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Well well well.  Look at who Akemi and I ran into on our way to lunch today.  None other than celebrated auteur, director, producer, writer, amateur boxer, and avid cyclist Cowboy Bruce McDonald!  He’s jetting off to Luxembourg for a week to finish post-production on his latest movie, then returns to Toronto for more work – and lunch with yours truly.  As most of you blog regulars know, I am a huge fan.  He is immensely talented, a true professional, and a genuinely nice and thoughtful guy. Why, just check out these perfect pencils he sent me on the heels of Dark Matter‘s third season wrap –

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Truer words have never been spoken – or printed on the body of a writing instrument.  He knows me sooooooooooo well.

Running into him was a bit of a coincidence as I happened to come across his name plate during yesterday pre-pre-PRE-production location tour of a nearby studio. The place has a lot to offer – maybe a little too much as we’ll have to pick our spots, write to them, and then let our Production Designer do their thing.  The premise of this sci-fi series offers plenty of room for visual interpretation of its retro-future feel.

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Went to Portland Variety the other day for lunch to try out their $19 burger.  Great bun but, damn, they cooked the shit out of that patty!  I could only manage three bites before giving up and heading over to the nearby Burgers Priest for a deliciously superior cheeseburger at one third the price!

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Today, Akemi and I had lunch at a place called Egg Bae in Toronto’s Kensington Market.  It offers about a half dozen egg-themed sandwiches served on a peculiar house-made egg bun.  Quite good.  I remain unconvinced by that bun however.

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Then, it was off to the newly-opened Pappa Roti cafe for their trademark Malaysian specialty – “delicate, coffee caramel coated crunchy on the outside pastry with its rich buttery filling”.  We were frequent customers back in Vancouver.  Akemi is a huge fan of their simple bun, while I prefer their version of the ice cream sandwich –

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Today, I sit down to review potential series, story, and character arcs for one series, complete the pass on that polish for another, and wrack my brain over the series pitch for yet another and seriously wonder whether I’m just beating my head against a wall on this one.  It’s like every time I near the finish line, it gets moved back a half mile.  And, after this latest setback at the end of a lengthy marathon session, I’ve just stopped seeing it.  Do I suck it up for one final burst, or pack it in and move onto the next race?  I’m taking the weekend to think about it.

Also, I’ve got books to read and review!

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You spent all weekend studying those sides, preparing for that audition – hours upon hours upon hours.  And then, when the day comes, you are in the zone.  You NAIL IT!  You head home feeling great, certain you got the role.  You tell your friends, your mom (She’s been a longtime fan), your significant other (Looks like you’ll have to reschedule that trip!).  You’re feeling GOOD!

Until the following day when your agent calls you to inform you the role went to someone else.

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You’re shocked, then angered, then depressed.  Perhaps this is the final straw and you’re considering throwing in the towel, giving up those dreams of stage and screen for that full-time position in the accounting department of your uncle’s wholesale-retail-import-export company.

But wait!  Before you make any rash decisions, I want you to know that, in all likelihood, you weren’t to blame for not getting that role.  From my 22+ experience in casting, I can honestly say that the majority of the time, my final decision hinged NOT on what an actor didn’t deliver, but what other actor DID.  So don’t beat yourself up.  More than likely, you didn’t come up short.  Someone else just happened to deliver the perfect audition.

It’s not you; it’s us.  Or the other guy/gal.

THAT’s the case 90% of the time.  The other 10% of the time, it IS you.  So please try to avoid these auditioning faux pas:

1 – Don’t show up high or drunk.

I know, I know.  It seems like a big ask.  And while you may think that smelling like a medical marijuana dispensary is a small price to pay for mental acuity, the reality is you come across as unfocused and meandering or, in one memorable instant, so stoned out of your gourd you stared off blankly into space for a full minute before being prompted into action with a “Whenever you’re ready!”

2 – Don’t gesticulate wildly.

Are you also signing your audition for the hearing impaired?  If the answer is no, then calm the fuck down.  Nothing diffuses a performance faster than windmilling arms and frenetic hand gestures.  On the other hand, nothing quite impresses like a composed, controlled delivery.  As my old friend director Peter DeLuise used to say: “Use the stillness.”

3 – Pronunciation is key.

I don’t necessarily expect you to have watched the show you’re auditioning for or, failing that, use your mind reading abilities to guess the correct pronunciation of names, places, and varied alien species – but if you’re not going to do either of the aforementioned, might I suggest you simply ask for clarification before launching into that soliloquy.    “Oh that this too sullied feltch would malt.”

4 – Please, no funny accents.

Unless the role calls for one, or you are asked to do one on the day, please avoid the Clouseau-esque delivery – especially if you’re auditioning for the part of the extraterrestrial curator of some alien world.  Trust me on this one.

5 – Go back in time and reconsider your decision to get those tattoos.

Perhaps, back then, you didn’t envision an onscreen career in which you might have to audition for a historical drama or the role of “Dreamcatcher Tattoo-less Entrepreneur”.  Maybe, at the time, those finger tats, misfit skulls, and Chinese characters (actual literal translation: “Contents may have shifted during flight”) would have been just fine for that bank job (and I mean that in both possible senses).  Fortunately, this isn’t a dealbreaker as the magic of make-up has come a long way in its ability to transform elaborately inked skin to its unblemished original state.  Witness this wizardry firsthand – as you undergo the process at approximately 4:00 a.m., a good two hours before your call time.

Off the top of my head, that’s it.  But I’m sure more will come to me after I publish this entry.

Or the next time I’m casting a show.

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10:45 a.m.: Marc Bendavid, Dark Matter’s ONE, was in town for a limited time only. Fortunately, I was able to book early to avoid disappointment.  We discussed ailments, pending projects, and early retirement.  Also, the fact that there’s better eating in Rome than Budapest!

12:00 a.m.: Lunch with the gang from Company A.  About a month ago, I pitched them a half dozen ideas and, today, they made their selection.  A little surprised yet no less delighted by their choice – and you will be too if you were a fan of THAT episode.  We made plans to get together next week and commence the development process.

1:21 p.m.: Received the list of prospective candidates (and supporting materials) for the writers’ room of that pending sci-fi series.  Lots to get through tonight.

1:45 p.m.: Rumblings the deal is almost done on securing the film & television rights to that horror novel.

3:00 p.m.: Lattes with the gang from Broadcaster A to discuss their notes on the last draft of the sci-fi pilot.  We decided to keep the final reveal and revisit if once the show gets picked up.

4:23 p.m.: Received more notes on the series overview for that horror series. Hmmmm.  Honestly thought we’d be on our way to script by this point.  At this point, beginning to question whether I’m the guy for this particular job.  Conference call tomorrow – which should shed some light on the situation.

6:15 p.m.: Arrange departure time with Ivon (driver and future on-set producer?) for tomorrow’s pre-pre-PRE-production location scout with Project A’s creator/director.

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7:05 p.m.: Take the dogs out for their last walk of the night.

Full day!

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Who is this handsome clean-shaven devil holding up the two flavors of soft serve: salted maple rosemary and pistachio?  Yes!  It’s none other than Anthony Lemke, Dark Matter’s THREE/Marcus Boone, who was in town shooting…something.  Given his love for cider, I figured a few glasses would loosen his lips and have him reveal everything about the production and his role in it.

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Six cider flights later – and he revealed all!

Now YOU have to buy me six flights to get ME to talk.

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Pictured above – the batch of hot sauce I made today.  Ingredients include tomatoes, sweet onion, shallots, garlic, maple sugar, maple syrup, cherry-apple butter, apple cider vinegar, mango, and hot peppers.  Actually, a medley of hot peppers that, without a doubt, included carolina reapers.  I know because the sauce is not just hot, it’s kick you in the back of the throat hot.

Hmmmm.  After months of actively avoiding the wordpress upgrade, I’ve fallen victim to it and am now unable to adjust the size of the photos I upload.  I may have to switch out of this antiquated theme background.  Stay tuned for a new look blog in the coming days!

Update on the project front = There is no update on the project front.  No word on that option, that pilot, that overview and pilot pitch, those comic book ideas, or that deal.  I am making progress on the polish and, later this week, I have two broadcaster meetings lined up AND a visit to some potential standing sets for the show I may or may not be doing.

Today, I leave you with more Dark Matter-themed artwork from Andy W. Clift (follow him on twitter – @AndyWClift)

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Raza vs Black Ship (black and white)

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Raza vs Black Ship (color)

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I first came across Andy W. Clift’s work while perusing Comixology’s new release section,  taking notice of the lovely retro cover for the first issue of his Captain Cosmic comic book –

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I ordered that first issue, loved its fun sensibility, and followed him on twitter.  Recently, I reached out to Andy to find out if he’d be interested in rendering Dark Matter in that same lively style.  Well, he was more than happy to oblige and here is an initial sampling of his take on the The Raza and its crew…

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The Raza in FTL (black and white).

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The Raza in FTL (color).

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Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (black and white).

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Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (color).

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Our resident swordsman, FOUR (black and white)

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Our resident swordsman, FOUR (color).

More of Andy’s work in the coming days.  In the meantime, if you want to check out his creator-owned comic book, The Adventures of Captain Cosmic, you can do see by purchasing it here.

Tomorrow: Answers, answers, answers!

Ideally.  But problem more questions.

Oh, and dinner with Dark Matter’s THREE, Anthony Lemke.

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Thanks to everyone who congratulated me on the various projects I’ve got in the works.  Of course, the mere fact that I’m busy doesn’t guarantee anything.  Three months ago, I had almost eighteen different projects on the go, most of which have since dematerialized like a red-shirt ensign teleporting planetside so that he can lend Kirk some much-needed back-up.

Don’t get me wrong.  A couple of the projects I mentioned yesterday look very promising, but I know from experience not to take anything for granted.  I learned that lesson the hard way not too long ago…

I received an email informing me that a green lit show was looking for a showrunner and those involved were eager to work with me.  I needed to get on the phone with the president of the company that week!  So, I read all of the supporting materials, then got on the phone with the president of the company and discussed everything from the show’s budget to where we would shoot.  I was told we would need to move quickly!

I spent the weekend reviewing the materials so that we could hit the ground running on Monday.  Which came and went with no word.  Then Tuesday came and went.  Then Wednesday.  I emailed the president of the company wondering what was up.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a fast track project?  No response.  Thursday. Friday.  Finally, Monday, I was contacted by their director of development who apologized (they were away) and, over the course of the conversation, informed me that the project was not, in fact, green lit.  It was a script to series deal (And, days later, not a script to series deal either).  I would need to prepare and pitch my vision for the prospective series.

And so, I spent the better of that week reviewing materials and putting together a detailed pitch of the series pilot and a series overview.  I got on the phone and pitched my take to the director of development who was very positive, offered me a few suggestions, and then set a time for me to pitch the broadcaster.

The following Monday, I pitched the broadcast exec.  He had a few questions.  I answered.  I was thanked for my time and then…nothing.  While I wasn’t expecting an immediate response from the broadcaster, I assumed I’d at least receive an email from my partners on the pitch letting me know how they thought it went, offering me some sort of timeline.  Instead – radio silence.  The next day, I reached out to the director of development who informed me they expected a decision later that week.

Then on Friday, I received a call from the president of the company. And by the tone of his voice, I could tell it wasn’t good news.  “I hate making these types of calls,”he began and I felt bad.  Not for me, but for him.  I wanted to tell him that I believed we had a great pitch and that we could just take it somewhere else.  This wasn’t the end.  But, as it turned out, it was the end.  For me anyway.  “As you know,”he said, “we went out to a number of different showrunners for this project.”

Actually, no.  I didn’t know.

Apparently, the show had been picked up, but the broadcaster had elected to go with someone else’s take.

Normally, this would have been cause for frustration, but not to the extent I experienced that day mainly because I had been misinformed about a project that had gone from a green light to a blinking yellow to a full-stop red.

The incident soured me, not only on the industry as a whole, but on a few people as well.  Still, it did teach me a very valuable lesson about not counting your chickens before they’re hatched – or crewing your production until you have a signed contract.

So, for the time being, I’m going to pretend I haven’t been offered that showrunning gig, or been hired to write that pilot script, or am on the cusp of having that series I’ve been developing for the past nine months green lit. Instead, I’m going to keep working and focus on those comic book projects.

Oh, and maintain my torrid reading pace.  So far this year, 226 books and counting!  A job would really throw a wrench into my book-a-day average.

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