Finally booked an AFI gig!

October 16th, 2016 ~ 7:15 pm

I haven’t had much going on this year acting-wise because I honestly haven’t been pushing hard for it. Obviously the first half of the year I was out of commission mentally, and now I’m obsessed with producing my short film, so I have way less time to focus on it.

I am still in the SAG conservatory, so every so often I get an audition at AFI. I’ve been wanting to book one for a long time. It’s one of the schools with a great reputation here in LA and I’ve worked with most of the others. So AFI has always been like my student film white whale.

I’m also excited about the role because it’s a really layered character. She’s trying to hold it together while her life falls apart. It’s going to be really fun to play with the ups and downs in it.

On a related note, I always want to get more experience at AFI because I’m hoping to submit to the AFI Women’s directing workshop they do each year. I know 2 women who have done it and it was a really great experience.

Where I’ve been (emotionally)…

June 30th, 2016 ~ 12:52 am

I have depression. I’ve always had it. I mean, like, my earliest memories are generally me being sad. In elementary school I’d fantasize about getting hit by cars on the way to school (not to die, just to be hit), so yeah. I’ve always had it.

I began taking meds in high school and they worked for a while. Over the next 18 years, I went on and off various meds with varying success. I’ve done therapy. I’ve made great strides! I even had a few good years in my 20’s off meds, but it turned out I was just ignoring it until it made me very physically ill and I had to go to the doctor and get back on meds.

Cut to more recent years. The meds do less for me and have side effects that make it hard to live the kind of life I want to be living. So now what? I started doing research into alternative neurological options. I found something called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

It sounds like made up nonsense like those magnets that improve your balance or similar gimmicks. They blast your brain with very targeted magnetic waves that stimulate a section of your brain that is often less active in depressed brains. After enough blasting, the neurons wake up and start balancing out your mood. It should last months to years before another treatment is needed and it’s generally just a short treatment period then. It’s got a pretty good success rate in clinical trials, it’s FDA approved, and covered by many insurance companies.

It turned out a friend of mine had done it, and it changed her life. Not an exaggeration. It’s pretty easy to spot where it happened in her life trajectory.

So I contacted SoCal TMS centers and decided to do it. It involves going to a treatment center for up to an hour a day, every weekday, for 2 months. I took a hiatus from acting since I couldn’t shoot during the week, obviously. My day job was cool with me taking a 2 hours lunch every day, which is really making up for all the lunches I generally work through anyway, so I think it evens out.

First TMS session

You can kind of see my eyebrow twitching here. it feels stronger. Also my teeth chatter a little. #TMS

A video posted by Laurel Vail (@laurelvail) on

Oh, did I mention it’s really loud? And I can’t really move my head during the session. I can read though, and they have TVs if you want to watch something. The time passes pretty quick.

Then after 4 weeks I felt better. Like, actually good. And just kept feeling that. It was incredible.

I wrote this for the Center to use on their website and for new patients:

Everyone’s depression is unique to them. I generally gauge mine by how many knives I’m imagining stabbing me at any given time. One knife? Pretty average day. So many I can’t count them or stop thinking about it? Time to call the doctor again.
I’ve been on and off various medications at various doses for about 18 years. They’ve had various levels of effectiveness, less so over time. It becomes a battle with being miserable from side effects or being miserable because I’m not on enough medication. Something had to change.
When I learned about TMS online, I asked my social network if anyone I knew had tried it and one good friend said she had. It was easy to tell when because her life took a dramatic shift upward. I had read the stats (about 72% success), but hearing it from someone I knew was more reassuring. And if it didn’t work, at least my insurance covers most of the cost so I didn’t have a ton to lose.

So here I am, 7 weeks in and it’s night and day. For me it hit the 4th week when I had a good day and then another and another… I’d had a few ok days in the last month, but now it was actually good. People are noticing the change in me. But most importantly I’m noticing the change myself.

Here are some FAQ’s I often get from my friends when I tell them about this:

What does it feel like?

It’s like there is a little woodpecker in my head behind my eye. It goes for a few seconds then takes a long break, then goes again. My left eyebrow twitches a little and my teeth chatter a little.

Does it hurt?

I guess? Sort of? It’s not really happening long enough to bother me. I’d describe the sensation as technically painful, but the amount of time is so slight that it’s over before I really feel uncomfortable. If they turn up the juice, so to speak, it hurts a little more, but it’s still just as short an amount of time in each burst.

Are there side effects?

There were maybe 2-3 times in the beginning where I experienced a slight dissociative episode for less than an hour. Basically my hands felt like they were somehow in the wrong place or that I was a few millimeters out of alignment with my body. This is something I’ve experienced before during bad migraines or other times, so it wasn’t unfamiliar. I also had one migraine. Otherwise I’ve had no side effects that I was aware of.

When did you think it was really working?

After about a week and a half of solid good days in a row. I was cautiously optimistic, but going froward from there I had another week and another. So I can say confidently it’s helped me.

What has changed for you?

Well, pretty early on the self injury thoughts went away. Then the next thing was I’d sometimes have an ok day or two. Then when I had a good day, I kept having good days. Instead of hating everything around me I loved everything around me. Instead of obsessing about my mood and my flaws, I started thinking about literally anything else. I started wanting things again. I started being able to work on my goals again. I went from not being able to bring myself to do anything, from hating myself, from shutting down entirely, to being an emotionally healthy person with dreams and self confidence.

So anyway.

Now that I feel like myself again, I’m ready to work! I’m writing again and working on producing a short this year. It’s very exciting. I’ll try to have more updates as I get back in the rhythm of things.

Feelin' better!

Contracted: Phase II – Part II

September 14th, 2015 ~ 10:44 pm

On September 3rd, we went to the Arena Theater for the official premiere of Contracted: Phase II. I took my buddy Peter because my husband doesn’t like body horror movies and I’m not really in it enough to warrant going to see the whole thing. We went to dinner nearby then got to the theater where I didn’t know anyone yet! But then eventually people I actually knew showed up.

There was a red carpet with photographers and some ladies doing interviews. I did 2. I have no idea if I came off as a goofball or what. It was pretty fun. We tried getting some group shots, but it was confusing who to look at and we didn’t all fit well, so there are some pretty silly ones.

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

"Contracted: Phase II" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

Josh did a fun intro to the film and the full theater was very loud (in reactions) and seemed to be having a good time.

After the film we went over to Boardners where I caught up with Adam and Brian (mini Delivery Reunion!). I also tried to convince them to watch Southland Tales again because it’s the best. I met some new people including a director I am Facebook/twitter friends with but never met in real life. He just looked so familiar and then I was like- “Oh! I don’t actually know you in real life! Nice to meet you!”

I got home pretty late (1am?) and then had to get up at 5am for work, so I was maybe still drunk when I woke up? Eh, maybe. Anyway, the cold I forgot to mention I contracted after coming home from Chicago almost 2 weeks before, and was just about over- came back! So I was once again coughing all day. Ugh.

Friday night was the actual opening night and a bunch of cast and crew planned on going and invited a lot of friends, so I still went out. I just really couldn’t stay and hang out after. Booo! I did manage to have one awkward not-recognizing-people-moment before I left though. I forgot what Mike, the DP, looked like. I should have reviewed everyone’s Facebook before going out, but I forgot to. Plus his profile is a dog, so I’d have needed to really go in and find a photo. I really do have to do that pretty often. I felt like a dumb ass, but oh well. It was like 9 months ago since we were in the same room. And my brain is shitty at people-remembering. πŸ™

So yeah, now you can see Contracted: Phase II on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, etc.)! Hooray! It’s suuuuper gross. Β The special effects are VERY good. In a little while I’ll make my posts from the shoot days public. Β I just don’t want to post spoilers.


Forgot all these photos from Thursday and Friday nights:

Peter movin' and shakin' on the phone. Morgan waits for his interview My interview #2 Oh yeah, Jason Ritter was there, but I never talked to him besides "Excuse me" after bumping into him.

Opening Night

Yeah. We did it!

Contracted: Phase II – Part I

September 14th, 2015 ~ 9:57 pm

Whelp, enough time has passed that Contracted: Phase II is now in theaters and VOD! It’s very impressive this all happened in less than a year from the film shoot. It helps that the film was already bought by IFC Midnight before production.

The North American premiere was in Chicago at the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival that was part of Wizard World Chicago. There were a whole bunch of us that flew out to be there so it was a ton of fun.
Film Festival Banner BCHFF 2015 Poster!

I got there Thursday and met up with Josh for dinner at this huge-ass bru-haus by the theater. It was really good and they had a full Polka band, some of which also played magical bells!

This place has the goods!

This place has the goods!

Legit bell & Polka band

Legit bell & Polka band

I drink a huge beer!

I drink a huge beer!

Josh drinks all the beers! (note really)

Josh drinks all the beers!
(not really)

Then we went to the opening night film Tales of Halloween, which was a great time! It’s an anthology of shorts, but there are a few little things along the way the connects them to at least one small town. It’s delightful. I think there are 11 segments. It’s out on VOD soon, so I highly recommend it. It was introduced by Mr. Campbell himself. Then there was an after party so we hung out with a bunch of the filmmakers (Axelle Carolyn, Mike Mendez, John Skipp I think, maybe Andrew Kasch? It was about a month ago and I’m shitty at names) as well as Tom Holland. He’s super friendly and his social media manager (or whatever her actual title is), Carrie, was a delight! We also got to hang out with Josh and Liam from Awesome Fest, from Philadelphia. It was a lovely evening.

Opening Night After-Partiers

Opening Night After-Partiers

Friday I hung out with my buddy I was staying with and visited the dog beach. It’s not often I get adorable doggy time. Then I got ready and met up with Josh to see June, which is pretty good but I had one big issue with the voice over. I won’t get into it here since this ain’t a film review blog, but it’s a good movie overall. Then we got dinner and by then it was too late to catch Fright Night. We ended up going to meet up with Josh’s buddy he was staying with and went to his friend’s birthday party at bar that was maybe called Ouija? Maybe I’m making that up. It didn’t have a sign I saw but I feel like that’s what we were calling it. If you live in Chicago, it’s across from this place:

What happens in Las Vegas Night Club...

What happens in Las Vegas Night Club…

Anyway, it was fun and I talked to some really neat Chicago Artist folks. I also played AND WON my first game of shuffle board. A successful evening.

Saturday I finally made it to the convention center to pick up my badge. By then the rest of the crew had arrived so I met up with a few for lunch near the theater. We took too long to catch the beginning of Some Kind of Hate, but we caught the middle of after Josh filled us in since he worked on it and saw it already as well.

We left before the end because Josh (Awesomefest) had invited us to be in this live segment they were doing before the Bruce Campbell Evil Dead reunion panel live stream. It was fun. I just sat there and reacted. I was just happy to be there.

Mr. Holland's input

Mr. Holland’s input

ConTV live

ConTV live

Our premiere wasn’t until 9pm, so we had time to meet a few more of us for dinner. Service was slow, but the food was good. We made it out in time.

Before the show

Before the show

Photo op

Photo op

In the theater, obvs!

In the theater, obvs!

Look how many of us were there!



& Answers

& Answers



Post Q&A

Post Q&A

The turnout was great, the reactions were loud, and a lot of people stayed for the Q&A. I got to talk about (spoiler?) the crazy makeup process I went though.

After the movie we went to a bar, then another bar, then… I think in the end we were at some bar named for a country singer I’m forgetting the name of (Looked it up- Toby Keith’s I love this Bar & Grill) which earlier had the longest line, but once we got inside, I really have no idea why. Anyway, we got hella drunk over the course of the evening.
20150823_024014 20150823_024318Β 20150823_024036 20150823_024043 20150823_024051Β 20150823_022435 20150823_022648 20150823_031517

Then Sunday I flew home!

It was a great time. I didn’t see much of Chicago, but whatever. I’ll just have to go visit again sometime. I at least got to see some of my friends that live there and also hang out with a cute little dog.

Oh Hai.

September 14th, 2015 ~ 8:41 pm

So, it’s been a while since I posted anything. It’s been a long weird year.

Last time I posted (February) I was unemployed. That continued until the end of April. I did some freelance motion graphics and web design stuff. I worked on learning more web skills. I was a PA for a commercial one day. I tried being a Lyft and Uber Driving, about which I have mixed feelings. I eventually got super depressed and returned to medication and therapy, which I hadn’t been doing because of health insurance and all that garbage.

But then I got a great new job and things were much better. Then work got really, really busy this summer. It didn’t really interfere with auditioning though since I wasn’t getting any. I didn’t have time to self-submit, which is where I book most of my gigs. So I really only worked on one or two projects. I did a really funny short for my friend Doug at Psychic Bunny. (That reminds me to check in on the progress of that.) And then.. no I guess that’s it.

So then at the end of summer I was chatting with some folks about how I have wanted to dye my hair red for a really long time, but didn’t because I’d need new headshots and maybe I’d get less auditions, etc. But I was getting zero auditions anyway, so those were dumb excuses.
I’m happy to report that I now have red hair! I even got new headshots so I’ll probably keep it a while and see how it does.

Then after all that hair stuff, I learned that my theatrical agency was shutting down, so now I do not have an agent. I decided to also drop my commercial agency since they’ve only gotten me out maybe twice in like 2 or more years? Has it been that long? I’m pretty sure they forgot about me after maybe 6 months anyway, and then me dropping them back in 2013 as theatrical rep maybe didn’t encourage them? Eh, who cares? I’m totally un-represented currently. I figure I’ll leave myself open for something new to come along. It’s sort of bad timing since I am in a theatrically released film right now (more on that later), which is nice to note when you submit on projects. Oh well.

Mainly I’m planning on focusing my energy on producing my own stuff. It’s what ‘they’ all say you have to do now. And it’s what I want to do anyway. So I’m writing a lot and have a bunch of project ideas now. I just have to figure out which is the more feasible to accomplish first. And then I have to make that all happen. Which, weirdly, I think will be easier than getting a good agent.

A Somewhat Cold Alley (a.k.a. a USC student’s first film)

February 27th, 2015 ~ 5:15 pm

Last weekend I worked on a USC graduate student’s short film. It was the first live action film he’d ever made. I’m leaving the names out of this post because I did have a few complaints and I don’t want to call out someone who is just starting out.

Saturday’s call time was 6:20am since we were shooting outside and wanted to film as much as possible before the harsh sun really came into play. The setting was the alley behind his apartment. Theoretically this was convenient, but we shot almost a block away, so after a certain point I kind of resigned not to need to go to the bathroom because it would take forever. Day 1 worked out because I drank less, but toward the end of day 2 I was doing a little dance between takes, and not the “I’m really cold” dance.

Did I mention that it was cold? It was cold. It was cold aaaallllll day. And I know I shouldn’t complain since we don’t get snow out here and the east coast is currently just buried, but I was in a light jacket and short skirt, often sitting on the ground. Also I’m a total baby when it comes to being cold. Boooo Cold!

Anyway, coldness aside, things went ok. It’s always hard on someone’s first shoot since they are still learning the camera settings and trying to choose the best angles. Hell, I still can’t really keep track of the 180Β° line most of the time and I’ve been on sets for years. I had come down a few days prior so we could storyboard, which seemed to help. And there wasn’t any dialog, so that helped too. But it was pretty clear in the middle of the day we’d still need a lot of time on Sunday. Only thing was, Sunday was supposed to be rainy. So we really needed to get it mostly done. This was one reason I never bothered with my breaks. They were like- “you sure?” And I was like, “I’m fine. Let’s keep going.”

Only a few things seemed to go wrong. At one point in the story, I slide down a fence and sit on the ground, but we didn’t realize the fence was really filthy. So we couldn’t shoot anything from behind until the jacket could be washed. (It did get washed and came out fine.) There was briefly another actor there on Saturday, but since he wasn’t there on Sunday, I suspect he’s not making the final cut. I guess his shots were too bright since the sun started coming out, so they re-shot in the morning with the DP in the role instead. Oh well. That happens.

We finished around 5pm when the sun was going down.

On Sunday I had a 6:30 call time, but the DP overslept so we didn’t end up shooting anything at all until maybe 8am? I’m not sure. We probably could have since the director ran the camera most of the day anyway. I did at least bring my coat that day, which was good since it did rain a few times. It was a light rain and basically stopped by the time they got back to the apartment with the camera trying to keep it dry. Better safe than sorry I guess, but I was stuck sitting in the rain watching the rest of the stuff out in the alley. They really should try and put the students in groups of 3’s so the actors don’t have to babysit equipment.
camera babysitter
That was me in the morning while the director went to his apartment for more stuff.

We re-shot some things and finished out the things that were missed from Saturday. In the end I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I refused since it would waste like 15 minutes in just walking there and back.

It was only until about 1pm when I was finished, but I was slightly upset at the director that it took as long as it did. Technically he cheated and deleted files from the cards even though it’s against the rules of the assignment. They are supposed to be learning time management as well as conserving “film,” even if it’s digital film. The lesson is still an important one. So who knows how long we went on overwritten media. I wouldn’t have minded really if he hadn’t cheated. But I didn’t sign on for that. My time is valuable too, and I don’t want to be spending it cheating. It’s not fair to other students who follow the rules and just can’t get all the shots they wanted since they ran out of media. And it sort of drove me nuts when he stopped slating entirely so I had no warning when the camera was rolling. It was literally him just saying, “Camera rolling action.” No pause. I guess it doesn’t matter if he is editing and it’s a really short film, but I don’t know. I like doing USC projects because they teach their students to work a little more professionally. I’ve done these non-dialog films in the past and they never did stuff like that. I hope that USC isn’t getting lazy and this was just a fluke. I figure he’ll learn why this stuff matters eventually. Or not. Who can say? It’s not my problem I guess.

On the plus side it’s good that worked on a new project. It had been a little while since I shot anything, so I figured I’d get back to doing some student films. I haven’t been getting out to audition for paid gigs, but I should still be working in some way. Work begets work, they say. Let’s hope so.

Broken links!

January 14th, 2015 ~ 2:10 am

So, I’m in the process of migrating my website files to a subfolder on my server, so there are a bunch of broken image links. I’m still updating the affected pages.
So don’t worry- I know about them. I just have to track them all down and it takes a while.

Old secret posts about Delivery: The Beast Within – NOW UN-SECRET

December 23rd, 2014 ~ 3:30 pm

I recently got my first check in the mail for Contracted: Phase 2, so I made a secret blog post about the shoot. That reminded me that Delivery is released and I can unlock all my old blogs about the shoot!


Delivery – Day 1

Delivery – Day 2

Delivery – Day 3

Delivery – Day 4

Delivery – Day 5

Delivery – Day 6

Delivery – Day 7

Delivery – Day 8

Delivery – Day 9

Delivery – Day 10

Delivery – Day 11

Delivery – Day 12

The awesome new scene in Delivery

Delivery World Premiere Q&A – Full of SPOILERS



The Kilted Trooper

December 1st, 2014 ~ 10:55 pm

I just remembered another thing I did this summer! I was in a short film at Comic Con.

So I went to LA Nerd Night a while ago and one of the speakers asked if anyone was going to Comic Con, so I raised my hand. After the speakers were finished and people were just mingling, a woman comes up and asks if I’m going to comiccon. I say yes. Then she asks if I’d be willing to be in a short film they are shooting there. I said yes. I think that’s the most random way I’ve booked anything.

When we arrived, I went straight to meet up with them. I got changed and then the director showed the Kilted Trooper and I the dance we needed to learn. Then we went into a less crowded hall and shot our adorable little number. It was pretty fun. People were good about walking around us while we were shooting. Β At least once we got a nice round of applause when a crowd had formed. The guys in the suit was such a good sport because it was crazy hot dancing in that uniform.

Definitely one of the more unique experiences I’ve had at the con. Here is the short:

Happy Holidays and stuff

December 1st, 2014 ~ 10:33 pm

So, I took a break from blogging for a bit. I could say I took a break from acting, but really my normal jobby job was super busy for a few months so I didn’t have enough time for everything. Plus some misc personal life stuff was pretty stressful for a while. But things are ok and normal now. Unintentional break, over!

In the meantime I worked on a few student projects down at USC. I volunteered at a home for teen girls to help with a writing class a friend was doing. My husband and I did a very silly Hulu ad, which I haven’t seen, but apparently a friend of his mom’s did!

Oh and, Delivery: The Beast Within came out on DVD and got some more good responses. I preferred the theatrical poster, but this one is at least better than the UK version. They ended up photoshopping my face on another body, so I didn’t recognize it. I was like, “Those aren’t my ankles! I wish they were, but they are not!” They haven’t announced the streaming or cable dates yet, so I guess those deals are still in the works.

Then this month I get to be in another movie. I can’t say what but it’s going to be very fun. I can’t wait. As a bonus I booked it because they saw me in Delivery, which is pretty rad.

I’m also going back to class with Craig. I haven’t been in class in forever, so it’s so nice to be doing that again as well. All in all, I’m feeling optimistic about 2015. I’m hoping to be more focused than I was the last half of this year. I feel like I got pretty derailed and now I’m taking steps to getting back on track. Wooo wooo! (that is a train noise.)


Anyway, happy holiday season!