colleen patrick


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Apr 29 2006
Did you know that happiness is the result of gratitude?

So if you live in a state of gratitude, chances are you're happy.

Oprah Winfrey caught on to this years ago and continues to maintain a daily gratitude journal. If you'd like to start one on her website at http://www.oprah.com, go to the journal page, which is password protected, where you'll find a selection of three journals - one of which is "gratitude." The other two are "health" and "general."

I keep a journal on her website because it's fast, password protected and I don't have to worry about using disc space on my computer. You can appreciate how loquacious I can get when I'm not restricted by a specific writing format (recipients of my *long* emails can tell you just how wordy I am when I'm on a writing jag).

So if you're down, feeling a little lost, worried, letting bad vibes rule your day?

Try listing everything for which you are grateful - including breathing comfortably (if you can), the ability to walk (if you can), your eyesight (if you have it), senses of smell, taste, touch. A sunny day? Skiing? A favorite sports team or two?

Do you have a roof over your head? A comfy bed? Someone you adore? Pets who adore you? Your health? Talent? Your art? Good friends? Family members who are there for you? A favorite TV show? A favorite film you watch over and over? When you think, "I love that show!" (In my case it's "My Name Is Earl") - that's something you can put on your gratitude list.

Be specific and thorough when you delve into every reason you have to be grateful.

This is why I wrote truthfully that when I was kicking cancer to the kerb through months of chemo and radiation that despite the constant pain, I remained genuinely happy. I had so much for which to be grateful.

Seriously - unless you are bound and determined to remain unhappy - chances are you'll start having sensations of happiness floating through your body and mind when you start your gratitude list.

Which may well be something else for which to be grateful!


Apr 27 2006
Something I find a universal troublemaker for actors: communication.

More specifically, the failure to communicate.

When I give an actor a note (a "note" is a direction, suggestion) and she or he responds, "OK," chances are the actor has not actually heard me or understood what I'm asking him to do.

I recommend they communicate their understanding of the note to me so 1) I feel heard and 2) they feel confident about what they will do.

More, many actors tell me they think if they don't ask questions at auditions, that we'll believe they know what they're doing.

Um, wrong. When someone asks no questions or does not discuss his/her point of view/idea of the scene or character, she or he isn't communicating with us -- and the actor who communicates gets the job!

Many directors will be very clear about preferring to work with people they enjoy working with. How can you tell if you'll enjoy working with someone? Well, you generally enjoy communicating with them!

As in any relationship, if you have something to bring to the party, something to offer *and* you speak up -- honestly and in a way we can understand -- your chances of being cast (assuming you can also do the job of course!) are escalated because you're entering a collaborative relationship.

Many years ago, a young upstart Meryl Streep was auditioning for a very minor role for the film that made her a star - Kramer vs. Kramer - with Dustin Hoffman. At the audition she explained how much she loved the script but felt that the female lead went out of character at a certain point in the story, which she saw as hurting the story. She made suggestions about how she would keep Mrs. Kramer in character.

After changing the script, The Powers That Be (including Hoffman) offered Streep the lead role. The rest, as they say, is history.

In short - when in doubt, put it out! Ask, speak up, offer your ideas and thoughts.


Apr 25 2006
Integrity.

To me it means integrating my values into the fabric of my life.

My values: compassion, caring for family, friends, coworkers and pets, respecting the individual, community, nature and myself; passion, contributing to humankind; excellence in all I do; while I am not religious, I am deeply spiritual -- I appreciate and am grateful for all the good life brings me; realizing that half the secret of a good life is that it's all about problem-solving; becoming fantastically fit and enjoying great hair days!

A couple times in my life I allowed myself to slip out of integrity and wow! Did I every pay for it! I'm the sort of person who, if I do something awry, I subconsciously set myself up to be caught and set everything right. And no, I was not raised Jewish or Catholic.

It can be tough not to skid out of integrity here and there in today's culture - but the key to maintaining my sense of self is simple.

I show my coachees how to do it this way:

I set a plastic glass with a little milk in it in front of them. Then I instruct them to spill the milk.

You cannot imagine how horrifying a task this is for some people! Grown, tough men quake at their recollections of being chastised for spilling their milk as children.

I explain that because we're growing as children, one day our arm might be 20 inches long, and the next 21 inches long. Which makes hitting a target like a glass of milk difficult because it just doesn't feel like it was in the same place it was just the day before! In other words, because our bodies are restructuring themselves daily - even until the day we die - it's just natural to spill all sorts of things!

They finally topple the glass. Some smack it down! All that pent up frustration! Others tap it gently until the glass falls and the milk tumbles out of it.

As soon as the milk is splattered, I hand them paper towels and wet cloths with which to clean all the errant liquid.

Which they do. In minutes, if not seconds.

Ding!

If you spill, if you make a mess? Clean it up. In life just like on the kitchen floor/table.

And the sooner the better. If the milk mess is left to sour ... the smell and the cleaning problems only escalate.

The moment I am aware I've created an unintentional mess for myself or others? I dig in and clean it up - rapidly - so I can resume life as I love to enjoy it - in integrity.


Apr 23 2006
Nick Park.

If you want to learn about brilliant writing, directing, producing and acting?

Nick Park's your one stop guide.

He's the genius behind the Academy Award-winning Wallace and Gromit claymation phenom.

Even after his most current feature, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, my favorite remains his short A Close Shave.

Every detail in a scene, every facial "muscle" and eye movement he manipulates, every word of the dialogue, every dramatic and visual twist and turn - consummate poetry if you pay close attention.

He also does Chevron and other claymation commercials as well as the television comedy Creature Comforts - all of which feature plain speaking non-human characters with large eyes.

I love studying everything he does down to the frame. Although I only do live action films, I continue to grow as an artist, writer, director, producer and camera coach analyzing his creations and process. I recommend all my actors watch Nick Park's work to understand the proper use and meaning of subtext - the key to great film acting.

Credit where it's due, everyone who works with Mr. Park at Aardman Animations in western England deserves props, too - as well as consolation. The studio, filled with 30 years of Wallace and Gromit work, sets, characters and paraphernalia burned to the ground the fall of last year - the very day the now Academy Award winning feature Curse of the Were-Rabbit was released in the U.S.

I'm not worried - I bet Mr. Park and his cohorts return soon with yet another hilarious slice of life with the gentle souls who work endlessly to provide a safer, easier, more effortless life for themselves and others -- as well as an endless supply of cheese for Wallace.


Apr 21 2006
It's said that films speak a universal language when they can be understood by any audience, anywhere in the world.

Truth is, emotion is the universal language.

Actors expressing emotions well - particularly with their eyes - on screen, can be understood by anyone anywhere.

We may not be the same age, race, gender, sexual orientation or even species of the characters we see on the screen - but when we come to care about how they feel?

We're hooked.

Doesn't matter if it's an action/adventure, sci-fi, horror, thriller, western, drama, comedy or musical. Stories showing how characters deal with the unique situations into which they're dropped, based on the emotions it stirs within them, tend to not only be understood, but appreciated.

Perhaps that's the secret of a good relationship: expressing our emotions; showing others how we feel -- since emotion is the universal language that draws us together rather than separates us.


Apr 19 2006
Words to live by:

Treat your friends like lovers

Your lovers like friends


Apr 17 2006
Hair.

Someone I know is writing a book all about hair.

I don't know if you find this fascinating, but I do, because it's such a *personal* subject. Ask any hair stylist.

How many of us tend to each follicle on our head - no matter how little or how much we have?

People have hair transplants to fluff up a scantily clad head; they wax and laser off unwanted hair.

Although I didn't lose all my hair as so many do when I underwent two bouts of chemotherapy, I have to admit despite feeling painfully miserable every minute of every day, I saved enough energy to be stressed over the thinning nature of my coif.

I even realized the silly nature of my thoughts. I mean at the time I was dealing with some reasonably serious issues - life, death, life, death .. hair.

Hair.

Yes, yes. Whatever was going on, I must focus on trying to make what was left of my hair look good even if the rest of me had gone to seed. Take my mind off the rather sordid situation I endured over the months.

Picture what I saw through my haze: a big ol' Patrick peach pit with a bit of green moss on top for hair. Sort of like a Colleen Chia Chemo Pet.

Then, fortunately, I found a sympathetic cosmetologist at the nearby Gene Juarez School o' Beauty. "Ella" (not her real name, of course), an advanced student, decided to make me her personal science project - which did wonders for my morale over the months she plied me with colors, curls, air waves and special haircuts that made me look less like a hairless chihuahua and more like a ... well, a Chinese Crested. You know - the little dogs that have that sprig of hair bouncing up like a little fountain of hair pouring over the top of their head?


This pup has my hairstyle!

Since Ella graduated, other kind student souls have kept the sprig of hair alive and high! And, fortunately, my motley mop seems to have filled in over the months since radiation and chemo treatments were finished (I continue to enjoy cancer-free excellent health these days, thank you).

Back to hair. And I'm not interested in a discussion of body hair. Particularly since I had very little to begin with and have virtually none after chemo. I know women who disdain having hair in places other than their head. That's a very American notion. I would not do very well in Europe, where body hair on women is more celebrated. Sadly, they would probably think I go to great lengths to be this way.

When I'm directing, a character's hairdo is a very big deal. It should say something about the him or her. A clue to the personality; an insight to the person's soul or character.

Is he egotistical - fixated on his appearance, particularly fond of his hair and how it looks?

More interesting - the hair style sucks and our egotist doesn't get it - he's totally enamoured with it, fixing each strand to move a certain way.

Is she so busy working that she has a very casual - even messy - do?

Is she very feminine with longer hair? More innocent with shorter hair? Sexy with .. well, sexy hair?

I like to show the development of a character through his or her hair. Like if the character is coming unglued over a period of time, the hair gradually falls apart as well. If he or she then gets it together? The hair becomes well coiffed.

Colors can also play a part.

Speaking of parts, if there's a significant change in a character - the side the hair is parted on changes.

These are all subtle clues that hair stylists working on films understand very well and enjoy putting their signature on these significant character evolutions.

What makes it so challenging is that we don't shoot films, for the very most part, from beginning to end. We shoot film scenes out of order. It's crucial for us to keep track of each character's hair during the shoot - to keep track of how the do should be in each scene.

Ah yes, hair. There is so much more to be said to get to the root of this subject. But this is enough for a blog. ;-)


Apr 15 2006
One of the primary issues my coachees - actors, writers, passion seekers and business folks - deal with is self sabotage.

Like, getting in your own way.

There are a number of complex reasons this happens to every individual, but the cause of the problem always boils down to one simple explanation: we don't keep our word to ourselves.

At some point, we allowed pressure from others to take over our personal priorities.

One of my coachees was amazed when I told him how simple it would be to stop sabotaging himself - but after he followed my advice, he admitted that it worked.

Start keeping your word to yourself. Give your word that you will do certain things every single day. Under the heading, "I give my word I will," make a list of five things you do *automatically* every day, so you have no choice but to keep your word. Start with the most basic activities and bodily functions you perform every day.

Things like: brush teeth, pee, wake up, drink water, eat, hug your wife/ husband/ pet/ child. Do not add anything you *want* to do, just write down the things you do every day, generally without even thinking about it.

As you do them throughout the day, check them off on the list.

After a week of keeping your word to yourself, you will feel so much better - and you will have started the process of preventing self sabotage if you continue to have the awareness of keeping your word to yourself in all you do.

If you don't want to break your word? Don't give it. Say no to something you're not entirely sure you can do or do in a way you've promised.

If you're in the habit of telling someone you'll call them soon and then never follow through? Chances are you're setting yourself up to sabotage yourself down the road some way, somehow.

Doing what you say and saying what you do not only makes for a satisfied personal relationship with yourself, it helps create excellent relationships with others.

In fact, not doing what you say you will do has probably cost you personal and business relationships you wish you hadn't sabotaged.

But sabotaging your relationships with others starts with sabotaging your relationship with yourself.

Clean up your "keeping your word" act with yourself, and the rest will follow.


Apr 13 2006
Here I go thinking again.

I've been ruminating a lot about innocence.

I grieve that so much innocence is stolen from children today - leaving them traumatized from experiences of war, violence, drugs, sexual predators, dysfunctional families and media exposure to things that at one time we believed we should protect them from until they were more mature.

Yep. The world could definitely use - actually, needs - more innocence.

It's important for any artist to create from a place of innocence when developing a character, painting, book, song or any form of art.

I don't mean naive - that is, without the wisdom, intuition or instinctive actions and reactions developed by training and practice.

I mean starting from a point of an open passionate interest, intrigue, and yearning to investigate the subject that is most probably unknown to you before its inception.

Isn't creating the process of manifesting something out of "nothing?" Where does a thought begin? Where do perceptions emanate? From "nowhere."

For those who are spiritual, there is the notion that we work in concert with that energy or entity. I belong to this group. I simply trust anything I need to create will come to me.

My friend and very successful screenwriter Max Adams ("Excess Baggage") says, "Write like God." Which means that you need to understand that not only will the spiritual universe "provide" what you need creatively if you trust it, but that in turn you must take complete charge of your work.

You have the power of life and death in your creation.

Does the good guy live? Up to you. Does the bad guy get knocked off? Up to you. Does the story take place in Seattle? Up to you. Paris? Up to you. Writing a mystery? You. Thriller? You. Comedy? You.

For those who are not spiritual, the belief is that ideas originate solely from within the individual, which can create a lot of pressure on the artist if he or she feels creating must be accomplished in the vacuum of his or her mind, gut, soul.

Any way you manifest something out of nothing, think of how much richer it is when you approach it from a state of awe. Of wonderment. Of innocence.

Watch a child create - whether it's a finger painting or performing an improvised play using his or her dolls, cars or other toys.

Innocence provides a state of freedom from which to start - they have nothing to hide, no motivation to manipulate, distort or contrive their characters, stories, colors or sounds. No need to deceive your audience in order to "force" them to see what you want them to see. Each step in the process presents a thousand more choices - one of which will be true and authentic for your work.

You may have to investigate a few before you realize which is best, but the right one will pop up if the integrity of your work is paramount.

The eyes of children and most pets provide that mirror to remind us of that state of innocence.

Animals are without guile and their eyes always tell the truth - they have no reason or means to do anything else.

But they have a wisdom of instinctual behavior built in that we humans will never know. They meet every waking moment with a sense of newness. A sense of innocence. Instinctual reaction may kick in if something threatens or stimulates them to respond as they have for millennia or even millions of years.

Me, since no two days are ever alike here, I enjoy waking up with a sense of wonder - a sort of sophisticated innocence - so I can appreciate everything that transpires. I also try not to take anyone or anything for granted and this is a good way for me to remain fully aware.

At one point in my life, I felt like I was half asleep and responding to too many things instead of taking control of my life - which got in the way of a healthy lifestyle.

Today I feel like each day rewards me with new knowledge, insights, fulfilment and a happiness I never thought possible because I start the day with a sense of openness, rather than expectations. It gives me a different perspective on each day.


Apr 11 2006
Press On

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

"Talent will not:

"Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

"Genius will not:

"Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

"Education alone will not:

"The world is full of educated derelicts.

"Persistence and determination alone are omipotent."

--Calvin Coolidge


Apr 9 2006
There's something that few of us who own small dogs ever discuss, and it's something that pretty much changes our lives. And lifestyles.

Puppy pee.

Oh, my wee pups - both 5 pound Pomeranians - are very well housebroken. And they enjoy going outside - where they can run in a large, fenced back yard - whenever they wish using a doggie door.

It's just that ... well, when they come back in after a healthy romp and appropriate pee there is always that one ... little ... drip ... that seems to hang on. And we forget about it until we pick them up and see that one little drip drop has transferred to our clothes.

I wasn't aware of this until my Sniff-O-Meter clicked in and I realized I wasn't smelling them - I was smelling *me!*

The number of little dollops on the owner's shirt/pants/whatever will tell you how many times the pet has been recently carried. And little dogs somehow worm their way into one's arms - they are picked up often. Sometimes we don't even realize we've picked them up until they are lapping our faces with their little lathery tongues.

That's the first lifestyle change. Wear only cotton or wear only washable shirts and pants. Once. That's the second lifestyle change. Lots more laundry loads.

One tends to lose the need to dress up around these little guys because of the Drip, knowing that clothes will find their way into the washer as much as once a day. The clothing one wears needs to be of the variety that one says to one's self: "Oh, it won't matter if I put on this shirt because of ... the Drip."


Baby Dom -
I call him Sir Lix-A-Lot!

And it's not just my own dogs.

We enjoy a little dog visitor, too. Dom is his name ... he's only ten pounds, a darling little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel so he's picked up as often as his smaller friends who live here and, likewise, is a carrier of ... the Drip.

He also sheds, so there's one more reason for me to dress casually in oft-washable sturdy attire.

And I'm not alone.

Before Dog, Dom's owner used to have a spotless car and dress impeccably. More, her makeup was meticulous.

Today her car interior windows are clouded with tongue licks - she swears the dog did it, so of course I tell her I believe her. Sure. The dog did it. She also blames her dog when the scent of fart wafts through the room. Sure. The dog did it.

There are also towels in the car for the dog to lie on, treats and water and muddy paw prints on the formerly beautifully manicured fine Corinthian leather seats that once gleamed.

Little Dom also loves to kiss people. Enthusiastically.

Not just his owner, but any human being that passes within his eagle-like eyesight. Friendly is an understatement describing this dog. However, his lavish kisses wash away any make up, shaving lotion or sunscreen worn by his kissees. And since his owner is often trapped in the car with him, she's decided to wait until she arrives at her destination to apply even a touch of lip gloss.

More lifestyle changes.

Mind you, I'm not complaining because the joy, fun, entertainment, affection and unconditional love brought into our lives by these guys are definitely worth it.

I am trying to invent a Drip Catcher, however. Perhaps a Velcro patch one affixes to a shirt in the Drip's target range when one picks up and holds the dog. It can be moved to accommodate the size of the Drip and the dog.

You know. Lemons, lemonade...

;-)


Apr 7 2006
Rejection.

One of the most difficult emotions with which we deal.

It makes some people crazy; others homicidal and still others heartbroken, crestfallen, depressed, shame ridden, angry or even vengeful.

Artists of every type are familiar with rejection, but I believe if you adjust your approach and attitude, it doesn't have to devastate you.

Truth is, rejection may have nothing to do with you personally - at all.

Think of the people you've rejected in your life. Normally, they aren't bad people, you just don't want to deal with them. Put up with them. Relate to them. YOUR perceptions of the other person - which are frequently formed through filters you've created throughout your life and may tamper with reality - determines how and how much you wish to interact with them.

For artists, there is the objective measure of craft within the art - but that has changed over the centuries hasn't it? Tough competitions for musicians, singers, painters, writers, dancers and others are supposed to have objective criteria.

But realizing that judges' decisions have also been made on the basis of non-art related elements like gender and race, "blind" judging procedures have been instituted in many significant artistic competitions.

I tell my actors to understand that all auditions ought to be experienced as one thing and one thing only: networking. Taking the notion of being desperate to get the job out of the equation takes the fear out of the process.

You're there to network - meet great people - and show them your acting chops (or musical riffs or whatever).

This frees you to be yourself and do the best you can without getting all whacky and obsequious during a casting call. You're there to show them what you can do - with your particular and unique skills. Of course you want to do what the director seeks as well - but in so many cases the director doesn't know ultra-specifically what he or she wants.

One thing I know we want: to be surprised in a solid, craft and performance way.

This doesn't mean doing anything contrived - that hurts. It means simply doing what you do in the best way you know how. Being completely prepared and not showing up expecting everyone to tell you what to do and how to do it.

It's a collaboration, and collaboration works best between equals, when both people show up to the party with something to give - whether it's ideas, a new slant on a character, her background, voice, whatever.

That's another area in which I believe many actors go wrong: the audition is not a "preliminary" step to get the job. It is a job!

Those casting have already pushed their way through (in some cases) massive piles of headshots, resumes and reels in order to hire you to perform for the audition!

If you don't develop a great character with all the bells and whistles she or he needs in the audition, your chances of getting a callback are diminished.

And if that particular character didn't work for that specific audition? It really is OK. Figure out what worked and what needs adjustment for that character and move on.

Back to letting go of the notion of rejection:

I tell my actors to first of all show up to auditions with the notion of networking so all the pressure of being "perfect" is taken off; and to remember that when you are auditioning, you should not be nervous. Why?

If you're not in character, you may be nervous. If you're in character, you're not nervous because your character is just there to be him or herself and nothing more.

My actor Brittany Quist put it perfectly at a recent weekend camera acting seminar I held for folks who work with me: "I might be nervous, but my character never is."

Bingo.

You don't have any control over the casting decision-making; you do have control over how well you develop a character and perform. The rest is out of your hands - focus on what you can control, not what you can't.

So if you don't get the part, you can take that as rejection -- and feel it is a loss, maybe even a big one -- or you can experience it as a re-direction in your artistic career.

You didn't get the gig? Fine, but you did create another character for your acting tool chest. That's the biggest win. When my actors go in with their homework done and blow away the folks for whom they are auditioning - they receive specific compliments and are often contacted later by the same folks for other projects

Here's a great story about a comedic actor who didn't get the gig he was sure he would get - only to realize later how all the time he spent being disappointed, depressed and despondent was a complete waste.

He believed this specific job at a specific television program would boost his career into the stratosphere. He set his heart on it. And was completely devastated when he didn't. I don't know if he was morose, but he surely wasn't less-ose, either. (Rimshot!)

He was, however, cast for a lesser known program which was *not* broadcast on one of the three major networks, which really hurt. But he was free to develop his unique, outrageous characters there, which contributed greatly to his artistic and later professional accomplishments.

Yep.

Jim Carrey, cast in the ensemble of In Living Color after being snubbed by Saturday Night Live, has surpassed the fame and fortune of any SNL performer in the history of the program.

So much for "rejection."

See what I mean by "re-direction?"


Apr 3 2006
The past two weeks have been an intensive 'round the clock experience in building a character completely unlike the actor portraying him or her.

In this case the ambiguity resonates because Brittany Quist decided to audition for the role of a real life woman who lived as a man for decades - until they discovered "he" was a "she" at her autopsy. HBO is making a feature about Billy Tipton - born Dorothy. Married several times (although there was not one official record of any of them) to different women, Tipton achieved modest success as a jazz musician and novelty performer in the 1930's.


Brittany Quist

Brittany first had to convince the casting director she was capable of pulling off such a role, seeing's how she doesn't exactly strike you as a guy when you see her.

The casting director, based on Brittany's past character acting achievements and "sales pitch," invited her to audition!

So we transformed her - voice, accent, hair, make-up, clothes, shoes, mannerisms, lyric singing, scat singing, piano playing, movement, stance, energy center, props, attitude, the works. We researched the character extensively in order to make strong choices that were built on the truth of Billy.

By the time she flew out the door to put it all on the line, my only advice: TAKE YOUR TIME!

Brittany was very pleased with her audition - most importantly, the casting director appeared to be as well. I was thrilled with her blow by blow report! We don't know when we'll hear about callbacks, but whether she's called back or gets the role, the casting director, folks at HBO and in the LA film casting community will know - and remember - who Brittany Quist is! And even more importantly, that the girl can act her a** off!

Someone made the mistake of suggesting to me that Brittany gets so much work (features, short films, an indie sitcom, national commercials) because she's beautiful.


Brittany Quist as Billy Tipton


Billy was a smoker...

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Pretty, drop-dead beautiful and gorgeous actresses are *everywhere.*

Brittany is cast in so many projects because she works harder and more on her preparation than any actor or actress I've ever coached. She asks me to push her to her ultimate limit (which we're far from reaching) - to help her enhance her talent and skills beyond what she believes possible, and she enjoys diving into the most detailed preparation and character development. The results speak for themselves on screen.

And ask anyone who's been on a project with her - she's also a joy to work with!

The combination adds up to an actor who not only gets cast in fantastic roles but who works constantly, even when there appears to be so little work to be had in this area.

It reminds me of basketball superstar Michael Jordan. This mega-gifted and talented athlete always showed up an hour earlier than the other players to practice; then he'd practice with them and play at a level most players can only dream of.

After the game? He'd stick around to practice *another* hour, while everyone else went home.

The other players couldn't understand it - they would shake their heads, believing Michael Jordan was the very player who did *not* need all that extra practice.

Jordan disagreed. He knew he had a God-given talent, but that the only way he would be able to play at the level at which he was truly capable was to continually put in all that "extra" practice - enhancing his talent, his game, and his character. For him it was not "extra practice," it was just what he felt he had to do so he could play exactly the way he wanted. The way he needed to in order to satisfy himself, not anyone else.

To all of you who share that personal championship mentality - whether you're a computer programmer, plumber, homemaker, carpenter, athlete, writer or actor - YOU TOTALLY ROCK!


Apr 1 2006
I love grocery shopping.

I don't understand why my friends avoid coming with me, because I have so much fun and would love for them to share the experience.

When I invite them? Dental appointments, orthodontic fittings, dog poop pickups, water purification filter changes and urgent attention to laundry loads take precedence. I swear one friend has had his wisdom teeth pulled a dozen times.

As you will read, it's their loss.

Take today. I went to my favorite neighborhood grocery store and danced and hummed my way through the aisles because the music oozing through the room was upbeat and harkened me to display my classic grocery cart choreography and harmonizing prowess.

Flipping cans and packages into the cart keeping in time with the music can also impress eligible customers - especially if you're single and looking - like me! Whizzing by shelves standing on the back of a dashing cart can be fetching as well.

As I reached the checkout stand, the clerk told a coworker, "Yeah, trouble's my middle name."

I followed, sneering, "You lookin' for trouble? You came to the right place. You lookin' for trouble? Look right in my face.."

Clerk: Elvis!

CP: Yep.

Clerk: I can't remember which song that's from..

CP (singing): Because I'm eeeeevil.....

Clerk: That's right, that's right. Hey, the wife and I sing some of his old songs on karaoke at home.

CP *perk*: Really! Songs like (sing-growling) Lawdy lawdy lawdy Miss Claudy! You sure look good to me!

We're so consumed in our conversation we barely notice other customers in line swapping suspicious glances.

Clerk (laughs): Yeah. My favorite is 'One Night with You' except I can't hit the high note...

CP: You mean .. (singing) One night with you .. Is all that I'm prayin' for. The things that we two could plan - would make my dreams come true ..?

Clerk: Yep, that's the one.

CP (continuing) Always tellin' little white lies ...

Clerk (interrupting): I like his slow songs, too.

CP: Me, too. Especially (singing) Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight-

Clerk: You saved ten dollars, eighteen cents with your (store) card. Need help out?

CP: Nope! Thanks!

Clerk: Enjoy the weekend!

CP: I will! You, too!

And I leave, continuing to sing and maybe kick in a little step or two in synch on my way out the door. Interestingly, I've never been asked for my ID - they seem to know who I am.

Now, seriously, aren't you shocked my friends don't sign up *early* to accompany me?


Mar 30 2006
I love it when terrific people I've coached and with whom I've worked land some great gigs. Recently I was asked if I knew someone who could play the bizzaro character Bethany Ann Babcock in the indie TV sitcom 35th Street Mission. I knew instantly who could nail the role and then some - Dolores Rogers!

Sure enough, she auditioned along with others up for the role and bingo! She was cast! Congratulations, Dolores!

WNBC-TV in New York City will be broadcasting an episode of 35th Street Mission in the near future - I'll let you know when!

More - this voice talent recently performed for an Atari game - she's the voice of "Derek Jeter" and "Eric Chavez" for Backyard Baseball 2007; she also pitches (get it?) for the Seattle PBS television station KCTS during their fundraising drives. And she was chosen by USA Today online as a celebrity look alike for Courtney Cox Arquette.

You can also see Dolores in my wacky "Behind The Movie Screen" at http://www.director3.com


Mar 28 2006
One of the things I help people with is finding their passion.

Interestingly, several people have come to me for acting coaching but have not revealed much, if any passion - not just for the work, but for life or ... well, anything.

They're afraid to go all out - commit themselves completely, fall passionately in love, care so deeply about something they can't imagine living without ... whatever or who ever it is.

Many men pursue acting to help them get in touch with their feelings in a way that is still seen as "manly" - and of course this emotional evolution helps them communicate with the women or potential significant others who may cross their path in and out of The Biz.

I believe that when we find someone or something to passionately live for - we've also discovered what we are willing to die for in order to protect it/him/her. New parents tend to experience this phenomenon. They've never had the willingness to become so vulnerable. To let someone in so deeply.

That's how you know the homicidal maniacs who claim they kill their partners and children because they love them so much are lying. When we love someone, we do whatever we can to protect them, not hurt them.

Truthfully, I can't imagine not being passionate about anything - if I'm not passionate about something, it's not in my life.

I've only been genuinely, deeply passionately in love once. And I cherish every moment of that relationship so special I felt it akin to the love about which poets write and songs are written, even though the ending was nothing short of a tragic. Will it happen again? I'm certainly open to experiencing true love once more. I know how it feels and what it looks like so I'll be able to recognize it when it comes along.

Meanwhile, I'm working with a young woman who is becoming a broadcast journalist and the criticism she's received in the past for her on camera reports in journalism classes is that she doesn't show any "personality."

Then it hit me.

If she showed her passion for the work, her personality would automatically shine through.

I said "If you aren't passionate - if you don't care about your work and your stories, why should anyone else?"

That's true of every aspect of life. If you aren't passionate about your relationships, your work, caring for your pets, family, clients, art and everything in your life? What will you have to look back on when it comes time for you to .. well, look back?

If you aren't passionate about *you* - and your ability to make a difference in your own life - how can you pass it on or be an inspiration to anyone else?

So we're talking about what kicks in her passion. What lights her life's fire. What ignites her burning yearning for learning.

We had a long discussion about this - and she found areas that do push that button that stirs her adrenaline, that makes her care deeply. Now it's a matter of sharing the wealth with other areas of her life.

While journalism has really taken it in the shorts over the past couple decades for being so sensational, sleazy and that too many story selections are driven by ratings and finances, the fact is that journalism in its purest form is an honorable, valuable calling.

When we do not, cannot, or refuse to identify a wound in our midst - whether on our bodies, in our communities, nations or world - it only festers. Sometimes to the point that whatever is injured becomes unalterably destroyed.

The job of the journalist is to identify these wounds, making it possible for us to devise treatments - ways to heal them. In some cases to outline options for solutions.

Enough about journalism. I was talking about passion. And personality.

Your passion defines your personality. If you have no passion, chances are your personality is a little .. well, wanting!

I hope your life is one full of passion and that you therefore have a great personality!

[this entry also appears on Colleen's essays page as "Your Passion is Your Personality"]



Brittany Quist as Stacey
2006 0816 Studios

Mar 26 2006
Remember me telling you about Brittany Quist getting a callback to play a great character completely against type?

Well, she got cast as the quirky, obnoxious Stacey in the indie sitcom 35th Street Mission.

I told you - the girl can act her a** off!!

New York City residents can see her when WNBC-TV features episodes from independent sitcoms and comedy shows from all over the US later this year! I'll let you know when!


Mar 24 2006
Is it my imagination or are we living in a time where we see something happen one way - and then an "expert" tells us it's not happening at all?

Like the lousy calls made by the refs during the Super Bowl game.

We saw the plays that were miscalled in living color. Those of us watching on TV apparently had a better view than the zebra shirts on the field because we not only saw them close up but again and again on the instant replay.

The play was one thing; the call another.

Nonetheless, the refs' boss, the NFL, deemed the game "well called."

Excuse the hell outta me?

In other words, despite what we witnessed, we are apparently nuts because the NFL itself says the refs did a fine job.

After seeing horrific story after horrific story of destruction and mass murder in Iraq, and as the body count rises daily for American and other ally troops, as well as innocent Iraqis, we're told by President Bush and others in his cabinet that things are going "very well" for the US *and* Iraqis over there.

Perhaps the most stunning example took place during the massacre that was Hurricane Katrina in Southeastern US last year. As bodies lay in the streets, as thousands sit in the dark stench of buildings without power designated for survivors, as FEMA assistance does not appear anywhere it's needed, we are told by President Bush that "Brownie's doing a heck of a job." FEMA representatives are defensive and claim they are doing a good job.

So, all the billions of dollars spent to prepare us for terrorist attacks and disasters was spent .. what? On press releases?

Now we're told that tens of millions of dollars were misspent on Katrina - especially throwing money after money to try to rectify the situation that clearly had no plan.

But we were still told that the government's response was good.

Huh? Wait. Is this the Twilight Zone?

And these are only three examples among dozens that I've experienced in the past year when I saw one thing ... but was told something else happened, not all of them with government ties.

The most amazing part of this phenomenon is that we've not taken to the streets to loudly declare our sanity because we continue to be told that we're not seeing what we see for a fact.

Interestingly, history will only relate a score, presidential quotes, "official" recounts and "expert" evaluations.

So we will see and experience something in real life one way - and history will recount it differently because those "in charge" continue to tell us their cockeyed, self-serving version, which disagrees completely with .. well, data and facts. And they seem to do it with no compunction, concern or care about what we experienced or saw - namely, the truth.

I've asked myself so many times over the past several months, "Don't these people - these people who try to convince us what is happening - believe anyone is watching what's actually going on?"

OK, the truth. What I really ask myself is, "Are they on crack?"

Tawk amongst yuhselves.


Mar 22 2006
I must brag about another of my actors!


Rachel Perry

Rachel Perry had the opportunity to work for (as in perform) and with (as in .. with) Alec Baldwin in her NYU studio program!

Rachel is an immense talent - you'll be hearing lots from and about her after she graduates in May.

She found Mr. Baldwin to be "awesome," as a person, a professional and a mentor/director.

She also reports that Mr. Baldwin is starring with Saturday Night Live head writer and performer Tina Fey in a sitcom she both stars in and writes. They started the table read of the program the very day she met him.

Congratulations, Rachel! You go, girl!


Mar 20 2006
One not so great thing about the "industry," indie or studio.

It's mercurial.

Some days it's up - way up - and sometimes it's down - way down.

What creates this dynamic is people with whom we deal.

Unfortunately there are many people - on the periphery of the business or even in the industry proper - who talk big, who make great promises and who represent themselves as people who are connected or able to pull money together or create a production deal -- who, it turns out, are really not able to do anything of the kind.

Sadly, for folks who deal with these people .. say, like *me,* it's very frustrating to find that someone who has been so specific about what he or she will or can do to produce or fund scripts, projects, and films is actually totally incapable of doing anything of the kind. Especially when we've told others with whom we work that "so and so" has been quite explicit about everything s/he is going to do for us, from funding projects, to paying options, to hiring for writing gigs, to creating productions to guaranteeing distribution deals.

I think these people may want to, but they're not really capable or don't have the connections or access to the money they claim to.

I'm pretty good about spotting folks who aren't the real deal, but on occasion I'm still fooled by people who *appear* to have credentials or use the right language. Especially when they put it in writing. Email is a great way to show people what has been offered in writing.

But I've even had a "legal" contract signed by someone who I later discovered did not have the money to pay me for writing a script. Not much one can do if the person hasn't a farthing despite the verbal and written promises. But I kept the script.

The best business advice I ever got was: never get excited about anything any one tells you in this business until the check is in the bank .. and it has cleared!

I don't get discouraged when these things happen because 1) I have too many projects and too much work to be too disappointed if one contact is discovered to be less than honest or able to follow through; 2) it's a sad statement for the business, but it's true: this happens more often than not.

Any creative endeavor is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. Especially when one must rely on those in a financial position to produce the work and follow through with getting it out for audiences to see. One day I hope to establish a self-supporting independent production company that won't have to seek outside funding options.

I've learned to let go pretty easily when I see that someone is not professional or able to follow through with what they say they will do.

Another huge problem that gets in the way of potentially superb projects: when an amateur producer gets a little crazy - becoming either paranoid or greedy or both. Particularly if the script, project or film is seen as a high quality work with a potentially large life in the world. This person usually self-implodes, hurting - even killing - the chances of the project's success by distancing most professionals around him or her.

I've seen this happen twice with potentially excellent projects that I bet you'd enjoy seeing.

But the picture's not all bleak, by any means.

There are genuinely fine, good, reliable, solid, sane people who are extraordinary producers. In fact - great producers in indie and studio circles are people who are immensely trustworthy. They keep their word; they follow through, they have great communication and people skills and are experienced by those who work with them as the salt of the earth. They under promise and over deliver.

Just like me.

I can hardly wait to create my features with them!

Soon.

:-)


Mar 18 2006
"If you want to work on your art, work on your life." -- Anton Chekhov

I love this quote.


Mar 16 2006
Instead of using my photo for an online community I recently joined, to maintain my anonymity I put Oscar's picture up.

I soon received a private message: "I have to say - you are SO CUTE!!"

I responded: "Thank you. I'm just happy you don't mind me wearing fur."


Mar 14 2006
I had an epiphany today!

After a couple decades of coaching, I've never been able to explain exactly why my actors look so different - so much more attractive - after they've worked with me for several months.

I finally figured it out!

In their first meeting with me, I give them "MDR's" or minimum daily requirement exercises - that I've created for their voice, mouth, eyes and face.

Doing them every day is *bound* to create physical changes - becoming more relaxed as well as tightening facial and neck muscles.

Just as important is the inside work that goes with it, which helps them feel better about themselves, understand themselves more and become confident about their work.

This daily "duty" obviously makes a noticable difference in the actor's appearance over a period of time on the outside - while the inside work also allows the camera to bring out the person's inner beauty. The combination is pretty compelling.

Tip of the day: want to look more attractive? Exercise your facial muscles, eyes, mouth and voice, then do something to like yourself and your life more *every day!*


Mar 12 2006
The summer I farm sat (like baby sat only a farm) was extremely warm and there was almost no rain.

Caring for large and small animals is really no problem as long as one has ... water.

At one point in August, the water well ran dry.

So I walked over to the gas station and asked if I could fill up my two five-gallon water buckets with water - the owner said, "Of course."

Do you have *any* idea how heavy five gallons of water is? Well there were two of them. And it was blistering hot. When I get very hot, pale skinned person that I am, I become beet red.

Between the skyrocketing temperature, the sizzling sun and carrying maybe 1,000 pounds of water (OK, maybe 100!), I was exhausted when I made it back to the farm to give the animals something to drink. This trek took about an hour.

When I set the buckets down, the cows - one at each bucket - gratefully sucked up all the water within *seconds.* Seconds. Was it three seconds or five? Wait a minute. I just packed those suckers up a hill and I'm ready to collapse! And you just wiped out all my work in seconds?

So back down again I go for more water. Returning an hour later.

Slurp. Gone. Moo.

That has to be enough for them to drink today. Back down again. At every fill up I douse myself in the cool water.

This trip the chickens, my cat Kitzel and my toilet get the water. Flush. Whew. And I mean that in every way you can imagine.

The last trip of the day? The water is for me. A makeshift bath; a makeshift shampoo; water to drink and drink and drink.

This went on for three days - when rain finally, mercifully came, filling the well.

Every time I think about those days, I get tired. And thirsty.


Mar 10 2006
Being a volunteer firefighter when I was taking care of the farm in exchange for room and board while I wrote my book Mind Over Media seemed like such a good idea.

Well, it was good idea, I just had no idea how much work it would be - and how hard!

I joined the rural volunteer fire department to protect the livestock for which I was caring, as well and the land and buildings. So I'd be prepared for anything that might go awry.

I like to feel prepared. When I enter a new place, I look for exits, fire extinguishers, breakable windows, tables to duck under and devise a plan of action "just in case."

I don't know if it's a trait of writers, but I can come up with some pretty fascinating scenarios with each new place I have the opportunity to observe. Situations that require escape, surviving a natural disaster and worse.

As I've said before, I'm usually a pretty good person to have around if there's a problem.

But my training with the volunteer fire department was a real stunner.

First, the breathing apparatus and other equipment is incredibly heavy - it weighs at least 40 pounds; the fireproof attire that goes on first also weighed me down; the boots are like walking with cement blocks if one is not built up for it.

Now add the hose laden with hundreds of pounds per square inch of water - or think of carrying or even dragging someone or something from a burning building or automobile ... Anyway, it should go without saying that's why firefighters have to be in such great condition to begin with!

I was pretty peaked by their standards at that time. I've since built up some real Girl Power muscles.

The vast majority of the calls received by firefighters are for automobile accidents, mishaps, and injuries. I learned that the most important thing we could do as first aid providers being the first on the scene, is to comfort the injured person (or animal). Touch them gently, tell them it's going to be OK, and then do what we can until the medics arrive.

For the person suffering a heart attack or bleeding, it slows the heart and helps them relax as much as possible.

Something that shocked me is that materials with which furniture, rugs and other household goods are made emit toxic smoke when they burn. Meaning that we can be killed by inhaling the fumes of burning substances from a relatively small fire. So we were strictly warned to *always* wear our breathing apparatus when we approached even a modest flame.

There was only one (unplanned) fire we fought that summer. I remember helping with a hose pointed at the burning house and trying to appear confident about what I was doing .. but mostly I recall trying to keep on my feet - standing under the weight of the boots, uniform and breathing apparatus!

I discovered how to apply CPR for humans and animals, how an emergency vehicle is equipped and so much more that summer. Interestingly, I was the only woman volunteer firefighter that I knew of there.

My already estimable respect for firefighters grew exponentially with every new training session. And I especially appreciate the generosity of the men who were part of the volunteer fire department. They never treated me with anything but respect and tried to help me do everything I had to. I gave it my very best shot because I knew that we were all in it together.

Being out in the boonies, we were all we had to put out fires, tend to auto accident victims or help anyone calling for help for a long period of time until the big guns with major resources arrived.

It's one of the things I've done in my life of which I am most proud.


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