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8:29 pm - Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003
More Crap About Acting

More Crap About Acting...

WED 1/29/03 10:20 am

Interesting thought just occurred to me...The biggest reason I didn't come to LA sooner was "fear of failure". But now I have to stay because of that fear; I have to keep trying, or else face the failure I spent 20 years avoiding.

And if I fail, where the hell am I going to fail to...?

(I don't know why that popped into my head, when I'm feeling more positive about my chances than ever before...)

4:55 pm

Yesterday's callback for the Washington Mutual commercials was...interesting. It was, in microcosm, the way I've been feeling these days--very "up and down".

I got there early--at least half an hour--and right away, it felt different than the first go-round; I still had to sign in (And for the first time ever, I remembered to sign out when the time came), but they had my polaroid and info sheet from the last time, so it was basically just a lot of hanging out, looking over the copy I'd downloaded off Showfax the night before (I like when I have to do that. Makes me feel like I'm actually doing something. Though I was kind of alarmed for a time when I couldn't get the site to open).

At the first audition, there was only one guy before me, and one guy after (Both of whom I recognized, and neither of whom I saw at the callback. They might have just had afternoon appointments, though). But this time, there were seven or eight people there, mostly older than me, and a number of them were wearing labcoats and glasses (I actually thought about glasses--I have a pair of cheap reading glasses I stole from the "Lost & Found" at work--but decided, since I didn't wear them at the initial audition, that I shouldn't this time either).

I have no way of knowing how many people auditioned initially or how many were called back. But while that might have been interesting for me to know on some level, it ultimately didn't really matter; The point was that I'd made the second round.

After I'd been there maybe ten or fifteen minutes, they called a group of us in for a little "group explanation" of what they wanted to do.

I walked in, last in the line of would-be scientists, and was a little startled; Instead of the single camera operator who was the only one in the room at the first audition (There's always just been someone running the camera at all the commercial auditions I've done so far), there was him and about a half-dozen other people checking us out (Thus far, I haven't ever actually met anyone at these things. No one ever introduces themselves; It's Cathi Carleton casting, I've been there at least three times, and I wouldn't know Cathi Carleton if she knocked on my door right now. It's pretty impersonal that way).

The director introduced himself, but I don't remember his name off the top of my head (A middle aged British guy, with dark hair, and a beard and moustache). As for the other people, I imagined I was seeing some combination of people from the casting office, maybe an assistant to the director, and people from Washington Mutual's marketing division.

While I'd been waiting out in the hall, the guy who seems to tape everything there said they'd added another character to the spot, so they might ask some of us to audition for that as well, but he didn't really say anything else.

And when the director started talking about his take on the spots (There were two we'd been asked to look at), it was apparent the campaign had gone through another, pretty profound change; Instead of the nerdy scientist "spokesperson", now they did want something more "polished".

I'm not sure if he actually explained and I was just too nervous to listen, but once again, I was left feeling confused about what they were looking for; Did they want a typical informercial-type spokesperson? Is this an actor in a labcoat, or is this still the scientist who developed the "Interest Bearing Money Shrub" (And in the other spot, the inflatable "Insta-branch")? Cause it kinda makes a difference.

(Here's a thing I need to work on; If I need clarification on something at an audition, I've gotta be comfortable enough to ask. I don't want to come off like I need the idea "spoon-fed" to me, or go into some lengthy discussion or debate with the casting people, but if there's a point that's unclear, I'm only hurting myself if I don't ask.)

Anyway, then it was back out into the hallway, for more looking over the copy, a little confused about what I was going to do now.

At one point during my wait, I saw the actress who played "Amy" on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, who was there for a different audition (Cathi Carleton is just one of a number of casting agencies in the Westside Casting building, and it was very busy. I kept having to get out of the way of people going back and forth). Anyway, I went over and promptly embarrassed myself in front of her--I imagine it's not too "professional" to be a panting fanboy in this situation--but she was pretty nice about it.

Eventually, it was my turn to go in.

When I went in, there were now only three people in the room, plus the camera guy.

The director said he might have me read only one of the spots, so not to be hurt if that was the case (In response, I made some weak joke that doesn't bear repeating). Then I saw there was a labcoat, and asked if he wanted me to put it on (He said yes). He then described how he wanted the scene to open--With me walking into the scene-- I did a "slate" (Where you say your name and give both profiles for the camera), he called "action", and I did the "Interest Bearing Money Shrub" spot I'd auditioned with the first time.

And I thought I kinda sucked, on a couple levels; I don't think I projected a very clear character--I did some lukewarm, halfway bullshit, because I hadn't made clear choices about my character (Acting 101, kids: Make Clear Choices)---and the technical challenge (Of moving, reading the cue card, and seeing where the camera was, all at the same time) kind of threw me as well.

At first, when it seemed apparent I was all done, I was pretty mad at myself for blowing it, though I tried not to let that show in the room.

But then they asked me to stay, and they called in another guy to read for the spokesperson; Initially, I thought they wanted me to be the "assistant" that is referred to in the spot (Who was originally eaten by "The Shrub", but now just gets tossed thirty feet through the air), but this was actually the "additional" character the camera guy had mentioned before.

Now the spokesperson was a "spokesperson", and I was the scientist who'd created the "Money Shrub". I followed "spokesperson guy" in, and stood behind him, a little off to the right, as he did his spiel. No lines, just reactions to what was going on.

And after a moment's disappointment, I realized something--this was fun.

They'd basically turned the "spokesperson" into the "straight man" of the piece. But as the scientist, I got to be funny--at least in my own mind--throughout the whole spot.

The actor reading the spokesperson wasn't that good, in my opinion, but they liked something about him, because they let him do a number of takes. And he did do something I enjoyed; At the end of each take, he did some little ad-libbed line that would give us a "moment" together.

(I got a good laugh, at the end of one take, when I slowly dissolved into tears. I was pretty pleased)

And that was basically it.

At this point, it's just "wait and see" if anything happens (I'm assuming, since the first shoot is on Monday, that if I don't hear by Friday, it ain't happening).

The spots shoot next Monday, then the week of the 17th and the 24th. It would be a nice payday, even if it's just SAG minimum.

Think a good thought for me on that front.


In other acting news...I didn't get the Ed Begley thing.

He called really early yesterday morning (Even so, he still had to leave a message, cause I was on the computer); They "went another way", so on and so forth, but thanks for playing our game (I shouldn't make it sound like an insincere blowoff, because actually, it was a very nice message).

I got the message as I was going out the door to the Washington Mutual audition. I was surprised it didn't leave me more deflated. But I realized this was something I wanted to have happen because it would have paid, and maybe cause it would have meant working with a celebrity; As an acting thing, there really wasn't much there (I talk about wanting to "get paid" a lot in here--and if you were in my position, you would too--but I want the whole thing; I want to get paid for doing something cool).

I called him after the Washington Mutual audition, to thank him for giving me the chance and all. And I meant it; It was really fun to get to meet him, and have a little time where I got to think "I might get this...".

And who knows? It's something that might have positive repercussions somewhere down the line. I came away with a good feeling about him, and hopefully, he felt likewise.

Well, there's actually something else I want to write about, but I think this has gone on long enough...


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