THRIVING today. I helped institute a computer based dispatch program and took us from paper to technology. As a student in college! SUA was one of the best experiences of my life and it absolutely helped shape me into the man I am today.
Smash cut to today (and by today, I mean the past 7 years). I was a 7th grade US History and English teacher at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, CA. I liked my job and I loved my students. But after about 7 years teaching, I needed a change. No easy decision. I spent a shit ton of money at Pepperdine University obtaining my Masters in Education and a lot of time and energy...and a steady paycheck with benefits at a world class school. Sometimes, though, the hard decisions need to be made in order to feed the soul. So while it was a hard decision, it was also a very easy decision. I needed to do something else.
It's LA and everybody seems to have a production company of their very own.....except me. Naturally, I changed that. With my friend, Joe Dain, we started Shoot Productions. Nupur, my 2nd blog follower, helped us coin the name with her sassy, "Shooooooooot," her way of verbalizing an exclamation point. Long story short, after finalizing the paperwork, we had a production company. Then we got a 5 picture deal to co-produce 5 horror films with Charles Band's company, Full Moon Features (the well known company responsible for the Puppet Master series), which Joe was then working for . We got that deal and the finger was pointed at me, "You're the Casting Director". "I'm the what?" I exclaimed. What the hell is a Casting Director? I knew how to audition in high school and college but we're talking a real movie with real actors and agents and a script and a breakdown (which I had never even heard of before). Too bad for me. It was time to learn because we were about to start TWO features, "Petrified" and, "Decadent Evil". I was given an office and a script and basically told, "GO". So I went. 7 years later, I figured I must have done something right cuz here I still am casting films and TV shows and I couldn't be happier. Granted, that first job was given to me and it is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received - thank you Charles Band and Joe Dain. But that opened my eyes and I knew I needed to go out and officially learn how to be a Casting Director. I started producing much the same way. Joe brings me to set one day and hands me a walkie-talkie and says, "This is our Producer's trailer. It's home base. Now take this, get out, go on set and produce." And with a hard shove out the door, I walked on set and was a Producer, faking it for a while, but I was doing it.
Over the years I took on jobs as a Casting Associate for other Casting Directors and soaked up every bit of knowledge I could. I worked on some amazing indie projects as well as some huge studio films and network TV shows. I went from being on set of "Decadent Evil,", a feature we shot for about $85,000 in 8 days, to the Fox show, "Back To You," hanging around the likes of Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton and Josh Gad. I was stunned. I was even flown to NY for the "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" feature, where I helped run the open call where we saw 1300 little girls in one day. I was living my dream. Sure, luck plays a part in almost everything, but I did something right. I was DOING something. I didn't sit back and wait for the phone to ring. I made the calls and talked to people and took every meeting I was offered and took the good jobs and the bad jobs, the jobs that paid me an insultingly low salary and the jobs that were more promising. Through all of the jobs I had working for other people, I was able to continue working for myself, too. And that's made all the difference.
Anybody who has been in this business for a few years knows everything takes time. Nothing happens quickly. No matter how talented or determined you are, everything takes time. 4 years ago, I produced a little indie drama called, "The Inner Circle". (Please join our fan page at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/The-Inner-Circle/384247672639?ref=ts). That little film, which we worked so hard on, is finally getting its time in the spotlight. It won a few awards at the Oregon International Film Festival and the La Femme Film Festival in Los Angeles, and will be released on DVD on May 25....because we MADE it happen. Last year I cast another small indie film, "SPORK". It was a SAG Ultra Low Budget film but I busted my ass to get the best cast possible and we ended up with well known actors at our modest budget (Elaine Hendrix, Beth Grant, Keith David, Richard Riehle, Chad Allen, Yeardley Smith) and it's premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in NY next month. Only a few months ago, I cast and produced a short film, "Relish," which was written and directed by my casting INTERN on Spork, Jeff Fong. He raised $15,000 and turned around and hired ME. He made something happen for himself. We ripped through that film in 4 days and had it through post faster than I've ever seen before. RELISH will have its first screening on April 20 at the Cinema Lounge before having its big premiere at the Phoenix Comicon in May. All because we made things happen. None of these amazing things would have happened if I had said NO to any of these opportunities and none of these things would have happened if I hadn't been busting down doors and kicking asses.
The moral of this story - do not wait for opportunities to come to you, because more often than not, they won't. MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Get together with talented and driven friends and be creative. You don't always need crazy big budgets and studio backing. You can get a good script and a hand held camera and shoot a fun little short and post it on You Tube. How many people have gone viral and become "famous" and received major publicity all because they put their work out there for the world to see? We are all the next Steven Speilbergs and George Clooneys and Lady GaGas and Sydney Parks (don't know who she is? Look her up NOW...she's a 13-year-old mover and shaker and because she made something happen for herself when she was 9, writing and performing her own stand up routine that I just happened to see, I had the honor of meeting her and keeping in touch with her and her family over the years and then had the pleasure of casting her in one of the lead roles in SPORK).
While I thank you immensely for reading this blog today (and becoming a supporter by clicking on that "Follow" button and spreading the word), get up and go DO something today. Do one thing that moves you forward in your career, to that place you want to be in 5 years from now. Nothing is more satisfying than making that 5 year goal happen tomorrow.
Much love and happiness,
Jeremy Gordon, CSA