Lemon County: Acting For Beginners...
There Is No Such Thing As An Average-Star...
I've heard that at the back of everyone’s mind is the notion that they are a natural born actor. We've all watched actors on TV and in movies and thought, "I can do that", but in most normal people the thought remains just that.
As you are probably aware, normal and I have only a passing acquaintance, so I took the next step. Knowing that my lack of svelte-ness and un-movie star looks could be a hindrance in the leading man department, my focus was on my voice, (surprise! I have an English accent).
Having somehow snared She-who-is-adored, I realize that this must indeed be a potent weapon, so several years ago I attended classes in voice acting, thinking about doing voice-overs, books on tape, the whole shebang. All was going swimmingly well, until it came to auditions. They were always held during the day and I had that pesky principaling job at the same time.
I kept my professional (you would be amazed at what sound engineers can do!) demo CD, but put the whole thing on the back burner.
Then came this year, call it my man-opause to protect the guilty, and I'm rooting around in my what-the-heck-do-I-do-now drawer, and revisit earlier hopes and dreams. Writer? Yeah, let's give that a go. Rock star? Oh be sensible! Soccer star? Hmmm, fifty-two is way past any sell-by date, and there is that minor fitness thing. Actor? Why the heck not.
So with more heart than sense I joined a talent organization, put my least fat pictures up for perusal, downloaded the aforementioned demo CD, and waited.
If you're laughing, stop right now.
It worked. Well, kinda…
I got an audition. For an honest to goodness movie role! The supporting lead in a full-length independent movie!
Impressive, huh? Now, let's break that down a little.
The movie is billed as a Film Noir. (Think Cohen Brothers minus the humor.)
So no one is going to see it.
Independent low budget means you don't get paid upfront, you get paid if anyone goes to see it. (Refer to the line above)
So, I drive for an hour and a half, leaving the safety of Lemon County, for the wilds of LA, find somewhere to park (the freeway seemed like a good idea, but you have to move your car every five minutes or so) and look for an industrial unit masquerading as a studio.
I made a last minute attempt to remember the script bits that had been sent to me and try to wrap my head around the character. A fifty-plus older man, described as a Dandy, with the helpful add on that he should be an LA version of Quentin Crisp. An LA version of one of the gayest men from England, what the...
OK, so fussy dresser, charmer, smooth, know-it-all. Got it. Oh remember the bit about it being film noir? Well, it was way more noir than I'd anticipated, my character was blind!
He could smell what was wrong with the main character's computer, for Pete's sake. This was not looking too good for me. I had only just managed to memorize the lines and directions, wrestling with the portrayal of a blind man (who was vain about his looks!) was just a tad too much for my limited abilities.
Anyway, I got there early, signed in, got all available brownie points and met the director as he came out of the restroom. I forgot he had seen a photo of me, and was, for a fleeting second, baffled how he could possibly know me. He was directly out of central casting himself as: young bearded director. He introduced me to the writer, and I got an immediate read on why the script was so hard to understand, as I believe it may have been translated from one of the many wonderful Slavic languages.
I then proceeded to make a fool of myself in front of these impossibly young, incredibly intent, and I have to say, incredibly kind people. They made nice sounds to cover up the what-the-heck-are-you-doing-here looks. And, after what seemed like twenty seconds, we were done. We made a little microscopic talk, and then I walked a few blocks to find my car.
Was it fun? Yes, it was. It was also stressful, otherworldly, embarrassing and yet somehow, ever so slightly addictive. So along with all my other afflictions, I now have to live with this acting bug.
Did I get a callback?
This is me we're talking about here, of course I didn't. I joined the almost stationary stream of escapees on the 101, and painstakingly made my way back to Lemon County, and relative sanity.
I'm going to have to get a real job, aren't I?
Dear Hub Reader
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