It was January 2008, and I was in a panic.

I had just spent four years incubating in the comforts of college theatre, and I was ready to leap into the realm of professional acting. There I stood, a baby bird at the edge of the nest, staring straight ahead. Without a moment’s notice, I dove from my lofty perch…

…and then realized I had no fucking clue how to fly. Oops.

Luckily, my playful instincts took over and I tucked into a bad-ass cannonball (lest I look too silly) before landing on the ground with a solid, impartial “fwump.”

When I woke up, I was lying in a bed of dirt and pine needles, facing up.

“This isn’t right,” I thought, gazing up at an inviting blue patch of sky above me. “I’m supposed to be up there!”

I got to my feet, brushed myself off, and thought for a moment. I concluded that the only way to reach that beautiful blue expanse above me was to start building.

“But just how am I supposed to build this…thing?” I thought.

It was January 2009, and I was reading blueprints.

I began by finding other birds like me, who were also looking for ways to get to places they longed to be. There were so many! I spent my days with them. I enjoyed meals with them. I listened to their stories. I learned from their struggles and shared in their triumphs. We formed a community, and it became very clear that this community would be an invaluable asset in my pursuits.

To help us begin construction, we each attended classes, lectures, seminars, and workshops taught by those who had been where we wanted to go. We recognized the importance of their words, and we soaked up every detail. Every time we met someone who had been there, we would take a moment to get to know them. We’d ask them advice on certain things, and they were almost always willing to share some of their wisdom with us, for which we were incredibly grateful!

In our spare time, we found quiet spaces where we could practice using our tools. We even paid some of the older birds to come watch us practice and tell us what we were doing right and what we needed to improve. Before long, the tools began to feel more comfortable in our claws.

With all this practicing, learning, and “waiting,” you can imagine how shocked I was to discover that, in this process, I had somehow already constructed the foundation of a mammoth skyscraper! I thought of the implications this had in my quest, and I was overwhelmed with unexpected feelings of joy and pride.

And then it dawned on me: If I feel this good now, maybe success isn’t being somewhere. Maybe it’s just being something. It seems that the grand destination is less important than the actual journey itself!

It is January 2010, and I’m building something incredible.

Now that I’ve gotten my all the baby bird cliches out of my system, let’s talk about 2010. I’ve got a list of things I’m going to accomplish this year.

Acting as an Art

  1. Take a Film Acting class! Chicago is home to many reputable training centers for actors, and most of them offer at least one course in acting for the camera. In 2009, I studied improvisation in order to add to the tools in my “actor’s toolkit.” It is in that same spirit that I will learn the ins and outs of film acting. And who knows! Improv has opened up some amazing avenues in my life! No doubt a class or two in film acting will do the same! Which leads me to…
  2. Audition for films! There is a big empty space on my resume where “Film Credits” would normally go. It’s time to fill that void, and the only way to do it is to audition! I don’t care whether they’re student films, independent movies, or film shorts. I’ll take it! Bring it on! When it’s time for a casting agent to look at my resume, I want to be able to say that I have acted on film before. Which leads me to…
  3. Submit to agencies! This is the big one for me. It’s the one thing I’ve been most reluctant to do. Frankly, I don’t feel like I’m qualified yet. I’m afraid that agents will look at my headshots and my resume and think,”Ha! Who does this Von Bokern kid think he is?” And then later, when I have more experience under my belt, I’ll try submitting again and they’ll remember me and think, “Again? Yeah right,” and crumple me up and throw me across the office and into the wastebasket. And they’ll nail the shot, of course. (NOTE: Having actually put this notion down on “paper,” I can’t help but laugh at myself.) This is the year I overcome that fear and take the leap. Anyone got any advice?
  4. Audition for TONS of Plays! I know, vague. I’ve already been auditioning successfully for the past year, so what makes this goal unique to 2010? I’d like to audition so much that it becomes second nature to me. I’ve always been nervous about auditioning. This year will be different!

Acting as a Business

  1. Upgrade my Website! In November of ’08, JoeVonBokern.com was established, and I have been making upgrades and revisions ever since! I use Apple’s iWeb software to build & maintain the site, but I’m currently running an out-of-date version of the software! As a result, there is a limit to what I can do with my website. After my 2009 tax returns, once I’ve paid off my credit card, I’m going to upgrade to the newest version of iWeb and add some cool new features to my website!
  2. Write 100 Blog Posts! I’m taking a page out of fellow PvsP blogger Ben Whitehair‘s book with this one. We created this blog with a purpose, and we fully intend to achieve it! Contributing to this blog is one of the many great joys of my life. In addition to writing about everything that is “acting in Chicago,” I will continue to help promote our blog and gather new links and resources for you, our kick-ass readers! 🙂
  3. Track My Business Expenses! I’ve been told that you can write off a ton of things as an actor. I’m the worst person in the world when it comes to tax knowledge, so I’m going to learn what I can write off and how to actually do it! As I write this segment, I’m looking at the PerformerTrack website. Seems like it might be useful! Again, anyone have any advice and/or wisdom they’d like to impart? I’m all ears!

These goals encompass the big picture for 2010. There are additional small-scale goals that I’m sure I will discover along the way, and I will delight in achieving them, too.

Remember: Take a tip from my allegorical bird-self and enjoy this ride! We are so damn lucky.

~JVB

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