Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Will You or Nill You?

I had my callback yesterday. Everything seemed to go well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, I’ve always wanted to play Petruchio. ‘Cause, really, I’m everything a director could want in a Petruchio. What with being so strapping and intimidating and all.

But theatre callbacks are notoriously long. Tanya and I were there until almost 11. This means that we missed the gym this morning. Which means that I’ll get really fat. Which means that at the next callback I’ll be cut at around 9.

So it’ll all work out in the end. I won’t miss too much TV.

Yeah, I shouldn’t complain. At the end it was down to me and another guy for the lead. That’s not bad. I’ll take that. Of course, I’d rather have the part but…

It had been a while since I’d been at a theatre audition. I’ve forgotten how much I miss them. It’s a lot of sitting around, and I smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes (to keep my voice in tip-top shape), but I got to read quite a bit. You don’t get that at a film audition.

Film auditions are a joke. You make yourself look presentable (unless you’re an LA actor, then you simply roll out of bed) and drive 45 minutes to some god forsaken place just to stand around with a bunch of other scared weirdoes waiting for your 30 seconds in front of the casting director with a cheap-ass video camera that, no matter how good the light is, could make Brad Pitt look like that guy who played Balki on Perfect Strangers.

It’s not an ideal set-up…ever. In film, ones with a budget anyway, the real audition doesn’t begin until around the third callback. By that time, you’ve had a grand total of a minute and a half with the casting director and he or she is probably the front-runner to become the godparent of your next child. You are bestest buddies and BFFs. You’ve made it past the first couple of auditions which means that you must be as talented as your resume would have everyone believe. Right? Because we’ve never seen a bad actor in a movie before. Right?

That’s the real joke here. Actors spend a lot of time trying to impress casting directors. After all, they are the first line of defense in your battle for a career. But what the hell is a casting director anyway? Sometimes, they’re former directors or agents or managers or actors. But isn’t everyone? Most of the time, they’re just someone’s assistant who worked their way up to become their own boss.

And they talk a lot about their guts. “My gut told me that he/she was the best choice for this role because of all that charisma just oozing through the camera and into my pants…”

Yeah…gut. Lower. Lower. Just a little lower. There you go! That’s where the decision originated. Somewhere around where ones legs come together in the middle.

Let’s face it. There are a few really great casting directors out there. Maybe 5 or 6. They do the casting for everything. Mostly because they’ve built up a repore with a lot of celebrities and can bring even the biggest names to the smallest project if pitched the right way. But the rest of them are little fish trying to make the next big discovery. “I cast so-and-so-rich-now-bigshot-actor in his first film! It was a small student film blah blah blah…”

Sure, casting directors don’t actually make any final decisions, but they are still an important ally or obstacle for an auditioning actor. They can determine who a director gets to see. And most of time they are pretty assertive. They like to be part of the creative process. They like to pretend that their sole job isn’t to look at a group of people and make “gut” decisions.

Most of the casting directors working now (on small projects that I would be more than happy to be cast in, I’m no snob) are hired simply because it’s easier for a producer/director to pay someone to set up and run an audition than do it themselves. They need someone to print out forms and create a sign-in sheet, collect headshots and resumes, deal with idiot actors who can’t remember what time the audition is even though they’ve already called ten times before to ask the same question, book a space, keep everyone happy and make sure things run smooth as silk.

Which makes most casting directors glorified party planners.

I know, I’m an actor, I shouldn’t bag on casting directors. I may need to be BFFs with one someday. But any casting director worth anything knows that there are imposters out there, ruining their good name. They won’t be offended by what I’ve just said. They’re totally cool. In fact I was thinking of asking them to be godparent to my future children.

But, truly, how can anyone respect a process that involves first impressions gleaned from a photograph and 30 second of chit-chat? Is that anyway to make a movie? No wonder there are mistakes made. No wonder I have to sit through movie trailers with Lindsay Lohan in them. Take some time people! Make an informed decision.

But Hollywood doesn’t take it’s time. That’s why George Lucas spends more money than any of us will ever see in our lives to make an iconic blockbuster but won’t take an extra 10 minutes to write a better script.

Really, would you randomly pick people off the street who looked “competent” to help you build your dream home?

That’s why last night’s auditions were such a breath of fresh air. That’s why I love the theatre. It’s just you, a bunch of other scared weirdoes, the director and the occasional stage manager. And it takes its time (a lot of time).

It may be snooty and elitist at times, but at least it gives a crap.

Fun Fact: I’m hoping to become so successful that I never have to audition for another thing ever again. Like every other actor, I just want to get calls and offers.

And I’ll know that I’m a big-shot when I start getting into films that even the director doesn’t want me in. When I start hearing buzz around town like, “Steven didn’t even want him, but the producers said that if he didn’t cast him they were going to pull all funding…”

Ah, every actors dream: To transcend talent and enter the realm of insufferable box-office draw.

And the latest TAM Cartoon is up! Castmetastic!

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