I really don’t know why I choose titles that can be misinterpreted as something about the porno world. I assume it’s an innate talent (or inane one). Regardless, it’s still informative. See, very few, lucky actors can make 100% of their income from theatrical film and television shows. Most of us must diversify into other related areas. But, many of our friends and family don’t find these other areas as sexy to hear about. Ergo:
Everyone loves sausage, they just don’t want to know how it’s made.
Indeed, my parents love that I make a living as an actor, they just prefer not to watch some of the diverse gigs I’ve done to make that “living” — like 90% of my voiceovers, anything where I’m nude (yes, 1 film, and no, you can’t Google it) and corporate industrial/instructional videos (i.e. Oscar Mayer’s video training series about what the different FDA guidelines are for how many rat droppings can be added to the mix). Not because they’re low quality. (On the contrary, they’re highly produced by skilled professionals, in many cases.) But because they are meant for a very small, specific audience.
Now, I’m a nobody in the hosting world because I don’t seek that work. It’s a career field in and of itself. Some of the big names for hosting corporate videos are Forbes Riley, Lisa Long, Tom Jourden and Tony Noakes. They command high salaries because they’ve honed the unique skill-set it takes to perform difficult technical jargon via teleprompter, ear-prompter or pure memorization. All while sounding natural and friendly. I also happen to know these folks and they’re quite talented theatrical actors, as well. Some celebrities also take on these kinds of jobs for major companies that can afford their rates. Ernie Hudson for African American Network and Jimmy Smits for Coastal Training Technologies.
And Coastal Training Technologies is the company I had the pleasure of working for this past weekend.
Coastal Training Technologies is located in Norfolk, Virginia, and cranks out top quality, award-winning instructional videos for national and international clients all year long. This was my third time hosting one in the last three years. It’s the only place I actually do any “hosting” work, which I’ll explain in a moment.
It always starts with a delightful eight hours of flying from Los Angeles to Norfolk on two planes since no direct flight exist. It’s my quality time to properly compress my spine and practice the fetal position when the guy in front pushes his seat back into my knees.
Then the rental car. This time they were out of mid-size cars and the lady didn’t believe I could fit into a Kia (I assured her I could – I flew coach, after all) so she put me in a “large size” car. I was too tired to ask what kind. Once in the garage, I saw that it was a red Ford F-150 (the kind that tow houses)! Oy. I climbed in – yes, climbed in and went to the hotel.
Once in the room, I turned the TV on and was put at ease by my own voice telling me to choose whatever kind of movie I was in the mood for. Apparently a voiceover I did for Lodgenet years ago still plays at various hotel chains across the country! I’ll tell you, it’s a little disconcerting to hear your own voice on the TV trying to tempt you into ordering an adult movie.
Up the next morning at 4 am (LA time) and to their studios. The director, John Forte, greets me with a hug and a European kiss, then immediately begins his wonderful banter. He’s an Italian Robin Williams crossed with a gentle Don Rickles, with a dash of Danny DeVito’s sublime sweetness. And also a truly awesome director (as his many awards attest to).
John Forte is the kind of director who’d be a sought after staff director on any show in L.A. if he were based here. He’s always well-prepared, creative and efficient. He rolls with in-the-moment snafus as though they were planned and has an enviable ability to keep the mood on the set fun and energized for ten hours. He also knows how to pull together an excellent crew. This is partly because so many Hollywood films shoot in Virginia and use the local talent there. But also because John has an eye for picking out talent and good temperaments.
The shoot was a breeze and I laughed and talked more in those two days than I had in the previous week! John, his crew, and the great experience are the reasons I go there and work as an on-camera host. The only place I will work in the industrial video world — because of John Forte. Working on a John Forte set is identical to a theatrical set as far as professionalism, talent and camaraderie. It’s a rare kind of industrial shoot that actually feeds the artistic soul a bit. When John directs a feature film in the future (he has several scripts in the works), I’ll be in a long line of actors dying to work with him.
So, that’s your peek into one aspect of my acting career sausage factory.
After 36 hours in Virginia, I spent another eight hours re-compressing my spine, then back home to wrap up the sausages and string them up… Oh dear, this metaphor just fell apart… like a cookie? Yes! A sweet ending to my nutty post that leaves you wanting more, but the cookie jar of words is empty! Dear God, someone stop me…