Improv at the HUGE Theater

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In my opinion, one of the best skills an actor can have is improvisation. Improv is all about being in the moment and responding to what is actually happening.

A few years back, I went through 2 years of improv classes at the Brave New Workshop and then performed every Tuesday night for nearly a year. It really helped my performance as an actor.

With that said, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve performed improv and I want to keep my acting chops in tip top shape. So, I decided to enroll in classes at the HUGE improv theater.

I’m on my fifth week and things are going great. If you’re interested in watching live improvisational theater, or in taking some classes, you can check out the HUGE theater online by clicking HERE.

The Long Game Pilot

In mid-November, I worked with Travis Higgins on his UofM senior thesis project. The pilot was written by KJ Halverson and includes a number of talented actors. Check it out:

The Jingle Dress

Today I spent a couple hours on the set of “The Jingle Dress”, a narrative feature by William Eigen. I had a quick cameo as a farm worker picking beans next to Chaske Spencer (who played Sam Uley in the Twilight series).

Below is a picture of me with writer/ director Bill Eigen.

Dan with Bill Eigen

I didn’t want to bother Chaske after his long day on set so I just got a quick picture with him. He was a pretty nice guy. I don’t know what’s up with the weird look on my face, but it’s the only pic I got:

Dan with Chaske Spencer

“The Jingle Dress” Synopsis: At its heart The Jingle Dress is an immigrant story. An Ojibwe family moves from the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota to the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. We follow the Red Elk family as they discover a new culture and through their experiences and unvarnished perspective we are able to view our own Minnesota culture with fresh eyes, as well as gain insight into an ancient, indigenous society.

Dear White People

Today I was on the set of “Dear White People“, a feature currently being shot in Minneapolis. Although I said I’d never do extra work again, I had the day off and figured I could hang out on set and make a few bucks in the process.

The production is currently taking place on the U of M campus and today my character was a “Goodman Media School Student”. I got a quick cameo by turning around and looking at the lead actress (Tessa Thompson) after she showed the class her film assignment.

Overall, it was a really laid back day…

About the film:

Dear White People” is a satire about being a black student in a predominately white Ivy League school. The writer/ producer/ director, Justin Simien, was really on top of things and everything flowed smoothly throughout the day.

The production is currently taking place on the U of M campus and today I portrayed a “Goodman Media School Student”. I got a quick cameo by turning around and looking at the lead actress (Tessa Thompson) after she showed the class her film assignment.

Here is a quick blurb from Indiewire.com:

“There are some knee jerk reactions to the phrase “Dear White People” and I get it. No one wants to be called racist, and some folks are still waking up from the fantasy that having a Black president means America has somehow become “Post-Racial.”

The truth is, my film isn’t about “white racism” or racism at all. My film is about identity. It’s about the difference between how the mass culture responds to a person because of their race and who that person understands themselves to truly be. All explored through the microcosm of a success oriented Ivy League college.” –Justin Simien

If you’re interested in checking out the trailer for “Dear White People“, click HERE!

A Good Thing by Telepathos

Yesterday, I worked on a music video for Patrick Jackson, the lead artist of the band “Telepathos“.

This was his first music video and it was for his new single “A Good Thing”.

*Update*

Here’s the finished video:

The Information Thief

Today I worked on another short film with John Gigrich of Green Sea Productions. It was made for a St. Cloud, Mn film competition.

Just like the 48 Hour Film Festival, we were on a time crunch. “The Information Thief” had to be made within a few days, so it was quite a long day of filming.

I didn’t really have any dialogue, but I did get to have an awesome bicycle chase scene with actor Jon Florence. I’ll post the finished film below once it’s complete. See ya!

CLIMB Rehearsal

Cimb Theatre

Tonight I had a rehearsal at the Climb Theatre in Inver Grove Heights. It was for a sexual harassment video that I’ll be shooting on June 10th.

I’ve been cast to play a high school football coach that has to deal with some of my players harassing one of their own. The video is actually for the staff to show them how to handle these situations.

Now that I think about it, most of the athletic staff at my high school were very inappropriate. At least now I can be a part of the solution…

ESPN Wolverine Shoot

Today was interesting:

A few weeks ago, I submitted myself to play an athletic trainer for an ESPY awards promo. I didn’t know much about the ESPYs… primarily because I only participate in action sports.

Anyway, I received a call last night from the commercial’s production manager and he asked if I could be on set at 11 am this morning. When I arrived on set, I found out that an athletic trainer had already been cast and they wanted me to play a pro football player. Not only that, they wanted me to walk in a towel as if I had just gotten out of the shower. I’m not in terrible shape, but I think that playing a pro ball player may have been a stretch.

The cool thing is, is that I was in a commercial with the NFL’s 2012 MVP player, Adrian Peterson, and Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle, Matt Kalil. Although I was only featured talent, I was the only background, so I should get some face time if they use me in the final cut.

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The basis for the commercial is that Adrian wants to make a comeback. He talks about how Wolverine always comes back and that it would be the perfect nickname for him. Then, he calls up Hugh Jackman (Yep, Hugh is in the commercial) and tries getting him to tell Matt that Wolverine would be the perfect nickname for him. Hugh then tells Adrian that he needs to stop calling and harassing him.

This should be cool… I hope I make the final cut.

Advanced Film Study, Action Week

Unfortunately, I came down with the flu and had to miss class last night. It’s a shame too… it was our action week and I was partnered up with Richard Fessler. Luckily, Matthew Roy filled in so Richard could still participate.

It’s okay, a few weeks ago, Richard and I had a pretty good fight in our scene from Vanilla Sky. Plus, I have a fight with Jarrod Crooks next month for his current feature. I’m looking forward to that one… just not the bruises.

Twin Cities Actor Expo 2013

I can’t think of a better networking opportunity than the annual Twin Cities Actor Expo. It has been going strong for four years now and yesterday was the biggest one yet.

It was the perfect day… there were light showers in the morning, but by the early afternoon, it was in the upper 50′s with a clear blue sky. I know that may sound a little chilly, but for Minnesotans, it marked the first day of spring.

I arrived in Hopkins around 8 a.m. to help Bill Cooper set up a booth for his acting studio. This worked out great because I wanted to be early for the Director’s workshop audition at 10 a.m. I must have been a little anxious the night before because I honestly didn’t sleep a wink. My audition went so-so. It could have been better timing wise, but one audition isn’t going to make or break my career.

At 11 a.m., I attended a seminar entitled “Acting IS my day job!” It was all about hustling and marketing to make a living as an actor in the twin cities. There was some great advice from the panel which included: actresses Teri Parker-Brown and Leigha Horton, Carl Atiya Swanson from Springboard for the Arts, Stacy Meredith and Katie Schafer from Meredith Models and Talent, and Matt Majkozak, an agent from NUTS, ltd.

After the seminar, I headed out to lunch with classmate Richard Fessler and returned just in time to have my mock audition with Barbara Shelton of Bab’s Casting.

Around 4:30, I attended half of the “Film Acting: Through the eyes of Filmmakers” seminar and then had to duck out for a little while to catch a quick nap in my car. I was really exhausted and wanted to be rested for the networking happy hour. Unfortunately, no sleeping took place, but I did manage to shake hands with a few filmmakers at the happy hour and I made it home without dozing off.

Overall, I had a good time and was able to meet a few more people in the industry. Another day of hustlin’ complete…