How I Got to Madison Avenue. And beyond.

As with life, this blog is developing and changing. It began with a lot of stories that occurred on my career path from Albany to Madison Avenue and back.

There were some similarities to the AMC series "Mad Men," and then I went even farther back in time with a somewhat fictionalized version of growing up in Troy's Little Italy.

And now, a new development. As my free lance advertising and marketing career winds down, I'm becoming more interested in the theatre arts that my father and his 3 brothers helped instill in me as I grew up.

As a result, I've volunteered to help promote the Theatre Institute at Sage, and now, to continue a long-interrupted desire to be behind the proscenium, I've joined the newly formed Troy Civic Theatre, and was actually fortunate enough to appear in their first production.

So, I hope you'll enjoy the new stories that will develop from this latest turn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Was I Ready For My Close-Up?

I've spent a lot of time behind the camera – in my 50+ years as an advertising copywriter and sometime producer.

But recently, I've had the urge to be on the other side, and this is a report on what that's like. I didn't do it to find out which is my “best side,” the angle that actors believe shows their facial features off to the best advantage. But I did discover which side that is.

My recent on-camera experiences began just a little over a year ago, when The Albany Times Union Advocate videotaped me recounting my beef with the New York State Canal Corporation. You can see that here.

Naturally, I wondered what it would be like to actually be part of a real video project, so I auditioned for a part in a short film by a student of a cinematographer I've worked with.

It's based on a short story by Isaac Asimov, and my one scene was shot yesterday.

The student told me that my character, a politically-savvy curmudgeon, was based on his grandfather, and in fact, the location shoot took place in his grandfather's kitchen. So I met the man, Lee Distin,

and used his recently published book, “Corporatocracy, A Revolution In Progress,” as my main prop.

I hope you'll read the book, and when the video is finished, that you'll be able to see that, too.

Let me state clearly that after the experience, I have even more respect for people who put up with the demands of the task. Lighting, sound, continuity, position in the frame – all are extremely important. And while you're dealing with all of those tasks simultaneously, you have to act – not as you would on a stage, but for the camera, which is a much different skill-set.

The expression and delivery are critical, and have to be the same in every angle that's shot. I only had a handful of lines, and yet when the young and accomplished director commanded “Action,” I hardly ever delivered everything as written, or even as directed.

Turns out, if he does a blooper reel, I'll be the star of that, because I gave him more screw-ups than good takes.

So, the answer to which is my best side? The one where I'm most comfortable, I'm afraid – behind the camera.

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