Casting Process, Page 2

Casting Process Realities

If you go on an audition in Hollywood on any day except Sunday, you have to have change for the parking meter. If you stay in the casting office longer than your allotted parking time you are likely to get a ticket. Parking in most areas where there are casting offices is expensive if you can find it. Have plenty of quarters and arrive early in case you have to walk a few blocks.

I have been on auditions where I felt I did a good job and I did not get a callback. I have been on auditions where I was awful but the casting director liked what I did. Sometimes I can just do a look at the camera and get a laugh. Other times I struggle to get the words out.

My worst audition was one for "Gods and Monsters" where I originally was reading for the part of Boris Karloff. I was not good at that and they asked me to read for a scientist. I was not familiar with the part and I asked if I could read from the script. They were very nice and said "OK." I had left my glasses in the car and I could not read the small print in the dim light of the office. I backed up to read under their fluorescent light. While walking backward I fell over a small table. I was unhurt. I then followed that memorable moment with a really awful reading. I think that was my worst ever audition. After I left the building I clicked my heels as I was walking down the sidewalk and I laughed out loud. I figured it could never get worse when I went on an audition. So far it hasn't. It was not a problem. I didn't get that job but I got others. I am an actor. I have rejection stories to prove it.

While I am on the subject of my bad auditions I will mention one commercial audition I went on where I showed up uninvited. I heard about an audition for my age range on some product. I "crashed" the audition. I went into the room with the casting director and he asked me for my "audition number." I had none so I told him I was "crashing." He chewed me out and advised me never to do that. I did not do an audition and was told to leave. Again, no problem. I was embarrassed but it did not hurt. I will continue to crash if it feels right. Read on and see why. An actor must never be afraid to go after a role.

Directors do hire production assistants and crew members and stand-ins for small parts that are never cast by casting directors. I have known script supervisors and warm up comics (the people who tell jokes to keep the studio audience ready to laugh during the filming of three camera shows) get parts in episodes. Sometimes a director will call up one of his old friends who worked for him years ago to do a small part. That never goes to a casting director. Directors go to plays and meet with actors backstage and have them come to the set for a reading. That might never go through a casting director's office. Very often, non union people are Taft Hartleyed into a union production. Their initiation fees are withheld from their first few paychecks and the director writes a letter to SAG stating his need for that individual in that particular role. Extras are sometimes upgraded on the set when a new part is written in the script and there is no time to go through the regular casting process.

When you go on an audition do whatever is your best. It might not be acting. Maybe it is an adlib you put at the end of the scene. It might be your voice or the way you walk. Be yourself and don't feel bad if you don't get the part. There are new production companies which are giving people opportunities to audition for parts by posting casting notices on websites. Some small film projects might be non union. If you are not yet in a union it will be an opportunity for a credit for your resume. No person is born with union membership. I got the union card after many non union shows. Keep trying whatever works for you. You might fail and fail again before you make it. One in twenty... one in thirty... one in f....

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Auditions and Callbacks

Two True Hollywood Stories

When I was working as an extra one day I heard an actor telling someone about an audition he was going to be going on "tomorrow." I remembered what he said about where and when. I had no job for that day and I invited myself on the audition. It was at Paramount. In those days (April 1988)I could walk on to any lot. Today you will be searched if you try that trick. I walked to the "Amen" stage where the audition took place.

The part was for an upscale divorced man who was at a meeting of divorced people. I had decided to wear a 1950s suit that was immaculate but out of style. There were about 40 people trying out for the part in what would be a three day job. Ed. Weinberger was the Executive Producer of the pilot. He came in with James Burrows who was the Director of the new show. Ed. saw me and pointed and turned to James and said, "That's him." I had crashed an audition and guessed right. I got the part. It became the show that changed my life. Dear John ran for 4 seasons. I was in every episode. It then went into syndication. I had "made it." I had made it as an actor in Hollywood.

Many years ago Gone With the Wind was being prepared for production. The search for Scarlett was the greatest casting event in Hollywood history. Many big name Hollywood movie star queens auditioned for the part. The role eventually went to a lady who did not audition or enter any of the contests to "find Scarlett." The character of Scarlett is a lady who always went about her business in an underhanded manner. Scarlett would never have gone on an audition. She would have tricked a man into giving her the job. That is exactly what Vivien Leigh did. The story is too long to tell completely here, but Vivien arranged for an introduction with the producer while he was working on the first scene of the film. She charmed him into casting her as Scarlett O'Hara.

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