Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reject Shop

I fling open the door and throw myself onto my bed, weeping inconsolably into my medium density latex pillow. “Why me?’ I cry. ‘Why me?’ Actually I should be crying, ‘Why not me?’ for I am once again an audition reject.

If only it were that decisive. The thing is, no-one ever calls to say, ‘Thanks for trying, but we chose someone else.’ You leave the casting office doing a mental post mortem on your audition, then you try to put it out of your mind. But you’ve cleared a spot in your diary and you find yourself holding onto that fragile little bit of hope even when you know it’s gone past the practical deadline for your agent to contact you in time for the shoot. It’s like there’s no ending, the film just goes out of focus.

I can’t even get a lowly paid online one liner. It’s a video audition, which I film at home on my laptop. The role is a newsreader. I do my hair and make up, put on a professional looking shirt and do my best Tracy Grimshaw / Curo voice but it’s all to no avail. Might as well have done it in my pjs with morning hair.

After my spectacular three line debut on Neighbours last year, I am rejected at my next two auditions (yes they do recycle their actors!). Mind you, one was for the mother of a regular character who happens to be tall, blond, thin, tanned and Nordic looking, so it was no surprise. But like I said, the optimist in me fools the realist into retaining some desperate hope.

Am I not pretty enough? Is it my over active Jim Carrey eyebrows? Do my anglo looks not appeal to the multicultural target audience? Did I not convince them that the pav really was delicious? Why did they tell me to come single to the audition for an over 50s insurance ad if they were always going to cast a real life couple? And what hope is there for me when I, a teacher with thirty years' experience, can't even win the role of a wordless university lecturer?

Alas, I will never know. And so I return to my tear sodden pillow, vowing never to believe the casting person who says. ‘That was great.’

Merry Christmas.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ups and Downs

A cast of thousands and an even bigger film crew has invaded a suburban supermarket and a singing, dancing, giant hand waving extravaganza is in progress. Yes, it’s a big supermarket TVC, and for better or worse, I’m in it!

Since my Neighbours gig last year there has been nothing except for a handful of TVC auditions, including one for a Target underwear ad, which I declined. For this supermarket audition (my third or fourth for this company) I have to learn some ’choreography’ (think Chuck Berry and Angus Young). I take a while to warm up in the audition but the fourth take of my singing and dancing is obviously a winner as I get the role of the Uncle Toby’s Mum. I’m pleased to be cast in another ad but not sure that I want to be known for acting like an idiot on TV. But, then, I wouldn’t be the first.

I arrive at the unit base at 6 am on the shoot day and am sent to wardrobe. Usually I needlessly lug a suitcase of wardrobe choices and they tell me to wear what I’ve got on, but the one time I don’t, my outfit isn’t right. They give me a top and a necklace, find some shoes and make them fit with insoles, and after make-up I’m ready to go. To breakfast. Then sit around until I am called. Luckily they have real coffee and I wait patiently to order a latte but the guy gives priority to an attractive female cast member, kissing her hand and chatting her up. Just a coffee for me, thanks.

I am paired with a lovely teenage red-head who plays my daughter. It’s her first TVC so I, being the old pro, (that’s what I tell her anyway) show her the ropes. Once the cast is called to take their places at the checkouts, it’s all go. There are two cameras and the crew swarm around us. It’s the first shot of the day and the first day of a four day shoot and people are already stressed. What will probably last about three seconds onscreen, takes about an hour and a half to shoot. I get about fifty different directions from about twenty different directors, or at least that’s how it seems. ‘Start there, look at docket, turn docket around, point at docket, smile crazily at camera, look at docket again and back to camera.’ At the same time I must push a full trolley with one hand. ‘Start here, move to there, now start from there and move to here, no, not so far, now don’t move at all, now move again, now yell ‘ta-da’ after you’ve moved, now forget the movement, just yell ‘ta-da’. Meanwhile the others thrust those giant red hands with the giant pointing fingers ‘down, down’. Their arms are aching and they are trying to keep in time with the music, which is non-existent once ‘action’ is called, and hit a precise spot on a tiny docket. After several takes they decide to remove all the kids (the shot is too crowded) and I am now a childless mum. Wardrobe and make-up make adjustments in between takes. One of the directors says, ‘Haven’t you been shopping before’ as I attempt to hang my handbag on the trolley according to his directions. Yes I have and I carry my bag on my shoulder, if you must know. Which is what I end up doing. (What is it with men telling me how to carry a handbag?) In a later shot when it’s my turn to thrust that big hand up and down, he tells me off for waving it all around the place. Like I can help it. They give me another ‘hand’ with a smaller handle which works better but my knuckles are so sore and swollen at the next day’s shoot my giant hand thrusting days are over. (What a shame) The same director also tells me off when my up-downs are out of time with the others. I’m trying, but I can’t see the rest of the cast and the absence of music makes it tricky. I try harder. I do cheesy grins for the stills (happy, happy faces... now laugh, ha, ha, ha), call out crazy lines and bop up and down the supermarket aisle with my trolley.

I have a half day shoot the next day. This time the location is a nice house in Sandringham (memories of that boat show ad) and after a wait of four hours in the heat (a prop problem apparently), my ‘daughter’ and I are eating porridge, singing, smiling and smiling some more. The man directing us is more relaxed today, which is good. A crew member thrusts the big hand towards my bowl, while I, thankfully, only have to thrust my spoon.

It’s all rather silly, but everyone takes it very seriously. This is advertising and it’s big business. I am a miniature cog in a giant wheel. With a giant red hand.

PS: A week later I do a medical training video, where I counsel people on dementia. There are an awful lot of lines (mostly on auto cue) and the pay's not as good but, thankfully, there's not a giant hand in sight.