Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday wrapping

So I am officially wrapped for the first season of Hell Froze Over. The word over at Misplaced Planet is that the episodes will start airing right before (or actually on) Valentine's Day 2009, so I will keep you posted as it gets closer to the date. Also, for you behind-the-scenes junkies out there, I will be blogging along with each aired episode to let you know the stuff that went down on the set, the hilarity that ensued between takes, and all the stuff they didn't keep in the episodes, most likely because a) it wasn't that funny, or b) I was talking with my mouth full again. I like to do that a lot.

Also, by "hilarity that ensued between takes", it's mostly me cracking myself up, and the rest of the crew and cast waiting patiently for me to stop being the only person laughing in the room. To be fair, I think it's because someone laced the crafts services snacks with glue.

I am also finally, totally, officially wrapped on the short film The Last Time I Saw Her. The director needed a couple more things since I last blogged, and then the other actor and I went with the director down to Venice Beach and filmed a bunch of stills to promote the film and do the poster art. We had a blast, just shooting on the rocks out at Venice, watching the tide come in and the sun go down, and watching the storm that hit last night roll in from the north. I've seen several of the photos, and I think they turned out great. I feel like a very lucky girl to be working on projects that I'm really proud to promote and plug and talk and blog about. And of course, all the wonderful people that I get to work with.

The holidays in LA are kind of a weird gig. There's no snow, there's occasionally nothing but sunshine and good weather, things that I don't mind on a warm spring day, to be sure, but it gets difficult to find the coziness of the holidays when it's over 80 degrees and the air-conditioning is running. So as I'm blogging this, the sky is dark with storm clouds, there are bright red and green lights glowing in my living room, and I've got a mug of hot chocolate with saturated marshmallows sitting on my desk, begging to be finished. It's as good as I'm going to get, and I'll take every last minute of it.

I'm also finally allowing myself to listen to holiday music, as I usually wait until the last two weeks of December to do so, if only to avoid getting burnt out on holiday songs early and end up longing for some good classic Metallica while everyone else is singing along to Jingle Bells as we open presents. Just in case I do burn out quickly, I follow the yearly tradition of making a mix CD of holiday music that, in my humble opinion, doesn't suck nearly as much as most of the songs on mainstream radio do. I'm also slightly less embarrassed to be caught singing in the car at red lights if I have some more alternative music playing. (This lesson was learned the hard way, and I'm not going to go into details, but it involves Alvin and the Chipmunks.) And now that I'm in the holiday spirit, I'm thinking some time this week is as good a time as any for me to decorate a tree, watch A Muppet Christmas Carol (my favorite holiday movie, although Elf comes highly recommended from my friends) and find a place somewhere in my home to hang a stocking. I'm thinking maybe on the cat.

My Zales commercial is still getting plenty of air-time, so that's also lovely, and I've gotten several excited phone calls from friends and relatives about seeing it, and one phone call from a friend who noted that somewhere, deep in the pits of the glory that we call the internet, there's a football blog where the blogger talks about him and his friends making inappropriate comments about the deaf woman in the Zales commercial while watching a football game.

Greaaaaaat. Have I mentioned how much I love the internet?

I hope you all have wonderful holidays, that you get to be with the ones you love, and that you make it home, wherever home may be.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

all good things.

So I finally have all my script notes back for my feature length film script, and I'm gearing up to start working on my Official Second Draft, meaning that it should be the draft of my script that Officially Sucks Less Than my First Draft.

An overwhelming process, to be sure. I was blessed to get three completely different people, all of whom are good writers, to look over my script and then mark it to death -- an actress, a director, and a screenplay writer -- and so far I'm getting similar feedback, in the form of: This is really good, but it needs a lot of work.

Which I'm totally fine with. I relish the hard work part of any project, perhaps being inherently suspicious of anything that comes too easy, but I'm also staring at my script and trying to not feel overwhelmed at all the changes that need to be made. It's a fine balance, to be sure, between revising too much and not revising enough, while preserving the integrity of a piece, yet making sure that all the unnecessary junk gets whittled away.

So I'm back to writing, which feels good, and I finally, finally wrapped the short film "The Last Time I Saw Her." I thought I'd wrapped it a couple weeks back, but the director called and wanted to do some pick up shots with me huddled in the front of a car, with him in the back shooting in a parking garage, and it ended up working really well. I'm fairly happy with my work, and as it starts getting submitted to festivals, I'll try to find a copy for everyone to watch.

I am also gearing up to finish off the last six episodes of season one of Hell Froze Over. I shot all the East Coast scenes a few weeks back in New York, and now we move onto all the scenes that I share with another West Coast actress, who plays my roommate, Brooke. It's always fun to act with this girl, and as usual, I'm excited to be back working with Misplaced Planet on such wonderful scripts. I can't ask for much more as an actress.

Finally, and I'm so excited to post this, my national commercial for Zales is beginning to air. Some of my friends and family members caught it during last week's episode of My Name is Earl, so keep your eyes open -- the commercial starts with an elderly couple slow dancing, and one whispers to the other that he loves her. The rest of the commercial is, in fact, people telling each other that they love each other in different languages, and the very last vignette in the commercial is a man signing "I love you" to his wife in American Sign Language at their wedding, and then it goes to me, his bride, sitting in a wedding gown, and I sign "I love you" back. And then it goes to black, and of course, the "Love Rocks" catchphrase that Zales is known for. It's actually a very touching commerical, especially for the holidays, and I think you'll enjoy it.

So the holidays are coming up, which means that posts might be a bit more spaced apart, but I will try to keep everyone updated on everything else that I'm working on. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving. I'm expressing gratitude this year for all the opportunities I've been given, and all the opportunities that are coming my way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

lights and buzz

So I just got back from New York late last night, this being the first time I've been to New York (apparently, JFK airport doesn't count). I had such a wonderful time, but I'm fairly sure that I'm prejudiced because of the people that I spent most of my time with, who are just about the most awesome people of EVER.

I'll back up and start at the beginning, and try to skip any boring details -- I'm shooting a web-series called Hell Froze Over, about this girl named Jody, who's determined to change her bad taste in potential love interests by going on a date with everyone she's ever rejected. That's a lot of people, and let's just say that sometimes it was a good idea for Jody to have turned them down in the first place, but that's where the comedy comes in. I play Jody, and I have to say, again with tons and tons of prejudice, that the scripts I have been given are hilarious, the actors I've gotten a chance to work with are so insanely talented and hysterical, and the very capable guys (and girl) over at Misplaced Planet are so freakin' cool that I'm kind of worried they're going to wake up one day and ask themselves, Why do we keep working with Tracy again? And when that happens I will curl into the fetal position and eat lots and lots of chocolate to dampen the pain.

At any rate, I flew out this past weekend, we shot six(!) episodes in Brooklyn and New Jersey over three days, and lo and behold, I just about fell in love with everybody I worked with. It seems there is no shortage of amazing people on this planet, and I'm always somewhat surprised to learn that I get to keep having them wander into my life. I mean, I should share, right? Does everyone else get to meet as many incredible people as I do on an everyday basis?

Being the lucky girl that I am, I got to spend the weekend soaked in blood, hitting on girls, and throwing up in a bathtub, among other things. And if that doesn't raise your interest, I really don't know what will. It's looking like the episodes will debut in early 2009, possibly January, and I will let you know when they air, and where they can be found on the internet. I'm so excited to show off the hard work that so many talented people have put into this project, and I think you'll find the web-series just as funny (and sick and twisted) as I do.

The part of me that loves and misses and pines for seasons just snapped awake the first time I saw a tree lit up with brilliant gold leaves on the road to New Jersey for our first day of shooting, and everyone was really patient when I kept stepping outside between takes to take photos of the trees and just about everything else I could think of. I spent a lot of time thinking about how the change of seasons helps us keep better track of the passage of time and lets us feel renewed, almost as if the seasons help us remember that we, as human beings, are just as cyclical; we respond and awaken to nature just as much as anything else does, we feel the pull and give of the weather and the wind at our backs, and we can measure our lives in the change mirrored in the world around us, the rain beating down on the windows, the snow cresting softly on our cars, the crunch of leaves underneath our shoes. It's the one thing that I feel we lack here in Southern California -- well, that, and a good public transportation system.

I'm also feeling truly grateful that I got to spend so much time with some really incredible people, people who offered me a place to stay and got me addicted to mint tea and mildly curious about zombie movies, people who drove into the heart of the city and didn't make fun of me of for staring in wonder down at Times Square or squealing over the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, people who patiently put up with my endless questions about New York and who stuck with me during conversations about movies, music, politics, theology, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, people who took me to the Ninja restaurant so I could die happy and took the time to walk with me through a cemetery so I could take more pictures. I feel like I found some new partners-in-crime and I'm really excited that I made new friends, and made some already existing friendships stronger.

I had such an incredible time in New York, and I have a feeling I'm going to have some more wonderful times ahead of me when I get to work with these people again. I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First preview of "The Last Time I Saw Her" up

The link to the first trailer of the short film I shot last(?) week is at the bottom of this post, so go check it out. Several things might run through your brain after you watch it, including:

1) Damn. Didn't you shoot it a week ago? That was fast.

To which I say, yes, yes I did, and yes, that was fast, and isn't it lovely to work with people who have follow-through and commitment to their projects? If you work in this industry at all you'll understand what I mean, and you know what it feels like to work with people who are professional, talented, consistent, and accountable. It makes you feel like you want to do it for the rest of your life, and all the b.s. that goes on with irresponsibility and flakiness and the rampant unprofessionalism of the industry is maybe just the exception to the rule. Whether that's true or not (about it being the exception to the rule), it's always nice to believe the very best about people -- and be proved correct.

2) Hey, that guy in the movie looks a little like Heath Ledger...

He does, and he's a damn good actor too, one that I had an absolute blast working with and I would work with him again in a heartbeat -- time and time again as I threw stuff at him, he not only caught it but threw it back just as hard. A wonderful quality in an actor. Go check out his other credits on his IMDB profile.

3) Cool. Guitar.

(Well, you might not think this one. But I do!) It's composed especially for this project, and I kinda think it's sorta awesome. Guitar riff, anyone?

4) What's with the Swedish fish commercial I have to watch before I see the preview?

If you're like me, and Swedish fish (and this commercial) freak you out, turn off the sound and walk away for a good fifteen seconds, unless you want to see American Cheese melted on someone's forehead, which I admit, really grossed me out.


Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some updates, and a few thoughts on editing photos...

So first of all, I shot my short film last week...some time last week. I've had a pretty full week of auditions and driving and editing photographs and yet more driving...and lots and lots of not enough sleep. I blame that last one on watching halloween-themed horror movies and being startled by the biggest black widow I've ever seen in my life on our outdoor trash can. Which I promptly sprayed with Raid and I still feel kinda guilty.

So the short film, "The Last Time I Saw Her," we shot in one night in a hotel room, just me and the director and the other lead actor. It was fast and raw, just the way I like my shoots, and the coolest thing was the camera equipment that the director used. Here's a link to what it looks like: (skip the intro and go straight to "Mike Figgis on the Fig Rig.")

Basically, the rig looks like you took a camera and attached it to a steering wheel, which gives you total mobility without having the camera on a track, while providing stability too. It was the funnest thing to work with because the director could track me from room to room really quickly and then get in as close as he wanted to my face. I loved shooting and I got to work with two really awesome, talented people.

In the meantime, I'm getting some good training editing my photos. For the past couple months, I've been shadowing the photographer who's sort of mentoring me and helping her out at weddings when she needed it. Last week was the first time I was able to actually edit my shots (on Aperture, on the Mac) and I had already anticipated that I would learn a lot about my photography style just from looking at my 1500+ shots.

The first thing I picked up on, and you might too if you an early photographer, is the repetitiveness of my shots. I have to chock this up to lack of trust in my own instincts and skill as a photographer, as I have many, many shots of the same bunch of flowers or a tealight candle, and I can go back in my mind and picture what I was thinking at the time, which goes a little something like this: Just one more, one more shot, not sure if the seven I already got are good enough...

Yup. Lack of trust in an artist is never a good thing. But it happens to the best of us, especially those of us starting out, and I'm trying to get better, and the good thing is, the more I shoot, the more I'll get better. That's just the way it is. Also, and this is the fun part, I'm studying my own shots, and there are some good, some bad, and some ugly, and now I'm not thinking about the angle or the shot or the shading or the coloring. I'm thinking about the client. Because taking photographs for yourself is one thing. You can shoot sticks and rocks all day, smudge it a little, do some dodge and burn, and call it art and frame it, but when someone is PAYING you to take photographs of their wedding, it doesn't matter if you took that beautiful shot of that stick and rock. You start thinking, if it were my wedding day, what would I want to see? What does the couple want to look back on that day and remember? And, most importantly -- are my photographs capturing what a married couple is going to enjoy looking at for years and years, those living moments in time and those unexplainable looks and gestures and a thousand tiny beautiful moments that gather together when two people commit their lives to each other in front of their nearest and dearest?

Suddenly my artsy ain't-this-a-cool-shot photos didn't look so cool, because I could imagine being that couple and being all, yeah, that's lovely, where's my Great-Aunt's face as I kissed my groom? And you learn, as a photographer, rather quickly, that a shot has its own voice and the voices that are the most beautiful to listen to at a wedding are always, always, going to be the people. People make a wedding. The guests, the emotion, the joy, the all comes from the celebration of us celebrating each other. Everything else is details.

Wedding Photography 101.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And I just booked a short film!!'s called "The Last Time I Saw Her," and I will keep you guys updated on how it goes. We're rehearsing tomorrow night in Santa Monica and I'm already excited because I get to wear black nail polish for the shoot. And lots of smudge-y black eye makeup.

It's the small things, really.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It took longer than I thought it would take... get me back on here. So sorry about that -- I'm working on updating my website so that there's a blog link, and people can find this more easily. In the meantime, I'm still keeping myself way too busy (it goes with being an A-Type) with revising my script, working on my web-series, shooting photographs, auditioning for commercials, tv and film, working on my not-so-mad kung fu skills and oh, yes...I started learning French. At 7 in the morning. For those of you who know me, I can hear you laughing and I know where you live - for those of you who don't - how to put this gently? You know how a grizzly can get kind of cranky when it's woken up from hibernation? Well, picture me like that, but with worse hair, and a really good right hook -- that should about do it. I will be leaving for New York (I need to put that in all caps because I'm so damn excited. I will be leaving for NEW YORK!!!!) in a couple weeks to shoot six more episodes of the web-series I'm working on, Hell Froze Over. No episodes have aired yet, but we have four shot and edited, and with that additional six I think we've got our first season, and the episodes should be debuting fairly soon, and I'll plug the hell out of them and annoy you all when they do. I'm beyond excited to be working the fabulous people over at, and I even got my good friend to be in one of the episodes. (Look for her as the tall, hot, brunette in the threesome episode, and if she looks familiar, then I'm guessing you're a fan of Ugly Betty, wink wink).

I shot another wedding this past weekend, and I can honestly say it was one of the best weddings I've ever been to. There was so much love and so little stress at this wedding...and when that comes together, the result is just beautiful. I'm loving taking photographs right now, maybe because the heat is dying down a little and I'm an outdoor photo kind of girl, or maybe it's because photographs make me nostalgic, and autumn does too. Whatever it is, I'm hoping to step it up three or four notches with the amount of photos I take, especially on the hikes and walks I go on. Then again, with parts of California on fire, including my beloved Angeles National Forest... I might just be taking photos of my cat for the next month or so.

So my national commercial for Zales jewelry should be airing probably in the next week or so -- it's fairly sentimental, and I'm pretty sure they're going to air it for the holidays, and we all know that the "holidays" officially start the day after Halloween. It's titled "Different Ways," and it's a really beautiful commercial of people telling each other in different ways that they love each other -- and I play a bride using American Sign Language to tell my groom on my wedding day that I love him. It's such a beautiful scene that I actually started crying in the audition and I was fairly sure I bombed it. I loved every aspect of shooting that commercial (even the part where they thought they'd have to pierce my ears on set, yikes) and I hope you guys enjoy seeing it on TV and, if the rumors prove true, in some movie theaters.

I am going to try to do better at posting more than once every couple months, and keep you guys updated about new projects and new work, but honestly, bare in mind that this blog will probably also end up being my new home for completely random thoughts, Top 10 Lists, music and movie reviews, and general blabbing about my so-called life. It's not really that interesting, but it sure is...random. :)


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

umm...that's a good thing, right?

Me: Hi, Mikala!

Ten year old Mikala: Hi.

Mikala's mom: Mikala, you remember Tracy, don't you?

Mikala: Noooooo.

Mikala's mom: Sure you do, Tracy is your aunt's best friend! You've met her lots of times.

Mikala: Noooooo.

Mikala's mom: Remember, Tracy's the one who makes noises like a squirrel when she eats bread at restaurants?

Mikala: OHHH! HI TRACY!!

You can't make up stuff this good.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If I wasn't an actress, I'd be ...

1) One of those people on Animal Cops who gets to arrest/possibly rough up people who have abused animals.

2) Food critic -- eat, write about it, and be overly-opinionated? I can TOTALLY do that!!

3) Door-to-door salesperson... for sci-fi television shows.

4) Dolphin trainer

5) Professional photographer for sunsets

6) Muppet

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

onwards and upwards...

Gonna make this one short and sweet, as it's my first blog and first venture into creating a new blog space for myself. I'm feeling good about life right now, I'm working on several different things of all varieties, including but not limited to photography, acting, writing, and trying not to kill my watercolors teacher, and I'm liking where this year is going (winding down? already?). I've gotten to travel a bit, and the traveling will continue in August with another trip to the East Coast (New Hampshire, to be exact, the land in which I was born) and if I keep my fingers crossed and play very nicely with the other kids, maybe, just maybe, I'll get to go to New York in October. I won't talk about it now, for fear of jinxing it, but good, good things are around the corner, and I'm determined to be grateful. Even though the cat is still mad at me for leaving her last week.
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