Monday, November 30, 2015

Buddy the Elf Becomes an Adult

As I write this, I am sitting in a top secret production meeting for a TV pilot that will be filming over the next couple of weeks! Aside from delivering coffee and passing out schedules, I am staying out of the way, so I wanted to take a moment to fill you all in...

Inside the secret meeting
Since the internship program was an extension of my college education, I am bracing myself for the fact that my "adult life" will begin officially on December 12. No more tests - yay! No more essays - yay! No more assurance of a bed to sleep in or a cafeteria to get food - boo. 

If you know someone who is looking for a roommate or tenant in the Los Angeles area, please send their contact information my way. I am sure all my past and present roommates would give me a raving review (shoutout to Zachary, Alex, Brock, Logan and Gerardo)! I will pay on time and clean up after myself. 

As of late, I have not done as fantastic of a job cleaning up after myself because I have been filming "Keith Shaves His Beard 6," so my room is cluttered with costumes of all my different characters. I have about 80% of the video finished, and I am very happy with how everything is turning out. My Grandma would be proud, because I assembled many of the costumes myself with a good ol' needle and thread. 

Sewing Buddy the Elf's coat
A favorite moment from filming was when I went into an In-N-Out dressed like Buddy the Elf and ordered a cheeseburger. As I stood in line inside the packed restaurant, I yelled, "CONGRATULATIONS, YOU FINALLY DID IT! THE WORLD'S BEST CHEESEBURGER!" I thought everyone in the establishment would catch the reference and burst into applause, but instead my outburst was met with dead silence. I could have heard a pin drop. Here is the video, filmed by the remarkable Jason Crossman. The audio from my iPhone was not the best, but you can definitely catch some of the confused faces:

Keep your eyes peeled for Keith Shaves His Beard 6, as well as more updates from my thrillingly unpredictable life :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Getting What You Want and Being Thankful

In one month, my internship program will be over and I will start doing what some people call, "living in the real world." Today I cashed in on my Christmas presents early by having my mom place an Amazon order with $80.00 worth of costumes for my next crazy video. I guess this means I will be making my entrance into my adult life in full Keith fashion.

I have been thinking a lot about a speech I made at graduation where I talked about how difficult it is to share my friends with the world. I am so thankful for Facebook and getting the chance to stay updated about everyone's life, but it also makes me sad. Sad because I want you all to be here with me, right now! Geography is a sucky thing. But you know what would be even more sucky? Having friends I didn't care about. So I guess I'll just use geography to my advantage...One of my goals in the next 25 years is to have close friends in all 50 states. This will give me a personal look at what is going on all over the country, and it will be a lot cheaper to travel and not pay for hotels :) (You've had your warning: get that guest bedroom ready for me.)

The last couple of weeks, I have learned a ton at my internships just from observing meetings and professionals in their natural habitat. For example, my next project at one of the internships is helping film a TV pilot that some major networks have expressed interest in. We have regular pre-production meetings at Marie Callender's where I get to eat pie for breakfast if I want (!) and listen in on what aspects of the project are going smoothly and what hiccups needed to be addressed. It is amazing to watch a legitimate Hollywood production meeting in action, where participants take turns talking and work their way down a list of bullet points until the meeting is over. I wish I could say that every meeting I've ever hosted has been that organized.

Another time, I got the chance to listen to some pitches for television shows and then watch them get critiqued by a panel of judges. What I learned from this experience can be applied to any area of life where a person is trying to get something: make it personal. If you are pitching a movie, tell the executive how the story is rooted in an aspect of your own life. If you want your mom to give you a cookie from the cookie jar, tell her how your childhood was shaped by the joy of eating homemade cookies. If you want a car salesman to cut you a good deal, well...there's probably nothing you can say that will help your cause. But this advice will help you get what you want in most situations. You're welcome. 

To do this week: 
- Go on a walk or run to at least give myself the illusion that I am staying in shape.
- Not confuse a lane of parked cars for a right turn lane. To anyone reading this who was behind me that day when I had to put my car in reverse and change lanes: I am sorry.
- Remind myself to be thankful for everything the Lord is doing and has done in my life. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope you find some time to be thankful, too.

Oh, and if Batman ever retires...I've got you covered, Gotham City! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

An Intern Having Fun?!

My goal was to write three blog entries for you each month, but October slipped away almost as quickly as the supply of Gatorade I brought with me from Indiana! I guess that means I owe you four entries in November :)

Many of you saw my Mr. Bean Halloween costume. (Thanks for all the love, Facebook friends!) For those of you who missed it: 

The highlight of my weekend was going to a Halloween shindig with Justin Bell. You know you've made it as an intern when you are going to parties with your boss!

Mr. Bean with Blinky from Pac-Man
The best thing about going to a dance party dressed like Mr. Bean is that you can make an absolute fool out of yourself and it is 100% socially acceptable.

This group knows how to party!
However, I started looking less and less like Mr. Bean as the dance party continued, as my bathroom mirror selfies will tell you...

In this one, I have realized I will have to fight to keep up my Mr. Bean persona:

An hour later, I have given in. I am no longer Mr. Bean. I am a very tired and James Dean version of Keith:

I'd better be careful, though, because I don't want you to get the impression that I am not working! I stay very busy as an intern...

Pushing air conditioners!

Scrubbing cement!

Holding important objects!

And - occasionally - stuffing my face at the crafty table!

Well, I think that catches us up to speed...I am working hard and making time to have fun, too. Sending virtual hugs from California! Or, if you're in California, come on over and I'll give you a real one. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Human or Dancer?

As I write this, I'm wearing red pants. What does this mean? Whenever I put on my red pants it signals that I have run out of all the good clothes in my closet and it’s laundry day whether I like it or not. Last weekend I was on a film set for four straight days, so this weekend I have been trying to catch up on some rest. But dirty clothes wait for no one!

This morning I went to a church called Mosaic and the pastor’s sermon was about living in the here and now. We should live these present moments to the fullest, because they are what make life count. It reminds me of the quote, “Life ain’t a dress rehearsal. This is it, kid – you’re on!” Often, I find my spirit living in the here and now and my mind planning for the there and then. I think we should strive for a healthy balance of enjoying the moments at hand but also considering how we want our lives to play out in the future.

If I may step out of the here and now for a moment, I would like to talk briefly about the there and then of my life. As I was getting my things ready to come to California, I decided to pack everything I would need to stay out here, just in case. My amazing mom even put together a little apartment box for me. As time goes on, I am feeling more certain that I want to permanently locate in Los Angeles after my internships are over. I am continuing to keep my resume updated and expand my professional network so that this transition is as smooth as possible. I’m blessed with a supportive family who promises to love me even if I don’t make it back to the Midwest for a while. Thank goodness for FaceTime!

I have had the song “Human” by The Killers on repeat lately. It speaks to the season I’m in right now:

“And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart
Cut the cord…
Are we human?
Or are we dancer?”

Those last two lines are a mystery even to fans of The Killers. But to me, it shows the tension between fretting over the future (something humans tend to do) and living in the moment (a trait exemplified by dancers). I know the steps ahead will be filled with moments that are very human, but I hope I can dance my way through them and enjoy ‘em for all they’re worth.

A favorite recent moment was meeting executive producer Ken Wales. Ken produced Peter Sellers comedies like The Party and Revenge of the Pink Panther. He also played a key role in introducing his friend Blake Edwards to Julie Andrews, and he was the best man in their wedding. Whoa.  

The TUHIP guys with our adopted grandpa, Ken Wales.

Time to get back to the here and now…my laundry is done. See you in a few weeks, red pants.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The "Who Knows" Box

When I organized my basement over the summer, I had a "Who Knows" box I threw things in that looked too important to throw away but too random to have a proper home. 

This blog post opens up the "Who Knows" box of my West Coast adventures.

Item 1: Pepto-Bismol 

There are certain experiences you want to avoid at all costs in LA traffic, including (but not limited to) left turns, rain, digestive system that is having a particularly volatile day. I've said too much already.

As I was driving to my internship on that fateful morning, I had a feeling sweep over me. You know exactly what I mean. Below is a transcription of my words - some in my head and some spoken aloud - from the car ride I will never forget.

This is not good. No, this is not good.

Siri, take me to the nearest public restroom.

Okay, no problem. I'll think of something else...Siri, take me to the nearest McDonalds.

What do you mean?! This is the 21st Century, there should be a McDonalds on every street corner!!!

Siri, take me to the nearest ANYTHING.

We'll settle this later, Siri.

I'll call Grandma to get my mind on something else.

How's life, Grandma?

Grandma, I have to go. It's an emergency.

Now I know what it feels like to be in labor. 

Our Father, who art in heaven...

I can't pull off, I am going to be late for my internship.

Do I have any buckets in this car?

NO! Keith, don't even go there. You are going to pull off, even if it makes you late. It's the humane thing to do. 

Yes, I pulled off and found a divinely-placed grocery store not far from the exit. I arrived at my internship on time with my bottle of Pepto-Bismol hidden out of sight in my sack lunch. Probably not the beverage most people would choose to smuggle in and "drink on the job," but that day it was my lifesaver.

Item 2: Chocolate-covered peanut butter balls

At my internship one afternoon, my supervisor called me into the kitchen. It was a special occasion and they were all celebrating by eating homemade chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. I was in close quarters at this tiny table with a big name director, equally prestigious producer, and two other industry professionals. We were just popping these chocolate-covered peanut butter balls into our mouths one after another and telling stories. It was like a Christmas party in the middle of September with people you aspire to be someday.

Item 3: A stuffed bunny

I observe the oddest things when I am behind the wheel driving through the city. I am almost always talking to my mom on speakerphone when this happens, so I describe to her what I am seeing in vivid detail. I try to snap a picture, too.

I recently saw a stuffed bunny hanging from a telephone wire: 

Or how about this jeep that's all armored-up for the zombie apocalypse?

My personal favorite was an itty-bitty car that had all of a person's belongings strapped to the top. It was like the sleigh from How the Grinch Stole Christmas after the Grinch raided Whoville. I would have been absolutely terrified if I was driving behind this guy. 

Not my picture, but it captures the spirit of the moment.

I could probably find a few more items if I kept rummaging through this "Who Knows" box, but I'm sure the Pepto-Bismol, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, and stuffed bunny will give you enough to chuckle about until next time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Less Say, More Do

As I work hard at my internships here in Los Angeles, a quote from my documentary Making a Mark comes to mind regularly:

"An entertainer, or a performer, is there to serve." -Mark Fauser

Sadly, I feel like much of our lives are spent trying to get ahead of the guy next to us who is a little faster, a little more popular, and a little better. One might say that it's just "healthy competition," but if we are being honest with ourselves, this mindset bogs down our quality of life and our capacity to love.

I hope our culture does not lose sight of how invigorating it is to serve others. Why do we resonate with Saving Private Ryan? Service. Why are we so thankful for our teachers? Service. Why do we feel compelled to give to those in need? You get the idea...

Jesus's "disciples" were fishermen and tax collectors who followed him around and were always bickering and griping about who was the best. I'm sure the author of the Bible left out many of their arguments about fish size, Jewish girls, and figs consumed in one sitting, but we should have pretty good reason to believe that these boys kicked up the dust every time they got together.

When it comes to the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet, most people comment about how dirty feet were in those if the amount of dirt was what made it an act of service. I would argue that Jesus washed their feet as a silent response to their years of trying to one-up each other. His behavior beckoned them to say less and do more.

In my relationships with others (especially in work environments), I am trying to ask the question "What can I do?" far more than "What can I say?" Saying things usually leads to telling people about my awards, my next big thing, and my opinions. Doing, however, encourages me to consider the bigger picture and the well-being of someone else. Healthy doers make people feel valuable, take the initiative on least-favored tasks, and fight for another's goals.

This blog post doesn't just apply to my work here in Los Angeles. It applies to you, too. Take Mark's quote at the top and fill in your own field.

"A baker is there to serve."

"A mechanic is there to serve."

"A _________ is there to serve."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Scootin' Along

Today I walked 26,605 steps. Just in case you need proof:

I am so tired right now that I'm seeing two or three of every letter on my keyboard, so perhaps this story would be best told with lots of pictures.

Last night, I visited the legendary Egyptian theatre with my Taylor group. Since I arrived early, I decided to take the opportunity to be a total Hollywood tourist. I started strolling down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, reading the name on each star. In New York City, you can recognize tourists as the people who are staring up at the skyscrapers. In Los Angeles, the tourists are the people hanging their heads down and bumping into things because they're trying to read the hallowed engravings on the ground. 

At the Egyptian, we watched the 1953 version of War of the Worlds followed by an interview with its leading lady, Ann Robinson. I caught her out in the lobby before the show to snag a picture. Of course, I forgot her name (it always happens when I meet anyone remotely famous), so I just said, "Oh my gosh, can I get a picture with you? My name's Keith. Thank'am...for all your wonderful contributions to American cinema." 

After my late night outing, I set my alarm for 4:45am. It didn't seem like ten minutes before I got up, took a shower, filled my car with gas, invested in a car wash (which did NOTHING, by the way), and pulled into Starbucks at 6:30am to pick up coffee for the set of a commercial. A commercial for a revolutionary new scooter that will be released in the coming months. 

My first job of the day (besides parking and re-parking a lot of cars) was overseeing craft services. Thank you, Mom, for providing such excellent catering for my own films and teaching me how a true craft service biz should be run.

Another job was taking a lunch order for about 18 people. I do not have a picture of this to show you because I was too busy trying to read my handwriting aloud to the lady across the counter who was ringing it all up. What a sweetheart. Angie, if you are reading this, thank you for your patience and sense of humor!

In the afternoon, we moved from our Pasadena location to a different area in downtown Los Angeles. Most of my work in during this time was transferring props, clothes, and food from one place to another.

I had the opportunity to be on set and help operate a GoPro drone later in the evening! The guy who owns the drone, Warren, also likes to use it as a handheld camera source since it has its own built-in "Steadicam" function. He watched on the monitor as I chased the talent up and down the block. (Now you know where most of those steps on my phone's pedometer came from!)

So thankful that the producer, Justin, is letting me shadow him this fall and teaching me the tricks of the trade! 

The rest of my day is kind of a blur because my bod was saying, "I'm ready to call it a day." There were a few creepy alleyways, a few parking frustrations, but I as I write this I am sitting in my room eating leftover Chinese cuisine. I'm happy. It has been a good day.