Prelude to a Big Break

(wandering around toronto)

Notes from a Well-Fed-Artist.

with 7 comments

Getting a job is important. Revelatory, I know. Nevertheless, feel free to indulge my analytical riff. Like any type of analysis, there’s the practical side and the (I’m not sure exactly what to call it which is why I’m going to spill 800 words on it) side. Practical first:

Talk about putting the button on a great year. Saturday night I was toasting 2010 (almost post-script, which is odd since there’s a month left) with at the Kings game. Most of our chatter centered around pilot season (due late January – late March) and how we were going to approach it. There was also a lively exchange on the merits of chili. (We’re both in favour.) On the subject of professional accomplishment, we were both reflecting on a progressive year. Rob wrapped a second season of his television show and a sequel to a very popular prequel — dig it. I moved to the American market, became a resident and notched a few jobs to go with an overgrown pile of moral victories. Cool beans. December was supposed to fall somewhere between preparatory and reflective. Now I’m preparing for the most intensive on-camera action of my career that doesn’t involve a boatload of sand. (Quick aside: Don’t think for a second that I wasn’t snapping photographs throughout my Spartacus screen-test. When I can share them without jeopardizing my ability to make a living… well, that’ll be neat.) December did an about face and I couldn’t be happier.

When you get a job, you make money. I welcome the opportunity to make money because all that’s missing from California’s preliminary tax structure for actors who generate revenue in chunks is Governor Schwarzenegger beating the shit out of you right when you examine what’s left of your pay cheque. (Most of it is retrievable with a good accountant… but still. Money > No Money.)

I’ve flirted with the network I’m going to work for — aggressively — throughout the year. I’m glad we’re finally doing some business together, so to speak. (I’ll stop being dickishly vague about what show I’m doing once filming begins. That’ll be soon.)

Now for the non-practical side: This blog still exists for a variety of reasons, but it began for one: I wanted to chart the journey of a professional actor. Why? Because I wanted to prove that the career arc has the same sort of connective tissue that binds all professional endeavours. The way we measure success for artists (finance-centric) is ridiculous. I can handle that, because what other people think of your career is usually just a reflection of their own professional insecurities. But the characterization that acting is a barren field followed by a transformative star-making “break” or a switch to some sort of grown-up job — with no middle ground — steps past being ridiculous and becomes something I can’t tolerate: irresponsible.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to speak at Branksome Hall in Toronto. The audience: A film studies class and a Drama class comprised of 40 young women. (Talk about nerves… this guy was terrified.) I was given just shy of an hour to take them through a practical approach to professional acting and then we had a fun Q & A session littered with thoughtful questions. (At some point, I’ll try and reprint two of them and the reasoning behind my answers. The first was a question about why Canadian television doesn’t resonate with, you know, Canadians (!) the same way American shows do. And the second was a really interesting query on whether or not the private persona of an actor can effect the way people interpret their public persona. Fascinating stuff to consider.) The former part of the class was the first time that I’d ever really vocalized the chronology of my first six years in the business. The narrative made one thing abundantly clear: Everything matters. I got this job because I was super-prepared for three other auditions on the same show that I wasn’t totally right for. When it came time for them to make another decision, my work resonated. I believed in these principles before, but now… I have proof. The same strategy that primes a promotion in your office will secure you a three-episode arc on a hit tv-show. These are the facts.

(And to Branksome: Thank you for the gift. It’s keeping me hydrated at 35,000 feet… right now!)

 

Couple of things before I wrap this up: November was the busiest month in the site’s history: 6,691 hits. Thank you to everyone who visited.

(Here’s where you stop reading if a Toronto-centric rant isn’t for you.)

Toronto: Get over yourself. Apparently there’s a new policy at the “hip” restaurants in the city where you can only sit for two hours at a time. I mean… (hang on, I’m getting mad) TO, you’re a lovely city. Really, you are. So stop doing things that make me think you’re an asshole. Sitting down for a 3.5 hour dinner is one of the ways a city generates culture. Limiting the dine-time for patrons paying (WAY TOO MUCH) money to begin with doesn’t make your restaurant cooler. It makes you narrow-minded and greedy; not to mention the fact it wreaks of posturing. Let people sit and eat and then let them sit and talk. And while we’re here… When did a pint of beer start costing $8? When did taxi’s kick off at $4.25 before you’ve even rolled an inch? When did the subway start costing $3 a ticket? Seriously… when did that last thing happen? I want to like the city I grew up in. Stop making it difficult.

The following transmission was written closer to space than sea-level. Wi-Fi on flights!!! Feels like the future.

 

Written by Stephen Amell

December 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

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7 Responses

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  1. Loved reading your blog….

    Rosemary

    Rosemary Evans

    December 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    • Thanks Rosemary. ;)

      Stephen Amell

      December 3, 2010 at 9:27 am

  2. Lets see if I can help you with your TO issues.

    1. You can still get pints for $6, it’s only the fancy places that cost $8. eg Beir Markt
    2. Taxis went up in price when gas prices sky-rocketed a couple years ago, but when gas prices came down the taxi prices didn’t. Not cool.
    3. Never heard of the two-hour limit before defo don’t approve.
    4. $3 per TTC ride is only the start of the TTC’s problems. This story went viral and for the TTC in a lot of hot water.

    You won’t be happy with TO now that Rob Ford is mayor, we’re screwed.

    Good luck with the filming!

    December 2, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  3. Why did you erase all of your Twitter posts?

    I wonder if it was just because of the Vampire Diaries thing.

    I’m sure this blog will be gone if you get another job — There is a post started with “This blog still exists…”

    -

    December 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    • Hey Marco — I’ve mass erased tweets before. In this instance, circumstances have changed (slightly) and I wouldn’t want something I’ve tweeted previously to be misinterpreted.

      Stephen Amell

      December 5, 2010 at 1:26 am

      • I do this sometimes for the sake of being silly and regretting what I wrote. The problem with the internet is the footprint. The internet archive.org doesn’t let anything go away, plus twitter has sites that load all of the twitter posts into them. And God help you if your famous… Let’s try not to screw up our Oscar chances talking badly about the Academy next year when it airs, right. HA!

        -

        December 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm

  4. Loved reading your blog…. Rosemary

    December 23, 2010 at 9:54 pm


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