I Made It Into the Movie Theaters! Now What?

Tabatha Shaun - Pyragraph
Only one photo of exists of me sitting around my house doing nothing. And I’m on a toilet. Photo courtesy of Tabatha Shaun.

After the serendipitous afternoon that led me from a billboard to my psychic friend to a talent agent, I sat down and set some career goals for myself. My goal for the month was to get on a film set to work background. Check. My next goal was to take a few screen acting classes. Check. By the end of my first year, I made a five-year goal to stop working for free unless I really love the project. Check. Join SAG-AFTRA. Check. My ultimate career goal when I was 18 years old was to work on a film that made it to Sundance. Eighteen-year-old me didn’t think I’d be able to say “Check” so soon.

I’m becoming the slutty little cousin of prestige and now I’ve got a new career goal.

At year seven, I accomplished that goal. The Guest, by director and writer duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, hit the film circuit and has been doing great. It kicked off Sundance’s 2014 Midnight Madness and it shot Dan Stevens into the gravitational orbit of Hollywood. Then, The Guest made an appearance in movie theaters across the country, something I never had on my career goal list. Another movie I worked on, Persecuted, also had a nationwide release. Two movies in movie theaters at once, I never imagined!

Both movies are available to buy. I became Googleable. My boobies became ogleable through the Google. I set up a Twitter account to tweet superfluous things. I made a new website that looks like it’s not from 1998.

I looked at my IMDB ranking and I’m now in the top 5,000 actors list versus my previous status of top 250,000 actors.

Edward Norton’s character in Birdman says, “Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.” I’m gaining popularity. It’s not instant, and it’s largely with men who send me creepy messages, but it’s happening. Some of these people believe I’m as successful as my costars in The Guest and that I’m actually a Hollywood actress instead of an unemployed actor eating quinoa every day because it’s cheap. Go on, people, continue to Google me and I hope you stumble upon my Tumblr and read about my very uneventful life and continue to support me. I’ll update my networking and media sites, and I’ll continue to spend hours researching and practicing for my auditions and maybe one day I can eat some wild-caught salmon and asparagus on top of my quinoa.

I’m becoming the slutty little cousin of prestige and now I’ve got a new career goal:

Work on characters I’m really fucking proud of working on.

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  1. Great article, your acting skills are really good, i don’t know what kind of movies you want be in but i guese you would be great for the independed movies because usually those movies got a better story to tell in my oppinion :)

    Do you agree?

  2. Hi Roderick,

    Thanks for the read! On my blog, I indicate that I’m ISO “thoughtful independent films.” Really, I’m interested in any thoughtful films in general, it just seems they are more concentrated in the indie film world. Indie filmmakers don’t have the burden of writing formulaic blockbusters, and I find that the crews and cast have a much more complementary relationship on smaller sets. Cast and crew even eat food together on smaller sets! Gasp!


  3. As an actor why do you think that these formulaic blockbusters you refer to are so succesful? I find that allot of the really big blockbusters all seem to be based on the same archetype, which seems to be the hero archetype originating from ancient Greek mythologies.
    Obviously it appears on the screen in a range of different stylisations and contexts but if you break down the plot and character developments they really are very similar to a huge number of classical myths.
    But why has this story remained so fascinating to us over such a long time? Perhaps these films are symbolic representations of the development of the personality from childhood to adulthood as this is a shared, collective experience if you catch my drift. But if this is so doesn’t that make us hopelessly self obsessed because the movies we love the most are the ones we see ourselves reflected in? And if that’s so then why are we such mysteries unto ourselves that we find it so fascinating to peer inwards? This is probably totally the wrong place to be asking this kind of question but whatever, I’m bored, and I thought maybe someone who embodies characters from stories for a living might have a unique perspective on this.

    1. John,

      I”ve been thinking about your insights! I certainly do think we are fascinated by ourselves, and even more specifically, by those who speak the same language. In some places like Arizona, teachers are taught to not respond to Spanish-speaking students in Spanish! We’re a bunch of egocentric jerks, so why not play the same predictable story with all the familiar characters on repeat?

      Those archetypes our friends in Hollywood love so much are specific enough to have a name and general enough for the viewer to treat them like a mad lib. They can watch their own story play on their television until they become a walking archetype and can converse about all the great blockbusters with all the other walking archetypes.

      Am I killing my chances of ever working on something that will give me residuals into eternity by saying this? Possibly. But I’m really really bad at smiling or crying into the void of a cold camera in a poorly-lit audition room unless I can find the blood to pump into a lifeless one-liner reading

      FLIRTY GIRL: “You’re killing me, Jimmy!”

      We all like coloring in the lines, some of us more than others. Lately, I’ve wondered why I am not writing my own lines.

      1. Tabatha,

        Maybe Jimmy really is killing ‘Flirty Girl’, I mean in an existential sense? Maybe ‘Flirty Girl’ realises her intractable position as the stereotype in Jimmy’s story, and feels as though she is being smothered by the narrowness of her character.
        So maybe she really means it when she says ‘You’re killing me […]’ and her laughter is the desperate laughter of someone who sees the irony of their situation – that what she has said is really how she feels, but the context in which it is received is the exact opposite.
        I’m sure we all feel a little like Flirty Girl sometimes – in need of a real name, a real soul.

        I understand your frustration. Modern society poses a threat to the existence of the individual because so much has become impersonal through the mass production of ideas and identity. We seem to be creating a mono-culture, where everyone conforms, even the so called sub-cultures whose identities are marketed to them. Where is the variation and diversity that makes life so interesting? We do the same thing to the planet, cutting down all the trees and clearing the land to make way for a mono-species of crop or else turning what was once richly variegated into a desert. It’s a collective problem and I think you are right to voice it.

        As for killing your chances of residual eternity, there is nothing more meaningless I can imagine than eternity. Every point in eternity is undefinable, because on an infinite line each point is equally far from the end/beginning. There are no values in eternity, only a singularity. It is meaningless. How awful then, to sacrifice yourself to eternity. Eternity is the cold void you mention. It is the now, which is finite and transitory where the meaning exists.

        So I don’t see as you have any choice but continue on the path you’re on. Continue to emerge from between the poorly-lit audition room and the twilight of the evening, the camera frame and the horizon, the sundial and the chain. And write your own lines, you have to, because as Bob Dylan says, – She who aint busy being born, is busy dying.

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