The Tree Man and Me on TV

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Life in general, Theater, TV, and the Arts

A few weeks ago,  I was called for a casting call for part in a re-enactment drama for a TV show.  What’s a re-enactment drama you may be asking.  I think we’ve all seen them before.  It’s when they show a dramatization of a event that occurred in the past.

This drama was about an Indonesian man named Dede Koswara, who came down with an extremely rare condition called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).   Koswara, who originally had a weak immune system contracted the disease after cutting his leg on a rock as a teenager.  Shortly afterward, he discovered wart-like infections spreading throughout his arms and legs.  Eventually, the infection got so bad that the warts thickened and started resembling tree bark, hence the name Tree Man.

I auditioned for a part (didn’t specify any part at the time) at TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) studio at the end of last month.  The shooting was to take place over a three day period, but due to my work schedule, I could only attend one day of shooting.   I wasn’t too sure that I would even get a part, so I wasn’t really trying too hard.  The audition consisted of the assistant director (AD), giving me an old script from a TV show from 10 years earlier, and acting out the part of a guy who came to Japan for the very first.  The part didn’t have too many lines, but it did have a lot of motion.  For example, I had to act as if my home country didn’t have vending machines, and I had to buy a drink from the vending machine for the first time.  The AD, a very nice lady named Tsutsumi-san, whom I got to know quite well from the actually day of the shooting, told me exactly what she was looking for.   She told me that she wasn’t to concerned about how well I read the lines, but rather my facial expression and how I am able show the right emotion for that particular situation.  That was a big help, and so I was able to play out the role of a lost foreigner trying to but a drink from a vending machine for the first time of his life. The entire audtion took about an hour, of which I played several role.  Afterwards, I knew it wasn’t my best acting.  It had been a year since my last audition so I was a bit rusty.

A few days later, my manager calls me and says that I got “a” part.  I, of course, asked him which part, but he wasn’t too sure.  Apparently, (and I learned this after the shoot), that I was slated to do the main role of the tree man, but since I couldn’t attend all three days, that I was given a fill in role, which is basically any role that was not assigned an actor, was given to me.  Ultimately, that resulted in being three different roles: a construction worker, a van driver, and a friend of the main character.

The shooting took place  in Yamanashi prefecture, which is about a  two drive from Tokyo.  Orignally, I thought that the shooting would take place at the TBS studio in Tokyo, so I wasn’t too particularly thrilled about being bussed out to Yamanashi.  When we got I there I realized why they chose that particular location.  Our location was in the  middle of the mountains in a foresty section of a vaction house sub-division.  The whole area was quite rural and did resemble what a rural part of Indonesia might look like…I suppose.

It was quite nice, much nicer than the other shooting location I’ve been to in the past, because TBS  had leased out two vacation houses.  One house was used as a set for the shoot, and the other was to be used as a break room for the actors.  The house used as a break room was small but it was nice.  There was a small bedroom, a loft, a living room, a kitchen, and of course a restroom.

The other house was much larger and had several rooms.  It looked more like a lodge (which it probably was) and some of the actors chose to use that as a break room instead.  I spent the majority of the morning in the smaller house and recouped after the long drive.


Later that day, I was called up to the set by Tsutsumi-san.   She explained that I would be playing multiple roles throughout the shoot.  Some were extra-like roles (or roles with no speaking parts) and roles with speaking parts.  I was abit curious as to what language we were suppose to speak in.  Traditionally on these types of shows, we would speak the native language of the person we are playing and there would be subtitles, or we would speak some random language common  to all of the actors (usually English) and be dubbed over by some Japanese voice actor.  It this case, it was the latter, so I was kind of looking foward to seeing funny it’d be to be dubbed over, but at the same time, I was hoping for a real speaking role for a change.  Now I know how Arnold Schwartzenegger felt when he made Hurcules in New York.

My parts were brief, especially when I played the construction worker, since I was essentially just an extra.  But the way they played them so many times on TV that I got pretty sick of even watching myself at one point.  there was even apoint where I thought enough was enough, and nearly turned my TV off.  But all in all it was a pretty fun experience.  I always love doing these TV shoots, and my roles are progressively growing so hopefully it leads to something really big in the future.


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Just Do It!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Rants and Raves, Theater, TV, and the Arts

Yesterday, I did a TV commercial for Nike, as a part of their new iPOD Nano/Nike product collaboration campaign.  I gotta say that it was the hardest TV commercial I ever did because it was mostly physical work.

We all met at Shinagawa station at 6:45AM.  This meant I had to get up at just before 5AM (on a Saturday) to make it out there on time. 

the location busses 

From Shinagawa, we were all bussed out to the location in Kisarazu, Chiba which is an hour and half away from where I live.  The location was out on a harbor that overlooked Tokyo Bay.  In the distance, we could even see Yokohama, where I live.

The harbor and Tokyo Bay

The bus arrived at the location a little before 9am.  The weather was really cold.  I had dressed warm in 2 layers of sweat shirts and jeans.  Even then, it felt quite chilly.  We were all told to wear clothes made by Nike, but I only had a pair of 10 year old Nike basketball shoes.  I did have a green Nike cap at one point, but I wasn’t able to find it anywhere.  So the only thing Nike on me were my shoes, but I did have my iPOD.

everyone in their warm attire prior to the shoot

Just before we were ask to leave the warm confines of the heated location bus, those of us who weren’t Nike from top to bottom were provided with Nike clothes to wear.  I was given a pair of blue nylon training paints with a white Nike logo on it, and white Nike t-shirt with a gray colored Nike logo to wear.  I changed into them on the bus and wore my sweat shirt on top of the Nike t-shirt.  When I got off the bus, a stylist checked me over to see if my clothes passed.  He told me I had to lose the sweat shirt, so I was left with a small skimpy t-shirt, which was waaay too cold to be wearing alone.  Unfortunately, I had to.

The TV commerical will feature marathon runners from all over the world, and we play the runners.  Our job was to basically line up on the starting line and pose as if we were waiting for the starting gun to fire.  Sounds easy enough, but with a hundred runners, it was hard to sync everyone up on the starting line.

At first, everyone was pretty enegetic and ready to go.  I was freezing in my single t-shirt and tried to keep warm by jogging in place. After about an hour of taking still shots (which are used for posters and magazine ads) of us in line which took about hour, next came the actual TV commercial shoot.  For this, we had to actually run on cue, as fast as we could, toward a camera located 50 meters at the end of the field.  Scenes like this are NEVER done in one shot.  As a matter of fact, we’d be really lucky if the director is satisfied after 10 shots.

I don’t know how many times we had to run, but it was a lot.  Most of us were really tired, thirsty, and hungry after about the 5th or 6th run, but the AD’s (assistant directors) didn’t allow us to take breaks.  We all had to do the same scene over and over well into the afternoon. 

Well, a bad thing did happed as result of this.  While running, I was bumped from behind by another runner, and hit the asphalt big time.  Years of karate training taught me how to fall without hurting myself, but not on asphalt.  As I was falling, I tried desparately not to land on my hands, elbows, or knees, because I knew that the asphalt would just rip the skin off like a cheese grater, and I wound up hitting my left shoulder and doing like a summersault which ripped some skin off of my shoulder.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of it.  I did wind up skinning my left hand and knee. 

My hand was bleeding was pretty badly, and one of the useless AD’s rushed over and pulled out a couple of band aids with Hello Kitty prints on them.  Even if my hand wasn’t bleeding as it was, the Hello Kitty band aids were hardly funny.  I’m sure she didn’t mean it to be joke, but a qualified AD’s should be able to handle accidents like that in a more professional manner.

After being patched up properly, we all had lunch. It was about 2pm when we had lunch, so I knew were already 2 hours behind schedule.  It was the usual unsatisfying location bento lunches they usually pass out these kinds of shootings.  I usually skip these lousy lunches and go somewhere outside for lunch.  But since we were out in the middle of nowhere, I had no choice.

After lunch, it was back to the shoot.  This time they wanted us to line up in reverse order on the opposite side of the field to get a still shot from a different shot.  I don’t know if it was suppose to be a time elasped shot, but for each shot, we had to stand abslolutely still for  what seemed like forever.  In actuality it was probably more 10 minutes, but since we were in a runner’s starting pose (seen in the picture above), it started to hurt after a while.  We did this for about an hour so.  By the time were done, I was absolute sore all over.   My thighs, butt, calves and feet all ached from doing that stupid runner’s pose for an hour.

Later in the day, some real professional runners showed up to take part in the shoot.  They were the real stars of the commercial, but I didn’t recognize any of them.  Supposedly they are pretty famous, so I snapped their pictures to see if I could find out who they were later.

pro runners

 more pro runners

The overall day was tough.  It was by far the hardest commercial ever because it was so physical.  I am still very sore and tired from it, but hopefully it’ll all be worth it when the commercial airs next month.


A sample of what we had to do but for a longer distance

On the silver screen at last!

Author: mirai  //  Category: Theater, TV, and the Arts

A while back, I saw an ad for people to participate as extras for an upcoming movie.  Of course, me being me, I could not resist answering the ad.  I didn’t think they’d be interested since I don’t look very Japanese, but the assistant director emailed me back and told me that he was interested and to be at the studio by 8AM.

I took the day off from work and headed down to a place in the outskirts of Tokyo.  Since I had to be there by 8AM, I had to leave at 6AM.  Anyways, there were about 70 people who showed to be a part of this movie.  The lame part was that none of us got paid to do this.  But the good part was that our names will appear in the ending credits.  Since I’m not really in this for the money,  I was more than happy to get my name on the big screen.

The movie turned out to be a 007 parody B flick, which disappointed many of the extras who showed up.  Many were so disgusted and angered that they left half way through the shooting.  Although I, like many of the other extas, wished it were a bigger budgeted presentation, I decided to stick around and have fun with it.  I was happy that I did because since many of the others left, it gave those who stayed a better opportunity to be on camera.

I’m not sure how the other final product is going to turn out, but they did get a good shot of me.  Of course,  I said that about the ANA commercial that I did, and ultimately wound up being on TV for a grand total of 0.1 seconds, but since this is a full legnth motion picture, there may be less cuts….I hope

Auditions Auditions…sigh

Author: mirai  //  Category: Theater, TV, and the Arts

I’m afraid that I have been neglecting my English blog lately.  I’ve been concentrating on mostly keeping my Japanese blog up to date.  But in doing so, I have found that my English writing skills have been taking a serious dump.  A friend of mine asked that I help translate an email from Japanese to English, which is usually quite easy for me, but I found it to be quite difficult.   It seems that my vocabulary has taken a vacation so I had a hard time finding the proper words.  So,  I think its time to update this blog.

A couple of months ago, I registered with another talent agency in Tokyo.  The owner, Yoko Uchida (half Ghanaian half Japanese) is a former foriegn talent and has appeared on TV on a number of occasions.  One of her more notable appearances was on a show called “Koko Ga Hen Dayo Nippon Jin” (“This Is What’s Strange About You Japanese People” -roughly translated).  It was a show with a panel of foriengers from various countries (living in Japan) who would regularly discussed and criticized strange Japanese behaviors, traditions and customs.  She appeared along side another fellow Ghanaian, Samy Pop who also works at the agency.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Yoko’s agency telling that there was an audition for a spot as a regular on a popular TV variety show in Japan with a very popular comedian.  It was a chance of a lifetime and a dream come true for me.  I happen to watch this show every week, and it is quite funny at times.  However, I was a bit concerned over what type of person that they were looking for.  Usually, the foriegners who appear on that show are usually silly people with either a ridiculously thick foriegn accent or who speak very broken Japanese, which Japanse people find humorous.  Knowing this, I was a bit apprehensive about even going to the audition, but I figured what will it hurt.

Anyways, I asked my manager at the agency if I had to act like one of those stupid foriegners and speak broken Japanese and he told me no.  Its a spot on a corner that features a game show, so they were actually looking for  foriegners who were knowlegeable about Japan.  Although I don’t know a whole lot, I think I can fend well for myself. so I decided to do the audition.

 I auditioned with two other people, both Australian. The other two people who were interviewing with me were your typical “henna gaijin” (silly foriegners) who often said silly things in broken Japanese that made absolutely no sense at all, yet the interviewer thought was hilarious. Although I failed to see what was funny, I just laughed along with them.  

To make a long story short, the interviewer commented that I was “too serious”, which I took as “lacking in a sense of humor”, and didn’t pass the audition.  At first, I was kind of sad, but after thinking it over, I realize I definately was not right for that show.  I definately lack the ability to act obnoxiously silly on a routine basis on national television.  So although I was sad at first, I’m kind of relieved that I don’t have to degrade myself for cheap laughs every week.

A couple of days ago, after have gotten over the last audition, Yoko herself called with another audition.  I was a bit star struck when Yoko called me.  I thought it was cool that a one time celebrity rings me up on my cell phone.  She had news of another audition that was going on the next day.  I had already had a training session with my company already scheduled at that same exact time, so at first I was going to tell her that I couldn’t make it.  But I decided a long time ago that I would never turn down an audition or TV job unless it involved nudity or went against my moral fibers (which I have very little of).  So I managed to rearrange my schedule a bit so that I could go to the audition and attend the training.

The audition was for TV commercial for Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric).  I would play the role of a foriegn exchange student from India (yeah, again I am an Indian).  I figured that there will be real Indians there so I would have to do something to make myslef stand out more.  On the way from work, I searched frantically for a shop that sells turbans in Tokyo.  Although there were a few places online where I could get one, it would never arrive on time so I needed to find a place that sold them offline. 

After thirty minutes of hopping from shop to shop. I could not find a single place that sold them.  Nearly giving up, I found a small shop near Shibuya station that sold fabric.  I guess I could make one, I thought.  Having never tied a turban in my life, other than wrapping a towel over my head after a shower, I chose the cheapest most comfortable feeling sheet of white fabric I could find thinking it would be adequate for my needs.

When I got home and attempted to make a turban, I found it to be a lot more difficult than I imagined.  The fabric that I had chosen was too thick and too soft.  Ideally, it would have been better to have gotten something thin and wrinkled easily. I spent hours looking up various websites and trying various methods, but none of them worked with the fabric that I had chosen. 

Strangely enough.  I found a black silk muffler (scarf) that was perfect.  I tied it around my head in a shape of a turban and it looked pretty good.  I decided to go with this look.

Yesterday, I met Yoko at Toranomon Station.  I was expecting her to comment on my self-made turban made from an old scarf, but she didn’t.  Perhaps she thought it was real?

When we got to the audition, we all signed in and went in one by one to say a couple of lines and do our bit in front of a video camera and the director. The assistant director then said, “if you don’t mind, can you remove the turban?”…all that work for nothing.  The part actually called for the actor to wear a wig. GRRRR!!!  The AD then asked, are you Indian? to which I said, no I am an American.  Hethen turned to the director and whispered, “he’s not an Indian! What do you want to do?”  The director then said, “Its okay, lets see what he can do.”  I sighed with relief and continued the audition.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how things went.  I looked at my competition (all real Indians), and although they were all younger than me, they all looked too old to be students (which is what the role called for)  The one person who looked young enough to be a student didn’t speak any Japanese (which the role also called for).  Admittedly, I didn’t do my best acting either.  I’m not a good improv actor.  I need a script and I need time to become the character.  Given the circumstances, and coupled with the fact that I am not a real bonafide Indian from India, I think my chances I are 50-50, if not slimmer.  But I guess anything can happen.

Working with Professional Models is FUN!!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

Lately,  my project with Nissan has been coming to an end so I haven’t been as busy with work as I have been previously.  This gives me more time to focus on other things, like my acting career for example.  I’ve been vigorously working on my own website to promote myself to advertising companies for possible future work in commercials, movies, and promotional videos.  This is sort of like killing two birds with one stone, because it also allows me to brush up on my web authoring skills as well.  I could have cheated and just whipped up something simple using preinstalled templates and what nots, but I decided to author the whole thing completely from scratch and make my own very professional looking presentation.  This can also help me land other projects at work as well.

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Over the weekend, I got a frantic sounding call from my manager at the talent agency.  Apparently, while they were shooting a commercial for Suzuki’s new car called “Wit”, one of the mamagers became really ill.  Unfortunately, he has a very important role and that is to coordinate with the foreign models and also interpret instructions given by the director of the commercial.  So, just simply going home was not an option for him.
My manager asked if I could come out to the studio and help them out the shooting.  Since I really had nothing else to do I accepted.  Fortunaltely for me, the studio was only about 20 minutes away from my house, so it was really quite convenient.
When I arrived, Jitsu ( the manager who had fallen ill) was waitng outside of the studio.  He didn’t look well at all and looked as if he was going to pass out at any moment.  Apparently, several days earlier, he was told that he had stomach ulcers.  But since his schedule had been quite busy, he was not able to take any days off to rest.  The pain had gotten so unbeareable that he wasn’t able to continue.   But since the agency is pretty shorthanded these days, the had no other choice but to call me to do the work.
I do have interpretting experience, so whether I could do the interpretting part of the job or not was never an issue.  But it was more than just interpretting.  Since the shoot can take upwards of 30+ hours to complete, it was my job to make sure that the stars of the commercial (in this case, four very beautiful models) don’t get too frustrated and to also keep their spirtits and morale afloat.  Fortunaltely for me, the models were very cooperative and always in good spirits.
I got to the studio at around 6pm, By then, there were people who have already been their for about 8 hours or so. They were changing the set, so the assistant director told us that they should be done in a couple of hours.  So Jonny (the other manager from the agency) and I hung out with the models in the dressing room.
There were four models, (Jess from New Zealand, Tina who’s half-Japanese and half-British, Mandy who’s half-Chinese and half-American, and Gabrielle, a Brazillian model who looks a lot like Sandra Bullock, but prettier).

DSCF0301
Tina, giving the typical Japanese “peace” sign for the camera
They all had great personalities and really made my job easy.
The set change eventually took 6 hours to complete.  We were all pretty frustrated with the long delays, but we all remained very professional.  The shooting resumed at around 12:30pm.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t sleepy at all.  I guess I was caught up in the excitement of things.
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Jonny (my manager) also giving the peace sign as Tina looks on.

The whole shoot lasted until about 11am the next morning.  The models slept on and off during their breaks in the dressing room.  I wasn’t able to sleep so I stayed up and chatted with the models, the directors, and basically whoever was awake until the shooting restarted.
DSCF0313
The four models striking a pose (from right Tina, Mandy, Jess, and Gabrielle)

DSCF0311
The ladies on stage with the new Suzuki Wit.
DSCF0318
A Suzuki Wit that had been cut in half for interior shots.
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A moving background will be imposed on the green scree during the editing process to make it appear as if the model is actually driving the car.
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Mie, the make-up and costume lady, complete exhausted from the all-nighter.

Although I was not in the commercial, I felt as if I had a big part in making it come together, and I felt a great sense of satifisfaction when it was over.  I am actually looking forward to seeing the final product.  And since Suzuki does publish their commercials on their website, I will but a link here when it airs next month.

On Air…Well Sort of..

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

  The ANA commercial that I am in began airing last weekend.  Unfortunately, I have got a lot less air time than I anticpated and I didn’t anticipate much at all.  Now that its on air, here is storyline of the commercial:


-The commercial begins with a press conference with Kazushige Nagashima (a once professional baseball player in Japan, sports caster, and commercial actor) and Team Nagashima (a basketball team made up of deer -or men dressed in deer costumes).  The reporters mumbles they’re deers!?, where he responds yaru shika! (meaning we have to do it!, but with a play on words -the word shika also meaning deer in Japanese).


 


– The scene switches over Team Nagashima Japan flying on business class on ANA to Chicago, or shika-go! (Go deers! -another play on words), with Nagashima mumbling ganbaru shika (which can either mean we have to do it! or Go deers!) 


DSCF0244The third scene is at a basketball arena, where we spend nearly 16 hours shooting the commercial. Its Team Nagashima versus what looks to be the Chicago Bulls. What has been cut from the commercial is a scene where the deer are desperately trying to make a shot, but the Chicago defense is too strong.  One of the deer’s manages to steal the ball but then gets seriously fouled by the opposing team.

As you can see here, I was pretty close to the court.  If this were a real NBA game, I would definately have the sweet seats.

– So, the aired commerical skips the above scene to where Team Nagashima are down by 1 point and there is only 10 seconds on the clock.  Its  Chicago’s ball and Team Nagashima needs to make the last shot to win the game.  Nagashima calls for a huddle and scolds one of the deers,  you’re just a deer by yourself.  But as five, we are a team!! 


 


Just an explanation: ANA is running a campaign where if you travel as a group of five, the fifth person gets a discount or travels for free, hence Nagashima’s comment about needing to work as a team of 5.


-Here is one of the reasons why it took nearly 16 hours to shoot this 15 second scene.   The deer who is suppose DSCF0252make the winning slam dunk kept missing the shot. It took nearly 25 takes with a 5 to10 minute break in between takes.  Everytime they resetted the scene, his teammate had to steal the ball away from Chicago and pass it to the him to make the slam dunk.  Ultimately, he only managed to do it once that night.  All the others will NG shots.  So when he did make the one and only dunk, the crowed went wild (as we were directed to) but instead of acting, we were truly happy that he FINALLY made the damn dunk! And we were all passing aroung high-fives as if we just witnessed Michael Jordan do one of his infamous gravity defying dunks.


One of the deers practicing his free throws


  Funny thing is, if you look at the commercial carefully, they didn’t even use the shot of the sucessful slam dunk!  They wound up cutting and editing one of his missed shots and splicing it with him making a standing slam dunk DSCF0248 right underneath the basket, with the camera mounted above the hoop. So, in essence, we had to sit through nearly 3 hours of missed dunks for nothing.


-The next scene was shot the next day.  It takes place as an American airport (really a convention hall in Makuhari, Chiba) where a we, a bunch of would be travelers, withness these big basketball playing deers walking through the airport. 

The huge task of mounting a camera above the hoop because the deer kept missing his dunk shot


The shoot lasted about 4 hours (yeah, 4 hours for less then 2 seconds of air time).  I was placed in the background, but in direct site of the camera lense. I was suppose to be a business traveler reading a newspaper while awaiting my flight.  After about 5 takes, they took away my newspaper ( they told me that they could not see my face) and replaced it with a camera.  So as the deers walked by in front of me, I was suppose to pretend to snap a picture of them, and then give an astonished look.  


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 I sat next a 5 year old little girl and her mother. The director coached the little girl to jump up and down and shout look mommy deer!!!  After ever take, the director kept saying be more excited, give us more emotion!! to the little girl and her mom.

This guy sat in fornt of me and could clearly be seen in the final cut.


There were extras walking behind the deer as well, as well as people at a snack bar in the background.  The AD paid very close attention to every little detail as to the placement of people and props.  For example, in the glass doors prior to the shooting, you could see reflections of garbage cans that said Don’t litter in Japanese writing.  Since this was suppose to be an aiport in Chicago, the director had all DSCF0272of the garbage cans moved out of sight. 


There were a lot props such as Arrival/ Departure monitors placed  just behind the glass doors to simulate a real airport setting, a whole waiting room with actual people sitting in the chairs behind the doors, Ameican flags everywhere, and a huge poster in background giving hints that we were in a real airport the States. NONE of which was seen on camera. 


Naturally, with all this close attention to detail and emphasis on people and prop placement, I figured that we would be pretty well seen on


Tourist complete with suitcase in tow, practicing our walk in our mockup airport.


camera.   Futhermore, we shot a scene where we did our bit (me taking pictures of the deers, the little girl next to me doing her part, as well as the others doing their parts, WITHOUT the deers. So I assumed that we might even get a close up shot.) 


DSCF0270


So far two versions of this commerical has been ran.  A 15 second version and a 30 second version.  With all of the scenes that seemed to have been cut, I am hoping that their may be a 60 second version coming up soon with the rest of the scenes.

You can see some of the detail. For example, you can see a reflection of a poster of an airplane on the glass doors

None the less, I had a lot of fun, and I would probably do the whole thing over again even if I knew the results.  For those who want to see the the current 30 second version of the commercial, click on the link below.


ANA TV Commercial (30 second version)


BTW, I can be seen in the background if you squint yourself carefully and look at the 0:29 second mark.

Boredom

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Rants and Raves, Theater, TV, and the Arts

Lately, nothing too exiting has been going on with me. Since the ANA comercial 2 weeks ago, I have been getting a quite a few calls from my agent about auditions and other potential TV jobs, but none have really stuck. I went to an auditon last Tuesday. Apparently, the advertising company was looking for an “Indian looking” person to be in their upcoming comercial. My agent thought I qualified, which is okay, but when I got to the audition site, there were real Indian guys there. Compared to them, I didn’t look Indian at all (laughs), but I did fool one guy from Bangledesh. He thought I was from his country and tried to speak to me in his native toungue. Of course, I didn’t understand a word he was saying. My agent then explained to him that I wasn’t from his part of the word and that I was actually an American Japanese, to which he responded in astonishment. I assumed that he didn’t speak much English because after that he spoke to me in Japanese. He said that I looked like someone he knew back in his home country. I guess I just have one of those faces where I its hard to tell where I’m from.

The next day my agent called again to tell me that the comercial was cancelled. I guess that they couldn’t find a quality Indian out of our bunch worthy enough to do the comercial. At the same time, my agent told me about a couple of more jobs. One is to be a part of a movie. I thought that sounded really exciting. It was a small role and I would play an illegal alien. I immegiately heard the old Genesis song, “It’s No Fun Being an Illegal Alien” playing in my head and I laughed. My agent apologized thinking that he was beeing rude by offering me such a role and thinking that I would be good for it. But in contrast, I would love play a part like that. What’s the point of acting if you can’ play a role that is different from your true self…right? I told him that I would be happy to do the part, but unfortunately it also got swept under the carpet.

I have one more job still pending, but I won’t mention it yet in the fear that I might jinx it (if I haven’t already). Its not as exciting as the others but it does pay well. I am crossing my fingers on this one.

Over the weekend I rented some DVDs to watch. I rented “Roots”, a near-true story about the author, Alex Haley’s ancestors, and their lives as slaves in the mid 18th century. Although I vaguely remember my mother watching this on TV when I was a kid, I personally never watched it but I always wondered about it. So I rented it and sat through 4 hours of the first part on the mini-series.

Although VERY long, the story is facinating. Although I read about African slave ships during high school history, this version of the story seems much more true to life. History books tell the story, but in a very biased way so that it seemed as if the slaves, although slaves, had a fairly okay existence. Roots told about the real experience. It told about how the slave traders literally hunted down the African people and tore apart their families, kidnapped them, and sold them off, so that plantation owners in America and Europe could have free labor. It was sickening to watch, but definately an eye opener.

TV Time!!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

A few weeks ago, my manager from my talent agency called me and asked if I wanted to be an extra in an ANA commercial.  Of course, I accepted because I would never turn down a chance to be on TV. Originally the shooting was suppose to last only a day, but my agency asked if I also wanted to be in the second shoot as well.  Although it meant I would have to take a day off from work to do it, I happily accepted. 
Its been a year and half since my last appearance on TV, so I was pretty happy to have been called again, as it is a rare occurance for me. And unlike being on a 60 minute TV show that only airs once, a commercial is usually played several times, which gives me ample opportunity to let my friends know to watch it.  And, although I am only an extra, I did get some air time, so it will be interesting to watch.
The shooting took place last Monday.  It started at 8AM, so I had to get up at 5:30AM to get out to Tokyo to be there on time.  The shooting was suppose to last until 5PM, but my agent warned me ahead of time that these things don’t usually end on time and often goes over.  So I was anticipating on being there until about 8PM.
The shooting was a lot of fun.  I cannot really reveal the contents of the commercial until it begins airing probably next month or so, but I can say that the first part took place in a basketball arena and there was a lot of people there.
When 5PM came around, the director told us that it would be going longer (as my manager warned), but it wound up lasting a lot longer than anyone expected.  At around 10PM, people started getting restless and we all thought that we were about done, but then the director announced that we had alot more shooting to do and that they are aiming to finish at around 12AM.  Some people groaned, and others were very vocal about the long hours.  I was having too much fun to complain.  I was VERY tired, but I could have gone all night.
12AM came and went, and people were getting angry and started walking out.  The director then said, Please! we’re almost done!  Just one more hour please!! Most agreed to the hour extention but others walked out. I couldn’t believe how unprofessional they were.  Afterall, we are getting paid for this.
When 1AM came, it seemed that we still weren’t wrapping up.  Many more people started getting vocal and started complaining.  Although the scene was a bit incomplete, the director called it a wrap.  I eventually got home at 2:30AM that night, extremely exhausted.
I still had another scene to do the next morning, which meant waking up at 5:30AM again. So I slept only an hour and half, and ate very little.  But surprisingly, I was pretty energetic the next morning. Admittedly I was a bit cranky from the lack of sleep, but once I was on the train heading out to the studio, I was able to wake up.
On the second day of shooting, I got more exposure on film.  Its only a few seconds, but it was more than the previous day.  I’m not sure what the commercial is going to look like after the cuts and edits, but I sure hope that I make the cut.  But if I don’t, it was still a lot of fun.
My agent called me yesterday to thank me for being understanding about the overtime and being high spirited.  He promised to try to get me more TV work in the future which was a very exciting thing to hear.
Here are some shots from the shoot:

My manager meeting us at the station

A bit blury, but a picture of me and a pretty well know foriegn talent in Japan.

My hair is a bit funky from the humidity and heat from the lights

We even had cheerleaders

And hung out at an American airport

When the commerical eventually airs I will post the video here.

Going to San Francisco…again

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

I will leaving for the States in about 30 minutes. It will be an 11 day business trip with three main missions. If I can accomplish those missions within the first week, then I can pocket the rest the time I spend there and use it as a vacation time.

So far, I have no plans, but I might meet with some friends, depending what their schedules are like. If I mamage to really finish my work within the first week, I may even go down to LA. It looks like its 50/50, but since it really depends on the willingness of others, and not just my efforts, its really all up in the air. But there is one thing that is for sure, I am definately going to try to fit in some R&R on this trip.

Another TV appearance?

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Theater, TV, and the Arts

It’s Saturday and I have to work today.  But its no biggie.  We’re doing a machine room expansion project, and I am just here to supervise the whole operation.  This also gives me a chance to finish up some unfinished work.
I am becoming a strong believer of jinxes.   It seems that everytime I tell someone about something good that will potentially happen to me, it never happens or something goes wrong.  So lately,  I have been quite apprehensive about telling anyone about the stuff that’s going on around me.
However, there is one thing I did want to share, and I sincerely do hope that I don’t get jixed on this because I really do want it to happen.  Yesterday, I got a call from my talent agency.  It was the first time since the summer, so I was pretty surprised.  I was beginning to think that they had forgotten about me and that my dream of becoming a star some day had diminished .  They told be that there will be an audition for a TV CM next Tuesday and wanted to know if Iw as I was available.  Being as busy as I am, Tuesday would be kind of difficult, but I do have a few holidays owed to me by company so, I might be able to squeeze out of work to do this audition.
My talent agent told me that they are looking for a very serious looking foriegn guy who speaks broken Japanese in a strong foriegn accent.  I laughed out loud because I definately do not fit this role (not as-is anyways).  My agent advised me that it will take some acting skills (which I do have a little of) and that I should do a bit a of a cosplay thing and wear some glasses or something.  Unfortunately, I do own a pair glasses because I am extremely far-sighted (15/15 vision or 2.0/2.0 by metric standards) and can’t see things that are too close.  So I guess I will just throw on a shirt and tie, and wear my glasses. As far as the foriegn accent, I guess I will need to practice.  There are a couple of foriegn guys at work who do speak with an accent.  I guess I will listen and immitate them.
The other thing is that I have to work with kids.  I am not too good with kids.  For some reason though, they all love me.  Perhaps its because I act like a big kid myself.  I love toys and video games, so maybe that’s why  they love me.  But I am a spoiled kid who doesn’t like to share his toys, so maybe that’s why me and kids (especially the small ones) don’t go well together.  But anyways, hope I get this one!  Wish me a broken leg!