Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Audition

Open call auditions are not ideal.

Open call is when they put a notice in the papers and invite anyone, everyone, to show up. The people on the other side of the table are going to be seeing as many people as possible, with no idea what the quality will be. People will be processed as quickly as possible, and ushered out the door quickly. For the actor, it likely means very little time -- as little as thirty seconds for a prepared monologue, and for a camera audition it may mean no time at all to look over your lines before you do your slate and read.

But if you're new in town and don't have an agent to get you an appointment, it's what you do. Show up and be okay with chaos.

Since there is a growing film industry in New Mexico, and I am still an actor even if I live in a desert, I presented myself last night at an audition in Las Cruces. A local filmmaker is preparing to shoot a horror film (horror being the genre that still makes money) and the company wants to build a database of actors in southern New Mexico. Worth a trip. I figured I'd go, do a slate, visit Starbucks, and head back home.

Auditions are worth it for no other reason than having a chance to act. Go, meet people, learn whatever you can about stuff that's going on. And you get a platform, even if it's for a few seconds. It keeps you sharp. If there's an audition, just go. That's what I say to anyone interested in acting. Go for it, do your best, expect nothing. Auditions can actually be a lot of fun.

Just like a film set, it was mostly waiting around. I was twelfth in line, at a rented storefront in a quiet corner of Las Cruces. They had no room inside for people to wait, so we were outside. Unfortunately, a cold winter front blew across southern New Mexico late yesterday, so it was very cold. Those who had blankets in their cars eventually got them. I felt especially sorry for some of the young women who showed up hoping to make an impression by showing lots of leg. Poor things had to go wait in their cars.

They had a table, and that's where I met people.

Like the 25 year old man with brilliant blue eyes who proudly said that the cold wasn't bothering him because he was using "mind over matter." It worked for him for a little while, but his short sleeves revealed goose flesh. He ended up in his car, too.

The young woman who looked like a French cover girl, smoking a cigarette with studied nonchalance, who carried on erudite one-sided conversations that covered literature, dance, politics, and a lengthy discourse on the inequities of wealth and power in the first world compared to Africa. She was actually quite well informed and was wroth in her expose of the spoiled, privileged world of the white, which spends money on luxuries while others have nothing. What was ironic was that her makeup was NOT from a drug store, her hair had been professionally and painstakingly done, as were her immaculate nails, and she wore a fur coat (also not fake).

Another woman who lived in a small town in Texas until her marriage broke up and her job wasn't covering the bills for her and her little boy anymore. Her boy is my Gabriel's age. She moved to Las Cruces hoping to find something better. Always "interested in acting," but had never done it. So she was throwing herself at a film audition, hoping to get in and get out in time to show up at a contradance somewhere else. No friends. (Who was with her son? I didn't ask.) I suggested she find a scene class, maybe offer to work in exchange for some classes, see what she thought. She shook her head and said she had never been good at anything. She seemed much younger than her years.

They kept me all night, reading me for another part -- a baddie, a tough biker who lives and dies in violence. My scene partner, another biker, is a professional wrestler who also acts. My age, has been wrestling for ten years, feels it in his knees. He had to slap me upside the head for the scene, asked my permission to do that, was relaxed and professional. Couldn't wait to be released so he could smoke a cigar. I liked him.

The filmmakers were far friendlier than anyone I met in the industry in L.A.

And after spending most of the night sitting around outside making small talk, and a few minutes acting for a camera ("Hello, I'm number twelve, and I'm a mean-looking Italian guy with a buzz cut") it was time for the long drive back to Deming, listening to the blues on KRWG.


Kelly said...

I hope something comes of it for you. If not, at least it was an interesting diversion for an evening.

My daughter was in NM earlier in the week. Roswell.

quid said...

A fascinating people study, an interesting account. Good blogging.

Hope you get a part!


Pam said...

I've got a copy of the last movie! Looks like I'll soon need to purchase another one....hopefully!!! :)