Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Booking commercials

So I recently had a couple of bookings that were exciting. First, I got a small role in a big movie that I can't really say anything more about. Second, I got a commercial. Which is great, because I haven't been in a commercial since I got cut out of the Apple one I booked when I first got out to Los Angeles. I don't know what it is, but something about my demeanor or look does not sell products. I had heard stories about how most actors make their living from booking commercials and a good one can carry you through the year. Booking an Apple commercial, I felt like I was pretty set. I forgot exactly how the news broke, but I remember pulling up the commercial on youtube and realizing that my whole segment was just cut out. That was almost four years ago and I had gotten close, but hadn't booked anything since then.

Cut to a few years later and I got an audition for a 7-Eleven commercial. The first audition I had to pretend to be a store clerk and be confused by someone else going crazy. Commercial auditions are generally really vague and they call in like a hundred people for the first round so I just did what I think they wanted and left and forgot about it. That's usually the best policy.

I was lucky enough to get a callback, which is when they narrow it down to about 8-10 people and when I went in they completely changed what the concept was. Now it was going to be a Deadpool tie in and I was watching as another co-worker played Jenga with a tower of chimichangas. Everyone there for the callback was freaking out and trying to desperately research the connection of chimichangas to 7-Eleven. I had enough sense to actually think about the connection to Deadpool and chimichangas. I'm fairly familiar with comic books and remembered that the character's favorite food is chimichangas and also knowing that Deadpool himself is very meta I decided to use that in my audition.

The director just wanted us to generally improvise and when the cameras rolled, the first thing I said was "So 7-Eleven is selling Chimichangas for Deadpool huh? Good on them for cashing in on that movie tie-in." and the director busted out laughing. He then said he couldn't have me say that in the commercial and told me to improvise something else and I just said some generic stuff about chimichangas. But I felt like I took an interesting risk and it seemed like it paid off. Sure enough, I found I got an avail which means you're in the final 2-3 and they want to make sure your schedule is clear for the shoot. I had gotten this a few times and it's my least favorite part of the process. I'd honestly rather just not know at all. Every year I get 3-4 avails only to be released and it doesn't feel any better to know that you were so close. After a few days my agent called and I was prepped for the bad news, but she actually said I booked it. I was ecstatic.

The shoot was a series of vignettes and I was kind of worried because that was what the Apple commercial was like and they just took my whole segment out. But I was in this segment where me and another guy stand on opposite sides of a giant chimichanga tower while we said some lines.  I felt like my place was pretty secure because they spent a lot of time making the tower and it was the most visually interesting thing in the commercial. I asked the props person and they said they actually made over 500 chimichangas and stacked them up (they were held together by skewers). Here's a pic of it below.

So now that I booked a commercial and filmed it I still had to worry about if they wouldn't air the commercial or if I got cut out. One day my friend posted a link to the commercial and said "I'm assuming you are in a different one?" I immediately clicked it and watched through and saw my scene. The chimichanga tower was in there, but instead of having the shot be the tower in the middle and me and another guy standing to the side of it, they just zoomed in on the other guy. My scene hadn't been cut out, but I had literally been.... cut out. I then emailed my agent to ask what was going on and they said they were holding out to see if I was in alternate cuts or anything. But sure enough, after a few days, I got a letter saying that I had been released from all iterations of that commercial.

So I'm 0 for 2 on commercials. People tell me I shouldn't complain and that I'll have to just settle with being a "movie star". But anyways.... I was close. I'm literally on the other side of that chimichanga tower, but I've yet to really book a commercial.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Doing Standup

     Whoa, I try to update my blog at least once a month. It's been slow at the top of this year though, but barely made it in time for April. So I wanted to share this video of me doing standup. People have always told me that they could see me doing standup because I have a very particular opinion and a voice to tell it. For the longest time I was intrigued by the idea of doing standup, but never actually worked up the courage to do it. About two years ago, I went to my friend Johnny Pemberton's show, who I had worked with on the Jump Street movies, and I realized the power of doing standup. For a few minutes, you put yourself on stage and really give people a very intimate portrait of who you are and I felt like that was really cool and valuable. So me and my friend Dante vowed that we would do a standup set within a 3 month period.

     We regularly went to open mics a few times a week to see what it was like and I built up a lot of confidence from it and started working on what my first standup set would be. After maybe a month or two I finally decided that it was time for me to put my name into the open mic lottery. I went to multiple shows though and didn't get called and finally on the 4th or 5th open mic where I was ready and willing to go up I got called and did my three minutes and realized... it wasn't for me. It was fun, but it was such a struggle to just get one set done and I had heard from people that in order to really get into standup I had to be doing multiple sets a night. I decided that I may as well not take on another struggle so I hung up my standup aspirations.

     Cut to a few months ago... I went to a show down the street from my apartment on a whim that my friend Teresa Lee was hosting. It was a show that was build around the idea of artists doing something on stage for the first time. It was an interesting concept. After the show, I went up and talked to her and she said if I ever wanted to go up to just let her know. I was kind of afraid to take up the mantle again, but I decided to just go for it. I performed this in January and I'm only just now posting it. My roommate Phil recorded it, but I only got the recording a few weeks ago and I only just now viewed it for the first time and uploaded it. I was kind of afraid to watch it. I always thought I wouldn't really get stage fright, but I remember it not going so smoothly and I think it kind of shows here. I really stumble through even my planned bits at the end. But, I think it's worth seeing and hopefully you'll get a laugh out of it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Podcast with Southern Fried Asian and Counterpart

Hmmm, I thought I made a post for being on this podcast, but apparently I forgot as well as just generally updating this blog at all (whoops).

So I was introduced to Keith Chow by Jes Vu, a producer I regularly work with. He runs a podcast that focuses on Asians who are from the South. Since it was the first podcast I've been on that wasn't focused on the entertainment industry I got to talk about the other big part of my life. Specifically food. Being a Southern Asian is one of the things that is a big part of who I am and helps me stand out. I thought it was a great interview, so go to the link below and check it out. It's a good one.

I also wanted to come back to talk about the most recent TV role that I filmed. It was for the Starz show Counterpart. It recently started airing even though I shot it around this time last year. It was supposed to be a big show and is apparently getting good reviews. I knew I was in episode four, but didn't think much of it. It wasn't until today that I even thought to check. I went on my IMDB however, and realized that it had been taken off of my page. That's never happened before so I went to watch the episode and sure enough I found that my whole scene was cut exactly at the point where I leave the room.

It wasn't a huge part by any means, but this does mark the first time that I've just been completely cut out of something. Pretty much every other role that I've done has been reduced by a moderate to significant amount, but at least I got to see myself and I got the credit. Not this time. Honestly, it's not a big deal. I thought this part would stay in because my character says a lot of information that I thought was necessary. But as an editor, if something isn't necessary it gets cut out. In case that was me.