Prelude to a Big Break

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Posts Tagged ‘ncis la

Hi Friends — I’m hunkered down. Staying low. Letting the time pass. Waiting. Waiting. It’s all I can do. Waiting. WaitingThis Tuesday my facial hair and I will be on . Please watch. Okay… back to hugging Lou and sitting in silence. Keep calm and carry on.

Written by Stephen Amell

November 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

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From “Miami” to “LA” this Fall on CBS.

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Good morning. What a fun stretch of activity. I’m going to chronicle it for posterity.

When my Visa was approved and, as a result, I started auditioning for episodic television, my manager told me to be patient. His reasoning (in PG-13 language): Casting directors have a little more autonomy when they’re auditioning actors for guest star roles. That means they want to be more familiar with you before really being in your corner. Guest starring is a specific skill set, you’re going to need to earn their trust. So… do good work, and by the 3rd time you audition for a show, we’ll start expecting to get booked.

That was early June. Now that I can see a small piece of the endgame, I’ve come to realize what prescient advice it was. Before September 10th, it gave off a faint whiff of poop. The three month stretch of episodic-craziness had so many near-misses, that I was dangerously close to Buffalo-Bill-fan-after-four-straight-Super-Bowl-losses-level frustrated. Second choice for a really smart A&E show; screen testing for a regular on an NBC show that should run 7-9 years and put me in the market for a time-share on a jet; final choice for a CW show that was then offered to a “name” actor. Callbacks on everything. Enough generous feedback to build a metaphorical castle. The way my team was talking to me, you’d think I was destroying the town. It didn’t seem like they could be any happier.

Quick Aside: Can’t even get a callback in Canada. Special. I’m not angry… I just don’t have a lot of faith in the Canadian industry operating as a meritocracy. Seems more like a sheltered, overly politicized segment of the industry that repeatedly cuts off its nose to spite its face. This isn’t specific to me not being able to get a job. It’s an overall commentary that’s reflected both in the prevailing opinion of its citizens (“Oh… It’s Canadian television…”) and the penetration of our product throughout the rest of the world. Moreover, it does seem counterintuitive (or at least, less likely) for me to have more success south of the border than north. It’d be amazing if I was wrong, but I’m not. Do you know why that’s a shame? Because Canadian’s are really, really talented. At a certain point, the companies that shape our industry should realize it. End Quick Aside.

September 7th: My phone buzzed that afternoon at the beginning of a 90 minute walk with Louis The Dog. I glanced quickly and realized that I had two auditions the next day. In both cases, it was the third time I’d be seen for those shows. So… do good work, and by the 3rd time you audition for a show, we’ll start expecting to get booked.

September 8th: The first audition will remain nameless, the second was for CSI: Miami. After a sterling audition for (the show that will not be named because I still want to work on it…) I trudged into the valley for number two. Went great. There wasn’t any time to reflect, or look ahead, because my agency had sent me two more auditions for the next day.

September 9th: Sometime between my first and second audition I got an email from my agency telling me not to shave or cut my hair. Enroute to my second audition I got a call from my manager’s office imploring me not to shave or cut my hair. As it turned out, the requests were from two different casting offices and I was being put on hold for both shows. Well… You’ve never seen a white guy in a Smart Car sing / rap along to a Kid Cudi song with more enthusiasm than this fella. It was somethin’.

September 10th: Both offers came in. CSI: Miami was the obvious choice for approximately 6 reasons. Wow. Had dinner that night with my friend Trina and her husband Ross. They were visiting from Toronto and it was the second time I had seen them that day. The first? I ran past their hotel at 8:15 in the morning, sweating profusely with hives all over my body because I was so bloody nervous. Meanwhile, they’re freshly showered, holding a coffee and waiting for a cab. I looked a little like Sloth from the Goonies. What are you going to do?

September 17th: Can’t write more about this until November 8th. It airs November 7th. 9pm on CBS. While on set I got an audition for NCIS: LA that looked tasty.

September 21st:

There’s an audition this week that I should book. All the factors that are out of my control (age, look and likeness to other members of the show) are still – totally – out of my control. So, maybe the first sentence is foolish. Then again, the fountain tipped over. I’ve gone to work, I’m still working and it’s time to take this thing to the next level.

There’s an audition this week that I should book.

September 22nd: Wrapped on CSI: Miami. For both shows, the vast majority of my work was on the first day. Came home later and self-taped for a project that I’ll post on the blog soon.

September 23rd: My manager called. If your manager calls you solo, that’s nice. If your agent calls you solo, that’s nice too. If your manager calls you and then says, “I’m conferencing in your agent”, something exceptional is about to happen. It was my third time in for NCIS: LA. Never in my life have I been happier with an audition. They hired me. I’m infatuated with how simple that sounds. And I wore my Blue Jays hat. And some guy from Philadelphia stumbled up to me and muttered, Yes, it was a wonderful, wonderful night.

September 24th: You think you’ve seen happy people before? I’ve seen a group of actors and executives sitting on a show with 16,000,000 viewers, and 58 episodes until everyone looks at a syndication cheque larger than the GNP of Kenya. That was the vibe at the table read. I’m just reporting the facts.

September 28th & 30th: Great fun! I’m 99% positive that my episode will be airing on November 9th. 10 pm on CBS.

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And here we are. My hope was that there’d be a quick reset, a reality check, so to speak. It’s already happened. Had a screen test last Thursday morning that didn’t go as well as I thought. Whoops. I did a little ad-libbing in the audition because the script that I read was different from the audition material we were given. More importantly, the script was a later draft, so I surmised that they weren’t totally married to the dialogue. Well, the writer was in the room. Double Whoops. This past Friday, I got caught up running errands and forgot (seriously… I forgot!!!) to eat dinner before a friends 30th birthday. Hello, alcohol poisoning. Two days later, the inside of my mouth feels like I tried to swallow helmet and I had to skip a USC football game with tickets on the 50 yard line because I was curled up on my couch like a sissy. On the plus side, I sort of have a moustache. Now, it’s October! Woke up this morning to the sound of rain. After a week-long heat wave it was go-time for Louis The Dog. We hit Runyon with a certain type of ferocity. It’s back to the grind, as they say. Couldn’t be happier.


Written by Stephen Amell

October 4, 2010 at 9:02 am

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On set in Pasadena.

Had a wonderful screen test this morning in Valley Village. (The nicest place I know that sounds a little like a discount shopping center.) There was a time when auditioning made me anxious; not so much anymore. Instead, the room feels like an opportunity to grow, to… experiment. The more I audition, the more I realize that this isn’t rocket-science. Far from it. The best actors are the few who have the guts to infuse their personality into a character. Once you color the dialogue with the idiosyncratic elements of yourself, elements that, presumably, led to a life in the entertainment industry, simply add a dash of testicular fortitude and GO. GO!!! Hang something out in the room that allows the producer to think, “This guys got something. Maybe it isn’t exactly what we’re looking for, but at least we know he’s got it.” Sound simple, right? It is. It’s also extraordinarily difficult. Your instincts as an actor tell you to create a character and leave yourself behind. Both of these suppositions are correct, you just need to make a distinction. A very important distinction. A this-is-going-to-be-the-difference-between-a-Career-and-a-career distinction. People in an audition room aren’t watching the finished product on television. They’re watching you, and you, are right infront of them. You aren’t in costume, you don’t have any props, there isn’t a set or another actor to work with… It’s just you. It’s a job interview. And your dialogue is the way to answer a potential employers most important question: Does this person entertain me?

Entertain them.

Written by Stephen Amell

September 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

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Job number two! So excited to shoot today… It’s also nice to be out of LA and down at the beach. There are rolling black outs at the moment thanks to the giant devil fart of a heatwave rolling through our fair city. As an added bonus I had Berry Cap’n Crunch on set this morning. It’s the little things.

Written by Stephen Amell

September 28, 2010 at 7:49 am

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