The day i decided to be an actor and "Burn the Boats".
by Michael Gardner on Monday, February 20, 2012
Hello, my name is Michael Gardner. My story is short but almost unbelievable. Seven months ago (mid July 2011) I found myself unemployed after being let go of my regular 9-5 job. I decided once and for all to do what I love no matter the cost. I was born to act and have always been an actor; I just couldn't see it until recently. Isnt it funny how we become distracted with life?
I was an extra on the set of a feature film Directed by Mike Norris and starring Dean Cain, John Schneider, Jenn Gotzon, Elise Baughman, Rebekah Kennedy, Larry Jack Dotson, Benjamin Dane and so many other great performers. I met so many great people there and I am still friends with most of them today. One actress would unknowingly play a role in changing my life in ways that I never could have imagined.
I had recently been asked to take my last paycheck and not come back on Monday to the company I was working for at the time. Now I won't go into all the negative stuff because all that is gone now, but it was a pretty raw deal. A door that was wide open and helping me back to normal was suddenly slammed in my face. The mere idea that I was fired for something that just wasn't true made me immediately aware of the fact that maybe I am supposed to be doing something else. (You can even read it in my facebook post that day, I said they did me a favor by firing me; this would turn out to be a prophetic statement)
That's the way karma operates in the world I am in. In my Universe, I was wronged, and my faith in a higher power had me convinced that I was meant to do something else. I kept the glass half full and looked for an open door, which I knew had to be there. So there I was, looking for an open door. I was keeping an eye out for an opportunity while enjoying my time on the set of this seemingly blessed film during the record heat wave of summer 2011
The energy on the set of this film was really unlike anything I had ever witnessed, and I believe it was because of all the good souls that had come together in this special place out in the middle of nowhere called Justin TX. One person in particular that stood out from others was an actress named Jenn Gotzon (Frost Nixon, The Hulk). She was absolutely brightest light I have ever witnessed in a person. She truly knows her faith, her craft and her purpose... and it shows. People sometimes gravitate towards others just on a spiritual recognition alone, and that was the case with me. This person was an anointed soul and I could learn so much from her, I thought.
Quickly we became friends, and spent a fair amount of time with everyone else between takes. We all goofed around but got serious quickly when Mike Norris sent the AD into the holding area for "background actors".
We had a few days off from shooting and Jenn had Facebook posted that she wanted to do something "Texas" while she was here. She resides in LA and had not seen much of the Lone Star State I guess. Not Fort Worth anyway. We had previously talked about her movie projects and briefly discussed the game of golf. To make a long story short, if that is possible now, we mutually decided to head to the golf course for lessons. Jenn would be getting a golf lesson from me, and I would be getting an acting lesson from her.
Jenn is an inspirational individual, and she helped me to see that everything I have done in my career up to this point was in preparation to be an actor. Never one time did Jenn ever suggest that I become an actor. I don't want people to think that she talked me into this. I still had no idea that acting was my passion.
Then suddenly, within a span of a couple hours, my world would be flying upside down and stuck on full throttle. But it felt OK; I had the support of my friends and family.
Jenn explained to me how every actor requires a set of tools just like any other professional. And that if I wanted to become an actor I would need to learn a few important things first. She clearly had command of the tools that are needed to be successful. She is an award winning actress, and I soaked up every syllable of every word she was willing to share with me.
She explained how being in the moment during a scene is a vital tool every good actor needs in his or her repertoire. Hearing her say this got my attention. You see, I had been self committed to the study of social dynamics and attraction for the previous 4 years or so. One thing that I had mastered in that time was "being in the moment" while in conversation with someone. I could be in the moment, at any time, with anyone, on command. She went on to explain about the other tools needed to be a successful actor these days. Every once in a while she would ask a couple questions about the game of golf and we would spend a few minutes on her swing or goof around while video taping my swing. It took us about 6 hours to play 9 holes of golf. I joked with Jenn that in the grand scheme of lessons today, I think I got the better of the deal. She laughed and coyly quipped that I had no idea how much of a better deal I was getting. This made me laugh even harder; and you know what? I still have not realized how much of a better deal I got, nor will I ever I suppose. I am pretty sure her golf swing is probably getting better if she has been practicing at all, but to me it can't be anywhere near the equal to the spiritual and life changing epiphany that has presented itself to me since we met.
Since Jenn and I met in July I have booked 5 leading roles in films, one of which was a SAG film, been written into someones script twice just because they wanted to work with me, 5 supporting roles, a recurring role in a 24 episode web series, commercials for Texas Lottery, Subway Restaurants, Gatorade and Ron Corning of WFAA. I have been in films with Dean Cain and Judd Nelson, TV shows like Dallas where i met Linda Grey, Larry Hagman, Joshua Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe and Patrick Duffy. I am in four Dallas episodes airing in the summer of 2012. One episode I actually handcuff and arrest a primary character on the show (who shall remain nameless, ask me for the spoiler). I can't talk about the scene but I think they are going to use the shot as a teaser. That means I could get lots of face time of National TV. On Dallas I was also a stand in for Glen Morshower of X-files and 24 fame.
So in a nutshell, in less than a year I went from regular job, and by the grace of a higher power, the support of my family and numerous opportunities I have created a career for myself.
I am at the point where I am steadily booking paying jobs and require representation to continue reaching goals and getting better.
My goals are many for 2012 but primarily I intend to keep working full time on my acting career. I am continuing my actor studies and voice over work. I am working towards a year ending goal for 2012. I will do pilot season n LA in January of next year. I am looking to focus my acting on film, TV and commercials. I have been told by many people that I have the right "look".
Honestly, I don't really know what that means, nor do I care. All I know is that I love to act. At age 45 I finally know what I was meant to do in this life, and that is to act. At least, that's how it feels to be able to have passion in our work. I am not under any illusions that I am going to win an Oscar or something incredible like that. Staying humble and acting modest amongst my brothers in life is a big focus. I know if I do this thing with passion and have an unshakeable resolve to get better every day, I can break through the fear barriers that stand between me and success. Success being defined by getting the roles that I know will help me make a difference.
I have signed with the Linicomn Agency. I sent in one submission to one agency, the one I wanted, and they signed me the very next day without even auditioning. The night before I signed, because I had no vehicle at the time, I had a friend ready to give me a ride to the agency. I had a 10am appointment to meet with Danette Linicomn and an 1130am call time for the show Dallas as a stand in for Glen Morshower.
At 11pm that night my friend called to say she could not give me a ride, so I was stuck. The next day could very well be one of the biggest days of my career and I had no ride. That's OK, I thought, there are worse things. I can just rent a car from the airport....Nope. They wanted more money for deposit than I had on my debit card account. Now what? I found a Budget rental Truck service a few blocks from my apartment in Grapevine, so I reserved a 10 foot box truck (the smallest they had). I walked over to Budget in the pouring rain the next morning only to find out the smallest they had available was actually a 16 foot box truck. "I'll take it" I said. i didn't care, I was going to do whatever it took to get it done and do it with a smile on my face. Just then a man came in who was returning the smaller panel van, I asked for that, and was issued the van. I drove the van to the agency, all the way giggling about how some unknown dark forces and difficulties where trying to stop me. Long story short I was right on time for both my appointments and I was so proud of myself for just hitting my fears and adversity right in the face and came out a winner.
I kept telling myself "I am a bad-ass, you can't stop me with all these little distractions". Since then, it's my little mantra...I am a bad-ass. LOL I don't take it too seriously, but it sure motivates me when i say it. So now it's a regular thing when i face a hurdle. I just remind myself "I am a bad-ass" and proceed to get it done no matter what.
I am experiencing an unbelievable momentum right now and would like to keep that going. I don't want to reach a plateau and lose my momentum. However, ever day when I think it just can't get any better than the day before, it does. Why?
Because I am a bad ass.
"Ever Forward, Ever Thankful, Ever humble to serve my God."
Michael P Gardner
Oh, and several people asked about the "Burn the boats" comment in the title. I learned from my friend Bill Martin, that's what Vikings did when they made landfall to attack an enemy. They burned the boats so they knew they had to fight or die, because they were not going home. It's one reason why Vikings were such fierce opponents. Well, we are not going home either, we are moving up the beach with intent to conquer
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