Returning to a Film Role After Two Years

Last week I had the joy of wrapping on a film that I first worked on two years ago, Fear Itself! Filming of the last few scenes was put on hold due to a forest fire sweeping through the filming location the night before the shoot. Scheduling conflicts and finances led to a long delay in resuming production.

Getting back into a role that I performed two years ago turned out to be pretty easy. When I get a new role, I print out the whole script and dive in with pen and highlighters. I add yellow highlighting for all my lines and green highlighting for all my actions and other character actions that impact my character.

After many read-throughs, I’ll start writing notes all over the script. First I’ll write a sort of biography of the character’s life that leads up to the start of the script. I’ll highlight events in his life that led to or contributed to his current beliefs, values, and opinions. All of this history has to be grounded in the existing character circumstances in the script.

Once I have a character history established, I’ll write out the characters thoughts for each line. For example, on a line where I say “You can take credit for this” my character is thinking something like “I’m f*cking sick of this bullshit”, or “You’re a self-serving *sshole”, or simply “I’m done” depending on my character’s motivation and intensity. I’m not just thinking “You can take credit for this” as a real person’s inner dialogue is never identical to what they are saying.

By the time I’m on set all of this history, the lines, the thoughts, and opinions are in me and I’m able to be a character that is wildly different from myself. This is where the miracle of acting comes in for me as I get to really inhabit another world for a while. I can lead a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, try to kidnap an ass-kicking bride, or get murdered coming out of my trailer in back-woods West Virginia. In the case of Fear Itself, I’m a grieving father hunting down a serial killing clown!

So, returning to Mr Randall in Fear Itself was as simple as digging out my old script and going over my notes. There were some new scenes added but the changes were straight forward. I was able to find that character inside and bring him out once again. There was some movie magic involved in smoothing out some physical differences from the original shoot for me and some of the other actors but I think that time difference in filming the story will be seamless and the viewer will never notice. Here’s a trailer from the previous footage and I’m looking forward to seeing the new footage incorporated.

[update: Fear Itself was renamed Clowntergeist for release]

The reason you are afraid of clowns

New IMDbPro search extension for Chrome

I’ve gotten several requests to add an option to my IMDb search extension to make it use IMDbPro. Rather than making the extension larger I published a separate extension specifically for searching IMDbPro. Once you’ve added the extension to chrome, just highlight a name, a title, or anything then right-click and select the IMDbPro search in the menu. A new page will open with the IMDbPro search results for your text. Easy. You will need to have an active IMDbPro account for this to work. Here’s a screenshot of it in use:

Right-click search on imdbpro
Screenshot of using Right-click search IMDb pro chrome extension.

A Tool to Improve Your Google Search Results

Have you ever googled your own name to see what comes up in the search results? As an actor, you should do it often as casting directors are googling your name when you or your agent submits you for a project or if they see your name in a film’s credits. It’s important that the top few links point to imdb, an online profile, or a link to your work. Do this on a desktop browser so that you can turn off the private results by clicking the globe icon on the right hand side. This will give you a view of what others would see. For an example, here’s a search for “Burt Culver”.

The owner of a do-it-yourself search engine optimization website called pitched his company on Shark Tank Friday night. I checked the website out and the free service is pretty useful and helps you think about and understand how you can improve your online presence. I have a history in tech and search engine optimization (SEO) and it found things that I hadn’t thought about.

The first thing it does is google your name and present the search results. Then you pick out the search results that you want to have further up in the results. Then the website steps you through various ways to improve a page to increase it’s ranking in the search results. They have a great point system that shows you which steps are most important. There is no need to pay for the extra service unless you want. You can analyse and track 3 urls for free and I just analyzed and deleted a bunch of different urls in my third slot.  You don’t have to analyse your name, you could use a business name or even the name of a film project if you wanted to boost the results for searches matching your film or web series.

One thing the website doesn’t cover is the section of search results with images. If the images that show up for your search results aren’t you or don’t reflect your acting then improve the SEO of the pages hosting the images that you do want to have show up. I did find a post in their blog that gives more detailed instructions.

This is one of my posts where I share something I’ve learned with other actors. I’m not super excited about SEO but how you look in google search results can have a significant effect on your career so make it something you check on regularly.

Handy IMDb Chrome extension for doing searches

Tales of the Frontier - Debt Collector

In breakdowns you’ll see names of Casting Directors, Directors, and Producers. In deciding if I want to submit for the project or not I’ll often look up those people in IMDb to see if they have done other projects or if we’ve worked on any projects together.

To speed up this process, I made a simple Chrome extension that takes any text you highlight and with a right-click will do a IMDb search for that text in a new window. That’s all it does – simple.

Click here to see it in the Chrome store (it’s free): Right-Click Search IMDb

right-click search on imdb
Screenshot of tool at work