One of those dreams I had long ago was that I wish I was a movie star
. I mean really - who hasn't had that dream at one point?
I had always taken a big interest in it - a few of my friends went to film school
, we made lots of home movies, we watched lots of Hollywood
films... Nothing too obsessive, just a nice young healthy interest.
I had since chosen a career path of Airline Pilot
, and abandoned that dream. Two days ago, however, I read the following advertisement in my newspaper:
Local television show seeks four actors - all applicants must be local victoria, bc residents. No agent is necessary, no experience necessary. Looking for personalities. Be at the New VI at 10 am Sunday!
The New VI
is the name of the local television station that covers news on Vancouver Island
up here in Canada
. Don't get all excited - we aren't a big film-making town. The opening scene of "The Core
" was filmed here, and Xavier
's School for the Gifted (The X-Men
movies) scenes were shot at a local "castle," but other than that we only pretend we have a film industry here.
For reference, Victoria
is right across the water from Vancouver
, which is touted as "Hollywood North
." High ferry costs seem to keep everyone exciting on the mainland, however.
So, given our small-town status and the seemingly wide-open invitation, I decided to pop on down to my first casting call.
Without any research whatsoever.
My first mistake was that I got there 15 minutes late. Because of this I did not get a copy of the script that we were to read, and worst of all I didn't get the application form. As the hundred-person-line started shrinking, I started to panic. Thankfully somebody walked by collecting some forms and I got them to fetch me another. My script was very short and deceivingly simple. My lines were things like "yes, you are," and "please stand up."
My second mistake was that I had no idea what I was doing. I should have researched the whole thing. What are casting calls normally like? What are my lines? Who will be watching me? What should I do? Should I act? Should I flail my arms? Should I make a big spectacle of myself?
STUDY YOUR LINES. If at all possible, take that sheet of paper home with you and practice with your friends the day before. And when I mean practice, I mean just practice reading them. Don't act out the scene. Don't get several people to play the background roles. More on this later.
Instead of studying my lines, I chatted with the other hopefuls in line. Some had played parts in other TV series, some had played minor characters in films like that new Scooby Doo
movie. Some were crazy people that figured if they wore a ton of makeup and complained about a flat tire on the way there to everyone they met, maybe someone would take pity on her and hire her for the role.
In any case, as my turn was approaching, one of the staff members read out a list of things to do.
When you get inside, there will be two pieces of tape on the floor. Stand on the tape, look into the camera, and clearly and slowly say your name and phone number. Then, when we start reading the lines, look directly at the line reader and respond; do NOT look at the camera.
Sounds simple enough... I had done a bit of rehearsing, but by no means had I memorized this script. I walk into the room, and see 3 producers of the show and one young man. The young man stands, takes my application form and resume, shakes my hand and says "hi." He then turns around and stands in the middle of the room.
Nobody says anything further.
Uncomfortably, I say "Hello" to the general room, which garners no response. I look around and spot the pieces of tape on the floor and shuffle uncomfortably into the bright spotlights
Me: "I... I guess I... just... start now?"
Young guy: "That would be wise."
I look into the camera, and say my name and phone number; proud, strong, confident
. I'm a movie star.
Immediately, the young man reads the first line on the page, then looks at me expectantly. The room is dead silent.
Now see, this is where I got REALLY thrown off. As if the silent, uncomfortable, hot, un-air-conditioned, small room wasn't enough, but they were judging me. And they were screwing up the script.
The script said "Amber says a bold 'Hello,' then sits down. She looks at the person next to her (Bob) and shakes his hand, then waves at everyone else in the room. She clears her throat and looks at you expectantly."
What I got was a meek "hello"
and nothing else. I had memorized my response off of the actions! I was expecting to play out the scene with four or five people! I say "Please Stand" when Amber shakes Bob's hand - and that will never happen!! DISASTER
So my ingenious plan
was simply to stare right back at this young punk
until he finished the scene. About 3 seconds later (felt like an eternity) I realized that we were simply reading lines, this wasn't about acting, this wasn't about the script at all. It was just to test my voice out. And my memorization skills. And most probably to check out how my ugly mug
looks on camera
For the next 60 seconds
I fumbled my way through my 10-or-so lines, transposing them, dropping words, adding a few of my own, and completely forgetting some other ones.
"You have a nice voice," one of the producers said.
And thus my dreams were crushed.
My resume might win them over, even though I had a crappy audition. My resume was hand-written on some fancy christmas paper, complete with snow men
and christmas lights
. In the biggest felt pen I could find, I wrote "No experience" and attached a nice head shot of me that was taken underwater. Perhaps they will excuse my poor poor first-time-ever casting call and invite me to the second round.
Then again, maybe they cast one of those professionals that were in line with me.