The business of auditions

Today I auditioned for a commercial for a very well-known formerly-all-breakfast-food-chain that seems to be branching out into other meals. (Why don't you ever name the client, you ask? Well, I'm sure the client would rather remain anonymous at this point in the process. And, I suppose I'm somewhat superstitious in that I don't want to jinx myself by naming the client before I've actually been offered the job.)

I was called to appear as a businesswoman. So, that's what I did. I wore my favorite black dress pants and a solid pink collared blouse with evidence of fun, multi-colored striping and embroidery beneath the collar, within the placket and underneath the cuffs. I was quite sharp-looking, if I do say so myself. Upon arrival, I saw a small throng of people in the waiting area, nearly all of whom were also dressed like businessmen and businesswomen. (Yep. I was the only redhead.) I signed in, completed my size card (no headshots, thank you very much!) and reviewed the storyboard which was taped firmly to the table. This one was unusually brief on images, but had at least three descriptive paragraphs explaining the scenario. Clearly, it's a comedic spot designed to showcase the functionality of the new product.

There was a little time to chat with and meet some of the talent in the waiting area, which can make for a more relaxed audition and which worked out well, period, as three of us ended up auditioning together.

The CD invited us into the audition room in groups of four and almost immediately looked at me and said, "Oh. You were called as a businesswoman?" I nodded. The CD continued, "Well, you look kind of young, so you'll read as the waitress." I obliged saying, "Okay, sure! Whatever's fine." To avoid exploitation of the ad agency's idea and its right to creative content, suffice it to say I ended up carrying a stool around the room, following the businessfolk in a harried manner, and, when we stopped, I thanked them for dining chez faux and proceeded to offer them the specials of the day (which I improvised quite brilliantly, I think).

There were so many people called for this spot I would be flabbergasted if they cast me. I think I would be flabbergasted if they even called me back! They're probably seeking a nice blend of "normal" for this spot. I do have my red hair, my youthful look, my friendly smile and my petite stature going for me, though. We'll see what happens. At least I made some new friends in the deal!


Sometimes life *is* a box of chocolates.

Tonight I attended the "Best of" showing for Boston's 48 Hour Film Project 2008. The film I was in, The Donor, was selected as one of the best of the approximately 90 movies that were created as part of this year's Project.

I walked into tonight's event with no expectations. I figured I'd go, I meet up with members of my team, maybe meet other people and watch some of the best 48 Hour films created this year. The Donor was shown smack in the middle of the evening's films. Some of the films were quite impressive; especially those with well-made opening and closing credits, and great scores.

At the end of the showing came the local awards, and the bestowing of the ultimate prize, the coveted "Best of Boston" title, which allows one film to go on to bigger and better competition levels and--potentially--$5,000. Our film did not garner the top award, but I must tell you I was quite surprised when The Donor took two of the approximately 20 awards announced!

The Donor was recipient of the "Best Line of Dialogue" award for my character's explanation of a Martha Stewart Living magazine, "It's the March issue." And it also received the "Best Use of Character" award for the involvement of the required character, Reginald H. Higginbotham, a diplomat, in the storyline.

Here are the certificates the team received:

Oh, and to boot, our film was featured in a segment about the 48 Hour Film Project in tonight's WBZ-TV news! Crazy!


Chirp chirp!

Hi, professional auditionee readers:

See over there? In the sidebar? The new "Au courant" section? I'm now on Twitter! I'll post a tweet whenever I feel the urge and that little box will update concurrently. You'll know a bit more about what's going on in my auditioning life as soon as I do. I'd be very pleased to have you follow me, too! So, sign up! Tell your friends! (I may even follow you.)


The Heavens are Telling...

...me that tomorrow's performance will be good.

Tomorrow, I'll be singing in the trio of "The Heavens are Telling" from Haydn's The Creation as part of the service at Old South Church. I've got a fine tenor and a great baritone as partners in crime. I'm using music that has been loaned to me, so I spent a few minutes Friday evening repairing it.

See? Ripping in a variety of ways.
And can you see how yellow it is? It's very old.

While it was printed in the U.S.A. (which makes me very happy)...

...it's so old it only cost $0.15 to purchase this segment!
There isn't even a date on it.
I might even venture to say it was published in 1798, the year the oratorio came out.
However, I don't think America was really that with it, yet.
(And, no, I don't know what that is written there.
It's something that begins with a "T". "Tomorrow", maybe?)

And, the translation's not the greatest, either. It appears to be English translated from German translated from English. Sprichst du what?

It is a Schirmer score, though. They're notorious for being, well, not the greatest.

Hopefully we'll be better than great tomorrow. If there's a recording, I may post it here. Toi, toi, toi!


I, incredulous

A few weekends ago, I participated on a 48 Hour Film Project team. We stayed up late, became tired, became grumpy and difficult, made a short film, yelled and argued, made up. I chewed a bunch of gum. It was a full weekend, to say the least. Well, never in a bazillion years would I have guessed our film would be selected as one of the "Best Films". Of nearly 90 films created that weekend, The Donor was selected as one of 13 to be shown in a "Best of Boston" film evening.

In case you happen to be interested in what can be created in 48 hours by a team of crazy producers, actors, directors and editors, here are the pertinent event details:

What: 2008 Best of Boston 48 Hour Film Project
Time: Tuesday, April 29th, 7 PM (encore show at 9:30 PM)
Place: Kendall Square Cinema, 370 Binney Street, Cambridge, MA
Price: $9.75

Perhaps I'll see you there.


I hike, you hike, we hike...

My friend Albert swears he keeps seeing me--or someone like me--in a Texas travel commercial. He says it's someone hiking. (I do like to hike and I am from Texas!) I have yet to see this spot. And I'm fairly certain it isn't me because I've never done any commercial work for TravelTex. It might be the "Sunset" commercial seen here. (I recommend the extended version viewed using a high-speed connection. Great music, huh?) I don't really see it, though. It might not even be this spot he's referring to.

However, I can say with certainty that I am one of the faceless hikers in spot #51 here, advertising vacationing in Massachusetts. Now, if I could just land a TravelTex gig...ahem.



This morning I auditioned again for the major credit card commercial. There were about 10 girls waiting to be seen for this part, and none of us looked alike. Good? Not good? I don't know. Again, I was the only one with red hair--no surprise there. We all waited around, chatting and comparing our initial experiences because the client was running late.

I was called in first this time though I was second on the sign-in sheet. The multi-bodied client-being sat behind a table, with four heads staring unblinkingly at computers the entire time and one mouth doing the talking. There was no greeting or smiling to be had. I had three reads and I tried to make each read different based on the direction provided. But I cannot really say how it went. I guess I did the best I could given the situation.

Perplexingly, I've just received an email message inviting me to be considered for extra work in the commercial. Does this mean they've already selected the actress and I haven't gotten it? Or, was this some broadcast email cattle call? I may never know--it's not like they call you to say you haven't gotten a part. They only call when they want to hire you.


Looky Looky

Remember when I blogged about my recent audition to be a mom in a PSA? Well, I *just saw* the TV spot for which I auditioned--a Tufts Health Plan spot. They selected an Italian-American-looking "mom" and a suitably related-looking son of about seven years old. (I don't know--it could actually be her son.) If I ever find the spot somewhere online, I'll post it here. I know it's currently airing on WCVB.

It's always kind of surreal for me to see or hear a spot I've auditioned for and haven't gotten because then I get to find out what look and delivery-style the client sought in the first place.


Marathon Sunday

Typically, working at Old South Church is rather Julian in nature: I come, I sing, I leave. However, some Sundays are more interesting. The Sunday before the Boston marathon is referred to as "Marathon Sunday". A special prayer is made for the athletes in attendance that will be competing, a good portion of Boylston Street is closed to traffic in preparation for Monday's events since the marathon finish line is right by the church, and, in general, there is a special energy in the air. I make it a point to walk to work because I want to enjoy its specialness.

Today was an unusual Marathon Sunday, in that there was a marathon taking place today, too--the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials in women's marathon. My walk down Boylston Street was a bit more crowded than it has been in years past.

The crowds soon became readily apparent.

What was everyone looking at?

Oh. It must be these women competing for second place.

I walked with my friend Gloria who lives nearby.
We left early knowing there might be crowds.

As we neared Old South, the crowds grew larger.

We could see the church tower. We just couldn't get to the church.

After taking a very roundabout way,
we met up with some other members of the choir and
entered the church via the back alley.

We couldn't make it to the front door because of the multitudinous crowds and barriers. Boston Police weren't helpful, either. They were telling people they couldn't cross to the church and they couldn't go to church. It only took an efficient 43 minutes for us to walk a mile. Other members of the choir were trapped at Exeter Street, missing part of rehearsal.

I dressed appropriately for the walk, though.

Post-service, I asked my friend Anna to take a photo of me
at the finish line as a souvenir of my trek to work.


Get this!

I auditioned a few days ago for a major credit card company and post-audition I was quite (insert word here):


I wanted this audition to be great. I wanted them to like me. I wanted to get the gig. Well...get this! I've just been called back! I am (insert word here):

really really really happy
jumping around with joy

I really can't believe it. Whew! I need to iron.


Recording the Score

Today we recorded the score fALATIMI for the short film Fate Scores in only 17 takes. Well, there were a few more than that, but the mistakes happened so soon into the take (ahem... Fumito, on take 1) that they really didn't count.

After we unloaded the marimba from the car, Fumito assembled it (again).

Kazuto got the recording equipment set up. He's quite stealthy.

This is a shot of Christian and Hannah in action.
See that music stand on the left? That's mine. It was the obligatory music-stand-that-never-stays-up-and-always-slides-down-really-fast in the room.

This shot shows Jason and Fumito in "the zone".

Since I was taking the photos, I really couldn't take a photo of myself.
But I can say that m. 18 did not kick my butt today. Yesterday's practice clearly paid off.


Music Matters

Last evening we had another rehearsal of the score for short film Fate Scores.

First, we had to help Fumito disassemble the marimba and carry it downstairs.
This is what a marimba looks like in parts.

Hannah and Jason tightened up their duet in the Adagio.

m. 18 was still kicking my butt.
I have a hard time landing on that E-natural, despite the fact that the violin plays it at the same time.

This is m. 18 in context. See? It's a mess. What was the composer thinking?
Top to bottom the lines are: Soprano, Violin, Cello, Marimba, Piano.

I have three days to solve my issues with m. 18.


Soliciting your Advice

Dear professional auditionee readers:

I write to you openly to solicit your advice and input on what seems to be an ever-more-present issue in my performance life--my look. Truly, I tell you my look seems to be a mounting hurdle to any success I may have in the entertainment industry. Here are a few examples:

  • AmRep invited me to audition for a new show they are producing. In their response to my audition, they noted that, while my singing was lovely, my look was wrong for the show. (As an aside, I'd like to say I think I do resemble Simonetta Vespucci, after whom the character was modeled.)

  • I auditioned for a WGBH-produced movie about the life of Lousia May Alcott. While I received high praise from all parties regarding my audition, my look and, in particular, my hair color was identified as wrong for the part of May. The CD called me to apologize and explain that the producers were planning to show age progression using different actresses. I guess wigs were not part of the plan.

  • A team producing a short film invited me to audition for their project, and I found the role of Alicia most interesting. I did much research to develop the character and I really fell in love with her. After three excellent auditions, I received a voicemail stating, "We thought you were perfect for the part, Alecia. But, we found someone a little more perfect. So, sorry, we're not going to cast you." What was the matter? I was too young-looking.
Most recently (today!) I received this response to an industrial video audition I did:
"Unfortunately, [the client] thought that your look and performance was too close to another [talent] that we use. You did a wonderful job in your audition. May I keep you in mind for future projects?"
It's great they want to keep me in mind for future projects. However, this job in particular had the potential of being multiple consecutive days of work. And I really loved the content and purpose of the project. How often can one say that?!

So, in a practical act possibly driven by desperation, I seek your suggestions on how to improve my look and, thereby, improve my chances at getting work. Such suggestions could include:
  • Get a nose job.
  • Get a tan.
  • Move to a country where you are different.
  • Tattoo your face.
  • Cut your hair.
  • Shave your head.
  • Dye your hair a different color.
  • Undergo limb lengthening to become taller.
  • Cut off one arm.
I want to hear from you! I want to hear from your friends! No suggestion is too outrageous and I will consider every one. I look forward to reading your comments.




One more thing

I wore the lanyard I needed as admission to that Ghosts of Girlfriends Past party as my airport employee ID in yesterday's audition.

Lessons Learned

Yesterday I auditioned for a major credit card commercial slated to feature two well-known, entertainment personalities. (I don't think I should name them, but let's say their names rhyme with Dina Dey and Bartin Borsese.) I had been contacted for this audition by a CD who rarely calls me. In fact, it would be fair to say I almost never hear from this CD. This was a last-minute thing, but I arranged my schedule because the gig had promising potential. Thankfully, the copy was available in advance, so I had a little time to look it over--only seven lines. I could do seven lines.

I planned to get there early--really early. This CD has a habit of nurturing chaos in the waiting area and people end up being there for a long time. It's not fun. I wasn't going to be stuck there all day, so my plan was to get there early, sign in first, audition and leave. And that's mostly what happened.

I arrived slightly too early--55 minutes early. Oh well. I could practice my seven lines. Powder my face. Take slow, deep breaths. Check my voicemail. Instead, the CD came out and said, "Oh, great. Do you want to type something?" Do I want to type something? What? Type? At an audition?! "Sure," I heard myself saying, thinking, Okay. Strange. But I could make a good impression by typing something for these folks. So, they sat me down at a computer, opened a blank Excel spreadsheet and gave me a six-page list of handwritten names of people who had recently auditioned for another project. I quickly entered the data only to be told, "Oh, you entered all the names? We only need those names with the "OK" next to them." So, I expertly removed the names of the unwanted. I then excused myself to the waiting area, asking, "Should I fill out one of the sheets on the clipboard?" I knew the answer would be "yes". And it was.

After completing the form, I did practice my lines. I did powder my nose. I did take deep breaths. I paced around for about 20 minutes, and then other talent (for the four auditions that were slated to occur simultaneously) began to arrive: models, pirate-looking men, historical performance folks.

The CD came out and inquired of my queue, "Is anyone ready?" (Did you notice? The CD didn't even check the sign-in sheet to view the order of our arrivals.) Wanting to get it over with, I raised my hand and was led into the audition room where the assistant CD and the camera operator were waiting. I took my place on the mark. While the camera operator was adjusting my mic, the CD, who had left the room, walked back in and addressed the assistant CD saying, "you see these empty chairs here along the wall? They should always be full with the next girls." I was incredulous as the assistant CD opened the door and called in the five girls I had been sitting with. Quickly they populated the four empty chairs in the room.

And there they sat, watching my two rehearsals, my reduction from seven lines to two, my slate, and my ONE audition. I was only offered one take.

I had to audition with the other actresses SITTING. IN. THE. ROOM. SITTING IN THE ROOM! I have NEVER been to an audition where the competing talent sits in on each others' auditions. The whole idea is ludicrous! I was livid. I may still be.

Frankly, I feel there is no way in Hell for me to get this gig. Really. I mean, five other actresses got to see my audition as well as the auditions of the other girls in front of them, so they were able to make adjustments in order to distinguish themselves from the other auditionees. The only things I think I have going for me are these:

  1. My outfit was great: I looked just like an airline employee with the shirt, the blazer, and even an ID tag on a lanyard.
  2. I have red hair: I'll stand out. None of the other actresses has red hair.
  3. I'm first: I'll be first in the pile of headshots, I'll be first on the DVD. They'll just see me first.

This was a very educational and un-fun experience and these are the lessons learned:
  1. Never volunteer to audition first.
  2. Ask if the other talent will be invited to sit in the audition room with you.
  3. Never expect equitable audition practices amongst myriad casting directors.


Diary of a weekend

This past Friday night, I met up at the launch party with members of the Boston 48 Hour Film Project team I joined. The location was downstairs at Lir and it was a packed frenzy.

My blurry photo contributes to the hot action of the scene.

Once we'd received our genre (comedy) and everyone had been assigned the common character, occupation, prop and line, a long evening ensued in which we hatched our plan of attack. Our team's call time Saturday morning was a not-too-early 7 AM.

Equipment ready to go at 7 AM. I wasn't quite.

It was a long day of shooting--14 hours! But we got in several good locations, and the team was lean, mean and efficient, in a manner of speaking.

Director and actors on-set. (Yes, I wear my sunglasses at night.)

I chewed lots of gum in my role--Orbit Citrus Mint.

Laura and me with one of the props critical to our plot.

Then, as I mentioned in my previous post, I got a last-minute invite to a Saturday night Ghosts of Girlfriends Past party. How exciting is that?! It was held at a relatively new club-cum-restaurant in the Copley Square area: towering bouncers; velvet rope; cold, wanton partygoers waiting outside; the whole shin-dig. And I was let straight in! Well, I knew the magic word. But it was quite exciting nonetheless to transcend the common partygoer and receive admission to a space deemed temporarily elite!

With free food and an open bar, the crowd downstairs was a lively and friendly disco-dancing bunch, and I met and hobnobbed with a variety of people, including editors, several cast members, many crew, one of the producers and the director.

After my last post, I crashed for a few hours before getting up to sing at Boston's Old South Church as I do nearly every Sunday morning. I then wrapped up some critical 48 Hour Film Project paperwork. An email from our executive producer this evening confirmed our film was completed and submitted before tonight's deadline. Want to see it? Perhaps I'll post it here in a future post.

I then treated myself to a well-deserved Blizzard.

Not so pretty to look at but still tasty!

The fun tireds

This post will be a brief one: spent 14 hours today working as part of a team for Boston's 48 Hour Film Project. Then, got a last-minute invite to one of the parties for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Met some very exciting folks! Am too tired to write now. More tomorrow. Or would that be later today...?