Picking a City like Picking Candy at the Movies

Hey whats up? It’s been a while!

I’ve finished my third contract, but I’ve postponed my trip to China.
I know right what could be worse?
But after disaster strikes one rarely wants to do fun things on ones own, so one delays them to a future in which one can imagine oneself happy again. So basically It’ll be November now.
It was nothing too big, but I did want to be around people I knew and not learning a foreign language in a foreign country alone. My plan now is to do it as part of a large multi country traveling plan I have ready for after I become unemployed, which may be only months away.

I’m a week away from embarking on what is probably my final contract performing for Disney, and having signed my first contract in 2011 I can barely remember a life in which I performed for anyone else.
I’ve traveled a lot in that time and spent a lot of time with Mickey Mouse, but it’s nearly time I tackle a stage that doesn’t have a princess on it and speak a line of dialogue that doesn’t end with the phrase “dreams come true” or “true loves kiss.”

It’s been amazing though, I’m absolutely not talking down on my experience, I’ve been very fortunate. The scary thing is the thought of leaving now and trying to convince anyone else in the world to cast me.
I had done very little before Disney took a chance on me, and have therefore today done very little that isn’t Disney. Basically I’m just gonna have to take a chance and leap out into the world and hope I find somewhere to land, and speaking on the topic I now have the duration of my final three month contract to decide which city to live in, perhaps permanently.

This is going to be a big decision as I haven’t had a permanent home since I was in university, so I don’t remember a life in which I own more than I can fit into a suitcase and a carry on bag. First thing I wanna do when I start a grounded life is buy a big tv! I’ve never been able to own one of those!
As a couple people reading may remember, I generally spend my summer with Disney in Alaska so that’s where I’ll be until the sea begins to re-freeze and we need to get the snowy hell outta there. Although this time we will be offering three separate shows and events based on the hit Frozen, as Disney has now decided that buzz about that film is for some reason just not going away.
When even the Godlike Tina Fey is joining the world of media mothers and coming on television talking about how her daughters talk of nothing but Frozen years after the films release, it’s time to start pumping out even more Frozen stuff.
So I’ve got that to look forward to.
But once my icy summer is over I’ll be deciding between a few cities that have made my exclusive and highly coveted list of places for me to pick as my home.
The list includes London, Toronto, Sydney and unsurprisingly Shanghai.

Shanghai is there for no more reason than that I love China to pieces, although the fact that my dollar stretches so far here doesn’t hurt either. What works against Shanghai for me is the fact that my own crappy Mandarin is stunted by my inability to learn lessons whenever I’m sad or bored, which has meant inconsistent lessons so far apart that I forget my previous learning and find myself learning backwards until I remember anything that I had studied before.
Basically trying to go to China to “make it” in acting without speaking Mandarin would be more than useless.
I could go there doing something else and study Mandarin while I’m there and try to get ‘gigs’ on the side, but lets get real. No-one with a full time job in a country that doesn’t speak their native language is doing anything ‘on the side’ except daytime drinking and getting lost trying to find national landmarks.

London would be a great one for me, I have a ton of friends in London and I speak the language. Well as I’m Australian, to an English person I don’t so much speak the language as I chew on it, stretch it out and spit in onto the sidewalk.
Points against London are for the most part that the currency would destroy my dollars and leave me almost penniless, and that unlike Chinas emerging acting market, London is chock full of people trying to act.
This is by no means an exaggeration, London is full of extremely talented and well learned actors, so much so that casting directors can turn people away simply because their hard won acting qualifications were attained at a school that isn’t fashionable enough. And here I come prancing along with my gnarly Australian accent, zero qualification, laughable experience and some notion that a $2,000 plane ticket and recently destroyed bank account means that Europe somehow owes me something.

Toronto is winning for me, it’s close enough to America that going to New York whenever I feel sad is achievable. It’s a beautiful city, and there is a large indie acting scene that combines the skill and output of an old experienced city with the fun and energy of a new one. It’s a place that with my wildly under-researched mind I believe would be more receptive to a new kid looking for a new land based start. Canadian Dollars are kind to my Australian ones, and who doesn’t like Canada? Except maybe Americans?

Sydney as you know is an Australian city, it would be the best place within Australia for me definitely as Melbourne is for hipsters who are happy to act in Indie shows for free. But mostly I would pick it not for the sense of adventure or discovery, but for the fact that it’s not far from my home and I could visit home as frequently as I like. A lame reason to pick a city? Absolutely. It’s a choice people make all the time, but I myself find it a very unremarkable choice to make.

Have an opinion? Let me know! And I’ll update again soon, keep traveling and don’t make choices for lame reasons!
Have a good one 🙂

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“And His Heart Grew Three Sizes that Day”

Theres nothing quite like the thought of the future for inspiring both overwhelming excitement, and gut wrenching fear.
For me, the fear of everything I have ending and I being left with nothing is weighed against the desire to move to a city and audition and try my hand at ‘making it.’

I’m at a crossroads at the moment deciding what I want to do with the next year of my life, I’m confident that very soon it will no longer include Disney.
I’ve been around the world with Disney for the past three years, this company has given me all the skills I’ve learned, all the money I’ve saved and all the experiences I’ve had.
I’m really grateful to Disney for what it’s given me, but I can feel within myself that I’ve gained and given everything I can. I’m done.
I think we all know deep down when we’re done with what we have, and it’s useless to continue to force yourself through the motions of the job once you’ve reached that point.
I vacation to Australia in just under three weeks, then I’ll probably return for a couple months in Alaska, then return to Australia and start again.

Never one to risk starting from scratch without at least a few casting directors around the world reading my cv and re-watching my audition tapes, I do have a few possible jobs I’ll discover the results of in the near future.
The one I’m most hopeful for is for a role with Disney’s director competitor in Asia, another is for a much smaller company in Europe and another for a role within casting in my home country of Australia.
Asia is of course the goal, I’ve made no secret of my constant craving to be there, particularly in China. I still have a plan to go to China again this year, but it’s now postponed to November instead of April so that I can go for longer. Hopefully two months this time, half of that time spent in Kunming learning Mandarin, tai chi and calligraphy (total dream come true).

The test is going to be how effectively I can leave my relationships here at Disney Cruise Line and face a future of potentially not seeing these people again. It was tough leaving Disney World for this reason, and I found myself pining for a few of these relationships for quite a while. The added challenge of leaving a cruise ship is the proximity you spent with friends while you lived on board. You spend all day and night with these people, and depend on them for everything. Emotional support systems that use to be carried by 20 friends and your family are now being carried on the shoulders of 5 friends and no family, be assured these friends become family very quickly.
I can count on one hand the number of people that will rip my heart out when I leave them, and it’s gonna be hell to go from seeing them constantly and relying on them for everything, to losing them entirely. I have always put career and travel above everything else, including people, and I’ve always been very open about that priority order. 
This way of thinking has cost me friends and relationships in the past, both of which I’ve given up for the sake of ambition, and even now I don’t regret it.
But now I find that I can think of two people alive that if they asked me to give up everything and immigrate to their country, I would probably do it. This change has either come with age, a change of thinking, an increasing ability to love, or a new discovery of how strongly I can attach to people.
Luckily neither of these people know who they are, and if they do they don’t know that I would give up everything I have for them.
Right now I’m formulating a plan that I’m calling ‘Plan B’, and it’s basically the plan for the next year that will exist if everything I audition for falls through.
It’s a rather morbid plan in that it contains nearly no earning, but it’s fun.
It contains two vacations (that combine to be more that three months of the year, three very expensive months).
It has a few acting workshops in it, plenty of travel, and a lot of cafes, eating and no less than 8 cities in which to do this.
If I come out of this year with any assets or free cash at all I’ll be both very lucky and happy, but hopefully at least one casting director alive will take me on and I’ll be able to have a non-Disney adventure.

I’m still working out what to do with my growing problem of gaining less disposable relationships, but I’m growing as a person and I’m sure the answer will reveal itself someday soon. Or maybe I’ll pack my bags and relocate to where the love is, I’ve done crazier things 😉

Subscribe for more of the good stuff! It should get more often as I get increasingly closer to going back home 🙂

A Bloody Start to 2015

Hey guys sorry for my absence, how long has it been? A month or so?
Not a lot has happened for me in the period between last we talked and now. Christmas and the holidays took a lot of attention away from other things, and now things are settling down just before the madness of spring break.
Already its been a crazy year for the animation industry, first Disney steps between Hasbro and DreamWorks and cuts off an acquisition deal.
Well is it fair of me to say that Disney cut the deal off? When in reality Disney offered Hasbro money, partnership and a chance to be part of the impossibly successful ‘Frozen’ franchise, but this incredible offer couldn’t go ahead if DreamWorks were a part of the fun.
So Disney basically gave Hasbro an unmissable offer which in accepting would deny DreamWorks their last hope at a necessary and enormous cash infusion.
Then only a couple weeks later DreamWorks shuts down PDI DreamWorks, a big animation studio of theirs putting roughly 500 people out of work.
In an industry as relatively small as animation, this was a huge blow to the industry and is going to have a massive effect on LA.
Im not saying Disney was directly responsible for DreamWorks being forced to lay off 500 people, many of DreamWorks movie flops played a large part.
But I do believe Disney will be happier once DreamWorks is either completely gone, or squashed into something that barely resembles what it once was.
Shanghai Disneyland is due to open at the end of this year, very exciting news. And along with every other studio, Im sure Disney is tailoring its movies this year to be considered for entry into one of the very limited spots on Chinese cinema screens. After the difference the huge Chinese audience made to the profits of the last Transformers movie, everyone is realising that there are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made in this very conservative country.

Im just really realising lately that I work for a company that while is wonderful and is still in the business of ‘dreams come true’, is a bulldog corporate giant that is the very definition of capitalism. We have stregically picked the perfect time to begin making our mark on the increasingly capitalistic Mainland China.

Speaking of China, I’m in the process of organising another trip there Im very pleased to say. I plan to visit Kunming and study Mandarin properly for 2 weeks in April.

Do you have any thoughts on Disney, the world of animation, the plight of DreamWorks or the ever capitalising China? Let me know 🙂
Until next time keep your eyes out, and keep exploring

Learning to Talk and to Worry

Hello again!
Guess what! Some of you will be glad to know that I have begun my Chinese language training again, using the Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin system that I was using before.
Unsurprisingly I have forgotten a lot of what I had learned and have had to go quite far back in the course and work my way back to where I was.
I’m pretty ashamed at how lazy I’ve been the last few months, but I realised that if Im one day going to spend thousands going to China and learning the language at Keats School, I’m not going to pay all that money to learn the basic easy crap I could be learning from a CD at home. I wanna go to China and work with an instructor on intricate stuff you can only learn from a patient native speaker. Im also gonna take tai chi while Im there, Im so excited!
This dream can’t become a reality really for probably at least a year, but that means I have plenty of time to get good enough at it to begin needing that patient instructor!
So where am I that I can warrent spending thousands on learning this Asian language? What must I be doing?
Im performing English speaking shows in Mexico and the Caribbean. I know. I am the most Chinese person here, and Im Australian.
But I see this as enjoying a hobby, not building an almost useless skill for my current life situation. Some people have drinking, books, knitting or friends. I have me in my bedroom forcing myself to listen to my language CD’s instead of rewatching 30 Rock.
I don’t know why I rewatch so much TV, there’s probably some emotional issues there. Best not to read into it.
However despite this being a totally legitimate hobby, it may come in handy some day. Translating for a lost Chinese gentleman perhaps, or dialling 911 for someone and the operator only knows Mandarin? You never know.
I’ve been back in the Caribbean 3 weeks now and Im enormously missing the cold of Alaska. Why am I the only Australian alive who hates sun, surf and beaches. Give me cold, rain and snow any day.
I’ve been spending the last week battling a mental war with myself, part of me wants to return to land life, but part of me worries that land life sucks more than I remember.
Being rooted at home means simple luxuries like walking to the shops, hanging out with family and friends, doing whatever I want.
But Id give up travel, and the ability to be wherever my friends are.
I have someone very important to me living in Orlando, how would I see her? However would I fund a trip to China, or have the vacation time to do it?
Right now I travel around working for 4 months at a time then get to do whatever i want for 6 weeks traveling where I please.
I can’t leave, but I can’t stay forever. Right now I get to have my family in Australia, my precious China, and my important relationships in America. If I become grounded I lose out, but I get a life back.
Just keep swimming I suppose.
My shares have taken a bit of a dive lately and it freaked me out today, I had a heart attack.
Combined my shares took a 9% nose dive and seeing all that money in the red made me sweat bullets.
But then I read Warren Buffets quote that says “if your not prepared to lose 50% of your stocks value, don’t invest in shares.” These things happen! But their gonna bounce back. 😉
I’ll write another financial post another time, in the mean time keep traveling! And if your anything like me, try to worry less!
Everything can be perfect and I’ll still worry haha.
If your in America sweet dreams. 😉
See y’all soon. Bye.

It’s Time for Change in 2015. But What do I Do?

Well it’s nearly Christmas, and just as I have for the previous 2 Christmas’s I will be spending it on the opposite side of the world to my family.
At this point it’s not the burden it was the first time I did it, I’m hardly a child anymore, and I’m not yet at the point I have to worry about being there for my own kids.
But it’s still pretty much the only holiday Australians take seriously as Thanksgiving/Halloween and everything else don’t exist down under, therefore in missing one holiday, I miss them all.
This year my Christmas will be spent at Disney’s Castaway Cay, an island paradise to be sure, but hardly ideal for me.
I will likely spend it performing a kids archeological show in the sand, and eating burgers on the beach, but I’m still hankering for my white Christmas.
I think this time next year I’ll spend it in Asia, I’m pretty sure Shanghai Disneyland is due to open for the holidays next year so maybe I’ll have a chilly Chinese Christmas in Shanghai instead.
For some reason I doubt I’ll be working for Disney this time next year, I can feel the end of an era drawing near as I yearn to venture into the non magical real world beyond the lands lorded by Mickey Mouse.
It’s not to say I don’t care about the company anymore, I’ve come to a point where I could work for this company forever, but I crave change and need new experiences.
I’m still seriously considering spending 4 months in Kunming China simply to learn Mandarin, or even just a few weeks if I feel I can’t commit to that kind of time frame.
Other options now include moving to London, crashing at my friends London apartment and look for auditions and work casually. Her demands in return simply include my dedication to a Downton Abbey lazy Sunday every weekend, which suits me perfectly. I’ve never been to Europe at all, and the idea of living in London and auditioning sounds “like a dream, a wonderful dream come true”. (A Cinderella quote from a show I’m a part of, I can’t say ‘like a dream’ anymore without finishing the line).
Theres also still the possibility of my potentially maybe joining Royal Caribbean’s fleet performing for DreamWorks shows. That would be really great, and would return me to the performance style I grew to love while I worked at Disney World.

Failing everything else I can always move to Sydney in my home country of Australia and audition for stuff, it would be a new city after all and a great place to start again.
I have a close friend in Orlando who would let me crash with her and look for work, but it would be tough to get the right visa to work legally.
Another problem is that once I do anything thats not working for a cruise line I’ll be responsible for buying plane tickets again, which hasn’t been a problem for me for the past year and a half. I barely remember the $2,500 sting of a return flight to America, that smarts.
I’m grateful for options, but it’s been plaguing me and it’s difficult to decide what I want. But for now I’ll enjoy Christmas, and if your going to sail Christmas aboard the Disney Wonder then I will put on an extra good show for you 😉
I hope you all have wonderful holidays and I’ll talk again soon. 🙂

Moving Abroad Skittishness

Hey guys sorry for the gap, I’m back on the ship!
For those who don’t know, Im an entertainer aboard the Disney Wonder and I travel while performing Disney shows for kids.
Every time I come back aboard I fall behind in my writing and blogging as Im swept up in sudden work and scripts and pressure. Its a never ending onslaught of things to do and worry about, and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Luckily I have plenty of time to get off the ship in various countries and enjoy new experiences in new places.
Right now were spending time around the south of the US and in Mexico. I love being in Mexico for the wonderful food and amazing ruines, but I can’t stand the searing heat. Recently I was in Alaska for three months so Im missing that climate, more recently I was in New York which is the perfect temperature for me.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but new immigration standards are being considered by four Commonwealth countries to allow for easier passage between these countries. After an Australian teacher was forced to leave England because of an expired visa, the British Prime Minister came up with the idea to relax the rules for certain countries.
The four countries are Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK.
If this goes through in about a year it would be easier to move between these countries perminantly, without needing an exceptional circumstance.
This would be wonderful because I could see loving living in London, although I’d have to begin again there financially because I’ll die before I convert all my worthless Australian dollars into British Pounds and more than halve the savings that I have built up. So I’d have to move there and start modestly and live with a friend until I got on my feet.
Some people are worried though, most of which live in Australia.
We are a country with very few people and a lot of land mass. Australia is roughly the land size of America, but with the population of Texas. England has far more people than us, and is a tiny island on which everyone is squeezed in. Australians worry if we open the gates we will be overrun.
I think this worry is ludicrous because countries grow and improve with population. Look how awesome America is with all those cities and towns, driving through America must be awesome because there are a ton of populous places to explore.
Driving through Australia, you can drive for ages and see nothing, we have far to much space. Id welcome a healthier population level that forced us to build more cities, perhaps its time for our own Vegas? We definitely have the desert for it.
For now I’m gonna stay in America and Mexico, let me know what you think of people moving around, and where you would live if you could live anywhere!
I’ll be back within a few days, talk soon 😉

On Disney

Well I’m here again, the place I’m in several times a year.
Where I am is a semi comfortable seat with cold arm rests and sufficient room for thinking and nervous sweating.
Im at Brisbane International Airport (BNE) headed for LAX then on to Miami (MIA).
Im a nervous flyer and despite flying long distances several times a year have not shaken the sweats I get while waiting in the terminal.
My nervous anxiety is fueled by the far too large coffee I just downed, (coffee gives me anxiety at the best of times) and the anxiety I always feel before I rejoin Disney.
Disney is a great place to work, particularly if you work in entertainment. I’ve heard from good friends and roommates that working for Disney is rough for other departments, my best friend at Disney World being my connection to the world of quick service dining. Feeding the masses of guests has scarred him for life I dare say.
But for entertainment the life is fantastic, and though expectations are very high, the work is very rewarding.
As I write this I am strengthening my resolve in my decision to fly, but I become no less anxious. Thanks coffee.
Besides the travel which is a huge perk, the job is rewarding because I love to take huge movies that people love, and be a part of their realisation into becoming live entertainment. I love representing excellence and when you make people aware that as a performer you work for Disney, people do not need telling that you work hard to keep the shows to a high standard.
I am a huge fan of excellence and doing things properly, I think Mr Carson and I would be great friends. (From Downton Abbey).
I think the excellence is what brings me back consistently and my ability to contribute the best that I can. I’ve grown up believing that everyone has an obligation to find however best they can contribute to the world, and work hard to come to a place where you have the opportunity to give your contribution as effectively as you can.
This is why I can’t become a writer, because as much as I love it, I’m not really any good at it. I read from my favourite authors all the time and thank them for doing what they do best. But for myself, this decision would be irresponsible.
I’m not saying however that I’m an amazing performer, definitely not. What I’m saying is that there isn’t anything I can personally do better than perform. (Which basically makes me useless in the zombie apocalypse).
So though I will always perform, I won’t perform for Disney forever. Eventually I’m going to want to perform regular shows in regular theatres in a regular city. These shows won’t feature and Disney characters at all! By this point I can barely imagine what the should could even be about? Imagination is the centre of just about every show I do! Along with a healthy dose of Mickey 😉
But while I do perform for Disney I’m not ashamed to say that I love the company, love what it does for people, and love the feeling people get when you talk about it.
How many companies give people warm fuzzies? Companies that size normally bore or annoy people.
As the worlds biggest entertainment company I don’t think anyone is unaffected by its influence, and I don’t think any company has as many die hard fans. I
How many companies do you know can have an annual conference containing exclusively announcements about itself and be a sold out globally sought after event.
Well that’s quite enough about Mickey, almost time to board. See ya soon Disney, and thanks guys for reading, next time I write it’ll be from America. Safe travels!