Just want to post a thanks and a kudos to all of the students who attended Acting for All this semester, the class was a great success. The class was small but took the process seriously and we did some great scene work. I'm not certain if I'll be able to do it again in the fall, but based on how much fun I had and the people I met, I would certainly like to.
2015 SPRING UMKC COMMUNIVERSITY
aka a semester of acting classes for 38 dollars. If you live in KC and you've ever wanted to take an acting class now is the time. I'm going to teach you a lot of what I learned in 3 years of weekly acting classes, at huge expense to myself, in Los Angeles from 2010 to 2013.
I figure people who read about the class online or in the brochure will wonder who is this guy that only has a single special thanks on IMDB? In the interest of it not being some mystery what will be going on at this class, not wanting anyone to come blindly or with other expectations, the following is what everyone should know about class.
There are two parts of class and the first part is
I. Warm Up.
Warm Ups are intended to exercise physical and mental capacity while dissolving self-consciousness and encouraging growth of the imagination. They are very fun. My intent will be to create a wide sampling of what a random person living nearby might be experiencing on a given day. Warm Ups are performances for the class only, no visitors will be allowed. Warm Ups are where you are allowed to make your mistakes and have fun, to take some risks and expand your range.
An example of a normal warmup is the emotional helix where we go around in a circle and express gradually worse then gradually better, then gradually worse, then gradually better, experiences we imagine having.
Another kind of warm ups are improv exercises. Improv warmups are all Games and they are often as entertaining as stage performances can be. An example of an improv exercise is The Convince Me To Let You Work At My Gas Station Game. A game can be made out of almost any situation.
The second and last part of class is
II. Scene Work.
Scenes will be handed out on the first week and everyone will cold read them on stage. The second week, everyone will be expected to be able to perform without the paper. Third week, it should be pretty good. Fourth week, bring some props, dress the part and put on a show. Scenes suitable for month-long study are generally between 3 and 7 pages long.
Scene work is performed for the class only, visitors are invited however to the last class. Only people invited by someone in the class will be allowed, this class is not open to the public.
Part III Question and Answer
This part is not important and isn't really part of acting class, but if anyone wants to talk about acting for 15 minutes after class I guess that's ok. This is the time to talk about good acting you have recently seen and request scenes for me to transcribe for study in class.
No one gets into class without giving Rick 38 dollars. I will teach for free but I can not pay for the paper for your scenes and gasoline for my car and the Communiversity organization requires basic funds to operate.
Admission will be rolling, you can join for whatever month and leave after whatever month. I only ask that you commit to one whole month, and the work it will take, first, and to have some fun with it. If you hear about this class in March and want to come for the last month, you are totally welcome but the previous rule applies.
No dating class members or coming to class to meet someone to date, that is sleazy and insults the entire craft of acting. It really gets in the way of everything, and risks all kinds of bad situations that waste a lot of time that could be spent on acting. This rule ceases to apply at the end of the semester.
Pairs will be assigned to work on scenes at least one other time a week out of class. Groups will be encouraged to work together. To study acting, exploring characters will require daily work and deep thought about the lives of a character.
SOME GUIDELINES FOR ME
Scene work will be about acting and not me talking about acting, I won't ever talk for more than a minute at a time before running the scene again.
I'm not an authority on acting and think any discussion of who might be is silly, I simply promise to teach everything I have learned. If you have spent a few years in Los Angeles studing and going to auditions maybe you should sign up to teach your own class at communiversity next semester, but if you are going to get into some kind of acting competition with me, please save us that experience. I don't compete for anything anymore that's not a video game and don't think you should either.
I'll help you be the best you can be, unfortunately I can't promise feelings will not be hurt because we have to portray characters whose feelings are hurt and because improving at anything requires failure. A peculiar trait of failing at acting is that other people see it. Fortunately, you will not be alone in this. People glamorize acting as something people do naturally, but everyone who is good at it has had to plow through a lot of humiliations in their studies that would flatten other people. And you never hear about that because their classes, like this one, are not open to the public.
QUESTIONS YOU CAN EXPECT TO HEAR WHILE IN CHARACTER
What is your social status?
Do you respect the person you're talking with right now?
What were you doing just before you came here?
Why is this moment important in your life?
What do you stand to lose and/or gain in this situation?
Why can't you just walk away?
What don't you want to talk about?
What are you trying to hide?
Addendum: About Me
I take tech support phone calls to fix the internet for people in Lenexa. I have a bogus eviction on my record so I can't lease an apartment. I've been in 3 student films and been an assistant to a producer 2 or 3 times. I've written 7 features and a quite a few shorts. I've provided coverage for a few production companies, including Abbott's online program. I won a heat of the NYC Short competition in 2012, that script is up on in the writing section of this very website, but I don't believe in competitions anymore.
I studied with the Will Wallace acting company, Daniel Henning and Armin Shimmerman at Antaeus Academy, and those are three of my favorite people in the whole world. What they taught me is what I will teach you. I still owe Daniel Henning like 300 dollars, but he has been gracious about it.
I am a storytelling digital filmmaker, because it is the culmination of my work as a musician, comedian, editor, writer and a few other things. I'm going to make digital videos in 2015 and if you are in my acting class, you will certainly hear about the auditions.
I've got to find a way to get rid of the comments option here, I really don't want this to turn into some forum. This is the site for my ideas, not anyone else's!
I get plenty of discussion from Redoot and Twootar anyway.
I had to move because I was tricked into living with a lunatic. I'm preparing to teach a semester long acting class. Every week I fix the internet for people all over the country. Had lunch with an old friend. I am winning sometimes against my phone at 1430 ELO. I finally got a good set of headphones. Saw my family for the annual gift giving holiday.
I heard very few christmas songs this year and the ones I did were really blues-ified.
I don't believe in the credit rating system. I think there are two different sets of rules in this country. I think sometimes you shouldn't pay your debts if the person you borrowed from uses tricks into keeping you in debt to them forever. I think landlords steal 100 billion dollars worth of deposits every year. I think ISIS is probably run by the intelligence services of other countries. I think you should you should earn interest for the time between when you work and when you got paid. I believe you should be paid for driving to work, because it's work. I believe if you don't have access to capital, you don't actually live in capitalism, you just live under it. Right now the glaciers are melting, absorbing the extra heat the carbon dioxide is holding in, and once the glaciers are gone, the carbon dioxide issues combined with the methane issue is going to cause many more great climate calamities in my lifetime.
I believe it should be legal to grow and possess and buy any drug but that it should be illegal to sell anything addictive and that the real drug dealers who should go to the jail are the ones selling mystery goofballs during the young and the restless. If you catch someone advertising falsely, it says something very honest about them. Once you get really into advertising, it becomes so easy to lie that people can hardly help it.
I read a good quote for the first time today,
"It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" - Andrea Golookitupkin
I'm working on a way to exist without advertising in entertainment.
Self-promotion does not feel right to me. I feel fine introducing myself and speaking of my experience when asked, but it is difficult to walk into a room and say, "hey, everyone should listen to me because I am way awesome."
I am also fine referring other people to things that I like or use. I think I even deserve a cut of the profits for helping out.
But do I want a Lexus advertisement introducing my breakthrough internet video? I really don't. I don't care about Lexus, they don't care about me. Attention is being brokered without proper care.
I like flashlights and intend soon to review them at this location, with links to buy them. I find this a valuable service on the internet. I would even accept gifts of flashlights to review. But will I put up a banner ad to a flashlight site? No way. I am the flashlight site, I just don't sell flashlights and I am not going to give away my review(read: my culture, my time, my energy, my internet connection, my computer resources) for free on the site of the seller.
I drive a Toyoota and it's been a good car but would I choose them as a sponsor for my internet video? I would. If a different company offered me more money and a new car to switch, I don't think I'd take it. If someone said, 'well that video at the beginning of your video is advertising," I'd respond, "Nope. It's referral." That is not a semantic difference and it is not picking nits.
Toyota may call it advertising, but on this site and in my video distribution, I decide what things are called. We should expect Gorgle and Toyoota to be wrong some of the time anyway.
In a way I kick myself for both decisions. On one hand my face is plastered onto the hull of this mega-corporation and on the other hand I'm turning down a wad of cash over mere principle.
How much is integrity worth on the internet? In the world? (and does true love still exist, and what does it all mean, and on and on, but still) I'm going to gamble on the idea that actual product loyalty is a legitimate means of making revenue off of referral service, and that will be lucrative enough to be worthwhile.
After all of this consideration of what others are going to find value in, it's easy to lose track of a more important question. Even if my integrity isn't worth anything to others, what's it worth to me?
If you build it they will come, right?
Why should I care about birth rates? Who am I to try to plan or protect the human genome? Why waste my time trying to increase or decrease national interests? I might as well act in the interest of Saturn or Pluto.
It is fun and easy on the internet to fancy ourselves some grand conductor at the helm of All Humans on Earth, but it is quite far from the reality that we have almost no power. Our words are funnelled into nothingness, while some guy pays a million dollars to have his lunacy hypnotize millions.
Anarchy, ecology, quality, sanity, reason, art and a few other of my primary values are, to me at least, about how to avoid all that herd mentality like the plague and focus on what works in the life that's right in front of us.
One of the subtle effects of watching shows like Orroolly and Heinity and Bloonderson Copper is it encourages you to fantasize about yourself sitting in the seat of power, and once there everything the powerful do looks so much more sensible than if you had sat there in observance of how distant you actually were from it, which is the world you/we actually face.
If you want to know how people feel about you just make a single non-trivial request. Report to your boss you think the lights are too bright and it's reflecting off your computer screen so that you get blinding headaches. Tell them you think the forklift isn't safe. Tell them you think you should be paid for overtime. Remind them you were promised a raise after you have waited a month to see if they remembered.
It happens in the art world just the same. Tell your band you want to choose some of the songs. Politely tell a performer something they are doing didn't work. Say you think the script has problems. Ask them if they had a chance to read your script a month after they said they would have read it. Request of them that you would like to be spoken to with respect. Have an expectation that your emails get replied to.
Make just one simple request and you will find out who thinks they are better than you and who considers themselves your equal. Making any sort of request that you be treated with respect is the fastest way to get called an 'asshole', by assholes themselves, which is a good thing.
If people think they are better than you, when you question them, they will do everything but throw shit at you like a monkey and, after turning everyone within the sound of their voice against you, they will chase you out of the pack and back into the jungle or as close to it as they possibly can.
This has its positive aspects. It's easy to determine who your friends are and who considers you but a mere functionary towards the accomplishment of their own goals. Better alone in the jungle than as anyone's lapdog.
What are you saying or not saying out of fear of the jungle? How many people are you careful not to question? How many people's abuse do you tolerate simply because it's the way you make money?
Conversely, how many people have you punished or ostracized for having the gall to bring up something you would rather not discuss?
These are definitive moments in which you are determining how your society will be. The root of the problems in America is that some people think they deserve to be, by some right granted by their status, above criticism and this should be rightfully challenged at every opportunity. There is a consistent effort to present existing hierarchies as inherently justifiable, it will be difficult to avoid them if you have the guts to take this path.
The original, actual point of this country is that we wouldn't have kings and lords ruling over us(no, not to win a fake war on some terror). The original, actual point was that the rulers would not have a different set of laws than us and that people could freely speak their mind. That mere wealth would not make people rulers who could have others silenced. When people demand deference for you to be in their attendance, that's not 'just what it means' to be a studio executive, director or celebrity or the guy who makes the open mic list at the club, that's just what it means to rule over someone like they are a serf on your manor.
If you have to be of a certain family or financial status, and keep your mouth shut about how things actually work in your industry, in order to have any chance to succeed financially as an artist, there is no further point to the entire country. This system is even worse than having a king because our system is cryptic, a bunch of strangers who own things call each other up and make decisions about our lives. It's very difficult to even know who holds these powers and when they have read your blog and decided you will never work in this town again.
When you profess to be a comedian, people suggest topics for material. It's kindof like a guy digging a ditch telling an oil prospector where he thinks they should put a rig that can dig down ten thousand feet.
I went to a meditation course, someone said I should write jokes about it. I said I didn't think of any jokes, I had just enjoyed the course. There wasn't anything specifically about the course to make fun of. I could make a rap music video about it that might be comical or I could do an impression of the founder of the foundation who puts on the courses. But I didn't find anything there that deserved or was worthy of mockery. It was all pretty good stuff. If anything, it made the rest of my life look more naturally humorous and reminded me why my humor is meaningful.
I spent a week assisting a painter. It was just painting, I don't have a bunch of complaints, it didn't bother me. I didn't say, 'this painting work is absurd, now I will analyze and describe it in depth interspersed with postmodern juxtapositions for laughs' It was straightforward, plain work that I wanted to do.
I don't just want do do things for days at a time without my absurdity nerve tingling, I need it. It is my natural and preferred state, the ultimate goal of all my work, to earn independence for myself, ultimately from most if not all of the things that torture this nerve. I don't say, 'I didn't write for the last three days, maybe I'm a painter and not a comedian, oh no.' I said to myself, this is pretty great, no absurdity.'
However, if I were forced to watch 30 minutes of CNN, or if I tortured myself purposefully in such a way, I could write 30 minutes of jokes. Driving around a big city, I see absurdity everywhere because it is absurd. This is not because I understand the city but because I don't understand it. My baseline, my heart and motivation lies elsewhere. I do not crave its teat.
In my comedy, I naturally focus on the part of world that strikes me, even jumps out at me in its absurdity. These things some humans have made or done shouldn't be there, or these animals are weird, there is always something I find anomalous. They tend to be coming towards me or touching me and/or people I like. They aren't benign, they are actively spewing misery.
In that focus I have discovered some unavoidable truths that people do not want to hear. Discovering unavoidable unpopular truths is itself unavoidable once you have committed to picking apart the absurd for whatever reason, including laughs.
For instance, Some basic analysis reveals that absurdity and its misery is not evenly distributed, it's clearly emanating from well-known Culture Centers, especially Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C.. The rest of the world emulates not only what these cities produce, they emulate how they do it, and for all kinds of reasons. To compete, to look cool, to make money but seldom to make the world a better place. The Culture Centers then take the very best, in their eyes, of what can be most easily commodified, from the rest of the world and incorporates into their corporations. The gears that grind us all are being spun forcefully out of these three locations but they are often being spun by skilled worshippers arriving from afar, offering themselves to it for a piece of the action.
I cannot help but observe, and I don't find much funny about this, except the number of people who can make my life miserable this statement is going to piss off, that if you believe in or work for this system(or Business Model) you are united with the main force responsible for making humans in the United States miserable.
If I'm right about that then the Comedy, Acting, Music and Writing Industries are propaganda parasites with no legitimate reasons to exist and should be dismantled if anyone calling themselves a comedian, actor, musician or writer wants to have anything to do with making the world a better place. The harm you otherwise do by helping spin those gears outweighs the joy you provide.
Someone who knows what they are doing produces quality products and has multiple testaments to their skill that have some wow factor to them. They have a portfolio of their favorite stuff, things they spent a long time working on pursuing their singular vision. They know what it is like, what it takes to make things that are to their highest standard.
When people become truly skilled in whatever pursuit(we ignore, of course, the fantasy schism between art and science) they encounter an inevitable set of trade-offs surrounding what is good, what is fast and what is cheap. It could be said that these three questions hold sway everywhere.
If your goal is to manipulate people into making *your* singular vision when you have no skill to do so, whether for your car modifications or a website, you are going to inevitably bargain with someone who does have the skill to do so. If you can manipulate them further, maybe even to the point of near insanity, it will(but it won't) result in better work in the short term for a lower cost.
People who know what they are doing do not like to rush while they are doing things. It's difficult to enjoy rushing when you work unless you are on powerful stimulants or are simply unaware of your own feelings and the long term effect that frantic thinking has on the mind.
Therefore, skilled people prefer to make something very good and very cheap, and then not concern themselves with time hardly at all. The purpose of skill in the first place is to turn something of little value, your time, into something of great value so it comes naturally to use, in a similar manner, a tree from the back yard and take the time to mill it rather than purchasing pre-cut boards at a store that will look just like what everyone else is building. A mechanic may take an old part from another car and modify it rather than ordering something from the catalog.
Craftspeople get a kick out of making something nice from something that was just laying around, that other people found useless. Every skilled person I have met has projects lying around they just wish they could one day get around to transforming to the extent they hold on to what even their best friends think is junk.
In order to drive a person like them crazy, you have to be careful not to scare them off at first. They are used to people trying to drive them crazy with their personal hobby horses. So lure them with the proposition of making something good even to the point of embodying this or another ideal. Propose a project that will be a true test of their skill, a shining testament to their prodigy and, I don't know, something pure as the driven snow, like puppies or a religious figure from antiquity.
You're going to have time to massage all of this throughout the course of the project to your benefit and their increasing anguish, so don't concern yourself in any way with reality during this phase. Promise them the moon and a few other planets, then pay them as little as you possibly can up front and keep the rest of the payment in as ambiguous of terms as you possibly can, perhaps creating an elaborate payment schedule.
Retain as much power as you can, this should go without saying. You are somebody who likes to take every extra piece of the pie you possibly can. Capitalism is about grabbing for as much of any surplus as you can and leaving your associates with as little as is legally possible while they think you were really quite generous. You may be surprised how many people can be weaseled on deals and be convinced with mere words that it was in fact them that was the weasel.
Make sure they also think that you are in dire financial times even if you just bought a boat and if you think they are a real idiot go ahead and tell them you are out of money because you bought a boat and it will still magically elicit sympathy. A good craftsman who has such a weak backbone will be hard to find, so if this works too easily you may want to even find someone else, but you never know when you'll run across someone who has spent so much time on their craft that they are green behind the ears when it comes to people and the ways of deception.
So, on the mere basis of your soaring rhetoric, this fantastic creation of the universe, decades in the making, a producing artist, has scheduled the month to create your thing. In their mind it is a great relief, they can stop looking for work and can get that new tool they've been wanting. They will make everything good and as cheap as possible, people will come from miles around to admire it in the twilight of sunbeams and rainbows as everyone dances together, holding hands in good old fashioned satisfaction.
In fact, their intention isn't to even think about time, their only desire is to focus on their craft in the way that makes it a pure joy for them to do your project. Let them get started this way, it is to your advantage, the foundations of the project might as well be grounded in this type of schlocky stuff, who knows, maybe there is something to it right? A little hope can't hurt right?
That's when you call them on the phone and tell them a week has been cut off of the schedule. Concoct whatever story you want about the Japanese investors or grand opening being pushed forward, but you need this huge favor. Most people who know how things work are a little too kind and a little too conflict averse, they will leave the old tree felled in the backyard to rot and just run to the store and get those boards, fretting but trying to play it off cool like they know how to go with the flow.
What you have done now of course is begun to ask for all three ideals of creation where as at the outset you had asked only for pursuit of the two. Most great works of history were done even when only one question was at issue, whether it needs to be good or not. Throw expenses in time and money out the window and just make it spectacular, is what you say to Michelangelo or Martin Scorcese.
By making the demand for all three you are signaling to our poor craftsman that he is no such person, he is just another guy getting whipped to go faster by another guy, like a horse.
Wait a couple more days for them to get back into it, start enjoying it, start forgetting all of these overshadowing doubts, then call again. Remind him how spectacular it has to be to impress and then say, 'oh, I almost forgot, it needs to have this too', then propose/demand several things that are totally new.
Propose/demanding can be very effective. If it's a website, propose/demand a few more pages, if it's a car, propose/demand a new stripe, if it's a piece of furniture propose/demand some added cushioning. Why? Because new information has come to light of some kind and again you can just pull it out of whichever crevasse of your body suits you, they can't call you on it, they don't know the Japanese investors don't exist. 'It just wouldn't be fashionable really without this' and your 'neighbor has one', 'he said their guy just did it for free', are all phrases that might come in handy at this time.
Now you are refocusing on the good aspect. If you see the pattern you know the next call will be about minimizing the cost. Then take a few more days off the deadline. Whatever payment you are going to give them, give it to them a day late, but with something ridiculous like 10% missing or 5% gratuity, just to confuse them more. Repeat all these steps a few times.
Then at the beginning of the last week have a long phone conversation with them where they can't respond or hear everything that you are saying where you stress how good it must be, how cheap it must be and then cut the deadline one day shorter. Then don't answer their calls until the day of the deadline, unless you want to pull a last 48 hour, 'oh I meant it's due today' shenanigan to really take it all the way.
Once it is done and the work is revealed, people will talk about it in front of the artist while you are there. Someone will compliment it in a way that will say how good, fast, or cheap it is but whatever is complimented respond with a criticism of the other ideals. For example, if someone says, 'it looks great', immediately bring the attention back to yourself by saying, 'well it should better, it cost an arm and a leg and took forever.'
At this point, they will either kill you or mentally collapse upon themselves, but probably the latter. Probably.
tl:dr Good, Fast and Cheap are three things that stand in constant opposition to one another on any project of substance and people who do not recognize and respect this in their dealings with people with know-how, will, or should, become rightfully despised and shunned because they are manipulative idiots with no respect.