Leaving On a Jet Plane…

…Yup, that’s right, I am leaving LA/ Lala-land/The West Coast/Hollywood. And it is a wrench.

All my bags are packed...

All my bags are packed…

It has been a brilliantly fun and enlightening adventure, there have been fab sing-a-longs and some disappointments but a lot of good times too. And a lot of Sun. And waaaaay too much driving.And I didn’t score an agent or a manager, but I think that I have learnt enough to warrant coming back.
I mean, it was a great time (Feb/ Mar) to be out here in LA IF you have representation. And to get that, I need to attend a few agent showcases and to be ready for those, I want to have rehearsed a couple of pieces with a couple of friends, so that when they see me on stage, they are getting my full response to “show us what you have”.
I also learnt that it is about the art of networking out here in LA, that if you can make connections to people and then get or use those connections to get to the people who matter, then you are one step ahead of the competition and ultimately more likely to get work, or at least auditions. I learnt that to be ‘in the right place at the right time’ actually requires planning. That a good PR rep can put you in the place at that ‘right’ time and also open the lines of communication for you to do the rest. But they don’t come cheap and that they have to see something in you first, before they take a chance in you. After all, it is a business out here and as a new actor on the scene, you are asking people to take a chance on you. Maybe that’s why people who get established in their own countries/ locations then come out to Hollywood do well, because those in Hollywood can see what you bring to the table and what they can work with. I also guess it means that they can sell you on that basis – good at adverts? Then use that to get people to see that you are good on set, professional and quick to learn. Good in TV dramas? Use that to showcase the same out here, after all, Pilot season is all about new projects and a vast majority will be drama-based. Look good on camera but have no formal experience? Then get yourself along to one of the multitude of acting coaches and their classes and hone your skills, you’re more likely to get work if you have the talent to back up your initial promise (be that an introduction, a good look or a strong CV).
Other than that, there’s not much else – it sounds simple, in theory (hence the masses of people who think they can make it here), but the practise is a different matter and that’s what separates those who work (as an actor) from those who wait tables or have the dead-end jobs and don’t work as actors.
I wish that there were fewer people here, or that the talent pool was less diverse, or just that I had better connections, but the fact of the matter is, I have what I have and in the time that I have back in the UK, I have to make it count. In terms of making contacts that work in the US, in terms of getting work that will fill my CV out and make me a more useful prospect to those in power and in terms of making sure that I am sure of my abilities and that I can hit the ground running, should the opportunity come along.
I guess being here in LA has taught me that the actors here (working or not) are all in a state of readiness – the constant taking of classes and training, the sending and re-sending of taped auditions, the giving out of cards/ postcards/ showcase posters is all so that if your opportunity comes along, that you have the skills and the tools to be able to go from no-one to an A-lister.
Is it possible? Yes, that’s why people flock here, because the dreams can come true.
But is it possible to become that without hard work, luck and talent? I’d say no, but then there’s a Paris Hilton to prove me wrong…then again, would you class her as A-list? I think not. She’s just known.

Also, I have a lot of photos that I have not found a blog post for yet, so I am going to add them into this one, my final West coast blog…maybe with a word or two.
May have mentioned them before, but Pizza Olio on West 3rd street are THE best pizzas ever, hand-made in a lovely wood-fired oven. Check them out

Olio oven

Olio oven

So yum

So yum

Here is the fantastic breakfast at the Square One Cafe, just up from the giant Scientology building in Los Feliz. The garden is great and huge and the food fresh, delicious and pretty cheap. I could have stayed there all day (but they selfishly close at 3pm)
Again, so yum...

Again, so yum…

This is mainly for my brother as he really introduced me to Leslie Nielsen via Police Story (great TV series) and the Naked Gun films. Was totally random to step on him (well the star) when out and about in Hollywood with Tom. 20130217_022432
So even though Nike got into trouble for naming a colourway on their trainers ‘Black and Tan’ (here – thanks to the guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/shortcuts/2012/mar/18/nike-foot-black-tan-trainers) I see that it is alive and well as a drink in the pub! AND that the drinker had no idea of the history of the name (he just thought it looked cool).
Yup...a black and tan

Yup…a black and tan

And this one is just for fun. Seriously though, if you need help with a pasta salad, I’m not sure you should be home cooking…and how does it ‘suddenly’ make a salad to add imitation bacon and some seasoning? Surely, if you just made the pasta as a meal, when cold it becomes a salad? And if that was too hard, there are a multitude of places that do take out and so you wouldn’t really need this. Still, there you have it.


And I may have mentioned cakes, but since everyone is obsessed with cupcakes and I have gluten-intolerant friends (who struggle to find edible ones), the quest to find a good cake that we can all shop at is made that much harder. Unless you check out Crumbs in Beverley Hills (http://www.crumbs.com/) which was a delight in that it was a fun place to be (the waitress/ server was funny) and they had gluten-free cakes for Mandy. 20130219_12032520130219_11592320130219_115916
Look at this giant bastard...and that isn't even their largest size!

Look at this giant bastard…and that isn’t even their largest size!

But the funnest part (yes, I know that isn’t a proper word) was this at the till (sorry, cash register)
I can't remember which I chose...

I can’t remember which I chose…

And that is about it for now, I hope to be back in the States sometime later this year and by that point to have (somehow) secured management and definitely aim to be back out for Pilot Season 2014. I shall keep up to date with any and all things acting that relate to me on here, so keep your eyes peeled for further posts.
All that is left as I hang out at the airport (oh there is NOTHING to do at the terminals, seriously) is put up a couple of snaps and get some last-minute charge into all my electronic devices before the flight back…
So long, farewell LA, I’ll see you again.

The sun sets on my LA adventure

The sun sets on my LA adventure


Go Spin…

And no I am not being horrible, I mean the new bar and attraction at the Standard Hotel Downtown, called Spin (http://losangeles.spingalactic.com/) It is a fun idea and my friend Amanda wanted to go. But she said you have to be a member to book (apparently) so she had had no luck previously. So when I said that we should do something, she suggested I call them and see if I can book WITHOUT being a member. As (her words) ‘You’re a Brit and they love that!’
It worked.
I had a table booked within 3 minutes for a Saturday night at 9pm. Prime time.
I love sounding like I do…

So after a brief foray into driving the wrong way down the street (sorry Amanda, that was a legitimate mistake), I parked up at a crazy underground garage about 30 seconds from the Standard Hotel Downtown and we wandered over. Once past the doorman to the escalator and the lobby that looks EXACTLY like an office building (all too hip and confusing for us, we were there for a good few minutes looking lost) and we were up into this – IMG_20130310_033925 There are around 12 tables speared out over the floor, complete with a full bar in both rooms and the option of getting food to your table. They operate a system where everything can be charged onto your table, which could be lethal given the drinks (doubles of spirits) are pretty extreme. Amanda and I managed to spend around $50 on two gins…fortunately Phil was being generous and had offered to buy a round. Unfortunately, he realised that this generosity would cost him more money than a first class ticket on the Titanic…
It is a pretty cool place, but full of bright colours and UV lights so the balls glow blue

New-style blue balls...

New-style blue balls…

Normal balls - stylishly 'standardised'

Normal balls – stylishly ‘standardised’

. Of course we played table tennis and strangely, I was hustled by both Amanda (playing in 4 inch heels) and Phil (who claimed he ‘used to play a bit’) so I ended up watching a lot of them and drinking…20130309_22325020130309_22323920130309_223229 Later, Phil, the silver-tongued devil not only had a phone number of a girl who worked there, but also had managed to score us a couple of free wristbands to the exclusive roof-top pool party that the Standard Downtown 20130310_003616 but due to someone (honestly not me, I was driving) getting SMASHED, I did not get to experience the delights of the pool.
Phil however did go up, said it was awesome and that you all should check it out.

Malibu Part Three – Point Dume ACTUAL

Riding along in my automobile….duh duh duh, duh duh duh, duhh duhh duhhhh, My baby…oh wait, I’m alone (apart from the Rasta Party bus) and so I made my way back up to Point Dume to actually check out the beach there. I was hoping to have better luck with the parking and guess what?
I was!
And after some minor traffic fun to get accommodated into the few parking spaces that they have, I was out of the car and into all this action!

I'm going up there

I’m going up there

At the top of Point Dume is this great little area. And again, there are snakes as well as other exciting flora and fauna and in the slowly setting sun, it was lit up like a field of gold…20130309_16302520130309_16304420130309_16305120130309_16323120130309_163249And once you get to the other side of this area, this happens…a veritable vista opens up in front of you. This is what those cliff-top houses see everyday, jealous much?!20130309_163400And this is below you
Careful of the edge

Careful of the edge

So to get down to that inviting beach, you go down here, the most magical little pathway…roll on the magical mystery tour! 20130309_16362520130309_16365320130309_163709And when you get to the top of those stairs, this is what you find – a beautiful and fairly empty bay and in the distance, Paradise Cove and beyond that, Santa Monica and the rest of LA…






Down on the actual beach, which incidentally is the softest, finest sand EVER, the real fun happens. I watched surfers hopping off the rocks at the base of the Point to get some waves, whilst I strolled along and saw this craziness. Do you think they said, ‘Wait, I want to walk down to the beach occasionally, but on some other days, I want to take my own private funicular (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funicular)?!’
Got my stairs. Got my lift. Got my view. Got it all baby...

Got my stairs. Got my lift. Got my view. Got it all baby…

And after I had strolled over the carpet of sand (honestly, check it out), I walked back content that this was one of the best places that I had been to and glad that I had made the effort to come here. And then the sun came over the top of the cliff and caught the sea spray in its rays – I’m not sure it has come out well enough in these photos
Ignore the trainer, this might be clearer than the next one

Ignore the trainer, this might be clearer than the next one

Is this clearer?

Is this clearer?

Back up from the beach, I continued my ascent of Point Dume, which is fairly simple and not as pretty as the descent to the beach (sadly)…20130309_171218And when you finally get to the top, this is there to greet you! 20130309_171702
Yes, another fab panorama, click me!

Yes, another fab panorama, click me!

and that is the beach that I was previously on – 20130309_17204020130309_172047
I don’t know if coming from Britain, I will ever be tired of hanging out on beaches. I think they are my fave place to be and if I had the chance, I would strongly want to live overlooking a beach like this. Much like these lucky Malibu lot…but here is a little far from town. Which I like to be near too. Fortunately it’s not my decision at the moment…lets’ just go one step at a time.
So driving home, I decided to go a route that would ultimately end up on the 101 freeway and is the quicker route back to my house. I thought it would be less scenic, but in fact, it actually goes through the Malibu Canyon and is part of the wine country. These pictures do not do it justice, mainly because I was looking at the road and there aren’t that many places to stop and take photos but let’s just say that the setting sun hits all of the mountain tops and the colours range from oranges and yellows to purples and blues and violet. Great stuff. 20130309_17542020130309_17544720130309_17553820130309_17575120130309_17594920130309_17593720130309_175745It was a grand day out.

Malibu Part Two – Point Dume

After leaving Para! Para! Paradise (sorry, couldn’t resist), I headed up the coast a little ways to Point Dume. I did know anything about it apart from it having one of the best beaches around. Fortunately, it’s only about 5 minutes from Paradise Cove.
After turning off the PCH, it suddenly becomes surprisingly suburban with houses everywhere. Granted, these are HUGE houses and most are hidden behind walls and gates, but there are a few being built and they do put the ones on Grand Designs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Designs) to shame. I can see why Malibu is a millionaires playground.20130309_151153<a href=”https://desyankson.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/20130309_1517371.jpg”&gt;20130309_15173720130309_151814But as luck would have it and that Point </aDume have a particularly zealous parking system and very few spaces (I think it is 6 spaces on a first-come-first-served basis and the longest you can stay is 2 hours between sunrise to sunset and there is NO overnight parking) so I could not park and see the Point and so had to continues on the road and see where it goes too.
It lead here. 20130309_15242620130309_152429

Click me, I'm another fab panorama!

Click me, I’m another fab panorama!

Yeah, this beach is ah-mazing. It’s wide, open, flat and surprisingly spare. And parking is a little easier to get hold of, so I decided to use the time and go for a walk down the beach. Plus I’d been sat in the car for ages, so where nicer to stretch my legs!20130309_15243220130309_15262620130309_152629IMG_20130309_152807
Yup, another panorama

Yup, another panorama

And then I met these guys!20130309_15462620130309_15462720130309_15462920130309_15463020130309_15463120130309_15463420130309_15463720130309_15464320130309_154645They are performing in King Lear at UCLA (http://dailybruin.com/2013/03/15/shakespeare-at-ucla-takes-the-stage-with-king-lear/) and were practising their sword fight (real foils) outdoors. Nice.
I continued on and found this little bad-boy –
Is it a turnip? Is it a squid? Is it a a crazy hybrid of them both?

Is it a turnip? Is it a squid? Is it a a crazy hybrid of them both?

20130309_154837The far end of the beach was also a delight – not only an advert being filmed (for women’s razors apparently) but there was a newly married couple who were having their photos taken on the beach. I decided not to get closer and intrude…20130309_160032
It's behind you...

It’s behind you…

So back at the car, I realised that throughout my entire walk on the beach, I had been overlooked by amazing cliff-top housing, all sporting floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Ocean. Lucky, lucky millionaies…and just as I was back at the car, I saw this guy again…that Rasta party bus continues to stalk me…
Rasta bus party!

Rasta bus party!


I have picked a glorious Saturday to do a little exploring up the coast. Obviously I cannot get enough of my car and driving around and so I have decided to visit Malibu. I was going to see a friend on Thursday who lives here and she was going to show me a few places to see, but that didn’t happen so I’ve taken her words of places to go to and am away on my own…bring on the radio and crack open the window, we’s going on a (mini) road trip!

I decided to go a scenic route and went to Santa Monica and drive down the PCH (or Route 1) to Malibu and specifically, Paradise Cove….Para! Para! Paradise!! (sorry, couldn’t resist a bit of Coldplay).
It takes a little longer to go through Santa Monica from North Hollywood, but it is nicer drive and as I had not been here before, I thought it was worth checking out. 20130309_13442720130309_13443220130309_13451820130309_13571920130309_140528

The open road...

The open road…

It was about this point, car-eoke in full swing (yes, it was Will I Am and Britney, I’m not ashamed to say it) and wind whistling through the car that a light appeared on the dash and the car decided that it did not want to drive anymore.
In the fast lane.
Thanks…thanks a lot.
I did manage to pull over and stop safely. And then I sat there hoping that my Malibu trip would not be ended before it started…
So I turned the engine on….fingers crossed….


it was fine. Everything was fine. An odd blip and one that I was not about to dwell on and in a hop, skip and a few more songs (some Taylor Swift, some Macklemore and Lewis, the usual hits) I ended up at Paradise Cove.

I love a bit of Cove...

I love a bit of Cove…

A cool place that has a great restaurant that you can sit inside and get some fabulous seafood, or outside on the sand under lovely giant umbrellas (parasols?) with the sand between your toes.
They give you a funny, lobster-shaped thingy that flashes and vibrates when your table is ready, as well as enforcing a $25 minimum spend to get your parking validated down to $3 (from a hefty day charge of $30). But other than the monetary intrusions, the restaurant has a giant and extremely full lobster tank full of, well, lobsters! A few kids and I spent a fun while just watching them and trying to get the ones that were sitting under at least three layers of lobster, to move and prove that they were not dead. Good times. We are so easily amused!
But after the foodie part, I took in the fab beach – there are two sides, one that is directly behind the restaurant and is pretty busy and one the other side of the pier that is essentially empty. 20130309_14281420130309_14314520130309_143406
Click me I'm a fabulous panorama of the beach!

Click me I’m a fabulous panorama of the beach!

Lovely as the beach is, I had another place to check out and so hopped back in the car and crawled out of the car part past this guy…
Rasta-party bus ahoy!

Rasta-party bus ahoy!

The Dresden with Marty and Elayne

It’s a slow Wednesday night in LA. I’ve just been to a film screening – the new Colin Farrell one called Dead Man Down (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2101341/) by the original director of the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo and it got me into a film frame of mind. And I have always been a fan of the film Swingers, starring John Favreau, Vince Vaughn, directed by Doug Liman. I say me, but really it includes Tom and Jerome, we watched that film A LOT when we were at Uni, probably more than is healthy. We took on their catchphrases and loved the places that they went to. We wanted to be them. And so, Tom and Jerome, this post is for us, but our University selves…

So having left the cinema, I decided to trek across town to go to the Dresden bar and restaurant (http://www.thedresden.com) 20130307_00275520130306_223805
It is a super cool lounge bar and restaurant – in the film, the guys sit in a booth and check out the scene. I opted for a plush leather bar stool and the conversation of Cat, for whom this was her local place. Behind the bar is an old school cash register 20130306_224223 and a line up of choice booze, served and mixed by the lovely barstaff 20130306_223930
So in the film, when the guys are chilling in the bar, they listen to Marty and Elayne, a lounge act who thrill us with their jazz rendition of the Bee Gees Staying Alive and you can STILL see them perform from Tuesday to Saturday and as this was a Wednesday, I got to se them play! So Elayne plays her piano on her piano that is a table

Yes, that is a piano within a table! I know...amazing

Yes, that is a piano within a table! I know…amazing

What is fab is that Marty and Elayne have different nights, so they have an open mike night on Tues and this night, there is a great singer with a lovely smooth voice singing over various tracks. Unfortunately, I don’t have her name (her name was in my phone, which I managed to drop on the weekend) which is a nightmare as she was really good and I want to post a link. Ah well… time for the main event…I gove you Marty and Elayne!
Marty and Elayne (and a random bass player)

Marty and Elayne (and a random bass player)

After a super fun night with Cat, Marty, Elayne, the singer who I cannot remember, I went onto the cafe that they go to in Swingers a few times, it is called Coffeeshop 101 (http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/101-coffee-shop-los-angeles) and it was cool, got breakfast at 2am 20130307_011316
Is it dark in here? Was scared to use the flash...

Is it dark in here? Was scared to use the flash…

and essentially had this meal again IMG_20130306_163155 and lots of coffee. There were quite a few people in there getting a late night snack. I’ve come to notice that this is an LA thing – because people often have to drive after a drink or two, or just fancy the night still continuing for that little bit longer, people tend to wander to places like Coffeeshop 101. Yes, they do food that will soak up the booze, yes, they stay open late or all night and (oddly) yes, they also do booze but it’s a fun place to wind down before going home and as I mentioned, you can continue the night out that little bit longer.
Slightly on a different tip, this place is opposite, the spookily-looking Hollywood Tower 20130307_015229

Weds – Acting the Fool

So I have been attending acting class each Wednesday to see what all the fuss is about and to work on my craft. After all, I don’t know everything, or even all that much and as I find that I learn so much more by doing, I wanted to keep working whilst I was out here.
So I have been working with a partner on a scene. Except she is a little flaky. She’s a good actress, capable and funny (I saw her work in the first class I attended) and I have been paired with her for my class debut. We were meant to perform last week, but after her not being able to make more than one rehearsal (they expect you to do at least 8 hours rehearsal a week) of just over an hour, I was in two minds. I could switch partners and get a new one (that would mean getting a new scene and I had done a lot of work on this one) or sticking with what I have. I must be honest, the scene on initial reading was not for me – it is from ‘Beyond Therapy’ by Christopher Durang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_Therapy). I was playing a bisexual man, heavily into therapy, who has branched out into online dating. Virtually every word he says is wrong in terms of getting someone to like him and culminates with a glass of water being thrown at him. I thought that I was mis-cast but I wanted to prove that I could do it, after all, what’s the point of a class if you think you are too good to learn? So I made the decision to stick with my flaky partner. So we didn’t show our scene and annoyingly, she was ill so we couldn’t really work on it much during the week. I should state that I paid for 4 classes – the first one I watched the standard of acting and saw what the teacher offered as constructive criticism. I was then given a part and a partner. We had missed the next week and she was ill so now I only have two weeks left – one to perform and get feedback and then you go away and work on the scene and show it again, seeing what new things you can come up with. But she was ill for that class so again I watched other perform, feeling not in the least bit frustrated that I paid whilst others played. So I laid down the times we would rehearse once my partner was better. It was not as much as I wanted, we still needed some work, but it was a good enough standard to show. After all, why show bad work to be told it is bad? Show your best and get that critiqued so that you learn more.
Anyhow, this Wednesday, after all the aggravation, we are performing. And it went well. It can and should be a funny scene as it is the opening of the play so there is nothing to base these characters actions on. Which makes it harder for the actor as you always want to be based in a reality and so you have to extrapolate backwards, using what they later say, do and don’t say about the first scene, in order to see how their mind works and what others think of them. This coupled with the work that this class teaches (the Chubbuck 12-steps – http://www.ivanachubbuck.com/the-book/) means that you should have a full and rounded character, with high stakes games being played with the other actor on stage. Literally the actors should be ‘playing’ in front of you.
So we did. We were strong and sharp and funny. And it went over well. It also made me realise that in order to learn, you have to do (with acting) and even though I had only done one session, I had learnt from watching others…not as much as I wanted, but it is a start. And I can take it into my work when I am back in the UK.

Tuesday (con’d)

However, after that failure to go to Warner Brothers for work purposes, I went for pleasure, to see the taping of one of my favourite comedy shows, ‘2 Broke Girls’. It’s is a show in its second season written by Michael Patrick King (of Sex and the City fame and hereafter referred to as ‘MPK’) and Whitney Cummings (who also has her own show, Whitney). I have heard good things about the taping of this show – that the cast are often looking to interact with the audience when not filming and that there is a party sort of atmosphere in the studio.

So I get there on time and the friends mother, even though she cannot meet me, has arranged for me to whisked through with the VIPs. I got a prime seat in the second row right in front of the diner set (where a lot of the action takes place) and a hearty thanks goes out to them for that.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but since the US shows are so different to ours in the UK, I thought that whatever happened, I would learn something. And I was right.
In the UK, our shows are often written and created by one person with occasional episodes (if it is a long-running show) written by another writer. And usually the producers (not the writers) are the ones to make sure the tone and the characters stay within the guidelines of the show and adhere to its overall style. Here in the US, however, shows often have teams of writers. Friends was known for the show being written by one person, but having the team contributing more and more lines to make the show even funnier, so that every line was a jewel in itself. This approach not only helps new writers get established in terms of being able to have their work produced to a high standard on some of the country’s best shows, but it also means that viewers are treated to the best TV. It means that when you are an actor on one of these shows, you can trust yourself to the lines, that they will be great, funny, sensitive, witty and above all, in keeping with your character, as well as leading to an overall objective. It means that you feel safe as an actor (which can be a rare quality).
The show is filmed before a live studio audience, in a format that can only be described as a ‘live theatre’ style – they rehearse (quickly) and then perform for us. All the sets needed for that particular episode are laid out in a line in front of you and you are encouraged to watch the action live in the sets (even if your view is slightly obscured) as then you are more likely to react ‘in the moment’. Often the non-used sets are hidden from view behind black screens, so your reaction to them when you first see them is genuine. There are also TV screens above your heads but as the show is recorded live, they don’t want you to watch them, otherwise (as we were told) people tend to react as though they are watching TV at home and so may well shout out or react in a way that is not appropriate for that particular scene. An example was given of an episode that was meant to finish with a phone ringing in an empty apartment. The phone rang and rang and as the cameras rolled, slowly zooming in to the lonesome phone, an audience member (watching the monitors) stood up and yelled ‘answer the damn phone’! So they encourage you to watch the action live.
The show is a multi-camera format. This means that the show is shot from the front (you cannot have a camera behind the actors as it will be seen onscreen). With this format, there is often one wall of the set that you do not see as that is where the cameras and the audience are. Most shows filmed before a live studio audience are in the multi-camera format (think ‘Friends’). This is different to a single-camera format, where the camera can move around the actors (think ‘The Office’). Multi-camera shows should (in theory) be quicker to shoot as scenes are covered from all angles at one time whereas single camera shows require performing the scene again and again as the camera (and lighting) are moved to cover all the necessary angles.

The sets are laid out and we, the audience, are encouraged to watch the action. But how does everyone know what they are doing? Well that’s the beauty of the show in that they record the show live every Tuesday night, but there is a week’s preparation before that.
On the Wednesday of each week, a new script is handed out to the cast and crew and there is a read through. It is a relatively short day for the actors as from this read through, the writing team will go away and re-write the lines to make the jokes funnier or make more sense to other plotlines that have been established or need to be established. From Thursday to Monday, the script is rehearsed and new guest actors rehearsed in with the main cast. As well as this, the script is constantly re-written and adjusted to make it better, so the actors are often having to keep lots of information in their heads. Also, there maybe (and often is) a second version of the script that has less risqué jokes in, or may have something removed that may not be possible within the week time slot. And as the finalised script isn’t often ready until just before the day of filming, the actors often have a lot of lines and actions going around their heads.
But on the day of filming, the actors are ready to go, the crew have rehearsed where they need to be and what they need to do and if the script requires anything to be pre-recorded, this is also completed by the Tuesday filming day so that the show can be filmed (from start of the script to finish) and the audience can experience everything for the first time as this helps with reactions.

And it is at this point, when everything else is ready, that the audience is led in. We sit down in a gallery of seats, facing the action. Before us are all the sets with the actors and background artists in costume, ready to shoot. In front of all of that is a large area that contains the cameras, the crew, banks of monitors, lots of those chairs that have the names stenciled on them and tons of people.
But wait, one of those people is Fred Savage. FRED. SAVAGE!! Amazing! I was a massive fan of ‘The Wonder Years’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ob59hsRaFU) and I am so excited to see him in the flesh. He was in a suit and tie (surprisingly dressed up) and is the director for the episode. Apparently he does a lot of their episodes and directing (according to his twitter feed).

So we are ‘all set’ (as the Americans say) and Fred calls ‘Action’ and this is where it becomes a little different to UK shows and makes the whole process that much more collaborative.
On the floor are the various cameras (A, B, C and X) and their respective crews. The cameras are coordinated by Fred and their pictures feed into a bank of four screens that are wheeled to wherever Fred sits and simultaneously show all four outputs. As he is the director, he is responsible for the look of the show and for the successful placement of the cameras. He also looks after the actors, making sure their characterisations and moves fit with their characters, but also getting a good performance from them. He also runs the floor, everyone reports to him. Including MPK and the writers.
MPK and the team of writers (including the writer of tonight’s episode) assemble on the stenciled chairs, carrying their scripts. their job is to tweak the lines for the scenes, based in part on the reaction of us, the studio audience and in part on whether someone in the heat of the moment comes up with something funnier (they often do).
So after every cut or stop, MPK will confer with the writers (which often leads to a lot of laughing) and then he will nip onto the set floor and tell the new lines to the actors who ingest and prepare to deliver on the next take. He then hands over to Fred, who calls ‘Action!’. So Fred is in charge of everything we see on the screen and MPK and the writers are responsible for everything that they say. It’s like having two senior people running the show and keeping it on track (MPK is also the Executive Producer), but also shows the importance of the show, that the main people oversee all the details, all the time. Or maybe they are just control freaks? Either way, it means that the standards set from the start are consistently kept up.
Talking of the actors, before the episode, they are announced one by one to us and then they rush behind the black screens to get ready. And then the screens are pulled back and the lights go off, there is a bell that rings to signify filming and off we go.
I should mention that this is being filmed in one of the huge sound stages on the Warner Brothers lot. Even though the show is a different network, the studio is rented to them for their show. So there is space galore for whatever they need to do. It also means that when you go to the loo, you can see into some of the other stages (if their doors are open, you can’t just wander in) and see what’s happening.

What's behind door number one...?

What’s behind door number one…?

So the actors are ready, the crew is set and Fred is in front of the monitor, he says action and away we go with the first scene.
As with any filming, there is a lot of stop starting and concentration in the audience can wane, so the comedian comes back in at every stoppage and keeps the energy up with games, question and answer sessions, prizes and interviews. And since the show is about two girls and a cupcake business, there is a specialist baker who makes the cupcakes for the show (the ones eaten on-screen) and they make about 20 more for the comedian to give away to the audience! I managed to get a cake (a huge red velvet one but ate it before I could take a photo of it) and a few people got T-shirts too. They also handed out food and water and sweets during filming as it can be a long process (a good few hours) but all in all it was a great atmosphere and a really fun time. At the end of the night, they called ‘cut’ for the final time and we all applauded the work that we had seen. The actors are once again announced to us (“You have been watching…directed by Fred Savage!!…”) and with that we are ushered out into the night for a fun walk through the dark lot back to our cars.
One of the highlights of the night (strangely) was a dance contest between both sides of the audience during a long costume change. Our side won, so a huge thanks to Jonathan or ‘Sparkles’ as he said his name was. Here he is with his friend, Rachel with his hard-won t-shirt (signed at the end of filming by the cast) and my cake (since they didn’t get one).
'Sparkles' and Rachel with my cake and his winning T-shirt

‘Sparkles’ and Rachel with my cake and his winning T-shirt

A super fun night and also eye-opening look into what is expected from actors on a network show in the US. It’s a lot different from the UK, but also I think, a lot more fun. The show not only works in terms of its audiences (its pilot episode had 22 MILLION viewers) but also in terms of the high standards of the writing team and the committed work ethic of the main cast.


It’s a sad occasion. It’s my last Brits in LA breakfast! With a sadder heart, I drive the hour (through rush hour traffic) to the restaurant and take my seat. I manage to snag Bernard’s awesome corner table, where he holds forth on all and sundry who attend (see here – https://desyankson.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/bernard-liz-breakfasts-with-champions/) and await some news. On our table this week are Gabby (http://gabysantinelli.com/) an American who has become a vocal coach (which is always useful) and a friend of hers, Nat who is Australian but has been perfecting her US accent. We also have Sandro (http://www.sandromonetti.com/) who write biographies of famous people and who was super excited to have received some fan mail from Germany (his first) as well as being asked to a special breakfast on Friday (along with Bernard) at the residence of an ambassador (diplomat or just someone rich) in Hancock Park.
Apparently it was a select gathering to welcome a new person to LA and so the spread was going to be great. Not so the parking which may present a problem. I’d also hoped to see a couple of other friends at the breakfast to catch up on their news and see what they were up to in general. Most of these friends had come out to LA either to stay and look for work, or for Pilot Season and were auditioning like crazy, including one girl who had one just before she embarked on her flight back to the UK!
I guess that it was easier for them to go to auditions as they (most have a manager) but still not all of them had visas to work. Even though the manager knew that their some of their clients could not officially, it was not stopping anyone being put up for auditions. Maybe it was that having their visa application all ready to go worked in their favour, in that you can get into the audition process and then send in the paperwork and if needed, pay a little extra to expedite the final decision. I’ve heard it takes (in terms of TV) no less than 12 separate people to say yes to you in order for you to be seen on-screen. I think this is a little smaller in the UK, but what it means is that the process can be a lengthy one. I have heard and read tales of actors going for 7 or 8 auditions over weeks with lots of differing people as the makers of the TV show look to get it just right. It is a business after all and the numbers and revenues from a hit show are huge. It can make careers and in turn, the people who ‘spot’ that talent are rewarded too.

After the breakfast, I was hoping to get some good news regarding meeting the casting people at Warner Brothers, which in itself is brilliant and in turn could lead to lots of other things. Usually, this type of ‘general’ (a meeting where there is no specific project that you are being seen for) is usually a way that an agent and a client get to assess how they will work together. The agent uses their network of contacts to get their actor seen, to meet and greet casting directors (and in some cases) directors and writers in order to show what they can do. It also helps to promote the agent’s new clients without the issue of them not being right for something. On the other side, the people who meet the new client offer feedback on how the actor came across in the meeting. This helps the agent to know what the temperament of the actor is and whether they are someone who they can work easily with.
Now I am a talker (especially when I am nervous) but I am astute enough to know that sometimes I need to shut up. And oftentimes this happens in meetings. As there is nothing specific, it often is a brief ‘hi, how are you and what have you been up to’ chat, a bit like a speed-date. If you happen to hit it off with the casting person, they are more likely to remember you when something does turn up. It was mentioned at a casting seminar that I attended, that casting directors want the actors they bring in to read for a part to succeed. It makes the casting persons job easier if you come in, lines learnt, ready to talk professionally and openly about yourself and ready to read for the part. And also ready to take direction.
As the casting person has spoken extensively to the director about the project and the aims for casting, if they say ‘try it this way’ then you better HAD! If you don’t, you’re unlikely to get a call back or the job. After all, the director wants to see if you are not only versatile but also easy to work with. Again, it’s like another ‘date’ – you want to be picked because you are the best and because you ‘get’ what they want. However as acting is collaborative, it should not really be us (the actors) and them (casting/ directors/ producers) but us collectively. So anyway, I was hoping to go along and meet them at Warners, also to have a nose around the lot. But it didn’t happen. No call and no meeting as the friends mother was busy. Boo. Ah well, there’s always another day.

Cardinal Sin

I have made an error. I have annoyed a contact. And in a town where having contacts and using them correctly is the name of the game, to annoy one and therefore cancel them off you (incredibly short) list is a mistake that may take a lot of repairing. And I do not think I am in a position to do so.

So it happened when I got in touch with a company regarding representation. It was through a contact who I had never met. Their person at the company said that I wasn’t for them. What I did not realise that this no was not specific to that particular person (as it can be in London) but was on behalf of the company. So when I got in touch with someone else at the company (they’re a really good one), I was inadvertently causing all sorts of problems.

I guess that the The Three Musketeers’ motto of ‘One for all, all for one’ rings true in Hollywood too.

Monday madness

Calls, Calls, Calls. Spent the day on the phone calling managers, well management companies in order to have a go at getting someone to look after my (our) shared interests out in here the US whilst I am back in the UK. After all, that’s what I am aiming for – to be able to work internationally.
So I have already emailed all the managers with all of my details and also with links to my showreels and a photo, so that instantly know what and who they are dealing with. The only problem with this approach is that unless they are aware of you before (there’s the introduction issue again – https://desyankson.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/a-hollywood-truth/) then you run the risk of either not having a reply (pretty standard) or getting a negative response to your request for them to meet you. The responses often vary from ‘I am really busy’ to just ‘no, you’re not for us’. To be fair, I am asking complete strangers in a huge city where everyone wants to be represented (as I am aiming for managers who are established and can do well for me/ have good connections/ are well rated).
So, unsurprisingly, their time is limited, but I have to say that I was slightly put out that my efforts did not yield at least one meeting or coffee chat. Again, it may be because the people involved really are busy promoting their existing clients. It may be that I was putting myself out to the wrong people and so they were instantly dismissing me or it may be just that I have timed it all wrong. Maybe the key is to come out when for this season when you HAVE representation as then they are working to get you seen, but to look for someone is rather like being a water person during a marathon, the runners only get water if they need it and rarely do they acknowledge you.
Still, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it…oh wait…

A Slow Sunday…

I woke up thinking it was a Monday and that I had a ton of people to call back regarding management.
Monday madness
Calls, Calls, Calls. Spent the day on the phone calling managers and management companies in order to have a go at getting someone to look after my interests out in here the US whilst I am back in the UK. After all, that’s what I am aiming for – to be able to work internationally.
So I have already emailed all the managers with my details and with links to my showreels and a photo, so that they instantly know what and who they are dealing with. The only problem with this approach is that unless they are aware of you before (there’s the introduction issue again) then you run the risk of either not having a reply (pretty standard) or getting a negative response to your request for them to meet you. The responses often vary from ‘I am really busy’ to just ‘no, you’re not for us’. To be fair, I am asking complete strangers in a huge city to take a chance on me and where everyone and their mum wants to be represented (As I am aiming for managers who are established and can do well for me/ have good connections/ are well rated).
So, unsurprisingly, their time is limited, but I have to say that I was slightly put out that my efforts did not yield at least one meeting or coffee chat. Again, it may be because the people involved really are busy promoting their existing clients. It may be that I was putting myself out to the wrong people and so they were instantly dismissing me or it may be just that I have timed it all wrong. Maybe the key is to come out in February when you HAVE representation because then they are working to get you seen. Otherwise, you want them to take you on and neglect one of their existing clients…unlikely (as I have found).
Still, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it…oh wait…

This is where the Magic happens…


As usual, I am driving. And as usual, it’s a mad route through crazily small hilltop roads (avoiding traffic on the freeway – half an hour to move 200 ft? No thank you) to get home to get changed to go to the Magic Castle (as you need a suit and tie).
So I make it up to the top of the mountain and the needle for petrol is essentially on empty. Then I make the (stupid?) executive decision to coast down the descent in neutral. I just about make it home, get changed and am out the door (only a little late) and then I realise (after petrol and am now on another freeway), that I had forgotten the paper invite!!
So I call to check if I need the paper.
Of course I do.
So after a few quick lane changes, I race home, get the paper and leg it to the place. Which is literally a castle on a hill!!!
And this year, 2013, is the 50th Anniversary of the Magic Castle, a place that ‘can’t wait to share their magic with you’ (nice).
The Magic Castle is a private members club for magicians and people in the ‘magical arts’ as well as supporters of and student s of magic. So it is pretty much shrouded in mystery about what goes on there (and stays in there).
So I jumped at the chance when via Brits in LA, I was able to go as the guest of David Minkin (http://www.davidminkin.com/) and see not only his work as a close-up magician, but also the chance to have a snoop around the Magic Castle.
And when I say Castle, I really do mean it in the English sense of the word, that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ as this place is designed within an enormous house. It does have some vaguely castle-looking bits, like turrets, but as I found out, it’s more like a giant house, featuring hidden staircases and secret doors and passageways and everywhere you go, there’s MAGIC happening!!

And they have a very strict no-camera policy. So I have no pictures, but from the moment the hidden doorway opens, you are transported into an other world.

The place is decorated as a plush house, I guess, in that there are deep carpets of a dark red colour laid throughout the building. There is a lot of dark wood, deep chairs, bars everywhere (brilliant) and all sorts of curios and exciting little toys, things, exhibits and, essentially, stuff that all have to do with magic. There are things like original tricks to creepy-looking ventriloquist dolls from way back when that seem to be hand painted and some that are in a state of disrepair but that you get the impression are original dolls. There are photos and pictures of magicians everywhere – all members or esteemed magicians and some of whom are surprising. We found ourselves looking at a picture and then saying ‘I didn’t know THEY were a magician!’ over and over again. It was truly fun.
And onto the magic! The place is a treasure trove of acts and I highly recommend getting there early so that you can wander around and see almost all of the acts and we kept discovering more and more places that amazing things were happening. Also, as there are students of magic within the Magic Castle too, you can see people who are training to become professional magicians and yes, their little skits may not be as polished, but their technique and artistry are something to behold. And it’s always nice to support talent. It was one of the highlights to see a guy, Stan, doing card tricks just for Kristina, Amanda and I. We got to see his work close up, to just talk to him and also to be amazed by his magic and surprised by his skill.
They also have shows by professional magicians and this is also a great thing to get there early for, so that you can get into the queues to see them as it is a free-for-all to see them. We had booked for dinner at the Castle, which is recommended on busy nights like Friday and Saturday and comes with a guaranteed ticket to one of the shows.
What was most fun, was to grab a drink from the numerous bars and walk around and explore and just se people doing work in front of you, around pretty much every corner. It really showed the difference in artistry between the students that we saw and the professionals, in terms of audience ‘patter’, showmanship and also mis-direction. It was the thing that made you look at something whilst another thing happened. But it was also the thing that made you want to get up and yell ‘how did you do that?! I was watching everything you did and that is just CRAZY!!’
But the main event (and the last thing we saw) was David’s close up show. He only plays to 22 people at a time, in a tiny room, where you are no more than a few feet from David. And his show is miraculous and amazing and blew our minds. I mean, one of the things the Magic Castle does well is to supply enough bars for you to get yourself pretty smashed, but as I was driving, I was sober enough to see that David is a wonderful magician and it was pretty fitting to have ended our fab night with the man who was the reason for our visit. I have see why he was the 2007 International Brotherhood of Magicians Close Up Magic Champion.

The other side says...in bed  (given to me by a hypnotist no less)

The other side says…in bed (given to me by a hypnotist no less)

The Gift that keeps on giving…

Today I was part of a little known thing – the gifting suite. This particular one is the lovely people at Surgery PR (www.surgerypr.com).

The gifting chain...

The gifting chain…

They have relocated one of their best and brightest (the lovely Caroline) out here to sunny LA for all sorts of fun in the sun. Essentially, a gifting suite is a room full of all sorts of items from companies that the PR companies are working with, that the companies would like to see have a higher profile in the public eye but also in certain sectors. Most of the companies are high-profile anyway, so the items are lovely and more often than not, they are not available in stores. But like any company, they want their profile to be higher.

Most of the times that I have heard about these suites, or treasure troves, is around the big awards ceremonies such as the Oscars® or the BAFTAs. Then I have heard stories or free gifts such as a villa on a tropical island, thousands of pounds worth of free treatments, free cars, free clothes, jewellery etc. There are often big named actors involved in picking up items and then the gifting suite comes into full effect, because when the paparazzi snap said star with their new ‘gifted’ item, the subsequent press leads to a spike in sales. So maybe it is another form of stealth marketing, maybe it’s part of the quid-pro-quo that comes with being a top or up-and-coming star in that you have to work for your free stuff?
Well anyway, onto the suite – it really is a room full of stuff – clothing, glasses, shoes, bags and other assorted items with a sickening combined price-tag. A friend of mine was there picking up an item or two whilst I was there so it was a little less weird. It really feels like you are doing something wrong, getting something that is worth so much for free. And since the choices are a range of things that you like, you are more likely to use them in your life and that, I suppose is the crux of it. You use the items you get for free, you get snapped with said item and everyone goes home happy. The problem arises if you happen to give the item to someone else (unlikely with a range of custom-made, one-of-a-kind handbags that retail for around £3000 each but possible with sunglasses or something cheaper). Then there is no press and then the core idea of the suite has failed.
I left after having fun with my friend and Caroline (and these blue corn chips),


but ultimately, it is a funny old business. You may like an item, but you may not get that item because you are not the profile that the company wants to promote – you’re good enough for fame and fortune, but not good enough for our product? Though all that changes if you are an actor on a hit show (as my friend may be) then the world is your oyster, or rather, it’s a gifting suite and the conveyor belt of items it contains, are unlikely to stop flowing.

(oh and they have a fantastic rooftop too – almost the perfect job – LA views, celebs and free gifts!)


Wherever I lay my hat…

So like in most places, where you live is key to what your experience of that place is like. And nowhere is this more apparent that in LA. It does remind me a little of London…in a general sense. As in the East of London, East LA has a lot more ‘hipster’ bars and cool chic hangouts (though it does have the ace Dresden club, that shot to fame in the film “Swingers”). West LA in general is where the money is, much like in London (such as Notting Hill, Mayfair, Knightsbridge). South LA much like South London is a little bit more sketchy. However the South West of LA is like an enclave of money or at least prettier living in places like Santa Monica, Venice and Marina Del Rey. And the North is pretty much strange to everyone who doesn’t live there – haha.

I live in North Hollywood, which is NOWHERE near West Hollywood (full of cool places to eat on the street and be seen at) or Hollywood in general (where the Oscars take place). It’s about a 30 minute drive via either a highway or a twisty route ‘over the mountain’. And because of the difference in areas, there is a difference in housing too. I have found that it is really important about where you live.

If I was doing this initial trip again, I would have researched further into places to stay, because Angelenos rarely like to travel far. And each area of LA is essentially like its own little state/ village/ town. If you live and work in West Hollywood, going to Santa Monica or Venice is a trip you would make maybe once a month (and vice versa). It’s only 30 mins in the car, but that 30 mins seems like a lifetime’s worth or effort to those that live here. And if that 30 mins is via a freeway, then forget those friends, you’d be better off making new ones that live closer as you ain’t gonna see them EVER…

Now where I live is cheaper than living closer to the action, and if I had things to do in Burbank (where Warner Brothers studios and Universal studios are situated) or Studio City or Sherman Oaks, then it would have been an easy sell as they are really close. But I am rarely there and most people who I have met live more centrally, with a price tag to match. But the essential difference is that I have to tack on a further 30 mins whenever we go out as that’s what the cheaper cost means. It also means an extra 30-50 mins if I want to be in town for something in the morning. It means that unless I drive (thank God I drive), I would be stuck.

If I went for a more central option (as Kez did at her hotel), then I could get away with walking a few places and taxis for the longer commutes. So my advice is to see what you want your LA experience to be – a lot of time in the car? Head out of the centre. If you are a person who likes to walk and things on your doorstep, then stump up the extra cash for a place in town. Now I live in a two-bedroom house that has a small garden and is part of a complex that has a pool and plenty of on-street parking.
Where I live, there is a lot of room, wide roads (an American staple) and quite a few ‘strip malls’ – small pockets of shops and eateries. It’s not the prettiest place, but as I said, it is cheap. On my various trips around town, I have been making a short study of places I have noticed – all houses are NOT the same (obviously).

I have a friend who lives in the West part of LA. Think Mayfair – large houses, plush lawns, armed response security and country clubs chock full of stars (apparently a star of ‘Friends’ is a member of the local club). The house is a lovely oasis of calm – large picture windows letting in light, a huge kitchen and a lovely long pool. And a piano. Which is cool. Check out the pictures –


Another friend lives in West Hollywood – an area that is pretty cool in terms of places to go and be seen in as well as a ton of bars, clubs and cool shops. It is the most like the Portobello area of Notting Hill or Clapham and unlike most places in LA, it is possible to walk around. Now this place is pretty much what I wanted to be staying in, however the price tag is double what I paid for my place, but it is easy to get around and close to a lot of good places. I find myself in this area a lot so next time I come around, I may consider saving a bit more and getting me a place here. Check out the pictures –


I also went to a place on the coast, a brilliant surfer’s paradise, only a few blocks from the Ocean. The downside of coastal living is that it is a bit of a trek to get to town. But the place is fab, totally lived in and cosy as well as a lovely little haven of trees, leafy nooks and a lovely laid-back vibe. Get a load of the fab pictures –


I would love to live by the sea, but I also like the town centre living of West Hollywood (WeHo) too. Then again, I can’t surf in town…surf’s up dudes!!


Saturday – Venice and Goodbye to Caroline!

So I didn’t go out last night – I blogged. God how dull. And so I met up with Caroline and her friends 20130224_125450

Carrie looking gnome-like

Carrie looking gnome-like

to have brunch and say bye-bye before she boarded a plane back to the UK. As the friends are in Venice (as it’s easy to get to LAX), that’s where we brunched. Outside at a café, the Ocean a short stroll away and this crazy contraption parked next to us


It turns out everyone was hungover as it was a late one. I was invited but declined because of the late hour and my unwillingness to break my typing roll and get in the car for 40 mins to get over to Venice. And I should have gone, because I missed out on what’s known as ‘First Friday’. On the street known as Abbot Kinney, on the first Friday, there is essentially a street party. All the shops stay open later and then all the bars fill with everyone out for a good time. As you can stroll easily to many good bars on Abbot Kinney, this can be a lethal night out! Also, food trucks pop up to service the crowds who come from all over LA for this tradition. And it went on until late. Whereas I felt groggy from a lack of sleep due to typing until late, they just felt crap from sleeping on the sofa (in some cases) and from too much booze in all cases.
So after a restorative brunch, we adjourned to the beach for some much-needed lounging. Then we saw this bad boy!! 20130302_12470320130302_124739This is when we had the paddling/ wading conversation (here – http://wp.me/p3bi08-fy) as well as lamenting on our constant lack of bringing a towel whenever we head to the beach. Then we went on a wander to get Carrie’s car, which she had parked at one end of Abbot Kinney, and annoyingly, the furthest end from us. And she was feeling sketchier and sketchier with every step.
So we had a pit stop in the Toms café (http://www.toms.com/venice-flagship-store and http://laist.com/2012/12/18/toms_shoes_flagship_store_sneak_peek.php?gallery0Pic=17#photo-15). This is a Toms store, that also has (you guessed it) a café. But it also houses a juicery, so there were (I’m sorry to say) foul-tasting samples of juices. But the real find, was out the back, there is a great big patio area – open to the elements (which is essentially sun) there are plenty of seats, free wi-fi, tons of plug sockets (a hot-desker’s dream) as well as Astroturf! So we sat down and Alex picked up a board game called ‘Sorry’ It was going well, we had gotten a fourth player called Gio to play and were all getting on well. Then Gio had to go and meet his friend and Carrie, in an attempt to clear his pieces from the board, swept the entire game on the floor – board and pieces in one fell swoop. Needless to say, we felt a beverage was in order (well I did, the others were still a little ill) and off we went to a bar, right by the car, that the girls had been in the night before. And guess who was at the next table with his friend? Yup, Gio. Who did think we were stalking him. But we had a great chat (he and his friend are making a documentary about online dating) and waved them goodbye before we too left for an evening of fun.

Roads…where we’re going, we don’t need…roads (I wished)

As I said before, LA is a huge place and the car is king. And Queen and every other courtier too. You rarely see people walking, jogging yes and as my friend Amanda says “if I see someone running in their normal clothes, I wonder what they’ve robbed!” You just don’t get people using their two feet to get about as we do in the UK. So you are going to have to master the roads.
The ******* roads. I know I’ve mentioned a good blog on them (here – http://britsinla.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/learning-los-angeles.html) but if you are driving in LA, you will have to encounter (dun, dun, duuuuh!!!!) The Freeways and you had better beware my friend…beware.
Signs are often only on the outside lanes, fine if you happen to be near one, but not if you ‘re in the middle of an 8-lane behemoth and either side of you are two trucks/ Hummers/ buses. Sometimes the next exit signs are above the lanes, making it easy to see them, but also to see your 3-lane change to get across in time to make the exit, because you are NOT GIVEN A COUNTDOWN.
In the UK, we take it for granted that a motorway exit will be a sign, followed by a 3-2-1 and then the sign again saying ‘Exit’. In the US however, it will be a sign that displays the road name and usually the distance in miles, and then the exit. This is SO unhelpful – not everyone is familiar with how far a mile and it’s constituent parts are, so often an exit will spring up and cause you the inevitable 3-lane change. As well as this, Americans do not tend to indicate to change lanes, so if you do indicate, I have been reliably informed that they may tend to speed up, thus blocking your exit.
So let’s say you have seen your exit and you are across in time, the fun doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Since the exit is the name of the road, not where that exit leads. So you have to get learning the route that you want to take (unless you have a satnav) because you may pass one sign for your destination and then have to rely on street names for the rest of the way.
Okay, now you have recognised your exit, you have crossed over and are ready to exit the freeway. But hold on, what’s this car on your right hand side doing? They’re indicating to turn INTO YOU!?! Yes folks, freeway exits are often the on-ramps too, so you find yourself cutting across yet another lane of traffic in order to get off, whilst they are trying to get their way on!
I can see how so many accidents can occur (having nearly been in some!) and I can also see how people are distracted by being in the car where you don’t have to do anything apart from press the pedal for go and stop. I wonder, does having a gear shift make us more observant of other road users?

I hope, I wish, I know

I wish I’d known these few things when I first arrived –

Take a photo of the toilet and show people. It’s much, much easier than what happened when I first needed the loo in a restaurant and we had this conversation –
Me – Where’s the loo?
Waiter – What?
Me – (clearer) The loo?
Waiter – What?
Me – The toilet?
Waiter – What?
Me – The restroom?
Waiter – What?
Me – The washroom?
Waiter – What?
Me – The bathroom??
Waiter – Oh it’s just down the hall on the left.
He walked off and I was left wondering how many ways in the English language there are to say the same thing.

When at a food establishment (this covers all of them from fast-food to restaurants to cafes) you can have your food there, ‘to go’ or ‘takeaway’. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that takeaway is the same as in the UK, it isn’t. Takeaway means the food is open so that you can eat it either outside on benches/ chairs provided or in your car. So the meal will come in a tray, with cutlery (sorry that’s ‘utensils’ in the U.S) ready to be eaten. If you want your food wrapped up, ready to be transported, ask for it to go.

Cars can turn right if they are on a RED light. Yes, you can drive through a red light. So pedestrians beware (not that there is a huge walking culture in LA). Cars ‘should’ give right of way to any pedestrians crossing, but they may not if they think they can clear the crossing before you do.

And talking of crossing roads, don’t be British and cross the road anywhere. It’s called ‘jay-walking’ and it can get you a ticket if the police stop you (and they are zealous enough to do so!) Also, if you are crossing a road, not on a crossing and are knocked down, it is YOUR fault, not the drivers…so they could sue you.

Oddly, Americans do not have paddling pools. I was at the beach with some friends and I was thinking of having a paddle. They thought I meant stand up paddle boarding (this – http://surfingsports.com/images/starboard_tiffany_sup.jpg) but I meant roll up the jeans and get my legs wet –
20130215_163347 They looked perplexed when I said it was called paddling. They they thought I meant paddling out as on a surfboard. I said that it came from a paddling pool. They looked blankly at me. I explained that it was a pool that toddlers used in the garden, that it was shallow enough so that they shouldn’t drown (this – http://www.recyclethis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/paddling_pool.jpg)
Again blank looks. What was a ‘toddler’ they asked? I said it was a young child, one who is newly walking between 2 and 3, who wanders about, ‘toddles’. They’re called ‘toddlers’ I said.
Again blank looks.
Then it slowly dawned on them and they asked if I meant that I was going to go ‘wading’? Apparently Americans do not have toddlers, or paddling pools and wading is what they term rolling up your jeans and getting your legs wet.
Glad we got there in the end.

Oh and their coins make NO sense AND all their banknotes are all the same size (and pretty much the same colour). For such a large democracy and with their currency wanted and valued by so much of the World, why would you have this craziness? In the UK, everything is pretty straightforward, if the coins are the same colour, the larger one is worth more (and yes, the £2 counts as the same colour as a £1 coin). It make sense, so if you have no idea what money you are holding, you can always select the largest ones and use those. In the US however, the large coins are sometimes less than the smaller ones. And as I said, all the notes are the same size and pretty much the same colour. I spent a long time rooting around in my wallet for different notes to pay for things before having to resort to a complicated memory game using all my pockets to secrete various denomination notes. I did often find myself about to tip someone $20 before I worked out this system!

Play That Funky Music…

So I have a habit of getting stuck on the wrong side of the mountain during rush hour and needing to get back to the flat. So in order to get home without being in the car for three hours, I have taken to attempting various routes over the mountain. Now these routes are pretty narrow, often one lane that usually features a sheer drop or two, rarely any barriers (road safety please???) and always, without fail ends up with night falling whilst I am atop some treacherous switch back road, headlights barely illuminating a foot of road in front of me and my ohone’s satnav often calling out ‘signal lost’…leaving me at a crossroads with all sorts of options. Think of a maze and add a car and little traffic and you get the idea. Add in darkness and you’re there.
One occasion I was virtually out of petrol and had to switch off the engine on the descent and coast in neutral until I managed to get to a petrol station, there being no phone signal for rescue and most houses behind high walls or gates.

Bye bye Sun...

Bye bye Sun…

How did I get onto this subject? Oh yes, I was banging on about the drives back. And the one annoying thing about these drives was that the scenery was often spectacular. You would be in the midst of trees (LA is amazingly green) and a house or two and then you would round a corner and come out on a road that had a sheer drop and a clear view across to another part of the mountain. I would stop (no danger as there were rarely other cars) and look at the window (to look whilst driving would result in disaster as the road tended to be there one second and gone the next). But try as I might, my trusty phone camera never got a good enough picture of the setting – little lights winking at inordinately high points in the distance, valleys from nowhere, views of the setting sun catching the clouds and turning the sky all sorts of beautiful colours and often the amazing quiet.. Since most traffic was used to the main roads, these little ones were virtually deserted.
And I never seemed to remember to take these roads during the daytime so I always saw a little bit of beauty before being plunged into darkness (there are virtually NO streetlights up there).
But I digress, I started this post to talk about how after one of these trips over the mountain, I had been moaning to Tom about not seeing any live music in LA and that I wanted to when he mentioned that one of his friends had invited him to see a band in Santa Monica and did I want to come along?
So one of the friends has a father who makes music and as such, she is pretty clued into to good bands. And she recommended ‘The Dustbowl Revival’ (http://dustbowlrevival.com/). 20130301_003603
The venue itself did not end itself to what the music would be like – it was based on a Middle-Eastern souk feel with lots of low seats, patterned material adorning the walls and a projector silently playing a film which made no sense. I think it was literally a jumble of images. Anyway, the crowd were excited and the DJ was putting out some good tunes (dubstep mixed with Bob Marley?)
And then the music stopped and out came the band. And they kept on coming as there are around 12 of them. On a small stage, they filled it and at one point seemed destined to plunge off the front.
So they are a folky, bluegrass band who use a brass section, double bass, drums, a guy with a washboard and various other instruments to create some magical music. They really were magnificent – alkin to the Polyphonic Spree, numbers-wise, but music wise, they are nothing like them. They rocked out the little club, Zanzibar and left us in a great mood afterwards. If they pop up on the bill somewhere, go see them.

She’s a Star…

So Tom and I went on a bit of a jaunt today. I said I would help him shoot some scenes that he has to put onto tape for an audition that his manager has gotten him. And like Phil, he had an idea of what he wanted to do. And like at Phil’s, I wanted to add my tuppenceworth…and like Phil, Tom shut me down, again, citing that it was his show and he knew what he wanted. And so I shut up – because I wanted to help. He also shut up as he knew that without me he wasn’t going to be able to do what he wanted. So we borrowed an IPad and headed out.
We were heading for the Westwood Memorial Park. 20130227_172114
This is a famous (not that I had heard of it) cemetery as it houses some big named residents… 20130227_17212020130227_17281220130227_17282420130227_17290720130227_172931 None more famous than the ashes of Norma Jeane Mortenson or Marilyn Monroe. 20130227_17330020130227_173316Funnily enough, when we were wandering around (and it’s beautifully kept and wonderfully serene), we had to remember her original name from an Elton John song. Anyway, after walking around and finding it, we set about looking for somewhere to film Tom’s scene, where he is at the grave of a loved one. There were no words, but it was full of emotion and I think Tom did it justice. We only did it a couple of times and then left, feeling like we were somehow intruding on those who were there to pay their respects.
As I walked around whilst Tom was getting into character, I realised that I was having a flashback to when I was in Ghana, having a look for the grave of my father. In most countries, graves are given some sort of stone or thing to remember the person by, but also as a marker for you to be able to find the grave again. In my father’s case, however, he only has a low stone that barely comes out of the ground and when we went to see it (I’ve never seen it, long story), I could not find it. Unfortunately for me, Ghanaian graves are not the well-kept places that we have in the West and the filed was filled with 6 foot-high corn stalks and covered an area the size of a couple of football fields. Needless to say, we couldn’t have seen a gravestone that was the size of a brick through anything there.
But back to the Hollywood cemetery and as you can see, it is in complete contrast to that field and as I found this piece of paper in-between the blades of grass. It has come from someone’s grave but I could not locate it. Poignantly, it made me think that even though the cemetery was famous for one person, many other people lay there too and they were extraordinary to the families who remembered them and missed them. 20130227_174757

What do you drive?

I like driving in my car…and yes, in the words of Madness, ‘it’s not quite a jaguar’ but I feel that since LA is such a car-orientated town, you really need a good set of wheels to get you about. And this is where the UK’s definition of ‘road safe vehicle’ and the US’ versions differ slightly.
It ranges from the good

Where's the Doc when you need him?

Where’s the Doc when you need him?


to the large

to the downright sketchy



OK so the last one was a write-off and was taken away a couple of days ago. But I have seen a car driving along quite happily without a front bumper. Surely that’s a basic safety requirement to have on your car!? And yesterday there was a minivan that looked like it had been broad-sided by a larger vehicle, happily pootling down the freeway…

There is a good blog post on driving here – http://www.britsinla.blogspot.com

Batteries not needed…


So in London, this is pretty much attached to me when I am out and about – on the tube, the bus, walking, I am constantly listening to my Ipod and most times reading too. Out here though, everyone is so super friendly that you don’t need to shut yourself off from them. I have met a load of fab people, all of whom are very interested in you (me, whoever) when they find out that you are British and from London. I don’t think that it really matters where you are from, but just that you are seen as interesting as you are British. We often joke that the Americans think all us Brits are related to the Royal Family (a friend did in fact convince some girls that he was the ‘Party Prince’, often photographed falling out of clubs and wanted to have a normal job as a lawyer!) but I digress, we’re special to the average American. And that is exciting. And tremendously complimentary. Especially when you think that most actors are a little nervous, strange, odd, insular (occasionally) but mostly nervous of making a good impression and yet when in LA, I have found that I am often the main event in people’s days. And that’s not arrogant, it just is. If a population that mostly has not travelled outside of its borders encounters someone from outside, they are inherently interesting. Added to that the close nature of our two countries and you get a sort of half adoration, half-know-it-all attitude. I often field questions about being from London, being an actor, my length of stay, how much I am enjoying the States, what I am doing in town, where I am staying and then all of this is linked into their life. So the other day I met Mark. He;s a lovely guy, we sat at the bar in a Norms restaurant, famed for their ‘Bigger, Better breakfasts’ (http://normsrestaurants.com/blog/bigger-better-breakfast-only-5-99/) and chatted for close on an hour. He was from Hawaii originally and ended up in LA as he father is an actor of note and one of the few actors who help organise the SAG (Screen Actors Guild, a Union for actors in America) awards as a thank you for his service in helping other actors throughout his long and continuing career. So Mark had gone to various awards shows over the years, but acting wasn’t for him or his brother so he kept life simple living on a boat over in the Marina part of LA. I said I’d visit him and enjoy a boat drink or two and watch the sunset over the Pacific. Lush.

A Hollywood truth…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in Hollywood, an introduction is worth a thousand pictures. It is literally the one thing that will get you that meeting with George Clooney’s agent or manager. It can elevate your CV (and your subsequent chance of work) from the bottom of the heap to the pretty much guaranteed if you can elicit that all-important ‘Hi, this is Des…Des this is…’ I have heard stories of people out here who were sending out emails and CVs and photos (much like me) and one chance meeting with a couple of introductions and now we see those people as household names in big productions.
Again, it comes down to being prepared and also being lucky, if you do know someone who knows someone and that someone is important, get their email, their number and definitely get in touch. Send them your CV, photo, a showreel if you have it and see what they say. Though they may be incredibly busy doing deals worth millions and shaping the lives of people associated with the industry the world over, they are also on the lookout for the next ‘big thing’. The one that can bring in an Oscar or two, a Golden Globe or four, a SAG award or six or maybe just the one that brings in the audiences, no matter what the project. As ultimately, it all boils down to money. If you are an actor with a raft of awards but no real box-office clout, you may find yourself losing out on the roles to someone who may not be as good as you, but who draws audiences back time and time again. But again, it all starts with an introduction…
It is very much a town that is always business orientated though, there is not much time for people going out to for a good time if there is the chance, the whiff, the inkling of a chance at betterment and that can be tiring. Always having to be coping and aware of what that person can do for you, who that person is and who they may know… That meant that an ‘anti-Valentine’s’ karaoke night at Brass Monkey (http://www.cafebrassmonkey.com/) was a welcome distraction from all of that. A chance to get loose with the mic and some classics such as a wonderful rendition of ‘Me and Mrs Jones’ by a lad formerly in a classical ‘boy band’ and a raucous version of ‘Summertime’ starring pretty much all of us at some point or another!

Sadly, the pictures from this night are locked away (or on Facebook) so these words will have to suffice for now. And a pointing monkey…


Bernard. Liz. Breakfasts with Champions

Bernard is a legend.

The one and only...

The one and only…

A living embodiment of what a Brit in LA is – he has been out here for 37 years and still has a firm Leeds accent (recently utilised in a Yorkshire tea advert). He initially came over to build houses and was in partnership with a guy. They decided to offer Americans something that had not been seen before, houses that were newly-built that looked old. A gamble in anyone’s books, not least for Bernard’s friends back in England who thought he was mad for attempting to do something like this when no-one else was. More fool them as Bernard built a business up and still now drives past places, points and says’ that’s one of mine, that’s one of mine’. Haha, classic.
Not only has he housed some of LA’s great and the good, he also in his spare time looks to help out others by passing on his help, knowledge and wisdom to all through a concern called UKares (a play on ‘UK’ and ‘who cares’) – https://www.facebook.com/UKares
They look to help individuals and families living abroad and his help was invaluable at the first Brits in LA breakfast, dispensing gems about where to get a good Earl Grey teabag, where’s better for shopping, introducing me to others and making a lonely and disorientated Brit feel most at home.
Thank you Bernard! (He’s not dead or anything, I just want to publicly say he’s a legend).

On a similar note, Liz (no photo, sorry) is also another wonder of the Brits in LA breakfast. Liz told me her story over some cracking ricotta pancakes and a cup or two of tea, also at the first Brits breakfast. She was the illegitimate child of a Lord, back in the day and when he decided not to have anything to do with her or her ill mother, she was made a ward of the Court (I didn’t ask too many details about what the exact reasons were) but this was when she was around 7. The Court decided to place Liz under the guardianship of a couple who owned a school and so Liz found herself as the kid who never left school in the holidays. Ever. She became friends with all who worked there and when the couple decided to sell the school when Liz was 17, she was faced with a decision (as the couple thought she could cope on her own – the legal age for Liz to be self-sufficient was 18), so she asked the new owners if she could live in a small room by the kitchens and stay on until she finished school, the next year. As no-one was really covering her school fees or anything like that, Liz was also the kid who had to ask the kitchen staff for leftover food when school was out or she would have starved during the holidays!
Anyway, when school finished, Liz took a nursing course and then promptly left the UK looking for adventure, travelling to places on a whim and staying as long as she wanted to, sometimes a day, a week or years. At one stage, she found herself modelling in Australia and staying for a good while (she has amazing bone structure and is still stunning now) and eventually came out to the West Coast of the States and settling here.

And each week, both her and Bernard and others pitch up to hear the British accent, swap stories of their weeks and ‘enjoy a little slice of back home’. Also amazingly, both Liz and Bernard have kept their British accents, there’s not a hint of an US twang in either of them, which is strange when you consider that some people who are over for a week or a few months come back sounds incedibly American…

So Liz and Bernard, I salute you and thank you for making such an impact on me and for bringing a good old fashinoned bit of British generosity to me.

Santa Monica-ahh-ahh-ahh!

So I have finally gotten around to seeing Santa Monica. And it is great. Much like Venice Beach, it has a huge beach and soft, fine sand.


Unlike Venice, there is not the huge amount of homeless people who congregate around the beach at night. It is a larger, smarter place than Venice, but also benefits form a slick pier, full of rides, stalls selling odd items and at the end, a perfect viewing spot to watch one of the wondrous LA sunsets…


Their Police also have surfboards!!


It does have a certain vintage feel…


and then I saw this guy…


Have I grown up too fast??

Worst. Day. Ever. (In LA)

It all started yesterday when the two loos in the house decided not to work. Cue a call to the landlady to get her and/ or a plumber out to our house to have normal service resume.
I went out for the evening and returned home and decided to pay for a parking ticket that I got in the first couple of days of being out here (check driving statues in the Los Angeles area and California as a whole!) Anyway, I went to pay for the ticket and my card was rejected. Tried it again and it was rejected again. Cue frustration rising for a lot more attempts and then I decide to sort it out in the morning.
So today, wake up to the hope that all I have to do is email a ton of managers to see if they want to represent me and send me out to auditions, have lunch with a friend and make sure that Mandy (a friend out here before commencing a road trip up to Seattle) is ok. Not much I thought and with the added joy of having two working loos when I got back to the house.
Cue a check on my balance online and I see a few unexplained transactions.
Ruh roh.
I think I have been account hacked/ online defrauded…ROBBED essentially. Bastards. I call my bank in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue and have my account blocked. The (unfortunately hard to understand) phone operator manages to say that she will NOT block my account completely until I go to the bank and get some money out over the counter. Simples (as the puppet meerkat would say).
I get to the bank. Card is DENIED! I am again, buggered. Any attempts to call the UK only number from the bank are also not happening as there is no signal inside. When you look at the bank, it resembles a large concrete bunker so no signal is happening. Also, I have tussled with this bank before when I again had money issues from my over-zealous bank blocking my card even though they had been made aware of my trip to the US. The essence is that no OVERSEAS calls can be made from the landlines inside the bank (what IS THAT ABOUT?), I cannot call from inside the bank and my phone signal is patchy at best outside the concrete behemoth. So I have to go to where there is signal, which is about a 5 minute walk away. I then spend the next 2 hours on the phone going from pillar to post looking to get them to un-block my account so I can get some money out to live until my return flight. I cannot even change my flight as that costs and my card does not work online.
Then Mandy calls to say that whilst driving by, her car has broken down and can I come help? Perfect. Except that I am meant to be meeting my friend Kristina in about 5 minutes…
I go to help Mandy and fortunately her problem is not too technical and so she gets on her way in a little while. I make my way to meet Kristina for lunch, but as I have been delayed by Mandy’s car, it turns into drinks and a scone (I have forgone breakfast at the house in order to have brunch with Kristina but that is now not an option as she has to go) and then I go back to the bank.
At the bank, nothing happens with regards to me getting any more money or even through to my bank in the UK. But I attempt for a couple more hours and then call it a day and come home to bury my sorrows on this blog. But as a last hurrah, I call my bank again, get through in record time and explain the problem. They kindly inform me that my card has been cancelled and not blocked by the lady from this morning and so my day had essentially been wasted. Once we established this, I was given a number for a Visa cash advance service and went through the process for getting some money.
I wait with expectantly their verdict…

(Oh and the loos still weren’t fixed).

Mondrian Madness

Well thanks to the lovely and super fun Kez,



I got to taste a little of the LA highlife at the super swish Mondrian hotel (http://www.mondrianhotel.com/en-us/) and it’s fabulous facilities such as the amazing pool!!


Ready for her close up...

Ready for her close up…

Kez is an actress who does ‘mo-cap’ (or motion capture to the lay person). It is a pretty specialised industry and being good at it means she does get a lot of work. It also means that she decided to have a holiday in LA during Pilot Season as she knows around 30 or so people who were/ are out here at the same time. I have heard that all people come into your life for a reason, either to enrich it or to make you learn something and Kez definitely filled both parts – apart from introducing me to a wealth of fun people, not all actors, who were doing things ranging from auditions in the next Angelina Jolie picture to kissing a pin-up from British TV to a TON of Welsh folks all out here striving away, I found she was always happy, welcoming and willing to do some things. Now that did include lounging around the pool at the Mondrian in a sort of ‘hosting a pool party’ type fashion, but it meant that people turned up and wandered off throughout the day and night. One of the funniest times was Caroline joking that the sugar cane in her drink looked like a breadstick and that she was happy as she was a Brit and it was some carbs. This was made funnier as the American gentleman in the lift with us remarked, deadpan, ‘it’s sugar cane’, Caroline countered ‘yummy, a sugary breadstick’ to which the American man countered, deadpan again, ‘ it IS a carb. I’m a scientist’. And who said the Americans do not have a sense of humour? It is pretty apparent though that our sense of humour is an ‘acquired taste’ and that to hang out with other Brits, our natural humour is a joy and deserves to be revelled in.

Beach. Blanket. Babylon. Boardwalk

Well there was no blanket and it is certainly part of a Babylon (LA) but Venice beach is a place with a large, large beach. A super fine white sandy beach to be honest. And the whole of the Pacific Ocean in front of you.


I haven’t been much of a beach-y holiday kind of person (as I don’t need to work on my tan) but I do adore the sea and this is the perfect place for it.

Yeah...I'm a lifeguard...

Yeah…I’m a lifeguard…


This is also the place famous for its boardwalk


No, not that kind of boardwalk, but this kind – shops vie for space along the road that borders the sand. Many things are for sale – medical marijuana sold at places with ‘doctors’ in green scrubs standing outside, a large amount of dreamcatchers, tie-dyed items aplenty and lots of food stores


Are you ready for my close up?

So today, after a large night out last night and feeling decidedly worse for wear, I am up at 7am (argh!) to go across town to see Phil and help him film a couple of scenes for a pilot audition that his manager has set up. This will be come a recurring theme since I am ‘not doing anything’, I am helping in that rite of passage that most actors have done – the self taping. It’s not as naughty as it sounds. When there is an audition for something and the people involved are not nearby and maybe cannot all get together, they can ask for actors to tape themselves doing the scenes (often with other actors filling in) and send that ‘tape’ (even though it’s often a digital file) to the casting people and then onto the director etc. It often means that actors can audition from the comfort of their homes in the UK for a project in LA (for instance) and only have to fly over when they get far enough along the audition process.
So if you haven’t done it yourself, chances are that you know someone who has. It is a chance to showcase what you can do with the scene and for the people involved to see how you have interpreted the scene(s) that you have been sent. Often, you are told to ‘make bold choices’ and that even if they are wrong, they still see what you can do. So if you are playing a murderer who is seducing his latest victim, really look for the high points where you can be chilling and also for the points where you can be really sexy and charming. The added bonus of self-taping is that you are often with friends (unless you are booked into a studio but that’s rare) and so the level of nerves is usually low to zero. It means that you can give your all to the piece and also you can do it again and again until it is the best it can be. I read that Elijah Wood dressed up as a Hobbit in ears and feet and stuff and filmed himself in the Hollywood Hills and sent it in. He got the part.
Anyway, back to Phil and his place and his audition piece. I hadn’t been there before, it is essentially a house at the back of another house, surrounded by great views (as it’s on a hill) 20130215_111840 and pets. Tons of pets. Dogs, 20130215_11063420130215_110632 cats, parakeets, rabbits and that’s just the ones that were outside!
Anyway, inside, Phil was setting up the camera

Light and (no) camera...

Light and (no) camera…

and getting the lighting right – he was playing a guy who is a little dark and sinister, and in the scene is talking to his ex-girlfriend. He also harbours a deep secret so Phil wanted to convey this with use of light and shadow. I was merely there to hold the camera and speak (in a neutral voice) the other lines.
But I find it hard to hold my tongue. And I’m an actor. I want to perform when I get lines.
So I start reading in with Phil, practicing so that he feels comfortable. After all it is his showcase, not mine. And I get a little too vociferous and have to be reminded of that. Oops. But we tape Phil and go to the other room to upload the video. 20130215_104520 Which proves a little tricky – the internet in Phil’s place isn’t the best, added to which he has to leave to meet someone and will be late if he stays to make sure the video is uploaded. Annoying. I don’t offer to stay, but his landlady offers to watch the computer and check it periodically for him. Which is niice. Unfortunately, Phil did not get the part, but it was a great experience for me to see what it was like.

Day Ten – Topshop Thursday (or Valentine’s Day to ordinary folk!)

Valentine’s day in LA.
It is a pretty big deal in the US, with all sorts of cheesy (some would say romantic or sweet) offerings knocking around



I did see a lot of guys with random bunches of flowers and chocolates – one dude was on a skateboard (there are a lot here in LA) with a bunch of flowers that looked like they came from a garage…but I’m sure the special person in his life would appreciate them, if he made it home safely as he was pelting down the street, blasting across roads. I almost mowed him down actually, which is how I noticed him and his gift…
And in keeping with the alliteration of Topshop Thursday, I am going to make this post Twitter Thursday and everyone or thing I mention will be followed by their twitter handle. I know, exciting…
Anyway, as I didn’t have a Valentine to spoil, I was at a loose end as to what to do (and still with no showreel) I was again looking to see what else I could get up to. That’s when I spoke to my friend Justin (https://twitter.com/jc7777) and he offered me the chance to go along to the opening of the first Topshop store (https://twitter.com/topshop_us) at The Grove (https://twitter.com/thegrovela).
20130213_180534 20130214_14372320130214_14363220130214_14355820130214_151528 The Grove is a cool shopping area in LA – there are high-end shops, a cinema, a lot of eateries, a cool farmers market of food stalls 20130214_14391020130214_143905 and little streets linking it all together. Topshop had closed the main street though as they were hosting a street party 20130214_151319 complete with a sound system, 20130214_151335 a DJ, live performances 20130214_15175520130214_151749 and once the media scrum got their photos 20130214_151327 of some of the invited guests
This guy...Leg. End. Seriously

This guy…Leg. End. Seriously

X Factor USA's Fifth Harmony

X Factor USA’s Fifth Harmony

X Factor USA's Fifth Harmony

X Factor USA’s Fifth Harmony

then the chance for the public to pile into the store and shop UK-style 20130214_143634 There was also a screen printer to customize any items bought
Print that!

Print that!

20130214_180422and then some other things like candy floss and bits and pieces. It was a good time though, there were black cabs… 20130214_16090520130214_16090720130214_16112220130214_16112420130214_16112720130214_16113420130214_161137 …Towie stars and Demi Lovato (https://twitter.com/ddlovato) performing…


20130214_16013520130214_160132 I was well looked after by Angela (https://twitter.com/adecasp) and her team and then I got to see up close a Hollywood A-lister, no, not Chloe Green (https://twitter.com/chloegreen5)
Lauren Pope and Chloe Green

Lauren Pope and Chloe Green

or Sir Philip himself
Sir Phil

Sir Phil

but Kate Bosworth (https://twitter.com/katebosworth).
Kate Bosworth

Kate Bosworth

No, we didn’t swap numbers and no, I am not going to be in her next film but it was interesting to see that even Hollywood bows to shopping…
Yes, this is his normal coat

Yes, this is his normal coat

I am one

I am one

Later on, I went to a place called Brass Monkey (https://twitter.com/cafebrassmonkey) for an ‘anti-Valentine’s karaoke’ night out organised by a friend. We sang, 20130215_00075320130215_000750
This guy never sung, nor talked to anyone...but he did have that heart with him all night...

This guy never sung, nor talked to anyone…but he did have that heart with him all night…

20130214_230155 we drank (well not those who were driving) and we were looked down on by the Monkey… 20130214_224225 but it was a laugh and fun to be with those who also were away from loved ones too, but mainly it was great to be surrounded by some phenomenal singers (and not just from our group). We did try to attempt to bribe the DJ to bump our songs up from the bottom of the list, but were soundly told that he doesn’t accept bribes or move people up the singing order, even James Franco (https://twitter.com/jamesfrancotv) and other Hollywood stars are told to wait their turn. Though apparently there is one person who gets to jump up the queue and that’s Seth ‘I’m presenting the Oscars’ MacFarlane (https://twitter.com/sethmacfarlane) who is apparently a long-time friend of the owner. We didn’t see him on our visit though.

Day Nine

What to do today? LA is pretty much like a playground where you can have any amount of fun and frolics that you can afford. It is a place where in under two hours, you can go from the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice, up to the mountains of Big Bear and ski or snowboard, or further to the bright lights of Las Vegas. I am firmly ensconced on the merry-go-round that is getting myself an agent or a manager. This is a pretty hard deal to accomplish (within a month) as you are effectively looking to make a name for yourself in a short space of time. This is obviously easier if you are already in a top TV show, such as Downton Abbey or in a film. But for a working actor, this can be difficult as people here want to see what you have done, what you look like on-screen and whether (if you are not American) if you can do a credible American accent. So the main thing that will get you some sort of traction is a showreel. There are many people who are putting together showreels, who will give you advice as to what to put into or leave out of it or how long it should be etc etc.
I have been updating my showreel and as such, I have been having a hard time making a mark. This is in light of the fact that I have nothing to offer the people in return for them representing me. It’s not like you get off the plane and there is a line of people in suits clamouring for your signature and offering you the world. Hollywood is a hard place to crack at the best of times as everyone who wants to be part of the entertainment world gravitates here at one time or another. Add to that the amount of people who think they can act (with or without training) and you find yourself at the back of a very long queue of people…all looking for that big break.
Now I like a challenge and I am good at what I do, but that is not enough on its own to get you in the door here. It is a business and as such you have to think of yourself as a commodity that can be traded – you are good in adverts and have done a few back home? Well out here, you are THE go-to person for large-name adverts (and have a showreel to back this up). You have been on TV in the UK? Great, now you are one of the few actors on the biggest show on one of the biggest channels in the UK (again with the requisite showreel evidence). And if you are on the BBC, all the better as they have their own channel over here in the States (www.bbcamerica.com) and are a source of a lot of good TV and future stars. Also, as the BBC name carries so much weight, being associated with it is a very good thing indeed.

Anyway, I digress, I was talking about looking for something to do in LA when you are getting your showreel together and plotting who to send it out to. I plumped to see a TV show being filmed (I also have tickets for the very funny 2 Broke Girls, which is later on). I have opted for the Late, Late show with Craig Ferguson, well that’s what I got tickets for as you apply for tickets and it’s a lottery to get them (this episode – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNPnLzkGrn8).
It is on the CBS lot in West Hollywood (they also film ‘The Price is Right’ here too) but it’s like having the BBC studios next to Leicester Square in London. In reality, I wanted to have a nose around the TV studios and see what happens. Unfortunately, once you arrive at the studios, you are herded to a waiting area where you sit on cold benches. I know this is an unheard of idea in permanently sunny LA, but still, they were cold. You wait there for around an hour, not really doing anything other than sitting about. You can tak to your fellow guests, but really, it’s mostly about staying warm. Then a show/ audience wrangler (Ryan in our case) comes out and tells you the format for the evening, followed by a comedian (Chunky B) and he warms us up before we get up into the studio. So it has now been just under two hours since we walked into the lot and finally we get to make our way up some stairs (lifts are offered for those who need assistance) and then we enter the hallowed territory of the TV studio – Craig Ferguson’s lair. I picked a show that featured Russell Brand (my new best friend, see here –



and Allison Williams of the hit TV show, GIRLS. Once in the studio, we are again apprised of the format of the show by Ryan, warmed up again by Chunky B and then Craig comes out and we begin. They film the show in real-time, even allowing for the advert breaks. In a fairly speedy half an hour (compared to the rest of the day so far), we are out the door pretty sharply at five past six and into the night air.
As a thing to do, it is worth seeing how these shows are put together, with the recorded formats, the pat banter and the conveyor belt of guests (I think each guest had around five minutes of talk-time with Craig) but in terms of using it as a sneaky way to see what happens at a major network studio, it is not the way to go. By the way, I had a look at various websites like http://www.tvtickets.com and http://www.1iota.com to get tickets in the first place, but there are other sites too.

Day Eight

So LA is the land of health freaks, but I am not succumbing to all of that malarkey. I have so far resisted getting all sorts of crazy health-giving shakes, smoothies and drinks laced with wheatgrass or some other super root/ vegetable/ thing. I have however, become a huge fan of In-N-Out burger. It’s not healthy (it’s a burger) but it is prepared fresh and there are a lot of rave reviews of their food online. Also, they only seem to do a few items, a double burger, a cheeseburger and a hamburger and fries (chips) and a selection of drinks. I have subsequently found out that In-N-Out has a whole ‘secret menu’ (here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-N-Out_Burger_products#Secret_menu_variations) and that means that the menu is in fact, huge, if you add in some options.
Strangely enough though, I was pretty simple in my choice, the ‘Double Double’



is more than enough for me. Having this is the perfect reason to get up and go running in the park.
However not today as I am again off to a Brits in LA breakfast. This is fast becoming a great way to meet new people, swap stories of what to do and go to in LA, from shops for food to places for dinner to music and stuff, as well as ‘networking’ for new information about auditions/ people to meet/ avoid…

It was a good morning and later on, I got to REALLY take part of the LA ‘scene’ as I went for coffee at Soho House (http://www.sohohouse.com/venues/private-hire/soho-house-west-hollywood). It was to meet friends of friends to talk about what it is like for burgeoning actors and Brits in Hollywood. It is a great place to go, calming, amazing views and on my day there, some stars of film and TV. The upshot of the coffee was that it is imperative for you to pick the right management team. They both picked a wrong manager who sponsored them on their visas but as the manager did not do anything for them in terms of getting them an agent or auditions, they were particularly stuck. In the application for an O-1 visa (what I am applying for) there is a sponsor and if this is your manager or agent, you need them to work for you – to send you out to meetings and auditions so that you can get work as soon as possible. However, if they are not helpful, you are stuck with them for as long as your visa lasts. What I found out though, it that an O-1 visa lasts as long as you can show that you can work for. If you can get only 6 months of work, that’s as long as your visa lasts. Which is great if you have an obstructive sponsor as after that 6 months, you are free to find someone new. If you have managed to secure a 3 year visa, then that’s 3 years of difficulty. Which is what my friends went through. And it is no easier to change sponsor as the fee to re-submit your visa application is almost as much as the original cost in the first place!

Soho views

Soho views


Day Seven

Another day, another acting class. Tonight was Howard Fine’s class – which was great in that there was more of a workshop feel than in the other class that I went to, the scenes seemed lest polished and there was more feedback from the actors as to what they were looking to do/feel/evoke during the scenes. It was an eye-opening night in that I realised that the LA acting lifestyle is completely different to what I thought it was. Before I got here, I was under the impression that a lot of US actors (like us Brits) had studied acting at school/University and that they had a solid body of work and were heading to Hollywood to make it big. But what I am finding (and it took being at Howard’s class to realise this) is that a lot of US actors have decided that they want to act, have no training and come to Hollywood to be discovered.
This need for actors to have some sort of training has led to a proliferation of acting classes, most of the people who found the schools have evolved a technique and have written books on the subject. They get you to the class, make you get the books and then, essentially, you go back to school and learn what it is to act. However, (this is where the classes mirror the Drama Schools back in the UK) in that each class will look to mould you into their image or style. For example a student from the a class focusing on Meisner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meisner_technique) will be all about the Meisner technique, using that language and feeling that it is best. A Howard Fine student will preach about how Howard’s course was the best thing for them and taught them so much. A Chubbuck student the same. And like choosing what would be a good Drama school in the UK, you have to make the same decisions here. However, as most Brit actors have already had training, going BACK to school (as it were) seems illogical. The reason you came over to Hollywood was to work, so why would you go back to school and pay heftily for the privilege? Well it comes down to a personal choice and also what you think you may need to get ahead of the rest. I came out to Hollywood either to act or to find out how it would be possible TO act in the future. Now that can be tied into acting classes or it can be separate, the choice is wholly up to the individual. In my case, I want to be better using my US accent, want to work on some scenes with other actors who will test and challenge me and also look to get better at looking at a script and breaking it down into component parts that I can play to the best of my abilities. I also want to choose to make bold decisions in a scene – this means that if I say “I’m feeling sick”, I am not meaning that I feel a little bit unwell, but that I feel that i may actually throw up. That heightened sense will add a greater sense of danger to the scene, will I ACTUALLY throw up or won’t I? What will I do to prevent throwing up etc etc and because I would be so invested in that scene and that moment, I would (hopefully) be more compelling to watch. Now that sort of work comes with practice and that can be honed at acting classes, but you need to be aware of what your limitations are, so that you can pick the right class for you.
Some teachers look at scenes, at how you are in scenes, where the scenes come within the context of the play and stuff like that, so the script is the key. Others look to make you aware of your own sensibilities and how that can relate to the various characters that you may portray – less script based and more focused internally. Others still may focus on improvisation and building a history for the character that may be outside the piece, so that whatever is thrown at you (the actor) in character, is dealt with IN CHARACTER.
Now this is all well and good if you are aware of what are your strengths and weaknesses are, then you can attend a class that focuses on these areas. The tricky part is translating this learning into actual practical action. You may well be great in a class, but how do you score that all-important audition that lands you an agent/ manager/ part?
Well you can speak to the teacher and hope they can put you in touch with someone. After all, Hollywood is about who you know, but if they do not think you are ready, then they may not help you this way.
OR you strike out on your own, calling and emailing Casting Directors/ Directors/ Producers/ Agents and Managers in an attempt to secure a slot to audition or just meet them? And like in the UK, they will want to see your work. Now here’s where the acting class may come in handy – with the class, you have access to lots of people who can perform a scene with you, who can aid you in showcasing your talents for someone to notice you and your work. There are lots of talent showcases where people within the industry are invited along to see new talent (and to meet them). It is not a cheap way to go, you are essentially paying them to come, meet you and see you perform for them with an end point of them hiring or representing you. But it is a good use of the acting class – prepare a scene with someone for class, then use that well-rehearsed and current scene in front of those industry professionals to get yourself work or someone to look for work for you. The other way the classes can help is that the teacher distributes scenes that they feel can develop skills within you, which mean you are a stronger actor and are better equipped to present that work for scrutiny.
So it makes sense that if you are looking to crack Hollywood (or Pilot Season or both), that being prepared is the key. If I had come over to LA this year, with a friend and we had rehearsed a scene that we were really happy with, then we could go straight to performing at these showcases and secure work as we would be showing ourselves in the best possible light. Then with the issue of a visa, I could have already filed the paperwork from the UK and have an answer by the time I returned, or I could be in the final stages of the application and an agent willing to sponsor me would be the finishing touch.
Americans are believers in a ‘one-shot, that you should be your best in the first ‘take’ of a scene, that your first impression is THE lasting impression. And so turning up and being prepared – visa paperwork sorted (mostly), pieces for showcases rehearsed and ready, money to pay for said showcases saved and available means that you are able to take advantage of all opportunities that come your way as well as showing those people in power that you are professional and ready to work.

Tourist times

Another total tourist day, after all work and no play and all that. Plus I have things that I have to do as well as spending time being around Americans and their accents and seeing a few of the sights whilst I am here makes sense. I went to the Hollywood sign (you can drive most of the way up and take photos pretty near it)

It's there...in the distance!!

It’s there…in the distance!!

So close I could touch it...

So close I could touch it…

Who ARE those people behind me?

Who ARE those people behind me?

and then off to the Observatory (http://www.griffithobs.org/) for all sorts of amazing views over Los Angeles.


The Observatory

The Observatory

20130210_162110 20130210_162329
It was strange to stand there and think, in that city down there are people who will help shape my career here. As far as the accent goes, any and all practise time is a good thing, so since LA is a car-orientated town, I was talking/yelling/practising my US accents. I say accents as there are many variations that you can do, much like the accents in Britain, you can change the tone, pitch, sharpness of your voice and move from Deep South to a Californian drawl to a more generic one. And as they say, practise makes perfect. And on that subject, it seems that (rather obviously) parts are written with a US accent in mind, so if you are not talking ‘American’ in auditions and in scenes, then you are not proving how versatile an actor you are and that is a disadvantage in what is essentially a chance to show JUST how good you are! People who I speak to, once they realise I am British, always say that they did not know (insert Brit actor’s name) was British and that they thought they were American as their accent was so good. And it is seen as a mark of how skilled Brit actors are, that we as a whole, can work in our own accents or in theirs.

Day Five

So I have taken a day off from being one of many actors in Hollywood, to meet up with the cousin of a good friend for a bit of lunch and then an Art show that a friend of theirs has done the music for. The cousin and her husband are both Brits in LA, working here in “proper” (non acting-related) jobs and they moved for the lifestyle. Basically they drive a fab convertible (it was a hot day so that was a definite plus)

I want that car...

I want that car…

and live in Venice.
20130215_170319 and
The urban surfers...

The urban surfers…

They cycle everywhere and there are lots to do and see and friends that live around the corner, great bars and restaurants within walking distance and the freakin’ OCEAN! Right there. It sounds idyllic and when the UK is faced with storms and snow and rubbish like that, you can see the benefits of moving over. They essentially live the American dream, that anything is possible and that mentality translates across into the acting world, where actors come from all over and hope/ think they can ‘make it here’ and get work. Strangely, apart from this happily married couple, all I have met are actors here, mainly Brit actors but lots of other actors including Americans who are all looking for work. Even stranger, none of the people I have met are BLACK Brit actors. Where are they? I’m not sure whether this is because black and ethnic actors back in the UK are not aware of the possibilities/ opportunities our here in the States? And if they are aware, do they think that they will not be welcome or seen by those able to employ them? But since America is the land of opportunity (and there are far more opportunities), that theory does not really stand up.
Now what people in the UK fail to grasp is that, as an actor in Hollywood, you are starting from scratch in a city where no-one has any clue who you are. That is why so many foreign actors come over with high-profile or extensive credits, so that they are not starting from the bottom, but above that, vying for the good roles.
Surely, everyone who can, should come out here? I’m finding that being a British actor, of whatever colour, is still a novelty. Especially as most of us are trained actors, whereas training in the States is a rarity, so you automatically bring a level of professionalism and skill to bear in whatever you happen to do. Added to that, if you can do an American accent, you are already streets ahead. But maybe there aren’t a lot of Brit actors out here in Hollywood because you need some money behind you and that seems like a big risk to take with no guarantee of work. I mean flights, somewhere to stay, car to drive, food to eat, entertainment, money for classes/ books/ presents/ whatever adds up. So that means that those actors who are working back home, or are shrewd with money are over here for pilot season and looking to expand their audience. Which means that they could get more work when they return, so it seems that the mantra of ‘speculate to accumulate’ is true. And by being successful at home, that means that most actors in LA are already are ahead of most of the American actors as yo already have credits to your name (meaning you are more likely to be auditioned) and that any subsequent work can add to your working visa application. But maybe the outlay (which I see as part of a long-term plan to make a name for myself out here), is prohibitive for many, which is a shame as it doesn’t have to be if you are smart about it.

Still Day Three…

I am still wondering about whether to do a ‘Pilot Season Acting Class’ or not – it is $350 and you meet at least 20 agents and casting directors who are all looking for people for pilots for TV shows. It could mean being picked up, taken on and going out to auditions. Would they need the visa in place before going for this session? If not, then what can they do without a visa? I haven’t managed to collate enough material yet for mine, including updating my showreel (a visual highlights record, covering tv shows, adverts and films) and since people here want to see what you can do on screen, that is a big blow.
On the plus side, I have a couple of options to see some acting classes and see what they do – one is the Ivana Chubbuck Studio and apparently she still teaches a few Hollywood people (they’re on her website here – http://www.ivanachubbuck.com/) and the other is Howard Fine. Both have different approaches to working so let’s see which one is more ‘me’. They are both expensive to do tho, Ivana’s works out around $350 a month and Howard’s is around $400 for 3 months. Ivana’s you can dip in out if you have work, Howard’s is more of a course, twice a week before moving to a once a week setup. Ivana’s looks to make you do at least 8 hours of rehearsal a week – so more than an hour a day, with a partner, whereas Howard’s is mainly solo study with only one week requiring a partner. Both are schools with a good reputation, but is that enough to convince me to go there? Will I learn anything from they way they teach this one class that will lead me to say “You, you are going to teach me things, where do I sign?” Also, can I afford to do any of these classes (should I want to) before I return to the UK? I only have a finite budget and food and travel won’t pay themselves…especially if I want to keep some money set aside for when I am back in the UK or decide to start the visa application sooner rather than later. Also, these classes may be for the benefit of those people who have not had a formal amount of training. And like most Brit actors, I have been through the education system studying Drama, Exeter University (http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/drama/) and National Youth Theatre (http://www.nyt.org.uk/)

Ivana Chubbuck

Ivana Chubbuck

Howard Fine

Howard Fine

Day Three – Later

It has become like going to work – get up,some fitness, then get to work towards that big break. And today it was looking at acting classes. It seems that if you do not have any West Coast representation, then you have to go to a reputable acting school and use their classes to meet casting directors, directors, agents and managers in order to get someone to represent you and put you up for auditions. I guess it comes from the Hollywood market not knowing who you are and what you can do, as well as a lot of actors being people with little or no experience. The classes help to standardise the actors and give you a chance to perform. Only two minutes mind, short and sharp is the key to this town it seems! Well I have sent out a few mails to some acting classes that have been recommended and am waiting for a reply or two. Some are actual courses of study, lasting anything up to a year or two and they don’t come cheap – some classes range from $30 (£20) up to $350 for one session! I am therefore in a quandary – I am looking to get material together for an application for an O-1 Visa, which requires a large outlay of money to pay for it (around $5000). An O-1 visa proves that the applicant is an “individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.” That’s quite a criteria and requires a lot of background information that you have to provide. It is usually put together by a lawyer, usually one that specialises in Immigration, but it can be done by an individual if you want to save some money. It would mean I could work and look for work as an actor, however it limits me being able to take any other jobs to make ends meet.
And what happens if you attend a class that gets you to meet agents and managers and they agree to take you on, will they then want you to have a work visa already? If so, then what is the point of paying all that money to meet them if they are just going to say, ‘come back when you can work legally’. I can’t afford to do both the classes and apply for the visa so we shall see which I plump for!

Day Three – early

I am awake. It is 0545…again – this is killing me so I have decided to utilise the time fruitfully. Yesterday I was unpacking by 6am and today, I am starting my fitness regime, ready for my close up (the camera adds ten pounds apparently). This fitness regime is using ‘Zombie Run 5k’ – an app that guarantees to get you running 5km in an easy-to-follow regime that uses the premise that you are a runner in a zombie infested town. It is great – they talk you through exercises mixed in with your music playlist, as well as hearing the moans of the undead in your ears making you run faster!
Lets hope it starts me off on the right foot for the day and then I have tons of time to pursue this dream.

Day Two.

I’m not sure what you have heard about LA, but I can tell you it is huge. Huge. It took good hour to travel about 10 miles (to pick up my hire car, a MUST) and that was only considered ‘the other side of the mountain’. Yes, there are mountains here – one features the Hollywood sign on it and the rest make up various hikes that you can wander up and down. Angelenos (LA residents) are a pretty healthy bunch, looking to hike (not in the Brit sense with a compass and a map and a kagoul) but in sportswear on a Saturday morning, preferably with a dog. I have not tasted the delights of Runyon Canyon but have been told by various people that I should make it a priority.
So the quest to be discovered continued this morning with a ‘Brits in LA’ breakfast. Due to the giant nature of this town (and it being all centred around the car), it took a fair while to arrive. Brits in LA is a forum covering various topics – housing, selling and buying of items, sports and everything in between, run via a Facebook page and a blog by a guy called Craig Bobby Hall (http://www.facebook.com/groups/Britslovela/). Essentially, the breakfasts are a way to meet other Brits, over here in LA at a really swish restaurant on in West Hollywood. The food was great, the company was a little hectic though. Imagine a large group in the pub on a Friday night, lots of squeals of excitement when people recognised each other and also lots of talking and yelling as you ‘work the room’ (meeting people and saying hello). It is all in the name of ‘networking’ – the buzzword for Hollywood and in full effect at this breakfast.
Firstly, there are no real introductions or cringe-worthy name badges, you enter, follow the British voices, sit down and start up a conversation. Secondly, you should remember that you are there to eat, so order some food and whilst it is on its way, talk to more people. You could probably get around the whole room by the time the food arrives if you are particularly skilled at it. I wasn’t, after having had about 6 hours sleep and waking up at 0545 LA time due to jet lag, I was not in the mood. But I did leave with a full tummy and a handful of business cards, headshot cards and names of acting classes to audit (attend and see what they do). I guess I am not used to networking on such a large scale, to quote Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire, ‘I used to be good at this, you could send me into a room, I’d do it alone’, I am used to talking to people (I was always told off at school for talking too much) but this is a different league of talking. Everyone seems to know what they are suited for, where they see themselves heading and what they want to achieve from LA. It is a very intense way to be – literally living, eating and breathing with a ‘what can you do for me’ mentality. Oh and on a side note, when awaiting for your car form the valet parking, adjust your tip according to the length of time it takes them to get your car…

A New Dawn…

It’s with a certain amount of trepidation that I write this first post as I’m on a plane, about to jet to the west coast of America under the guise of a ‘business trip’ (though on the forms and suchlike, this trip is purely pleasure!).
I’m going to California, specifically LA for what they term ‘Pilot Season’. This is generally a period when the television networks look to cast and make new tv show first episodes (a pilot) that may well get commissioned for a series. Even though the pilot has to be part of a 5 or 6 year vision that the writer has explained to various executives before, there is no guarantee that once a project is ‘taken to pilot’ (they agree to make it) that the episode will make it to air, or even make it past the first few episodes. However, this season is a frenzy of meetings, auditions and all sorts as casting directors, agents and big tv networks look to find the next big star, a talent as yet unknown to the wider tv public (a new Clooney for ER or a Damien Lewis for Homeland). And this is where I come in, as a black British actor with a few credits to my name, I could be perfect for that new tv show, be it a comedy like New Girl or a drama like The Walking Dead or even something as groundbreaking as 24. It could net me awards and fame, a film career and international recognition. I could return to the UK with plaudits and offers from all sorts of areas. In short, I could become ‘a star’ or at least someone whom my mum could mention to people and they would know who I am. It is the place for dreams to be made and for hard work to be rewarded. It could also be a place that breaks me, I could skulk back to London with my tail between my legs, happy with guest slots on Holby City and various adverts. But who knows? Will I return from this trip in first class, a glass of champagne in my hand with Will Smith and Brangelina on speed dial in my phone. Or will I fly back, broke, in rags with a thousand yard stare muttering ‘LA? Hell-A more like’ over and over again before leaving acting for good and becoming an estate agent or librarian… only time will tell and I shall keep you informed of my efforts every step of the way.
Right the cabin crew have informed us that it’s time to switch phones off for take off. Let’s get these wheels up, LA here I come!

On the plane!!

On the plane!!