I have a partial update from the auditions on Monday:
I’ve heard nothing from the second call. However, not surprisingly, the first call, where they really made me feel unwelcome, is going nowhere.
I talked with my manager about it, and he got some feedback from them: they found people they really liked on Friday, and I guess lots of actors left that room on Monday feeling shitty, like they didn’t even want them to be there. Well, duh. If they found people they really liked on Friday, why even bother to bring us in on Monday?! And why bother to bring in actors if they’re going to make us feel like they don’t even want us there?!
Now, I know I probably shouldn’t say this, because in the entertainment industry, nobody is supposed to say obvious and truthful things, like Tom Cruise sucks, or James Cameron is an epic A-hole and Michael Bay is a complete hack, but here’s some information from The Inside(tm):
This happens all the %$@!^ing time. Actors prepare their guts out for an audition, only to get there, wait an hour or longer (SAG says they’re supposed to pay us like 30 bucks or something if we’re there longer than an hour, but if an actor actually asks for that he will be blacklisted by that casting director, so nobody ever does), and go into a room where producers are on the phone, or looking through paperwork, or doing just about everything in the world except paying attention to the actor who is auditioning for them.
Most of the time, the person who is reading with you is so overworked, he or she doesn’t take the time to learn what the scene is about, and reads the other lines in the scene with a flat, monotone disinterest that throws off the best of us. I guess what most of them fail to realize is that the best acting is reacting, and it’s tough to react to complete and utter disinterest.
A notable exception to this rule is Tony Sepulveda, who casts at Warner Brothers. He is one of my absolute favorite casting directors to read for, because he ALWAYS makes me feel welcome and comfortable, and he ALWAYS knows the material he’s reading. The last time I read for him, he was totally off the script, and even improvised with me. Tony is an incredibly busy man, yet he still manages to find the time to make actors feel welcome. It’s a shame that there’s only one of him.
You know, if I were a producer or director, I would want every actor who comes into my room to feel extremely comfortable. I would want to create an atmosphere where actors are free to feel vulnerable and take chances, and where they are able to do their absolute best work. I would want actors to come before me, and not worry about anything, at all, except showing me their take on the character.
Oh, I’m so living in a dreamworld. That is just not how it is. 4 out of 5 times, I go into an audition, and the people I’m reading for don’t even stand up and thank me for coming in. Most of the time, I’m lucky if anyone other than the casting director even says hello, or shows a remote interest in my being there. I have experienced people taking calls on their cell phones and talking during my audition, taking calls on their cell phones and leaving the room while I’m doing my audition, reading the newspaper, reading their schedule for the rest of the day, talking to another person in the room…it goes on and on.
Good acting comes from an actor who is not afraid to stand there naked in front of a room, and bear their soul to the camera. You’d think that the non-creative philistines who run this bullshit industry would give a shit about that, and try to create an atmosphere where actors can relax and do their best work.
But here’s the truth: these days, most of the people sitting in that room know that their show is going to maybe make it three episodes before the equally-insecure and un-talented people at the network cancel it before it can find an audience, and put re-runs of some shitty reality show in it’s place. And because they know this, they are scared to death, and they don’t trust their instincts, and they project all their insecurities onto the actors who are in front of them.
You know, the audition process for Win Ben Stein’s Money was the most fun I have had in YEARS, and that was entirely because Andrew Golder and the entire group over there told me, from the very beginning, “We want you to feel comfortable and relaxed. We want you to feel free to make mistakes, and not worry about looking bad, because when you can do your best work, it makes us look good.” It made me feel likeI was playing before the home crowd in The Big Game(tm).
So the challenge for me is to somehow get over this terrible enviroment that pervades auditions these days. I have to be able to walk into a room, and not give a shit about them, because they certainly don’t give a shit about me. But that’s extremely hard! I do care about them. I have put time, energy and effort into creating this character for them, and I want to please them! It’s really tough to do my best, when I feel like the people in the room don’t care whether I’m there or not.
Now, maybe I’m insane, but wouldn’t it be better, and easier, and more cost-effective for the studios to put actors at ease, and make us feel like they do, in fact, give a shit about us being there? If they’d do that, actors would be able to do much better work, because they wouldn’t feel nervous and overly scrutinized. Shows would be cast much more quickly, and everyone would go home happy.
But, as I said, I am so living in a dreamworld.
Thought for today:
“If imagination is not set to the task of building a creative life, it busies itself with weaving a web of inner fears and doubts, blame and excuse.”
-Laurence G. Boldt