Found a couple of pics from my struggling actor days. These are from a film shot in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the fall of 1995 titled Striking Point. We didn’t win any awards that I know of, but I’m proud of this little film. We accomplished a lot on a shoestring budget of, if I remember correctly, $32,000. The writer/director, Thomas Fenton, was rather ingenious in what he was able to pull off with such limited finances.
Here’s me, relaxing in between shots. My character was a Russian terrorist, and I got to shoot lots and lots of guns. It was awesome, though evidently Russian terrorists are the worst marksmen in the history of marksmen.
The 2nd pic is my gang. They were all from the Dallas area, as were most of the crew. The main players in the film were from LA or Cleveland (where the production company was based), but pretty much everyone else was local.
I had a blast working this particular project. Folks worked extremely hard for little to no financial compensation. It’s one of the strange things about the film and theatre industries (and probably music, as well, but I have no experience in that arena)… those starting out – the ones that are living paycheck to paycheck (if they are lucky) from jobs that have nothing to do with film or theatre – those just starting out are the hardest workers I have ever come across.
During the 10 or so year stretch as a starving actor, I was actually pretty lucky when it came to work. I got paid for Striking Point and some other film projects, and I got paid for a few theatre gigs. To make ends meet, I worked inside the industry with craft service and as a carpenter, and I worked outside the industry as a telemarketer, security guard, bartender, and a host of other jobs before I settled into long-term gigs at Saban Entertainment and Disney Interactive.
It’s a tough and sometimes lonely road to follow – though I worked semi-consistently, there were days when I went hungry. I ate a lot of rice back then, and to this day I can’t bring myself to eat anything with tuna in it. I sat alone in my apartment on most Friday nights, scribbling poetry and screenplays in cheap notebooks because I couldn’t afford to go out. I sold my CDs, cassettes, and VHS tapes to help pay for rent and utilities. I never missed a payment, but I missed out on a few other things.
And yes, there are days even now, some 15 years after leaving LA, that I miss that kind of life – that kind of dedication to craft and the willingness to sacrifice. I miss it all. And I’m tempted to do it all over again – to get back in the creative saddle, dedicate myself to the journey, and make sacrifices for the ride I want to take.
So if you know a starving artist, take them out for lunch now and then. Make them order a salad and a milkshake, maybe a steak. Pick up the check. It’s probably the biggest favor you can do for them.
“Get your facts first, then you may distort them as you please.”