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12:13 pm - THU 10/17/02
What the hell is \"The National Trust\", anyway?

What the hell is "The National Trust", Anyway?

Was just reading over my last entry...

I think saying the commercial audition Tuesday was "dehumanizing" was a little dramatic on my part. I definitely felt some discouragement afterwards, and was disappointed there wasn't any actual performing involved, but it wasn't as if I was asked to do anything embarrassing or degrading (My problem was that I wasn't asked to do enough. In fact, I wasn't really asked to "do" anything. It was just about whatever look they wanted. And for whatever reason, when it comes down to an issue of a "look", I never feel like my chances are great. I always feel like there's going to be someone who looks more like what they want than I do).

It was a psa (public service announcement) for The National Trust (Does anyone out there know what that is exactly?). And they were looking for people to be in a wedding party, circa 1940. I was supposedly going in for the part of the wedding photographer.

Kelly (At JS Represents) called me on Monday afternoon, to tell me the audition was set for 2:20 the next day (I was at work when I checked my voicemail and got the message).

My initial response was to panic, then feel sorry for myself over my bad luck (I was scheduled to work at 2:00 on Tuesday). But I called Kelly and asked if the audition could happen earlier in the day.

She wasn't sure, but said she thought maybe she could set something up for 1:00, and she'd call the casting director and see (She hung up so fast, I didn't have time to tell her I was at work. So I called back, told her I was at work, and to call me there if she heard back from the casting director that afternoon).

At that point, John O. came into the store to start his shift. I told him my sad story--It was sad to me anyway, right at that moment-- and he said, "Well, what do you want to do?" (I could work a short day, do a split shift, etc).

I've said before that John's always indicated his willingness to work with me on this stuff. Still, I was surprised to have him be that flexible about my schedule (But that said, I really blew it when I came in after the audition Wednesday and told people how cool he'd been about clearing the way for me. I meant for it to be a hymn of praise to John, but didn't "think it through"; John neither wants or is able to do that kind of thing for everyone all the time, and the last thing he needs is everyone who wants a last- minute schedule change whining, "But you did it for Jim...". So I'm sorry about that, John. What can I say?--I'm an idiot).

Anyway, I was able to have my work schedule the next day pushed back a couple hours, so I called Kelly one more time, and said the original appointment time for the audition would be fine.

Tuesday morning, I made sure I had my stuff together (Directions to HKM Casting, Headshots in my bag, etc), then went to Out Of The Closet (A "Gay Goodwill", basically), and bought a white dress shirt, a dark patterned tie, and some black dress shoes; I'd thought about buying a suit there, but decided to go with the one suit I own).

I was ever-so-slightly anxious, and even found myself trying to imagine what I'd do if they told me to improvise being a photographer at a wedding (That's when I realized I didn't really know what kind of camera a wedding photographer in the 40s would have). But basically, once I had my clothes taken care of, there didn't seem like much else to do but to just go and see what was what.

I'd told Kelly I planned to get there at 1:30 (She suggested that if I went in early, I might get seen early), but between underestimating the traffic and finding someplace to park, I actually didn't get there until shortly before 2:00.

I announced myself at a front reception desk, and was sent down to the basement.

There was a short, narrow hallway lined with actors, and a small sign-in table against the wall, with a sheet to sign in on, a stack of index card to fill out with personal info, and a camera that was being used to take polaroids of each actor.

On a door slightly off to the right, there was a chalkboard, and written in chalk was the name of the casting agency, and what was being cast (Down the short hallway to the left, another casting agency was casting for a movie of some sort, which lead to confusion on everyone's part, as actors came down not knowing where they were supposed to go).

I signed the sign-in sheet, filled out my little index card best I could (I'm 41 years old, and I still don't know my suit or shirt size; I checked the suit I was wearing, but it didn't say), and then looked around for someone to tell me what I was supposed to do next.

Then an attractive brunette, moving very quickly, came out with a handful of index cards and headshots, and though she basically ignored my initial query, I eventually got her attention, and gave her my index card and headshot.

I didn't really know quite what to do with myself at that point. I felt uncomfortable, because I didn't know what if anything we were going to be asked to do, I didn't know if things were running on time or late or what, and I was feeling a little claustrophobic (With so many strangers in a relatively small space), and I felt self-conscious because my pants didn't fit right (I can't explain exactly why I bought a suit with pants that were too short, but that's exactly what I did. Worn around my hips, my shirt tail comes out; Worn around my waist, they're "flood pants". In short, Jimmy needs a new suit, and maybe a tailor).

I didn't really talk to anyone at length, just exchanged a few nervous smiles and brief greetings. But mostly, I just fidgeted.

While I waited, I noticed that some actors were dressed casually, while most had suits or nice dresses on, and some people wore what looked to me like full-on costumes. And to my eye, I saw a couple guys there whose look said "Wedding Photographer, circa 1940" more than mine did (And I turned out, interestingly enough, to be right; When the time came, I had become a member of the wedding party. I think "Father of the bride", though I'm not sure).

A few moments passed, then "Attractive Brunette Lady" asked if everyone had gotten a poloroid, and those of us who hadn't lined up to get our picture taken.

Then I waited some more. One group of actors came out of the room where the casting was happening, another group was sent in, and when they came out, I was in the next group called.

Once inside, things happened fairly quickly; Basically, our names were called, we walked to a mark, said our name, gave them a front shot, then a left and right profile, and went back to the group.

After they got through everyone, they set us up for a "group shot", and that was the most uncomfortable moment of the experience for me; I'm feeling a renewed sense of self-consciousness about my teeth these days--Thanks Jane!--so when the guy said "Big healthy smiles, everyone!", I was probably the only one who didn't give him a big toothy grin.

And do you get uncomfortable when a picture is supposed to be taken, and you're standing there smiling at nothing, and waiting for the picture to be taken...and waiting...and waiting...and waiting? And your smile starts feeling really fake, and you feel like your face is sort of congealing in this artificial pose?

I tried to think of something amusing, but not so amusing I would break into a grin (And show off my gummy, small-and-misshappen-toothed smile), but I felt like the picture got snapped while I was still trying to get to "my happy place".

And that was it, pretty much; I got home with exactly enough time to change my clothes, hop on my bike, and ride to work.

In one sense, it was a good experience--I was pretty happy to be sent out on something only a week after signing with JS--but I can't say I felt good about it overall.

I made the effort to dress appropriately, and I got there early, which were good things, but I didn't feel comfortable somehow, and I just found myself feeling, again, that without any opportunity to display any personality or acting talent or anything like that, I probably wasn't going to get the job.

But all that said, it's my first commercial audition under my belt. I prepared best I could, I got myself there, and now I'll be more comfortable and better prepared for next time.

Something's going to happen. All I have to do is hang in there.

But right now, I think I'm going to hop on my bicyle, and see if I can catch a matinee of Punch Drunk Love at the Grove.

Let the vacation festivities begin...!


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