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JOURNAL OF A 2-WEEK EXPLORATORY VISIT TO HOLLYWOOD

THE FINALE! THE ENTIRE JOURNAL IS AVAILABLE, BELOW. When we found out that an actress we know from the mid-west was planning a trip to Hollywood in preparation for a move here, we asked if she’d be open to keeping a journal and sharing it with our readers. She was and she did – and …

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Patricia

THE FINALE! THE ENTIRE JOURNAL IS AVAILABLE, BELOW.

When we found out that an actress we know from the mid-west was planning a trip to Hollywood in preparation for a move here, we asked if she’d be open to keeping a journal and sharing it with our readers. She was and she did – and it’s entertaining AND informative. Here is the first installment; more will follow every few days, so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 15, 2009-

It is 7:10am and I’m sitting at Gate C9 at Cleveland/Hopkins Airport, anxiously awaiting my turn to board the plane, which they will start doing in about an hour. They tell you to check in two hours before your flight and I’m glad I came early…the line at the security point check-in was long and even though he confiscated my (2) water bottles, the security guard did so in a very charming way, and was extremely “hot”, so we flirted with each other and that more than made up for the whole getting up at 4:30am to be here at 6:30am thing. I’m wide awake now! LOL! I did get my ticket cheap, since I purchased it early thru AAA more than 2 months ago, so I can’t complain too much. I’m all about shopping around and getting the best deal, whenever possible. My roundtrip ticket from Cleveland to LA was approx. $350 plus the $15 for each bag you check in, each way. Yes, most airlines now charge $15 per bag for anything you check in. So, squish all your stuff into (1) bag and don’t make it too heavy or they will charge you extra.

I’m now on the “cattle car”….I mean, plane. I swear they’ve crammed in a couple extra rows of seats to pack as many people in this plane as possible. What’s the maximum capacity, again? So, we wait patiently, with our knees up to our chins, for our turn to go. But, I’m getting way ahead of myself here. You’re probably wondering who I am and why I’m even on a plane heading for LA, right? So, let me start at the beginning….

My name is Patricia Valestin and I am a working Film/TV actor from Ohio. I’ve been pursuing my dream professionally for nearly four years now, (though I haven’t left my day job, yet.) I still like AND need that steady paycheck, along with my benefits, if ya know what I mean? My first paid acting gig was as an extra on the set of “Spider-man 3”. Since then, I’ve been training with my acting coach, Maureen Dempsey (on-camera scene study), aggressively auditioning/working and building up my resume. I knew I wanted eventually to make the move to LA, but after hearing all the horror stories about people (other actors) moving down there on a whim with no money, no job, no training (yes, they do look at your training), no demo reel, no business cards, no decent CURRENT professional headshots to speak of and no resume (that has been put in the correct format). In other words, they basically had nothing to offer but their “good” looks and the “stars in their eyes”. Thus getting no agent, no auditions, no jobs, no money and having to return home with their tails between their legs, so to speak. Wow! I didn’t want to be one of those people. I wanted to do this the right way.

About a year and a half ago I came across a web-site called Hollywoodpassport.com. It is a web-site devoted to actors looking to make the move to LA. It’s an unbelievable site, loaded with all the info. you can possibly need to help your transition be an “easy” one. Now, don’t get me wrong. It does not “sugar coat” anything. It tells you how it really is and what to expect. It is definitely not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. It’s geared towards the serious actor. After all, acting is an industry, like any other, that should be taken seriously. It was just what I was looking for. Yes! So, it was then that I started…. getting organized, that is. I got a new passport, (yes, people, you need a passport). You have to be ready, at a moment’s notice, to leave the United States if you are required to film in another country. You don’t want to be left behind or even worse…replaced! I also up-dated my headshot to a colored one with natural light. B&W is definitely OUT! And it had better LOOK LIKE YOU! NO glam shots here! I had a demo reel created and my own web-site up and running with the help of a good friend and a damn fine filmmaker, Steve Pallotta. Thanks, Steve!

Hollywoodpassport.com suggests taking a couple of weeks to go and explore LA and any and all opportunities to get acclimated to the area. So, I started saving my money for the trip out West. My boss at work would only give me two weeks off, so I knew my time out in LA would have to be planned very carefully, down to the last detail, so that I would get the most out of my time spent there. Hollywoodpassport.com suggests doing as much at home as possible before leaving, (demo reel, headshots) mainly because it’s less expensive. They also suggest making appointments/meetings, and registering for classes before leaving the comforts of home. So, I ordered the latest copy of Samuel French’s “The Agencies” to get current addresses and phone numbers of all the LA/Hollywood agencies. I then started sending out promo packages (headshot/resume, with demo reel and a personalized cover letter) to those agencies that were accepting new talent in my age range. Some of the agencies wanted you to e-mail the before mentioned packages, so that saved me a few dollars. “The Agencies” book lets you know what info they want, how they want it sent and to whom it should be directed. Get all this work done at least six weeks out from your trip to give people plenty of time to get back with you. After all, you can’t go to LA expecting to knock on doors and just walk in. The reception would not be a friendly one, most likely. In my case, there were about 60 agencies listed that were looking for new submissions in my age range. Some of those 60 agencies only had phone numbers and no address. So, I started cold calling the ones that had no other information and to my surprise, I was treated graciously and given either an e-mail address or a mailing address for me to use to send my information. Just remember to BE POLITE and don’t keep them on the phone too long. They are extremely busy and really don’t have time to chat on the phone, so don’t take it personally. You need to get a thick skin anyway before going out there, people, so start now.

I ended up sending out 48 promo packages and e-mailing a dozen or so to the ones wanting e-mail submissions only. To my surprise, I had eight agencies contact me, five of whom were definitely interested and wanted me to contact them when I arrived in LA to set up a meeting. So, with the hardest and most time consuming part done, I then began calling the acting teachers, classes and workshops suggested by Hollywoodpassport.com. One agency, who had contacted me after viewing my resume told me that I really needed some commercial training. She gave me the name of one such class: Mike Pointer’s “Hey, I Saw Your Commercial”! I researched it on the internet and it was actually rated as the #1 commercial training class in LA right now. So, I called and signed up. Yeah! My first class would begin on the day I arrive in LA. After all my phone calls were done and the dust had settled, I had enrolled in a commercial workshop, an on-camera workshop and set up an audition for a showcase through One On One Productions. All of this was done BEFORE leaving Ohio.

With my money set aside and everything coming together, I had nothing left to do but wait for my upcoming trip. I still kept working on acting projects, locally, right up to the week before I was to leave, to keep my skills sharp and to add more credits to my resume. If anyone knows me, they know that I like to stay busy (acting) and “stay in the loop” so to speak, even though I have a full-time job, as well.

That brings us back to my flight, which went smoothly without a hitch. I arrived just in time to pick up my rental car, which I had reserved when I bought my plane ticket. YOU DEFINITELY NEED A CAR IN LA! Do NOT rely on the bus system, taxi cabs or friends. They are all unreliable. You need to be independent and get where you need to go and be there ON TIME! Hint: Being on time really means, BE EARLY!

I had a workshop scheduled at 1:00pm with Mike Pointer’s “Hey, I Saw Your Commercial”. No problem. I picked up my rental car at 11:30am and headed straight to the class from the airport and with the help of my GPS, (a “must have” to get around) I made it to class on time. Coach Mike is an awesome commercial acting coach and my first class with him was unbelievable! I had so much fun and learned a lot at the same time. Can’t wait to go back for my next class with him, which is on Thursday evening. The class ended at approx. 4:30pm. So, I had just enough time to get going and check into the place I would be staying called, The Oakwood. It’s referred to as temporary housing (apartments) and is centrally located (very important) in LA. It was mentioned on Hollywoodpassport.com and I liked the idea of it only being 5-10 minutes from basically everything. It will help me save on gas, during my stay. Looks like gas prices are averaging $3.05-$3.15 out here. Yikes! Anyway, I rented a furnished studio apartment which is plenty of room for me and I really like having a kitchen, so I can prepare my own meals and save more money. It is comfortable, clean and secured 24/7 (gated community). This is a nice feature, especially for a woman traveling on her own.

Sunday, August 16, 2009-

This is my “free day”. I had nothing scheduled, so I used today to do my grocery shopping and explored the area to familiarize myself with my surroundings. I also picked up a copy of the LA times to check out the ads on permanent housing available in the area.

Monday, August 17, 2009-

I got up bright and early. This is the morning I was to make all my phone calls to the agents/casting directors that were interested in seeing me after reviewing my promo packages I had sent out BEFORE leaving Ohio. I’m sorry, but I can’t stress how important it is to do your “leg work” BEFORE leaving home. I left messages with receptionists and left voice-mails on others. Remember to talk slow, clear and concise. About an hour or so later, I began to get returned calls and also some e-mails. The first casting director, Dean Fronk, called and was still very interested in meeting with me on Tuesday. Yeah! It wasn’t even lunch-time and I had set up my first meeting! The next call I received was from TCN (The Casting Network). My contact was Marsha and she told me to register on TCN’s web-site ASAP and to come to the showcase she was having tonight at 7:30pm with guest Casting Director, Matt Lessall. Hint: A legitimate showcase will have you audition before being invited. Anyway, Marsha said that the showcase would be considered my audition for TCN and that I could participate in the actual showcase in front of a working LA casting director. The fee was $30. I know you are probably saying right about now, “You should never pay for an audition!” People, don’t whine about the fee. I’ve known actors who have paid upwards of $1000 to work and/or audition in front of so-called casting directors and/or coaches and there are plenty of them out there that will gladly take your hard-earned money and give you nothing in return.

When I arrived at the showcase EARLY (around 7:15pm), the place was packed. Remember, the traffic is crazy in LA, so always give yourself plenty of time. It is frowned upon to walk in late. DON’T DO IT!! This is where having a GPS comes in handy. NOTE: If you are running late, and this does happen to everyone from time to time, all the workshops/showcases have what’s called a “Late Line”. This is a separate phone number to call and leave a message to let them know you will be late and your approx. arrival time.)

Matt Lessall, the guest CD, actually ran the showcase tonight and he worked with each one of us on sides that he had supplied for us. We had 10 minutes to go over the sides he’d chosen for each of us. After a brief Q&A session before beginning, we then started going up one by one to deliver our lines. He worked patiently with each of us, giving us direction to see if we could change up the scene with his adjustments. My thought on this: He was seeing how well we could follow directions. Even though it was my first showcase ever and I was a little nervous, I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot. It was well worth the $30 I spent. At the end of the evening, about 4 hours later, I was told by Marsha that I did very well but that I needed to work on a couple of things, which I noted without offense. She also told me that I had passed my audition and welcomed me to TCN. I was thrilled! If you’re contemplating attending showcases, please remember, as an actor, you need to put yourself out there in front of actual working casting directors that really don’t know you or your work. These showcases give you the opportunity to be seen by casting directors that normally would not give you the time of day. So, check your ego at the door and have some fun!

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009-

Woke up early (once again) so, that I wasn’t rushed.I had my meeting with Casting Director, Dean Fronk, at 11:30am and I did not want to be late.I arrived there about a half an hour early, so; I decided to go ahead and at least check-in for my appointment.Again, being early is not frowned upon…it is expected.I entered the building and headed for the elevators when a gentleman at the desk asked, “May I help you”?I responded, “I have a meeting with Dean Fronk”.He replied, “Oh, that would be the Penthouse”. He opened the elevator and pressed the PH button.I thanked him and he told me to have a nice day.Even though I was calm, cool and collected on the outside, as soon as the elevator doors shut, I was screaming to myself on the inside, “The Penthouse?Oh my God”!!

My meeting with Mr. Fronk went very well.He’s from Ohio!Very cool!We talked for a while and I gave him my current photos, resume and demo reel, as he had requested the day before.He thanked me for coming in and told me that he would definitely watch my reel and get back with me at the beginning of next week to set up another meeting.So far so good….and it’s only Tuesday!Wow!

In the evening, I had another class….an on-camera workshop that I was invited to by an industry professional that I had been networking with.Network, network, network BEFORE leaving home.Get in touch with other actors and industry professionals that have either been to LA or happen to live in LA.This is so very important.Again, I had signed up for this class BEFORE leaving Ohio.Even though there was no fee for this class, I was forewarned that this would be a 3-4 hour intensive session and I was somewhat apprehensive but looking forward to it, as well.When I got there, I signed in with the registrar, Johni Hurst, giving her a blank VHS tape with my name on it, as requested and was given my sides, which were pre-selected for me, in return.We were given about 10-15 minutes to go over them.The acting teacher, Tim Lampros, was refreshingly honest and did not hold back one bit.When it was time to go up to perform our sides, he would immediately let us know what mistakes we were making, if any, and what to do to correct them.He taped each one of us so that we could see our performance and rate ourselves.What better way to learn about your individual acting skills.I loved it!He then gave us a lot of great information on the business aspect of acting because that’s what it is….a business.He also stated that Hollywood is getting tired of training actors on the set.As an actor, you need to know your job, i.e. knowing where you’re supposed to direct your lines to.It’s called your “eye-line”.If you don’t know it….ASK!Also, know your lines.The director doesn’t want to have 50 takes of you performing your one line.No one wants to pay their production crew OT (over-time), especially in this economy.Besides being costly, they don’t have time.He may have offended a few actors in the room by being so brutally honest, but no one stormed out or anything like that, even though he did mention that some actors had done so before.It was an awesome class and I will most likely sign up for the 16 week workshop.I highly recommend this class, Actors Certified Training or (A.C.T.) to everyone.But, remember, once again, to check your ego and your “attitude” at the front door.He will notice and will point it out to you and the rest of the class.Tim Lampros takes his job seriously and so should you.If you’re not serious, do NOT WASTE HIS TIME!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009-

I woke up early again.This isn’t a vacation.Sleeping in would be disastrous, to say the least.I had a few more phone calls to make to agents who had contacted me before I had left Ohio.They had instructed me to contact them when I had arrived in LA to set up a meeting with them.Immediately after my phone calls, I had an appointment for an audition for another cold reading workshop, One On One Productions.Again, I had made this appointment BEFORE leaving Ohio.There was no fee for this audition, but once again the audition process is necessary to weed out the actors who don’t have the confidence and the ability to execute a cold read.Hint:Brush up on your cold reading skills before you sign-up for a cold reading workshop.

I signed in and was given my sides and assigned another actor to read with me.We had about 10 minutes to go over our sides and then we were called in.I was lucky enough to have an actor who was experienced and comfortable with cold reads.We not only made the right choices with the characters, but we were both pretty much off page so that we could concentrate on the acting and not the words so much.Next, we were told to wait outside while they made their decision.A few minutes later, they called us back in the room individually to give us their feedback on our performances and if we were eligible to become members.We both ended up making the cut and we were officially welcomed to the workshop!Very cool!So, now I am a member of (2) workshops in under a week!These workshops that I auditioned for are extremely important because they give you the opportunity to attend showcases that are run by actual working LA casting directors.

Later in the evening, I received a phone call from TCN (The Casting Network), for whom I auditioned on Monday night, inviting me to attend another workshop/showcase tomorrow night.They said the guest CD is looking to cast character actors for some feature films (horror) coming up and they thought I’d be perfect.So, of course, I said “yes”.Horror is one of my favorite genres and I’m really looking forward to meeting this particular CD for this showcase.

Audition for and attend as many workshops and showcases as you can.It’s so important to get yourself out there in front of actual LA casting directors.Don’t make the mistake, like so many others have done, and shrug workshops off.Agents, as well as casting directors do attend workshops often.You never know who may be watching you.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009-

Got up early, once again.I’m talking 8:00am.I keep mentioning this because I am on a working vacation and I’m not here to lay by the pool or go to the beach.I haven’t done either one.Not only because I don’t have time, but I think it would not go over very well at my auditions and/or meetings if I showed up with a deep dark tan or burnt to a crisp.In other words, I WOULDN’T LOOK LIKE MY HEADSHOT!HELLO!Keep that white, pasty mid-western skin, (if that’s where you’re from).It’s a refreshing change from all the hundreds of actors they see everyday with a savage tan.Keep your hair the same style as it was done for your headshot and your make-up to a minimum.They (the agents and casting directors) will recognize you almost immediately because you wouldhave already sent your promo packages to them BEFORE leaving home, (hint, hint).Most of them have excellent memories.So, stay the “real you” and don’t get all dolled up.

Wardrobe:Know what colors look best on you and bring them.Stay away from red or prints of any kind.They rarely look good on camera.Don’t wear any flashy jewelry that is going to distract them from concentrating on your acting.I, myself, wear only a watch, a simple (very small) pair of hoops or silver or gold studs, or no accessories at all.DON’T wear bracelet, bangles, necklaces, toe rings, thumb rings, etc. or anything that makes any noise when you move.Again, it’s TOO DISTRACTING!When you go to an audition or meeting, it’s usually casual, so don’t overdress for the occasion, unless otherwise specified or reading for a particular role.Business casual or a t-shirt and clean jeans is fine.DON’T wear flashy fingernail/toenail polish (clear polish is O.K.).Again, it’s VERY DISTRACTING!When going to meet with a casting director or an agent at their office, wear a pair of dress slacks and a dress shirt.If you want them to take you seriously….dress seriously.

Also, always have at least (2) headshots with resumes attached (no paper clips) and ready to go.Coming in unprepared or asking for a stapler makes you look like an amateur.Always be nice, polite and receptive.Say hello to at least three other people before going in to your audition/meeting/workshop, etc.DON’T be a diva!Remember, people are ALWAYS watching you….you just don’t know it.Check your ego and your personal problems at the front door.They don’t care that your cat just died or you just broke up with your boyfriend.If you consider yourself to be an actor….ACT!!Paste that smile on your face and go in there and BLOW THEM AWAY!!!But, most of all, be yourself, act normal and have fun!Believe me, I’ve seen quite a bit while I’ve been here and I’ve only been here for five days.O.K., I’ll get off my soapbox now.But, I do hope the information has helped you in some small way.

I attended another TCN (The Casting Network) showcase tonight.The CD was Marisa Rodrigues.She helps to cast “The Young And The Restless” (Day-time Soap) and is also involved with some feature films in the horror genre.We handed our headshots in before class began, as usual; that’s why it’s important to be early.It gives the CD a chance to pair you with a partner or have you read a specific scene on your own.There was a brief Q&A session and then the CD assigned our sides and we had 10-15 minutes to go over them and to get off page as much as possible.We went up one by one and the CD would critique our performances and let us know if there were any adjustments we needed to make, and then after a few minutes, we’d perform the scene again.She gave me a scene from Y&R and I went up and messed up on one of my lines but kept going without a pause and was off page for the rest of the scene.Hint:If you make a mistake, don’t stop and apologize and ask to start over.Just keep going as if nothing happened or as Coach Mike from “Hey, I saw Your Commercial” would say, “make it a beautiful mistake”.Anyway, Ms. Rodriques told me that my read was very good, but that I needed to make a few adjustments.So, I went out for a few minutes, while someone else read, and then came back in and performed the scene again, totally off page with her suggestions.She then told me “excellent job” and I was done.After everyone had finished, she asked us fordemo reels or a web-site to view our demo.I approached her, gave her my link to my web-site, said “thank you” and that it was a pleasure meeting her.Don’t just bolt for the exit afterwards.It looks like you don’t really care.If you have to leave early, make sure you get with a staff member or the CD beforehand.It’s considered extremely rude to just get up and walk out.

Friday, August 21, 2009-

This was a free day for me, so I did my grocery shopping, laundry, filled my gas tank and “chilled,” basically.I checked my e-mail first thing, as usual, and good thing I did. The showcase I signed up for on Sunday with Casting Director, Nan Dutton (Miami C.S.I) wanted hard copies of our headshots and resumes beforehand.She wanted us to drop them by her office in Encino ASAP.So, with the help of my GPS, I made sure and did as she instructed.Then, I had the rest of the day to myself.I heard back from all the agents that had contacted me, except for two…even after doing a couple of follow-up calls.But, that’s O.K.I know it’s nothing personal.So, it’s all good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009-

Got up early, had to be at my commercial class by 9:00am.I made sure to pack a lunch…I was warned it would be a long day, since I’m actually taking two of the commercial classes today.I have a Level II class in the morning and a Level I class in the afternoon.Mike Pointer is awesome…not only a great coach, but a great person.He’s doing all he can to make sure I get his full 4-week workshop completed during my short stay here.He’s an actor, as well, so he understands my drive and ambition.Anyways, the Level II class was fun.There was more improv and I love improv.He also had a great guest speaker at the end of class.His name was Adam Collis, a successful LA Director.Coach Mike said that it was a good idea to get to know him because he knows a lot of people in the industry and besides that, he’s one of the “good ones”.He had a quick Q&A first, then gave us some information about on-camera film classes that he was going to be having for actors.He was in the middle of a workshop right now and his new one started in the Fall.But, I didn’t let that stop me from inquiring.At the end of class, Mr. Collis was hanging out in the lobby, talking to some students.So, when I saw my chance, I introduced myself, handed him my headshot and resume and asked if there was any way he would be able to squeeze me in a class before I leave on August 28th.He had me write down my name and contact # on a piece of paper and I figured he was just being polite and stuff.I really don’t think I’m going to hear from him, again. Hey, but you never know, unless you ask, right?

 

 

THE FINALE! THE ENTIRE JOURNAL IS AVAILABLE, BELOW. When we found out that an actress we know from the mid-west was planning a trip to Hollywood in preparation for a move here, we asked if she’d be open to keeping a journal and sharing it with our readers. She was and she did – and …

Review Overview

Summary : Please help us keep content relevant by rating this article. If this article was of high importance to you, give it 5 stars, if not than less. Thank you!

User Rating: Be the first one !
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About Kris Malone

Kris Malone is the nom de plume of a longtime Hollywood talent agent. Kris created this website as a way for actors to improve their chances of making it in Hollywood, not as a way to reach the agency for possible representation. Kris wishes all of you actors out there the best of luck, laced with a big dose of reality and plain old common sense.

6 comments

  1. Will Hollywood support Donald Trump if he runs for President of the United States?

  2. That appears great however i’m just still not so certain that I prefer it. Anyway will look further into it and choose for myself! 🙂

  3. This was very helpful and well written. I bet this young lady will go far!

  4. Hiya Wasup
    I saw the blog
    Very well constructed
    In fact I have been searching for this for months
    http://www.hollywoodpassport.net is just what I was looking for.
    Great effort congrats !
    John

  5. Intresting, this was actually a very great read! thanks

    Watch Movies Online Now

  6. Patricia,
    She is a wonderful actress and aN amazing person. I wish much success to you and may all your sweet dreams become realities. See you at the movie…. and that’s a wrap 😉

    Love ya, your friend, Andy Schofield

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