How to Fail

Guarantee: Don’t practice your craft and you will have failure all wrapped up in a neat little package. 

My surprise is never ending – endless. The novice always comes forth with ignorance constantly enhanced by inactivity of the mind. In other words, if you think you have a chance to hit the ball without the benefit of regular (every day for most) batting practice, then you really have another think coming. You might as well stay at home as you fit perfectly under the marquee verifying your stature within the voice over community – Rank Amateur. Perhaps I am being somewhat harsh; novice could suffice as the proper marquee descriptive.
It must have been five years ago when an actor, suitably described by me as a rude, crude dude, had completed his audition and, when I asked him to please fill out a registration form for our files, he looked at me like I was crazy. You’d think most actors with any brains might want their name and whereabouts firmly ensconced in the database of a reasonably prominent casting director. (I’m being modest, make that prominent. On third thought, make that very prominent!)
The end result was that it only took this guy a few seconds to hand the form back to me. I wondered how he could have completed the form so quickly. When I glanced at the so-called completed registration form, I was taken aback by his lack of interest in having anything to do with complying to another man’s instructions. When I asked him why all that he found necessary was to print his name at the top of the form, he curtly replied with how we already knew who represented him.
“Isn’t that enough information for you?” He asked on his way out.
“Much more than enough,” I replied.
The rude, crude dude is most likely out of whatever business he thought he was in. For certain, his agent dumped him. It is too bad that I can’t say his removal from our craft cuts down some of the competition true journeyman actors experience as their daily requiem, but the only thing this guy could possibly challenge is his couch – the dumb bastard. Oh, did I mention I thought of him as being ignorant?
Advice to the Lovelorn*
*Any actor who isn’t getting work.
Complaining vociferously to anyone or no one in particular, or contemplation of opening a vein will, in fact, reduce your chances of success, or even continuing with a mere existence in our subjective world. Damn, that was a long sentence, don’t you think?
I actually have experienced, first hand, a well-known personage who I can’t recall ever stumbling or dropping a word during an audition. This is, of course, almost impossibility. If you’re human, stumbles will occur. But this individual comes across as the Michael Jordan of voice over.
As a reminder, I’ve talked about him many times in the past. Michael Jordan, on many shoots, would ask and have a basketball half court set up in order for him to practice foul shots during downtime. Imagine, the greatest player of his time practicing his craft almost always. And, he never found anything to complain about.
Nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced while working as a professional will ever rival the earliest days of little theater right here in Los Angeles. Yes, it is a bygone era, but memories remain emblazoned.
It was on one of those frequent days, while cutting class, and functioning as a gofer at (I believe it was called “The Players Ring”) a little 40-seat theater on Santa Monica Boulevard that without warning, I found myself side by side with the one and only esteemed character actor, Peter Lorre.
The hunched-over actor on stage was rehearsing a scene where he portrayed a bent-over street peddler, grimacing in pain as he struggled forward inch by inch in his attempt to make a living. When the scene was completed, Mr. Lorre moved forward, extended his hand, and then hugged and personally congratulated the young, 23-year-old Harvard graduate, Jack Lemmon.
Note:  Neither of them was being paid for being there. Neither of them ever stopped practicing their craft. Both men made a lasting imprint on the society around them, giving back and taking part in a never-ending quest for education in and the betterment of themselves and the craft they both adored.
The words rude, crude, or dude could never become part of any narrative describing either of these momentous personalities.

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