Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hey, you behind the camera…

Submitted by by Conrad Angel Corral

We’re people too

The other day, I received two good audition calls: One stated they wanted to cast me directly for a small role, and the other from an advanced Film School director. Both had the personal touch, so it made the calls all the more interesting.

However, all hell soon broke loose:

After several phone messages and emails, the “direct book” became a call for an audition. When I received the script, the character name I was to audition for was nowhere to be found. Between trying to set up an audition, and trying to find an answer to the character questions, I finally took it upon myself to choose which character was mine and after several calls/emails an audition time was tentatively set.

Moving from “direct book” to an audition, inability to speak with someone about the character and the unorganized feeling associated with this production was quickly dropped my interest in this project. Besides, I had friends come from out of town the weekend of their shoot. When the tentative audition date came and went, with a call later stating the casting person was going out of town and I should call with another time for the following week, I decided to walk away from the project. However, the following week I got a call stating the actor/director would call me to set up an audition directly. So, I continued.

When we finally did meet, it ended up being the night and exact time Presidential Candidate John Kerry was going to speak at the convention. I don’t know about you, but I want Bush out and Kerry in, so driving around town to some audition where the crew couldn’t get their stuff together was not high on my priority list. But, I’m and actor and it took it as a test in keeping my skills strong in the face of diversity! When I arrived at the apartment of the director, I grew more concerned. As I sat in this half-apartment facing a makeshift small stove, frig and sink and two dogs scratching at the back bedroom door, I couldn’t help but wonder how could this person afford a good final product? When I did audition, my limited seven lines (it was a small role to start with) were cut to five for auditioning purposes. After a couple of quick reads, I was out the door scratching my head why?

As for my audition with the Film School director, that too took a sudden turn for the worse:
When the director initially called, a lot of time was spent not only talking about his film and my role, but about how hard it is to work 9-5 and make a film and how we all need to make our own products to move a head. In the brief time we spent on the phone, I felt a nice bond with this person.

The evening of the audition, which was actually prior to the experience I mentioned above, I found myself running behind so I called and left a message. When I arrived (only minutes late), I came face to face with two other actors who had a look in their eyes like they had been there for quite sometime. After signing in and obtaining my sides, I went to sit down and look over the script only to be informed I should go in. When I mentioned I had just arrived and hadn’t had a chance to look over the sides, and suggested the other actors could go ahead of me, everyone looked at me like I was some kind of nut job. The director, now standing in front of me and the other actors, insisted 6:40pm was my time and we better getting in because my time was quickly passing.

As we approached the audition room, I took one more opportunity to inform the director I hadn’t had a chance to look over the script. However, he was to have nothing to do with it. Once in the room, he sat behind a desk with several other guys and started telling me about the role. Somewhere in the middle of his speech, he cut himself short saying we were running out of time and he began deciding which of his partners would read with me. As I was introduce to those I would be reading with, I quickly scanned the script for my dialogue and character intention, all the while a cameraperson began film me with a large camera that was literally about a foot from my face. Within a moment, I was informed we were running out of time, the first of two scenes would be dropped, and I had three minutes to possibly read the second piece twice. And, we started.

While my first read was reserved and a bit confusing (the behind the scenes folks couldn’t decide who was reading with me), it went pretty well. As adjustments were discussed for the second read, and I learned who I was suppose to be mad at and who I was allies with, I scanned the script for more info on my character and I decided my second read would include some Improv. Within moments, we began and I was up and out of my seat. I moved around the small room, I walked over to and talked at and with the other readers while delivering lines, all the while the camera followed closely. I don’t really remember what took place this second time around, but at the end there were smiles all around. As quickly as I was in, I was out the door. As I passed the guys still waiting in the lobby, I wished them good luck, only to have mean stares cut through my person.

As I proceeded to my next audition, and later rushed home to catch the final night of the Democratic Presidential speeches, all I could think of was “Hey, you behind the camera, us actors are people too”. We have lives that are just as busy as yours. We have hopes and desire to make it in this thing called acting, just like you. How can we (actors) be expected to give you (directors) our best work when the world you welcome us into is hell? If your project isn’t ready for auditions or you’re rushed to get folks in and out, why not just back off a little until all you ducks are in a row and/or you have more time? And, if you want a decent read, why rush an actor who isn’t ready? I hear so much about the folks behind the scenes wanting the folks in front of the camera to do well, however, the two cases I just described were far from that fairytale description.

When the whole evening was over, I found myself very humbled. I have a nice car, a 9-5 job that pays well and let’s me come and go to auditions and filming. I have a nice house that I can afford, a spouse that supports me when I’m down and out, and I have two films I made last year should be coming out in the coming weeks with guaranteed strong production value. Who am I to complain!

Maybe I’ll get callbacks, maybe I won’t. And, if I should get a callback what will I do? Hell, I’ll call them back, inquire more about the project and hope they offer me the role. Why? Because, I’M AN ACTOR AND I WANT TO WORK! If I don’t get a callback (which I didn’t to this point), I’ll chalk the experience up to yet another day in the life of this actor!

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