Making Magic

I had such a great time designing the set for the pilot episode of “The Adventures of Regular Guy Tim”. The challenge was to make a somewhat convincing wizard’s tower with a relatively small budget. We converted an empty stage into this little magical world. I’m excited to get proper film stills/screen shots to add to my portfolio. For now, I’ll just post a few photos from yesterday’s shoot to show the magical fun we had.

 

And here are a few prop details that probably won’t get much screen time… But they sure were fun to make!

 

Seriously, I had such a blast creating this set. Can’t wait for the next one.

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Making Things!

Within just the last couple months I’ve had the opportunity to work on projects as set decorator, production designer, and window display artist. Since writing my last post I have been able to set my fears aside and focus on the joy that comes from creating things and learning as I go. What I’ve enjoyed the most is having my imagination explode with ideas when handed a project. I’d like to post about each project individually but as of right now I’m up to my armpits in freelance gigs.

I’m looking forward to posting more photos of the projects I’ve been working on. One of my projects was fabricating the props for Nordstrom Window displays (appearing in storefronts the first weekend of September).

This week I’m busy working as production designer for a fun fantasy short – let’s just say I’ve got a lot of magical wizardry to whip up before Saturday’s shoot!

Next month I’ll be designing the set for my old high school’s fall musical, Seussical the Musical. More fun fantasy and imagination work there!

And only 3 more weeks of the summer quarter. Lordy, I hope I find time for my homework and finals.

 

 

 

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Life Academy

I was writing in my journal this morning – pouring out my fears and concerns regarding the future and what I’ll do after I finish school in less than a year. Having a steady job – or even a good paying job – has always felt out of reach for me. Right after high school I decided to volunteer as a missionary for a few months in Ireland (honestly, I just wanted a reason to travel), and when I returned I attended my hometown community college. I received a full-ride scholarship through the theatre department. Free college? Heck yes, sign me up! But once I completed my Associate’s degree I couldn’t decide where to finish off college and get my BA degree, or with what major. I had too many interests. Did I want to focus on acting? Directing? Writing? It seemed too expensive to go to school when I didn’t have a laser focused passion. I decided to go back to Ireland to continue missionary work (actually, I just loved Ireland and didn’t know how to move and work there), but within a year I was very aware of what I passionately did NOT want to do. Returning home I looked into a few acting conservatories. I auditioned and was promptly not accepted. “Fine!”, I thought, “I don’t need school, I’ll just learn from experience and start working in the real world”. With that decision, I moved to L.A to study improv and try working as an actor in Hollywood. I had a friend moving down at the time and it felt like an easier way to move out of my small town to the big city with him than try and move New York on my own. I only planned to be in L.A for a year (here I am now at almost 10 years in L.A and still loving it) but for the past 10+ years I have struggled so hard to make a living: to pay rent, buy food, pay for my car, and afford some lifestyle luxuries (ie: clothes and dining out once in awhile). If I felt poor as a missionary, I felt just slightly less poor as a struggling actor.

Now, here I am back at school (I finally discovered something I had been passionate about all along) but I’m scared I won’t find a good paying job, that I’ll still be underqualified because I won’t have a Master’s Degree in design. I’ll be receiving a sort of Associate’s + degree with my Professional Designation course in Visual Communication. Will that be enough?! I can’t afford to go to school longer right now.

All this to preface my journal entry excerpt I wanted to share with you today. So here it is:

… but why does this nagging shadowy creature called “eductaion” keep tapping me on the shoulder – telling me I haven’t had enough “proper school” to be the professional designer I dream to be? I think there is always this creature lurking behind everyone’s back – whispering into your ear that you are not good enough, you’re an imposter and someday you will be found out.  I think in the arts it feels so much more scary and real because art is so personal and vulnerable.

But, I think with a passion to learn and a passion for the craft you can still move ahead even though you may not be in the brick cube confines of a school. My schooling is the world that I live in, the access to a multitude of books I can find in libraries, to DVD commentaries and trying things out by designing for friends’ projects. This is my lifetime academy. I will never stop learning, I just need to remember this when I fall into the trap of comparing myself to other designers I admire and want to be like. 

I write about this a lot and am constantly trying to cheer myself on when I feel like all the odds are against me…

I know the importance of education but if you can’t afford to go to school or continue to add to your degrees, it is not the be all end all. At least I hope not. So I’m going to see how far I can go just by learning by experience and soaking up whatever information I can.

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Chipping Away

As my second quarter is on its final legs and we begin our final projects, I find I’m able to just barely keep everything afloat. I start out the quarter so full of hope and energy, thinking that this time I will go above and beyond on my homework assignments – so I can really make the most of my short time back at school. But as the (very few) weeks pass, I find I have to turn in work that is not nearly as wonderful as I first set out to do. Time alludes me. I feel I’m constantly just getting by on my school assignments, work around the house and spending time with my daughter and husband. I just chip away at the long list of “to-do”s.

But as I chip away I unearth a deeper passion for what I’m studying. Today I had a pre-production meeting regarding a play I’ll be designing the set for. I get so excited thinking about the possibilities of what we can do and how we can further tell the story by what we show visually. I love reading a play and having images pop into my head.

A few weeks ago I helped shop for props for a short film my husband is producing. As I was browsing the aisles of Goodwill seeing what jumped out at me as the perfect little additions for a shabby 1991 kitchen, I realized this was something I’ve been doing my whole life. I like to wander the aisles at stores and look at things and see what speaks to me and where each item might look good or what kind of person would buy it.

It’s a really great feeling finding something else I’m passionate about and also feeling like I have a gift for it. The moment I read a script or a play my imagination flies. And now, thanks to school, I’m learning the tools to get the images out from my head and in front of other people.

This is freaking great. It’s not easy, and some days I really feel like tossing in the towel… then I remember how stir crazy I was waiting for my agent to call and going nuts feeling like I wasn’t helping provide for the family in some way. I know I was working a ton and it’s no easy task taking care of a kid and a home, but I felt so creatively dead. And maybe that’s what happened, maybe a part of me died – was creatively starved to death, which allowed a new artist to rise. I would never have pursued this field if the acting gigs had happened just a little more often. I find myself oddly grateful for the way things turned out. Of

I find myself grateful for the way things turned out. Of course I didn’t know it a year ago when I was really struggling and wondering what to do with myself, but here I am feeling full of hope and (still) wondering what will the future hold.

 

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LA Anniversary!

I just wanted to write a quick little “woo-hoo” post since today is my LA anniversary. 9 years I’ve lived here. Originally I was planning on just one, and then life here swept me up. In no way could I have ever predicted my life to be where it is today: back in school, married, kid, home, extremely happy and content. Feels good.

I’m in the midst of homework right now, but I try to post every year on my anniversary.

 

Woo-hoooooo!

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Fashion…and Me

I’ve begun my second quarter at FIDM (started last Thursday), and this weekend I am working on one of the most difficult assignments I’ve ever had. On the surface it is quite simple, and for some it might be one of the easiest assignments they’ve ever had. But for me, given the task of taking street-style photos of 10 16-24 year-olds who are fashion forward has given me a ridiculous amount of anxiety. Today I walked down Melrose ave where there are a ton of great vintage shops and boutiques. My homework walked past me in droves. It would have been like shooting fish in a barrel – had I the bullets (guts) to do it. But I didn’t. I failed miserably and then, of course, immediately mental beat myself up for not doing it. Here I am, a 32-year-old grown ass woman with a family and home – and I let myself get intimidated by young women a decade younger than me. Good job, Julisa.

My whole Melrose experience made me want to run screaming for the hills (the hills of Astoria, Oregon to be exact – more on that later). I have never been one to feel fashion forward – nor desired to be. I prefer classic styles, and I adore vintage classy chic styles. But with the fashion trending towards ripped jeans, crop tops, 90’s floral prints… a lot of 90’s fashion in fact, I feel like a complete outsider. Let’s be honest, that walk made me feel boring, drab, and old. The pressure to look “cool” gave me flashbacks to middle and high-school (and so did the high-waisted jeans).

I have always been drawn to the past. Even when I was a kid, I grew up watching old black and white movies, reading a ton of historical fiction, and scavenging through antique shops. I longed for a “simple” kind of life – to some extent. Obviously I didn’t want to go to extremes – I live in LA for goodness sakes! But even now I enjoy the fact that we don’t have cable television. We have only one t.v and for most of the day it’s covered by a large painting. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account so I could focus more on the life in front of me (and of course the political environment is terribly depressing). Eric and I have worked on decluttering our home and going through everything making sure what we have we use regularly and makes us happy. We don’t have a ton of toys for Cordie (we also don’t have much space).

Eric, Cordie, and I recently traveled up to Longview, Washington to visit my parents and while up there we took a day trip to Astoria, Oregon. I’ve always enjoyed that town, but this time around Eric and I were taken by the Victorian houses. It was a rare sunny day in the Pacific Northwest, and the town seemed extra magical. “Move here” it seemed to shout. The calling still lingers… First I need to finish school.

I have a few more days to finish this project. I just wanted to write and share my entertaining anxiety with talking to 16-24-year-old young folks who are fashion forward. Why couldn’t they have asked me to look for “advanced style” people?! I would have had a heyday with that!!!

Ok, I can do this!

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Happy

As I head to my last midterm today I just wanted to write real quick and say just how stinking happy I am that I am back in school and studying something I have always been interested in – but never really had the guts to fully commit and study it… until now.

My classes are tough and challenging but I am inspired to keep pushing and do the best that I can because I sincerely want to know how to be good at Adobe Illustrator, and sketching out floor plans and elevation views. With each day of class, I see more doors opening for me and what I might pursue career wise. The fact that I will have a wide variety of options and paths to follow down after graduating gives me so much joy. For the last 10 years I have been working hard at having some scrap of a career as an actor. I felt so boxed in and helpless. I felt as if all the energy to be creative was beat out of me and I no longer felt like an artist. It’s so difficult to see any kind of progress when working on a monologue or going to an audition (even for some really big productions). At the end of the day I felt I had nothing to show for my hard work.

But now, I have hard copies! Work that I have spent hours on, and the visuals to prove it!

More to come. Tests await!

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Back to School!!

School! I love being back at school! It feels so great to be back in the classroom setting and studying a subject I’ve always wanted to learn more about. There was only so much I could teach myself and now with deadlines and grades in the mix, I’ve been pushing myself much harder understanding the realm of visual communications.

So far I’ve been able to juggle the crazy schedule of classes, homework, working at the Dolby, being a mom, keeping our home in some sort of order, and even giving myself a little down time. However, this is only week 3 and the other day I put in my two weeks’ notice to the Dolby. I am very sad to be leaving the theatre that I have called home for the last 6 years. I have loved being a tour guide and entertaining and educating the public about the Oscars and the theatre. I knew there would be a day when I would no longer be a tour guide. There were times when I seriously thought they would scrap the tour department altogether, be we have somehow hung on. And now here I am having to let go of something I’ve loved in order to make room to move on to my next love – whatever that may be.

I have hopes of writing more updates as I go along, but the days slide by so quickly now with so many more projects to work on, I’ll have to let go of hoping to write really great blogs that are insightful and well written…and just write what’s going on and how I’m feeling about it. I deactivated my Facebook account last November, so this is just my little way to still express myself and share what I’m doing with the world.

Ok, back to painting, and cutting, and gluing, and so much more!

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(Insert Witty Thoughtful Title Here)

I’ve been putting off writing this blog for quite awhile because I wanted to wait until I knew what and how I was going to write an amazing blog talking about my next big adventure. But school starts next week and what I hope to do over the next year is write about my experience of going back to school to study Visual Communications at FIDM.

This was a bit of a quick decision to change career paths. At the beginning of October, I came across FIDM while looking up design schools in LA. By mid-October, I had taken a tour of the campus and had a meeting with an adviser. By the end of October, I had applied and created a  portfolio of some sort and was accepted starting the Winter Quarter of 2017. Whew!

I don’t know if I would say I’m altogether changing careers, more like adding more artistic tools to my toolbelt. I’ve been focused on acting for the last 20 years but have always wondered what it might be like to study another artform. I’ve always been interested and fascinated with interior design, style, and decor. I want to know why certain things work, and others don’t.

So I’ll keep this post short. Here on the eve of 2017, my hope is to weekly document my trek back into the school world and to write about this next adventure of mine.

Cheers!

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Two Cents

Kitchen

I’ve been meaning to write another blog for awhile now…but time just slips away (surprise surprise). However, after reading this article: “Is Parenthood the Enemy of Creativity”,  I just can’t help myself but to take a moment and write a few thoughts of my own on the subject.

Stop doing so damn much! We get sucked into busying ourselves within every sweet second of our life (I am a huge offender of this thing). Specially while living in LA and doing all the business of being an actor and trying to get my work out there and be seen and noticed. Then to add on top of that being a new mom, the list of “must dos” and “should dos” is staggering and even debilitating.

I’ve had to take a step back and really look at this long list of things I “need” to do. Who is telling me I need to do it? My society or my instinct? This goes for both actor things and mom things. Here’s an example – that is actually quite timely due to recent events: Actor workshops. I hate them with a passion. I did a few because I was told they were what you needed to do in order to get any “real” work in this town but every time I went to one, everything in me cringed. The desperation you feel in that room is just awful, and you can’t help but become a part of it. In a town where you already feel quite helpless, this was just another thing to put you in your place.

So I stopped. The money I would have spent on workshops I spent on my own projects. New filming equipment, money for crew (or at least feeding crew), for submission fees for festivals, for classes that actually helped my acting muscles, etc. And now I feel a heck of a lot less shame – and helpless!

This idea can continue on to other actor-y things: building a twitter following, a large Instagram or YouTube presence, sending postcard after postcard, sending out a million envelopes with your headshot and resume in them, going to a bunch of parties to mingle and make industry contacts…. You can get so caught up in all the things you’re supposed to do to help make your career and get you noticed as an artist, and yet if you don’t spend time and passion on you art, what have you got to give?

Nothing in this town is certain. You could win an Oscar one year and in the next people could be asking “whatever happened to…?” There are no guarantees. You can book a commercial or a t.v show, get excited and tell all your friends, and then get edited out! I think what it comes down to is the work itself. Are you doing work you love and are proud of? Or are you focusing on taking the steps for success -whether that be financial or social. What is important to you? If its popularity and success, then fine! Go for it. But the only thing I have time to focus on, care about, and know I have a little control in is my own work. That means in the scenes I put up in class, the short films I write, shoot, and put out into the world, and even taking time to see the world around me and enjoy it.

So now I switch gears (a bit) and go into my dealings with being a mom. I feel it is very similar in my approach. I can get so caught up in what society is telling me I need to do as a mom! The amount of books I’ve read is… pretty ridiculous. I also find it funny that I am drawn to books and articles that basically reinstate what I already thought was good parenting. Isn’t that what a lot of us do? We take a piece of this theory, or that style, or a new program for parenting  (kind of like how some people take their favorite bits and pieces of religions)  just so we can feel less guilty about what we’re doing. And that’s another thing: GUILT!  Oh dear Lord, the way we can pile on the shame and guilt! I think we like it! Because no one likes a cocky parent or a parent that says “I think I’m doing a great job!”. But why not? (now take that idea back to acting – no one likes a cocky actor either!)

So, now to tie the two of these things together and actually relate it back to the article I had read about how being a parent can decrease you artistic abilities… or be the enemy… or whatever. So far I have not found that being a parent has made me less of an artist. It has strengthened my passion for my art, and it has laser focused the precious time I get when I can work on my art. Yesterday I dropped my daughter off at daycare, headed to the theatre for  three hours to work on a one act I’m directing. I then enjoyed a quiet afternoon to focus and work on a one act I’m acting in, then proceeded to my two hour rehearsal before picking my daughter up at 5pm. This is not a typical day, but when I get a day like that I relish it!! I’ll admit I felt a twinge of guilt for a minute or two, but let it go. I’m spending all day today with my daughter, and now I can focus on her and not worry about the art I’m not doing.

Perhaps I’m not quite writing this out as well as I would like… but the point I’m trying to make is that being a parent has deepened my relationship with life and the world – and how can that not make you a stronger artist. Don’t look at the quantity of time you put towards your art, look at the quality.

So that’s my two cents on this early Wednesday morning. The sun is coming up and I hear my daughter waking. Time to get on with the day!

 

PS: I’m super excited to write more about how I’m letting go of my “identities” as mom, actor, wife, etc. ….. but that’s for another early morn.

In the mean time, check out this book: How to Wake Up by Toni Bernhard.

 

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