Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rejection Song...

Bad Day. Good Days. Some days you're the windshield... yea I've already said it before.

Today was the former. Bad Day. Actually a culmination of a few bad days of bad news that I have been managing for a few weeks to compile and allow to be over shadowed by what I deem more important - GOOD DAYS!

So that compilation of days surmounted into what can only be described as a magnificent perfect storm today.

First and foremost and with sincere sadness I lost a friend last week - a fraternity brother, a roommate, a shining light in my sometimes dark college days, passed away at only 33 years of age. He leaves behind a brother, a sister, a mother and father, a thousand friends and a million happy memories. Skinner you will be sorely missed by many.

As I often do with emotional experiences, I put that into a category of "cry about it later".  I have an abundant apothecary full of that category and today I decided to open up every drawer one by one.

So while allowing those emotions to come forth this morning, I realized - why at that moment I have no earthly idea - that I made an error when depositing money into the bank. I ran to my online banking to find that I indeed did make that error, and that the bank had graciously fixed that error at the cost of about $400.00.  And they were apologetic but really unwilling to take back their repairs or their $400 bill. They knew how I felt though. I seriously doubt it.

Thus the beginning of the storm. That related to a million mistakes in my past and today I was going to take the heat for all of them damnit. In the past three weeks I've gotten three rejection letters from film festivals where I submitted my directorial debut. At first I viewed these as accomplishments. I tried and submitted a completed work to them - this was an accomplishment in itself. I had many times played the role of "If I directed this film..." and then "If my film was done in time for that festival..." Well, I did it, they got it, and they don't want it. Today the glass was so not even close to fucking full.

And when I got home from a one hour session of calorie burning by furiously riding a bike that was going nowhere - which I today consider a metaphor for my life - I set up shop to begin a night of reparative writing on my latest completed script. But before I set up that shop, I checked my e-mail.

Great idea. There was another rejection letter. This from a screenwriting festival which I was egotistically banking on being accepted to this year. I could have shed a tear. I could have replied to their  e-mail with a symbolic middle finger. I wanted to do all of those things. I wanted to act out. I wanted to move to Europe tonight and call the whole career off.

But, for some reason, I didn't do any of those things. Instead, I broke out into a fit of laughter.

This was probably in part due to Bob Marley's Redemption Song - one of the greatest songs of all time - playing in the background. I changed the word REDEMPTION to REJECTION...

"Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom - cause all I ever have - rejection songs".

It's kind of funny, or it is to me but after the lack of general acceptance for my creative endeavors as of late I'm half expecting to be alone on this one. But more than funny - it was poignant. First, this was one of those quintissential college anthems - one that I often shared with that friend of mine who passed. This song was usually accompanied by a group of close friends, a cloud of smoke, what we perceived as a clear mind. But the words rang today - these rejections, they are freedom in a sense. They are growth. My favorite line-

"None but ourself can clear our mind"

Damn you Bob Marley.

I'm in this for the long run - so these are merely mile markers or hurdles, it just depends on how I look at them - how clear my mind is on that given subject or day or minute. Do rejections suck - yes. YES! For me they touch off a whirlwind of negative emotions and fear. But the period for which that fear and negativity doesn't need to last that long.

Today I don't know when I'll sell a script, or get in a festival, or be paid to do what I love doing on a consistent basis, and when I'll be able to keep that money in the bank when I make it. But what I do know, or at least believe today, is that I can do this. I have so much more to learn (clearly) and so much more I can and have the opportunity to learn. And for that I am grateful.

So "Won't you help me sing these songs of freedom"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug

Long time no see...

Two weeks ago I had an amazing LA actors experience - shooting a top-rated major network television  show. It was the chance and learning opportunity of a lifetime. And what I hope and will work hard to be the first of many, many co-stars, guest stars, and if the stars are aligned, someday a television series on a major network or cable (AHEM... Showtime!) in which I star.

But last week I had an even more unique and amazing LA actors experience - this one in the form of a casting directors' sessions. Casting director sessions are these brilliant opportunities where you pay about $40 for 5 minutes of one-on-one or two-on-one time with the industry's top casting directors, or, sometimes more importantly, their casting associates and assistants, who will someday say (hopefully) I remember when I cast him in....

Well in this particular session, I went in with a somewhat green but very charming and very nice actor. He took a rehearsal suggestion with flying colors and we worked the scene out pretty nicely for the casting director. After our performance, we sat down to answer questions.

I was first up - "What made you want to be an actor?" I gave some canned and witty response. They laughed. I chuckled. Ahh.....

Next question. For my teammate in this exercise. "What made you want to be an actor?" His response - something about an ex-girlfriend, a music video, right place right time etc.

Next question - teammates 2nd at bat - "What happened to that girlfriend" His response - we broke up. Chuckles all around.

3rd question again to my compadre - "This is totally unprofessional - but do you mind if I set you up with someone in my office?"


His response - "Uh"

My response - Red face, sorely bitten lips, trying to hold my NYC-influenced attitude in. And of course polite albeit forced chuckle.

Back to the pitcher (casting director) "Yea my friend totally loves baseball players and I think you guys would be perfect. Do you mind - seriously? Omigod and then I can say I cast him in this show and set him up with his wife. Ha! What do you think?"

I think I just bit blood out of my tongue.
He utters an akward "sure".
I shoot off with "well, make sure she's cute buddy. You don't want to go out with some cow."


Okay so I perhaps could have bit the bloody tongue a bit longer - but I had to get my point across.

The mood changed, she asked if we had any questions, I muttered a trite "What are you doing now?" She avoided the double entendre. End of session. Game over.

Okay so lesson - just bite the bloody tongue. Sure I was pissed. I paid for this after all. But what can you do? Its Los Angeles - it is a town full of hidden agendas and it's really about our (my) reactions to those agendas that really dictates my success out here. It's a town of ups and downs, sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.

So I chalk this one up to experiences. And when said Casting Director is saying some day "I cast him in..." about my fellow actor, I will hopefully be laughing, relaying an "I remember this one time when..." to Chelsea Handler in her post-Oscar Interview Special.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The OSCARS are unavailable...

Feeling pretty jazzed about my directorial debut - which is finally coming to full edited completion (or coming close to... okay CLOSER to full completion...there) - I attempted to log onto the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website tonight to figure out how to submit the 22 minute short film, MOON LAKE CASINO, for this years Academy Award consideration.

Simple right?  Similar to "Hey, I wanna cast Ryan Reynolds as the lead in my next movie, I'm gonna give him a call."  I have met him once, at a party. And by met I mean I was tray passing drinks and he was politely refusing them.

But... we've "met" and this, for better or worse, is how my brain thinks. I'll just call him. Or his agent. I know someone who knows's just a matter of time and a phone call.

So I'll get him on the phone. Or a meeting with him. And I say, I want to attach you to this movie - it has no funding yet - but it will -  its a brilliant script. You die. So beautiful. Anyway - back to the OSCARS.

My pitch for the Academy Award nom is not a far-flung one. In the short film format they look for long-format, cinematic, pieces that tell a story as opposed to those that capture a moment in time. Or so I've read. Moon Lake does just that - tells a story about what happens to people in a story after their story ends. Now that - that is a brilliant script - written by Charles E Drew, Jr. - I am blessed to have directed that script.

And back to the OSCARS - so I try to log onto - but I get a Google Desktop warning that if I open the page my computer is in grave danger. Not one to pay too much attention to obvious signs, I tried The website is unavailable. Try again. I must have typed something wrong. NOPE - clearly written in the address bar is  - SORRY WE ARE UNABLE TO CONNECT TO THE SITE. Which begs the question - is an OSCAR unvailable to me? And if so, is it for this film, or just this years OSCARS?

And if (and - SIDEBAR - this is where my brain goes - can anyone relate?) if the OSCAR is unavailable, are all festival awards also unavailable. And if that's the case. Are the agents and managers and producers and studios and distributors of this and all future Jason Kennedy films simply that - NOT ABLE TO CONNECT? Should I change careers? Throw all of the past 8 years of mostly hard work sprinkled with occasional lazy periods out the window?

Oh man it's hot in here. I can't breathe, I'm getting sick. I'm going to die we're all going to die. Okay. I didn't go quite that far. As a matter of fact, I only went down the slippery slope for about 5 minutes. Then laughed it off and returned to my task at hand.


Combined with buying new music on iTunes (STARS -"Your Ex-Lover is Dead" - BEAUTIFUL). And checking facebook. And working on 24 Hour Rush. And replying to emails. And reviewing movies with a friend (Precious to be exact - AMAZING - but that's a whole other Oprah). Then reviewing headshots with a friend. And obsessing about my headshots. And what photographer to use. And the lines that have suddenly grown from my eyes horizontally back towards my hairline. Will those show up on camera? And back down the slippery slope.

But back up the hill again. And back to work. And streamlined. Just writing. And listening to music. Now THATS a safe combo for me. Finally.

I guess what I'm remembering tonight are two things:
First - my favorite saying - egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I and others have used that phrase as a description for me in the past, and I laugh thinking back on it now.

And second - and the REAL lesson - is this: a bump in the road is just a temporary hurdle to overcome, and not a wall that needs to be torn down. I'll obviously get back into submitting to; and the festivals; and finish the next script; and hopefully sell the last. Or not. I'll book that commercial and get that call back. Or not. And it's all okay. Because I know at some point - somewhere down the slope or road, these things and those beyond my sights right now - will materialize. And I'm going to just (TRY TO) enjoy the ride for the time being.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

moving in the WRITE DIRECTION

Okay. I'm sure these puns about writing and directing will expire from my mind soon. At least I hope so. As do the three to four people reading this I'm sure .

But yesterday, after about a month of akward anticipation - I did indeed take a step in the right direction, and informed my boss that I would no longer be able to work for him and we needed to find a replacement for me. I'd been dreading this moment for weeks - I know how pivotal I am and how much he needs me and respects me and fears how his business might not work out without me there. I do, after all, work there almost 15 whole hours a week.

So, at the end of the what I convinced myself would be the day, and after three failed attempts (and a break for an audtion, a catering gig and a meeting) - I finally had the time and gumption to break the news to him. I was waiting with tissues. Seriously.

His response: OK.


My head: What? Ok? That's it? No, please don't go? No, what am I going to do without you? NOPE - OK.

My voice: Huh. Well okay. I've put an ad together.

His response: Great. Good luck. Lots of crazies on Craigslist.

My head: Yea. Guess I'll handle them.  Just let me find my ego first - I think I dropped it down my throat.

So I moved on.

When I left work (to go back to one more catering gig that day) I felt a millon bricks lifted off of my back. But it wasnt the realization that I just got rid of some "day-job" that was inhibiting my creativity. Quite the contrary - it was a pleasant environment with talented and interesting and good looking people who respected and venerated each other. I grew extremely close with the owner of the company and was able to be there for him over a somewhat challenging year and a half - and learned a copious amount about landscape architecture and design. It was great.

The ton of bricks lifted off of me was one that was actually placed there by me over 15 years of working and removed in a simple sentence, two letters, one word - "OK".

See, I am the only one who creates the need for me to be places that are not directly related to my success. It was this realization on the 20 second walk through a gorgeous tree lined courtyard back to my car - one I've been made aware of a million times before but that I actually internalized and owned in that very moment - I am the center of all of my problems. Not my job or my house or my car or my friends or my family or the way I was brought up or the way I haven't grown up or the agent or the manager or the (countless) jobs I've been turned down for - me. I feel like I just figured out nuclear physics.

And the past 36 hours have been incredibly productive and enlightening.

I contacted a friend who is extremely successful in an area I need some help in - he's agreed to take a look at what I'm doing and help get my film moving in the right direction.

I've sent my latest script out to a prospective producer and put it online for all Entertainment Execs in LA to see.

The 24-hour play is gaining ground and I am doing something every day.

I did the legwork for the Tokyo Short Film Festival to get MLC submitted in time in the correct film format.

I got the paperwork together to call the IRS about last years tax debacle. I put it away quickly but soon enough - that will be dealt with

I even made (with the help of Joans on 3rd), an amazing dinner in a house that I cleaned for my boyfriend last night.

The results for all above are more than prodigious.

I think in this move towards doing what I love and making a living doing it - I'm learning the difference between selflessness and selfishness - and learning there is a great deal of beauty in that gap.

So, in taking another step in the WRITE DIRECTION, I return tonight to the blogoshpere.  Looking forward to tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When the cable man cometh

After months of waiting we finally got UVERSE installed in our teeny tiny home today. It's this combo internet, TV, phone GODsend that has had me somewhat glued to the TV for the past four hours. For the first time ever I am able to record 4 shows at once. Now - believe it or not - I'm not a big TV guy. My BF on the other hand is - he's a bit of an addict when it comes to the box - which is actually quite helpful. When I do make it in he insists, much to my begrudge, that I should watch this one scene from Grey's, or this one dance or song on the competition shows. He's actually been a great editor - and that was with just ONE recordable show at a time - now - it is possible I may never leave the house again.

But I digress - more about my day - specifically about the appointment that I had with the cable guy. If you are feeling extremely behind in catching up on paperwork, filing invoices, paying bills, cleaning up the dust under the bookshelf that has turned into a small blanket - and simply cannot find the time to make it happen - might I suggest having U Verse or a viable alternative installed. The entire process takes about two hours and offers two great benefits - 2 hours you have to be home; and 2 hours you will be sans internet.

The last benefit was perhaps the greatest. I couldn't be distracted by the internet, returning emails, logging onto day job 1 (DJ1) remotely - the only thing I could do was file paperwork. I fancied myself in an episode of MadMen, where there were no computers and my day was spent with important papers - but then I realized if that were the case my day would have been more likely filled with cocktails and whoring out with my brunette secretary. I had neither the access to nor the desire for either, so I continued filing away.

So if you are feeling swamped by a mound of papers piling up in the corner, on your desk, etc. might I suggest installing (or disconnecting beyond repair) your internet connection.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

24 hours...

A lot can happen in the span of 24 hours. Lives can begin. Relationships can end. I've had an entire relationship start, sky-rocket, fall flat to the ground and die within the span of 24 hours. Man I don't miss those days...

Right now the span of 24 hours I am focusing on is in January - when about 50 of a group of my closest and friends and working entertainment industry professionals whom I've never met will get together to write, direct, rehearse, and put up 6-7 one act plays to benefit charity.

And in preparation of said event, my last 24 hours have consisted of coordinating my talented and beautiful co-producers, working one of my several day-jobs, and an editing session with the DP of Moon Lake Casino.

Not much of an interesting post today - but I am excited to have had a day filled with forward momentum for my career. Come to think of it, if I could do every day what I did in the latter half of my day - I would really enjoy all of the 24-hour spans I could handle.

Monday, October 19, 2009

been a while childe

It has been more than a bit of time since I wrote in my blog - the one I started over two years ago with hopes of posting every week.... such a pattern...
Anyway thanks to the inspiration from my friend Kate Dirienzo and her blog Loosely Scripted
which is far more brilliant than WRITE OR WRONG as this one here is simply my mindless chatter.
So back to WRITE or WRONG. So many things have changed for me since that last post. I am no longer working in one job that is less than a perfect fit for me. Nope. Now I'm working in THREE jobs that are less than perfect fits for me. :-) Actually that's not so true. I'm waiting tables, catering, and working for a friends design firm - all part time - all affording me the opportunity to audition, write, occasionaly shoot, edit my last film (Moon Lake Casino) and move in the direction of... directing.
My biggest problem lately - what a schmucky way to start a sentence - is trying to figure out which of my three passions (writing, acting, directing) to REALLY focus on. I'm scattered. Really scattered right now. Working three to five jobs - sometimes all in one day - in addition to trying to produce a charity event, finish editing my film (which is quickly gaining recognition as the Sistine Chapel of short films), sell one of my 5-6 scripts, maintain a relationship, and now try to move...
All of that made me want to just check my FRIENDSTER account - which I did... luckily it was a bit distracting and only took me away from finishing this post for about 10 minutes. Ahem.
SOOO back to my dilemna - the current journey I am on is figuring out what is next. But that's more important than the here we go.  Hopefuly the next post is much sooner than 30 months away...