I worked full time as an actor, but also a musician in Los Angeles for about 14 years.
I'm from the Mid-West. My natural dialect gives it away in this job I was hired for below:
Check out a little of this 27 minute video. It's part of a 7 part series I was hired to do:
There's a little musician flair to it, but it's pretty much just me playing myself.
Below is some of my old acting reel, pics, and more. Here's a few clips of me
from "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and a few national commercials that had nice runs:
SAG / AFTRA Dues Paying Since 1987 Los Angeles - Tampa, Florida
These were a McDonalds spot with "Wyatt Earp" (Hugh O'Brian) taking me (the outlaw) into the drive thru
for a last meal. He was a real nice guy to work with, but was getting up there in years and sadly
near the end of his life. It was shot in the Tucson desert. And the next day shot at the drive
thru. What a fun job. Road trip gig! It was airport, & right to the set. Here's a couple more:
I had the honor to work with a few actors I grew up watching and really idolized. Guys like Don Knotts,
Earnest Borgnine, Hugh O'Brian, and a few others who really didn't need the money, they just wanted
to work and do what they loved, acting. That's how I feel now, only difference is, I could use the dough.
I guess you could say "15 minutes of fame" was in 30 second commercials. That was over 90% of my living.
My union status is Fi-core now, and my session day rate, (for 8 hours or less) is reasonable.
That goes for acting, v/o's, print, session drumming, band gigs, lessons, or online projects.
Please contact me direct for bookings, or inquiries, union or non: drumcircles_net(at)hotmail.com
Need any advice on getting rejected? Just ask, I'm here for you.
Anyway, here's my Internet Movie Data Base page. I'm #1,673,592
on the star meter...really moving on up there. I was on the
Tonight Show 78 times, a few shows, and in a few films. There's
some clips on my demo reel. A lot of those Tonight Shows were
improv in front of a live studio audience.
One of these was on my dressing room door each time. Pretty cool. I had to keep at least one.
One of my most memorable jobs was a 2 week shoot in Northern CA. I was an evil toxic waste dumper.
The film title was: "Voyage of De Liefde" (1989)
So here's a pic of the ol' tank I was driving from the 1960's, a stick shift on a dirt trail. Fun!
It was shot in 65mm for the world's largest simulation theater in Japan.
This was pretty cutting edge for it's day. This camera was so darn huge, they had to put it on a
ShotMaster flatbed truck, and the director and cameraman had to ride in the cab. It took up so
much room they couldn't even sit back there with it! So I had the controls of the camera by
remote in my lap, and a two way radio to communicate with them, and had to keep 30 mph
pace following the camera truck for a couple of miles. So I'm driving this thing, running
the camera, on the radio, the director giving direction, "Bounce up and down like there's
more bumps" and stuff like that. Oh yeah, and then there's the ACTING part! I deliver
a few lines at marks along the way which were trees. My stage training helped me
a lot with this job, the Tonight Show, and many others.
Apparently this film stock was very expensive so it was one of those "you better get this in one
take or else" kind of things. No pressure. Honestly, I absolutely loved it. It challenged me so
hard to concentrate and do all of this, it was a blast. All the audience actually sees
is a guy bumbling down a dirt road in a gnarly old sewage truck to the dump site.
(Learning how to drive large trucks looks good on the resume, & got me a lot of auditions.)
Anyway, it's a story of the first voyage for Europe to Japan in the 16th century.
Adventure / Short - 1989 (Japan)
Director: Tôru Harada Prod: AT & Cosmo, Toyo Cinema
Here's the IMDb link for it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424544/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_10
Next day at the pristine dump site. This truck was filled with some green food coloring, oatmeal, and
corn syrup or something. There was rangers, cops, enviormental experts, this thing was intense.
So I hook up this 4 inch hose and let 'er go. This green crap came flushing out of there with
so much force, I could hardly even hold on to it. The thing was throwing me all around.
I can hear the director over there laughing, so I keep going dumping this sludge until
I hear "Cut!" Maybe 3 minutes that seemed like an hour. Even though I knew this stuff
had to be safe, I still felt this terrible feeling of guilt doing this.
It was a really nice job, first class road trip, paid well, and best of all, very challenging.
One thing I learned near the end of the shoot was, never ever accept a ride back with a stuntman!
They wrapped me early and said,"Hey you can catch a ride back to town with Monty, he does the stunts."
And we were way out in the sticks at this 30 square mile game preserve, so it was a long ride back.
I figured, sounds like fun. This guy was a maniac. I didn't realize he drives jeeps off 20 foot cliffs
into riverbeds. He had this compact rental car, and he went tearing out of there so fast my face was
still back at the set. So we are hauling ass down these bumpy dirt roads at full tilt, him laughing like
a crazy man, and that got me laughing so hard my belly ached - but I was scared helpless the entire time.
So here I am, laughing like mad, him laughing, and me scared the whole time. What a wild funny ride.
Later on, the director sent me a letter. This kind of thing doesn't happen very often. Nice surprise.
From my years as a musician, I also have lots of Licensed drum circle music that's been in everthing
from video games to washing machine commercials. Check some out, my rates are reasonable. drumcircles.net
Drum With Me Online at Spirofit100.
Learn to play the hand drum, or see an easy an organic way to facilitate drum circles.
For you, or your group. Each lesson, (other than the intro) has about 4 rhythms from
different cultures. I was asked to create 8 stand alone lessons. You can watch just
one, or watch the entire curriculum. Each video has important elements in it.
You can see how I facilitate drum circles, show them to your group as an interactive
activity, or just a way to get more enjoyment from hand drumming, with these eight
20 minute videos that you can watch right in the comfort of your own online devices.
They have a promo free month going on their website right now, and it says you can
cancel if you want after that if you wish to. I'm not sure how long the promo goes
for. As far as I know, their rates are very reasonable after. The range of other
activities is amazing. There's over 90 videos to keep healthy, in the groove.
Here's the link, paste it in your browser, or click the link below: https://spiro100.spirofit.com/
Anyway, these hand drumming lessons were designed with seniors in mind, but really,
they're great for all ages. Or, if you might like to have drum circles for a specific
group, or want to facilitate drum circles, this is an easy style to work from.
These online videos will walk you through how I facilitate drumming activities.
I loved what I did full time for a living, and I still do. (I'm just a little older, and I'm not living in LA anymore.)
I'm a dedicated actor who still has the passion. My contact info is below. For union work, please contact me direct.
Service with a smile.
4am call time, 3 hours in a make-up chair, then wardrobe, then props, then work! It was good times.
They used medical adhesive to glue these molded foam pieces on our faces, cheekbones, forehead,
and etc. They referred to them as "facial appliances". Then came the ear points, wig, eyebrows, and
that's when the real artistry started. They would apply these various different kinds of make-up,
and, each had to dry for about 5 minutes. There was about six of those, and then came the final
touch make-up with an air brush. It was some beautiful work that Mr. Westmore and his crew did.
I played the Romulan officers, Tarus, Realm, and Tharket on "Star Trek The Next Generation."
On one of the shoots, I found out many celebs were charged around $5000 to have one of these make-up
jobs done for them for costume parties, events, and etc.
In the early 80's I spent 2 years in the SE Florida market learning the business, getting experience,
and working as much as I could. Eventually, I'd booked quite a few local, and international
commercials, and had a lot of stuff running on the air. It was too much really.
When I got wind a CD was looking for "Shannon Ratigan" types, and also finally booked that 1st SAG film,
I figured it was time. I had enough credits on my resume - reel, & was ready to make the move to LA.
As it turns out, getting experience in a smaller market is a good idea. In LA, it's all pros.
I had a nice career run out in Hollywood for about 14 years before I got the hook. I aged out at 45,
(Too old to be a dad, too young to be a senior) I held on untill I was 47 but auditions dropped by 75%
and a prolonged commercial strike. I never saw that coming. I was able to work and earn a living doing
what I love to do, so in that sense I was blessed. Now I'm in the Chicago - Midwest market, so it's
a local commercial, a v/o, industrial here and there, internet, live performances, & etc.
This was a soap commercial that ran constantly during the soaps. Sometimes in commercials it's just
about moving the story along, and not about the actor. I was just "that guy" nobody ever really
recognized in many of my roles, and I was fine with that. I'm not sure if they were trying to
match me, or the other guy for this. One of us was the hero guy with the brand, and the other
was the guy with the crappy product that doesn't. Guess which one I was. It's cool, it pays
the same. We got lucky on this one, it ran heavy national for 18 months. They called and
asked if I would like to shoot another spot. Let me think, okay. Hung up the phone and
went berzerk with joy. Two more came the next few years. Lucked into a campaign.
Paid all the bills, and kept us alive for about 6 years.
Shot at Topanga Canyon, I'm a greasy mechanic - store clerk, what a surprise eh?
This photo is one of those mistake takes. I grabbed the 7-UP bottle too hard and it went
off like a volcano. Of course I did the shot perfectly 11 times after that, but they ended up
using the accident take in the final cut. The moral is, even if you massively blow a take, keep
your cool, and follow through until they say, "Cut!" Interesting green lensing they used isn't it.
This one had a nice run for 2 cycles, (26 weeks). Then it was on hold without airing for 2 years. They'd
send a check for the equivalent of scale for each cycle. (I had a friend who had one on hold 8 years!)
Pretty nice work if you can get it.
My actor page is here for 2 reasons: To promote myself, (After all, I've still got some characters left in me.)
Secondly, It was difficult breaking into the business back in the 80s. It's a little easier now, but I vowed
there and then, if I was ever able to earn a living doing what I love to do, I would always try to help other
actors along. That's what most of this page is about. That, and remembering some commercials with long
runs, and some fun gigs / memories I had. I always believed helping other actors, makes you a better actor.
One of my biggest regrets was not getting copies of my work. There's some of it on my demo reel
below, but often getting the work was easier than getting copies of it! Plus, it was all on those old 3/4"
video tapes, and every one was $45+ a copy. Paying to get those edited was even worse. Some of my
work is on the demo reel down the page, but most of the credit for the work photos below goes
to my wife who kept some of them over the years. Many of them were Polaroid’s for continuity,
wardrobe matching, make-up, and some were taken for me. My page may seem a bit jumbled, but
it reflects an acting career and how random work comes our way. A commercial here & there.
a TV show, industrial, print, v/o, game show, day player on a film, - anything we can get.
This was my bread and butter headshot. My wife took it after I got home from a commercial shoot
for Big Red. That spot ran over 4 years and got renegotiated twice! We lived off that a long time.
It really did "Last a little longer". I had many commercials that ran for a few weeks, some a
few months, some that ran just once, and a few that never even aired at all.
Getting one of these with a long Class A run is like a blessing.
Back to the not getting copies of my work thing...I had a good agent, and was with them 13 years.
In those days, that's about all a reel was good for. I think I was asked eo show it maybe twice.
It made more sense to put my energy and effort into getting that next audition / job. I made it a
point to do someting positive to further my career, (or should I say, passion.) every single day.
Even if it was just mailing a few headshots out to a couple commercial CDs or TV shows I felt
I was good for. That kept my spirits up and It helped me to earn a living. I had a few that just
crossed somebodies desk at just the right time. That was how I got 8 seasons on the Tonight
Show as a utility actor. I did a mail out, & it happened they were looking for a crazy looking guy.
And they wanted a guy that would do crazy things without complaining. I found it hard to bitch
when I was making scale, but surprisingly a lot of actors I worked with did. They were worried about
looking silly, or bad for their image, etc. I figured hey I'm doing comedy and making people laugh -
bringing some joy into their lives...plus I'm making $600 for the day. I didn't care if I was being
laughed at, or made fun of. Comedy is what it is. Your rep gets around, and that's how I got work.
That was some nasty stuff they put on my choppers, and the rest of me.
My first first 15 minutes of zombie fame. This was a full body make-up zombie role. They airbrushed coat
after coat on me, and man that stuff was cold! It was 2 weeks of principal work for 30 seconds in the film.
That;s how it is sometimes. The last night they said we could wrap early, or wait for the shower.
There was 8 of us - I chose to split and figured I'd wash up when I got home.
My car needed gas, so I was filling my gas tank at 3 AM on Hollywood Blvd. A cop rolls by and
I thought, "Oh man, this guy is going to bust me for being out in pubic looking like this".
He eyed me real close, did a shrug whatever look, & drove away. I forgot I was in Hollywood.
This was a commercial where I was laying flat on cement at the Sepulveda Dam, so it appeared I was
on a high rise building moving back & forth. It was fun and challenging acting "sideways".
So I took all these horseback riding lessons only to be tied up and facing backwards on a horse!
In the other one I really got to ride...about 20 yards. But the lessons gave me the confidence.
Learning to ride horseback early on in my career led to many auditions and bookings I never would have gotten
otherwise. Delevoping new hobbies or abilities looks good on your resume, and the more range of characters you can
show your agent, the better. It makes you all the more marketable. I did a lot of mechanic, cowboys, homeless guys,
various species, and creatures also. The full face / body make-up thing is a bit punishing, especially after 13
hours on the set. But like the casting community there is a make up community also. After I did aliens & the
like, the word got around I didn't mind this kind of work. Didn't bellyache about it, and stayed professional.
As time went by, the phone would just ring from some make-up person who'd recommended me to a CD.
Always nice to get principal work without even an audition, right?
These were from an Energizer spot. It ran for almost 3 years, got re-negotiated after the MPU.
Paid the bills for a few years and makes up for the national average of booking 1 national
commercial in 83 auditions. We do a lot of running around for free.
This one really did, "Keep going...and going...and going."
I played a Romulan Officer on Star Trek 3 times. Kind of like childhood dream come true, having grown
up watching it. Some 17 years later, I was sent these promos and playing cards with me on them.
I was just a silent bit extra on these, which means you're hired to interact with one of the
leads. By the time you added up the base pay ($250) hazard pay, meal penalties, make-up,
and numerous hours of OT, this show paid really well for a few days work. Even though I
was really just a glorified extra, I was pretty stoked to play Romulans on Star Trek.
I'm such a geek, I would have paid them to be on it! Kept my cool though.
One day on the set Riker says to me, "They did a great job on your nose!" I replied with the truth,
"They didn't do anything, it's all natural, they love it as is" We both had a good laugh over it.
I was quite surprised when I ended up on these playing cards and promos. They did call me back to
work on a few more shows, so I was happy about that, but the good part was it lead to some
good paying work later on. The best way to get repeat jobs: Don't be a dick to work with.
You never know who anyone is on set. The guy in baseball cap could be a client or prod.
It's pretty easy to be a mean looking alien, when your face is all glued together for 12 hours.
Not many people know this, but those cool sounding sliding doors on the Enterprise bridge are
actually two fat scruffy looking 1/2 bald guys in t-shirts and jeans pushing them together off
camera in unison. I kid you not. They add in the post effects later. My reality was crushed.
This is what a big budget film with a decent theatrical release looks like after 20 years...
Sometimes I wish they would just send me the stamp. There used to be this pub in Studio City
called "Residuals". Lots of us hung out there on weekends, networked, shared stories, & etc.
A residual check for under $1 was worth a free drink, and they put them all up on the wall.
All four walls were filled with checks like these. I kind of miss the place, it was fun.
Capt. Sad Sack. I became proficient with firearms to enhance my resume. It did help. Trouble is, all the roles
I got I was being shot AT! Check out the JFK video near the bottom of the page. I took 3 from a .38
Playing homeless characters was a nitch that many actors also didn't want to do. Ego, image? Not sure.
Scale & 1/2 to be a hobo in a Mel Brooks film? No problem. (Plus it raised my quote.)
This was my cowboy headshot. It got me a lot of auditions, and quite a bit of work.
Here's 2 of them. One was a 4 spot campaign. There was 4 of us, and we were all excited when it wrapped,
because it was going to be a huge run for a major established brand. About 2 weeks later they had some
bad PR that made the news, and this entire thing went in the can. Talk about a gut punch. We stood to
make 10's of $1000's from this, and it got scrapped. We got paid for the work days, but still...
Just booking and shooting is no guarantee. After I see it air, I get excited. Not untill then.
The two below had nice class A runs, multiple cycles, 18 months with Choice Hotels.
1994 Jeff Foxworthy "Redneck Stomp"
Label Warner Bros. Records
Director: Al Yankovic
Please note this link re-directs you to the CMT website where you can view the video.
I'm not really a redneck, I just play one on TV. Working with Jeff Foxworthy and Weird Al...
It was a lot of fun that day. Much to my dismay, Weird Al was surprisingly normal, and laid back.
Paste the Country Music Television link, or click on the one below it.
Redneck Stomp with Shannon Ratigan Link
Jeff surprised me by signing and giving me his redneck cap at wrap. Really cool of him.
Here's my Twitter Feed, @Shannon_Ratigan for a few bits of acting biz humor in 280 character nuggets.
Auditioning for commercials is a unique art form. Theatrical training doesn't help very much. There's not enough time.
We have to convey a strong emotion, reaction, or expression in seconds...kind of like on Twitter.
This is one of those generic me shots from an insurance commercial. They used a compressor to fill it,
and I worked a bike pump on camera for about 10 minutes. I wanted to bounce on it a few times, but no.
When I got to LA I wanted to do films and TV like everyone else. I ended up booking a number of commercials during my 1st year there,
and right away I became typecast as a "commercial" actor. Which was okay, I was on TV all day long playing various roles. I got to
be pretty good at auditioning, and booked my fair share consistently. It's not like we can pick and choose roles at the working class
level. Just auditioning well, and booking work is hard enough. Doing the actual acting job seems like a reward after all of that. But
it did hurt my theatrical career. Honestly, I didn't mind because commercials pay the bills much better than movies or TV
until you get above that "earning union scale" level. Don't think I didn't try constantly, and never gave up...
but the town kind of chooses who you are, and where you fit in. I learned to just roll with it.
Some of my friends fought against that, and hated commercial auditions. They lasted less than a year and went back to the mid-west.
In some respects Hollywood is a very small town. The casting directors get to know you, and your reputation as an actor
very quickly, so it's critical to take every audition seriously, and be professional all the time.
I was hired as a 3 day player principal on the Jeff Bridges film, "Fearless".
Usually day players don't get invited to deluxe wrap parties, and posh screenings, but Peter
Weir and Jeff Bridges do it up right. Very respectful to all of us. I was treated like I was one of
the stars at both events. It was like a gala buffet Hollywood style with all the trimmings,
followed by live music and dancing. It's so nice to be treated with such respect, with all
we go through. I guess that's one of the wonderful unpredictable perks of this buisness.
Trust me, it doesn't happen all the time. Usually it's nothing, or a few snacks.
This production was first class all the way, then a private screening at this
amazing theater. It was a night my wife and I will always remember.
Here's one of my earlier commercials from back in 1986. They wanted over the top, and that's what they got.
Every time it came on TV, I would have to dive across the room for the remote, and hit the mute button.
I may have been a blue man before the Blue Man Group. (On the left.) That amount of makeup, & medical glue is punishing.
Stand Up Comedy as Auditioning & Acting Training
One of my actor friends said to me one time the most terrified he ever was in show business, was on stage doing stand up
comedy at an open mic night. I'd say that's pretty accurate. But after a few times you get used to it. Just keep writing, working
on comic timing, delivery, and the unexpected. This helps out a lot when auditioning for commercials, film, and TV.
I started doing stand up in 1985. I never really wanted to be a comedian, I just wanted to be an actor that could do comedy.
Most comics develop a set, and polish it. I wrote a new routine every week, sometimes it went well, other times I got booed.
This one night in 1992 they had a stand up contest at this little club in the Valley. The audio for it is below. It's nothing but
a bunch of laughing, and me being acknowledged at the end. But, it's a night that was a little near and dear to my heart.
Usually I did a regular string of jokes like everyone else, but this week it was a 5 minute set where I never uttered a word.
I did a silent physical comedy homage to Charlie Chaplin and the like. I was shocked how well it won over a hostile crowd that
was there to support their friends. Anyway, I used a big easel, and had a huge note pad with the joke set ups written on them.
Each gag was about 20 seconds. It started out with a chuckle here and there, and then it built up to a pretty good night.
I would act it out, and flip the page to the next one. I brought along this boombox, and had Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing,
Sing" playing during the whole routine. Having it playing in the background was the glue. I used one of those pocket cassette
voice recorders to tape the set, and would just hit the play button at my table when my name was called. I did this each week,
so I could review my performance, find the things I could improve on, screwed up, and sometimes did well. Most comics do this.
It took about a minute to win over the crowd, but I did, and the emcee did me a solid by mentioning my name at the end, & he
did let everyone know I did a new routine each week. Then he got my name wrong. Numbskull. Anyway, There was $500 to
split for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. I came in 4th. Pretty much the story of my life. Even though I did well, I kind of slumped out of
there and headed to my car. A talent scout for a comedy show followed me out, asked me to come down and audition for
his show the next day. I worked for them 3 times, and got paid very nicely. I guess I did win that night after all. Sometimes
you never know when you will get a break in this nutty business. The show was, "America's Funniest People". And that led
to a few other shows later on. I wish they had video cameras in the clubs back then, but they didn't. Below is an audio
mp3 of my silent stand up set from that night, and the video from after the show that got me the win:
It is important to get good acting training and/or coaching, but improv, and stand up rounds out your skills.
Learning to be fast on your feet can book you a lot of gigs. Auditioning is your job. The job's the reward.
Read my blog post about doing stand up comedy as acting lessons. It may help you with timing,
delivery, writing, learning to roll with the unpredictable, taking direction, and etc.
Follow your heart, but use your brain. And, try to keep a temporary day job. If I had a callback, and the
boss wouldn't let me get off work for it...I was out of there. I could always get another get by job.
Be your agent's go to actor. Offer to do rush calls. Never miss auditions, or be late for one.
Acting And Doing Stunt Work.
A 1 minute scene I did in the JFK Conspiracy. The only thing more creepy than getting capped in an acting job, is James Earl Jones
narrating it while it's happening. It seemed like no big deal wearing squibs, and being shot 3 times with blanks from a .38
I'd done a variety of stunt work to land certain roles, so it was just another job. I had "light stunt work" on my resume, and
it did open up a few more jobs to me, but I took some risks doing it. Back in 1992 when this was filmed, squibs hurt like hell,
That's why my arms flew up in the shot. They tape a 5" square of aluminum to your chest, put the explosive charge and
blood pouch over it. Then 2 thin wires run down your shirt and pants, leading out to a fat guy off camera with a plunger.
I felt like I was Wile E. Coyote & ACME hooking me up. A few weeks after this J.F.Kennedy docu-drama wrapped in 1993,
Brandon Lee was killed with blanks while filming "The Crow". I left this kind of work to stuntmen after that.
I think it's a good idea to put up an actor profile at ActorsAccess.com NowCasting.com and CastingFrontier.com Basic profile
memberships are free (last time I checked) There are a few others as well. Keep an eye out for new ones that come along that
seem promising. (That don't charge a fee, or a nominal one.) Many of my Los Angeles friends use CastingNetworks.com and
BackStageWest. If you are out in LA, it may be worth the monthly fee for you to be on them. Having a good online presence
is important these days. Most of these sites are about $10 a month. Talk to other actors about it. Pick and choose wisely.
It's pretty easy to research things these days. Be wary of hustles, and scams. You should never have to pay to meet a
casting director, or an agent. Period. Try to get your own actor website up as well, with a video slate or demo reel.
If you are out in NYC, or LA, it may be worth the extra fee to upgrade to the next levels of service. Then you can upload
your demo reel, submit for castings, and etc. Most of them have an upcharge for that. Almost all the casting directors
check out actors auditioning for them on the IMDb.com or other casting websites and look at your profile now. If you
have the credits, and can afford the IMDb Pro level monthly charge, it looks pretty good.
The basic free level lists your name and credits only.
(To view most of these links below you need to have an actor profile account, or be a casting director.)
Depending on where you live, some casting websites may be used more than others by the CD's in your area. For example,
In the United Kingdom, many use spotlight.com - So ask around a bit and see what sites are best suited for you.
Be sure to look into resources like The SAG Foundation, SAG Conservatory, iActor, The Actor's Fund, & Actor's Info Booth.
Many casting directors are kind enough to post helpful articles in places like the BackStage.com - Check a few out.
It must be nice to be able to pick and choose roles. Most of us can't. I never missed an audition when my agent called
me. I didn't want to be one of the Marlboro Men on a billboard, but that's what happened. Often other countries come
over here to produce and cast jobs. Do I turn it down and possibly have my agent think of another actor for
the next one? Or try and pay the bills for a few months. I didn't like doing them, but I did them.
We learn something everytime we audition, it gives us more experience, so I auditioned for everything I possibly could,
even if I knew I wasn't right for it. I gave this one my best try. My wife had fun dressing me up in her little black
dress and pumps. All I needed was the attitude, unfortunately I didn't even come close. I learned a little.
That ad was in one of the old trade papers we had back then. The Backstage West and Dramalogue. They competed
to get paying auditions, so it was good for us. Lots of pilot game shows, union auditions, even The Gong Show.
We could earn $300 - $600 a day a dozen times a year, and it helped out. Then the reality shows came along
and did them in. It's up to us to try and find work in addition to our agents. It's just harder now.
Here's a clip from one of the old game shows that was around for awhile. You may have heard of it -
Supermarket Sweep. This is part of my wild run through the market. I miss them, they paid good money.
Now, it's a world of reality shows, and you know the rest.
Here's another oldie goldie: Me in the semi for a National German Commercial from 1986 (Video below)
Knowing how to drive a semi got me this job. I drove about 30 yards. The rest was smoke effects. Ha!
Pattex: It stops a Peterbilt semi in it's tracks. A German glue commercial foreign buy-out. Sorry, video quality is not so good.
It's better if you leave the window minimized. It's hard to get copies of out of country commercials. I should have tried harder
to get copies of my work during my career, but my focus at the time was on getting that next audition. The pay is pretty good
on these though. Got to drive a new Peterbilt 18 wheeler around the dealer lot as a bonus - THAT was fun. What they did was
use some motor oil under the tires to get them spinning, & then a smoke machine. It still felt like I was burning rubber
though. It did draw quite a crowd. During the first few years of my acting career, I had more commercials running in
Europe and South America than I did in the USA!
This one kind of speaks for itself.
Do I make a good mental patient or what.
We don't get beat up or anything.
I played this guy more times than I can count. I had a headshot that was a kind of Gomer Pyle.
This was actually my second headshot. It was surprisingly effective for "suit retentive" roles.
I got ripped off on my first one. Took me about two weeks to realize I wasn't the glamour guy.
I was broke, so I went to Sears and had this done for twenty bucks. Ha! I then had to have it
converted to black and white. That was the standard back then. It worked for about 5 years,
with the mechanic and cowboy headshots. It gave me good range when I was starting out.
I was a judge on the 1996 Cable Ace Awards. Talk about a fun night. We rolled up in our 10 year old faded car,
and here was this line of about 20 valet parkers all dressed like penguins. They all looked at each other
with this, "I don't want it, you take it, no no not me" - finally one of them capitulated. It was a funny moment.
We shopped for some "casual chic" chothes at Aardvarks Odd Ark, and there we were on the red carpet.
As it happened, Ted Turner was just ahead of us, and once the photograpers got done mobbing him,
they turned to us with this hilarious look of who the hell are these people,
and then they spilled off to the next victim. It was a ball inside, and
what an honor it was judging some of my childhood heroes of comedy
like George Carlin. I kept my "I'm not worthy" to myself.
(There was 3 pages of the Cable Ace Awards judges, so I cropped it a bit.)
One of the most intense show business related jobs I ever had, was a year hosting a talk radio show. It was on the weekends,
and was only for 2 hours. I also hosted a jazz music radio show for a year. It was loads of fun, but it would take me 3 to 4
hours just to wind down from it. Crazy hard. Harder than live TV or stage where there are no second takes. There was a lot
more to it than just being an on air personality. I ran the soundboard, screened calls, had guests, recorded commercials,
on and on. The rest of the week was recording voiceover commercials, doing show prep. and trying to sell advertising.
I had no idea how hard people work hosting a radio show. But honestly, I did love the challenge, and I do miss it.
More about this "Big Red" headshot:
I noticed that during the 90's there was a need for generic looking maintenance men, mechanics, workmen & hobos.
I was typecast in these kinds of roles, but I worked a lot, and it all pays the same - glamour, or not.
This was my most consistantly effective headshot for almost 15 years. Believe it or not, my wife just shot it one day
in our back alley with her 35mm. I had just come home after a long commercial shoot and was beat. It was just for fun,
but my agent saw it and said, "Get some 8 x 10's of that fast, it's a good marketable 3/4 headshot of you with a great
expression." So, I did it. She was right, it got me in a lot of casting doors, and I worked a lot. I stumbled into a
pretty versatile brand. Granted now, this is just one, I had pro headshot shoots every few years. We have to, or
casting gets annoyed if we don't look like our headshots. Many photographers scoffed at this pic, b/g too busy, etc.
Something to consider, is looking for areas where you can find a niche in the casting field. Often, it's
not about the actor, it's helping to move the story along, or about the product. Especially in commercials.
Often, figuring out your actor brand, or brands...that falls on you, (or agent). It just happened to me.
Shannon Ratigan - Freelance Actor
SAG and AFTRA 29 Years. Current Status: SAG/AFTRA Fi-core
Representation: Freelance. Please contact me direct or inquiries or bookings.
I do negotiate: drumcircles_net(at)hotmail.com
Thanks for visiting my site!
I spent a lot of years as a working class actor, trying to get jobs, and stay alive. Whatever your experience
level is, you'll pick up a few things to help you along, and maybe even get a few laughs in the process. So,
I wrote this book about acting & auditioning. The title, "An Actor's Face". is on Amazon Kindle for $2.99
Here's the link to it at the Kindle Book Store. Or, just search on the title: "An Actor's Face".
You can read a few chapters with Amazon's Look Inside feature, and see what you think.
If you made it this far down the page, I think you will enjoy the read. It's my Hollywood story
of how I changed career paths at age 27 and chose to be a full time actor. I realized I was a good
character type from the commercials I saw on TV. I studied all I could, and trained hard, as I knew
the competition would be fierce - and it was, especially when I had enough credits to move to LA.
I hope this will help others avoid many of the things I did wrong, & learn from what I did right.
Some of the topics include: Be Careful Signing Contracts, Online Casting Websites, & Actor Demo Reels.
Self Taped Auditions, & Online Interviews, Optimizing Social Networking Sites, & Making Friends. Staying
Positive, & Keeping Your Spirits UP. General Casting, & Audition Advice, Winning At Callbacks, Stand Up
Comedy & Improv As Audition Training. Sex, & The Single Actor. Acting, & Casting Anecdotes, Children
In The Acting Business, Getting A Good Agent, Working On “Star Trek”, and the Emptiness of Success.
My wife painted the watercolor shown on the book cover. It's meant to show the various emotions,
feelings, characters, colors, patterns, and textures that we, as actors, are asked to portray.
It seemed better than just sticking my face on there. Plus, she has stuff on me...
I always found that the actual "acting" part was fun. It was booking the job that was hard. At the end of the
day, earning a living as an actor boils down to one thing: Winning the job. I think my experiences will help
increase your odds, make you a bit more prepared, and give you the best possible chance to get hired.
Read the 1st chapter on Amazon, "The Surprising Emptiness of Success". Why do so many actors & artists turn to depression,
substance abuse or worse. I went through it myself. I could never understand when I had levels of success, why I would
become so down afterwards. It took me 10 years to figure it out. Read my blog post, whatever career field you are in.
If it helps just a few people from making some of the mistakes I did, then it was all worth the time and effort.
Back in the early 80's I was interviewed by a local newscast. My agent saw it and said, "You should have a starving actor
t-shirt on when you appear on TV like that!" (They actually got me one as a gag.) I kept the name for my blog just for fun.
In LA, even being a "starving actor" is expensive.
Here's my "starving actor" blog. Some helpful hints, ideas, suggestions, stories, & acting biz humor.
The blog never got very much traffic, and I felt I could help more of my peers by writing a book
about acting. So, I spent a couple of years writing one. Scroll your way back up there for the link.
Like many others, I'm not into gouging actors in order to help out. The price is 3 bucks.
There's lots of rejection in this business. Drumming and facilitating drum circles gave me an outlet for it.
You have to have some kind of outside interest or hobby to keep you sane. I was able to cope by also being
a musician. I could drum out my frustrations, it helped others, & it helped me a lot. Try to develop something
like that to help you. Visit my drum circles page and listen to some of my world drumming music.
If you are a filmmaker - show or music producer - making a video - samples or for any other purpose, I have about 7
hours of hand drumming & drum circle music. It can set the perfect background mood, tone, or movement to a scene.
It's world music group drumming from various cultures, and at a variety of tempos. African, Latin, Native American,
Mid-East Belly Dance, Funk, Soul, and Rock & Roll. Lots to choose from. All of it is copyrighted and licensed.
Have a listen to a few samples at my CDbaby artist page, & contact me if you're interested in 1 or more.
I will give you a fair buy out price to use a track in your project. Spotify and iTunes also. Thanks