2017: Year in Review

2017: Year in Review

2017 was a bumpy year personally and professionally, but I learned a ton and I’m excited to use my skills to climb another rung on the professional acting ladder in 2018. Here’s a recap:


After three months of waking up completely drained, I decided to buy a new bed. I bought a LEESA and I’m glad I did. For those of you considering whether or not a bed in a box is for you, I can tell you I’m getting deep sleep (lot of vivid dreams) and the LEESA sleeps cooler than a traditional mattress. It’s the one change I’ve made this year that is having the greatest effect on my life.


I spent time processing why I do what I do with a therapist. A couple big takeaways: First, I can only control how I respond to situations. Second, I can’t project expectations on others and get disappointed when they don’t meet those expectations, especially when those expectations were never communicated. Third, I’m learning to set better boundaries. Boundaries, in particular, have been especially helpful in reducing stress and focusing my time and energy on projects that will enrich and excite me. Fourth, I’m listening to my body and doing more self-care. And I learned a lot about myself, which, considering my body is my instrument for acting, has been extremely helpful in learning more about my personal process.

Advanced AlderImprov

I’ve been studying improvisational acting at AdlerImprov Acting Studio for four years now and it’s transformed my acting. I feel more present and connected with my partner, more comfortable in chaos, and more spontaneous and creative. In the last six months, in particular, I’ve gotten exceptionally good at following a focus and letting it lead me instead of manufacturing or inventing. Ric Murphy, who currently teaches the class on Sunday, has been teaching acting for 40 years and helped create the professional actor program at DePaul University’s Theater School. He has taught some fantastic actors, including John C. Reilly, Judy Greer, Gillian Anderson. Under his and Rob Adler‘s tutelage, I’ve grown quite a bit and am very excited to use my sharpened tools in the New Year.

AdlerImprov Youth Summer Intensive

I co-taught the AdlerImprov Youth Summer Intensive with Amie Farrell. Amie’s a great teacher, coach, and actor, so it was an honor to work with her. I learned a ton about teaching, acting, and directing. First, “kids” have tremendous imaginations and they’ll surprise you with their creativity. Second, I realized how many choices are available in a script after sitting in the director’s chair. Third, I learned what it’s like to collaborate and how to use an actor’s inspiration to feed other takes. Teach if you can. It’s a highly rewarding experience.


After three years of using the same headshots, I needed new ones. I worked with Sage Kirkpatrick at Fresh Look Photography and was extremely pleased with the results.

Commercial Representation

I am now represented by Stewart Talent Los Angeles. Stewart was founded in Chicago and opened up it’s LA office three years ago. I’m grateful to work with them and hope they’ll take me on theatrically.


I shot a short with my good friend Jason Markoff. Jason and I worked together on Platoon of Power Squadron episode 7 in Chicago and a series of plays last summer in LA.

The Groundlings

I wanted to get back into an improv comedy class and my commercial agent suggested casting directors are always looking for Groundlings or UCB on the resume, so I enrolled in Groundlings Basic. It wasn’t for me. I felt like it was too heady – start with a 10++ emotion, and activity, and get out the who, what, where in the first three lines of dialogue. I’m an Annoyance guy. If you’ve read Mick Napier’s book, Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out, the Annoyance doesn’t believe the “rules of improv” make a good scene. It takes a different approach, one that I prefer.

Alexander Technique

A couple years ago, a casting director suggested I’d benefit from The Alexander Technique. This year, I explored it for 10 weeks and I’d highly recommend it.

The goal of the technique is to “to develop the ability to avoid unnecessary muscular tension by retraining physical movement reactions.” In layman’s terms – break body habits/tension to improve overall body efficiency. I feel like I benefited in a couple different ways:

I carry myself with more confidence and presence.

I felt my wind pipe open, which means I’m using my voice more effectively and breathing more comfortably.

I learned some simple tips and tricks to use to prepare for auditions.

I’m more efficient. I brush my teeth different. I wash my dishes differently. I walk more efficiently.

AFI Directors & Meisner

Rob Spera puts his AFI directing students through a five-week Meisner crash course to encourage them to write more personal scripts and find their creative voice. To kickstart the crash course, Rob brings in a handful of Meisner trained actors to help with the repetition, emotional preparation and activities. This is the third year in a row I’ve participated in this initiative.

Pilot Season Prep

I took AdlerImprov Acting Studio’s Pilot Season Prep class with veteran working actors Amie Farrell and Brian Kimmet. While I don’t do a ton of theatrical auditions at the moment, I know it’s a valuable skill I’ll need to have as I move to the next run of the ladder. I took the class last year and saw how. I feel more relaxed and composed in the audition itself. I’m making stronger choices based on what the script is telling me. And, most importantly, I’m putting less pressure on myself to “get it right.” The one big takeaway this year is if I’m in the ball park, I’ll get a second take and I can use that take to play even more.

All in all, this year was another solid year of growth and exploration into my creativity, spontaneity, and presence. And I’m better actor for it. Looking forward to applying all my tools in 2018!

Focus on the process – Streamy Awards

Focus on the process – Streamy Awards

Platoon of Power Squadron among Indie Streamy Award nominees.

Focus on the process. That’s the theme Jake Jarvi and I kept coming back to this weekend.

Jake is the writer, director, actor and producer of Platoon of Power Squadron (PoPS). He spent the weekend in Los Angeles because his webseries was among the five nominees for top Indie in this year’s Streamy Awards. The Streamy Awards honor the best in online video (particularly YouTube) and the creators behind it. Jake also directed Jack, which won Wes Craven’s Studio 360 Scary Short Film Fest.

I had the pleasure of working with Jake in episodes 7 Catalyst and 8 Fight of PoPS playing Riley, an eager-to- please suit who’s part of Damon’s evil gang. If you recall from my previous post, Jake wrote ep 8 just before I was set to leave for Los Angeles. He gave me the option of writing Riley out of the script. I postponed my trip for two weeks to shoot the episode. And I’m glad I did. The response to Riley and his demise has been fantastic and overwhelmingly positive.

PoPS unfortunately didn’t take home Streamy gold. But that’s not why Jake created the show. In his own words:

“When I was auditioning in L.A., I basically got called in for three character types: Stoners, geeks, or pedophiles on cop shows. The third one only happened a few times, but the fact that it happened more than once was an eyebrow raiser. I started acting because I wanted to be a plucky hero or a dangerous antihero. Nobody gets into acting because they’re dying to be a pedophile brought in for questioning on the way toward meeting a more interesting criminal. But I cheated. I started my own internet series. Terrible quality at first, but better by leaps and bounds with every episode. It became good enough to get a really [awesome] audience going. Now, I’m my own antihero, the kind of character I’ve always wanted to play, a sarcastic wise guy with unspeakable power and a dark past.”

PoPs is a labor of love. And a lot of work. Each episode takes about eight to 12 months from initial script to final uploaded production. Jake handles most of the special effects. To maintain audience interest, he produces both a written blog and a video blog each week informing subscribers of his progress. He also creates indiegogo campaigns to raise the funds to pay for actors, food, location, props, etc. and distributes the appropriate crowdfunding campaign rewards. The awards are nice, but it’s icing on the cake. The show, the creative process, the ensemble work and the audience that watches, waits for and comments on each episode is the reward.

If I’ve learned anything in my soon to be one year in Hollywood, it’s focus on the process. Jake and I discussed in greater detail here. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamor of Hollywood because there are so many opportunities here and the “right place, right time” stories abound, but once you dig deeper, you realize it’s a process of attrition. Build the relationships, meet the right people, do the work and let the cosmic tumblers fall where they may.

Mike Myers of SNL, Austin Powers and Shrek fame said something similar during his WTF podcast interview with Marc Maron. “Don’t chase the high, follow the heart.” Ironically, Jake and I saw Mike walking up Sunset Blvd. as we enjoyed some eats at Carney’s Restaurant (train car diner).

Focus on the process. Do what you love. And enjoy a Chicago dog and sweet potato fries every now and again too.

Platoon of Power Squadron ep 8

Platoon of Power Squadron ep 8

The original plan was to head west starting September 25th. That changed I received a note from Jake Jarvi, the writer, director, producer and actor of Platoon of Power Squadron. My character, Riley, appeared in episode 7 and I absolutely loved working with Jake and the rest of the ensemble. Jake was putting the finishing touches on the episode 8 script and planned to start shooting in October. Option one was to write Riley out of the script. Option two was to stick around. I stuck around. That meant spending two weeks sleeping on an Aero bed in my mom’s condo.

The first week, we shot in the old warehouse – the same warehouse we used for episode 7 and the same warehouse under consideration for the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. It was like coming home again.

The second week, it was a couple quick scenes. And done.

Working on Platoon of Power Squadron was one of the best experiences of my life. So extremely grateful to Jake for the opportunity. Packing my bags, selling my stuff and fitting as much in my car as I can. See you soon Los Angeles.