Alex, Lisa (Mrs. Alex), and I auditioned actors for his proposed short yesterday. I’ll be an associate producer if we get funding. We’re planning to shoot in the spring, but funding agencies require full packages – including cast – before they dole out money, so we’re casting now.
Alex has hinted at what the day was like for him. Here’s my perspective.
Lisa and I alternated between reading scenes with the actors and working the camcorder, depending on the sex of the role that needed to be read. That was a blast. I had a lot of fun reading and shooting. I took a TV course or two as part of my graduate journalism degree, so I know how to frame and shoot.
What was amazing, and Alex commented on this, too, was how the actors could keep a scene fresh. Actors in the afternoon would crack us up with a look or nuance, even though we’d seen that scene read dozens of times already that day. Sometimes it was hard to keep from laughing in the middle of an audition take.
It was fascinating to watch. One of the scenes has a character say “Of course it does” – which is a fairly vanilla sentence. Yet by stressing one word over another, the passage takes a different approach. That’s obvious, but it doesn’t come to life until it’s done to your face.
I wondered how the actors could handle playing off a non-actor, i.e. me. I tried to put a little something into my readings to keep from being flat, and too allow the actors to play off me. I fell into it with them. One scene ends with a comical embrace, but while Stephanie and I performed in office chairs oppposite each other, we nearly jumped into each other’s arms as the camera cut.
One other actress, who also teaches acting, complimented me, saying that for a producer, I was a good reader. I just heard “You’re a good reader,” or maybe it was “You’re a great actor.” Even Alex asked me at the end of the day whether I’d ever thought about acting – in jest, I’m sure, but there’s a kernel of truth in every joke, right?
For the record, acting has never appealed to me – too much memorization.
The day also presented me with the opportunity to go all fan boy to Al Goulem. I told him to his face what I told 101 readers last winter.
Another familiar face was Trevor Hayes, who played the title role in “Dr. Norman Bethune” and acted with my kids last summer in that Canada-China co-production. You may recall that I had a discussion about salaries with the producers – whether or not that is the cause, I never got a copy of the children’s performance. Trevor offered to let me see his DVD copy of the miniseries and we’re in touch. I’ll et y’all know when I have a copy in my hands.
I’ve held auditions and casted before. In university, I co-directed and produced plays. One similar problem is that you have only a limited number of roles and too many actors qualified to fill them. Two actors yesterday were both fantastic, funny, and a pleasure to watch, but because they didn’t quite fit the type of character, we may not have a place for them. It’s a pity that we won’t be able to use all the superb talent we saw.